The benefits of business planning are tried and true: Leaders establish a vision for their organization’s future and develop strategies that will take them where they want to go. Specifically, they rely upon their business acumen and judgement to prioritize the actions and expenditures that must be made toward this end. The business planner’s big picture view ensures that all of the elements necessary for success are considered and incorporated into the plan.

Thus, to a great extent, the future of an organization is in the hands of those who chart its course. The same can be said of those who chart the course for clients in developing and deploying personal financial plans.

Similar to business planning, a financial planner’s role is to help create a vision and execute strategies to see that vision fulfilled. Financial planners assess the current situation from a holistic scope and then develop strategies that will maximize the opportunities available to help realize the client’s goals.

Financial planners create and prioritize tactical plans that work in harmony toward common objectives. And, just as in business planning, financial planners monitor to ensure the long-term vision hasn’t changed; that the environment hasn’t changed; and to make adjustments to the plan where necessary. As with business leaders, financial planning professionals are also there through the inevitable rough patches to ease concern and instill confidence in the plan.

To a great extent, the future of Canadians’ well being rests in the hands of the financial planner they choose to work with. The choice of whom to engage in the planning process matters; whether it be in business or personally. Professionals recognize and uphold the weight of this responsibility and arm themselves with the knowledge, skills and abilities required for this lofty duty.

There’s much evidence to support the notion that financial planning, and the individual chosen to guide the process, has significant impact on the current and future health of Canada’s social safety net. Governments, regulators and professional bodies have a vested interest in ensuring that those who claim to offer financial planning are qualified to do so. That assurance comes by way of standards that are set to protect the public interest, and by certification and enforcement against those standards by an appropriate professional body.

There have been, and will continue to be, many discussions about “best interest” duties for financial advisors in Canada and throughout the world. However, in order to know what is actually in the best interest of the client, an advisor must be qualified — i.e. have the requisite knowledge, skills and professional judgement — to do so.

In business, we must be confident that those who are most influential to an organization’s success have the skills required to assess what’s in the best interest of the organization. In the same manner, we must ensure that those who are most influential to our citizens’ financial success have the skills required to assess what’s in the best interest of those particular individuals. One can’t be realized without the other, regardless of what rules are imposed or the best intentions of governing bodies.

Planning a company’s futures and making appropriate judgements to ensure growth, stability and the best interest of the organization’s current and impending health are not actions we would delegate to those without proven and appropriate competence. So, why would personal financial planning be any different?