What can a financial planner do for you?
If you are unsure what exactly the job scope of a financial planner is, understand that a financial planner is NOT a stockbroker, remisier, accountant , tax agent, unit trust agent or insurance agent.
A financial planner is a professional who helps you manage your money – savings, investments and assets. He/She will be able to offer a personalised financial plan that suits your need and budget with your ultimate objective in mind.
Financial planners can also help you remain disciplined about your financial strategy. They act as a FINANCIAL COACH – to listen and understand your concerns, and to assist you to make the right decisions at the right time.
If you have the money and a goal, but have no idea on what to do to reach that goal, a financial planner can help you conceptualise that goal into a sound financial strategy.
This strategy will work as a road map for you to achieve your financial goals – be it buying a house or achieving early retirement. With their expertise, they can point you to the right financial tools to help you make informed financial decisions.
Due to the fluctuating nature of many investment trends, there are both right and wrong times to buy into an investment. This is where having a financial planner can help – bringing to your attention sound and profitable investments and helping you invest at the right time. This will reduce the risk of losing investment opportunities.
How do I choose the right financial planner?
Finding the right financial planner is as important as finding the right life partner.
How do you tell one planner from another? Many differentiate themselves on the basis of how they make money, so this will be one of the first things to consider. Some planners may specialise in estate planning, while others specialise in insurance or investment.
1. Licensed by the Securities Commission
All Financial Planners in Malaysia are required to possess a Capital Market Service Representative Licence (CMSRL) to deal in financial planning activities by the Securities Commission (SC). Check the SC’s website at www.sc.com.my.
Furthermore, all independent financial advisors must hold a Financial Adviser Representative ( FAR ) Licence issued by Bank Negara. These licenses allow the financial advisor to provide different services without which, he or she is unlikely to be able to advise you independently , and comprehensively.
A well-recognised accredited programme is the Registered Financial Planner (RFP) by the Malaysian Financial Planning Council (MFPC). It provides a set of Best Practice Standards and Code of Ethics that must be adhered by designees under its RFP. Besides, other qualification like Islamic Financial Planner ( IFP ) & Certified Financial Planner ( CFP ) is the same qualification recognised by Financial Planning Association of Malaysia ( FPAM ).
The aim is to ensure that the public will be served with the highest quality of financial planning services nationwide. The RFP programme is recognised by Bank Negara Malaysia and the Securities Commission as the approved qualification for Financial Advisor’s Licence and Capital Market Services Licence respectively.
Disclosure of confidential financial information is a crucial element in ensuring your financial planner is able to devise comprehensive financial plans and advise you properly. So make sure you are comfortable and able to trust him or her.
4. On-going service
Look for a planner who is serious in for the long haul and not just disappear after constructing a financial plan for you. They must do the job as a full time basis to be able to give full service advice and monitor your plan.
5. Written agreement
Draw out the planner’s job scope and objectives in writing and in detail to avoid future disputes.
How do financial planners get paid?
Typically, financial planners earn their living either from commissions or by charging a professional fee.
Professional fees charged by financial planners are often in the form of a one-off fee or recurring fee, such as a retainer. This can range from few hundreds ringgit to thousands of ringgit depending on area of advisory and involvement on any modular plan.
Planners who provide their services for free often earn a commission from the companies who offer financial products, such as insurance companies. Some people are of the opinion that financial advices doled out by this group of planners lack objectivity as they may be steering you towards products that yields them a higher commission.
Avoid commission-base financial planners if this is a concern for you. However, due to the increasing demand for financial planning services, a growing number of financial planners make money only when you pay them a fee for their counsel.These independent financial planners do not get a cut from life insurers or fund companies.
Ultimately, you are looking for a planner who can promise you good advice across different areas of finance and not just investments, and one who will make time to focus on your concerns and is interested in growing with you. With their expertise, they may be able to help you achieve your goals while keeping you from losing your shirt when the market crashes.
Do you really need a financial planner?
You must first understand the reason for getting a financial planner. Sometimes managing your finances can be done on your own without the help of a financial planner. Ask yourself these questions to determine if you really need to engage one.
What are your expectation?
By determining your expectations, you will know if managing your money can be done on your own or if you do indeed need a financial planner. You can also identify which area of financial planning you need expert assistance on.
Are you good with financial matters?
If your knowledge of financial matters is limited and your investment portfolio is getting too big to handle, it’s time to seek the assistance of an expert.
How much are you willing to pay for a financial planner?
Set a budget for the services of a financial planner. Discuss the compensation structure with the planner before engaging his/her services. The fees to engage a financial planner in Malaysia range from RM500 to RM20,000 a year depending on asset size.