Managing your money is not always easy. Fortunately, you don’t have to go it alone.
But if you’re considering hiring someone to help manage 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 which one is right for you depends on your situation.
So many pros, so little time.
Here’s what you need to know about a few financial experts and what they can do for you. Pro tip: Make sure you’re getting your money’s worth by checking their certification on the designation website.
Certified Financial Planner (CFP)
What theyre doing: These pros are pretty comprehensive. They can help with everything from managing investments to planning for retirement and tax season.
What they can do for you:If you are looking for someone to help you make a plan for your money, this is the person for you. Oh, and they’re bound to make decisions in your best interest (hello, fiduciary duty). Bonus points for paying financial planners, who cannot earn product commissions (goodbye, sales pitches.)
Check their credentials:Through the CFP Council.
Chartered Financial Consultant (ChFC)
What theyre doing: They are similar to a CFP, but the process of earning the credential is a bit different. Read: They are quite comprehensive and can meet many different financial planning needs.
What they can do for you: Similar things to financial planners, although they are not held to the same strict fiduciary standards that CFPs are held to. That said, they can also help with estate planning, tax planning, general financial planning, and more.
Check their credentials:At American College of Financial Service website.
Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA)
What theyre doing: Typically, these pros work behind the scenes in the investment industry. But you may come across someone with this qualification in your search for a finance professional. And that means they have a lot of investment experience, so that could be an advantage if you’re looking for investment advice.
What they can do for you:Help you make investment decisions and grow your money.
Check their credentials:At The CFA Institute website.
Certified Public Accountant (CPA)
What theyre doing: Need help with your tax decisions? Maybe April is coming or you’re running a small business or side business. A CPA could be a smart move.
What they can do for you: They can help you navigate your annual tax return, understand complex tax topics, and maximize your tax deductions and savings. Cha Ching.
Check their credentials:At National Association of State Boards of Accountancy website.
Certified Retirement Advisor (CRC)
What theyre doing: If you’re serious about saving for your 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 your dream retirement.
Check their credentials:At International Foundation for Retirement Education website.
What theyre doing: They are your money’s personal trainer. They can help with the basics. Think: budgeting, savings goals, and short-term goals. Although some may hold other financial designations, they are probably not the person to help you manage investments.
What they can do for you: This person can help you set financial goals and learn basic personal finance concepts. They are also a great person to hold you accountable when working on your money.
Check their credentials: At Association for Financial Counseling & Planning Education website.
Do I even have to hire someone to help me?
Here are some signs that you should turn to a pro to help you manage your finances:
You have exhausted your knowledge.Phew. If you’re out of ideas on how to achieve your financial goals, hiring a professional could pay off.
You recently had a big change in your life. Maybe you got a raise, had a baby, or got divorced and don’t know how to approach your finances accordingly. Hiring someone might be a good place to start.
You won’t do it yourself, or you keep putting off managing your money.Maybe doing the math isn’t for you. Or you just don’t have the time (hi, outsourcing). And that’s OK. Hiring someone else to do this for you could help you make some money moves without being as involved with your finances.
There are several designations. And the one that suits you may not suit your best friend. Find someone who has the right qualifications for your needs and who you are comfortable with. Because you are going to share a lot with them. Most importantly, find someone you trust.