What you should look for in a financial professional

For most Americans, this do-it-yourself approach to finance can only get you so far.

While many people begin to manage their long-term financial planning, when life changes bring new challenges, they may decide it is time to start working with a financial professional. These changes can lead to a new stage in life, such as getting married or having children, or considering financial opportunities, such as buying a home or starting a new job.

Regardless of the circumstances, most Americans say they value the advice of a financial professional, according to the new 2022 Retirement Risk Preparedness Study*From Allianz Life Insurance Company (Allianz Life) of North America. In fact, almost 9 out of 10 (86%) said that working with a financial professional would support their future ambitions.

So, how do you actually go about finding someone to help you design a retirement income plan?

Finding a financial professional can seem like a daunting task. For many people, the first step is asking for recommendations from family or friends. But, since financial health is often closely linked to age, a relative’s financial professionalFor example, it might not be the perfect fit for you.

This is because you are not on the same life stage. The latest Allianz Life study found that as people get closer and then into retirement, they value the skill or need it from a financial professional change.

While 44% of respondents said making sure they have enough money is one of the most important things financial professionals do to help, the study found that priorities change as people age. You want a professional who can offer tailored financial strategies to not only suit your current standard of living, but also to offer contingencies for your financial future.

Here are some tips for finding a financial professional that might be the best fit for you and your future.

Getting to know the different types of financial professionals

Before you start asking for recommendations or searching online, ask yourself what kind of help you really want. You also need to think about the type of compensation you want the professional to receive. Some work on commission, others on fees from your accounts and others on a combination of these.

A good starting step is to take some time and learn about the different types of financial professionals who can help you. There are different types of financial professionals who have different training, certifications and responsibilities.

One way to think about the different types of professionals is to differentiate them by the way they are paid. fee only professionals Earn money from the fees customers pay for your services which can be a percentage of the asset. Other professionals are paid by third parties by earning sales commissions for selling certain products.

some are financial professionals designated as fiduciary and is bound by fiduciary duty. This means they are legally required to act in the best financial interest of their clients. Other professionals are held to a suitability standard, which means they need to make appropriate recommendations for you based on questions you may have, such as how comfortable you are at different levels of risk. While some advertisements tout one method over another, the reality is that financial advisors are subject to scrutiny from multiple regulatory bodies and supervision over the advice and investments they provide.

Determine what services you need

Since finances are multifaceted, you may want to think about what kind of help you need. Is it specific to one area – budgeting, taxes, investment advice, retirement planning, debt repayment, insurance products, estate planning – or do you need help with every aspect of financial planning?

Keep in mind that your needs may change as you go through different stages of life.

According to our study, people who are more than 10 years away from retirement are more likely to need a financial professional to help secure their children’s financial future (35%), balance their budget (33%) and loan payments (27%). More interested in helping (27%) .

People who plan to retire within the next 10 years are most interested in getting help Maximizing their Social Security benefits (34%) and making the best decisions about Medicare and health insurance (30%).

Retired professionals are more interested in helping with maximizing investment returns (56%), protecting investments from market losses (45%) and reduce their tax burden (43%).

You will want to find a financial professional with the right strengths for your specific planning needs. Many financial professionals specialize in specific areas, such as retirement planning. Others may be a better fit for young people who are just starting their careers and want to build a solid financial foundation.

finding the right fit

It is important that you take the time to do your research and evaluate your options. If you really want help with retirement planning, but your financial professional focuses mostly on taxes, you’re wasting time that could be beneficial to achieving your goals. You should look for a professional or office who can advise you in all your future steps. It is not uncommon for individuals to turn to advisors throughout their financial lives, but building relationships and trust takes time, so think about the future, not just the present.

Talk to several financial professionals before choosing one. Go to those initial meetings like a job interview. You’ll want to learn more about this professional’s systems and strategies, and make sure they are a good fit for both your personality and specific financial situation. While you may want to do your research on the person beforehand, no matter how highly they are rated by others, you need to feel that you will be confident and comfortable with this person. They will know many details about you and your finances, so trust is an end goal.

If you’re not sure what to ask, here are some ideas.

  • How is your typical customer?
  • How would you describe your vision of helping customers?
  • What technology do you have for helping customers?
  • Do you develop written financial plans?
  • How do you earn money?

The right financial professional can help you with financial strategies so that you can live the life you want. Because financial needs change over time, don’t feel bad if you outlive your current financial professional and determine it’s time to make the switch. As you move forward in life, make sure the relationship is still working for you. Change is never easy, but change is inevitable.

*Allianz Life conducted an online survey, the 2022 Retirement Risk Readiness Study, in February 2022 with a nationally representative sample of 1,000 individuals over the age of 25 with an annual household income of $50k+ (single) / $75k+ ( Married/Partnered) or investable assets of $150k.

Vice President, Advanced Markets, Allianz Life

Kelly Lavigne is Vice President of Advanced Markets Allianz Life Insurance CompanyWhere he is responsible for developing programs that assist financial professionals in serving clients with retirement, estate planning and tax-related strategies.

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