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Personal finance is no different than fitness and weight loss.  Google yields 787,000,000 results in .75 seconds for “How do I lose weight”.  Knowing what source is accurate, trustworthy, and right for you is a challenge.  A good financial planner, like a good dietitian or fitness instructor, will start by taking inventory of where you are today. They will determine what you are trying to accomplish and build a plan for you to get there. Most important, they will help you stay on track as life happens.

A financial planner can help you navigate life changes, organize and put structure around your personal finances. They can also help manage the ins and outs of complicated business decisions. So when is it a good time to start working with a financial planner?  Take a few minutes to review the following events and consider if any of them resonate with you— if so, it may be time. 

Major Life Changes

Job Changes

The Bureau of Labor Statistics says people born between 1957 and 1964 held an average of 11.7 jobs from 18 to 48.  As a result, that means 11.7 401(k)s from previous employers to address. 11.7 new 401K plans documents to read through.  11.7 compensation changes and benefits packages to decipher, and the list goes on. They can provide advice on managing and maximizing your employee benefits throughout job changes to ensure you are making the most of your investments and retirement accounts. 

Growing Your Family

This includes marriage, kids, home upgrades, and caring for aging parents.  Combining finances with your significant other or planning to spend roughly $13,000 a year raising a child can be daunting. At the same time, you may find yourself in the sandwich generation, needing to make room for an aging parent. Creating a plan for these life changes can help reduce your potential stress.

Sudden Windfall

In the next 30-40 years, Accenture reports that $30 trillion in assets will pass from baby boomers to their heirs.  A financial planner will work with your tax professional to navigate the potential taxes involved with an inheritance.  In addition, planning for your future now suddenly looks very different for you and/or your family. 

Company Buy-Out

There are 30 million small business owners in the U.S. At some point, you may be in a position to sell or be bought out. This liquidation event would warrant a discussion to understand what this new sources of money means for your financial future.  

Most people benefit from having help navigating major life changes. The life changes above can be overwhelming if you are handling everything yourself. Furthermore, there may be options available to you that you’re unaware of. From tax strategies to investment selection to longevity planning, a financial planner can help. Working with one will take some of the burdens off your plate and allow you to concentrate on what’s most important to you.

If You Need Help Leveraging Other Resources

I run into this often.  You’ve hired an accountant.  Maybe you’ve taken steps to create an estate plan with an attorney. The missing link is a financial advisor to align all of the planning.  For no good reason, there is often a disconnect between the three professions. As a result, it’s not uncommon to have holes in your planning. Financial planners should function as a liaison to your wealth management experience. We’ve made it a priority to keep both parties informed of changes throughout the year. This also gives us the ability to learn about changes we may not have known about from them. You can read more about my process here.

If You Are Self Employed

You have even more options and needs in retirement planning, estate, and tax planning.  And, that planning isn’t just for you. It includes your employees and family too. Trying to navigate the complexities of retirement plans and business succession planning can quickly become overwhelming. The absence of thorough financial planning can be detrimental to the growth of your business. The smartest option is to begin planning before it becomes a problem. A financial planner experienced in managing small businesses can navigate each of these topics for you. By delegating some of these tasks, you are spending time on what you are best at— operating your business. 

If any of the above events apply to you, and you aren’t working with a financial planner, now may be the time to start. As you begin looking for the right advisor for you, here are a few key points to think about. There are thousands of financial planners you could do business with. You should understand their process, how they manage your financial planning needs, and what their investment philosophy is before making a final decision. There is a chance, if you choose the right advisor, it could be a relationship that lasts decades.  Why not make sure their beliefs align with yours upfront.