How do you select a financial planner?

Before choosing a financial planner, it is important that you meet with them to determine how well you get along. Ask about the planner’s background; both education and experience are important. Ask how long the planner has been in the business. Ask for credentials.

The Registered Financial Planner (RFP) designation is awarded to members of the IAFP who have been engaged in the practice of financial planning for a minimum of five years and who have fulfilled satisfactory education requirements. All IAFP members are bound by the Code of Professional Ethics of the Institute of Advanced Financial Planners.

The CFP™ (Certified Financial Planner™) registered certification identifies individuals who are dedicated to a high level of professionalism in providing financial planning advice. The CFP credentials assure you that those using them have agreed to adhere to the highest internationally recognized standards of competence and ethical practice as set out by FP Canada (formerly the Financial Planners Standards Council).

Ask for references. The planner should also be able to show you a sample financial plan. Ask in which areas the planner is knowledgeable. Ideally this should include various areas such as: investments, insurance, business administration, law, money management and taxes. Ask if the planner concentrates on a particular type of client. Ask if the planner would work with you directly or if an associate will handle your account. If you will be working with an associate, ask to meet that person. Ask how the planner keeps clients informed, such as through newsletters or seminars. Ask how often you can expect to meet.

Ask how the planner selects your investment solutions. The planner’s role is to be your guide to financial products. You should be free to implement your plan with the planner or elsewhere. Ask how the planner is compensated. Ask how much you will pay for the planner’s services and ask if the charge is for the plan only or for ongoing service as well.

Ask if the planner is a member of a professional association. If not, why not? Do not hesitate to ask any other questions concerning a planner’s methods, techniques or procedures. After all, you are asking that person to shape your financial future.