What Is a Financial Planner vs. Advisor?

Two financial planners looking at laptop

Are you on track with saving for the future? Would you say that you’re headed toward a comfortable retirement. Or, are you worried you might need to work past your planned retirement age just to get by? 

If the answers to these questions don’t leave you feeling confident, then it might be time to meet with a financial expert to ensure you’re on the right path forward. Making the decision to meet with a financial professional is easy. The hard part is knowing who to trust and whether you need to hire a financial planner vs. advisor

Differences between Financial Planners vs. Advisors

While these terms are used interchangeably, there are a few key differences between a financial planner vs. advisor. Let’s quickly review each profession’s responsibilities:

What Is a Financial Planner?

A financial planner typically works with businesses and individuals to design them a financial strategy that aligns with their long-term goals. This may include buying (or building) a new home, financing college tuition for a child, traveling during retirement, etc. 

What Is a Financial Advisor?

A financial advisor is a professional who helps you manage your investments, assets, and other accounts, such as stocks, bonds, and hedge funds. 

Here’s where it gets interesting: A planner may perform the same services as an advisor and vise versa. However, the level of service and support this individual can provide you will depend greatly on his or her educational background, experience, and certifications: “Financial planners might be brokers or investment advisors, insurance agents, practicing accountants, or individuals with no financial credentials,” (Investopedia).

Therefore, you’ll need to pay careful attention and consideration to each individual’s licenses or designations before you can choose the right expert for you. As anyone may be able to say that they are a planner, but this person might not have the necessary certifications to provide the type of service you require.

For example, let’s say your planner holds the following licenses: 

  • Certified Financial Planner (CFP)
  • Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA)
  • Chartered Financial Consultant (ChFC)
  • Certified Investment Management Analyst (CIMA)

Though these are only a few among 200 financial designations that are available, they demonstrate a higher level of service, support, and expertise when it comes to managing your finances. In this way, your financial planner (or advisor) is able to perform a variety of services that bring you closer to your long-term financial goals. 

Finding the Right Financial Professional for You

Whether you’re looking for a financial planner, financial advisor, or a professional who offers both types of skill sets, Focus Financial can help! We offer a leading team of financial advisors and planners with the certifications and experience to help you manage your investments and plan for the future—whether you’re a small business or individual.

To get started, we invite you to find an advisor near you. You’ll have access to each individual’s designations and contact information, so you can schedule a consultation and get the support you need to start feeling in control and prepared for the future.

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