What Does a Financial Planner Do, and Do You Need One?

What does a financial planner do, exactly? Ah, how many times I’ve had to answer that question… and how little I’m usually able to get across. You know the scene: You’re at a party, you’re meeting new people. The on of the first questions everyone asks is, “What do you do?”

If you’re my wife, you get to tell everyone you’re a veterinarian. Lucky her! All of a sudden, she’s peppered with dog and cat stories. Some are amusing, some are sad, but almost everyone wants to talk about their pets. The running joke among veterinarians is that if you want to end a conversation quickly, just tell people you sell life insurance.

When I’m at a party and someone asks me what it is I do, I typically respond with, “I help my clients turn their six figure income into financial freedom.” This usually turns into a conversation about me being a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™.

I’ll admit, I think it sounds pretty good. But no one hears it. Their ears usually stop working after the words financial planner, when suddenly, they’re thinking of that old friend from high school who hit them up out of nowhere — the one who said they had started a new career as a financial advisor, who wanted to meet up and explain what they do.

My wife had a similar experience not too long ago when she was in vet school, only to discover said “old friend” had only arranged it to try and hawk some high-priced life insurance policy called Whole Life.

What can I say? It’s a tough act to follow.

Financial Planners: We’re Friends, Not Foes

As a financial planner, I understand that the general public paints us in a negative light—and I understand why, too. I sympathize with those who want to run away when the words financial planner come out of my mouth.

But when you’re talking to an actual professional, financial planning and investment product sales are two different things—I promise.

So, what does a real financial planner do?

  • We help you make, and keep track of, a budget.
  • We help you prioritize your financial goals.
  • We help keep you from making bad financial decisions… like buying that expensive Whole Life policy.
  • We help you uncover your money values and build a unique plan around them.
  • We help you answer difficult financial questions, like: “Should I rent or own?” “How do I invest my 401(k)?” “How do I pay down my student loans?” “How much disability insurance do I need?”
  • We help you minimize taxes. No, really! We’ll help you understand and utilize tax-saving tactics, exercising certain stock options or investing in the most tax-efficient manner.
  • We help you figure out what to do with extra cash. (Good problem, am I right?)
  • We help you evaluate employee benefits.
  • We help you evaluate job offers.
  • We help you live your best life!
  • And as a bonus, if the Certified Financial Planner in question works on a fee-only basis—which I do—he or she is a fiduciary… which means that person is legally required to act in your best interests (only 2% of financial planners/advisors are fee-only according to Tony Robbins, world renowned performance coach and author of Money: Master the Game).

Phew! That’s a lot… and a lot more than wasting an hour of your life on a sales pitch.

How Can a Financial Planner Help You?

Now that we’re past the getting-to-know-you question, let’s talk brass tacks. How can a Certified Financial Planner change your relationship with your money?

In other words: How can I help you?

According to the American Psychological Association, money is the second largest stressor in America, second only to worries about the future of our nation. We’re more stressed about money than we are about work, violence, and crime. Given those statistics, it’s safe to say money worries prevent us from living our best lives.

If you could pay someone to take away all the money worries you have, would that be a good investment?

Think about it this way. Have you ever bought a gym membership in January, dedicated to a whole New Year of fitness… only to stop sweating it out by March? Yeah, me too. Staying accountable to our goals is one of the most difficult things we can do, and many of us fail at it.

But what if you contracted a personal trainer? A good personal trainer will evaluate your current fitness level, create a fitness plan tailored just for you, show you how to do the workouts and keep you accountable to your fitness program over time. Would that help you hit your fitness goals? Of course it would!

How We Work

In many ways, a good financial planner is like a personal trainer for your financial life. We help you hit your money-related goals by evaluating where you are today, create a personal financial plan for where you want to be tomorrow, educate you on how to achieve those goals, and keep you accountable to your plan.

We don’t sell you products and then disappear or just sit there and tell you how the stock market is doing. We look at your financial situation holistically, provide you with real solutions to real problems, monitor your progress, and celebrate with you when you succeed and ditch that money-related anxiety.

A great financial planner helps you live your best life today, while also helping you plan responsibly for tomorrow.

So if you want to experience the Nxt:Generation of Financial Planning, click here to schedule a conversation about what I can do… for you.

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