The Western Union Business Solutions Learning Center is a blog provided for general informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal, financial, tax  or accounting advice. Consult your own independent advisors regarding your particular needs and circumstances.


Find the Right Financial Planner

The difference between a good financial planner and an excellent one can be the difference between a comfortable tomorrow and a prosperous long-term future. But finding the right professional in financial management is a process that requires in-depth research - particularly for individuals who have foreign investments abroad.

When an individual finds the right financial planner, he or she can use a trusted online foreign exchange service to wire money transfers for international payments while abroad. An online FX provider may be able to provide a range of personal finance tools such as bids, which can make it easier to create predictability around cross-border transactions.

Follow these steps before hiring a financial planner.

“There are plenty of advisors out there, so keep looking for one that you trust and feel very comfortable with.”

— Brooke A. Salvini, CPA/PFS, CFP and founder of Salvini Financial Planning

Determine Needs, Understand Certifications

"People should sit down - not during tax season - and write out their three most important financial needs," says Lauren Locker, CFP, founder of Locker Financial Services LLC in Little Falls, N.J. "It could be college planning, retirement, a job change, refinancing or saving, to name a few."

Financial advisors often come with an alphabet soup attached to their titles, and understanding this language is important in determining whether or not they suit an individual's international finance needs.

A certified financial planner (CFP) is "competent in all areas of personal finance, including: investments, estate planning, budgeting, insurance, taxes and retirement planning," Locker says. While a chartered financial analyst (CFA) "has an advanced certification in portfolio management and financial analysis, and provides a generalist's knowledge of other areas of finance," she says. Each certification requires varying levels of continuing education and is administered by a different board or institute based on the industry or field.

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To learn more about various designations and credentials, visit the International Association of Qualified Financial Planners website.

Practice Due Diligence

Locker recommends interviewing at least three financial planners and using the questions listed on the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors (NAPFA) website, which includes questions such as:

  • How long have you been offering financial planning services?
  • Will you or an associate of yours work with me?
  • Do you have clients who might be willing to speak with me about your services?

"There are plenty of advisors out there, so keep looking for one that you trust and feel very comfortable with," says Brooke A. Salvini, CPA/PFS, CFP and founder of Salvini Financial Planning in San Luis Obispo, Calif.

To help determine if a financial planner will be able to deal with the complexities of foreign currency exchange, Salvini recommends the following questions:

  • How many of your clients are expats and foreign nationals?
  • Have you had prior positions that required an understanding of foreign currency exchange?
  • Have you lived abroad?

Consider Pay Structure

"It is important that you clearly understand how your advisor is being compensated and how their compensation model may affect the advice you receive," Locker says. A fee-only financial planner is paid directly and only by the client for their advice with no commission, finder's fee or referral fee added. They may charge using a retainer, fee-for-service or percentage of assets under management (AUM) model. A fee-based planner, on the other hand, collects commission from mutual funds, brokerage firms, insurance companies and investment partnerships in exchange for products sold to their clients. Some planners may work for both fees and commission.

To find a planner, residents of the U.S. can call on NAPFA, which provides listings of fee-only financial advisors who can be searched by demographic region or by last name. The Financial Planning Standards Council is one of the most widely recognized resources available to residents of Canada who wish to search local CFPs. Residents of the U.K. may consider the website, which offers location listings of advisors and financial management tools. 

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