A financial planner might be one of many professionals you turn to for advice: from accountants and lawyers to doctors, real estate agents, electricians and more. But perhaps you have never worked with a financial advisor before or are unsure if you really need one. You may be wondering, “What does a financial planner do?”
Money is often a source of stress. With an unpredictable economy and the rising cost of housing, education and other expenses, many people search for a local financial professional to help them reach their savings goals. So, if you are evaluating different options and investment strategies or stressing about how to fund your future retirement, read more about the benefits of working with a local financial planning firm right here in St. Charles.
Financial Planning Professionals: Who They Are and What They Do
A financial planner is someone who specializes in creating personalized financial plans to help clients grow their wealth and achieve both short- and long-term goals. Professionals in this career path are expected to have broad knowledge of different financial products, options and investment strategies. Typically, a financial advisor works as part of a bank, brokerage, investment office or insurance company.
You may hear them referred to by a variety of job titles, including:
- Financial planner;
- Financial advisor; or,
- Financial consultant.
Although these terms are used somewhat synonymously in everyday conversation, it is important to know how a financial professional’s job title can refer to specific capabilities.
The professional’s exact title depends on their responsibilities and the licensing exams they are required to pass — including the Series 65 or Series 66 exam to give “advice” and work in a fiduciary capacity. An individual with a Certified Financial Planner™ (CFP®) designation has passed a licensing exam and is required to follow strict ethical standards.
Some will also choose to obtain professional designations, which are earned by passing a series of exams over several years and demonstrate knowledge in a specific area of financial planning. This could include a Chartered Financial Consultant® (ChFC®) or Chartered Life Underwriter® (CLU®) designation.
Five Ways a Financial Advisor Can Help
If your financial outlook is causing you to feel stressed and overwhelmed, or if you do not feel confident in your ability to save for retirement and other long-term goals, it may be worthwhile to consider working with a financial consultant. A local advisor can help by:
1. Providing financial insights.
You work hard for your money and should be able to enjoy time off with your friends and loved ones — not trying to make sense of tax policy or weighing the pros and cons of various savings accounts. Hiring an experienced finance planner can help relieve the burden of trying to build a comprehensive investment plan on your own.
Your financial advisor should also be able to answer any questions you bring up to help you learn and understand new concepts, and help you feel confident in your decisions.
2. Helping clients make a plan to reach their financial goals.
When you look towards the future, your money will likely be needed for:
- Short-term goals, such as buying a car, buying a house, paying off debt or paying for the vacation of your dreams.
- Long-term goals, which could include paying for your child’s college tuition, buying a vacation home and being able to live a comfortable lifestyle in retirement.
A financial advisor in St. Charles can help you develop a plan to save for the future while meeting the current needs of your budget and other important life events.
3. Offering recommendations and advice.
When developing an investment strategy, your financial consultant will offer recommendations based on your income, assets, priorities and expenses. These factors help inform your overall risk tolerance. Getting professional advice which has been tailored to your lifestyle and comfort level can help you identify options that may (or may not) be the best fit. The top financial advisors can ask the tough questions, and help you weigh all the pros and cons of different plans they present.
4. Accommodating important life changes.
Different life events will influence your priorities and financial needs over time, including:
- Getting married or divorced
- Having children
- Inheriting wealth or other assets from departed loved ones
- Developing a serious health condition
- Changing career paths
- Buying a second home or rental properties
- Planning to retire early
- Establishing a legacy gift for an alma mater, charity or other foundation
Working with a finance planner can help you develop an investment plan customized to your goals, which can be adjusted as your priorities change.
5. Monitoring accounts for performance.
Once your investment plan is active, you should receive quarterly statements showing your account balance(s). Your financial advisor will monitor account performance regularly and should be available to answer any questions or make recommendations as necessary. At minimum, you should meet with your financial consultant on an annual basis to review your investment plan and discuss any need for changes.
Tips to Choose a Professional Financial Consultant
- Ask for referrals.
Many people choose a financial advisor from within their network. This person may be a relative, neighbor, friend or even a “friend of a friend.” Referrals are helpful when you are looking for a Certified Financial Planner™, because you want to work with someone who is trustworthy, uses good judgement and provides sound advice.Do not hesitate to ask for referrals from other professionals you may be working with, such as your accountant, attorney or insurance broker. It can also be helpful to read online reviews from other clients to evaluate different candidates.
- Confirm their background and credentials.
BrokerCheck® is a free tool provided by FINRA, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority in the United States. Use this site to run a comprehensive background check for any financial advisor, to verify their licenses and employment history, look up any regulatory actions or complaints, and more.
- Find someone who is a good personality fit.
Schedule a virtual or in-person consultation with the advisor. This gives you an opportunity to interview them in a manner that is similar to a job interview. They are applying for the job to help you! A personal conversation can help you decide if this professional is someone you want to work with. You will gain a better understanding of their character, communication style and financial knowledge, along with the processes they use to help others.
Meet the Financial Planners at St. Charles Financial Services LLC
You wouldn’t trust just anyone to handle your personal financial plan — you want to work with experienced financial advisors in the greater St. Louis area. This is why relationships are fundamental to everything we do at St. Charles Financial Services (SCFS). Our team of experienced financial planners will take the time to get to know you and understand your current outlook, in order to create an investment plan that is customized to your needs.
There are many important aspects of a well-rounded financial plan. SCFS offers a variety of services, including:
- College financial planning
- Estate planning
- Retirement planning
- Tax planning
- Insurance services, including Medicare
SCFS also works in partnership with our sister company, Webb Insurance, to help clients protect their assets and their livelihood as their wealth grows. See all the coverage options available to our clients through our partnership with Webb Insurance.
Contact SCFS to schedule an appointment to meet with a St. Charles financial planner today.