Do I Need a Financial Advisor?
EXPECTED READ TIME: 6 MINUTES
Published August 13, 2020 | Updated May 21, 2021
Is this the year you vowed to finally organize your retirement investments and long-term finances?
Knocking out a long-term financial strategy may lie within your capabilities, but for many, the time to make it happen is beyond their schedules and energy. Maybe you check your accounts and long-term investments on a semi-regular basis, but are you willing to craft a comprehensive plan for your future that will help maximize your savings and investments? It may be time to reflect and see if you need financial advisor.
A financial advisor can bring fresh insights and solutions to your financial landscape. Plus, a dedicated financial professional can help you with short-term goals and a long-term plan that preserves, manages, and builds on what you already have.
What is a Financial Advisor?
Ranging in titles and responsibilities, financial advisors are professionals who can help you manage your money. Their clients can include individuals or groups.
Financial advisors can help you create a plan that's geared to meet your money needs. These plans often focus on:
- Building up savings for an emergency fund, college expenses for kids, and retirement
- Life insurance and tax expenses
- Estate planning
Types of Financial Advisors
Not sure who might be the best source to help you work toward your savings goals? Here's a look at different kinds of advisors:
A financial planner focuses on the bigger picture by providing assistance with short- and long-term financing, including budgeting, saving, insurance, taxes, and estate planning.
Note: Financial planners aren't directly tied to federal or state regulations.
Certified Financial Planner (CFP)
A CFP has met educational requirements and passed the CFP Board exam to earn certification. CFPs must also take continuing education to keep their certification current.
CFPs are also required to be fiduciaries, meaning after assessing a client's financial profile, they must recommend resources that are best for their client. They often help clients devise a financial plan for managing investments and retirement, as well as insurance and taxes.
Fiduciary Definition: A fiduciary is a an individual or organization that is legally required to keep clients' best interests in mind when managing their clients' assets.
Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA)
A CFA is distinguished as the "gold standard" for financial management. CFAs must meet steep educational requirements, have four years of professional experience, and pass three exams through the CFA Institute.
In their work, CFAs help clients with specialized assistance for short- and long-term financial goals, including relationship and wealth management, investing, asset allocation, and trading.
Brokers carry out the buying and selling of shares for investors. They can be brokerage firms or individuals (make sure your individual broker is licensed).
While brokers aren't generally fiduciaries, they have a deep understanding of the markets and can provide advice to clients.
This is a different approach to hiring a financial advisor or self-managing your investments.
You answer questions about your investment preferences, time horizon, and risk tolerance, and your answers are filtered through an algorithm to create a goal-aligned portfolio. The robo-advisor then monitors and manages your portfolio and account.
Why Do I Need a Financial Advisor?
The purpose of a financial advisor is to help you take steps now to plan for tomorrow. Here are two of the main reasons why you might want to use a financial advisor.
Reviewing some questions can help you see where you're at whether you may need a financial advisor:
- Have you considered how to factor in any 401(k) plans from previous employers or other pension plans?
- Have you thought about starting college funds for your kids?
- How long will you need to work to support the retirement lifestyle you've been wanting?
- Have you been planning to invest in stocks someday?
Depending on your needs, an effective long-term financial plan might encompass:
- Investment planning
- College funding
- Tax savings and additional income
- Federal Employee Retirement System (FERS)
- Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS)
- Thrift Savings Plan (TSP)
- 401(k) rollovers and IRAs
Essentially, a financial advisor can work with you to design a personalized plan for managing your investments and growing your assets in ways that make sense for you.
If managing your debt is a pain point, a financial advisor can help with that, too. Are you paying off debt from your credit card, car loan, student loan, or mortgage? A financial advisor can help you establish a debt repayment plan and offer money-management guidance. Commonly, this type of advisement covers:
- Assessing which debt repayments take priority
- Developing a budget that helps you allot funds to pay down those debts
- Drafting a long-term plan to help you stay the course with paying off your debts
Keep in mind, you may need to take another approach if you're in need of credit counseling. Basically, the services financial advisors and credit counselors offer can differ.
For example, unlike financial advisors, credit counselors can negotiate with your creditors to help reduce the interest rates and monthly payments for your debts with a debt management plan. Also, credit counselors may potentially (but not always) offer free services, whereas financial advisors typically charge some type of fee.
How Much Does a Financial Advisor Cost?
Costs for hiring a financial advisor can vary in relation to which type of advisor you choose and how much of your money they manage. Typically, advisors are fee-based, fee-only, or commission-based.
- Fee-only payment: Clients pay a flat fee, hourly set rate, or a percentage of managed assets. The financial professional does not earn a commission.
- Fee-based payment: Clients pay a base fee but may also pay a commission for certain services or products.
- Commission payment: Employees receive a certain amount of money, in addition to or in lieu of a salary, for selling a product or service.
- CFP: Many are fee-only (no commission), but some are fee-based (mix of fees and commission).
- CFA: Tend to be fee-only. For example, you might be charged a one-time portfolio. creation fee and a small percentage (around 1%) of your total assets managed annually.
- Broker: Most are commission-based.
- Flat fees: Can potentially range from $1,000-$3,000, depending on the service you need.
- Hourly rates: Can potentially range from $200-$400/hour.
Benefits of a Financial Advisor
Because financial advisors help you manage your finances, they have obvious benefits. But let's take a look at a few of the not so obvious advantages.
Making Your Plans a Priority
One of the most important ways a professional financial advisor can help is by making your long-term finances a priority. Again, it's hard to implement a long-term plan on your own by carving out time on evenings and weekends. Yet, a seasoned professional can take action with your financial plans — and provide regular, long-term follow-up, too.
Offering Solutions to Difficult Problems
A financial advisor can help you plan for complex questions, like what you would do if you lost your job next week or who'll take care of your spouse's aging parents.
Additional Investment Opportunities
A licensed financial advisor can also open the door to investment opportunities you may not have known about, such as diversifying your investment base.
Keeps You on Track
Much like a personal trainer or coach for your finances, a financial advisor can provide accountability to help you keep an eye on your long-term goals.
Why to Use a Credit Union Financial Advisor
Working with a credit union financial advisor can take your experience to the next level, where the focus is wholeheartedly on you. Credit unions are recognized for exceptional customer service, and that extends to their way of financial advising, too.
Going through a credit union for financial advice can give you an edge in some ways:
- The cost of advisor services may be more affordable through a credit union.
- You can trust that your advisor will provide best-for-you insights and strategy guidance.
- Credit unions makes it easy to find the right fit from a team of dedicated professionals ready to help members, and in some cases, non-members.
Plus, you can easily check the background of your credit union financial advisor for peace of mind.
Your Financial Future
Financial advisors aren't for everyone. If you're comfortable planning your financial future, make sure to do the research needed to create an effective plan. If you want the help of a professional, take the time you need to find the right advisor for you.
Find the Right Advisor for You
Choose the expert you would like to meet with to discuss your financial future.