Frequently Asked Questions

You may have some questions regarding choosing a financial planner. We’ve put together some common questions about financial planning.

What should consumers look for in a financial planner?

FPA believes that everyone needs objective advice to make smart financial decisions and that when seeking the advice of a financial planner, the planner should be a Certified Financial Planner™ professional.

That’s because in order to earn the designation, individuals must pass a comprehensive examination and continue to meet the education, experience and ethics standards established by the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, Inc. (CFP Board).

How should I start looking for a planner?

Ask for names from friends or business associates who may have used a financial planner.

Attorneys, accountants, insurance agents, bankers and other financial specialists also can be good sources because planners often work with them to carry out a client’s plan.
Is there one method of compensation that is better than others?

Financial planners are compensated in a variety of ways, including fee-only, commission, a fee/commission blend and salaried. Each method of compensation has its merits, depending on a consumer’s age, lifestyle and financial situation. There is no one right method.

What is important is that the consumer clearly understands how a planner is compensated and any real or potential conflicts of interests that may exist.

Armed with that information, FPA feels that consumers can focus on the planner’s competence as the primary consideration in their selection process.

How are financial planners regulated?

Many financial professionals are licensed on the state and federal levels in specific areas such as insurance or securities. However, they are not specifically regulated for their financial planning activities — with the exception of the Certified Financial Planner™ professional, who is certified by the CFP Board. CFP® professionals are held accountable to the CFP Board’s Code of Ethics and must also meet its practice standards requirements. The CFP Board has the power to suspend or revoke the CFP license from an individual who violates the Board’s standards.

The Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) and/or state agencies also have requirements for “investment advisers” — a role that most financial planners fulfill. If a planner is a registered investment adviser, or a representative of an advisory firm, FPA advises consumers to carefully review the Form ADV, which discloses a planner’s experience, education, credentials, licenses, manner of compensation and potential conflicts of interest.

Aren’t all financial planners the same?

No! Be wary of people who call themselves financial planners but who appear more interested in pushing specific financial products at the expense of your real needs and goals. A genuine financial planner can help you address a variety of financial needs, not just investments, just insurance or just taxes.

Moreover, not every financial planner is a Certified Financial Planner™ professional. CFP® professionals have an ethical obligation to act in your interest.

How do I choose the right financial planner for me?

Choosing a financial planner is as important as choosing a doctor or lawyer. Working with a financial planner is a very personal relationship. In addition to competency, a financial planner should have integrity, trust and a commitment to ethical behavior and high professional standards. You want a planner who will put your needs and interest first.

Also, many planners specialize in working with certain types of clients, such as small-business owners, executives or retirees. Many have minimum income and asset requirements. Some specialize in certain areas of planning such as retirement, divorce or asset management. This is why we recommend that you interview at least three planners in person to find the right one for you.

How can consumers find a financial planner in the Baton Rouge area?

Consumers may obtain the names and phone numbers of CFP® professional in the Baton Rouge area by calling FPA’s toll-free number, 800-282-PLAN (7562), or by surfing to www.fpanet.org.