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3 questions to ask before choosing a financial planner

You want to organize your financial affairs, but you've been putting it off for months. Consulting a financial planner can help you take stock and feel that you're taking charge of things.

Before doing business with a financial planner, make sure you get clear, satisfactory responses to the following 3 questions at the first meeting.

Do they have a diploma and certification?

In Quebec, any individual who uses the financial planner designation must:

  • have a diploma from the Institut québécois de planification financière (IQPF)
  • have the appropriate certificate issued by the Autorité des marchés financiers, or be authorized to use the designation by a professional order that has an agreement with the Autorité des marchés financiers: the Ordre des comptables agréés du Québec (CPA) and the Ordre des administrateurs agréés du Québec.

How do they get paid?

Financial planners are legally obligated to tell you how they get paid. They may receive commissions from the sale of financial products, professional fees, or both.

A good financial planner should provide you with an overview of your financial situation, and not press you to buy a particular product.

How do they work?

Ask about their approach and role, and make sure you mention your financial objectives and agree on a clear mandate.

A good financial plan is based on a customized analysis. After learning about your objectives and examining your documents, your planner should suggest a detailed, realistic action plan.

Financial planners should listen to you and let you make the decisions without imposing their point of view. They should inform you without bombarding you with useless information and explain why they are making their particular recommendations. If you have doubts, ask for clarifications.

A financial planner can advise you in 7 recognized areas: legal aspects, succession, insurance and risk management, finance, tax, investment and retirement.

Your financial institution may offer the services of a financial planner for free.

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