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15 May 2017
Picking a financial planner is a similar process to hunting for the ‘one’ – that special someone who ‘gets’ you and your financial requirements and puts an appropriate plan in place.
According to Jacques Coetzer, general manager of Broker Distribution at Sanlam Personal Finance, choosing a financial planner means “shopping around and asking the right questions until you find one who can offer you a very personal holistic overview of where you are and where you need to be to achieve your wealth creation goals. Someone with whom you can see yourself in a long-term relationship.”
1. Do your friends like him? Most people choose a financial planner based on a referral – a personal endorsement from someone they trust. Although this is a positive indicator, it can be dangerous – one person’s prince could be another’s problem. Just because he works for a friend, doesn’t mean he’ll be right for you.
2. Have you Googled him? When Tinder surfing, many individuals do some stealthy social media screening to ascertain whether a prospective ‘bae’ is a good match. Don’t be afraid to do similar research on your future financial planner – but make it more overt. Go straight to the source and ask him about his background and experience, and then back this up by checking his web presence on LinkedIn or the company website. How long has he been in the game, what’s his professional reputation, are there any complaints about him online, what does his book of investments look like, and how many clients does he currently have?
3. Is he well-qualified? Insufficient qualifications should be a deal breaker. If your financial planner is not accredited with the Financial Services Board (FSB) or certified with the Financial Planning Institute of Southern Africa (FPI), then you probably want to keep swiping until you find someone more qualified to manage your money.
4. Does he meet the requirements on your list? Coetzer advises drawing up a list of non-negotiables prior to your first ‘date’ with a potential planner. In much the same vein as people have a list of must-have attributes in a perfect partner, you need a list of desirable qualities in your financial planner. If he doesn’t meet your must-haves, have a chat about why – and if he still doesn’t convince you that his way will work for you, keep hunting.
5. Does he make a good first impression? Your financial planner has a short period of time to make a good impression. In the first meeting, he needs to demonstrate his prospective worth, answer all your questions, explain the way he operates, and demonstrate his willingness to listen to your needs and draw up a plan accordingly. Don’t be afraid to ask for what you’re after. If he’s representing multiple companies, find out who they are. If he partners with various providers, ask to meet their representatives as well. If he offers additional services, find out how they could benefit you. Feel free to ask for other clients’ references.
6. Does he live in his car? You can’t usually deduce this from a Tinder profile, but you can definitely gauge a financial planner by the professionalism of his set-up. If he does home visits and it’s apparent that his office is his car, it could raise serious questions about his experience and success. Note that it’s not the opulence of the office that’s important – it’s the functionality: Is it close to you? Is there a secretary you can leave a message with? How professional is the set-up and service?
7. Is he quick to call you back? Your financial planner needs to operate in a way that suits your lifestyle. If you prefer a digital approach, then that’s how he needs to engage with you – via email. If you call him, he needs to call you back. Availability is imperative, as is keeping you in the loop with constant updates on your financial progress.
8. Are you a match? On Tinder, if you and another person like each other, you’re a match. In the world of finance, it’s not quite that simple. Different people seek different qualities in a financial planner. Some people are solely after efficiency, but for others it’s about finding a personality match as well. While this is a matter of personal preference, if the financial planner is FSB registered, you should be able to consider meeting the regulatory requirements for financial planning and advice as part of the package.
9. It’s never too late to unmatch. If the first meeting isn’t what you want it to be, unmatch the financial planner. A few years into the relationship, if your requirements have changed and are no longer being met, unmatch him. Although a long-term relationship with a financial planner is advisable, it’s never too late to change your mind and find a better match.