As a Financial Planner, I am often asked: “How much money do I need to work with you?” or “Do you require a minimum amount of assets?”
It’s easy to understand why that question is asked so often. Traditionally, the financial services industry has placed a greater emphasis on what you have now vs. what you are trying to build and/or will have in the future.
Often times, there is less focus on strategic and goals-based planning. Well, this is changing. True financial planning is about helping clients make better financial decisions to achieve their personal financial goals. This includes creating a better understanding of employee benefits, investment strategies, estate planning, risk management, tax planning, and, of course, personal and financial planning.
A Certified Financial Planner® helps people identify and prioritize their goals; create roadmaps/blueprints to guide them and check in/monitor their progress. In short, financial planners act as personal financial consultants. Job One is placing our client’s interests first. So, let me break it down in a language that might help to explain the differences in the professions and their expertise.
Financial Advisor: Broad-based expertise, usually assigned by a company and/or corporate partner; helps individuals identify assets and assigns specific assets to goals
Investment Advisor: Specific expertise in investments, including risk profiling, Investment Policy Statements, asset allocation recommendations, risk profiling and rebalancing strategies
Certified Financial Planner® (CFP): Includes all of the above—both Financial Advisor and Investment Advisor roles—plus strategic and goals-based planning; this includes tax and estate planning, investments, risk management/protection strategies, retirement and lifestyle management
At the end of the day, you need to figure out what approach best fits your needs. All of the above mentioned are professionals that have met certain levels of training and are required to complete specific continuing educational requirements. What’s most important is what you need and how your financial professional will work with you.