I imagine some readers want to know whether they can afford to buy a home or if they’re better off renting. Others may wonder if they’re on track for retirement or if they’re in a position to help their kids with university. And, then there are the tough situations we tend to put off thinking about until it’s too late.

"A recent nationwide investor survey found that 75 percent of Ontarians believe they receive good or great value from their financial advisor. That figure was slightly higher in Québec with 86 percent agreeing the value for advice received was good or great; 82 percent in Atlantic Canada; and, 74 percent in Western Canada."

What-ifs

For example, what would you do if something happened to you or your spouse? What if you unexpectedly lost your source of income? Or, would you be able to care for a loved one should they fall ill? Many understand the devastating impact a serious illness could have on their finances, but only 6 in 10 have heard of critical illness insurance. Even more worrisome is about half of Canadians believe that a critical illness is terminal or life threatening, but this is not necessarily the case. With an advisor you would have a conversation about what it means to be critically ill and the type of coverage you would need. No one wants to think about the what-ifs of life, however working with a professional financial advisor and having a financial plan in place helps provide you with the financial security and peace of mind you need in today’s environment. In January, the Canadian dollar reached a 13-year low. On top of that, unemployment rates have increased and housing prices have soared in major cities across the country.

Value of advice

As the President and CEO of Advocis, a professional association for financial advisors and planners, I believe in the value of financial advice. But, don’t just take my word for it. A recent nationwide investor survey found that 75 percent of Ontarians believe they receive good or great value from their financial advisor. That figure was slightly higher in Québec with 86 percent agreeing the value for advice received was good or great; 82 percent in Atlantic Canada; and, 74 percent in Western Canada.

Try thinking about it this way: for a lot of people, myself included, it’s easier to stick to a fitness routine when you have a personal trainer holding you accountable rather than trying to do it on your own. Similarly, those with an advisor accumulate twice as much wealth than those without. They’re also better protected and better prepared for retirement and unexpected events.

When interviewing an advisor, and I suggest that you speak to at least two or three before you make a decision, ask about their areas of specialization and if they have any specialized education or designations related to their practice. Ask, “how will I pay you?” and “how do you keep your knowledge up to date?” Currently, in Canada, almost anyone can call themselves a financial advisor, which is why it’s important to have these conversations.

While the financial services industry works to raise advisor standards, the value of professional financial advice cannot be underestimated. The client-advisor relationship is one built on trust — trust in your advisor and in the plan that will guide you through your life stages and toward your life goals.