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How to choose a Certified Financial Planner

By: Nadia Stefyn

Published On: November 21, 2014

So you're ready to take control of your financial health with the help of a professional. Good move.

According to the Financial Planning Standards Council (FPSC), Canadians with comprehensive financial plans reported higher levels of: financial well-being 85%; emotional well-being 62%; and 45% greater overall contentment than those without a plan.

With more than 17,500 Certified Financial Planners (CFPs) across Canada, Ashton College Financial Services instructor Becky Wong recommends interviewing a few first. “When researching, find the right CFP for you. Ask them how many years of experience they have, what area they specialize in (tax, estate planning, retirement etc.), and what their typical clients look like.”

Your planner really needs to understand your goals, so it helps if they specialize in clients in a similar financial situation or stage of life as you. The best planner-client relationships are where both parties communicate clearly and regularly, and there is a high level of trust.

When choosing a financial planner you should also:

  • Do a background search on the advisor and the firm
  • Find out about the fee structure: is it commission-based or fee-for-service?
  • Ask the planner what kind of financial plan they have in place themselves and how they are saving for their own retirement
  • Get references from the planner's long-term clients
  • Speak to your family's own financial planner, or ask friends for recommendations
  • Get up to speed on financial planning terms and strategies, so you can better understand how the planner will manage your finances
  • Trust your gut when meeting with a financial planner. If what they're saying sounds too good to be true, it probably is
  • Get everything you've discussed and agreed upon in writing

The FPSC is a great resource for financial planning newbies. You may like to read up on these 10 questions to ask your Financial Planner, and how the process works once you have found one.


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