Should I Hire a Financial Planner?

by Sophia Bera on December 13, 2017

With the new year around the corner, many of you are setting financial goals for 2018. You’re paying off the last of your student loans, switching jobs, starting that Roth IRA, or getting ready to buy a home.

You might also be in the middle of some major life changes — getting engaged or married, having a baby, or quitting your full-time job to start your own business. Or maybe you decided that you want to retire at 50, and you want to put a plan in place that will allow you to do that.

These are all ideal times to work with a financial planner.

But how do you even find one? What is working with a financial planner like? Shouldn’t you be able to handle this money stuff yourself?  

It’s never been easier to search for, talk to, and work with a financial planner (thanks to Google and video chats!). While it’s possible to handle your finances yourself, we could all benefit from the guidance of a pro. After all, even financial planners have financial planners!

Why Is Working With a Financial Planner Helpful?

What a therapist does for your mental health, or a personal trainer does for your physical health, a financial planner does for your financial health. We take a wide view of your financial values and goals to help you create the life you want and put your money to work for you. We’re part coach, part teacher, part project manager, and part accountability buddy.

We also connect you to other professionals, like accountants if you need tax prep help, estate planning attorneys if you need to draft a will, or insurance agents if you need coverage beyond what your employer provides.

While traditionally, financial planners and advisors pretty much stuck to helping clients with their investments and retirement planning, younger planners like me prefer to look at a client’s situation more holistically.

We ask you about your career goals. We discuss the money lessons you learned from your family when you were growing up. We help couples reconcile their different attitudes toward money. We walk clients through evaluating a job offer or selecting their company benefits during open enrollment.

These are all things that affect your finances, and we keep them in mind as we help clients figure out how their money should be allocated.

One of the biggest benefits I provide is tax planning: helping you lower your tax bill in high income tax years by maximizing your company benefits while taking advantage of Roth conversions in lower tax years.

How Do I Find a Financial Planner I Can Trust?

I highly recommend looking for a fee-only CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNERwho is a fiduciary. We don’t make commissions by selling you services you don’t need, so our advice has your best interest in mind. You’ll be charged a clearly-explained fee for our services.

You can easily find financial planners online! All of these networks are for fee-only financial planners. Check out:

It’s common to interview a few planners until you find one that’s a good fit for you. I don’t take offense if you do this! What I want more than anything is for you to find the perfect planner for you!

What Is the Process Like?

At most traditional financial planning firms, you have to meet high asset minimums of $500,000-$1M before a planner will meet with you. Then you’d have to take half a day off of work to drive to their office, look for parking, and then sit in front of the mahogany desk of a man your dad’s age.

From Gen Y Planning’s beginning, I wanted to turn this model upside down! You meet with us on a video call from the comfort of your own home. I offer evening appointments a few days a week so you don’t have to use up vacation time or figure out child care (I love meeting clients’ kids and pets on our calls). And, most importantly, you don’t need to be worth $500,000!

How Is Gen Y Planning Different?

While every financial planning firm has a slightly different process, this is our process at Gen Y Planning:

You begin by filling out an application or prospective client questionnaire. The questions may seem a bit personal, but we take your security very seriously and only use that information to determine if we’re a good fit for each other and what your main financial concerns may be.

The information you provide is the foundation for our initial call. This call is free, and in it you can discuss the reasons you’re looking for a financial planner. We’ll will walk you through the financial planning process and answer your questions.

If you decide to work with Gen Y Planning, you’ll sign an electronic contract that details the work we’ll will do with you and pay an online invoice. From there, you’ll upload recent statements for all your accounts and debts to a secure folder — checking, savings, retirement accounts, investment accounts, mortgage, student loan, and more. We will comb through all of these documents to prepare for our initial client meeting with you. We also send you additional questionnaires to get to know your situation even better.

In our Discovery meeting, you get down to the details. What are your goals and values? What are your concerns? What major financial choices will you be making in the next few years?

We use all the financial data you provided, plus what we learned from you in your meeting, to put together our initial financial planning recommendations. We’re also happy to help you complete tasks on our video call like setting up new accounts, rebalancing your 401(k), and setting up automatic contributions to a new online savings account.

Going forward, we check in with you a few times a year, or more often if your life situation changes. If you have questions that pop up, Gen Y Planning offers clients unlimited email support, so we are here when you need us.

When Should I Fire My Financial Planner?

If you ever worry that your planner or advisor doesn’t have your best interest in mind or you feel like he or she is  trying to sell you insurance products or investments that you don’t need, you don’t have to continue working with them. If your money is invested in a way that makes you feel uncomfortable, then you can (and should) fire your financial planner and find a planner who will listen to you. No one cares more about your money than you do.

If you in inherited assets, you don’t have to work with the same planner or advisor who your family member worked with. Sometimes people feel bad leaving an advisor or financial planner, but this is your money now and you have a duty and an obligation to honor this money in the best way for you and your family. That might mean using a portion of this inheritance to pay down debt or build your emergency savings, rather than aggressively investing it in the stock market like your mom did. (Keep in mind, that there are tax implications to selling investments.)

You should fire any financial planner who is judgmental or condescending toward you. Women and young clients should be especially aware of planners who don’t take them seriously. Sadly, it’s still common for some planners to assume that men control the finances in a couple, or they feel that younger clients with lower net worths don’t need financial planning. Start interviewing other financial planners and find someone who treats you with the respect you deserve.

Looking for a Financial Planner in 2018?

The Gen Y Planning team would love to hear from you! We work with Gen Y and Gen X clients who want to align their money with their values so they can live their best lives. Fill out an application and a member of the team will be in touch.

All of us at Gen Y Planning wish you a happy, healthy, and magical holiday season!