A financial planner, or certified financial planner, is an authorized financial advisor authorized by a state board to provide financial advice. Practicing as a full service financial planner, they counsel clients on financial issues, including retirement planning, insurance, investments, estate and tax planning. Some also provide general financial planning and advising. They assist individuals with establishing savings and retirement funds; and with creating individual and group retirement accounts. In addition, they assist with estate planning and provide estate planning advice.
Certified financial planners can also be attorneys, brokers or insurance agents. They help people make financial decisions regarding real estate, 401(k) plans, annuities, business deals, selecting insurance policies and selecting vehicles and shares of ownership in businesses. They assist with estate planning by assisting in creating tax strategies, protecting wealth, distributing assets, and making long-term goals for their clients. Also, these planners are involved in the structuring of retirement plans.
There are many different organizations that provide certification to financial planners. Among these are the American Society of Financial Planning and the Financial Planning Association of America. In order to become certified, planners must successfully pass both an examination and a practice exam. Many states require that planners acquire board certification before they may take the examination to become certified. Board certification can be achieved by taking courses and passing exams, either at the state board or through independent study courses.