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Your rights as a client

Working with a financial planner can be an extremely rewarding and valuable experience for you and your family. If you’ve decided to work with a financial planner, it’s important to understand your rights in this professional relationship. By knowing your rights and what to expect from a financial planner, you can take an active role in shaping your financial future. If you are working with a financial planner, take our quiz to determine your level of comfort with your financial planning relationship.

You have the right to objective advice.
Your needs should be at the heart of all recommendations made by your financial planner. Your planner should use his or her experience and judgment to carefully consider your situation, and provide you with advice that best meets your goals. Sometimes, this objectivity may require the financial planner to explain that your goals are unrealistic given your current resources and financial commitments. Your planner may then suggest alternative goals or priorities.

You have the right to a planner who is competent.
You have the right to expect your financial planner to demonstrate an appropriate level of knowledge to offer financial planning advice, such as attainment of the CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER certification. Your planner should complete continuing education courses as part of his or her ongoing commitment to competency.

You have the right to be treated fairly.
Your financial planner should treat you the same way he or she would like to be treated in a professional relationship. This involves clearly stating what services will be provided and at what price. The planner should also explain the risks associated with his or her financial recommendations and any potential conflicts of interest. For example, does the planner gain personally or financially from your purchase of a particular product or from the outcome of a suggested strategy?

You have the right to privacy.
To get the best results from your financial planning relationship, you need to divulge relevant personal and financial information to your financial planner on a regular basis. Your planner should keep this information in confidence, only sharing it with others to conduct business on your behalf, at your consent, or when required to do so by court order.

You have the right to a planner who is professional.
Your financial planner should not provide investment advice or stock brokerage or insurance services unless he or she is properly qualified and licensed to do so, as required by law. If your situation requires expertise that your planner does not possess, he or she should suggest other professionals who may assist you.

You have the right to a planner who is diligent.
Your financial planner should discuss your goals and objectives with you and explain what you can expect from the relationship before engaging you as a client. Once the planner has determined that he or she (or his or her staff and/or network of related professionals) can assist you and has gathered sufficient information, the financial planner should make – and, if appropriate, implement – recommendations that are suitable for you. A diligent financial planner reasonably investigates the products or services he or she recommends. A diligent planner also closely supervises any staff working with you.

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