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Plan Your Prosperity: The Only Retirement Guide You'll Ever Need, Starting Now--Whether You're 22, 52 or 82 by Lara Hoffmans, Ken Fisher Brown

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Definitions and a Pencil

There are other aspects of financial/retirement planning this book won’t address. If you’re confused about what those aspects are, the official definition of financial planning is:

There isn’t one.

Financial planning can be a catchall for a wide array of financial services. To call yourself a “financial planner” may not require any testing or certification—depending on what you do or sell. (Though, under the Dodd-Frank financial reform law, there are some rules that may or may not more strictly define “financial planning.” But like much of Dodd-Frank, the rules remain unwritten thus far.)

Yes, there is certification for financial planners who choose it—like the “certified financial planner” (CFP). And there are professional financial-planning organizations. And if you want to be a financial planner and sell mutual funds or insurance, you must adhere to certification and testing standards for those specific product categories.

In fact, there’s no official definition for what a financial plan is. A financial plan may include things like a budget or maybe some long-range projections based on a variety of assumptions. Or a financial plan might address insurance and estate planning needs. Or there could be some investment advice included. Or not! Or a planner might also be an accountant (whether certified or not) and do taxes. Or . . . or . . . or. . ..

The financial plan is, often, a way for practitioners to get a foot in the door and sell something (or somethings) ...

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