I'm a financial planner, and the first question I ask any new client tells me everything I need to know to help them manage their money
- I'm a financial planner, and I always ask new clients the same question: What brings you here? This open-ended question puts the client in the driver's seat and helps me learn what's most important to them.
- Most people do not understand how to manage their finances in a way that can bring them long-term success, and that's okay - as long as they know when to ask for help.
- Financial planners like me connect the dots between where you are and where you want to be, and show you the steps to take to safeguard your financial future
- A financial planner can help you build wealth and establish good money habits. Use SmartAsset's free tool to connect with a qualified professional »
As a financial planner, I've seen both good and bad financial situations. Clients come to me for a variety of reasons, but I can't read their minds and I certainly don't want to make any assumptions. Rather than guessing, I always ask new clients one question at the start of our meeting: What brings you here?
It seems like a silly question. The client wants help to manage their finances, which is why they sought me out for financial planning. Except no two financial plans are the same. I need to know what's important in their lives in order to help them reach their goals.
The open-ended question of "what brings you here" is an excellent starting point. When clients answer this question in their own words, it helps me see how I can make financial planning successful in their eyes.
When to seek out financial advice
I've met with many clients over the years. I primarily focus on financial planning for women and families, and I help them with all areas of their financial life. Ensuring that you're putting enough money away for retirement is only part of the picture.
Financial planners like me can tackle challenging personal money matters and coach you through difficult life transitions.
One reason I start with an open question like "what brings you here" is because most people lack familiarity with the financial planning process.
If you have a fair amount of investment knowledge and enjoy reading up on the latest wealth management and financial news, you're a step ahead of most Americans. Of people between the ages of 23 to 54, more than half don't have a retirement savings account.
Financial planning is about more than retirement. The simple fact that you're alive demands that you seek out professional financial advice. Rather than waiting until you're in the midst of a financial crisis, here's when to make an appointment with a financial planner:
- You got married and want help to merge your finances
- You were recently divorced or widowed and are wondering how to manage your money as a newly single person
- You don't care about investing, but you also don't want to end up in a financial mess
- You're nearing retirement and want to make sure you're on the right track
- You inherited some money and want advice on the best way to invest it
Some of these situations can be taken care of with a onetime consultation. You have some questions and need a professional opinion on how to handle a specific life event.
Others, like retirement planning, long-term investing, and estate planning, might do better if you have an ongoing relationship with a financial planner.
How a financial planner can help
If you're not sure how a financial planner can help, or if the thought of having an expert look at your personal finances instills equal parts fear and dread, you're probably overthinking it. I'm a real person living in the real world, and I know life can throw you a curveball now and then.
I don't ask new clients why they're pursuing financial planning to put them on the spot or make them uncomfortable. As a financial planner, my job isn't to judge you based on how you manage your money.
Instead, my focus is on meeting you where you are and helping you maximize your potential to meet your life financial goals. I want to know your desired outcome to consider your financial plan a success.
Because that's what financial planning is all about: Making your finances work for you to make achieving your lifelong dreams a little easier.
Talk to a financial planner today and start building wealth. SmartAsset's free tool can connect you with a qualified professional »
Marguerita Cheng is a Certified Financial Planner and CEO of financial advisory firm Blue Ocean Global Wealth, where she helps people meet their life goals through the proper management of financial resources.
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