6 key players for your financial team

The mind-money connection

They say success is a team sport. Here’s how to assemble a financial team that can help you set and reach your money goals.

Wouldn’t it feel great to know you had a top-notch crew of personal finance champions, each playing a unique role in helping you secure your financial well-being?

Having your own financial team isn’t a luxury reserved for wealthy or high-earning professionals. While some experts may not fit within your budget or suit your goals, it’s possible to find affordable professional support no matter your income or where you are in your financial journey.

The highlights:

  • It’s OK to seek help or financial advice. Solid financial guidance is something everyone deserves.
  • Take your time when it comes to building your financial team. You don’t have to find each of the key players right away.
  • When the relationship with a member of your team no longer serves you, you can walk away and search for a new member who’s a better fit.

You deserve a good financial team.

Maybe you’re hesitant to seek any financial expertise beyond your favorite influencer, much less build your own team. You might even have imposter syndrome, thinking you aren’t financially savvy enough to work with a financial professional (and you wouldn’t be alone: about 70% of adults experience imposter syndrome at least once in their lives).Disclosure 1

But Bright Dickson, senior purpose advisor for Truist, looks at it this way: “I used to teach yoga,” she says. “And people would say to me, ‘Oh, I can’t do yoga; I’m not flexible.’ Well, the way you get flexible is by doing yoga. So if someone’s coming to a beginner class, there’s no expectation that you’re flexible yet.”

It’s the same with seeking financial advice. Advisors who work with newbies expect you won’t be the most experienced with money when you first walk in. Their job is to help you become experienced and confident.

“These advisors deal with emotion,” Dickson says. “That’s a huge part of their job. It’s OK to go in and say, ‘I feel nervous.’”

You don’t have to build your pro financial team all at once. You can gather each expert as your various needs come up—from holistic financial planning to insurance coverage to investment strategies.

Depending on your financial situation, you might also decide that sometimes it’s not worth it to pay a professional—or that some specialized experts aren’t necessary for your goals. That’s OK, too. The list below includes some no- and low-cost options for building out your financial support team—along with tips on when you might want certain key players’ help and when you can go it alone.

Who should get a spot on your financial dream team?

1. An accountability partner: Your trusted confidant

Sometimes, the best place to start is with a trusted friend or family member. Think of someone whose money habits you admire, or whose goals align with yours, and see if they’re up for talking freely about money together. It can be a two-way relationship—you can both provide support, help keep each other accountable, and celebrate each other’s wins along the way. Just think how much easier it’ll be to resist those impulse buys when you know you’ll have to tell your accountability partner about them.

Plus, another perspective can provide you with valuable insight—and it makes the whole financial journey less daunting and more enjoyable. A good financial accountability partner can make budgeting and saving feel more like a team effort rather than a solo struggle. Another bonus is that friends and family members are unlikely to charge any fees for their support!

2. Financial tools and apps: Technology can be part of your team.

Here’s one member of your team that’s not human. Digital finance tools can be great for budgeting and expense tracking. Better yet, many finance apps and digital tools offer free versions—sometimes with additional functionalities that may come at a cost. Along with helping you maximize the impact of every dollar, a good finance app can also help you understand your financial situation, set and reach savings goals, and improve your credit score. Some can also give you a heads-up when bills are due or when you’re in danger of overdrawing on your account.

And for investing, you have the option of using automated investing, which is sometimes referred to as a “robo-advisor.” Automated investing uses sophisticated technology and algorithms to make informed investing decisions or recommendations based on your risk tolerance, time horizons, and goals. It can be a good way to start investing without the need for a wealth or investment advisor—and automated investing platforms often offer lower management fees than a human advisor.

As great as tools and apps can be, they aren’t a substitute for personalized financial advice in complex situations. Truist Invest, Disclosure 2 for example, combines the tech of automated investing with a real human advisor, so you get the best of both worlds.

3. A financial advisor: For your general financial needs

Have you recently asked yourself, “Where can I get financial advice?” It may be time to look into a financial advisor. An advisor can be your professional go-to for many of your finance needs. A good advisor helps you with a variety of things—from the basics like setting financial goals, budgeting, and tracking expenses, to the more complex, like buying a home, planning for your children’s education, preparing for retirement, and estate planning.

When you have a good advisor, you can reach out to them any time you feel like you want more substantial advice or when you cross a milestone, like getting a new job, getting married, going through a divorce, or having a child.

Financial advisors cover many different specialties, and there are different advisors for different income levels and goals. Look for a Certified Financial Planner (CFP) or Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA), and seek referrals from friends or family to make sure you feel a personal connection with your advisor. The best financial plans are built on trust and understanding. When seeking a financial advisor, look for one who’s a fiduciary (not all are). This means they’re required to act in your best interest.

