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What You Should Know (When You Hire A Financial Planner)

If the Financial Planner is not someone you know, it is understandable that you find it difficult to trust your life savings to a stranger. And so, solid advice from a qualified and experienced Financial Planner is a valuable personal investment.

In line with Success Concepts' core values, we have put together some tips on what you should know when you hire a Financial Planner.

Investment should work both ways. Rather than trying to sell you a product, a good Financial Planner will first focus on you and ask questions about what you really want to achieve - your family's savings and debt, investment goals and risk tolerance, retirement plans, health issues and provision for children. The right Financial Planner should understand your overall situation, not only to help guide the appropriate type of investments to suit these needs, but also to leverage on their network of wealth specialists, or by using in-house financial service and/or products.

Do not be afraid to say no and do not be pressurized into making any rushed decisions. Any good Financial Planner will give you plenty of time to think through the recommendations before coming to a decision. If he/she wants you to sign the papers there and then, be suspicious.
Beware of someone who promises guaranteed returns and does not talk about risks. Everyone likes to hear the word "guaranteed" when it comes to investment returns. There is normally a price to pay for a guaranteed product - the return is not actually guaranteed because usually, only the capital is guaranteed or the investment is a structured note which lacks liquidity.

Ask the Financial Planner how he/she gets paid. Typically, most of them are paid by commission from financial products (they sell). This means that for them to get paid, they need to sell a product such as Unit Trust Funds or Insurance. It is rightfully fair to pay for a Financial Planners' services one way or another (since everyone is generally paid for work) but you need to be aware of the charges, how it is paid and if it is levied on an ongoing basis. Be wary if a Financial Planner cannot clearly explain the charges that will apply to a contract.
The most basic qualification of a Financial Planner is the Associate Financial Planner Member Certificate (AFPM) who must pass Module 1 (Foundations in Financial Planning) in the certification program. On the other hand, the Certified Financial Planner or CFPCERT TM professional must pass all six modules in the certification programme, namely Foundations in Financial Planning, Risk Management and Insurance Planning, Tax Planning, Investment Planning, Retirement Planning and Estate Planning, and Financial Plan Construction and Professional Responsibilities.

A Financial Planner should be able to offer services that are tailored to your specific needs, rather than providing an off-the-shelf product selection. A good Financial Planner should be able to offer:

  • A team of investment specialists who can provide advice on different assets
  • A risk management resource who can provide wealth protection solutions
  • A wealth structuring team that can discuss business, tax, legal and succession issues
  • A wide range of products which has an open architecture rather than a single product push approach

Finally, do not be shy to ask the Financial Planner if he/she would invest, if not already invested, in the very investments he/she recommends. After all, an experienced Financial Planner is one who has learned through experiences and would walk the talk.
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