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  • A financial planner evaluates your personal finances and helps you develop a financial plan to meet both your immediate needs and your long-term goals. Some, but not all, planners have credentials from professional organizations.

    Some well-known credentials are Certified Financial Planner (CFP), Chartered Financial Consultant (ChFC), Certified Investment Management Analyst (CIMA), and Personal Financial Specialist (PFS).

    A PFS is a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) who has passed an exam on financial planning. Some planners are also licensed to sell certain investment or insurance products.

    Fee-only financial planners charge by the hour or collect a flat fee for a specific service, but don't sell products or earn sales commissions. Other planners don't charge a fee but earn commissions on the products they sell to you. Still others both charge fees and earn commissions but may offset their fees by the amount of commission they earn.

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