Choosing a Financial Planner: How to Select an Advisor to Help You Achieve Your Goals

Choosing a Financial Planner: How to Select an Advisor to Help You Achieve Your Goals

by A. Scott White, CFP®, ChFC, CLU
President, Scott White Advisors

What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the words “financial planner?” A common response might be, “A professional who gives investment advice.” And that’s correct, but only partially, because it merely scratches the surface of what comprehensive financial planning involves. In fact, a true financial planner can advise you on all matters that affect your financial security.

Competent financial planners can create a comprehensive strategy to help you realize your financial goals. They will collaborate with your trusted advisors—attorneys, CPAs, and other professionals—to develop a seamless, thorough plan that incorporates all of the areas affecting your financial life.

A comprehensive financial plan should include more than just planning for your retirement, so you need to be sure your advisor offers a wide range of services. The right financial planner will guide you in asset diversification, investment planning and management, estate planning, charitable giving, trusts, and income tax planning. He or she can also assist you with IRA distributions insurance and long-term care planning. And once your plan is in place, your financial planner will provide systematic monitoring—combined with ongoing client communication—to plan for the unexpected and recommend changes when necessary.

To find a good financial planner, ask your CPA, tax attorney, or other advisors for recommendations in your area. Then review their credentials. Is he or she a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professional or holds designations such as Chartered Financial Consultant or Chartered Life Underwriter? After you’ve narrowed your choices, interview them.

During the interview process, some financial planners may ask questions about you, your family, and your financial situation. And you should ask your candidates about their investment philosophy and experience. Also, ask about their charges–are they fee-based, or transaction-driven? Keep your eyes open for possible conflicts of interest. Finally, are you comfortable with the planner’s personality? A suitable financial planner for you offers credentials, expertise, and an investment philosophy and personality that are compatible with yours.

Always remember, people—not financial institutions– manage your money and financial affairs. It’s vital, then, to choose a financial planner you are comfortable with to help guide you and your family toward financial success. A competent financial planner can be an important asset in assisting you with developing a solid financial plan, one that will give you confidence knowing your economic future is in good hands.

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A. Scott White specializes in meeting the comprehensive financial and estate needs of high net worth families. He is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ practitioner, a Chartered Financial Consultant, a Chartered Life Underwriter, and holds a master’s degree in business administration. He served on the National Committee on Planned Giving’s Leave a Legacy committee. He is president of the Financial Planning Association Southwest Florida Chapter; past president of the Southwest Florida Chapter of the American Society of Financial Service Professionals; past president of the Lee County Estate Planning Council; and founding president of the Planned Giving Council of Lee County. For more information, visit Scott White Advisors is an independent Registered Investment Advisor and is located at 1510 Royal Palm Square Boulevard, Fort Myers, Florida 33919; telephone (239) 936-6300. Securities offered through Raymond James Financial Services, Inc., member, FINRA/SIPC. Any opinions are those of Scott White and not necessarily those of Raymond James. Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards Inc. owns the certification marks CFP®, CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™, CFP® in the U.S., which it awards to individuals who successfully complete CFP Board’s initial and ongoing certification requirements.