Funding Your Family’s Future jan 2016
Author by Rina Shah The Arpan Group
Funding Your Family’s Future:
A Guide to Choosing the Right Financial Planner
Financial advisors aren’t just for millionaires. Individuals of all ages and circumstances can benefit from the guidance a financial advisor offers. Recent college graduates have different financial goals than couples in their 40s. A newly married couple may be interested in purchasing a new home, whereas an older couple wants to maintain financial security well into retirement. Whatever the situation, a financial advisor or planner can assist with major financial decisions.
While some choose the do-it-yourself approach to securing their financial future, others seek the assistance of financial professionals. Many even procrastinate when it comes to making crucial financial decisions simply because the process is too daunting. Seema Ramroop, CRPS, Senior Financial Advisor with Merrill Lynch, works with her clients “… at different stages of their growth and to help [them] seek their preferred lifestyles through a one-on-one relationship.” A financial advisor is able to answer the many confusing and complicated questions you may have related to investments, insurance, inheritance, college funding, retirement funds, and more.
The prospect of choosing and working with a financial adviser is overwhelming, and the process of selecting a financial advisor may seem like no easy feat. How do you choose an individual who understands your needs (and those of your family) as well as your financial goals for the future? Whether you are buying a business, saving for college, or funding your retirement, your main goal is to find someone you not only trust, but also formulates the right strategy for securing your financial future. Finding the right financial planner is the first step to securing your family’s financial future and ensuring all your financial goals are met.
Factors to Consider
When researching financial advisors, remember that not all financial professionals are the same. Stockbrokers, accountants, and insurance agents provide specialized services like buying stocks and mutual funds or tax-related assistance. Financial planners, on the other hand, provide guidance about investments and insurance as well as about major financial decisions like buying a house or business, retirement, and college funding.
During the process of researching and meeting with potential financial planners, keep your financial goals front and center. Samant Sharma, CFP, Wealth Management Advisor, advises clients to “look at their goals and needs, and ask questions regarding the planning process as it relates to achieving those goals.” In addition to keeping a list of goals, consider the following factors when choosing a financial planner:
Credentials: Look for someone who is licensed and has gone through rigorous testing and training. A Certified Financial Planner (CFP) goes through training on regulations and ethics and must commit to ongoing education to retain their license, so check that their credentials are current.
Experience: How experienced is the advisor? Has the financial planner weathered economic slumps? Are they familiar with types of financial goals you hope to achieve? Review their qualifications and do research on their website.
References: As with any major decision, ask family and friends for recommendations. Does the individual have a good track record? Do they make appropriate recommendations and maintain periodic check-ins?
Reports: Will you receive quarterly and annual reports? Does the advisor check-in periodically to gauge progress and make adjustments when needed? A good financial planner will not disappear once the checks have been written, but rather maintain a strong working relationship.
Compensation: Some financial planners are paid by flat fee by the hour while others rely solely on commissions based on your investments. Commission-based planners may be motivated to sell you certain products, so it is best search for a fiduciary that has pledged to keep the client’s best interest in mind. When making payments, checks should always be written to a brokerage, insurance or financial services firm – not to the individual.
Prepare for Your First Meeting
Once a financial advisor has been selected, what next? Ramroop advises clients to first begin “by asking themselves what is it they are trying to achieve financially.” Whether you want to buy a house or ensure you have enough saved for retirement, your goals will frame the meeting. Sharma adds that clients should “gather financial information, assets and liabilities, to allow the Advisor to better provide possible solutions for you to consider.”
When sitting down with your financial planner, keep a list of questions ready so all concerns are addressed. Questions to ask during the initial meeting may include:
- How do I know if I have enough savings to fund my goals?
- How can I afford to keep up with rising healthcare costs?
- What would happen to my family if we lost one or both of our incomes?
- Do I have enough cash flows from my business and what are other sources of liquidity?
- What strategies should I use to create a family legacy and be tax efficient?
- What strategies can I use to plan for retirement?
- What is the best way to leave money with a charity?
Tips from the Experts
The experts share their advice for those beginning the process of financial planning.
Seema Ramroop: It is a robust process, and it can be very easy to become overwhelmed by it initially … Your advisor’s role is to be a guide and to provide clarity for all the minutia.
Samant Sharma: … Consistency of two-way communication is key. Updating your Financial Advisor as your life evolves will help match what your money is doing with what your life is doing.
Special thanks to the experts who contributed their thoughts and advice to this article.
Seema Ramroop, CRPS
Assistant Vice President
Senior Financial Advisor
Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith Inc.
Tel: (727) 799-5621
Samant Sharma, CFP
First Vice President
Wealth Management Advisor, Portfolio Manager
The Sharma Group
Tel: (727) 799-5615
About the Author
Rina Shah is the CEO and founder of The Arpan Group, a boutique ad agency and public relations firm that specializes in capturing untouched ethnic markets. From press releases and media kits to marketing materials and by-line articles, The Arpan Group customizes solutions based on the client’s needs. For more information, visit www.thearpangroup.com or call (703) 651-6670.