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What to look for in a financial planner

May 31, 2022

When it comes to finding a financial planner, everyone has different wants and needs. Some people are looking for someone who can provide them with general advice, while others are looking for someone who can help them specifically with investing or estate planning. While the wants and needs may differ from person to person, the commonality is that everyone is looking for a planner who can help them achieve their financial goals – someone who can help them accomplish their ‘why’.

“Working with a financial planner provides important perspective about your unique financial goals and circumstances,” WealthCo financial planner Owen Komperdo explains. “A financial planner will be able to give you confidence that you are on track to accomplish your objectives. In conjunction with an individual’s accountant and lawyer, the right financial planner can create clarity and comfort for their financial goals.”

The case for having a financial planner is sound, but how does one go about finding the right one?

Qualities to look for in a financial planner

“Above all else, financial planners should be open and non-judgmental,” Komperdo shares. “The financial planning process involves a fluid and frank conversation of one’s personal life, goals, concerns, and much more. A strong financial planner can lead these important conversations, ask the right questions, and can extract from them what is needed to best service their clients.”

Good financial planners work hard to understand the unique situation of their clients, gaining a clear understanding of individual goals, risk tolerance, and the overall financial picture. Financial planners must be able to take into account a variety of information, including economic trends and changes in legislation. Furthermore, a financial planner needs to have good interpersonal skills as establishing a strong client-planner relationship is essential to success.

The right financial planning partner doesn't have to be an expert in every single area of their field, but they do need to know when outside expertise is needed and be able to work with, or bring in, other professionals to answer questions and develop solutions in an integrated manner.

Financial planner qualifications and credentials

While there are various post-secondary programs and degrees that a financial planner may obtain as they advance through their career, there is one specific designation that is the gold standard for financial planners.

“The Certified Financial Planner (CFP) designation is key,” Komperdo reveals. “This designation is only issued to registrants who have demonstrated a broad knowledge base across many fields in the financial industry, with a commitment to continuing education and integrity. This designation is issued by FP Canada and they monitor anyone with the designation for compliance to their high code of conduct and knowledge standards.”

In order to obtain the CFP designation candidates require a minimum of three years of qualifying work experience, they must complete a rigorous education program, as well as pass a national exam. In order to maintain their designation, CFPs are required to complete 25 hours of continuing education every year, helping to ensure that they are on top of industry changes and emerging trends. There are currently 17,000 CFP professionals across Canada.

The financial planner difference

Whether your ‘why’ is to spend guilt-free, leave a lasting legacy, or to live a work-optional lifestyle, the right financial planner can help to get you there.

“The right financial planner will be able to help a client uncover their financial goals (even if the goals are not clear to the client themselves), obstacles to those goals, and strategies to overcomes those obstacles,” Komperdo points out. “The right financial planner should be able to navigate multiple complex – and in many cases conflicting - financial objectives while providing sound advice. “

In the market for a financial planner? WealthCo’s Integrated Advisory is a holistic approach to financial planning involving close collaboration with a team of experts, including financial planners, insurance specialists, and investment advisors, to work with your accountant, giving you a truly integrated financial planning experience designed to maximize results. Book a time to further discuss your financial planning needs today.

Related article: It’s Never Too Early (or Too Late) to Work With a Financial Planner