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Know about the types of personal finance experts which can help you reach your dreams and goals quickly and efficiently...

There are various kinds of personal finance experts owing to the fact that as you know the financial planning field covers a wide area.

Without doubt the ideal is to try to find professionals who special in personal financial planning.  However, in spite of this practice being fairly wide spread, there still are many countries in which this specialty does not yet exist.

The good news is that even though your country or area may not have personal finance experts, other professionals can help you too.

Below we describe the various professionals who could help you either with your entire financial planning or with certain parts:

a) Certified Financial Planner (CFP)

These are personal finance experts and have been certified for having completed certain requirements such as:

  • Educational level.
  • Specific examinations for certification
  • Level of experience.
  • Practice according to a code of ethics.

This certification is internationally chartered by the  Financial Planning Standards Board (opens new window) which currently has certifying agents in: Australia, Austria, Brazil, Canada, China, Taiwan, France, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaya, New Zeland, Republic of Korea, Singapore, South Africa, Switzerland, Great Britain and the USA.

Considering the educational requirements of a Certified Financial Planner and the specialization in the field, this is the best kind of advisor to help you with your financial planning whether it is:

  • a comprehensive planning which covers all the most important areas such as: insurance, investments, retirement, etc.  See the  Financial Planning Pyramid for more details.
     
  • or the planning of some specific aspect such as retirement, for example.

b) Certified Public Accountants (CPA)

These are professionals dedicated principally to the practice of accounting and auditing. These professions are very wide spread and likely to be found in virtually every country.

Based on their professional training these specialists should be able to help you with some of the most relevant areas of your financial planning such as:

  • Preparing personal financial statements.
  • Tax advice.
  • Pension and retirement advice.
  • Investment advice.

c) Lawyers

These professionals normally do not offer financial planning services and rarely are personal finance experts, but may offer advice or assistance with practical recommendations related to:

  • Incorporation of companies and businesses.
  • Estate planning (wills, inheritances, trusts, etc.).
  • Pension and retirement advice.
  • Tax advice.

Perhaps it is hardly necessary to note that you can find lawyers in any part of the world.

d) Stock Brokers

These are professionals who are authorized to buy and sell shares and other investment vehicles on behalf of their clients.

Depending on the Brokerage you may find:

  • a discount brokerage which charges a lower commission simply to buy and sell the securities required, or
  • a full-service agency which also offers research and advisory services, but charging a higher commission or separately for the extra service.

asteriskTip: A much debated question which is worthwhile to consider when you are using a broker: Is there a conflict of interests if I use a full service agency?

The conflict can arise because the broker earns a commission when you purchase a particular security which he may recommend that you buy.  It is possible that, in the interests of earning a higher commission, the broker could recommend that you purchase a security which may not be the best for your objectives.

These professionals and their services are available worldwide.

e) Investment Advisors

This kind of professional is authorized to offer investment advice and receive a fee.  They may offer advice concerning stocks and bonds, mutual funds, options, futures, commodities, etc.

Depending on the country where they operate they may have different titles but generally their services are very similar.

The difference between these professionals and Stock Brokers is that they do not receive a commission for the investments which they recommend, but rather are paid for the advice which they provide.

It is important to note that in some countries where these activities are not regulated, you may find individuals who are salesmen for certain products, such as mutual funds, or insurance products who call themselves "Investment Advisors"

The key question is how these people are paid. If they earn any commission or fee which is paid based on what you purchase ... their interests may not be always aligned with yours.

f) Insurance brokers and agents

These professionals, which could be individuals or companies, are authorized to sell health insurance, property insurance, third-party liability insurance, etc. They can assist you in choosing insurance according to your needs.

Where there are risks, there are insurance companies, and where these are, so are agents and brokers, so it is likely you will find these in most parts of the world.

One common criticism of many insurance brokers and agents is the fact that they generally earn their income based on a commission for what you purchase, so again you need to be cautious that what they recommend is really the best alternative for your specific needs.

In addition, there are some insurance plans which combine insurance with investment or savings, making the product offered much more complex than it would otherwise be.  And, finally, in some areas, you may find people who present themselves as "Investment Advisors" who are, in reality insurance salesmen who earn their income from selling you their specific products.

What then can you do if there are no personal finance experts nearby?

If, in your country or area there are no Certified Financial Planners, as you've seen there are still various other kinds of personal finance experts who might help you.  The best bet would be:

  • Find out if there is a professional group or company which specializes in offering this service
     
  • Ask a CPA or other professionals if they might offer you financial planning services, or
     
  • Make your own plan in general terms and seek assistance from specific professionals to fine-tune your plan and help you put it into action.

If you have any questions or wish to comment about kinds of personal finance experts described here, you can reach us by simply clicking here.

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