The Financial Markets Authority (FMA) (formerly the Securities Commission) provides Authorisation to individuals who provide Personalised Financial Advice, Investment Planning Services and/or Discretionary Investment Management Services. Individuals who receive authorisation are referred to as an Authorised Financial Adviser (AFA). In order to receive authorisation, individuals must complete the National Certificate in Financial Services (Financial Advice) (Level 5).
If you make it this far, you are clearly serious about your endeavor. Now it's time to make your quest a daily habit. Subscribing to the The Wall Street Journal will give you a daily overview of the issues impacting global business operations. The WSJ also has a great "Money and Investing" section. Barron's is another fine publication read by many professionals in the financial services industry. There are many other top-quality publications dedicated to various aspects of the financial services world. Find one that matches your interests and read it.
If you're considering hiring professional help, you'll need to know what to expect from a good financial planner, and how to tell the difference between a salesperson and someone who offers fiduciary financial planning advice and carries valid financial credentials or designation. Hiring the right professional planner starts by understanding what financial planning is and knowing what to expect of the person you might hire.
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.
Some financial professionals such as investment brokers and insurance agents aren’t bound by fiduciary duty. Instead, they’re only required to fulfill a suitability obligation. While fiduciaries must put their clients’ best interests before their own, financial professionals who adhere to the suitability standard must only provide suitable recommendations to their clients.
Another good bet could be a planner in the Garrett Planning Network, a group of certified financial planners who all pledge to make themselves available for smaller projects for an hourly fee. All of the members of this network are CFPs or they’re actively working towards this designation. It may be that you just have a handful of questions, and someone here could help you without charging too much.
When choosing a financial planner, it's important to understand the financial planning landscape. According to the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), almost anyone can claim to be a financial planner and might come from many different backgrounds. Financial planners might be brokers or investment advisers, insurance agents, practicing accountants, or individuals with no financial credentials. That is why the consumer must perform his or her due diligence before turning their money over to any sort of financial advisor. Here are some differences between the two terms.
Many RIAs are fee-only advisors, meaning they can’t work off commission or sell a client any investment products that aren’t in the client's best interests. Financial planners don’t have to be RIAs to work under this business model. Fee-only financial planners generally make money via an hourly rate, an annual fixed retainer, or as a percentage of the investment assets they manage on behalf of their clients. They also have a fiduciary duty to their clients over any broker or dealer.