Today, your hopes and dreams are no different than in the past. Like most people, you probably want to buy a home, put your children through college, and retire with a comfortable income. But the world has become a more complex place than it was ten or twenty years ago, especially when it comes to your finances. You may already be working with financial professionals – such as an accountant who advises you in a specific area. But if you would like a comprehensive financial plan to help you secure your future, you may benefit from the expertise of a financial advisor.
What services can a financial advisor provide?
Even if you feel competent enough to develop a plan of your own, a financial advisor can act as a sounding board for your ideas and help you focus on your goals, using his or her broad knowledge of areas such as estate planning and investments. A financial advisor may help you:
- Set financial goals
- Determine the state of your current financial affairs by reviewing your income, assets, and liabilities, evaluating your insurance coverage and your investment portfolio, assessing your tax obligations, and examining your estate plan
- Develop a plan to help meet your financial goals which addresses your current financial weaknesses and builds on your financial strengths
- Make recommendations about specific products and services (many advisors are qualified to sell a range of financial products)
- Monitor your plan and periodically evaluate its progress
- Adjust your plan to help meet your changing financial goals and to accommodate changing investment markets or tax laws
Five misconceptions about financial advisors
Maybe you have reservations about consulting a financial advisor because you're uncertain about what to expect. Here are some common misconceptions, and the truth behind them:
- Most people don't need financial advisors — While it's true that you may have the knowledge and ability to manage your own finances, the financial world grows more intricate every day. A qualified financial advisor has the expertise to help you navigate a steady path towards your financial goals.
- All financial advisors are the same — Financial advisors are not covered by uniform state or federal regulations, so there can be a considerable disparity in their qualifications and business practices. Some may specialize in one area such as investment planning, while others may sell a specific range of products, such as insurance. A qualified financial advisor generally looks at your finances as an interrelated whole, and can help you with many of your financial needs.
- Financial advisors serve only the wealthy — Some advisors do only take on clients with a minimum amount of assets to invest. Many, however, only require that their clients have at least some discretionary income.
- Financial advisors are only interested in comprehensive plans — Financial advisors generally prefer to offer advice within the context of a client's current situation and overall financial goals. But financial advisors frequently help clients with specific matters such as rolling over a retirement account or developing a realistic budget.
- Financial planners aren't worth the expense — Like other professionals, financial advisors receive compensation for their services, and it's important for you to understand how they're paid. But a good financial advisor may help you save and earn more than you'll pay in fees.
When do I need a financial advisor?
In many cases, a specific life event or a perceived need may prompt you to seek professional financial planning guidance. Such events or needs might include:
- Getting married or divorced
- Having a baby or adopting a child
- Paying for your child's college education
- Buying or selling a family business
- Changing jobs or careers
- Planning for your retirement
- Developing an estate plan
- Coping with the death of your spouse
- Receiving an inheritance or a financial windfall
In these situations, a financial professional can help you make objective, rather than emotional, decisions. However, you don't have to wait until an event occurs before you consult a financial advisor. A financial advisor can help you develop an overall strategy for approaching your financial goals that not only anticipates what you'll need to do to reach them, but that remains flexible enough to accommodate your evolving financial needs.
Source: Broadridge Financial Solutions, accessed October 22, 2019.