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The short view of a personal financial planner’s function is to work on your behalf to make you richer or protect your assets by providing solid advice. There are excellent planners that take a comprehensive look at the entire financial picture for clients and even hold their hands through crises. Unfortunately, there are also planners that have little formal training and are simply out to collect fees and commissions. The problem is exacerbated by the lack of any formal requirements as to education or experience in order for someone to hang their shingle as a financial planner.
To ensure you are in good hands with a planner before trusting them with your financial matters, seek those that have some form of formal certification, such as a Certified Financial Planner (CFP) designation. This designation is obtained rigorous study, passing a difficult exam, adherence to the CFP Board’s Code of Ethics and demonstrating sufficient work experience. Other designations include the Chartered Financial Consultant (ChFC) and Personal Financial Specialist (PFS) which are offered by accounting and insurance companies. In summary, make sure your planner has at least a minimal level of training experience before formally engaging them and paying a fee.