In today’s financial world few can go through the maze without help and with the increased demand for financial advice. There is now an alphabet soup of designations causing even more confusion with many so called “financial planners” concentrating on the sale of products such as securities, mutual funds or insurance.
Thankfully, organisations whose members deal with the personal finances of individuals have tried to make your decision easier. The Financial Planners Standards Council (FPSC) was created in 1995 to simplify things for consumers and raise the bar for those holding themselves out as financial planners by establishing the CFP™ designation as the pre-eminent financial planning designation in Canada. Individuals holding the only internationally* recognised financial planner designation, the CFP (Certified Financial Planner) designation, are well trained and adhere to a code of ethics that puts the consumers best interest first. Founding members of the Financial Planners Standards Council included:
CUIC – The Credit Union Institute of Canada
The Canadian Institute of Financial Planners
CMA – Certified Management Accountants
CGA – Certified General Accountants
CA – Chartered Accountants
CAIFA – Canadian Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors**
CAFA- Canadian Association of Financial Planners**
*Recognised in 24 countries world-wide including Canada, United States; United Kingdom; France; Switzerland; Germany; South Africa; Japan; Australia; New Zealand; Hong Kong; Malaysia; Singapore; South Korea
**These associations merged on January 1, 2003 and became known as ADVOCIS, The Financial Advisors Association of Canada
Many people have a multitude of advisors – accountants, lawyers, stockbrokers, bankers, mutual fund sales people, and insurance agents. The challenge is that with so many advisors offering well meaning, but often-conflicting advice some of their clients are frozen like deer in the headlights. Worse still is that in many instances RISK is unintentionally increased. Working with a CFP (a Certified Financial Planner licensed by the Financial Planners Standards Council) and using an integrated approach to comprehensive planning can potentially reduce risk. Your CFP will have expertise in one or more of the areas and will refer /work with you and specialists in the other areas as illustrated in the diagram below. The integrated approach includes how Wealth Accumulation, Wealth Distribution, Risk Management, Your Company, the Government and Tax all relate to you and your objectives.
Whether or not your financial planner assisted you with your Retirement Lifestyle Planning, your Planner should be able to:
Help with the financial consequences of the life decisions you make.
Provide information on lifestyle issues that may affect you.
Access experts in many different fields to help.
“What questions should I ask when choosing a financial planner?”
It is your life, your money and your decision, so it is important that you are comfortable with your financial planner so don’t hesitate to ask:
What are your qualifications?
What experience do you have?
What services do you offer?
Do you have references from clients?
What is your approach to financial planning? What process do you use?
What is your investment philosophy?
Will you be the only person working with me?
How are you compensated?
How much do you typically charge?
Are you regulated by an organisation?
Could anyone besides me benefit from your recommendations?
Can I have it in writing?