What Does A Financial Planner Do and When Do I Need One?

financially savvy kids

By K. Bridget Schneider, CFP®, CRPC®

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When you’ve got financial questions, the internet probably has some answers.  Your friends and family may also offer advice.  But is any of that advice right for you and your situation? 

You may have heard about financial planning but wonder, “What does a financial planner do?” And you might not think they can help with your situation.  In many instances, you couldn’t be further from the truth.  These professionals take a holistic approach to provide advice that’s specific to your needs.  That said, let’s look at what a financial planner does and consider when you might need one.

What Does A Financial Planner Do?

A financial planner can guide you toward options to meet both current financial needs and your long-term dreams.  Typically, that means assessing your financial situation, understanding what you want your money to do for you, and helping create a plan to pursue those goals.  Financial planners can help you find ways to reduce spending, pay off debt, and invest for the future.  Sometimes these professionals specialize in areas such as taxes or managing investments.  Others, like CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professionals, are general practitioners. They offer advice on everything from budgeting and investing to retirement and estate planning.  CFP®s have in-depth knowledge of financial planning and have completed the education, experience, and exams to achieve this designation.

The initial meeting with a financial planner is an opportunity to get to know one another so you can see if they’re a good fit on a personal and philosophical level.  Listen to your gut instincts.  If you don’t feel comfortable, then find another planner.  Besides sharing your financial situation, take this opportunity to find out everything you can, including how much you can expect to pay for advice, how the financial plan will be presented, and how often to expect ongoing communication.  At Connections Financial Advisors there is no cost for this initial consultation, and we provide an estimate to help you understand the cost of utilizing our services.

When Do I Need a Financial Planner?

While it’s possible to manage your finances independently, working with a professional can save you time, effort, and energy. Especially if overseeing them yourself leaves you feeling stressed or confused. Here are some reasons you might consider hiring a financial planner. 

You want to get on track financially.

For many people, managing money isn’t a simple task – especially for busy young professionals.  When you’ve got a lot on your plate, it’s often difficult to take the time to make a budget or develop a financial plan.  Hiring a financial planner may help you get on track sooner allowing you more time to work toward your goals. 

You are combining finances with a partner.

Money can be a problematic topic in any relationship, especially when your spending and saving habits are different.  A financial planner can help facilitate those tough discussions.  The professional can walk you through techniques like which accounts to combine or keep separate in addition to developing a plan that meets both your needs.

You are expanding your family.

Some of the most exciting milestones in life can also be some of the most costly.  For example, when you’re expanding your family, you’ll need to find room in the budget for increased expenses like clothing, food, and housing.  A financial planner can help estimate the costs of parenthood, offer suggestions for budget adjustments, and develop a plan for any savings goals you have as a family.  

You are overwhelmed by debt.

Anyone who has taken on too many debt obligations may feel overwhelmed at times.  This is especially true if you’re juggling money to save for financial goals while paying that debt down.  If you’re struggling with your debt load, consider consulting a financial planner.  They can suggest a debt repayment plan that works for you without neglecting your financial goals.

You need help with your retirement plan.

When you have decades until retirement, your plan may be to save as much as you can through your employer’s retirement plan or in a traditional or Roth IRA.  But as you get closer and have a better idea of what your ideal retirement looks like, you’ll need to know if it’s truly achievable.  Sometimes that can be a bit complicated.  Financial planners are skilled at retirement planning — they can assess how much you should be saving and where you should be investing to put you on track to your dream retirement.


While there are individuals who can develop their own financial plan and stick with it, for others it can be complicated and overwhelming.  But help is available!  By hiring a professional you have a guide to help develop and refine your process toward the pursuit of your goals.  Often this professional helps you avoid costly mistakes, which more than justifies the investment of working with them.

At Connections Financial Advisors, we have a Certified Financial Planner™ professional on staff.  Or you can find one near you here.  For more information, check out our website or call us at 217-605-8130.  Our mission is to help you make more informed decisions to better your financial position and reduce your financial stress. 


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