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Is consulting a financial planner a “must” for meeting long-term financial goals? Would you suggest that everyone utilize a financial planner, even those with a household income of less than $75,000?


Whether you need a financial planner depends on what’s in your head, not your bank account. Your income and net worth are less pertinent than your knowledge of financial matters – investing, taxes, insurance and so forth – and, perhaps more important, how disciplined, decisive and self-aware you are.
Financial planning entails devising a strategy based on a variety of factors, most of which can only be estimated roughly: how much you will earn, spend and save throughout your working life; what your personal and family needs and wants will be; what sort of return your savings will produce, which in turn depends on how much risk you are comfortable with.
You may possess many of the requisite tools for developing a sound financial plan. You may understand financial markets and how to build and maintain a balanced portfolio with appropriate levels of risk in relation to the potential reward. You also may know how to wrap it all up in a tax-advantaged vehicle like an individual retirement account or a 401(k).
Even if your brain is brimming with all of this knowledge, however, you may not have the willpower to implement it. This can be the key stumbling block. Financial planners sometimes describe themselves as the dollars-and-cents equivalent of personal trainers or dieting consultants. Most of us know how to lose weight and exercise, but we may only get around to it if we’re poked and prodded. Many of us need the same push when it comes to our finances. That may not make it a “must” to consult a planner, but it probably makes it a “should.”
-Conrad de Aenlle