Monday, 29 December 2008

Do You Need a Financial Adviser?

Do You Need a Financial Adviser?
Part One of Series
By Ken Little,

See More About:
financial advisor
allocate resources
estate planning
retirement planning
financial goals

Buy high and sell low. To borrow an old retail saying, “you can’t make a profit on volume” trading stocks that way.
Some investors find that they don’t have the time, energy or talent to research and identify stocks for their portfolio, much less manage their money effectively. Their needs go beyond the scope of a stock broker - they may need the services of a qualified financial adviser.
In this two-part series, I’ll look at what a financial adviser can do for you and discuss the different types of financial advisers and how they work with you. This article covers what benefits you can expect from a financial adviser.
A good financial adviser will work with you to develop a game plan that fits your financial circumstances and tailors a plan to accomplish your goals.
Some people find that they are more comfortable doing their “own thing” and don’t want to spend the money a good adviser may cost.
On the other hand, many people gladly turn over the details of developing a financial plan to an expert.
What Financial Advisers Do
Most financial advisers want to look at your whole financial picture – all your income and liabilities. They want a complete picture of where you are financially so they can draw a map from where you are to where you want to go. Here are some of the benefits of using a financial adviser:
The Big Picture – A financial adviser will develop a comprehensive profile of your financial status. This profile will identify areas of strengths and weakness.
An Unemotional Assessment – The financial adviser will give you an unemotional assessment of what needs to be done. Money is an emotional topic for many people, which often leads to bad decisions.
Allocate Resources – It is likely you have competing priorities, such as sending the kids to college while building a retirement fund. A financial adviser can help you allocate resources so both goals receive the appropriate share of dollars.
Minimize Taxes – Most investment decisions carry some type of short or long-term tax implication. Your adviser can help you shape your investments in a manner that keeps taxes to a minimum and more of your dollars invested.
Estate Planning – Careful planning will help ensure that your estate passes to loved ones in a manner that protects as much of its value as possible. In broad terms, your adviser will cover these areas. More specifically, your adviser will focus on these areas:
Retirement accounts such as 401(k)s, IRAs, and so on
Insurance including medical, life, disability, liability
Educational goals for how many children at what ages
Taxes both personal and business if self employed or own a business
Other financial goals such as second home, buy a business, retire early
The Plan
Depending of the type of financial adviser you use, you will get some form of financial plan that details the findings of the adviser and provides a blueprint to reach your goals.
The plan may include options to reach your goals that involve different levels of commitment on your part (read that dollars).
In the second part of this series, I’ll look at how different financial advisers execute their plans and how much their services cost.
Financial advisers come in variety of flavors, each with their strong points. The second part of this series examines how these financial advisers differ in execution and compensation.

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