The Benefits of Visiting a Financial Planner

A Harris Interactive survey commissioned by the Principal Financial Group found that a quarter of American employees, and a little over a third of retirees, consult with a financial planner, reports U.S. News.

If you’ve ever found yourself wondering whether or not you need a financial planner,you probably could use one, Bankrate suggests.

A financial planner is best for helping you reach financial goals like buying a house, according to The Wall Street Journal, as well as for giving advice on how to save and invest.

Bankrate points out that there are several different kinds of financial planners, all specializing in different areas, such as retirement or estate planning. If your needs are relatively standard, they note that you’ll probably just need a Certified Financial Planner, or CFP.

And it is important that your planner is certified, advises The Wall Street Journal. Unlike a non-certified planner, a certified planner must pass a test by the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards and continue to take finance and ethics classes — even after being certified.

When choosing a financial planner, Bankrate urges you to consider their fee structure. Financial planners generally come in one of four cost categories: Fee-based only, fee-based with commission, fee-offset and commission only.

Fee-only planners charge a flat fee, and any planner who earns a commission does so by selling you products like mutual funds. A planner who works on a fee-offset basis will collect a commission that offsets his fee. Bankrate points out that while earning a commission isn’t unusual for a financial planner, some people prefer having a fee-only planner to avoid any potential conflicts of interest. In the end, the choice is yours.

If you’re looking for a financial planner, Bankrate suggests visiting the websites of the Financial Planning Association or the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards to find someone in your area.

Have you ever visited a financial planner? How did they help you better manage your money?