When people first hear of a professional advisor for money matters, many often think of a stockbroker or a retirement hack looking to take advantage of a senior’s money and pension. The other image that comes to mind involves fancy-suited fund managers in downtown London chasing day-trading moves with someone else’s money. It leaves a bad taste. Granted, many such characters work in the same industry, but there is a breed of professional advisors that pays attention to an entirely different area of personal finance, including debt management, insurance, personal budgeting, tax planning, advice on credit, personal loans, and smart, effective personal money planning.
Knowledge, Skills and Certifications
Anyone seriously involved in financial advising and planning needs to be certified with the government to practice and work with others funds. So, certifications and qualifications are the first filter any savvy consumer should be looking for before letting someone have a peek at personal finances. Unfortunately, just looking for a certification can be confusing. There are certified accountants, certified tax planners, licensed barristers and attorneys, licensed stockbrokers, certified retirement planners, and more. All of them can claim to be financial advisors, but that doesn’t mean they can do the job or provide the best guidance. Too often, many of these specially trained individuals only think in silos. A good financial advisor covers multiple fields together for a holistic approach to financial planning and even credit card rescue.
Who Is the Advisor Working For?
The problem with the investor side of the picture is that they aren’t quite working for the consumer. Stockbrokers and fund managers definitely will take orders and advise investment strategies, but they often push assets they need to get rid of and are only available long enough to take an order and gain a commission from it.
Lawyers and accountants are far more responsive, as long as their fees and retainers are paid up front. However, a consumer still needs to keep an eye on these two areas as every task is billed unless a monthly retainer is paid. Consumers often find themselves with mounting bills that outpace any financial gain using this approach.
Tax planners also rely on fees, but they tend to provide far more help for less cost. Granted, most of their help comes in the form of expert tax filings and similar duties. However, they can provide some limited help in anticipating tax impacts before they occur.
Finding the Right Help
The real financial consolidation of the above, however, is the budget and debt advisor. All the other aspects above are subcategories of the advice provided. The budget and debt advisor deals with the reality of most average folks who are trying to balance bringing in a decent income, managing debt that can be crippling if it spins out of control, and trying to plan for the future instead of expecting social welfare to pay for senior years.
By combining guidance on:
• managing a personal budget,
• working debt down to non-existence,
• teaching how to save for short-term immediate needs and long-term stability, and
• planning for tax shelters and retirement,
a consumer can receive a complete picture and ongoing help versus a bit here and a bit there as so often occurs with other services. This is the real benefit of working with a budget and debt advisor versus other specialties.
The sign of this help will be in a very obvious and frank initial review. A good advisor will be straightforward and will tell a consumer what is possible and what is not, instead of trying to throw various exercises at the person. He will also identify all weaknesses and risk area of a personal portfolio. This is the kind of financial planning service a person really needs on an ongoing basis. Once these building blocks are in place, then actual financial stability can begin with an aim towards success. Ideally, a good financial advisor is a partner in his clients’ money management and future plans. He doesn’t work against them or feed off of their vulnerabilities; the proper advisor helps people stabilize and grow, removing the risks of bankruptcy and instead improving the probability of personal financial success.
Good financial experts and debt advisors work as coaches for their clients, urging proper behaviour and practices to improve performance on the field of life. They provide multiple tools and help, including credit card analysis and a consumer debt rescue plan where it’s needed. This can include a road map for loan problems and tips on how to move ahead with new financial moves, whether that be planning for retirement or buying a house or planning for a child’s education. These coaches help people save money from common traps and instead put their resources where such funds will grow.
By Israel Brown