By Mark McGarvey, CFP®


Financial Planning - Imagine Your Future - Picture of a human hand with a tree growing -


A key component of a healthy lifestyle is your financial well-being. This doesn’t mean that you have to be wealthy to have a healthy financial life, but it does mean that you should have a budget, live within your means, and plan for your retirement. One way to do this is to engage the services of a financial planner.

When is the best time to engage a financial planner?

If you are within 10 years of your anticipated retirement date, financial planning is critical. Planning issues aren’t as pressing in your younger years because you have more time to deal with items like budgeting, savings rates, portfolio risk, debt service and when you are going to retire. These issues and many others that could affect your retirement can exist at any point prior to and during retirement. The important task is defining your specific goals and identifying an acceptable course of action to help you attain them, whether it be 5, 10, or 20 years prior to your actual retirement date.

What should you expect from a financial planner?

You should expect a written plan specifically focused on you, your goals and objectives and not the objectives a planner may be pushing, like specific products to purchase. Your written plan should include recommendations for you to take home to review and discuss with your spouse or family members.

Where should you look to find a planner to help you meet your financial goals?

Start with someone who has a Certified Financial Planning™ designation. To obtain a CFP® designation, an individual must meet education requirements, pass a very stringent Board exam, and maintain ongoing continuing education requirements. To learn more about the CFP® credentials or to find a CFP® professional in your area, visit the CFP Board website.

It is important to understand how your planner will be paid. Some will charge a fee and that’s all you are asked to pay. Others use the planning process to sell products for a commission and some may be a combination of both. Prior to engaging a planner, make sure you fully understand what services they will perform, if you are expected to purchase anything from them, and the scope of your relationship.

For more information about financial planning and the questions you should ask before engaging a planner, please visit our website at or email us at