SR Guest Author Justin Rush, CFP®: What to ask when choosing a financial planner

When searching for a financial planner, it’s not uncommon to meet with multiple firms prior to making a final decision.  Different financial planners may have different opinions, philosophies, and personalities compared to one another.  Without being immersed in this field, it can be difficult to know what to ask or what the key differences are among financial planners.
Below is a list of some important questions to ask during these conversations. We’ve included our answers to these questions as a means of comparison. There’s no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ answers to these questions, but rather different philosophies when it comes to financial planning, with the ultimate goal of finding a financial planner who is the perfect fit for you.

Q: What’s your definition of financial planning and what areas will your recommendations cover?

A: We believe that financial planning involves looking at every aspect of a client’s financial life to meet both short and
long-term goals. This includes comprehensive planning in the following five core areas:
  1. Retirement Savings & Income Planning
  2. Investment Planning
  3. Tax Planning
  4. Estate Planning
  5. Risk Management
The CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ certification is a formal recognition of proficiency in the areas listed above. CFP® professionals must meet rigorous education, training, and ethical standards, and are committed to serving their clients’ best interests.

Q: What are the steps in your planning process?

A: Our financial planning process starts with something we call the “Current Trajectory” analysis. As the name implies, we begin by mapping out what the future may look like based on the current path a family is on. Shining a light on the current trajectory allows us to dive deeper into someone’s financial situation and truly understand the things that are most important to them.
As we go through this process, we can identify potential action items within the five core financial planning areas listed above. There’s no fee, charge, or commitment needed to go through this initial phase.

Q: How often will we meet?

A: We schedule account reviews at least once every quarter (i.e., a minimum of four times per year).  However, may be in contact as often as monthly to touch base and see if there’s anything our team can help with.

Q: Will your recommendations be subjective or objective?

A: As fiduciaries, our team makes decisions based on the best interests of the individuals and families we work with. As
an independent advisory firm, we are not beholden to any brokerage firms, and our team does not sell any products, nor do any of our team members work on a commission basis. We can objectively research and recommend the financial planning strategies that make the most sense for the families that we partner with.

Q: Do you do tax analysis? If so, how often?

A: We believe tax planning is a substantial component of any client’s financial picture. We complete an annual tax analysis as part of the financial plans we put together. Part of our job as financial planners is to continually look for opportunities as life circumstances change or when the tax code changes. By reviewing our clients’ tax returns each year, we ensure that we understand the potential tax consequences associated with any financial decisions. Our team aims to minimize taxes for our clients over the course of their financial, business, and retirement plans.

Q: Will you work with my accountant and attorney as part of my plan?

A: Your accountant and attorney are integral members of your personal finance team. While our team members are knowledgeable in the tax and estate planning domains, we’ll be the first to tell you that we are not experts in these fields. However, we do collaborate with them when discussing potential strategies and making key decisions in these areas. When possible, we plan to have at least one meeting a year with both a client’s accountant and attorney. This allows us to engage with each other, stay informed, and have a shared understanding of the best interests of our mutual clients.

Justin Rush, CFP®, MBA is a financial planner at Nemes Rush Family Wealth Management in Novi, where he is responsible for analyzing clients’ financial circumstances, establishing a deep personal understanding of those clients’ goals, dreams, and priorities, and using those combined insights to develop and suggest sound and strategic financial opportunities—including investments, estate planning, and tax and insurance planning. Additionally, he monitors and refines those financial plans according to both the evolving contours of the market and his clients’ changing needs.