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Financial Planning FAQs

Q. Who can use the term "financial planner"?

A. The government does not regulate financial planners as financial planners; instead, it regulates planners as stock brokers, insurance agents or investment advisers, depending on the services they provide. As a result anybody can "hang out a shingle" and call himself or herself a financial planner. 10 Questions to Ask When Choosing a Financial Planner, can help you look for someone who is qualified to offer financial planning advice. The brochure contains questions to ask during an initial interview with a planner to help you determine if he or she is right for you.

Q. Why should I choose a financial planner over another type of financial adviser?

A. A financial planner should focus on your needs first before. recommending a course of action. Most planners have been trained to take a broad look at your financial situation, while accountants, investment advisers, stockbrokers or insurance agents may focus on a particular area of your financial life. Always ask a financial adviser what qualifies him or her to offer financial planning services. 

Q. What is the best age to start financial planning?

A. While it is true that the younger you start the more beneficial the process will be, financial planning is worthwhile at any age. Although younger people may have more decisions to make regarding their financial lives, changing laws and circumstances can lead middle-aged people and seniors to have to adjust their financial plans as well. Changes in tax law, for example, may require many people to revisit certain investments or estate plans, and adequate disability planning becomes more important as people age.

Q. How are financial planners paid?.

A. There is currently no uniform method by which financial planners are paid. A planner can be paid by a salary paid by the company for which the planner works; by fees based on an hourly rate, a flat rate, or on a percentage of your assets and/or income; by commissions paid by a third party from the products sold to you to carry out the financial planning recommendations; or by a combination of fees and commissions whereby fees are charged for the amount of work done to develop financial planning recommendations and commissions are received from any products sold. Be sure to ask the planner how he or she is paid.

Q. Do I have to pay a financial planner for the first interview? How much does a planner typically charge?

A. Most financial planners will provide you with one free half-hour or hour meeting to talk about your reasons for wanting to work with them. During these initial interviews, the planners will also decide if they can help you and explain how they would work with you. Like other professionals, the rates financial planners charge depend on their experience, geographic location, level of services and your needs. Interview more than one planner to get an idea of the going rate for financial planning services.

Common Questions About Financial Planning" Copyright © 2008, Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards Inc. All rights reserved.