When choosing a financial planner, it's important to understand the financial planning landscape. According to the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), almost anyone can claim to be a financial planner and might come from many different backgrounds. Financial planners might be brokers or investment advisers, insurance agents, practicing accountants, or individuals with no financial credentials. That is why the consumer must perform his or her due diligence before turning their money over to any sort of financial advisor. Here are some differences between the two terms.
In Australia, a company providing financial services must obtain a licence from the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC). However, there are no requirements for the individuals providing the financial advice, and the ASIC website states that "Holding an AFS licence does not provide a guarantee of the probity or quality of the licensee's services."[4][5]
It is important to look at the evidence on the long-term returns to different assets, and to holding period returns (the returns that accrue on average over different lengths of investment). For example, over very long holding periods (e.g. 10+ years) in most countries, equities have generated higher returns than bonds, and bonds have generated higher returns than cash. According to financial theory, this is because equities are riskier (more volatile) than bonds which are themselves more risky than cash.
Investment managers typically have a bachelor’s degree and can benefit from earning a master’s degree or a particular financial certification, like the certified financial planner designation. Investment managers often need to register with either their state or the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, depending on their assets under management.
You might also encounter financial planners who cater exclusively to the rich and refuse clients with less than $250,000 to invest. Don’t take it personally—hugely successful planners would just prefer to deal with big accounts rather than beginner clients. You want a planner who’ll make the time to focus on your concerns and is interested in growing with you.
Beware of market-beating brags. Warren Buffet outperforms the market averages. There aren’t a lot of people like him. If you have an initial meeting with an adviser and you hear predictions of market-beating performance, get up and walk away. No one can safely make such guarantees, and anyone who’s trying may be taking risks that you don’t want to take.

If you’re starting out and don’t have a trove of assets, an planner who charges by the hour could be the best fit. These planners are best for when your needs are fairly simple. Typically, hourly planners are just building their practice, but that usually means they’ll take the care to get your finances right. After all, they’re relying on your recommendation to grow their business. Finally, many experienced advisers do hourly work because they enjoy working with younger clients who can only afford to hire someone at that rate.
Consumer includes our lending, savings, credit card and financial tools teams, collectively working towards creating the leading platform for millions of customers to take control of their financial lives. Through the use of intuitive design, we provide customers with powerful tools and products that are grounded in value, transparency and simplicity. Within our Consumer business, we are primarily looking for candidates with the following skillsets:
The Financial Markets Authority (FMA) (formerly the Securities Commission) provides Authorisation to individuals who provide Personalised Financial Advice, Investment Planning Services and/or Discretionary Investment Management Services.[16] Individuals who receive authorisation are referred to as an Authorised Financial Adviser (AFA). In order to receive authorisation, individuals must complete the National Certificate in Financial Services (Financial Advice) (Level 5).
Some investment managers are also financial planners, providing holistic financial advice on topics like cash-flow management, taxes, insurance and estate planning. Others work with high-net-worth clients to address their financial planning and investment management needs, as well as coordinate the services of other professionals, such as lawyers and accountants. This is often referred to as wealth management. Wealth management offers more areas of expertise, such as estate and tax planning, accounting services and retirement planning in addition to investment management. If you need a hand choosing investments for your IRA, investment management could be helpful. Wealth management would probably be overkill.
According to an annual study by research and advisory firm Willis Towers Watson and the financial newspaper Pensions & Investments, the investment management industry is growing. When based on the combined holdings of the 500 biggest investment managers, the global industry had approximately US$93.8 trillion assets under management (AUM) in 2018. This figure was over US $100 Trillion by year end 2019, but in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, the value of the holdings had significantly decreased.
Hitting 50. In the early stages of a family's life, your biggest asset is your ability to earn income, which your family needs for both immediate and long-term goals, says Jeremy Torgerson, chief executive officer at nVest Advisors near Denver. "Life insurance is obviously very important at this stage, as is disability, since we are far more likely to be injured and unable to work than to die prematurely," he says. "People need more life insurance than they think when they're young and just starting families, so this is usually my recommendation." However, as people get older, their insurance needs change from needing protection against premature death to protection against costs for care, Torgerson says. "When I have clients in their late 40s through about 60, we often talk about long-term care insurance needs, especially for the wives," he adds. "The last statistic I heard from an LTC insurance carrier was that we will spend the last four years of our lives, on average, needing some sort of care to help us with activities of daily living. You'll need to prepare for that."
In Australia, a company providing financial services must obtain a licence from the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC). However, there are no requirements for the individuals providing the financial advice, and the ASIC website states that "Holding an AFS licence does not provide a guarantee of the probity or quality of the licensee's services."[4][5]
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