Tax season is here again, and I thought this would be an appropriate time to discuss working with financial professionals. There are two ways of looking at the question: How can I work with a financial professional? The first is you might be wondering how you can work with a financial professional when you’re already struggling to make ends meet. How will you be able to pay them?
The second way of looking at this question is about getting over your fear of finding the right professional. It can feel intimidating to look for the right banker, accountant, lawyer, or investment manager. As a former accountant, I’ve had people tell me “accountants are scary” and this made me sad.
Financial professionals are people too, and if you’re getting an intimidating vibe from one that you’ve been thinking about working with, I recommend you keep looking. You’re going to be sharing a lot of personal information with this person if they are going to help you in the best way possible, and you need to make sure you are comfortable doing that.
What if I Can’t Pay the Fees?
The good news, when it comes to paying fees to financial professionals, is that the industry has become more transparent in recent years. This means it will be easier to see how much it will cost you to work with a financial professional.
There's also some good news if you have no money to spare. There are many charitable organizations that work with people who want to improve their financial situation or get out of debt but can't afford to pay anyone to help them. For a reliable resource check out government websites for your country by searching for “government resources financial help” plus your country.
The reason I say government resources is that government websites won’t recommend sites that are scams or just want to take your money. Unfortunately, there are companies out there that prey on people looking to improve their financial situation.
You might find this US government site helpful: https://www.usa.gov/benefits-grants-loans
If you are in Canada, here is the government of Canada’s debt and borrowing site: https://www.canada.ca/en/services/finance/debt.html
Some states and provinces also have their own financial resource sites, so you might want to check those out depending on where you live.
Preparing to Look for a Financial Professional
I highly recommend thinking about what you want to get out of working with a financial professional. This is a good time to get out your journal and write about it. I’ll talk about this more in the journal prompts section, but what it all comes down to is finding the right professional who can help you achieve your goals. So, before you start looking for that financial professional, it’s time to get clear on your goals.
Knowing your goals when working with a financial professional will also help you narrow your search. For example, if you’re looking for someone to file your taxes for you, you’ll want to look for someone who is up-to-date on the current tax laws for your area. If your goal is to get out of debt, then you'll want to look for someone who has helped other people achieve this same result.
Once you've had a chance to consider your reasons for wanting to work with a financial professional, you'll feel more confident in starting your search for the right person.
What to Look for in a Financial Professional
If you've never worked with a financial planner, accountant, or lawyer before, it can be a bit daunting. Here are a few things to look for when meeting with a financial professional for the first time:
- They are on time for your meeting.
- They make notes during your meeting.
- They show their interest in helping you by listening when you’re talking, making eye contact, and asking you clarifying questions.
- They are willing to provide references or have testimonials you can read.
Affirmations are a great tool for helping you attract the right people into your life. Now that you know what you want to accomplish by working with a financial professional, and you know more about what to look for when searching for that person, you can also use affirmations to help you in your search.
If you've had bad experiences with financial professionals in the past, you may want to tailor your affirmations to counteract that. For example if an accountant you worked with treated you badly, you may have a negative view of all accountants. To compensate for this, you could use the affirmation, "My accountant cares about my financial well-being and helps me save money while treating me with respect."
Here are a few general affirmations you can use while searching for financial professionals:
- I deserve help with my finances.
- I’m attracting the right professional to help me with my finances.
- I'm achieving my financial goals every day.
Remember, the more you say your affirmations, the better they work.
The following journal prompts will help you determine your financial goals as well as figure out who is the best type of financial professional to help you achieve those goals.
What are my financial goals?
Start by writing down this question then answer it with whatever comes to mind. As you keep writing, you can get more specific about your financial goals. For example, if one of your goals is to pay down your debt, you might get more specific by listing a specific amount you’d like to pay down. This could be a percentage of your existing debt or a dollar value.
Maybe one of your financial goals is to feel better about your financial situation. As you journal about this goal, think about how you will know when you've achieved it. An important component of realizing our goals is knowing when we've achieved them.
Who can help me achieve these financial goals?
Sometimes we have goals, but we're not sure who to ask for help. Journal on this question and see what comes up for you. The more specific your financial goals are, and the more detailed you've been about the steps for achieving those goals, the easier it is to determine who is the best type of financial professional to help you.
What step can I take today that will lead me to my financial goals?
If you take one small step toward your goal each day, before you know it you will have achieved your goal. So, for this journal prompt, I want you to write about what steps you can take to reach your financial goals. If your goal is to find a financial professional to help you file your taxes or get out of debt, a step to get you started might be searching online for professionals in your area.
Working with a financial professional can feel intimidating if you’ve never worked with one or you’ve had bad experiences in the past. Use journaling and affirmations to help you find the right person. Many things in personal finance are often better handled by professionals, like filing your taxes, getting help with debt, and managing investments. Once you’re clear on your goals and know what to look for, you’ll have no trouble finding the perfect financial professional to help you.
Have you read this Money Matters article? *How Can You Learn to Love Money?
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Author bio: Michelle Cornish is the author of Prosperity Planner: Manage Your Personal Finances and Get Out of Debt, an undated planner where she shares more about her personal financial journey and her TREE Method for keeping her personal finances in check.