First steps with a Financial Planner

Your Certified Financial Planner® professional or Qualified Associate Financial Planner professional is here to help you understand your financial situation, identify your financial needs and achieve your financial goals. 

They can work with you to create, implement and modify a financial plan to start achieving your goals, set your financial priorities when you have competing needs for limited money and protect your family from the unexpected. But taking the first step can be intimidating.


Questions to Ask Your Financial Planner

Fortunately, knowing what to look for in a planner and asking the right questions can help you get started.

1. Why should I work with you?

CFP® professionals and QAFP® professionals undergo rigorous training and must adhere to strict ethical standards, making them particularly well-positioned to help Canadians seeking financial advice. They offer deep expertise based on their education, experience and uncompromising commitment to best serve the interests of their clients – and no one else. Ask your planner about their credentials and experience in working with other clients like you.  


2. How does this partnership work? How do we build trust? 

Understanding how the relationship between you and your planner works will help you feel confident in your partnership. Trust is necessary so that you can both have the challenging conversations that personal finances can often involve. 

Ask your planner about their own attitudes about money – including saving, spending and debt reduction. Tell them about your own lifelong relationship with money, while communicating your own preferences for the partnership. That means asking them about their working hours and whether they can accommodate evenings or weekends if needed. If you prefer to meet virtually, ask them what apps or tools they use to enable this. 

Talking to your financial planning professional about your history of managing your money, your unique needs, and your preferred ways of communicating can get the partnership off to the best possible start. 


3. Will you be the only professional working with me?

Some financial planners work in a team environment whereas others work in a solo office and/or bring in outside specialists to help. Ask your planner about this and to share the names, roles and qualifications of other professionals.


4. How do I know you’re right for me?

Depending on what stage of life you’re in and what your needs and goals are, it’s best to communicate your priorities right away and determine if their expertise is best suited to accommodate your goals. Are you looking for straightforward advice on budgeting, saving and investing? Or do you have more complex financial needs involving estate planning and small business needs?  

What’s your life stage? What Life Moment are you focused on? Are you saving for a big purchase, like a house? Are you planning to start a family? Are you saving for retirement? Are you new to Canada? The answers to these questions will help determine whether your potential partner is perfectly matched to your unique circumstances. 

Use the Find Your Planner tool to help you start the journey to finding a planner who’s truly right for you and start these important discussions.


5. How much do your services cost?  

Financial planning professionals get paid in a variety of ways, and costs vary depending on the planner’s services and your needs.  Planners employed by a bank or large financial institution may receive compensation through commission or fees on services, or through salary and bonuses. Independent financial planners may provide a fee-based model or charge hourly rates. 

Knowing how your planner is paid, and what their services cost, are core elements of your working relationship so don’t hesitate to discuss these issues right at the start.  Your planner should be willing to explain their compensation and your costs clearly and fully.   


6. What type of client do you usually work with?  

Just as your situation is unique, professional financial planners often have their own unique areas of expertise. Maybe they have the most experience helping younger clients tackle credit-card debt, or perhaps they specialize in estate planning. While they’re committed to helping you achieve your goals and will always act in your best interest, the roadmap they draw for you may differ from one planner to the next.  

When you use the Find Your Planner tool, you can search by areas of focus or languages spoken. During your first meeting, you can also discuss with your potential financial planner what they typically focus on, what kinds of clients they generally partner with, and whether it aligns with your expectations, needs, and goals.


7. Have you ever been disciplined for professional misconduct in your career?

Ask your QAFP professional or CFP professional if they have ever been disciplined by any organization that oversees their conduct.  Failure to comply with FP Canada’s Standards of Professional Responsibility can result in professional discipline. The FP Canada Standards Council reviews all complaints about QAFP professionals and CFP professionals through a rigorous process. All disciplinary hearing reports are published on FP Canada’s website, and disciplinary history is linked to our Find Your Planner tool.


Working with a Financial Planner

Learn more about working with a CFP professional or QAFP professional.

A Planner’s Responsibility to You →

What's next?

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