Financial planners differ from advisers as the latter are there to recommend specific products for their clients - something our readers may not feel they need much help with.
Planners, meanwhile, can look at the 'big picture' of your finances, help with a plethora of tax issues and help to create a long-term investment plan, as well as choosing the right holdings for you if appropriate.
With Financial Planning Week, run in conjunction with the Chartered Institute for Securities & Investment, in full swing, we thought we would look two key circumstances in which using a professional planner can help.
Investing a windfall
Many people will come into a chunk of money through an inheritance on the death of a relative.
But with this extra wealth come issues surrounding inheritance tax as well as the dilemma of how to allocate the money in the most tax-efficient way.
Standard Life cites the experience of client Carol Sutton, who wanted to invest the proceeds of a property left to her by her parents in order to pass on to her children and grandchildren.
Sutton says of her financial planner: “She didn't allow me to go rushing in, but she kept things moving along and guided me, and she also gave me the time to mull things over and make sure I was happy with it all.
“She gave me questionnaires and we worked out that I am the kind of person who's happy with a medium level of risk - and that sounds about right to me.”
As well as making a plan for investing the money, Sutton's situation also required tax planning issues she had not before considered. Her planner, Sam, explains: “Carol originally came to me for help with an inheritance income, but after several conversations we discovered that she had a need for a will, power of attorney and a trust to give her extra peace of mind.”
The planner contacted Standard Life's private client business for some specialist tax expertise and was able to provide a plan to maximise the value of Sutton's estate that will be passed on to her family.
Enabling an early retirement
For those approaching retirement it is even more important to have a clear idea of their finances in order to ensure a comfortable retirement - even if that is earlier than initially anticipated.
David Wingar, certified financial planner at Future Asset Management, gives the example of a couple aged 55 and 56 who wished to review their financial situation with a view to retiring early if possible.
An initial consultation led to Wingar putting into place 'a suitable and tactical retirement plan' that would allow the 55-year-old husband to retire at the age of 60.
However, Wingar explains: “A second full review was held after six months [and] at this point my client wanted to seriously consider if retirement was feasible earlier than intended.
“We updated our cash flow model which showed that he could stop working and retire today, based on the current income and access to capital requirements, which came as a bit of a surprise to the clients.
“Consequently, after further financial planning, my client resigned from his full-time work and worked three months' notice up to December 2015. We continue to review their situation at least annually to ensure ongoing suitability of their financial plan.”
Standard Life's 1825 Financial Planning and Advice service and Future Asset Management are one of 31 companies up and down the country offering free financial planning sessions this week (from 6 to 10 June). To find a full list, click here.
This article was originally written for our sister magazine, Money Observer.