On the first Sunday of February, millions of Americans tune into one of the most buzzed-about sporting events of the year: the Super Bowl. Wings are eaten, commercials are watched and bets are placed on which team will rise to victory.
Whether you’re a die-hard sports fan or simply in it for the junk food, events like the Super Bowl show us the many parallels between sports and life. Take the concept of teamwork: coaching staffs log countless hours researching, analyzing and interviewing players ahead of Draft Day, in hopes of finding the right mix of talent to bring their teams to success.
The same concept can apply to you and your financial life. The right team of professionals can make a world of difference in helping you work toward and achieve your financial goals. So, who should you recruit to join your financial dream team? Here are the key players.
A financial advisor will likely be the leader of your dream team, because his or her role is to help you review your overall financial picture. Your financial advisor will work collaboratively with you to analyze your goals, come up with a plan to meet them and monitor your progress along the way. Additionally, your financial advisor may provide tax, estate planning or insurance recommendations, which your other team members will be responsible for implementing (we’ll get to them later).
In your search for a financial advisor, you should look for someone who holds the Certified Financial Planner™ (CFP®) designation, which is one of the most respected credentials among the financial services community. A CFP® certificant is required to act as a fiduciary when providing you with financial advice and recommendations, and to do what is in your best interest. In addition to being a fiduciary, you’ll also want to find an advisor who is compatible with your personality and working style. In a recent article, my colleague, Patrice Cresci, CFP®, outlined some questions you should consider asking potential advisors during your search, so be sure to check it out for reference.
Financial advisors also work closely with our next team member in various capacities.
Accountants can help provide a full-picture view of your tax situation now and what it may look like in the future, based on conversations and projections they compile with your financial advisor. Your tax accountant and financial advisor will work together to help you prepare for the future and manage your tax situation efficiently.
You should consider focusing your search on tax advisors who are also licensed certified public accountants (CPAs). The tax code is complex and ever-changing, so it’s important to have a team member who will be on top of new laws and regulations, while looking for opportunities to maximize your tax efficiency simultaneously.
Sometimes, tax planning can overlap into the estate planning area, which leads us to another professional who should round out your dream team: an estate attorney.
An estate attorney should be a key member of your advisory team, because he or she will be tasked with helping you plan for some of life’s most difficult transitions and events. Estate attorneys are responsible for drafting documents you should have in place to protect yourself, your family or your business, including wills, powers of attorney and trusts, among others. These documents will help ensure there is a plan in place for you and your assets at death.
If you have children or plan to grow your family in the future, it’s crucial to hire an estate attorney as early as possible. He or she can draft your will, name guardians for any minor children and allocate powers of attorney to make decisions on your behalf if you’re unable to for any reason.
Your financial advisor and tax accountant can be great resources in your search for an estate attorney and may even be able to provide you with referrals. Before you interview potential attorneys, compile questions that will help you gain a better understanding of the candidates’ background, such as cases they’ve handled in the past and their experience working with other professionals. Above all, you should search for an attorney who understands your requests, can break down complexities and will make you an active part of the planning process.
The insurance agent’s role is to protect you and the important people and assets in your life. In the context of your financial dream team, your advisor and insurance agent will have two, separate responsibilities. The advisor will determine your insurance needs and help you find coverage that can suit them, such as additional life or disability coverage, or extra coverage through an umbrella liability policy. The insurance agent’s job is to find the best policy for your situation.
Since your agent will be selling you insurance policies, you may find that an independent agent is the best resource, since he or she won’t be tied to one company or product. An independent agent can review the broad insurance market and help you secure the best policies available at the best rates.
Ideally, your financial dream team should be fully integrated and work together to ensure that your financial plan is seamless and evolves as your life changes. To stay on track, consider scheduling regular meetings with your entire team to keep lines of communication open and ensure your goals and concerns are being addressed.