Start the new year by taking control of your financial situation. Working with a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professional can help you achieve your financial goals.
Your goals may evolve over the years as a result of changes in your lifestyle or circumstances. With the help of a CFP® professional, you can create a holistic plan to achieve your goals and check in regularly to ensure you stay on track.
What is the difference between a CFP® professional and a financial advisor?
While there’s no certification or criteria for someone to label themselves a financial advisor, CFP® professionals must meet rigorous education, examination, experience and ethical requirements.
For example, an uncertified financial advisor doesn’t have the strict ethical requirements that CFP® professionals agree to uphold. CFP Board’s Code of Ethics and Standards of Conduct outlines the ethical and practice standards for CFP® professionals. This includes their commitment to CFP Board to act as a fiduciary when providing financial advice to a client.
Being a fiduciary means they have agreed to put their clients’ interests first, even if that means that they earn less money in the process. This is so they can provide you with confidence today and a secure tomorrow.
What services does a CFP® professional provide?
A CFP® professional helps guide your financial journey through financial planning, which is a process that helps maximize your potential for reaching your financial goals. They also provide advice that integrates your personal and financial circumstances, helping you to navigate your financial life and secure your financial future.
As a part of the financial planning process, a CFP® professional can help with areas such as:
- Personal Financial Planning: Day-to-day strategies helping you reach your short and long-term goals.
- Debt and Income Management: Reducing debt and increasing income to reach your goals.
- Retirement Planning: Calculating and learning more about Social Security, account rollovers, veteran benefits, and traditional vs. Roth IRAs.
- Insurance Planning: Determining your risk exposure and need for health, life, disability and long-term care insurance.
- Investment Recommendations: Discovering your risk tolerance, establishing the proper asset allocation for you, and rebalancing your portfolio.
- College Funding Planning: Developing college funding and saving strategies, such as using 529 education savings accounts, UTMA accounts and savings bonds.
- Estate Planning: Determining which estate planning documents you need and identifying strategies in case of inheritance, elder or special needs care, marriage or divorce, and business ownership transfer in case of death or disability.
- Tax Planning: Developing strategies to reduce income taxes, minimize estate taxes, maximize generational wealth transfer and more.
While some CFP® professionals focus their practice on specific areas, others focus on working with specific clients, such as military families and families with special needs children. Regardless of their focus, all CFP® professionals are trained in the fundamentals of financial, insurance, tax and estate planning.
When should I hire a CFP® professional?
Choosing a CFP® professional isn’t a luxury reserved for retirees or high-net-worth earners. In fact, a CFP® professional can offer valuable advice and guidance in all stages of life:
- Starting Out: Preparing for career transitions, paying off student loans, generating income, determining long-term goals and investing.
- Settling Down: Budgeting for kids and expenses, identifying insurance needs, buying a home and financing a home improvement project.
- Midlife: Maximizing retirement savings, navigating a higher tax bracket, planning for your estate and maximizing retirement savings.
- Near Retirement: Catching up on contributions, understanding Medicare and Social Security, hedging against inflation, and reevaluating insurance needs without dependents or a mortgage.
- During Retirement: Preserving income to provide the lifestyle and activities you want (such as traveling or moving to another state), managing taxes and Social Security, and handling wealth transference.
Financial planning can help you reach your goals no matter your stage in life. Moreover, the younger a person is when they begin working with a CFP® professional, the sooner they can benefit from professional financial planning. But even in your 40s, 50s and beyond, a CFP® professional can help you start the new year right.