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Investment Basics

What Can A Financial Planner Do For You?

There's an old saying that "if you don't know where you're going, you'll never get there." No where is that more true than with investing. Even if you're just starting out, you can profit from a financial planner. Here's what one can do for you.

Help You Define Your Goals. There is more to setting goals than just saying, "I'd like to have enough to retire on. " A financial planner can help you pin point where you are right now and where you'd like to be. He can also help you identify what other factors you'll have to take into consideration. These can be things like needing to pay for a child's college education or an elderly parent's care. A financial planner can help you decide exactly how much you'll need to have put away to meet your goals.

Help You Set An Investment Strategy. A financial planner looks at where you are right now... your current situation, your current income, your assets and the demands on your income, and your attitude toward risk to help you decide how much risk you can afford to take. He then helps you create a financial plan or investment strategy that details how to allocate your investment capital.

Help You Choose Individual Investments. Once you have created your investment strategy, a financial planner can help you identify the places to put your money. A financial advisor spends most of the time tracking these markets and the behavior of individual mutual funds, stocks, bonds and other investments. Financial planners can tell you which investment instruments might be best help you reach your goals.

Remember, whether you rely on your own knowledge and intuition or someone else's there are no guarantees. No financial planner is right all of the time. But a financial advisor is a professional, and you can benefit from his knowledge and experience.


Tips On Selecting A Professional Financial Planner

Tip 1: Ask questions. You have a right to know how your money will be invested and how your financial planner does business.

Tip 2: Learn how the financial planner will be compensated. Financial planners are paid either a commission or a portion of the portfolio's value or a portion of the profits. Of the three, receiving a percentage of the profits puts the greatest pressure on financial planners to perform well. Receiving a portion of the portfolio's value puts some pressure on the financial planners to perform, since financial planners can increase their income by increasing your assets. Receiving a commission on each sale puts no pressure on the advisor at all.

Tip 3: Find out the financial planner's credentials. Unfortunately, in the United States, anyone can call themselves a financial planner or a financial advisor. As a result, many investment sales people use this term without having the training to back their claim. You have the right to know what kind of training your financial planner has. If the answers to your question are vague or equivocal, be suspicious. Financial planning takes knowledge! Don't settle for anything less than the equivalent of a college degree.

Tip 4: Investigate the financial planner's track record. If the advisor does well for others, he or she will probably do well for you. Ask questions. Find out what "well" means to that advisor. Ask to see numbers. After all, it's your money.

Tip 5: Get references. The best way to find a good financial advisor is to be referred by a friend or acquaintance who's own portfolio has grown thanks to the advisor. Short of that, ask the advisor for references and check them out carefully.

Tip 6: Don't buy from someone who calls you cold on the phone. Be careful! There are a lot of scams out there and it's hard to track down someone who has bilked you over the phone. A reputable investment planner does business face to face and has a real office. Remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.



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