Think your family needs help managing its money? Finding a financial advisor you can trust, may be your first step toward securing your future finances.
Do We Really Need a Financial Planner?
Aren’t the services of financial planners reserved for clients with big bank accounts, lots of investments and trust funds for their children? Not always. Today, especially in uncertain economic times, even families with small balances should consider the pros and cons of turning to a financial planner.
If your family is like many, you may be tightening your belts these days, making every trip to the grocery store count. But with shrinking retirement accounts and less confidence in aggressive investment plans, what is happening to the money you have squirreled away for future use?
It is just as important to keep tabs on savings and investments as it is to keep a tight reign on your household budget. Do you have all the information you need to make sure your retirement account remains intact, that your kids have money for college?
Now may be the time to seek advice about how to protect what money you do have, so you will still have it when you are 65.
“Most people wait too long before hiring a financial planner,” says Jim Elder, a fee-only financial planner. “We see too many people coming into our office when they are in their mid-50s, when it’s too late to make any changes. The earlier [you see a financial planner], the better, to give your family direction with their finances.”
How people run into trouble
There is absolutely nothing worse that running into a financial jam and not knowing when or where you’re going to get the money from.
Getting a bank to loan you the money takes jumping through hoops. So, what is a person to do when they have bad credit and no collateral? Searching for emergency loans to help them make ends meet and cover unexpected bills is often the first port of call. This answer of instant credit or finance is often not thought-through and poorly timed.
Taking out a cash loan to pay for emergency costs or fees can often be the easiest option, see here. Then once you get paid you can pay back the loan company.
Does this sound like you? A financial advisor or planner could be the help you’ve been searching for.
Starting the Search
Finding a financial planner can be as tricky as finding a family physician. And according to Errold Moody of San Leandro, Calif., who holds a number of finance degrees and recently authored No Nonsense Finance (McGraw Hill), the same care should be taken in seeking a planner to handle your money.
Where to begin? The prospect of finding a financial advisor worth his salt can be daunting to the average family. To start, “Seek out the financially savvy people in your community and ask them who they use,” says Elder. Local certified public accountants (CPAs) and estate planning attorneys are good sources of information.
Friends and family can also provide references. “Most of my referrals come from my existing client base,” says Dan Liberatore, a certified financial planner (CFP) in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Sue Parmet of Pound Ridge, N.Y., found one of her family’s financial planners through her sister-in-law and another through a family friend.
When soliciting referrals from friends or family members, keep your special circumstances in mind. “A planner that may have been good for one family may be incapable of dealing with another due to unique circumstances,” says Moody. Ask around for information about a planner who has dealt with clients whose needs were similar to yours. For instance, if you own a business, ask fellow business owners who they work with – and who they avoid.
Once you have the names of a few good men or women, do your homework. “You should always interview at least three financial planners, just as you would get three bids for work done on your house,” says Elder.
Moody suggests you contact five or more candidates. Then draw up some important interview questions to screen the great from the not so great. Among them: What is their experience? Find out the number of years they have been in the business, where they have practiced and what types of clients they have handled in the past. The common wisdom is to find someone with at least 10 years of experience. “Since there are no residency programs for planners, a lot of time is necessary before a planner can figure out just what is going on and apply it to real life,” says Moody.
If you find you are comfortable with the planner’s experience level, ask them about their credentials. “Many planners have the CFP designation,” says Elder. “However, credentials only show that you can sit in a class and take tests. Look for experience.” According to Moody, you should even consider seeking someone with a degree in financial planning, not just a CFP designation. “After all, this is serious business, and you want someone who is committed beyond a semester’s worth of work,” he says.
Next, look at how the candidate is paid. “A planner who makes money by commissions will only be interested in selling you something,” Elder says. “Seek ‘fee-only’ advisors.” You pay a fee-only advisor a set amount to perform services for you, the client. With this type of advisor, you shouldn’t have to worry about being sold financial products you might not need, such as annuities, life insurance or mutual funds, since the planner is not dependent on commission from the sale of these services. Ask yourself: “Do you want a salesperson or an advisor?” Elder says. Moody agrees, but adds that just because a planner claims to be “fee-only” doesn’t mean he or she is the best candidate for you. Weigh experience and credentials over how fees are charged. “A [poor planner] charging a fee is still a [poor planner],” he says.
Finally, find out about the planner’s investment philosophy. What are his or her values? Do they match yours? How comfortable do you feel about the potential advisor’s ideas? If you’re not in sync with the advisor, look elsewhere.
For example, when Parmet’s “great” financial planner retired, she passed her clients on to her father, a qualified planner with years of experience. However, Parmet wasn’t as comfortable with the new advisor’s strategies. While she appreciated his expertise, she decided to look elsewhere for a new financial advisor, one who was on the same wavelength as Parmet and her growing family.
Reviewing Your Relationship
Even after you choose a financial planner who seems right for you, monitor the relationship periodically to be sure your planner continues to do his job to your satisfaction. If his performance is no longer up to par or you don’t feel comfortable with his treatment of your money, don’t hesitate to start your search again. Your financial stability is too important to allow a less-than-perfect relationship to continue.
