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A true financial planner is …

/ 04:03 AM November 13, 2019

Question: Can you tell me what to look for when hiring a good financial planner? Asked at “Ask a Friend, Ask Efren” free service at www.personalfinance.ph, SMS and Facebook.

Answer: It was only after the global financial crisis of 2008 that financial planners for the retail market, particularly those providing advice on personal finances, came to be known.

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But even after 11 years, there are still few individuals in the Philippines who practice being a financial planner as their sole business.

Many financial planners are connected to institutions providing products for the execution of such plans.

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Such connection does not mean that the planners are conflicted or give mediocre advice.

On the other hand, financial planners who give pure advice also do not necessarily give the best plans.

Here are a few tips to help you identify the true financial planner.

Certifications help

There are many certifications on financial planning training currently being offered.

Choose the planner with the certification that: 1) is globally recognized; 2) has continuing learning programs for planners; 3) has veteran planners as its trainers.

Please note, however, that while certifications help, they are not the end all when it comes to looking for a true financial planner.

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You first

Financial planning is, at the end of the day a business; and it would be naïve to think that you can get quality advice for free.

You would probably think twice to have a surgeon, with whom you have no relations whatsoever, perform a major operation on you if he were not to charge a professional fee.

But a true financial planner, like a surgeon, knows that his professional fee is but a result of his delivery of expert service.

So, a true financial planner will put your interests first. Necessarily, he or she will provide the advice first and, if he carries financial products that aid in the execution of financial plans, offer you the said products only after you have accepted and decided to execute the plan provided.

As part of making you first, the true financial planner will commit that confidential information you disclose to him or her will remain confidential. A true financial planner will issue a signed engagement letter that includes a non-disclosure agreement. That letter will also include his or her deliverables and fees.

It is not a popularity contest

Remember that you are hiring a financial planner because of what he can do for you and not to add to his popularity. Some of the best financial planners are not best-selling authors, sought-after speakers or even social media celebrities. Many of them quietly deliver financially uplifting plans in private. Most of them even refuse to give public advice as they know financial plans need to be tailor-fit for their audience.

A true financial planner already has pages of financial planning experience, and expertise that need not be proclaimed in seminars or published in books and the Internet.

Borders on being a nerd

A true financial planner will not just blurt out motherhood statements, wax poetic or be deeply philosophical. He or she will do number crunching not to only to come up with financial plans but also to test their feasibility.

A true financial planner is like painter, except that his or her skill lies in a great command of time value of money, economics, finance and psychology of money management, and expresses such skill through the canvas of spreadsheets and word documents.

Professional fee

There is currently no going rate for providing advice of personal finance. As a guide though, judge whether the quoted financial planning fee is commensurate to the knowledge and experience of the planner.

Where to find a financial planner

You can start your search for the true financial planner through the websites of the institutions that offer financial planning certifications. You may also use web search engines. And you can refine your research through traditional word of mouth.

Finding a true financial planner is tough but not as difficult as finding a needle in the proverbial haystack. And when you do find that planner, you can be sure he or she is worth his or her salt.

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