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Industry Insight: Achieving financial goals may require professional help

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It may be time for individuals to consider firing themselves – from one job, at least.

For those who act as their own financial advisers, now is a good time to re-evaluate the direction they are headed.

Amid a flood of information, people make decisions about their financial lifestyles, investments and asset management, either consciously or by default.

Ask how do-it-yourself financial planning is working. It may be time to enlist a professional.

When it’s time to get help
Everyone gets an occasional hand with budgeting, evaluating a mortgage or deciding how to invest a 401(k). These questions may be answered by talking to a savvy friend, banker or family member, or even going online to a reliable financial education site.

But when the dollar amounts are large and long-term financial goals – retirement, college savings or the future of a business – are on the line, the safest plan is to engage in ongoing, customized financial planning with a professional.

In most situations, a good rule of thumb is to engage a financial planner when one’s investable assets exceed $100,000 and/or household income exceeds $150,000.

Business professionals often discover the hard way that they should focus on their own core expertise and hire a professional to help manage the financial complexities.

What to look for
The key is to seek an experienced professional who analyzes individual situations and provides independent guidance. Financial planning is a process, not a product.

These six issues should be discussed with any potential adviser:

Credentials. Ask the prospective financial planner about what relevant academic degrees are in place. Find out about professional credentials, such as Certified Financial Planner or Chartered Financial Consultant.

Experience. Look for an adviser with at least 10 years of experience, plus a team. There is much to gain from an adviser who has experienced all the twists and turns of the economic roller coaster.

Team approach. Explore the experience of the adviser’s team. Do they provide access to professionals with complementary expertise in banking, investments, insurance, trust and tax law? A tailored team helps navigate complexities and achieve financial goals.

Philosophy. Financial advisers should clearly explain their management philosophies. Since each client is different, a good planner will also explore family situations, business needs and risk preferences.

Process. Building a strong financial future is not a one-time decision to buy an investment or insurance product. An adviser should focus on implementing a process that strives to achieve goals and not one that is product- or commission-driven.

Fees. A financial planner shouldn’t be shy about discussing compensation. It’s important to know whether the planner gets paid on a fixed-fee or hourly basis, or earns commissions or incentives from providers of financial products. A good planner will be open to discussing incentives.

Launch a search
Once you’ve determined that it’s time to enlist professional financial help, start with current relationships. Ask your banker, accountant, lawyer or friends, for example, if they can recommend a financial planner who has helped them.

Conduct interviews. Before hiring anyone, ask the financial planners about the issues listed above, and make a comparison based on facts. Find a financial adviser who instills trust. There needs to be “chemistry” for the relationship to work well.

Above all, start moving forward. Don’t be discouraged by past setbacks, and don’t let present uncertainties cause paralysis.

Matt Connell, CFP, is a vice president and financial adviser for UMB Bank’s Asset management division in Springfield. He may be reached at[[In-content Ad]]


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