As a Certified Financial Planner®, I have many women calling me asking about my services. They are usually in some sort of transition in their life where they feel they need some advice. Sometimes they are just getting started in a career and have no idea where to begin. It is always exciting for me to talk with them, because I love it when women take control of their money, regardless of where they are in their lives. However, I know many women don’t seek advice when they really could use it.
Women have shared with me that they didn’t seek out the counsel of a financial advisor because they were too intimidated, they didn’t know what questions to ask, or they felt they didn’t have enough money to work with a financial planner. Sometimes they felt embarrassed that they hadn’t done better with their money, so they didn’t want to discuss it with a stranger.
So how do you get started in managing your finances and seeking help to do so? First, you need to understand your goals. Where do you need help? What are the questions you need answered? Is it the choices in your 401(K)? Help with your taxes? Insurance? Do you want help with all of the above?
Next, you start interviewing possible candidates to be your advisor; But how do you choose the candidates? There are many designations–some financial planning-related designations require rigorous training and others do not. I suggest looking on the website www.fpanet.org to find a Certified Financial Planner® (CFP) in your area. The CFP® designation requires passing a series of courses and exams related to a wide range of topics such as investments, taxes, and insurance. If you just need tax advice, seeking out the help of Certified Public Accountant (CPA) can be beneficial. Also, you may want to ask your friends or people at your church where they have found good counsel for their finances. Many churches are now providing classes that address the handling of money.
As you meet with the candidates, make sure to bring your questions along to ask them until you feel comfortable that you understand the answers. Some key pieces you want to understand are the costs, the experience level of the candidate, and their approach. Certainly you will want to feel comfortable with the person you will be working with. There is a list of questions to ask an advisor listed on the www.fpanet.org under the tab “Why a CFP® Professional,” to help you get started.
And of course, you need to pray. The Lord is our ultimate source of wise counsel. As the Bible states in Proverbs 19:21, “Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.” He will guide you to wise decisions.
Kristi L. Andersen is the principal of Kristi L. Financial Partners, LLC. Securities offered through and Registered Representative of Cetera Advisor Networks LLC, member FINRA/SIPC. Some Advisory services offered through AdvisorNet Financial. Cetera is under separate ownership from any other named entity.
Photograph is courtesy of Flickr, via photographer Ken Teegardin