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Financial Planning Help

Who can use the term ‘financial planner?’

Most governments do not regulate financial planners as financial planners; instead, they regulate planners as stock brokers, insurance agents or investment advisers, depending on the services they provide. Consequently, many people who are not qualified to do so call themselves financial planners.

To determine if a financial adviser is capable of offering comprehensive financial planning, review our information about the financial planning process and choosing a financial planner.

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

Financial planners take an integrated approach to developing recommendations and strategies for your financial situation, while accountants, investment advisers, stockbrokers or insurance agents may focus on a particular area of your financial life. Review our information on different types of advisers.

What is the best age to start financial planning?

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.

How are financial planners paid?

There is no uniform method by which financial planners are paid. A planner can be paid as follows:

  • 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;
  • 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.

Do I have to pay a financial planner for the first interview, if so how much?

Most financial planners provide you with one free half-hour or hour meeting to talk about your reasons for wanting to work with them. During the initial interview, the planner will also decide if he or she can help you and explain how he or she 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.

Can I do my own financial planning?

Some personal finance software packages, magazines or self-help books can help you do your own financial planning. However, you may decide to seek help from a professional financial planner if:

  • You need expertise that you don’t possess in certain areas of your finances. For example, a financial planner can help you evaluate the level of risk in your investment portfolio or adjust your retirement plan due to changing family circumstances;
  • You want to get a professional opinion about the financial plan you developed for yourself;
  • You don’t feel you have the time to spare to do your own financial planning;
  • You have an immediate need or unexpected life event such as a birth, inheritance or major illness;
  • You feel that a professional adviser could help you improve on how you are currently managing your finances; or
  • You know that you need to improve your current financial situation but don’t know where to start.

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