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Hiring a Financial Planner: What's It Like Working with a Planner?

Martha Stewart Weddings, Summer 2006

What's It Like Working with a Planner?
Once you've found a financial planner you want to hire, you should plan to meet with her at least a couple of times to discuss your goals. As part of the process, the planner will probably ask you to bring in specific documents, such as tax returns or records of your current investments.

She may also ask you to complete worksheets to determine your monthly expenditures, comfort with investment risk, and so on. Be prepared to answer very personal questions. Says Barbara Steinmetz, a certified financial planner in Burlingame, California, "The more a planner knows about your attitudes, dreams, and fears, the more helpful they can be."

After getting to know your specific situation, your adviser will create a detailed financial plan -- it may be presented in a binder that's many pages thick. The planner will also talk to you about what steps you need to take on your own, such as increasing your 401(k) contribution or paying down specific debt, and what actions she can take on your behalf, such as managing a portfolio of mutual funds or stocks.

Even a one-time experience with a financial planner can help you start off on the right foot. If you decide you want to work together on an ongoing basis, the planner will probably check in with you at least once a year to see whether a new job, baby, or other major change has occurred in your life that warrants altering your plans.

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