by Angeline C and Paul Ho
Finding a good financial planner, what are the qualities needed in a good financial planner? How do you test his/her professional standards and knowledge?
At some point in your life, you would most likely have bumped into a financial planner, whether it was at a bank, or while you were walking towards the MRT, or through your social network. Perhaps they have approached you to introduce to you a savings plan or asked you some questions for a survey.
Some have just started out and trying to establish themselves while some have already “arrived”, driving posh cars, perhaps in the million dollar club of their respective agencies, where they are earning enough passive income to retire. We may shun them or look at them with admiration for their wealth and perhaps personal charisma.
But undeniably, financial planners have an essential role to play in helping people achieve their financial goals, with many journeying with their clients through life. This includes investing, insurance, managing cash flow and loans and planning for certain goals such as buying your first property, your children’s education, as well as retirement.
Sure, there are courses where we all have basic financial literacy but good financial planners can make a difference.
Qualities to look for in a financial planner
You will be sharing personal information with this person so he/she should be trusted to keep this information confidential. He should also be trusted to give the advice that is best for you rather than what can earn him/her more money.
- Know your stuff well
While passing exams (eg CMFAS M5, M8, M9 and HI) are the minimum requirements, the financial planner should be knowledgeable enough to answer most queries from clients and prospects.
Financial planners should also be up to date with latest trends of wealth and product offerings in the market
- Able to journey with you through tough times
You should be able to rely on your financial planner to journey with you through tough times. For example, if an accident happens, you can rely on him/her to guide you through the claims, ensuring that your family is well taken care of financially and recommending changes to your portfolio.
The financial planner’s job does not end after the sale of a product. That is why you should buy from an insurance agent/advisor and best to be supported by a strong team. It is often not so good to buy direct from the insurer as you become just a number to them.
- Good communication skills and EQ
Financial planners need to be able to communicate well with people from all walks of life. They should be able to explain complex financial terms in an easy to understand way. Emotional Intelligence is also essential as this is a people job and they are touching on sensitive topics such as death.
- Knowledgeable on all aspects of wealth
A good financial planner/advisor must know all aspects of wealth. Where are wealth vested?
Wealth has many facets: -
- Insurance for protection of wealth or lump sum contingency, this is important for wealth preservation.
- Investment for higher returns into Shares, unit trusts, investment-linked products, bonds, etc.
- Investment for fixed-income returns such as bonds, annuity, retirement fixed income.
The above we believe covers what you know about the role of a financial planner. However, these only cover roughly 40-50% of all wealth. So a financial planner that does these excellently will cover roughly 40% to 50% of what is required in your wealth and asset planning.
The other 40% to 50% of wealth is vested in properties, such as residential properties for the more normal individuals and commercial and industrial properties for the higher nett worth individuals.
Does a financial planner know mortgage planning?
An agent is not able to help you with your mortgage planning will only be 50% complete in their analysis of your financial situation. You can check out some Mortgage training course or you can talk to mortgage brokers and planners such as iCompareLoan.com to get trained in mortgage.
Where to find a good financial planner?
Financial planners may be from banks, insurance or independent financial advisory sectors and all are regulated by the Monetary Authority of Singapore according to the types of services they provide such as advising and marketing of securities, futures, insurance and collective investment schemes.
Finding the best in the Financial Planning industry
Although there are many credible financial advisors who may not have a CFP title, it is nonetheless good to know that your financial advisor has attained the CPF accreditation, recognised as one of the gold standards in the industry and has the depth of knowledge to serve you.
To recognise the best in the financial planning industry, the Financial Planning Association of Singapore (FPAS) is holding the first FPAS Financial Planner Awards in 2018 and presumably will do so every year onwards to recognise good credible financial advisors.
To be eligible, you need to be a professional financial planner from the Banking, Insurance and Financial Advisory industry sectors, a MAS RNF license holder and have practiced in Singapore for at least a year.
To participate, applicants need to submit a soft copy of the written financial plan endorsed by either the direct supervisor, member of the senior management or HR manager.
Applicants will be assessed on 7 criteria including client analysis, recommendation, risk analysis, suitability of advice, establishing needs, goals & objectives, format & discretion.
The closing date for submission is on 15 December 2017.
The Top Six winners of the Best Financial Planner of the Year from the Rising Star and Open categories can look forward to:
- Cash prize of S$1,000 for each winner.
- Becoming ambassadors of FPAS in raising the level of professionalism within the financial planning industry.
- Being featured in The Straits Times newspaper and on straitstimes.com
- Being on the panel of speakers during FPAS Financial Planning Conference 2018
- Being featured on FPAS website, Linkedln and Facebook that are connected to an international financial practitioner community.
- A uniquely designed trophy!
- Attending the Awards Night on 20 April 2018 at Singapore Marriott Tang Plaza Hotel where you get to network with industry leaders and to be interviewed by the media.
For more details about the award, please click here and work towards becoming a good financial planner.
For a career that is based on trust and credibility, this award will be a great boost to your credentials.
Talk to a mortgage broker if you are looking to better manage your property finances.