Commonly asked questions from our customers about financial planning and the benefits of working with a Financial Planner.
Q: What is financial planning?
A: Financial planning is a dynamic process where clients work with a professional to identify goals, examine resources, and develop a roadmap to achieve their financial objectives. Financial Planning means much more than just investing. It can provide comfort in knowing how to stay financially on track throughout many stages of life.
Q: Why should I make a financial plan?
A: The adage goes "If you don't know where you’re going, how will you know when you get there?" The planning process helps identify not only what is achievable given your resources, but sometimes what is being overlooked. Ideally, it solidifies that your goals are really your goals and helps balance the pull and push of today’s needs, wants, and wishes with those of the future.
Q: Who is a financial planner?
A: Although many professionals may call themselves “financial planners”, Certified Financial Planners® (CFP®) have completed extensive training and experience requirements, and are held to rigorous ethical standards.
Q: Can I make a plan on my own?
A: The short answer is yes. However, there is a lot to account for and understand. Financial planners have expertise and insight that online financial calculators may not help you with. Personalized assistance can be extremely valuable. How much advice you receive from a planner is up to you.
Q: What should I look for in a financial planner?
A: Look for the CFP® designation and feel free to ask of their experience in any area you are concentrating on (i.e., college planning, retiring, home purchase, inheritance, etc.) The certification also ensures that the planner is acting in YOUR best interest, not their own or the company they work for. The CFP® Board website, www.letsmakeaplan.org, provides you with questions to ask your financial planner.
Q: How can I plan for tomorrow when I can hardly pay for today?
A: Getting started is often the hardest part, but the payoff can be tremendous. If you are having trouble making ends meet today, and you don't take some action for the future, you will likely continue in the same predicament. Financial planning is not just for the wealthy, and is often less expensive than some of the items that creep into our daily spending habits.
Q: How much should I be saving?
A: The answer depends on many factors such as your age, circumstances, goals, and values. If saving isn't already a habit, the important thing is to get started at a manageable level and then strive to increase that level whenever possible. Always make sure you are contributing enough to receive any company matching contributions to retirement plans. Don't leave that compensation on the table.
Q: What type of information do I have to provide?
A: The quantifiable items are what you own, what you owe, and what you earn. In conversations with your financial planner, he or she will also help you uncover the qualitative factors such as your history with money and your core values, as they help you set achievable goals to work towards.
Q: What should a financial plan include?
A: A financial plan should include a review of your goals and objectives, net worth, cash flow, investment portfolio, insurance, and taxes. These are the building blocks used to create projections and to design a plan for implementing strategies to achieve your goals. It can also include probabilities of success for meeting your goals to ensure the peace of mind for which we all strive.
Q: Why do I need to consider insurance with my financial plan?
A: A big part of an effective plan is becoming aware of and addressing the risks that may lie ahead. Insurance helps protect you and your loved ones against catastrophic events. Health insurance, life insurance, disability insurance, auto and home insurance can all be considered in a financial plan. A CFP® can analyze existing policies for their cost effectiveness and benefits to you and your family.
Q: What should I do once I have a plan?
A: Stay actively involved. Executing on your financial plan is a team approach. If you have someone managing your investments, they should execute on your investment strategy. There will be other things like managing cash flow, opening accounts, and saving or spending at the "planned" levels that will require your active involvement. Communication and follow up with your planner will help you adjust to the bumps (up and down) in your roadmap to maintain the lifestyle you choose.
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