When to look for financial planning help

WASHINGTON – Any life-changing event triggers a series of decisions, and one of them is the choice to find a financial planner.

Janet Bodnar, editor of Kiplinger Personal Finance, says that events such as marriage, parenthood, divorce or pending retirement are examples of the kind of life event that “triggers the decision to seek outside advice.”

Bodnar says the way to navigate “the alphabet soup” of financial-planning assistance – CFPs, CPAs and more – is to know what advice you need.

Seek out a certified financial planner for general questions. An investment advisor who is registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission can give more specific advice. Chartered financial consultants handle estate matters, while certified public accountants work on your taxes.

The cost of financial advice also depends on what you’re looking for. If you want advice for a single situation, Bodnar says, hire someone for a fee of $100 to $300 an hour. But if you’re going to hand your assets to someone and say “Here, you do it,” Bodnar says, expect to pay 1 to 2 percent of your portfolio.

Numbers and letters aside, Bodnar says, you’ll be discussing important matters with your planner, so feeling comfortable with that person is essential.

WTOP’s Paula Wolfson contributed to this report. Follow @WTOP on Twitter.

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