You can certainly go it alone when it comes to managing your money. But you could also try to do it yourself when it comes to auto repair. In both areas, doing it yourself is a brilliant idea for some, and a flawed plan for many, many others. Mastering personal finance requires many hours of research and learning. For most, it’s not worth the time and ongoing effort.
The planner might have a specialty in investments, taxes, retirement, and/or estate planning. Further, the financial planner may hold various licenses or designations, such as Certified Financial Planner (CFP), Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA), Chartered Financial Consultant (ChFC), or Certified Investment Management Analyst (CIMA), among others. To obtain each of these licensures, the financial planner must complete a different set of education, examination, and work history requirements.
The R.F.P. is the older (established in 1987) and more stringent of the two publicly monitored designations. All R.F.P.s must first demonstrate their competency, then abide by a code of ethics and adhere to rigorous practice standards as defined by the granting body, the Institute of Advanced Financial Planners (IAFP). Every R.F.P. must attest each year that financial planning is their primary vocation.
Under this provision, prospective fiduciary advisors can outline all of their qualifications that relate to meeting the criteria described above in written form, in the interest of providing employers with the necessary information with which to properly select a candidate. This includes the past performance of client investments, within certain guidelines.
Of course, the fiduciary advisor will have to meet the professional standards of prudence, loyalty and adequate asset diversification, as well as compliance with all ERISA regulations. The clients' best interests must always come first when making any recommendation, although possible benefits to the fiduciary advisor and/or the employer may also be considered, as long as they are subordinate to the needs of the employee.
A growing number of financial planners make money only when you pay them a fee for their counsel. These independent financial planners don’t get a cut from life insurers or fund companies. You might pay them a flat fee, such as $1,500, for a financial plan. Or you could pay an annual fee, often 1% of all the assets—investment, retirement, college-savings and other accounts—they’re minding for you. Others charge by the hour, like lawyers.
Outside of Quebec, there are currently no restrictions, no educational prerequisites, and no licensing requirements for individuals calling themselves financial planners, or for businesses using "financial planning" in their name or services offered. As of July 2020, Ontario and Saskatchewan have introduced legislation to regulate financial planning titles, but the legislation has yet to be enacted.