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A Guide to Picking a Financial Expert a Decade Before Retirement

A Guide to Picking a Financial Expert a Decade Before Retirement
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By Thursday, 12 November 2020 05:03 PM Current | Bio | Archive

Hitting the 50-year mark on the calendar is an important milestone for anyone. It's an achievement certainly worthy of celebration, and no one would blame you if you decided to spoil yourself a bit (though hopefully not too excessively).

At 50, you may also want to start thinking more seriously about your retirement and your health. It's an excellent mile marker to start putting your financial ducks in a row.

Both getting older and retiring will have significant impacts on how you allocate your finances.

Although age brings wisdom, most of us aren't financial experts even after 50 years. Take the time to find a financial adviser or planner, then research and ask specific questions about what your next steps should be as you inch closer to retirement.

Why do I need a financial expert?

If you're on track with your retirement saving, you should have around five times your income saved by the time you hit 50. By the numbers, a single 50-year-old who earns $75,000 should have saved $375,000 toward retirement. Do those numbers make you sweat nervously? You aren't alone. Over half of Americans aged 50–59 have less than $100,000 saved. That's far from what's needed for a comfortable retirement.

Still, research is mixed on whether most Americans are adequately prepared for retirement. A Rand Corp. survey determined that 71% of Americans may be properly prepared to live on the lower, fixed income associated during retirement. Conversely, a Natixis Investment Manager Group survey found that while 75% of Americans believe they'll be financially secure during retirement, most are not saving enough to justify that level of confidence. And those statistics vary dramatically across different races.

This is where a professional, expert financial adviser comes in handy. If you're behind on your retirement savings, as available data suggests many people are, a financial planner can help you get back on track. Although 15 years to retirement may not seem like enough time to play catch-up, there's a good chance a financial adviser can help you develop the road map you need to still retire with the income you need to manage the expenses that are typical with retirement.

It is often assumed that a financial planner can help bolster your retirement savings or advise you on real estate moves. But a financial adviser can also help you predict your potential health needs and will help you allocate your income in a manner that mitigates any excess health costs. You might do this either by obtaining private insurance to supplement Medicare, or through other instruments, such as a health savings account (HSA).

Or they can help you, determine your best course of action if you've waited too long to purchase life insurance at a reasonable rate. This could include shifting some of your income into a taxable savings account that you use in place of life insurance.

Timing is everything, however. You don't want to wait until you're on the tail end of your 50s to get started. The longer you wait, the more you'll have to re-adjust your income to hit your retirement goals.

5 questions to ask your financial adviser

Once you find a financial adviser you’re interested in working with, you'll need to check off a few boxes in the outset. Your adviser will help you dig into some of the questions you have for yourself, but be sure to ask your adviser several questions, as well. These can include, but are not limited to:

  1. Are you a fiduciary? Fiduciaries are legally required to put your interests first, not their own. If your financial adviser is a fiduciary, he or she must, by law, only make investment choices that benefit you and not themselves.
  2. What are your fees? Make sure to understand the difference between fee-only advisors, who have simplified pay structures, and fee-based advisers, who may receive commissions from the products or services they offer you.
  3. What services do you provide? Some financial advisers can make investments for you. Others will only offer advice. Make sure to understand what's included in the fee, or what services are available for additional fees.
  4. What is your investment philosophy? There are a number of investment philosophies your adviser or planner may ascribe to. Is your adviser focused on growth? Diversification? Timing the markets? The philosophy question can be a good point of conversation to learn more about how your adviser will guide you.
  5. How will you allocate my assets? You should look for an adviser who allocates assets based on your current needs and retirement goals.

You'll find most financial advisers are well-versed in working with clients in their 50s. Although 50 is not a magic number that suddenly impacts everything about your finances, it's an age that should serve as a reminder. Retirement is just around the corner, and there's a good chance you'll need some help making that last leg of the journey.

Take a wide view of your finances and spending concerns, especially healthcare and life insurance costs. Then, speak to a financial adviser who will work with you to develop the plan you need to enter into a comfortable retirement.

Maxime Rieman is Product Manager at ValuePenguin. Educating and assisting shoppers about financial products has been Rieman's focus, which led her to joining ValuePenguin, a consumer research and advice company based in New York. Previously, she was product marketing director at CoverWallet and launched the personal insurance team at NerdWallet.

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Hitting the 50-year mark on the calendar is an important milestone for anyone. It's an achievement certainly worthy of celebration, and no one would blame you if you decided to spoil yourself a bit (though hopefully not too excessively).
financial, expert, decade, retirement
Thursday, 12 November 2020 05:03 PM
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