Do I Need a Financial Planner?

By Andrew J. Christopher on January 29, 2021

Working with a financial planner (ideally one with a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professional designation) can help you identify and achieve your financial goals throughout the various stages of your life. While knowing why financial planning is important, you may be wondering, “When do I need a financial planner?” The answer depends on a lot of factors. You’ll likely find yourself wanting expert financial advice as you grow your wealth and face both the challenges and opportunities that arise in life. Once you start to experience certain milestones, the help of dedicated financial planners becomes increasingly valuable.

Here are five common scenarios in which a financial planner can help you navigate your finances and guide towards your desired financial outcomes.

You Need Help Prioritizing Goals

Goal setting is the first step in planning for both retirement and other major financial objectives. When you start to think about how you’re going to achieve those goals, it’s likely time to meet with a financial planner. They can help you determine which goals are the most important to you and how much you should save in order to meet them within your targeted timeframe.

For longer-term goals, a financial planner will also help you with appropriately saving for and understanding  their future cost. The expected value of financial goals changes over time, and a financial planner accounts for that when developing your savings strategy.

A financial professional, such as a CFP®, also helps you choose investment products in light of your time horizon as well as the types of accounts you should use. For example, when retirement planning, they will help you navigate employer sponsored plans, tax-advantaged accounts, and taxable investment accounts to make sure you’re not missing out on any tax breaks or other benefits, such as employer matches.

While personal financial planning helps you prepare for the future, it’s also important to plan and save for the unexpected. Your financial planner helps you determine how much to keep for emergencies and unexpected life events. Without this piece of the puzzle in place, your savings goals could quickly be derailed.

You’re Facing a Career Transition

Transitioning your career may have a major impact on your lifestyle, as well as your financial situation. When switching to a new company, you’ll have access to a different set of employee benefits. Your compensation package can also become increasingly complex if you’re promoted to an executive position. You may have a different salary structure, receive variable bonuses, or be offered stock options or restricted stock units.

A CFP® professional analyzes all of these potential choices and helps you make decisions based on your goals. They can even partner with your tax professional to make sure your taxes are minimized as much as possible. A financial planner becomes part of your team, rather than acting in a silo only concerned with investment strategy. This is a key differentiator and is important in all stages of life, not just when making a career change.

You may also need a financial planner as an entrepreneur, whether you’re just launching a startup or have been self-employed for decades. As your assets grow, it’s important to make sure you’re utilizing the best retirement plans and minimizing your taxes as much as possible.

A Major Life Event Occurs

Major life events can be emotional and they can also impact your financial situation. It’s smart to have a neutral party who is strictly looking out for your best interests to help you navigate these moments. Whether you’re getting married, having a child, going through a divorce, or grieving over a spouse who has passed away, there are almost always financial implications involved during major life changes.

A CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ has the training and experience to navigate the financial side to life’s biggest moments. Not only that, at Dowling & Yahnke Wealth Advisors, you have an entire financial planning team to rely on when planning your financial future. They pool their collective experiences to help you adjust your financial roadmap as needed.

A financial planner also serves as a sounding board when you’re faced with difficult decisions. You may be considering a major purchase, such as a home or selling an asset. Or, you may need to reevaluate beneficiaries and insurance policies when going through a divorce or are left as a surviving spouse.

Partnering with a financial planner can help you make informed decisions without worrying about tax mistakes or missed opportunities.

You’re Ready to Start Estate Planning

It’s important to have an estate plan in place and update it as you get older and grow your assets to help ensure your intentions are met and heirs are cared for when you are no longer here. While your financial planner likely won’t draft a will or handle other legal aspects of estate planning, they will work in conjunction with your estate planning attorney to strategize the best way to use the options available.

Marriage, divorce, births, and deaths all impact the details of your estate plan. Oftentimes, your financial planner also knows what life events may trigger the need for an update to your estate plan. They are also typically one of the first members of your financial services team to hear about life events and help you manage their financial implications. They can also loop in your accountant with tax-related concerns as well. Finally, if you’re ready to start estate planning but don’t have an attorney, your planner likely has a network of trusted professionals they can refer.

Your financial planner also helps you navigate asset protection to make sure you’re appropriately covered for any unforeseen outcomes. This involves a range of strategies including choosing the appropriate insurance policies, such as life, liability, and disability.

You’re Close to Retirement

Nearly everyone wants to sunset their career or stop working full time at some point.  In order to do so, having a sound retirement strategy is a must. The importance of financial planning is vital to help you understand the multitude of retirement savings options available. For instance, you may have an excess of available cash to save, especially if you’ve already maxed out tax-advantaged accounts like your 401(k) and IRAs. A financial planning team identifies the best investments based on the appropriate level of risk, as well as other factors unique to your situation.

The right financial planner also helps you plan for your ideal lifestyle in retirement. They can walk you through what to expect from Social Security and Medicare and how that fits into your overall financial plan.

Another aspect of planning as you approach retirement is creating a plan that will allow you to stay disciplined even during  market fluctuations. When uncertainty and market volatility do strike, a planner helps you weather the storm without overreacting and missing out on potential long-term growth by attempting to time the market. You get to benefit from a collective team’s decades of experience in market cycles and you’ll be better positioned to act based on data rather than fear.

Bottom Line

A financial planner does a lot more than just managing your investment portfolio. By working with a reputable planner, you’ll have the peace of mind that you’re not only stewarding your finances well, but also working towards important life goals. Ultimately, your finances are a tool to help you achieve your goals in life. Utilizing financial planning services helps you work towards those goals while also preparing you for unexpected surprises that inevitably come up.

Are you ready to jumpstart your strategy with a financial planner? Contact Dowling & Yahnke Wealth Advisors today.


Erik H. Nelson, CFP®, CPWA®, Promoted to Director of Financial...

Read Now


Read Now
Suburban townhomes California

California Senate Bill 9 (SB 9): Converting Single Family Lots...

Read Now


Discover the people who make Dowling & Yahnke one of San Diego’s top wealth management firm.



Our team is available now to discuss all of your financial goals.