Interviewing a Financial Planner

You need help, plain and simple. Between making the money and living your life, your financial chores are never completely done right. You might be brilliant at managing cash flow and savings, but not so good at investing. You've got the big-salary job, but you're worried about losing it and are unprepared for what could happen next in this economy. You're a fabulous investor, but you'd face a struggle to pay for an emergency car repair.

You've done everything right, but you just can't tell if you need and can afford long-term care insurance. You're afraid that Uncle Sam will get everything you spent your lifetime earning, or you're terrified that what you leave behind could tear up your family. You know that you are set for life, but want to make sure your spouse or partner can live out their days in comfort.

Whatever your situation, there's a reason why you need financial help, and it has gotten pressing enough that you are now ready to go out and hire somebody to give you a hand.

Those reasons should not include "I need to beat the market."

A financial planner's job is to look at your entire picture and to come up with a program you can follow for the rest of your days that will take you to your financial goals. It is to do battle with the market, so that a downturn, bear market, or lousy economy doesn't crush your dreams; the stock market doesn't know when your next tuition payment is due, when you need cash to replace a car or pay for a wedding, or when you will finally pay off the mortgage.

"Beating the market" is about having enough money to do what you want, not about having a return that tops an arbitrary, not-tied-to-your-life benchmark every year. If the market "beats you," it means your plans left you short of achieving your hopes and dreams; that is the outcome most consumers want to avoid when they seek financial help.

By Chuck Jaffe
Chuck Jaffe is a senior columnist and host of two weekly podcasts at MarkWatch. He has also been a guest speaker on several television and radio shows.

Copyrighted 2016. Content published with author's permission.

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