Put financial planning on right course
- By Milt x_Zall
- Jun 07, 2002
Working with a financial planner can be an extremely valuable experience
for you and your family, but it's important to understand your rights in
this professional relationship.
You can take an active role in shaping your financial future when you
know your rights and what to expect from your financial planner. Following
is a guide:
You have the right to a planner who has integrity.
Trust between you and your financial planner is central to a successful
financial planning relationship. You rely on your planner's honesty, professionalism
and abilities to achieve your financial and life goals. When you know that
your planner takes his or her professional obligations seriously, and places
principles over personal gain, you can develop the type of partnership that
is crucial to the success of any professional relationship.
You have the right to objective advice.
Your needs should be at the heart of all recommendations made by your
financial planner. Your planner should use his or her experience and judgment
to carefully consider your situation and provide you with advice that best
meets your goals. Sometimes, this objectivity may require the planner to
explain that your goals are unrealistic given your current resources and
financial commitments. Your planner may then suggest alternative goals or
You have the right to a planner who is competent.
You have the right to expect your planner to demonstrate an appropriate
level of knowledge to offer financial planning advice, such as attainment
of the certification as a certified financial planner or chartered financial
consultant or certified public accountant with personal financial specialist
designations. Your planner should complete continuing education courses
as part of his or her ongoing commitment to competency.
You have the right to be treated fairly.
This involves clearly stating what services will be provided and at
what price. The planner should also explain the risks associated with his
or her financial recommendations and any potential conflicts of interest.
For example, does the planner gain personally or financially from your purchase
of a particular product or from the outcome of a suggested strategy?'
You have the right to privacy.
To get the best results from your financial planning relationship, you
need to divulge relevant personal and financial information to your financial
planner on a regular basis. Your planner should keep this information in
confidence, only sharing it with others to conduct business on your behalf,
at your consent, or when ordered to do so by the courts.
You have the right to a planner who is professional.
Your planner should not provide investment advice or stock brokerage
services unless he or she is properly qualified and licensed to do so, as
required by state or federal law. If your situation requires expertise that
your planner does not possess, he or she should suggest other professionals
who may assist you.
You have the right to a planner who is diligent.
Your financial planner should discuss your goals and objectives with
you and explain what you can expect from the relationship before engaging
you as a client. Once the planner has determined that he or she can assist
you and has gathered sufficient information, the planner should make
and, if appropriate, implement recommendations that are suitable for
you. A diligent planner investigates the products or services he or she
recommends. A diligent planner also closely supervises any staff working
According to research by the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards
(www.cfp-board.org), more than 40 percent of
Americans feel that they are not in control of their finances. If you would
like to better manage your financial situation, a professional financial
planner may be able to help you.
Zall, Bureaucratus columnist and a retired federal employee, is a freelance
writer based in Silver Spring, Md. He specializes in taxes, investing, business
and government workplace issues. He is a certified internal auditor and
a registered investment adviser. He can be reached at [email protected]