The fiduciary advisor boom may be just around the corner, and prosperity may be awaiting those who can meet the selection criteria for this position, and subsequently to capitalize on it. The possible market base for fiduciary advisors includes all the 100 million households in the U.S.—quite a large base to draw from by any standard. Financial planners who are looking for a new way to grow their practices should investigate this possibility immediately.
The most commonly held professional designation is the certified financial planner (CFP®), which is owned and issued by the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, Inc., a nonprofit certifying and standards-setting organization that administers the CFP exam. Certified financial planner is a formal credential of expertise in the areas of financial planning, taxes, insurance, estate planning, and retirement. The designation is awarded to individuals who successfully complete the CFP® Board’s initial exams, then engage in ongoing annual education programs to maintain their skills and certification.
Anyone can hang out a shingle as a financial planner, but that doesn’t make that person an expert. They may tack on an alphabet soup of letters after their names, but CFP (short for certified financial planner) is the most significant credential. A CFP has passed a rigorous test administered by the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards about the specifics of personal finance. CFPs must also commit to continuing education on financial matters and ethics classes to maintain their designation. The CFP credential is a good sign that a prospective planner will give sound financial advice. Still, even those who pass the exam may come up short on skills and credibility. As with all things pertaining to your money, be meticulous in choosing the right planner.
There are many personal finance experts to learn from. Dave Ramsey, for example, has had a lot of success helping people to live a debt-free life, while Chris Hogan provides great tips and tricks for retirement planning. If you are looking to significantly increase your monthly income, following Grant Cardone might be a smart decision. Whereas Peter Schiff’s podcast can be a helpful resource for those looking to have a better understanding of what’s happening in the economy. And Brandon Turner and Joshua Dorkin from BiggerPockets are wonderful teachers when it comes to learning how to invest in rental property.
In Australia, a company providing financial services must obtain a licence from the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC). However, there are no requirements for the individuals providing the financial advice, and the ASIC website states that "Holding an AFS licence does not provide a guarantee of the probity or quality of the licensee's services."
Once you have a solid understanding of the various aspects of the financial services world, it is time to spend some time talking to the experts. Financial services professionals make a living with their expertise and can help you learn about everything from mortgages and debt management to retirement and estate planning. Some of these topics are covered in seminars, others in one-on-one consultations. You can even pick up a thing or two just by having an informal conversation. Talk to a professional financial advisor, talk to your banker, talk to your accountant and your attorney. Then listen and learn as they share their knowledge.
Becca Stanek, CEPF® Becca Stanek is a graduate of DePauw University. Becca is an experienced writer/editor who serves as a retirement expert for SmartAsset. She's passionate about helping people understand the sometimes daunting ins and outs of personal finance. Becca is a Certified Educator in Personal Finance® (CEPF®) and a member of the Society for Advancing Business Editing and Writing. Her work has also appeared at Time, The Week, Mic and The Washington Monthly. Becca grew up in the Midwest and now lives in New York City.
There are several resources available that can help you know if an advisor is a fiduciary. The National Association of Personal Financial Advisors (NAPFA) has an online search tool that makes it easy to find certified financial planners in your area. Every advisor in that system operates on a fee-only basis and promises to act as a fiduciary. Garrett Planning Network is another planner organization of fiduciary financial planners who charge an hourly rate. Additionally, the Certified Financial Planners Board has an advisor search tool. You can use it to look up a particular planner and see their experience and history.
By the time you finish these four books, you are likely to have identified specific items that you would like to learn more about. For these inquiries, there's no better place to go for fast, easy access to information than online. Investopedia and similar sites provide access to a wealth of information that will keep you busy for weeks, if not months, including newsletters that will keep you updated on a daily basis. Investopedia's journeys are particularly notable, as they provide an in-depth look at a wide variety of topics.
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