The key to being confident about your financial future is having a professional in your corner to answer your questions and give you good advice. But how do you find the right adviser for your financial needs? Here’s a look at the strengths of four types of financial professionals.
Accountants provide a variety of bookkeeping, tax filing and auditing services. Note that not all accountants are Certified Public Accountants (CPAs). Non-certified accountants can file your taxes, for instance, but only CPAs can represent you in an Internal Revenue Service (IRS) audit. While some CPAs offer financial planning advice, the majority of their training is on the tax code.
If you own a business or have complex or specialized tax filing and auditing needs, there are many ways an accountant can help your business.
2. Financial planners
Financial planners help you make decisions in support of your personal financial goals, and can execute those decisions on your behalf. They can advise you on many topics including retirement investing, stocks and bonds, taxes, estate planning and insurance. Planners frequently work with a team of attorneys, brokers and insurance specialists to coordinate all aspects of your financial plan.
“A financial planner is like the quarterback, calling the plays on the field,” says Jeff Rose, author of Soldier of Finance: Take Charge of Your Money and Invest in Your Future. Financial planners may hold a variety of specialty credentials, but some hold more value than others. “I hold several certifications, but only one—CFP—is printed on my business card,” Rose says, referring to his status as a Certified Financial Planner. “It’s the gold standard.”
A financial planner can suggest solutions for many different needs and help you develop a financial plan.
Attorneys prepare and update the legal documents needed to execute aspects of your financial plan such as wills, trusts and powers of attorney. You can hire an attorney yourself or have your financial planner hire one for you. Either way, communication is key. “Things go smoother when attorneys and planners have worked together in the past, know the client and are on the same page with the larger plan,” Rose says.
You may need an attorney if you want to make a will, execute a power of attorney, plan to live or work in another country, or sell or purchase a business.
4. Personal bankers
Personal bankers are designated employees of a bank who have specialized knowledge of the products and services available to clients. They can assist you in applying for a loan, choosing investment securities and managing your personal accounts. Personal banking services cover a range of financial needs for clients across all stages of money management. From recommendations on the type of checking account you need, to advice on creating long-term savings plans and investments, personal bankers act as advisers with expert knowledge of your finances and the products that best suit your needs.
You may need a personal banker if you want to apply for a loan, invest in bank securities, leverage your home equity or need individualized help managing your personal accounts.
No single person will have all the qualifications and expertise needed to carry out every facet of your financial plan. When it’s time to draft your team members, trust is paramount. “If you’re not getting up-front answers that make sense to you, don’t be afraid to move on,” Rose says.