Before You Decide…Know This

Deborah Williams, CFP®

Decisions, decisions, decisions. Every day we have to make them. The super significant ones… like who we marry, where we work and live, and what we do with our money… are not always easy. Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to see into the future before having to decide? Unfortunately, we don’t have this ability. If you are facing a super significant financial decision in the near future, I’d like to share an insider’s perspective regarding what you should know.

Anyone can call themselves a “financial planner.” It’s true! There’s no law prohibiting anyone from hanging a sign and declaring they are open for business as a “financial planner.” You do not have to have a college degree, or experience either. So before you take financial planning advice from just anyone, make sure they have their CFP designation. Only those who have fulfilled the CFP Board’s rigorous requirements can call themselves a CFP® professional.

Advice from banks, insurance companies, and wire houses is not always independent. When you are an employee of a company you must adhere to their procedures and policies. Helping the company achieve their goals is an objective of all employees.

How do the goals of a bank, insurance company, or large wire house align with your financial goals? Well, the truth is they are different and, as a result, conflicts of interest can arise.

Advisors working for independent broker-dealers are free to recommend what is most appropriately suited for their clients, without corporate influence. Independent broker-dealers, such as LPL Financial, provide their registered representative with access to technology, research and administrative tools to help them better serve their clients, but their registered representatives are not employees of the broker-dealer, and their advice is not being compromised from that partnership.

Circumstances facing women have long been overlooked in the financial services industry. Women and men are different and so are their financial realities. Women tend to live longer, die alone, and make less money over their lifetimes then men. Financial planning tools have not typically accounted for these differences, which means the data can be skewed if someone isn’t paying attention. It’s important for single women, as well as, married couples to work with a financial planner who recognizes these differences so they can help them be financially better prepared.

Making the decision to work with a financial professional is wise, but it’s important to know what to look for too. Personality is a consideration, but should it be the primary basis for your decision to work with someone? Just like with all your other super significant decisions, I would advise you to take a deeper look. Make sure they have the credentials, are independent, and recognize the unique financial planning challenges you face to help you make informed decisions!