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Having a hard time determining if you need a tax advisor vs a financial planner? You aren’t alone.

Managing personal finances and taxes is a crucial aspect of achieving financial well-being. However, navigating the complex world of tax laws and financial planning can be overwhelming for many individuals. This dilemma often leads to the question: “Do I need a tax advisor or a financial planner?”

Let’s explore the key differences between these professionals and shed light on their roles, responsibilities, and qualifications. By understanding the unique expertise each brings to the table, you can make an informed decision about whether to seek the assistance of a tax advisor, a financial planner, or perhaps even both.

Is a Tax Advisor the Same as a Financial Advisor?

No, a tax advisor is not the same as a financial advisor. While both professionals play a crucial role in helping individuals manage their finances, their areas of expertise and the services they provide differ significantly. A financial advisor offers guidance on various aspects of financial planning, including:

  • investment strategies
  • retirement planning
  • wealth management
  • tax strategy

They take a holistic view of an individual’s financial situation to provide comprehensive solutions.

On the other hand, a tax advisor, often referred to as a CPA or an accountant, specializes in tax laws and regulations. Their primary focus is on:

  • preparing and filing tax returns
  • ensuring tax compliance 
  • providing advice on tax-related matters

It’s important to note that just because someone does taxes doesn’t necessarily mean they have a deep understanding of tax strategies for investing. Each profession requires specialized knowledge and skills, addressing distinct but interconnected aspects of an individual’s financial well-being.

When deciding on a financial planner vs. a tax advisor, it helps to consider the specific guidance each can provide, and your specific financial goals. The goal of tax planning is to reduce your tax bill. The goal of financial planning is to put you in a better position overall, by looking at the future and planning strategies to accomplish your goals.

Sometimes these goals may conflict with each other. For example, it may be better for your long-term financial picture to contribute to a ROTH IRA. But that wouldn’t necessarily be the advice that a tax planner would give you, because it doesn’t reduce your taxes in the short term.

Qualifications and Certifications: Choosing Professionals

When seeking professional assistance for managing your finances, it is crucial to ensure you are working with competent professionals. Qualifications and certifications serve as essential indicators of experience and proficiency in the respective fields of tax advising and financial planning.

In the realm of tax advising, a widely recognized certification is that of a Certified Public Accountant (CPA). CPAs have undergone rigorous testing and hold a deep understanding of tax laws and regulations. 

Financial planners often pursue a Certified Financial Planner™ certification, which signifies their competence in comprehensive financial planning. These certifications provide a level of assurance that the professionals have met stringent standards and possess the necessary knowledge to guide clients effectively.

When selecting a tax advisor or financial planner, consider their:

  • qualifications
  • certifications 
  • track record of experience
  • customer reviews

These factors will help you identify competent professionals who can provide reliable guidance tailored to your specific financial needs and goals.

A tax advisor prepares a return

Common Misconceptions about Tax Advisors vs. Financial Planners

There are several common misconceptions about the roles of tax advisors and financial planners that can lead to confusion when seeking professional guidance. One prevalent misconception, as we mentioned above, is the limited scope of work provided by tax advisors. While tax advisors excel in tax planning and preparation, their expertise often centers around minimizing tax liabilities for the current year. However, their knowledge may not extend to the broader aspects of financial planning, such as investment strategies, retirement planning, or wealth management.

Another misconception is assuming that financial advisors only focus on tax-related matters. While financial advisors may provide suggestions on how to reduce taxes as part of their comprehensive financial planning services, their role goes beyond tax optimization. They take a holistic view of an individual’s financial situation, considering various factors such as:

  • income
  • expenses
  • assets
  • liabilities
  • long-term financial goals

Financial advisors specialize in creating personalized financial plans and strategies that encompass multiple facets of financial well-being.

Understanding these differences is essential for making better financial decisions. Recognizing that tax advisors may have a narrower scope can help individuals seek comprehensive financial planning services from financial advisors when needed. By partnering with skilled financial planners, individuals can benefit from a broader range of services that align with their long-term financial objectives, providing a more holistic and integrated approach to managing their finances.

So Do I Need a Financial Planner or a Tax Advisor?

Simply put, in many cases an individual would benefit from both a financial planner and a tax advisor. 

If you are not one hundred percent sure that you are on the right track to reaching your financial goals, or questioning if your tax burden is as low as possible, you would benefit from a financial planner. In particular, this approach may benefit:

Often, we have found it preferable to start with a financial advisor to create a plan and roadmap. The financial planner can help you get in touch with the right people if it becomes necessary to include other professionals.

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Important Disclosure Information

Please remember that past performance may not be indicative of future results.  Different types of investments involve varying degrees of risk, and there can be no assurance that the future performance of any specific investment, investment strategy, or product (including the investments and/or investment strategies recommended or undertaken by Dechtman Wealth Management, LLC [“DWM”]), or any non-investment related content, made reference to directly or indirectly in this blog will be profitable, equal any corresponding indicated historical performance level(s), be suitable for your portfolio or individual situation, or prove successful.  Due to various factors, including changing market conditions and/or applicable laws, the content may no longer be reflective of current opinions or positions.  Moreover, you should not assume that any discussion or information contained in this blog serves as the receipt of, or as a substitute for, personalized investment advice from DWM. To the extent that a reader has any questions regarding the applicability of any specific issue discussed above to his/her individual situation, he/she is encouraged to consult with the professional advisor of his/her choosing. DWM is neither a law firm nor a certified public accounting firm and no portion of the blog content should be construed as legal or accounting advice. A copy of the DWM’s current written disclosure Brochure discussing our advisory services and fees is available for review upon request or at

Please Note: DWM does not make any representations or warranties as to the accuracy, timeliness, suitability, completeness, or relevance of any information prepared by any unaffiliated third party, whether linked to DWM’s web site or blog or incorporated herein, and takes no responsibility for any such content. All such information is provided solely for convenience purposes only and all users thereof should be guided accordingly.

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Jordan Dechtman

A financial services professional for over three decades, Jordan Dechtman’s mission is to help clients live better with more opportunities for fun and family time. Ideally, his goal is to help them achieve their dreams. Jordan brings a unique set of skills and experiences to the industry. His work ethic and drive to improve both himself and those around him have been honed during his 30+ years as a high net-worth private wealth advisor. Jordan holds a BS in Finance from the University of Arizona. Through his memberships in both the Financial Planning Association and the Financial Services Institute, he is dedicated to championing the financial planning process. Based on assets under management, Jordan has consistently been recognized by Securities America as being among the top 1% of over 1900 registered representatives.