- Suze Says: Be careful because anybody can call themselves a financial planner. Just because you see somebody as a financial planner, doesn't mean they're a Certified Financial Planner. You always want to see the initial CFP with the registered trademark by it. I myself am a Certified Financial Planner -- I've been one since '86. I think it's a really important step when looking for somebody so you know that person has at least gone through the trouble of going through two years of courses, passing the hard exams, and keeping up their continuing education credit.
- Now obviously, you also have people that work with brokerage firms that have their Series 7 license -- that may not have a CFP license. But those people are usually really good at selling you mutual funds and stocks and things like that. You have to decide: What are you using an expert for?
I personally think that if you want to find the best financial planner out there, look in the mirror because nobody is going to care about your money more than you do. And what happens to your money will directly affect the quality of your life -- not your banker's life, your financial planner's life, your life insurance agent's life, your stock broker's life -- but your life.
You need to know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that if you do go to a professional, they have your best interests at heart more than their own. So if you do go to use a professional -- and there are some incredible ones out there -- you just have to know that you have one of those types. And if you find one, they are absolutely worth their weight in gold. You have to know you have one, so you need to test. Here are some ways to test:
- 1. If somebody comes to your house, they have too much time on their hands.
- 2. If somebody calls you up on the phone, they have too much time on their hands.
- 3. If you go to their office, and you happen to be married or in a significant relationship with somebody, and they see you without your spouse, you have the wrong planner. Because the only way a planner knows what you should do with money is if they know the emotions that both you and your spouse have when it comes to money. One of you may be a saver; one of you may be a speculator. If they don't want to see both of you, how will they ever know?
- 4. If you go to the planner's office, and the planner's office is a mess, get yourself somebody else.
- 5. If you go to the planner's office, and they have not been in this business at least 10 or 15 years, get yourself somebody else. You do not want somebody practicing on you.
- 6. If you go to the planner's office, it's neat and you're both there, they've been doing this for 15 years. And they simply ask you how much money you have, you tell them and then they tell you what to buy, then you have a salesperson ... not a planner.
- 7. You want your planner to tell you upfront -- without you asking -- how they make their money. How they charge.
- 8. If they tell you to buy a whole life, universal life, variable life, or variable annuity ... you have a salesperson, not a planner if you ask me. If they sell you bond funds, instead of individual bonds, then you have a salesperson. If they sell you loaded mutual funds versus no-load funds, then you have a salesperson.
- 9. You want your planner upfront -- before they tell you what to do with money -- to ask you the following:
- Do you have a will?
- Do you have a trust?
- Do you own a home?
- Do you have credit card debt?
- What are your goals?
- What are you afraid of?
- Do you want to own a home?
- Are you healthy?
- Do you expect an inheritance?
- Are you going to have to take care of your parents?
- Do you have a car loan?
- What are the interest rates on your home?
- Do you have student loan debt?
- Do you have children?
- Do you have life insurance?
- If you have $20K to invest and you lost $10K, how would you feel?
Question after question about who you are. And then they tell you what to do with your money.
Get more of Suze's free financial advice on 'The Suze Orman Show' (Saturdays on CNBC at 9pm). You can follow Suze on Twitter @SuzeOrmanShow.
Find a Certified Financial Planner near you »
Suze Orman's 9 Tips on Finding a Great Financial Planner
You'll be surprised by what America's #1 personal finance expert has to say.
If you're like me, money management is consistently at the bottom of your to-do list. How's that 401K? Kids' college fund in check? Saving for retirement? And so on. That's why many people turn to Certified Financial Planners -- or CFPs -- to entirely deflect such concerns. Find a great one and you can sleep well, breathe easy and play lots of golf -- feeling good that your money's working for you (if not your golf swing).
But how do you find a "great" Certified Financial Planner? Well, Suze Orman, America's face of personal finance has thoughts. Strong ones. And lots of them. Here's what she told me on the subject when I asked her the question below to end our last interview: