September 20, 2019

Should you work with an advisor?

Just as you go to a doctor for medical advice, it’s wise to go to a professional for help with your financial plan.

When you work with an advisor to help you develop your financial plan, you’ll tap into their knowledge and expertise. You’ll also establish a relationship with someone who can help shepherd your financial future. A good advisor becomes your planning partner, your financial coach, your disciplinarian and mediator. And in some cases, a life-long friend.

If you work with a financial professional, you can expect:

1. Help with financial planning

Of course, you’d expect a professional to bring expertise to the relationship. To know all the things you don’t know about matters such as registered retirement savings plans (RRSPs) and tax-free savings accounts (TFSAs). Or about mutual funds and insurance and what type is best in which situation. That’s an advisor’s minimum knowledge.

An advisor brings other benefits to the relationship, as well. A good advisor will poke and prod the way a doctor does, explains Sun Life Financial advisor Brian Burlacoff.He's been forging relationships with Clients at Burlacoff Financial Services Inc. in Toronto since 1989. “A doctor listens to your symptoms,” he says. “Often the doctor will ask questions about symptoms you may not have known you had,” he says. That way, they get a picture of your physical health. In the same way, an advisor asks questions to get a clear picture of your financial health.

“We want the whole picture,” emphasizes Jacqueline Meunier,2 a Sun Life Financial advisor in Barrhead, Alberta, northwest of Edmonton. “A professional advisor looks at everything,” she says. Advisors ask questions such as: Are you a member of the ‘sandwich’ generation juggling growing children and aging parents? Do you have a child with a disability?

Those questions — answered honestly — become the groundwork for your financial plan. From there, you and your advisor can determine your goals and set your priorities. Then, the advisor can bring knowledge and expertise. These will help you develop a financial plan, which becomes your roadmap for reaching your goals.

2. Support to stay on track

It’s one thing to have a road map to your financial future; it’s another to stick to it. We all know it’s easy to get diverted by life. And life itself can take some interesting turns.

Burlacoff uses the example of the young Client who has stuck to his savings plans and accumulated $20,000. Now he wants to spend it all on a car. An advisor can help you weigh the merits of such a move. “A good advisor holds your hand,” Burlacoff says.

Melanie Adams,3 a Sun Life Financial advisor with Adams and Associates Financial Solutions Inc. in Barrie, Ontario, sees the advisor as the neutral party, the mediator at life’s crossroads. When you have to make choices, your advisor provides perspective. “Clients don’t often take time to sit down with their spouses and talk about money,” Adams says. “Or have regular ‘money meetings.’ I provide a forum to talk about money and goals.”

Your advisor will generally like to meet with you at least once a year. This will help you stay on top of changes in your life. And make sure your financial road map reflects those changes.

3. Greater peace of mind

According to the 2019 Sun Life Barometer, people who work with a financial advisor feel more secure in retirement. In fact, 62% of Canadians with an advisor are satisfied with how much they’ve saved for retirement. This is compared with 37% of those without an advisor.

The Financial Planning Standards Council regulates the certified financial planner (CFP) designation. It revealed similar findings in its Value of Financial Planning study. The report looked at Canadians who engage Certified Financial Planner® professionals for their financial planning needs, regardless of net worth. It concluded that those who do experience “significantly higher levels of financial and emotional well-being."

Another study confirmed the same notion. The Investment Funds Institute of Canada (IFIC) found that working with an advisor can make a big difference in your savings. For example, people:

  • Who work with advisors for 15 years or more build 3.9 times more in savings than those who don’t receive financial advice.
  • With advice for 4-6 years have 1.7 times more the wealth of those without advice.4

4. A trustworthy relationship

A relationship with an advisor tends to be long term. They have the important role of helping you develop your financial strategy. And coach of your financial journey. Planning, saving, protecting your wealth and moving to payout mode in retirement is a process, not a one-time event.

“Clients are almost like family,” says Sun Life Financial advisor Brent McKay,5 of McKay Insurance & Financial Services Inc. in Simcoe, ON. “You get to know the intricacies of their lives — not just about their money.”

Read more:

For help building your financial plan, talk to an advisor near you.

1 Brian Burlacoff*, M.Acc., MBA, CFP®, CLU®, CHS, Burlacoff Financial Services Inc., Sun Life Financial advisor. 2 Jacqueline Meunier*, Edmonton Downtown Financial Centre, Sun Life Financial advisor. 3 Melanie Adams*, BA, PFP. Adams and Associates Financial Solutions Inc. , Sun Life Financial advisor. 4 Claude Montmarquette and Nathalie Viennot-Briot, “Advice creates strong value for Canadians,” The Investment Funds Institute of Canada (IFIC), 2016. 5 Brent McKay*, CFP®. McKay Insurance & Financial Services Inc. , Sun Life Financial advisor.

* Mutual funds offered by Sun Life Financial Investment Services (Canada) Inc. Sun Life Assurance Company of Canada is a member of the Sun Life Financial group of companies.

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