It’s also important to ask them how they’re paid. Are they fee-only or fee-based? These terms may sound similar, but there are actually some important differences. Fee-only advisors typically charge an hourly or flat advisory fee, whereas fee-based advisors collect annual fees and may earn commission on products they sell. A typical hourly rate for a fee-only financial advisor can range from $120 to $300, while a flat fee for developing a comprehensive financial plan can range widely from $1,000 to $3,000 or more depending on your assets and the complexity of your financial situation.Disclosure 3, Disclosure 4

If you don’t have many investment assets and you need help with a specific part of your finances, like deciding how much to save for a down payment on a house or figuring out how much to put in your 401(k), hiring an hourly planner for targeted advice is likely your most cost-effective option. However, if you want ongoing support and hands-on help managing a more complex investment portfolio, then you may want to find an advisor who will charge an annual fee. Depending on the size of your portfolio and the level of service you’re paying for, a typical annual fee can range from 0.5% to 2% of the investment assets your advisor is managing on your behalf.Disclosure 4

4. A CPA or tax advisor: The pro who’ll help you through tax season

If your tax return is relatively straightforward—no self-employment income, no significant deductions or credits, no real estate investments—then the simplest and most cost-effective way to do your taxes may be on your own. Free or relatively low-cost tax preparation software and online tools can also offer alternatives to using a tax professional.

But no matter what your income level is, navigating your taxes can feel, well, taxing. Come tax time, it may pay to have a little help from a pro. An accountant or tax advisor can help you with tax planning, make the most of deductions, navigate tax laws, and ensure you’re not paying more than necessary—especially if you’re an entrepreneur or make extra money through side gigs, freelance work, or selling profitable investments.

In some cases, certain tax professionals may offer to take a percentage of your tax refund as their fee. Others offer hourly rates or flat fees that can vary depending on the size and complexity of your tax situation. Doing some research and interviewing a few tax professionals can help you make a decision that fits your budget and needs.

If you decide to use a tax professional, consider a Certified Public Accountant (CPA). And again, it’s good to get recommendations from people you trust to guide you to a pro who understands your unique financial situation. A good accountant doesn’t just crunch numbers—they help you strategize for a financially sound future.

5. An insurance agent: For protecting your property and livelihood

It’s always a good idea to insure what you value: your car, your home, your health, and your income. Life’s surprises are bound to happen to all of us, but a good insurance agent can help you stay financially protected when they do. Renters or homeowners insurance, auto insurance, and life and disability coverage are great places to start.

If your insurance needs are relatively simple and you enjoy researching options on your own, you may be able to buy coverage directly online. But a good insurance agent can also help guide you through the maze of policies, helping you choose the insurance coverage that suits your needs—without paying for more than what you need. And once you’re confident you’re properly insured—but not over-insured—it can provide some peace of mind for you and your loved ones.

Many insurance agents are paid by commission, earning a percentage of the premium for each policy they sell. That means you often won’t pay any direct fees for an agent’s services, but the cost is built into the policy you purchase. Others work on a fee-based model. Consider obtaining quotes directly from insurers and from agents to compare costs and coverage. You can also search for online reviews or ask friends and family to recommend an agent you can trust.

6. An attorney: To guide you through the complex and unpredictable

Many of us will rarely, if ever, need an attorney to help us manage our money. That makes an attorney the most situational player on this list. Depending on the legal services you need, a lawyer is also likely the most expensive. But in those situations where you do need an attorney, they can make a critical difference in safeguarding your finances.

If you own a business or a significant number of assets, an attorney can provide potentially crucial guidance on everything from business contracts to wealth protection. When you’re in the midst of complicated property transactions or estate planning, having an attorney on your team is like having a seasoned navigator on a complex journey. Hopefully you’ll never face a divorce, lawsuit, or bankruptcy, but an attorney also can be a stabilizing force during times of financial crisis.

Financial landscapes can sometimes become tricky, and an attorney can help you find your way through. They can also help keep your financial plan sound—and compliant with ever-changing laws and rules. Your attorney adds a layer of legal insight that safeguards your financial interests and helps you steer clear of entanglements.

Your team, your way.

Dickson says it’s good to remember that your financial team members aren’t set in stone—you can modify or end these relationships if they no longer serve you. Choose professionals with the right credentials, seek referrals, and make sure you feel comfortable with them. As Dickson points out, “Just the ability to talk freely about money and not obfuscate or hide things—if you can find five or six people in your life that you feel really free with, that’s pretty amazing. I think that can be a great goal and accomplishment.”

Your financial dream team is not just an investment in your well-being—it’s an investment in your peace of mind and a foundation for a brighter financial future.

Next step suggestions:

  • Write a list of the financial help you’d like to have now, such as assistance with budgeting or clarity on insurance coverage. This will help you prioritize who to add to your team first.
  • Start talking to financially confident friends and family. Who do they see at tax time? Do they have a financial advisor they’d recommend? 
  • Consider building your financial dream team one piece at a time, whether the next member of that team is a friend, a Certified Financial Planner, an automated investing platform, a good insurance agent, or simply an intuitive app.

This content does not constitute legal, tax, accounting, financial, investment, or mental health advice. You are encouraged to consult with competent legal, tax, accounting, financial, investment, or mental health professionals based on your specific circumstances. We do not make any warranties as to accuracy or completeness of this information, do not endorse any third-party companies, products, or services described here, and take no liability for your use of this information.