Financial planning: Not just for uber-rich

What happens when your profile doesn’t match society’s views about success? Just ask Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson, whose father encouraged him to challenge football norms and contemplate the notion: Why not you?

By taking this question to heart, Wilson and the Seahawks now reign as Super Bowl XLVIII champions.

The same wisdom applies for individuals who believe that financial planning is only for the wealthy. Everyone should have confidence in their finances and a financial plan that can help them live a comfortable life. So I ask: Why not you?

Jose Luis Pelaez | Iconica | Getty Images

Jose Luis Pelaez | Iconica | Getty Images

Determine your goals
It is true that people are dealt different financial hands. However, sound financial planning is not just for high-net-worth individuals. The key is to make the most of your income, assets and other available resources.

(Read more: Education is key for today’s investors)

Getting good financial tips from family and friends and from reading books and watching TV can assist in moving your financial agenda forward. However, the winning ticket for realizing a greater degree of success may come from working with a financial planner who can keep you focused on your financial goals.

Start by identifying where you are on your financial journey.

Ask yourself some key questions: Do you want a second opinion on how you have managed your investments? Do you have questions about how to fund both a child’s college education and your own retirement? Are you recently married or divorced and looking for ways to manage your new household income? Are you wondering how to get out from under student debt?

(Read more: Saving smart in your 20s)

These questions reflect only a few of the common financial-planning situations in which your decisions and actions will play a huge role in shaping your life outcome.

“When seeking a financial planner, it’s very important to take a proactive approach.”

Find a good fit
Financial-planning advice ranges from one-time sessions to a more robust client/planner relationship, depending on your financial-planning needs. When seeking a financial planner, it’s very important to take a proactive approach.

The client/financial planner relationship needs to be a mutual one. Request an initial consultation so that you can ask questions to determine if a prospective planner is a good fit. Make sure to ask whether this introductory conversation is free or if a nominal charge applies. Many planners will request that you complete a questionnaire to help them better understand your financial situation and goals.

Here are a few important questions to keep in mind:

  • What is your work experience (i.e., years in the industry, specialties and client profiles)?
  • What are your qualifications (i.e., education, certifications and licenses)?
  • Do you offer advice on all areas of financial planning (i.e., not just investments and insurance)?
  • How do you charge (i.e., hourly fee, flat fee, retainer, assets under management, commissions)?
  • Do you have an asset minimum or minimum fee?

(Read more: Retirement plans for stay-at-home spouses)

Many financial planners are affiliated with organizations that help individuals to understand the financial-planning process and to identify qualified financial planners who follow the organization’s code of ethics.

Such organizations include, but are not limited to, the Financial Planning Association, the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors and the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards.

While researching financial planners, you should also visit regulatory websites, such as the Security Exchange Commission, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority and state agencies.

These agencies provide information about disciplinary issues or complaints regarding a financial planner or a financial advisor. You can also check to see if the planner’s answers to your questions match their filings with the applicable regulatory agency.

(Read more: In your 30s, slow and steady wins the race)

Victory with regard to meeting your financial goals can be achieved with the right information and with the right team. Find a financial planner who appreciates your financial profile and shares your vision of success.

After all, why not you?

—By Lazetta Rainey Braxton, Special to

Lazetta Rainey Braxton, a certified financial planner, is the founder and CEO of Financial Fountains. An advocate for financial planning and literacy, Braxton serves as president of the Association of African American Financial Advisors.

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