The search for a good financial planner should be exactly that: a search. This is a person who is going to get to know a lot about you, so don’t just pick the first one your search engine kicks back.
First, take some time to identify between three and five people you want to interview. Before someone makes your short list, be sure they are a certified financial planner. How do you know? In their biography or on their website, look for CFP® following their name. For no cost, you can visit www.napfa.org or www.letsmakeaplan.org to find qualified planners.
CFP® professionals, when providing financial planning, are required to act as fiduciaries as a condition of their certification. Why does that matter? Simply put, it means they’re bound to put your interests first when offering advice. And only those with certain certifications are required to do this!
What to Ask
After you’ve got your list of qualified (on paper) candidates, it’s interview time. Make a list of questions and bring some notes about yourself. Do you know what you’re looking for in a financial planner? “I’ll know it when I see it” isn’t very helpful, so be concrete and think about your values and your situation. Do you want someone experienced with locally-based investments? Someone who shares your values around philanthropy? Someone who works with a lot of single parents?
As you sit down with each planner for an interview, look up from your notes long enough to check that the individual is really listening to you. Are they multitasking? Or are they focused on you, and even taking notes themselves? Second, how does the conversation make you feel? Are you instantly comfortable, trusting and excited about working with this person? If there’s no rapport, you should keep looking.
As you’re keeping tabs on those less concrete aspects of the interview, you can run through the 10 questions to ask provided by letsmakeaplan.org. For example, ask about their experience, qualifications, services, costs, and how the office runs their client relationships. Take notes, take the answers away and consider if they match what you’re looking for. With solid information about each person you’ve interviewed, choosing the right planner should happen almost automatically.
What You’ll Learn About Lauri
We look forward to a productive conversation with all potential clients, where we can get to know one another better. Here’s a brief sneak peek into what you’ll learn about how Lauri operates as a CFP®:
- She knows her clients personally. Lauri will get to know your likes, fears, comfort level with financial conversations, values, goals, and how your needs are changing over time. This way, when you call her with an issue, she hones her advice to what’s most important to you.
- She educates her clients. Lauri believes you should feel empowered to make your own decisions, not be told what to do. For example, if an advisor recommends you roll your 401k into an annuity, you should understand why, on top of knowing the other options.
- She understands that all areas of a client’s life are interrelated. Your values influence who you are and what you need. For example,
- If a person is philanthropic, giving is important to them. How does this impact their retirement goals?
- If a family has an active lifestyle that includes boats, trampolines, and other recreational items, their insurance coverage should reflect that.
- If a couple is making decisions about putting their kids through college, their values come into play. Perhaps their parents didn’t pay for college, so they value teaching their kids the discipline of working through school. How do changes in today’s rising college costs influence the reality of this?
Take your time, make your list, and come to your interviews prepared. We’ll be here when you’re ready.