Financial help can lead to happiness. How to find the right professional for you (2024)

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Looking to be happier with your life and finances in 2022?

The answer may be finding professional help.

People who worked with a financial advisor were found to be nearly three times happier than those who didn't, according to a study by Herbers & Company. Predictors of happiness such as feeling fulfilled, intentional, impactful and grateful were boosted in 66% of those who worked with a financial advisor, the study found.

In addition, those who sought professional help managing their money were happier in their relationships and communication, according to the study.

Those who want to get help with money management in the new year have many options when it comes to personal finance experts, including financial advisors, including coaches, therapists and more.

Some of these names for individual financial professions signal different types of education and regulatory oversight, while others may just be branding. This makes it important for consumers to know the difference.

"The demand and the number of people that are providing personal financial advice has just skyrocketed, as has the number of designations and certifications that exist out there," said Martin Seay, a certified financial planner and department head and associate professor of personal financial planning at Kansas State University

Here's what you need to know.

Names and titles

There are a few professional financial organizations offering certifications that hold individuals to a high level of training, testing, ongoing education and ethics.

CFP: One of the most well-known is certified financial planner, offered by the CFP Board. It's considered a gold standard, as it includes rigorous education and testing about many areas of financial planning such as retirement, investing, taxes, insurance and education. CFPs are fiduciaries, meaning they must act in their clients' best interest.

Working with a CFP is best for individuals with a solid financial foundation who are looking to build wealth, need life insurance or other products or are seeking investment advice. Many CFPs are also registered investment advisors, who can advise on investments and manage client assets.

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"You wouldn't be able to give any investment advice if they don't have that [RIA] designation," said Ashley Dixon, CFP and lead planner at Gen Y Planning, an Austin, Texas-based firm that works mainly with millennials, offering financial advice and managing some client assets.

AFC/ FFC: A certification that's growing in popularity is the accredited financial counselor, offered by the Association for Financial Counseling and Planning Education. Some AFCs are also financial fitness coaches, a certification that provides additional coaching skill-building. The AFC program includes personal finance education, testing, ongoing education and ethics requirements.

An AFC can help with budgeting, paying off debt, managing lines of credit or preparing for a financial goal like buying a house, making it a great fit for beginners.

"An AFC is kind of like a coach – we are going to meet you where you are right now," said Cait Howerton, an AFC, CFP and lead planner at Facet Wealth, a registered investment advisor in Baltimore.

Working with an AFC was a huge help for Madi Ciampi, 27, and her fiancé Andrew Papineau, 27, of Providence, Rhode Island. This year, they took a hard look at their finances and realized that they had some savings but weren't sure how to make their goals a reality.

Andrew Papineau, 27, and Madi Ciampi, 27 bought their first house this year in Providence, Rhode Island, with the help of an accredited financial counselor.

In addition, Ciampi grew up around a lot of bad financial habits, she said, and neither received any personal finance education in school.

Through her job at a nonprofit, Ciampi met Susan Greenhalgh, an accredited financial counselor who runs Mind Your Money in Rhode Island.

Greenhalgh helped the couple lay out structured, clear, easy-to-manage goals, and filled in knowledge gaps they had, according to Ciampi. By working together, the couple was able to buy a house in November, three months ahead of schedule.

"There's no way we would have bought a house without someone walking us through the process," Ciampi said, adding that Greenhalgh was a rock star in helping the couple understand where they were coming from financially, how that impacted their goals and how to think long-term.

An AFC is kind of like a coach – we are going to meet you where you are right now.

Cait Howerton

AFC, CFP and lead planner at Facet Wealth

CFT: A certified financial therapist, or CFT, is trained by the Financial Therapy Association. Financial therapy weds mental health with personal finance, making it best for people that have behavioral or emotional hurdles that are impacting the way they use or manage money.

"It's not so much about technical advice as helping people get healthy with how they're thinking about money," said Seay.

Finding the right fit for your needs

To be sure, there are some people who will give personal finance advice or call themselves a planner or coach without having any training. Regardless of what title someone uses, it's important to ask about and look up their education, background and any registrations or certifications they hold.

"We do encourage consumers to look for someone who is committed enough to the profession that they get a designation," said Alan Moore, CFP and co-founder of the XY Planning Networklocated in Bozeman, Montana.

There are also limitations associated with different certifications; for example, a CFT, AFC or FFC can't give investment advice unless they're also a registered investment advisor.

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"If you're not an RIA, there is no oversight or regulation into what you're doing, and that creates potential challenges for consumers," said Moore, adding that consumers can use the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority's Broker Check to find this information.

If you're ready to start talking about investments or need help making decisions about different retirement accounts, a registered CFP may be a better fit, said Adriane Ross of Clear Insight Financial Planning in Spokane, Washington.

