When it comes to planning for the future of your family or your business, it can be a challenge to figure out if you're making all the financial right moves to achieve your goals. Having a good financial plan that focuses on your personal needs and goals is crucial and can help ensure that the money you work so hard to earn is put to the best use.
The elements of a good financial plan
A solid financial plan starts with your goals then helps you make decisions about cash management (aka budgeting and debt pay-off plans), saving for retirement, funding education, investing for your goals and ensuring that your family is protected from the unexpected with proper insurance and estate planning. Overarching all of these decisions is considering the tax implications to ensure you're not paying more than you need to in both the short and long term.
How can you get personal financial planning advice that’s as solid and reliable as you need it to be?
It can be a challenge to find a professional you trust who is knowledgeable and qualified to give you guidance and advice toward achieving your goals. When looking for a financial planner, you’ll find many different professionals with varying focuses and varying levels of qualifications. Since the term ‘financial planner’ is not an official credential, you’ll find individuals with many different levels of education, expertise and credentials.
They may have their own practice or be part of a larger one; they may work for a CPA firm or a financial services organization. Their services will differ as well – some may perform financial planning as a stand-alone service, others may couple financial planning with investment management for a fee, while still others may fold it into a practice selling financial products such as insurance and annuities. How do you know who is right for you? It will depend on what needs you are starting with and it’s important that you do your homework and ask the right questions to ensure they are capable of meeting your unique needs.
A CPA financial planner offers both financial planning and tax expertise
As a trusted advisor, your CPA is in a unique position to understand the details of your financial situation beyond just taxes and financial statements. CPAs who are also financial planners or who hold the Personal Financial Specialist (PFS)* credential have the added ability and experience to help you see the big picture with your finances – providing objective recommendations so you can make informed decisions and achieve your life goals. It’s the comprehensive knowledge and expertise in both financial planning and tax that uniquely qualifies the CPA financial planner and can make them a helpful partner in working toward creating, implementing and managing your personal financial plan.
Licensed, rigorously trained and accountable to a strict professional code of conduct
One of the challenges of finding a financial planner who is a good fit for you is knowing whether you can trust that the person you hire is looking out for your best interests. There are countless trustworthy financial planners out there who will help you create a plan to achieve your goals – when you choose to work with a CPA financial planner, there’s an added layer of trust due to the foundation of the CPA profession: integrity and independence.
CPAs first and foremost are licensed by the state in which they practice and adhere to a strict professional code of conduct. They’ve passed a rigorous exam and are required to complete generally 40 hours of continuing professional education every year, including a course in ethics every 3 years at minimum. Whether you are working with a CPA/PFS or CPA financial planner, you can count on competence, objectivity and the highest standard of integrity as they help you create a financial plan that will achieve all of your life goals.
To find a CPA/PFS in your area, click here.
*CPA Personal Financial Specialists have achieved additional financial planning education, experience and successful completion of a comprehensive financial planning exam to hold this credential. This credential is exclusive to CPAs.