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A financial planner or personal financial planner is a professional who prepares financial plans for people. These financial plans often cover cash flow management, retirement planning, investment planning, financial risk management, insurance planning, tax planning, estate planning and business succession planning (for business owners).
Financial planning should cover all areas of the client's financial needs and should result in the achievement of each of the client's goals as required. The scope of planning would usually include the following:
- Risk management and insurance planning: managing cash flow risks through sound risk management and insurance techniques
- Investment and planning issues: planning, creating and managing capital accumulation to generate future capital and cash flows for reinvestment and spending, including managing for risk-adjusted returns and to deal with inflation
- Retirement planning: planning to ensure financial independence at retirement including 401Ks, IRAs etc.
- Tax planning: planning for the reduction of tax liabilities and the freeing-up of cash flows for other purposes
- Estate planning: planning for the creation, accumulation, conservation and distribution of assets
- Cash flow and liability management: maintaining and enhancing personal cash flows through debt and lifestyle management
The personal financial planning process is described in ISO 22222:2005 as consisting of six steps:
- Establishing and defining the client and personal financial planner relationship
- Gathering client data and determining goals and expectations
- Analysing and evaluating the client's financial status
- Developing and presenting the financial plan
- Implementing the financial planning recommendations
- Monitoring the financial plan and the financial planning relationship
Licensing, regulations and self-regulation
In Australia, a company providing financial services must obtain a licence from the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC). However, there are no requirements for the individuals providing the financial advice, and the ASIC website states that "Holding an AFS licence does not provide a guarantee of the probity or quality of the licensee's services."
In Canada, "financial planners" are unregulated in every province except Quebec, where only individuals holding the Planificateur Financier (Pl.Fin / F.Pl.) designation are allowed to use the title "Financial Planner". The provincially-sanctioned Institut québécois de planification financière (IQPF) administers that designation.
Outside of Quebec, there are currently no restrictions, no educational prerequisites, and no licensing requirements for individuals calling themselves financial planners, or for businesses using "financial planning" in their name or services offered. As of July 2020[update], Ontario and Saskatchewan have introduced legislation to regulate financial planning titles, but the legislation has yet to be enacted.
Many financial advisors in Canada call themselves financial planners yet only hold licences to sell personal financial products (primarily investments and insurance), or use non-expiring qualifications with no monitoring or public accountability process (such as the Personal Financial Planner / PFP designation). There are only two publicly monitored and fully regulated financial planning designations outside of Quebec – the CFP (Certified Financial Planner) and the R.F.P. (Registered Financial Planner) designations.
The R.F.P. is the older (established in 1987) and more stringent of the two publicly monitored designations. All R.F.P.s must first demonstrate their competency, then abide by a code of ethics and adhere to rigorous practice standards as defined by the granting body, the Institute of Advanced Financial Planners (IAFP). Every R.F.P. must attest each year that financial planning is their primary vocation.
The Securities Commission Malaysia introduced legislation through amendments made to the Securities Industry Act in 2003 to regulate financial planning and the use of the title or related-title of 'financial planner' or to conduct activities related to financial planning.
In 2005, amendments to the Malaysian Insurance Act require those who carry out financial advisory business (including financial planning activities related to insurance) and/or use the title of financial adviser under their firm (which, like in Singapore, must be a corporate structure) to obtain a license from Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM). Some persons who offer financial advisory services, e.g., licensed life insurance agents, are exempted from licensing as a practising requirement.
In Singapore, financial services are highly regulated by The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), the regulator and supervisor of financial institutions in Singapore. Rules are set by MAS for financial institutions and are implemented through legislation, regulations, directions and notices. Currently, the majority of the financial planners (financial consultants) are commission-based, which may cause a conflict of interest related to the products recommended. In 2015, a balanced scorecard framework was implemented to better align the interests of the FA industry and consumers. This ensures FA representatives and supervisors meet key performance indicators that are not related to sales, such as providing suitable product recommendations and making proper disclosure of material information to customers (Non-Sales KPI). Failure to achieve good grades for the Non-Sales KPI will directly affect their commission (variable income).
The Financial Markets Authority (FMA) (formerly the Securities Commission) provides Authorisation to individuals who provide Personalised Financial Advice, Investment Planning Services and/or Discretionary Investment Management Services. Individuals who receive authorisation are referred to as an Authorised Financial Adviser (AFA). In order to receive authorisation, individuals must complete the National Certificate in Financial Services (Financial Advice) (Level 5).
- "ISO 22222:2005 – Personal financial planning – Requirements for personal financial planners". ISO. 21 December 2005. Retrieved 31 March 2017.
- Koulizos, Peter (2 October 2013). "The unregulated business of property investment advice". The Conversation. Retrieved 31 March 2017.
- "Is the future of financial 'advice' unregulated?". Professionaladviser.com. 1 November 2012. Retrieved 31 March 2017.
- "AFS licensees". Australian Securities and Investments Commission. 20 October 2014. Retrieved 31 March 2017.
- "What is a Lady Bird Deed in Texas?". 18 April 2020.
- "Off to a good start – The Pl.Fin. designation in Quebec". IQPF. Retrieved 19 July 2020.
- "Financial Planning and Advice". Financial Services Regulatory Authority of Ontario. Retrieved 19 July 2020.
- "Saskatchewan Protects Consumers And Investors By Introducing Financial Planning Legislation | News and Media". Government of Saskatchewan. Retrieved 19 July 2020.
- "Understanding Financial Certifications". IIROC. Retrieved 19 July 2020.
- "FP Canada". FP Canada. Retrieved 19 July 2020.
- "Distinguishing features of the RFP designation". Institute of Advanced Financial Planners. Retrieved 19 July 2020.
- "History of the Registered Financial Planner designation". Institute of Advanced Financial Planners. Retrieved 19 July 2020.
- Garrison, Laura (July 2004). "Financial Planning History Made in Malaysia". Journal of Financial Planning. Financial Planning Association. 17 (7): 22–24. ISSN 1040-3981. Archived from the original on 9 April 2006.
- "Introduction of Financial Advisers". Bank Negara Malaysia. 8 November 2005. Archived from the original on 26 April 2006.
- "Monetary Authority of Singapore". Monetary Authority of Singapore.
- "Financial Markets Authority". Financial Markets Authority (New Zealand).