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What does a Financial Planner Do? Part 1

In Financial Services there is a multitude of different titles and roles for what people do, which is enough to sometimes confuse anyone looking for answers about what someone in financial services actually does!

Maybe you’ve come across a “wealth adviser”, a “financial adviser”, a “financial consultant” or a “financial planner”. What is the difference and why does it matter?

I’m here to tell you it does matter, and I am on a professional mission to grow awareness that many can benefit hugely from using professional financial planners. Financial planners don’t look to sell financial products to as many people as possible, but instead they develop adaptable and comprehensive financial plans to help their clients live a fulfilling life with the reassurance that their finances are being watched over, to ensure they remain on track and any potential risks are minimised.

Financial Planning Vs Financial advice.

So what is the difference? Put simply, financial advice tends to be more about a single-need. Many people start looking for a financial adviser when they are looking for answers to solve a particular problem, like making preparations for should the worst happen, eg with critical illness cover or life assurance, or they wish to start saving for retirement through a pension.

Solving a single financial problem with a financial product might be a good solution in isolation but life is often more complicated than we think, and one financial decision can have implications on others in the future. A financial adviser may have given suitable advice in one specific area, but without a more holistic look at a client’s full financial life, the solution generated may have a negative knock on effect.

Treating financial advice as a one-off event can also lead to problems because the right solution today might not be tomorrow. With governments changing legislation all the time, and life circumstances ever evolving, the static nature of financial advice is less than ideal. In contrast, a comprehensive financial planning service recognises that financial products need regular reviews to check they are still fit for purpose in the light of a changing regulatory environment and the changing lives of clients.

So what about financial planning?

The process of financial planning puts the client’s goals, needs and objectives at its core. It’s an integrated approach that looks at the client’s whole financial picture and looks to balance different strategies to optimise their resources, in a way that puts the client in control of their financial future with clarity and confidence.

Firstly the financial planner must understand the client’s financial goals; then a planner will ascertain what existing assets & resources a client has and what is likely to come to them in the future. Next comes knowing when and how much money will be needed for different objectives. Then, once this is all clear, the planner can lay out a plan of action with specific steps the client needs to take to achieve those goals.

Creating a detailed financial plan often involves looking at a client’s likely long term cash flow forecast and then recommending actions that will ensure their goals are achievable and are not left to chance.

Once you have created a financial plan and have started to implement the recommended actions, you will be able to see the progress you are making towards your goals. This can then be augmented by an ongoing service from your adviser that ensures the plan remains current and on track.

Next week I will explore this topic further explaining how a financial planner can help their clients move towards, and secure the life they want to live.

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