While a DIY approach can get you pretty far when it comes to your finances, sometimes it’s a good idea to talk to a professional — especially for major money moves.
Accountants perform audits or analyze financial statements. They can also assist with filing taxes and discussing tax-effective strategies for retirement.
These professionals can work with an accounting firm, a large company with an accounting department or independently. In the US, most reputable accountants will be certified by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants. Certified public accountants are known as CPAs.
Brokers are individuals or firms that charge a fee or commission for buying and selling stocks.
Full-service brokers cover an array of financial services, including offering tailored advice on retirement and tax. Stockbrokers can also help you set up a stock portfolio with a short and/or long-term investment strategy. Before using a broker, check that they are licensed.
Insurance agents are state-licensed individuals to sell life, health, property, business, auto insurance products and more. These professionals can provide a range of advice for the best insurance products that meet your needs.
Mortgage brokers are intermediaries who bring mortgage borrowers and mortgage lenders together. They do not use their own funds to originate mortgages.
A mortgage broker can help you understand what mortgage options you have and which one will best fit your needs.
Financial planners create programs for clients based on their current financial situations and future goals.
While some financial planners choose broad careers to help clients with all areas of their finances, others will have a specialty. Financial planners can specialize in retirement, estate planning, asset allocation and tax planning. Financial planners can also provide holistic advice, which takes into account your full financial situation, needs and goals, or scaled advice that focuses on a specific issue.
A good financial planner will have one of three qualifications:
- Certified financial planner (CFP). A CFP is certified by the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards and is one of the most common certifications for personal financial planners.
- Chartered financial analyst (CFA). A CFA is certified by the CFA Institute and specializes in investments.
- Personal financial specialist (PFS). A PFS is a certified public accountant who has additional expertise in managing personal finances and planning, and can help with insurances, estate planning and retirement planning.
An attorney is a legal professional qualified to practice in a court of law. Financial attorneys can handle bankruptcy claims, debts and collections, tax law, estate matters and insurance and annuities. Some attorneys may offer a range of services, while others practice in specialized niches, such as real estate finance.
The cost of a financial attorney typically ranges between $150 to $600 per hour. While legal counsel can be expensive, attorneys can help you navigate tricky legal jargon and file documents correctly and on time, potentially saving on costs and legal complications in the long run.
Debt counselors offer personalized financial advice on managing debt. A debt counselor will work with you one-on-one to analyze your debt, credit reports and spending habits.
Together, you’ll develop a debt relief strategy that may involve a personalized budget or debt consolidation. If needed, debt counselors can also negotiate with your creditors on your behalf.
Many nonprofit agencies offer free services for eligible families, so explore debt counseling options in your community for potentially low- and no-cost services.
Loan officers specialize in helping borrowers access loan products, including personal loans, auto loans, mortgages and lines of credit. They are employed by financial institutions and help guide borrowers through the application process.
Loan officers typically hold a bachelor’s degree in business or finance. Mortgage loan officers must obtain their license through the Nationwide Mortgage Licensing System.
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Even if you’re comfortable managing your day-to-day finances on your own, it may be a good idea to seek financial advice when making major changes or setting up a financial plan for the future.