At Forbes.com is “The Fee-Only Planner” blog by Michael Chamberlain. One of his entries entitled “Fee-Only Financial Planners Help You in Three Ways” listed these three ways that a comprehensive financial planner helps:
There are three general areas where fee-only financial planners can help you:
1- Areas in which you know you need help
2- Areas you don’t know about that are important to your financial well being
3- Areas you think you understand…but your understanding is incomplete or incorrect.
Here are some examples of each:
1. Even something as simple as retirement planning can fall into all three categories. Many people know that they need help with retirement planning, but the way they think about retirement planning is too simplistic. The best retirement plans take into account the important of Roth accounts and tax planning.
2. Tax planning is probably the most important part of wealth management. With all the changes to tax legislation it is important to remember that complexity is opportunity. For small business owners in Virginia paying $50,000 in state income tax they could save $10,000 with one simple technique.
3. The average investor believes a good investment philosophy involves jumping in and out of the market at the right time or picking the individual stocks which will outperform the market. Few understand how to craft a good asset allocation and why rebalancing boosts performance returns.
The best advice in the article was on being wary of so-called financial planners who are not fee-only fiduciaries:
Unfortunately, anyone can call himself or herself a financial planner and many insurance salesmen, Broker-Dealer representatives, and some bankers love to use the term since it lulls potential customers into a false sense of security since the real goal is to generate a commission when they sell you a product.
When commissions are involved, you never know if the recommendation is in the salesperson’s best interest or yours. Salespeople who call themselves financial planners have tainted the reputation of the field of financial planning with overzealous selling of too much and the wrong type of investments or insurance.
Clients should be on guard when dealing with sales people at even name brand financial services companies such as banks, brokerage firms and Insurance companies.
To avoid the potential conflict of interest, use the services of a fee–only financial planner. These planners do not sell products. They simple analyze your situation and provide advice. Since you pay them for a plan or for their time they do not benefit financially if you take their advice. On the other hand, those planners who are Registered Investment Advisors are legally required to keep your interest foremost at all times!
You deserve a fiduciary standard of care! Visit the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors (NAPFA) to find a fee-only fiduciary in your area.