These online tools enhance your financial knowledge – and it’s free

In addition to helping clients manage their finances, some financial advisors aim to achieve higher goals. They educate consumers – people they will never meet – about personal finance.

These advisors have created free resources that enable individual investors to make wise financial decisions. Such resources can also enhance consultants’ marketing and brand identity – enabling them to reach a much wider audience than their client base. Some of these online tools have legions of fans.

Consider the year-end capital gains distributions planned by mutual funds. Many investors know that their funds distribute net capital gains realized in November or December, but they may still struggle to manage their tax bill if they keep the fund in a taxable account.

Mark Wilson, a certified financial planner in Irvine, California, has created a website [] in 2014 that tracks year-end fund distribution announcements. Consumers can check the distributions of the 15 largest mutual fund companies at no cost. (Separately, it offers Advisors a paid service that provides distribution data for about 250 mutual fund companies, and a top-tier option with more frequent and detailed updates on specific mutual funds.)

“It was an idea on my mind 10 years before I started,” Wilson said. Consultant since 1997, he maintained his practice full time while launching the site. The dividend season is limited to the last few months of the year, so it works extra time to track and compile data.

Wilson’s website helps consumers time their mutual fund purchases (to avoid buying a fund that plans to pay a huge payout that will lead to a hefty tax bill). Other consultants offer resources that meet broader needs and seek to raise the level of the public’s financial literacy.

Stacy Francis, a certified financial planner in New York City, entered the field in 2002 in part because she saw firsthand how women who lack financial education can suffer. “My grandmother stayed in an abusive marriage because she did not have the skills to deal effectively with money,” Francis said.

Francis set up a non-profit organization, Savvy Ladies, nearly 20 years ago. Its mission: to provide education and financial resources for women. Site [] It receives about 3000 visitors per month. In addition, the group offers a free helpline for women who have financial questions to speak with a financial expert.

“The helpline has expanded over time and we now have 119 volunteers providing advice to women,” said Jodi Herbst, group executive director. “We help over 150 women every month to connect with them [a financial expert] For a one-hour free consultation.

Through their side endeavors, some advisors are reaching more consumers. Josh Bannerman, a certified financial planner based in Dallas, launched a podcast in 2012 with a longtime colleague. He has scored 1,200 “Stacking Benjamins” episodes over the past decade on topics including retirement planning, home buying, and investing.

While podcasts are popular, Bannerman says the prevailing lack of financial literacy in the United States is a societal problem. “This is still not enough [listeners] Depending on how many people out there can become more financially literate,” he said. “As planners, we have an obligation to help as many people as possible.”

more: You might insist that the investment advisor has years of experience, but be open to mid-career newcomers with non-financial backgrounds.

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