Straight-Talk About Financial Planners

Now the Solvency Shark tries to help you manage your money yourself. When you take control of your financial situation, you make decisions that fit your needs, not the needs of someone else— banks, retailers, insurance agents, etc.

But life can be complicated. The more you acquire and the more you invest, the harder your financial decisions will become. This is why there are financial planners.

Do I need one? Weigh the costs versus the benefits. Questions you should ask yourself: How good have I been at managing my money? Excellent? Average? Poor?

Financial planners can charge by the hour, charge a flat fee for a basic plan, or charge 1% of your annual income. Do these sound excessive? Is it worth it to have access to someone who (almost certainly) knows more about finance than you do?

There’s no right or wrong answer. It’s your money.

What will a planner do? Remember the guidance counselors in high school? Financial planners are a little like that. They’ll sit down with you, listen to your goals, examine your assets, and give you straight talk on what can be done to meet them.

Some planners specialize in fields such as investing, retirement, or college savings.

But unlike guidance counselors, not all planners take on all clients. The more solvent (and wealthier) you are, the easier it is to find a match. Don’t say you weren’t warned.

How do I choose the right one? There are several signs to look (and look out) for:

Word of mouth. If people you trust use a trustworthy planner, pursue him or her first.

The CFP credential. While a Certified Financial Planner is held to certain standards of education and ethics, it’s not a guarantee of good practice.

Research. Make sure their credentials are real and current. See if they’ve been convicted of ethics violations.

Learn the planner’s approach. You need to know where a planner specializes, and how they operate. Drop anyone who compares themselves to Warren Buffett.

Ask about the fees. Get a straight answer about how much, and which pricing system.

Get everything in writing. If a planner hesitates to do this, watch out.

Alexander Carl

Alexander Carl

I find it difficult to brag about myself. Too modest? Perhaps.

Anyway: my name is Alexander Carl. I am a recent graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where I spent four blissful years earning a degree in Communication Studies. Now I face the real world of economic downturns, student loans, and the absence of “academic” camaraderie.

Yet I refuse to be bummed. My economic philosophy is to live simply, save, and maximize whatever I can. Consumer culture is undeniably pervasive, but you don’t have to sell your soul to co-exist with it— there is great power from using your economic resources wisely.

I started writing when I figured out how to hold a pencil. Since then I’ve written short stories, poetry, screenplays, and have blogged. In fact, three of my screenplays have been produced into short films, two of which I directed. I’m no stranger to the media, having served as a DJ at a freeform radio station and worked as a crew member for live TV.

Pastimes include traveling (I’ll visit virtually anywhere), swimming, jogging, hiking, and hunkering down with a good movie.

Overall I’m a peaceful person, though not in a creepy New Agey way. I get my energy from music, good conversation, and the outdoors (I was an active Boy Scout, earning my Eagle). I consider myself “inquisitive” and “wry”, and for the sake of autobiography I’ll assume that I am.
Alexander Carl

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