Whether you choose a fee-only advisor, go for a financial planner with a degree or elect to hire a savvy candidate with only a few years’ experience, follow your instincts when it comes to financial planning services. Remember: You’re the boss. Stay in control, and enjoy the confidence of knowing your financial future is in the best hands.
If you want to retire “on time,” you will need to make plans now to prepare. Put together a financial plan that takes into account your goals for retirement, and work toward making those goals a reality. As you prepare for a successful retirement in the future, here are some things to keep in mind:
Consistency is Key
One of the most important things you can do as you prepare your finances for a brighter future is consistency. You need to be consistent in your savings plan, setting aside money each month. There are a number of retirement calculators out there that can help you figure out how much money you need to put into your retirement account each month if you want to reach your goal. You also need to be consistent about your spending, budgeting and other aspects of your financial life.
Debt is Bad
Nothing drains your retirement income potential like debt. All that money you are paying in interest to someone else is doing nothing to benefit you. It just leaks out of your budget and into someone else’s pocket. One of your goals, before you hit retirement, is to reduce your obligations as much as you can. Many people include their mortgage debt in this. You will feel more secure about your retirement, and have more money at your disposal, if you can pay down your debt — especially costly consumer debt — as quickly as possibly.
Fees are Bad, Too
It’s not just the interest you pay on debt that can reduce your real returns and slow your efforts to achieve your retirement goals; fees are a drain on your retirement as well. If you pay high fees on the funds in your retirement account over the course of 20 or 30 years, you will miss out on a substantial amount that could have been funding your retirement. If you want to maximize your retirement, you should look for low fee investments. Additionally, minimize transaction fees by avoiding constant trading. You should re-allocate your assets on occasion, but you don’t need to be constantly trading. That’s a good way to reduce your real returns.
Max Out Your Tax-Advantaged Accounts
If most of your investing is done for retirement purposes, it is a good idea to max out your tax-advantaged retirement accounts before you open other investment accounts. Make sure you are taking advantage of IRAs and 401Ks (you can have both kinds of accounts) before you use investment accounts that do not have the same advantages. And remember that your spouse’s contributions to accounts in his or her name are considered separate. So if you both have IRAs, you can contribute up to $5,000 to each IRA, for a total of $10,000. And while you’re at it, don’t leave free money on the table. If it’s an option, max out matching contributions from your employer.
Samuel Leeds Buys Shares In Property Tribes; Says He Wants To Make It Better
People in UK property circles may be familiar with the very public dispute between former MTV presenter, property investor, and community manager of the company Property Tribes, Vanessa Warwick, & property investment trainer and owner of the company ‘Property Investors’, Samuel Leeds; as Leeds has accused Warwick of assisting with racism and discrimination against ethnic minority tenants. In recent news, Samuel Leeds was reported to have bought a 35% share of the company Property Tribes, making him officially now a person of significant control at Property Tribes.
Warwick established Property Tribes to accumulate wisdom from various property owners and landlords to create a place of guidance for people in the industry to do business better. According to the company,
“We wanted to create a free use, safe, and agenda-free place for landlords to get information from a “hive mind”, not a singularity, so that they could learn and grow their property business.”
However, in one of his recent videos, Samuel Leeds pointed out blatant support of racism in some of the advice coming from Warwick herself. As one of the landlords asks on the forum – if they would be implicated by the race discrimination laws in the UK for refusing tenancy to Bangladeshi families as the landlord is not fond of the smell of their staple food, curry; Vanessa Warwick herself is seen advising against mentioning the reason for said refusal, thus averting the legal repercussions altogether.
In the video, Leeds points out several more situations where Warwick has behaved in a racist manner. In fact, she has become a new advisor on the panel of the UK’s Property Redress Scheme and has been under criticism in their forum as well for supporting discrimination against ethnic minorities.
Warwick also expressed strong disapproval of Leeds as a property trainer citing the reason that his students came from the “vulnerable” demographic. Leeds called out the racist mindset in this reasoning, as in reality, his students predominantly come from ethnic minorities and don’t fall in the “vulnerable” category. He began drawing attention to the issue over his YouTube channel and his website, and ended up facing severe disparagement from Warwick and her followers. Leeds finally sued Warwick for defamation and she brought a counter lawsuit for six-figure damages.
In an attempt to put an end to the battle once and for all, Samuel Leeds reports to have bought a share, 35% to be exact, of the company, Property Tribes. Even though he is only a minority shareholder and will have limited control, Leeds believes he can make a difference in “cleaning up the company” and reduce racism in the forum.
He jokingly adds,
“Because they trolled me, I wanted to at least get paid… Like Michael Jackson did to Eminem.”
Leeds pledges that any money he makes off this transaction will be donated to charitable organisations that tackle racism and online bullying. In addition, Leeds will donate an extra £50,000 to organisations that fight hatred in the UK. With this move, he is determined to take a strong stand against all discriminations in the property sector or any other industry.
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