A key tool to keep from running out of money
How to Find the Right Financial Advisor for Your Retirement Years
by Gary Foreman
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According to a survey by the American Institute of CPAs, 57% of CPA financial planners say running out of money is their clients top retirement-planning concern. So having a sound financial plan is important for your retirement years.
But many people head near retirement age without ever seeking professional financial advice. How are they going to find the right financial advisor to help them through their retirement years? To help us answer that question, we talked with Rosanne Rogé. Ms. Rogé is an expert in the area of financial issues of seniors and works with seniors and their caregivers. She's a Certified Financial Planner®, Registered Financial Gerontologist, and also a Certified Senior Advisor.
Q: For years, you and your financial advisor concentrated on accumulating wealth. How much different is it now to plan to protect that wealth and use it to produce income?
Rosanne Rogé: It's actually not much different protecting your wealth before or after retirement. In order to be prepared for the eventualities that may occur, a comprehensive financial plan should be completed at least five years prior to retirement. If any adjustments need to be made to the portfolio for generating income or for looking at areas where you can reduce your expenses, this can be discussed in your pre-retirement planning meetings. In addition, an advisor must help their pre-retirement client establish goals for the future, provide them with a path to take using a cash flow analysis, and discuss future expenses, insurance, long term care, risk tolerance goals, time horizon, estate and savings strategies, just to mention a few. We also have our clients sign an Aging Facilitation Form, which permits us to speak with a family member or attorney if we feel that they are making irregular or unusual financial decisions. In the event of behavioral changes due to cognitive and/or physical decline, this simple form acts as a safeguard for the client, their family, and for us.
Q: How can you tell if your financial advisor is equipped to help you manage your finances during your retirement years? Are there any credentials, giveaways, or signs that we should look for?
Rosanne Rogé: When searching for a financial advisor, be sure to ask how they are paid and if they are a Fiduciary. A "fee-only" advisor is paid directly by their clients; there are no third parties involved, and therefore, there is less chance for a conflict of interest. If an advisor is a Fiduciary, they are required to act in the best interest of their clients at all times, and they have no financial relationship with anyone but the client. The designation Certified Financial Planner® (CFP®) is also an important credential to look for in an advisor. CFPs® have obtained extensive experience, completed various requirements, and passed complicated certification exams. Most importantly, the personal chemistry has to be right. You will be sharing personal financial information with your advisor over the course of your lifetime, and you need to select someone that you are comfortable working with and can trust.
Q: If you've never worked with a financial advisor before, where would you begin looking for one who's qualified to help a retiree with their money issues?
Rosanne Rogé: If youre looking for a "fee-only" advisor, visit the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors. You can also visit the CFP Board to find a CFP® professional. Finally, ask for referrals from friends and family who may already be working with an advisor they like; just be sure to do your own research because everyone has different financial needs.
Q: What types of questions should an advisor ask you before you hire them?
Rosanne Rogé: Aside from the usual questions like your income, expenses, budget, and retirement savings, your advisor should help you establish reasonable goals for your future. For most clients, the time horizon is longer-term and they may have difficulty focusing on those long-term goals. Therefore, we try to bring them back to the present and ask them, "If we were meeting here three years from today, what would have to happen for you to feel satisfied with your progress?" This helps the client focus on the near term, which in turn, can help determine goals for the more distant future. Regardless of what questions you might be asked, your advisor should be listening to what you want and need and not simply talking about what they can offer to you.
Q: Determining when to begin taking Social Security is a big issue for most retirees. What can a qualified planner do to help their clients make a good decision?
Rosanne Rogé: The optimal time to begin Social Security Benefits should be determined during the financial planning process. A qualified planner will complete a retirement planning cash flow analysis for each client and will list all sources of retirement income (i.e. pensions, buyout income). In addition any withdrawals that may need to be taken from the portfolio to meet retirement expenses must be discussed. In many cases, the most disadvantageous time to begin collecting benefits is while you are still gainfully employed and your income exceeds the yearly earnings limit, because earnings may reduce the benefit amount. If you start your benefit early, say at age 62, there is a 30% reduction for people born after 1959. If you wait until your full retirement age (depending upon your year of birth, which can be found on SSA.gov), there is no reduction in benefits. All of these variables play a very important part in the commencement of benefits. Qualified planners can help their clients make the right decision simply by planning ahead and offering information on all possible options.
Q: What type of unique issues should a planner working with retirees be prepared to address?
Rosanne Rogé: Long Term Care insurance, caregiving, and the aging process are all topics advisors must be able to address when working with retirees. Its important that clients retain an attorney to prepare their will, power of attorney, healthcare proxies, and other documents needed to secure this stage of life.
As Managing Director of R.W. Rogé & Company, Inc., Rosanne's role is to oversee the client services team in delivering financial planning and investment advice. She also ensures client satisfaction and provides a holistic approach to both clients and their families in their relationship with the firm. Rosanne is a pioneer in the area of Financial Gerontology and understands the specific concerns and needs of caregivers assisting their aging parents. She earned the title of Registered Financial Gerontologist (RFG®) from The American Institute of Financial Gerontology in Philadelphia, PA. She is also a Certified Senior Advisor (CSA). The Society of Certified Senior Advisors is dedicated to providing continuing education that addresses new developments and research concerning seniors. Rosanne's advice is frequently sought after by the press and media. She has been quoted in The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg Personal Finance magazine, Investment Advisor magazine, Fortune magazine, Newsday and USA Today, to name a few. Rosanne is a native New Yorker and has a passion for dogs, flowers, nature and sailing. Visit her at RWRoge.com.
Gary Foreman is a former financial planner and purchasing manager who founded The Dollar Stretcher.com website and newsletters in 1996. He's been featured in MSN Money, Yahoo Finance, Fox Business, The Nightly Business Report, US News Money and CreditCards.com. Gary shares his philosophy of money here. You can follow Gary on Twitter or visit Gary Foreman on Google+. Gary is also available for audio, video or print interviews. For more info see his media page.
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