As a CERTIFIED FINANICAL PLANNER™ CFP® professional, I get a lot of questions about financial topics. Some, like whether you should have a budget and why your net worth matters, are simple to answer. Other questions require a more in-depth look into your situation and the guidance of a qualified financial professional.

If you’ve never worked with a financial advisor before, you might have a lot of questions about CFP® certification itself. Here are seven important answers to the most frequently asked questions about CFP® professionals.

1. When should I hire a CFP® professional?
When to hire an advisor is one of the most-asked questions about CFP® professionals. The answer is different for everyone. For some people, a specific event could trigger the need for a CFP® professional, such as:

  • A life change or desire to make a life change
  • Approaching retirement
  • An inheritance or unexpected financial windfall
  • A financial crisis such as a layoff or illness

Generally, a good time to hire a financial professional is when you don’t have the expertise, time or desire to manage a plan on your own. 

2. Is hiring a CFP® professional expensive?
No. It’s more affordable than you might think, though your fee can depend on what services you need. 

An hourly fee might be appropriate if you need a one-time consultation or help with a short-term financial project. A monthly or annual fee can make more sense for ongoing financial planning.

3. Does a CFP® professional receive commission?
Some advisors charge by the hour or project while others earn commission from selling products or services to their clients. Another option is to use a combination of the two. Whichever they choose, there are only three options for a CFP® professional to receive compensation:

  • Fee-only
  • Fee-and-commission
  • Commission-only

4. Are all CFP® professionals fiduciaries?
Yes. A CFP® professional is required to act in the best interest of the client at all times. Being a fiduciary includes a duty of care and loyalty to all clients. The standard serves to promote ethical and competent financial planning.

Whether an advisor is a fiduciary should be a frequently asked question, but many people aren’t aware of the difference a fiduciary can make. CFP® professionals commit to CFP Board to act at all times as a fiduciary when providing financial advice to a client.  

5. How often does a CFP® professional recommend updating a financial plan?
A financial plan guides you to your long-term financial goals.

It’s good practice to review your plan once a year. However, more frequent updates to your strategy are often necessary if you:

  • Get a raise
  • Have (or plan to have) children
  • Experience a financial setback
  • Change your career goals
  • Want to pursue a new financial goal

6. Will a CFP® professional stay with a client long-term or rotate them among other advisors in the firm?
When hiring a financial advisor, some clients prefer to meet with the CFP® professional directly. Larger firms may have a team of people to handle your account. If you prefer to work one-on-one with a specific CFP® professional, make your expectations known during your initial meeting.

7. Does a CFP® professional provide more than investment advice?
CFP® professionals are excellent at analyzing financial information. Giving investment advice or managing your portfolio can be an everyday role for a CFP® professional. However, a CFP® professional provides financial planning that extends far beyond investment advice.

Your financial plan should include a sound strategy to support you through retirement and even death. Retirement planning, tax reduction strategies, risk management and estate planning are part of the comprehensive financial plan that a CFP® can provide.