If you’ve been following our recent articles about the need to take control of your own financial future you will by now have resolved to implement or review your personal financial plan.
The next step is to find someone who can help you to do this. Here, in no particular order, are some of the characteristics that distinguish the best financial planners and advisors.
- They listen: Good planners spend a lot of time listening to you. It is essential that they get to know you and your own long-term objectives very well before making any recommendations on what actions you should be taking. Beware of anyone who immediately proposes solutions or offers products before completely understanding what you want to achieve.
- They look at the whole picture: Financial planning is much more than choosing investments. The best planners look at the whole picture, including investment strategies, life and health risks, taxation and estate preservation when creating a financial plan.
- They can do the math: Once you have determined your goals in general terms your best long-term strategy will probably require a comparison of several options. At this point you should be making decisions based on the numbers. Your planner should have the skills and resources to do this well and should provide you with written documentation.
- They communicate clearly: Your planner should be able to fully explain your plan and the financial products that support it in clear enough terms that you can understand it completely. They should take whatever time is required to do this well. If you do not fully understand the financial products in your portfolio then you should question if they are appropriate for you.
- They are qualified: Professional designations do not necessarily guarantee that an individual will be the right planner for you but they are an important indicator that this person has committed the time to become educated and made a commitment to comply with a code of ethics.
- They are professional: This includes knowledge, integrity, commitment to staying current and continuing education. A good planner will always work in your best interest and maintain confidentiality.
Ultimately the final measure is “Do you trust them?” None of the other things matter if you do not trust that your advisor is working in your best interests all of the time.
Who we are:
Barry Altman, PEng, CFP
Barry lives in Meaford, having moved here from Elora almost five years ago. He has over 25 years of experience in private business in a number of fields including finance, sales, design and project management of numerous projects in North America, Europe and South America. Barry is a Professional Engineer and a Certified Financial Planner.
Owen Craig, B.Comm, M.A. Econ.
Owen joined Sun Life in 2008 after spending a dozen years in energy trading. Before leaving Calgary, he was responsible for managing a commodity portfolio worth over $200 million per year on behalf of Alberta consumers. But having grown up in small-town Ontario, he began exploring opportunities to come back this way. When Sun Life approached him about utilizing his skills to develop lifelong financial solutions that work for people, he jumped at the chance to relocate his family to the Georgian triangle.
Note that the information provided in these articles will, by necessity, be general in nature and you should always consult a qualified professional for advice on your specific situation. The opinions expressed are solely those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the companies we represent. The authors retain all rights to publication.
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