Financial Consultant

What Is a Financial Consultant?

A financial consultant provides professional services that help individuals and businesses make wise financial decisions. They often do this by converting complex financial concepts into practical strategies.

Financial consultants offer advice on investments, insurance, mortgages, and other financial matters. They may also be involved in estate planning and tax preparation.

Financial consultants may work for banks, investment firms, or insurance companies. They may also function as independent contractors.

What Financial Consultants Do

Financial consultants provide clients with a comprehensive and detailed analysis of their assets, income, and expenses. Based on this analysis, they then assist clients in formulating a plan tailored to their specific needs. 

Below are some of the general services offered by financial consultants to help clients achieve various financial goals:

Estate Planning

This service involves creating a plan for how assets will be distributed after death. Financial consultants help in estate planning by guiding clients on minimizing taxes and maximizing inheritances.

Retirement Planning

A financial consultant can help individuals plan for a comfortable retirement by projecting how much savings is necessary to cover living expenses. They consider factors such as inflation and life expectancy to develop a retirement plan that accommodates each client’s unique needs.

Investment Planning

Investment planning involves determining the types of investments best suited for a client’s risk tolerance and financial goals. Financial consultants often recommend a mix of stocks, bonds, and mutual funds to help clients grow their wealth over time.

Insurance Planning

Insurance planning is essential to protect assets and income in the event of an unexpected death or illness. Financial consultants can help clients choose the right type and insurance coverage to meet their needs.

Tax Planning

A financial consultant can also help with tax planning by providing strategies to minimize a client’s tax liability. These strategies may involve taking advantage of tax deductions or investing in certain types of accounts.

Business and Financial Strategy

A financial consultant can help businesses develop and implement strategies to improve profitability and cash flow. These strategies may involve making changes to pricing, marketing, or operations.

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Financial Consultants vs Financial Advisors

Financial consultants are often confused with financial advisors because they provide similar services. The terms are used interchangeably by some firms and clients. 

Some sources maintain that there is a difference between the two professionals. For example, financial consultants may work with clients for a shorter period to handle specific issues.

In contrast, financial advisors may work with clients for more long-term goals, investigating all aspects of a client’s situation to provide a solution. 

Since both roles often overlap, it is essential to verify their certifications to ascertain if their specialization is appropriate to the client’s needs. 

The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) lists the designations of finance professionals to help clients differentiate and choose among them. 

Both financial consultants and financial advisors may possess one or more of the certifications listed below:

– Certified Financial Planner (CFP)

CFPs are professionals who assist clients in many areas of financial planning, ranging from taxes and insurance to retirement and estate planning.

– Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA)

CFAs focus on analysis and portfolio management.

– Chartered Financial Consultant (ChFC) 

ChFCs have specialized knowledge in financial planning and risk management. They also offer guidance on income tax strategies.

– Chartered Life Underwriter (CLU)

Clients needing guidance on life insurance, annuities, and risk management can work with consultants with this certification.

– Certified Fund Specialist (CFS) 

This designation provides consultants with strong working knowledge of mutual funds, exchange-traded funds (ETFs), and real estate investment trusts (REITs) to assist clients with building their portfolios.

– Retirement Management Advisor (RMA)

RMA professionals have advanced certification in building custom retirement plans to reduce clients’ risks and increase benefits.

How to Find a Financial Consultant

There are three main ways to obtain the services of a financial consultant. They are:

Robo-Advisors

Robo-advisors use algorithms and software to manage investments and give financial advice. This option is ideal for clients who want to invest but do not want or do not know to manage their portfolios by themselves. Robo-advisors offer low fees.

Online Financial Consultancy Services

Another convenient option is to use an online financial consultancy service for a more human touch. The fees are also typically lower than traditional consultancy services because of lower overhead costs.

In-Person Financial Consultants

The standard option is to get in-person services. This alternative is ideal for clients who want more personal interaction and advice. However, this option typically has higher fees than online consultants or robo-advisors.

In selecting a financial consultant, it is vital to remember that developing a long-term connection might be more advantageous. As the consultant gets to know the client’s situation better, they can give more appropriate advice.

Should I Hire a Financial Consultant?

The decision to employ a financial consultant is based on your specific circumstances. However, several considerations must be weighed before making this option.

If you have a basic investment portfolio, you may be able to manage your investments yourself using a robo-advisor as a low-cost option. However, working with a financial consultant may be valuable if you have complex investments or need help with other financial planning matters.

Discussing with a financial consultant may also be suitable when you experience significant life changes or events. Marriage, having children, receiving an inheritance, and changing jobs can all have profound implications for your finances.

Consulting with a professional can assist you in navigating these changes and making modifications to your overall financial strategy.

If you have decided it is best to talk with a professional, get in touch with a credible financial consultant who meets your needs.

The Bottom Line

A financial consultant is a specialist who offers advice and assistance to help clients achieve specific financial goals. They simplify complex financial topics so their clients can make well-informed decisions.

Financial consultants offer various services ranging from investment advice to retirement planning services. They can work with both individuals and businesses.

When choosing a financial consultant, it is essential to consider the services needed and the consultant’s approach, fees, and experience. 

There are many different types of financial consultants, so choosing one with the right specialization is crucial. Reading online reviews or speaking with prospective consultants can help solidify this decision.

FAQs

Financial consultants' most common services are tax planning, investment advice, and retirement planning. Financial consultants work with clients of all types - individuals, families, and businesses.
Financial consultants are practically the same as advisors because they both assist clients with managing their money. Firms and clients use both terms interchangeably. They often offer more than one service, and their financial advice is based on what the client wants and needs.
Individuals can obtain financial consultancy services through robo-advisors, online consultants, or in-person consultants. Your choice will depend on the service you are looking for and your budget.
When choosing a financial consultant, it is essential to consider the services needed and the consultant's experience. For example, a financial consultant who is also a certified Retirement Management Advisor might be more appropriate if someone is looking for retirement advice.
The cost of hiring a financial consultant will vary depending on the services required and the consultant's experience and fees. Their rates are similar to financial advisors who charge average hourly fees from $200 to $400 or flat fees from $1000 to $3000.

True Tamplin, BSc, CEPF®

About the Author
True Tamplin, BSc, CEPF®

True Tamplin is a published author, public speaker, CEO of UpDigital, and founder of Finance Strategists.

True is a Certified Educator in Personal Finance (CEPF®), author of The Handy Financial Ratios Guide, a member of the Society for Advancing Business Editing and Writing, contributes to his financial education site, Finance Strategists, and has spoken to various financial communities such as the CFA Institute, as well as university students like his Alma mater, Biola University, where he received a bachelor of science in business and data analytics.

To learn more about True, visit his personal website, view his author profile on Amazon, or check out his speaker profile on the CFA Institute website.