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julieone, you asked:

<< We have used a financial planner and I'm wondering if we need to move on. Here are my issues:

1. There is no "formal" plan that I know of except to try and realize 12% per year on investments. Nothing was ever written up, no documents showing what we hope to achieve, goals, etc.
2. We began working with this person on a VERY limited basis about 4 years ago. 2 years ago we used her A LOT (invested over $60,000). However, since then there has been no formal review with us, no discussions, no suggestions for changes, etc. Just status quo.
3. I like this person, I can call her at any time and she answers the questions I have. However, I'm concerned that I don't know what questions to ask.
4. She uses others in areas that are not her expertise (i.e. insurance) and she recommends things outside of her own company that pay higher rates (a plus).
5. Lately, I've been calling her company and moving stuff, selling stuff, and buying stuff myself with no involvement from her. I'm careful not to incur any commissions (i.e. moving within same family, buying no-loads) but I'm doing all the work, making all decisions with no input from her.
6. This is a commission based planner.

Are we missing out? Is this person not doing enough and should we expect more? Should I just move my stuff to discount brokerage even though I don't feel fully confident about all that's involved? I still need advice here and there and like having a sounding board. Any thoughts would be appreciated.

Since no one has addressed your question yet, I'll through my two cents worth in.

It sounds like you started with this “financial planner” with NO formal agreement and no specific objectives to start with. So I don't see where you should really have any expectations other than what you've been getting. You have NOTHING to measure the results by. This person may be a Financial Planner, but you're really not getting any “financial planning” services. Instead you're seem to be getting just some help with investing and you're paying for the help with investing through any commissions that planner receives (this is neither good nor bad depending on just what the original agreed upon arrangements were).

Since you still feel you “need advise here and there and like having a sounding board”, then this “financial planner” seems to be dong just your YOU expect. If you want more, they you first have to decide exactly what you want from this “financial planner” and ask the planner if these things can be provided.

If the answer is NO, he/she does not do that kind of stuff, then find a good experienced planner who can and will do those things you want. If the answer is YES, then ask you planner to provide a contact that outlines the specific services that will be provided you (those that you've decided you want). Also, make sure that in that contract the charges and total costs to you are stated in that contract. When you have such a contract, then you should be able to measure very specifically whether or not your goals and objectives are being meant as laid out in the contract. With such a contact, you can better determine if your justified in being happy or not with your “financial planner”.

How the planner is paid (e.g. Fee Only or Commission Only) shouldn't be much of an issue if you're getting proposals for services as I've suggested, to see just what it really going to cost you in the end. The issue should be . . . are you getting what you paid for. You can only know that if you have it written down in a formal contract. A true Financial Planner is prepared to do this no matter how they're paid.

I hope this helps a little.
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