So now you’re ready to use the FP Canada’s Find a Planner tool and reach out to a Certified Financial Planner® professional. It’s easy to use and gives information such as where they’re located and what their specialties are.
Everyone on that list meets the FP Canada’s rigorous criteria. But they should also meet your criteria. I suggest that you set up a first meeting with a planner. If you’re happy and comfortable with them, consider going forward. If you aren’t sure, then meet with another planner from the list. It’s worth doing that extra research, because choosing the right financial planner will impact your future.
Here are 10 questions that will help you choose a competent, qualified professional.
1. What are your qualifications?
If you’ve chosen someone from the Find a Planner tool, you already know they’re FP Canada-certified. But ask about their other credentials.
2. What experience do you have?
Ask how long they’ve been in practice, where they’ve worked, and how their work history relates to their current practice.
3. What services do you offer?
Some financial planners offer financial advice, but sell no financial products.
4. What is your approach?
You want to know, for instance, whether this person will only draw up a plan for you, or also help you implement that plan. You want to ensure that they spend the time up front, getting to know you and your financial goals.
5. Will you be the only person working with me?
Often a CFP professional will act as a quarterback, sourcing others’ expertise to ensure you get the service you need.
6. How will I pay for your services?
Planners can be paid in several ways, from the cost of the financial product they sell you, as a percentage of the assets you entrust to them, or they could charge an hourly or set fee. It’s important to understand how you’ll be paying for their expert service.
7. How much do you typically charge?
The planner should be able to provide you with an easy to understand estimate of their fees.
8. Who, besides me, will benefit?
Ask the planner if they have a written professional obligation to put your interests ahead of their own. If they’re a CFP professional, they’ll attest to this obligation each year, when they renew their certification with FP Canada. You need to know that this is about putting your kids through college, not just theirs.
9. Are you regulated?
Planners who hold the CFP credential are subject to internationally recognized professional standards. But they could also be regulated by provincial authorities if they are, say, selling insurance or securities.
10. Can I have that in writing?
Ask the planner to give you a written agreement that details the services to be provided and how they charge for them. Don’t be afraid to ask questions if something isn’t clear in the agreement. And once you’ve established the initial agreement, ask your CFP professional how often they’ll be updating it.
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For more on finding a financial planner, watch What is a financial planner? and read Choosing a financial planner and Buyer beware: Is your financial planner qualified?