What Is a CFP®?
What is a Certified Financial Planner™?
Do-It-Yourself Financial Planning can work, but when you want to hire a professional, a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ is just what you need! Kathy Hauer, CFP® is here to help!
You may feel “unsafe” with regard to your money. You might want to be more knowledgeable and secure about your finances. You may feel that you are not managing your finances optimally to reach your life goals. Or you may simply want some advice about the personal financial strategy you have adopted thus far. In any of the above cases, a fee-only CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professional may can help you make good financial choices with providing the insight to see your financial decisions as part of a whole, and steering them in the best direction to reach your long term financial and life goals. As a CFP®, I will help you identify your financial life goals, and together in a close partnership, we develop a strategy to give you the best opportunity to reach those goals.
The Financial Planning Process
To develop a solid financial plan, it's important to cover all your bases. Here’s how:
Examine your current situation
Set financial goals
Measure your progress
From start to finish, I will take you through the financial planning process to help you achieve your financial goals.
Six Steps to Help You Create a Financial Plan (from CFP.net "Let's Make a Plan")
ESTABLISH A RELATIONSHIP WITH A CFP® PROFESSIONAL. Your financial planner will explain his or her financial planning services and define each of your responsibilities. Along with compensation, you'll discuss how long the professional relationship will last and how to make decisions.
GATHER YOUR DATA AND DEVELOP YOUR FINANCIAL GOALS. You and your CFP® professional will talk about your current financial situation and gather any necessary documents. Together, you'll define your personal and financial goals, including timeframes. You may also want to discuss your comfort level when it comes to taking financial risks.
ANALYZE AND EVALUATE YOUR FINANCIAL STATUS. Your CFP® professional will consider all aspects of your situation to determine what you need to do to meet your goals. Depending on what services you've asked for, your planner may analyze your assets, liabilities and cash flow, current insurance coverage, investments or tax strategies.
REVIEW YOUR CFP® PROFESSIONAL’S RECOMMENDATIONS. Your CFP® professional will go over his or her financial recommendations, explaining the rationale so you can make informed decisions. At this stage, your planner will also listen to any concerns you may have and revise his or her recommendations if necessary.
SET YOUR COURSE. You and your CFP® professional will need to agree on how the recommendations will be carried out. Your planner may carry out the recommendations or serve as your coach, coordinating the process with you and other professionals, like attorneys or stockbrokers.
BENCHMARK YOUR PROGRESS AGAINST THE FINANCIAL GOALS YOU ESTABLISHED. As you work toward your goals, you and your CFP® professional will need to decide who will monitor your progress to make sure you're staying on track. If the planner is in charge, he or she will check in from time to time, reviewing your situation and making any necessary adjustments to his or her recommendations.
A good CFP® educates clients on the building blocks of real wealth. Once I understand your financial needs and goals and create a plan for reaching them, you will feel empowered and in control of your financial future. Check out CFP Board consumer guides for more information about how a CFP® professional can help you.
Should I manage my finances without the help of a CFP®?
For those who have the time and a reasonably firm grasp of finance, it is of course possible to undertake this task alone. However, CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professionals have expertise in areas that an amateur does not. We possess substantial legal and tax knowledge based on economic study and years of expertise in the financial world. We review your portfolio and overall financial situation from a comprehensive standpoint and make sure you’re on track to meet your most important life goals.
Different financial planning models to choose from
In the universe of financial planners, there is a host of different choices. This NASDAQ article explains some of the terms. The most common types of so-called “financial planners” are commission-based agents who act as salespeople for their firms’ financial products. These representatives are not fiduciaries who are required to offer you the most ideal financial products. Rather, they simply must offer you those they consider to be “suitable.” A fee-only CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professional, however, acts as your fiduciary financial advisor and, by law, must recommend to you the ideal investment or financial product for your unique needs.
What Expertise Do CFPs® Have?
CFP®s have earned professional certification from the CFP Board of Planners. To obtain this certification, they must pass a test on the ‘4Es’: education, examination, experience and ethics.
CFP® Education Requirements
CFP®s must complete a college-level program in personal financial planning and must have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university.
CFP® Examination Requirements
The CFP® Certification Examination assesses the ability of financial planners to apply principles of effective financial planning to practical financial situations. Combined with the other E’s, it tests whether a financial planner can make the connection between financial planning theories and real-world client needs.
CFP® Experience Requirements
The CFP Board of Standards requires at least three years of professional experience and two years of apprenticeship before a certificant can practice independently without supervision. This experience may be under a form of direct support, teaching, supervision or personal support and helps maintain a consistently high level of service among CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professionals.
CFP® Ethics Requirements
CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™professionals adhere to the CFP Board’s Standards of Professional Conduct and acknowledge its right to enforce them through disciplinary mechanisms. Adherence is monitored through a thorough background check, including potential involvement in criminal, governmental or civil proceedings. Any previous cases of bankruptcy or customer complaints must be disclosed to the Board.
Once the CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ certificate is obtained, a CFP® must renew it every two years. The procedure for renewal includes a certification application and completion of 30 hours of continuing education during those two years.
Is a Fee-Only Certified Financial Planner™ Right for Me?
In many cases a fee-only CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ is your ideal partner in helping your reach your financial goals. A fee-only CFP® is knowledgeable, experienced, and acts in your best interest at all times. For these reasons, the CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ credential is widely recognized as the gold standard in financial planning. If you want to work with a fee-only CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ who is unbiased by commissions and always acts in your best interest, I am here for you. I am a fee-only CFP® and members of the national and state Financial Planning Association (FPA).
Most of our clients live in the CSRA, but we also have clients throughout the United States. Give us a call for a free consultation (Kathy – 803-634-7109).