When I moved from Latin America to the U.S., I was coming from an unstable economy with limited security. Latin America is a place where financial investment companies are still not fully regulated. It was not surprising to hear sad stories about relatives losing all their savings to a bank that had no insurance protection or tales of a friend buying property from a person who did not hold the real property title. I’ll be frank: We can use a higher level of regulation in our Latin countries to protect our personal finances.
So as a Latina, I had a hard time trusting someone with my money. Coming from a less regulated place with informal transactions and limited protection was challenging for me. It takes patience and knowledge to feel comfortable. With few exceptions, the profession of financial planning does not really exist in Latin America. We have bankers for banking accounts and lenders for loans. Most banks are not even connected to their investment departments, which are usually reserved for the wealthiest 10% of the population. So, if you are a Latina like me, here are some tips to help you feel more confident with your CFP® professional.
Choose a CFP® Professional With International Expertise
Hiring a CFP® professional who has a similar background or who has navigated the same path as you can accelerate the trust process. If your family members don’t live near you, estate planning can be challenging, so make sure you prioritize that with your planner. As a Latina CFP® professional, I often plan with clients who are first-generation Latino Americans and their international beneficiaries. For these clients, cross-border issues need to be taken into consideration to minimize financial consequences. Make sure you ask your financial planner to give examples of how they’ve dealt with similar client issues in the past.
Include Your Family in the Planning Process
The Latino community often focuses on taking care of the family as a unit. Most rely on their closest relatives for advice, so it may be wise to include your partner, parents and children in your financial plan. This way you can all work together as a family and align your financial plan with the family’s well-being. I recommend that you introduce your financial planner to your family early on. By including your family, you’ll accelerate the relationship you are building with your financial planner as they learn about your values, culture and unique traditions.
Ensure Your Plan Covers Your Needs
Most financial plans include cash flow planning, retirement, education, taxes, and estate planning. Debt management and asset protection are also important. In my early years in the U.S., it took me a long time to establish credit and to understand how to best protect my assets. Many financial structures and types of insurance we take for granted in the U.S. are not as readily available in Latin America. Always ask about the advantages and disadvantages of moving money and protecting assets here versus there. And be sure to ask your financial planner for illustrations — sometimes a picture can explain more than a thousand words.
Choose a CFP® professional you can trust to help you and your family make a solid financial plan. Visit LetsMakeAPlan.org to find a CFP® professional in your area.