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Do I Need a Financial Planner?


Though a financial planner is not necessary to establish a savings plan, an experienced financial planner may be able to assist you in creating a plan that incorporates all of your financial goals in relationship to your resources, risk and lifestyle. How do you go about finding a trustworthy and experienced planner?

When searching for a financial planner, ask about credentials and seek an individual who possesses a special interest and knowledge in the area of Section 529 plans. Make sure the financial planner you choose has achieved certain designations in financial planning. Ask the planner what qualifies him to offer financial planning advice and whether he is recognized as a Certified Financial Planner™ professional or CFP® practitioner, a Certified Public Accountant/ Personal Financial Specialist (CPA/PFS), or a Chartered Financial Consultant (ChFC).

If the planner holds a financial planning designation or certification, check on his background with the CFP Board or other relevant professional organizations. You can call the Board at (800) 487-1497 to obtain additional disciplinary information about the professional.

You should also ask whether anyone besides you will benefit from the planner’s recommendations. Some business relationships or partnerships that a planner has could affect her professional judgment while working with you, inhibiting the planner from acting in your best interest.  The planner may also have relationships or partnerships that should be disclosed to you, such as business she receives for referring you to an insurance agent, accountant or attorney for implementation of planning suggestions.

For more tips and strategies for selecting a financial planner, visit the SEC Web Site at www.sec.gov/answers/finplan.htm.