Within financial planning, there is a broad spectrum of ‘advisors’ out there. Some have a fiduciary duty and some do not. I don’t typically like to rank things using words like good or bad, but there are some really bad advisors in this world. In fact, good advisors have to work twice as hard to make up ground for some of the unthinkable things bad financial advisors do. I’m sure you’ve heard crazy stories; some charge exorbitant fees and some actually run away with people’s money, This is how one bad apple can spoil the whole bunch.

You might be interested in working with an advisor but wondering how to keep this from happening to you. Avoidance is one method, but the truth is, financial advisors can make a profound difference in one’s life and that is priceless. So I want to share an analogy that might help you choose a good apple when it comes to a financial planner.

It all starts with understanding the difference between a financial advisor, and a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER (CFP®) otherwise known as a fiduciary. Here’s where the analogy comes in handy; Let’s say you were looking for a mouthwatering apple pie to bring to an important occasion. There are different places you can buy an apple pie and a noticeable difference in the quality depending on where you get your pie. Two simple examples of this story include a grocery store and a bakery.

For our first example, let’s say you go to the grocery store. The deli clerk there is similar to the financial advisor. The clerk probably had a week or two of training before going out on the floor. When taught how to make the pies they were probably told to take out the premade mix from the refrigerator, pour it into a prepared crust, and pop it in the oven. This is similar to becoming a financial advisor. It takes a couple of weeks of studying (about 50 hours) and passing a three-hour test. Then, you are ready to go out in the world and call yourself a financial advisor,

For our second example, we go to the bakery. The baker, much like the CFP®, has been training and perfecting their craft for years. The baker takes the time to choose and slice the perfect tart apples, roll out a flaky crust, and lace the top with carefully sliced crisscrosses. This is a bit more what’s akin to becoming a CFP®. After years of education, about 250 hours of study time, a hairsplitting exam, 3 years of field experience, and an oath to be a fiduciary you may call yourself a CFP®. Simply put a fiduciary is the opposite of a narcissist; a fiduciary focus is you, not them.

Now, after reading this, I only have one question for you. Who do you want to hand your hard-earned money, hopes, and dreams over to? We all know this is not just an apple pie.


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