Managing your money isn’t always easy. Luckily, you don’t have to go it alone.
But if you’re considering hiring someone to help you navigate your finances, you’re probably feeling overwhelmed by your options. Because there are so many different experts with so many different titles to choose from.And the one that’s right for you depends on your situation.
So many pros, so little time.
Here’s what you need to know about a few finance experts and what they can do for you. Pro tip: Make sure you’re getting what you’re paying for by checking their certification on the designation’s website.
Certified Financial Planner (CFP)
What they do: These pros are pretty all-encompassing. They can help with everything from managing investments to planning for retirement and tax season.
What they can do for you:If you’re looking for someone to help you make a plan for your money, this is the person for you.Oh, and they’re required to make decisions in your best interest (hi, fiduciary duty). Bonus points for fee-only financial planners, who can’t earn commissions on products (bye, sales pitches.)
Check their credentials:Through the CFP Board.
Chartered Financial Consultant (ChFC)
What they do: They’re similar to a CFP, but the process for getting the title is a little bit different. Read: They’re pretty well-rounded and can help with several different financial planning needs.
What they can do for you: Similar things to financial planners, though they’re not held to the same strict fiduciary standards that CFPs are bound to. That said, they can also help with estate planning, tax planning, general financial planning, and more.
Check their credentials:At the American College of Financial Service’s website.
Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA)
What they do: Generally, these pros are working behind the scenes in the investment industry.But it’s possible that you’ll come across someone with this qualification in your search for a financial pro. And it means that they have a lot of experience with investing, so it could be an advantage if you’re seeking out investment advice.
What they can do for you:Help guide you through making investment decisions and growing your money.
Check their credentials:At the CFA Institute’s website.
Certified Public Accountant (CPA)
What they do: Need help with tax decisions? Maybe April is coming up or you run a small business or side hustle. A CPA could be a smart decision.
What they can do for you: They can help you navigate your yearly tax filing, understand complicated tax topics, and maximize your deductions and tax savings. Cha-ching.
Check their credentials:At the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy’s website.
Certified Retirement Counselor (CRC)
What they do: If you want to get serious about saving for retirement, this is the person for you.
What they can do for you: They can help you start saving now for later so you can plan for the retirement of your dreams.
Check their credentials:At the International Foundation for Retirement Education’s website.
What they do: They’re your money’s personal trainer. They can help with the basics. Think: budgeting, savings goals, and short-term goals. While some might hold other financial designations, they’re probably not the person to help you manage investments.
What they can do for you: This person can help you set money goals and learn basic personal finance concepts. They’re also a great person to hold you accountable as you work on your money.
Check their credentials: At the Association for Financial Counseling & Planning Education’s website.
Should I even hire someone to help?
Here are a few signs you should turn to a pro to help you manage your finances:
You’ve exhausted your knowledge.Phew. If you’re all out of ideas for how to hit your financial goals, hiring a pro could pay off.
You’ve recently had a big life change. Maybe you scored a raise, had a baby, or got divorced and aren’t sure how to approach your finances accordingly. Hiring someone could be a good place to start.
You won’t do it yourself, or you keep putting off managing your money.Maybe crunching the numbers isn’t for you. Or you just don’t have the time (hi, outsourcing). And that’s OK. Hiring someone else to do it for you could help you make money moves without being as hands-on with your finances.
There are a number of designations out there. And the one that’s right for you might not be right for your BFF. Find someone who has the right qualifications for your needs and who you’re comfortable with. Because you’re going to share a lot with them. So above all else, find someone you trust.
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