Choosing a Financial Planner That is Right for You

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Financial planners are professionals who help you build wealth and achieve financial freedom. Working with a financial planner can help you make the right money-related decisions at any stage of life.

Choosing the right financial planner is pertinent to achieving your financial success. The level of education, amount of training and experience a financial planner brings to the relationship makes a big difference in the quality of service you receive.

What does a financial planner do?

Financial planners can provide various services related to money planning. Some examples are:

  • organizing your finances – do you know how much you spend and where your accounts are held?
  • help plan for retirement – are you saving enough and in the right accounts?
  • project your future cash flow from savings and investments – how do you withdraw a sensible amount once you’ve retired?
  • giving advice for investment risk and tolerance to achieve your money goals – what types of investments make sense?
  • guiding you through life transitions – losing a job and starting a new one, divorce, marriage or becoming widowed, planning for children’s college and more.

A good financial planner will not make recommendations until they understand your financial goals and current financial situation. They will also take the time and answer your questions. Then, they will make recommendations and help you implement your financial plan.

Local independent professional vs. large national firm

With so many options, choosing a financial planner can be overwhelming. So how do you choose the right one for you?

Some settle on a large brokerage firm because of familiarity. Remember, these large box firms have millions of dollars in their marketing budgets, which helps boost their awareness and visibility.

Larger firms can be the right choice for some people, but not everyone. Here’s why choosing a local, independent firm can better serve you.

You have a say in money decisions.

People come to Laurel Tree Advisors expressing they didn’t feel heard and that they felt unimportant when they worked with larger financial firms. They also expressed not having a strong relationship with their planner because they were one of many, many clients. Smaller, independent professionals can choose to work with a smaller number of clients, so each client gets personal attention.

Comprehensive wealth management

Independent firms can offer a holistic approach to achieving your money goals and managing your investments. At Laurel Tree Advisors, we are fiduciaries, which means we work in your best interest. It’s important to work with a planner who is ethical and working under legal obligation because they follow the fiduciary standard vs. the suitability standard.

Personalization with your financial plan

Money is important when it comes to creating a plan to achieve financial freedom and goals. Everyone is different when it comes to money. Each client has a unique situation and goals, and those change over time. It’s important that a financial planner spends time with you to truly understand you and your situation and your goals.

We are all unique in our financial circumstances.

This is why a personalized plan is so important. Larger firms will often plug you into a portfolio model based on criteria you meet, but it’s not specific to you. At smaller, local, independent firms, you will often work directly with the owner who will ask you many questions to better understand your money goals. Additionally, the client/financial planner ratio is much smaller at independent firms compared to national firms.

Have you hired the right financial planner?

Have you assessed your criteria for hiring the right financial planner for you? Here are some questions to consider:

  • Do you have a clear understanding of what your financial planner does for you?
  • Do you know exactly where you are on your path to your financial goals?
  • Are you working with a financial firm that has a small client/financial planner ratio?
  • Do you feel heard and feel like you matter?
  • Does your planner have the knowledge and experience to meet your specific goals and needs?
  • Is your planner genuinely curious? Are they asking you questions to better understand your situation and goals?
  • Does your financial planner have passion for financial planning and wealth management?
  • Do you trust that your financial planner is working in your best interest?
  • Is your planner available to take calls or meet with you in a timely manner?

If you answered “no” to any of these questions, we invite you to give Laurel Tree Advisors a call.

We offer a free, no obligation consultation where you will be heard and feel like you matter — because you do.

Our mission is to help you achieve financial freedom so that you can focus on the things that are truly important to you. 

A little about Laurel Tree Advisors

Molly Balunek, Founder of Laurel Tree Advisors, has been in the financial industry since 1994 helping clients improve their personal finances and achieve financial independence.

Laurel Tree Advisors is a local, Cleveland-based, independent financial planning firm providing personalized financial plans practicing under the fiduciary standard – always working ethically and in our client’s best interest.