Ross pursued her CFP after having an AFC to get more technical education and to be able to work with clients in more areas of personal finance, she said.

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Financial help can lead to happiness. How to find the right professional for you (2024)


What is a professional to help you make financial decisions? ›

A financial advisor is often responsible for more than just executing trades in the market on behalf of their clients. Advisors use their knowledge and expertise to construct personalized financial plans that aim to achieve the financial goals of clients.

What type of professional can help you reach your financial goals? ›

A financial planner works with clients to help them manage their money and reach their long-term financial goals. They advise and assist clients on a variety of matters, from investing and saving for retirement to funding a college education or a new business while preserving wealth.

What are the three parts of financial happiness? ›

Here are the three truths you should know to achieve financial satisfaction:
  • It's not about the debt, it's about money management. ...
  • It's not about earning more, it's about personal fulfillment. ...
  • It's not about your net worth, it's about security.
Oct 18, 2022

Does being financially stable make you happy? ›

When you know that you have enough money to cover your expenses, it can free up your mental energy to focus on other things, such as your relationships, your health, and your career. Financial security can give you a sense of peace of mind and allow you to enjoy life more fully.

Why are financial professionals important? ›

A financial advisor provides guidance on how to manage one's finances, from current budgeting to future tax savings, such as the purchase of real estate, taking loans and investing in retirement plans.

What is professional financial advice? ›

A financial advisor is a professional who provides expertise for clients' decisions around money matters, personal finances, and investments. Financial advisors may work as independent agents or they may be employed by a larger financial firm.

Who is the most trustworthy financial advisor? ›

The Bankrate promise
  • Top financial advisor firms.
  • Vanguard.
  • Charles Schwab.
  • Fidelity Investments.
  • Facet.
  • J.P. Morgan Private Client Advisor.
  • Edward Jones.
  • Alternative option: Robo-advisors.

Should I get a financial advisor if I'm poor? ›

It's smart to use a financial adviser when you need or want professional financial advice. If you happen to have a high net worth and you're comfortable managing it yourself, there may be no need. Even if you don't have a high net worth, if you have a complex situation to deal with, you may want to consult someone.

Are financial advisors worth it? ›

A financial advisor is worth paying for if they provide help you need, whether because you don't have the time or financial acumen or you simply don't want to deal with your finances. An advisor may be especially valuable if you have complicated finances that would benefit from professional help.

How does money bring happiness? ›

Money contributes to happiness when it helps us make basic needs but the research tells us that above a certain level more money doesn't actually yield more happiness. Not only did earning more money make participants happier, but it also protected them from things which might make them unhappier.

What are the three keys to finding true happiness? ›

3 Keys to Happiness in Daily Life
  • Be grateful for the good & the bad. Research shows, grateful people are happy people. ...
  • Flex your creativity muscles. Do you have a passion or hobby? ...
  • Get connected, Stay connected. Being apart of something larger than yourself can help bring perspective as well as a sense of belonging.

At what age do people feel financially stable? ›

Attaining financial security can be a daunting task, but it isn't unachievable. It requires a great deal of discipline, setting goals, and making sure you stick to them. If you start early enough—say, in your 20s—and follow the steps listed above, you may become financially secure by the time you reach your 30s.

At what age should you be financially stable? ›

At what age should you be financially stable? Financial stability is more about maintaining control over your finances rather than hitting numbers at a specific age. However, aiming to attain stability by your late 20s to early 30s can be beneficial, allowing time for savings, debt reduction and investments.

What is the income limit for happiness? ›

The authors' theory is that above $75,000 of income, happiness is driven by things like the quality of one's relationships, health, and leisure time, and money isn't a factor. In contrast to happiness, Kahneman and Deaton found that life satisfaction increased steadily with income with no plateau.

Who is the person who is responsible for financial decisions? ›

The term chief financial officer (CFO) refers to a senior executive responsible for managing the financial actions of a company. The CFO's duties include tracking cash flow and financial planning as well as analyzing the company's financial strengths and weaknesses and proposing corrective actions.

Who will assist in making financial decisions? ›

Financial managers use financial statements and other information prepared by accountants to make financial decisions. Financial managers focus on cash flows, the inflows and outflows of cash. They plan and monitor the firm's cash flows to ensure that cash is available when needed.

What is it called when you make financial decisions for someone? ›

It is one type of power of attorney (POA), which, in general, is a document authorizing someone to make decisions on behalf of another person. A financial power of attorney allows for an authorized individual to oversee your finances if needed.

What is a professional consultant who provides financial advice? ›

A personal financial advisor is a professional who provides financial advice and services to clients according to their specific needs.


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