Financial planning provides direction and meaning to your financial decisions. It allows you to understand how each financial decision you make effects other areas of your finances and your future financial security. Financial planning provides you with goals and a means of monitoring progress towards those goals. This gives you the ability to adjust your plan if there are changes in your life or investment performance. You can also adapt more easily to life changes and feel more secure that your goals are on track.
In addition to being qualified to provide you with general financial planning services, many financial planners are also registered as investment advisors or hold insurance or securities licenses that allow them to buy or sell products. Other planners may have you use more specialized financial advisors to help you implement their recommendations. The following is a list of the different types of financial advisor:
Accountant – Accountants provide you with advice on tax matters and help you prepare and submit your tax returns to the Internal Revenue Service. All accountants who practice as Certified Public Accountants (CPAs) must be licensed by the state(s) in which they practice.
Estate Planner – Estate planners provide you with advice on estate taxes or other estate planning issues and put together a strategy to transfer your assets to your beneficiaries. Attorneys, accountants, financial planners, insurance agents or trust bankers may all provide estate-planning services.
Financial Planner – A financial planner is someone who uses the financial planning process to help you figure out how to meet your life goals. The planner can look at all of your needs, including budgeting and saving, taxes, investments, insurance and retirement planning.
Insurance Agent – Insurance agents are licenses by the state(s) in which they practice to sell life, health, annuity and other insurance products. Financial planners may identify and advise you on your insurance needs, but can only sell you insurance products if they are also licensed as insurance agents.
Investment Advisor – Anybody who is compensated to provide securities advice must register as an investment advisor with the Securities and Exchange Commission or relevant state securities agencies. Because financial planners often advised people on securities-based investments, many are registered as investment advisors.
Click here for a checklist for interviewing a financial advisor.
This document was reviewed by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) and was found to be consistent with applicable standards.