Why every young worker needs a financial planner

Golden egg and money in a nest

I'm going to suggest something to my fellow 30-somethings (and even 20-somethings) that might make you cringe.

Get a financial planner. Now.

You don't need to have a lot of money to seek help. You might even be deep in debt. But having a financial planner is as important as having a family doctor.

There are two very good reasons why this is a must.

Reason 1. A small investment can yield big returns.

Planners who charge a fee and aren't on commission get paid in one of two ways: an hourly rate (usually between $150 and $300 per hour) or a percentage of assets under their management (typically about 1% annually).

This might sound like a lot of money, especially if you don't have a lot of cash set aside. But here's how a planner can save you big down the line:

Choosing a Planner

Questions to ask What to look for
How do you make your money? You want a fee-only planner, someone who charges per hour or takes a percentage of invested assets.
Are you a Certified Financial Planner? This certification means the planner has passed rigorous exams about all sectors of financial planning, including retirement, asset, tax and estate planning. To keep up certification, he or she must also meet continuing education requirements. You can check up on their status here: http://www.cfp.net/learn/disciplineactions.asp. A CFP isn't a must. Ask friends and family for recommendations.
What is your history? How did your planner act during the financial crisis? Knowing how someone reacts to a volatile situation can provide clues on what they'll do the next time around (because there's always a next time around).
Are you a fiduciary? A fiduciary has pledged to act entirely in your favor. Planners who aren't fiduciaries have no obligation to do the best for you. So if he or she is not one, find someone else.
How much money do you typically handle? Some planners only want clients with over $250,000 in assets. Others hope to grow with their clients. Ask what he or she will do for someone who is on the same track as you; ask to speak with other clients with financial situations similar to your own.
Are you a criminal? OK, that might not be the best way to ask, but ask if he or she has ever been convicted of a crime or been investigated by a regulatory body.