Do you need a financial planner?

Working with a financial planner can help you identify and achieve your financial goals throughout the various stages of your life. 

You’ll likely find yourself wanting expert financial advice as you grow your wealth and face both the challenges and opportunities that go with it. Here are five common scenarios in which a financial planner can help you navigate your finances and guide you towards your desired financial outcomes.

It’s time to prioritize your 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. Your financial planner can help 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 can help you determine how much to keep for emergencies and unexpected life events.

You’re facing a career transition

Transitioning your career can 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. You may also have a different salary structure, receive variable bonuses, or be offered stock options or restricted stock units.

Your financial planner can analyze these variables and help 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.

You may also need a financial planner if you are 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. You can also benefit from expert tax and financial advice when it’s time to sell your business.

You experience a major life event

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 a loved one, there are almost always financial implications involved during major life changes.

A good financial planner has the training and experience to navigate the financial side of life’s biggest moments. They can also serve 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, such as a business interest or vacation property. Or, you may need to reevaluate beneficiaries and insurance policies when there are changes to your marital status or family structure. 

You’re ready to start estate planning

It’s important to have an estate plan in place to help ensure your intentions are met and your 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.

Your financial planner knows which life events can trigger the need for an update to your estate plan.  They can also loop-in your accountant with tax-related concerns. 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 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’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 protecting yourself from risk and working towards some of your most important goals in life.


Dowling & Yahnke is a fee‐only registered investment adviser. Since 1991, Dowling & Yahnke has provided time-tested, objective financial planning advice and investment management services designed for the financial health and personal freedom of its clients. Located in San Diego, California, the Firm manages approximately $5.7 billion for more than 1,300 clients, primarily individuals, families, and nonprofit organizations.

Our team consists of highly-educated, experienced, and ethical professionals devoted to the highest standards of client service. We design custom wealth management solutions delivered with the highest level of personalized service.


This information is for educational purposes and is not intended to provide, and should not be relied upon for, accounting, legal, tax, insurance, or investment advice. This does not constitute an offer to provide any services, nor a solicitation to purchase securities. The contents are not intended to be advice tailored to any particular person or situation. We believe the information provided is accurate and reliable, but do not warrant it as to completeness or accuracy. This information may include opinions or forecasts, including investment strategies and economic and market conditions; however, there is no guarantee that such opinions or forecasts will prove to be correct, and they also may change without notice. We encourage you to speak with a qualified professional regarding your scenario and the then-current applicable laws and rules.

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