I recently completed the process for becoming a NAPFA Registered Financial Advisor and now join the other advisors here at Woodward Financial Advisors (WFA) who have already earned this noteworthy designation. NAPFA is the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors, a group of about 2,400 highly trained professionals throughout the country who believe in advancing the financial planning profession by providing independent, objective, client focused financial advice without the influence of commissions or referral fees. Consistent with their high standards, NAPFA believes advisors should provide financial planning that is comprehensive, competent, and client centered.
Financial planning should be comprehensive because investments, estate planning, taxes and insurance all need to fit together. For example, a change made in an investment portfolio might have income tax and estate planning ramifications. A retirement projection may look great on paper, but many people will need some form of insurance (life, disability, medical, long-term care, etc.) to protect against catastrophic events that might otherwise derail their plan. At WFA we stay attuned to our client’s goals and help them understand the tradeoffs so they can make confident financial decisions.
While not a tenant of NAPFA’s, WFA believes that financial planning should also be collaborative. Estate or tax planning done in a silo may not result in the best end result. For that reason, we regularly coordinate with our clients’ estate planning attorneys to make sure that any specific account titling or beneficiary designations are properly executed. We also communicate with our clients’ tax professionals for more precise projections and guidance for things like Roth IRA conversions and charitable gifting strategies.
Financial planning should be competent because clients need to know that their advisors have the necessary knowledge and experience to help them manage their financial affairs. Advisors should consult with or refer clients to outside professionals when clients have a need that is beyond the scope of an advisors expertise.
NAPFA requires its advisors to obtain the Certified Financial PlannerTM (CFP®) designation – the standard of excellence in the financial planning industry. NAPFA also has extensive continuing education requirements to help ensure that advisors continue to develop their financial planning competence to better serve clients.
Our firm believes in staying up to date with what is happening in our profession, staying intellectually curious about new innovations and constantly challenging assumptions.
Lastly, financial planning should be client centered, not product centered, because clients need to know that their advisor’s compensation will not interfere in any way with the advice they receive. At Woodward Financial Advisors, our only source of revenue is the fees our clients pay for our planning and investment management services. We aren’t paid any more or less if we recommend that our clients buy a certain type of investment, or insurance product or use a certain attorney or CPA.
Clients need to know that conversations will focus on their priorities and concerns. At some point, a discussion of specific products may happen. But it is not in the client’s best interest to short-circuit the process of reviewing goals and analyzing needs.
We adhere to and support NAPFA’s membership requirements, which reinforce the key tenets that clients should be provided high quality, unbiased, and comprehensive financial planning advice.