Financial Planning 101

Financial advisors

A financial advisor or a financial planner, is a person who helps you plan and manage your personal finances or corporate wealth in a profitable or sustainable way. You might be wondering what you need such an advisor for? During these times when commerce and finance have become so complex, the words and thinking of an advisor can be your most important assets. Here in my local city it is critical to find a good Arlington financial planner to help guide you through the important steps. In the earlier years, if you had a big business and lots of personal wealth, it may be possible that your parents, or spouse, or relatives and friends will act as your advisor and help you manage your company assets.

Financial advisors can receive payment for their services in 3 ways: through fees, commissions, and a combination of the two. An advisor who is fee-based will work for you on a monthly or bi-monthly salary rate. With salaried advisors or financial planners, you won’t have to face the issue about his personal interests, that is, making trades for you and get a commission at the same time. These people are being paid to give advice, so it will not matter much to them whether the advice they gave succeeds or fails. The commission-based financial planner gets his payment per transaction or investment that you made through his advice.

The type of business service that is most sought after these days are financial planning or advice. In all major and emerging economies, financial services and modern commerce has made financial planning their integral part. The role of advisors is important also to the new generation of people who are about to reach their retirement age. These people have become interested in investing their retirement money. Big companies are aiming to target this demography, and they are launching advertising campaigns in a massive way. And their aim is sure to be a success, because retirement is one big reason why the services of financial advisors are so important.

A good financial planner or advisor provides his services by dealing directly with the investments of his client. For this, he must be able to realize how much risk his client would want to take, and also how long the client can wait until returns can be realized. It should be understood that the role of a financial planner or advisor is not to make decisions at his own discretion, especially if your agreement calls for a commission-based payment of services. It will be too risky for you, for obvious reasons.

If you want to get help from a financial advisor, you should first determine the kind of advisor that you want to hire and work with. A great idea is to understand the types of clients that he is currently working for and those that he has worked in the past. You can see here if the kind of service that you require is similar to the service that he has rendered for his other clients. Get referrals – it’s very important, generally. If an advisor has worked for you in the past, and you like his performance because he has done a very good job at managing your wealth, it will be best if his services are used again this time.

Choosing a financial advisor can be a challenging process and often requires a great deal of effort. Advisors come in all shapes and sizes and each one can have a different set of qualifications. They may work for small independent companies or large investment firms.

The good news is that a careful examination can be done to help make your advisor search easier. There are several essential items to consider when selecting a financial advisor that can be used as a guideline to help you through the process.

Things you should be aware of when choosing an advisor:

1. How do they get paid?

In the previous twenty years, the financial profession has created a lot of debate and negative media because of its compensation arrangement. Often times the type of compensation that is most vulnerable to producing problems within the client-advisor relationship is in the form of commission.

A commission is a fee that is paid when an investment product is sold, which is often not disclosed to the client. The product can be an investment or insurance, such as life insurance, long term care, or an annuity or many other variations of financial services. This commission rewards the advisor for placing the client into a product, not for providing advice or guidance.

Frequently, the advisor is then motivated to suggest products so they can get paid, which destroys the real premise of remaining unbiased and impartial for the client. The best course of action for someone looking for the help of a financial advisor is to search for one that is compensated by a “fee for service.”

In addition, it is worthwhile to seek out an advisor that does not get paid by any commission-based product which could include limited partnerships, annuities, mutual funds, and all forms of insurance.

2. What is their knowledge and experience?

As with all professions, knowledge is critical, even if their business has been in existence for quite some time, because their organization can’t oversee each piece of guidance and direction they would be providing you. Make certain that the potential advisor has a sufficient amount of experience.

3. Is their regulatory record clean?

It is essential to know the prospective advisor’s ethical record. The easiest way to find this information is by exploring their records through the regulatory agencies

4. Do they have any credentials?

This is imperative for several reasons. First, it is a sign of their knowledge, expertise and proficiency within their profession. Some legitimate qualifications to look for would be CFP®, CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER, CFA, Chartered Financial Analyst, and ChFC. The most admired for financial planners is the CFP®.

Second, it helps you decide whether or not their heart is in their profession. The majority of these credentials involve quite a lot of effort and devotion to acquire.

5. Do they use a proven Investment Process?

One of the major reasons why people get themselves into trouble when investing is because they never hold fast to a stringent discipline. This goes for an advisor as well. It is astounding how many advisors position their clients into the market without an established investment process in place.

When a severe market decline occurs, their clients frequently suffer more than they bargained for. Make sure the potential advisor has been using a demonstrated investment process that has a track record of withstanding severe market environments.



6. What planning services do they offer?

There are several important areas within the sphere of financial planning that the advisor needs to be skilled in and can display that they have provided. You should acquire a careful understanding of all the areas of planning that they provide, and possibly see some examples of their work. This will assist you in getting a better idea of the level of their proficiency and the quality of their advisement.

7. What is their longest client relationship?

Finding out how long their clients have been with them will tell you how satisfied their clients are, and how long they have been providing a superior of service.

While there are several items that you ought to consider, the key is to prepare yourself in advance with the right questions so that you can make an educated decision.

Gaining an advantage and planning for a successful future is easier if you have the right resources by your side, such as an independent financial advisor who actually understands what you require. Like any important things in life, trying to do it all on your own is not usually a good idea. Getting other opinions, having access to industry reports and resources from someone in the industry are all great ways to ensure that you make informed decisions, leading to greater financial strength.

Much is said about financial advice and there are so many resources out there for you to tap into, but a tried and tested method of securing financial freedom is through independent financial advisors.
Before choosing a financial advisor you will need to think of what your goals and financial dreams are. If you are unsure, do not worry as this can all be discussed during your consultation with the advisor. There are some key areas to look at either on your own, or with your advisor.

Forming a realistic budget

When looking to invest or organise your finances, a budget is essential. What you are looking to invest, and when you want to retire are very important considerations. Taking into account all your assets, debts, current investments, tax breaks and future predictions is crucial.

Appropriate investment in your pension

Pensions can be a great tool for investments if you do it right, and know the times to invest. Whilst a pension is traditionally used for retirement, what type of retirement you dream of might be quite different to the amount of savings you actually have. Investing in your pension fund can pay off in the long run if interest rates are in your favour and you have built up a good enough reserve, but it also carries risks, so talking to a finance advisor can really help you make the right choices.

Saving tax

Tax breaks, tax credit, saving tax. Call it what you will, but the same outcomes are desired and achieved. Finding ways to reduce your tax bill legally is a fantastic saving route. You may be paying unnecessary tax that you never even thought of, or be eligible for some tax breaks due to your financial income, family status or lifestyle choices, such as solar panels or similar.

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