Your Rights as a Financial Planning Client

5/17/2005

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According to the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards (CFP Board), over 40 percent of Americans feel that they are not in control of their finances. If you would like to better manage your financial situation, a professional financial planner may be able to help you. Knowing how a planner should work with you, and how you will be treated as a financial planning client, will equip you to take control of your financial future.

If you decide to work with a financial planner, it is important to understand your rights in the relationship.

  • You have the right to a planner who has integrity. Trust between you and your financial planner is central to a successful financial planning relationship. When you know that your planner takes his or her professional obligations seriously, and places principles over personal gain, you can develop the type of partnership that is crucial to the success of the relationship.
  • You have the right to objective advice. Your needs should be at the heart of all recommendations made by your financial planner. Your planner should use his or her experience and judgment to carefully consider your situation, and provide you with advice that best meets your goals.
  • You have the right to a planner who is competent. You have the right to expect your planner to demonstrate an appropriate level of knowledge to offer financial planning advice. Your planner should not provide investment advice or stock brokerage services unless he or she is properly qualified and licensed to do so, as required by state or federal law.
  • You have the right to be treated fairly. Your planner should clearly state what services will be provided and at what price. He or she should also explain the risks associated with financial recommendations and any potential conflicts of interest.
  • You have the right to privacy. To get the best results from your financial planning relationship, you need to divulge relevant personal and financial information to your financial planner on a regular basis. Your planner should keep this information in confidence, only sharing it with others to conduct business on your behalf, at your consent, or when ordered to do so by the courts.
  • You have the right to a planner who is diligent. Your planner should discuss your goals and objectives with you and explain what you can expect from the relationship before engaging you as a client. A diligent planner investigates the products or services he or she recommends, as well as closely supervising any staff working with you.

To check on the reliability or reputation of a financial planner, contact the Better Business Bureau (www.bbb.org), the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards (www.CFP-Board.org) and the National Association of Securities Dealers (www.nasd.com).

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