Three Keys to find the Right Advisor to Build Your Retirement Road Map
There are three important keys you need to understand before you begin to build your retirement roadmap. These three keys are non-negotiable.
If you’re planning on working with an advisor (which we definitely recommend, because you have only one chance to get this right) these keys are critical to ensuring you’re working with someone who can execute this process effectively.
Even if you’re planning to try and do this yourself (which I don’t recommend) you’re still gonna have to rely on third-parties to help you implement each of the different pieces of the puzzle. So if you’re a do-it-yourselfer, these keys are critical in vetting each of those individuals.
So here are the three keys:
Key #1: Truly Independent:
You have to be working with someone who is completely independent of any significant conflicts of interest. This means they cannot be affiliated with any of the following: bank or credit union, broker/dealer, money manager, insurance company, or a mutual fund company. (That’s not an exhaustive list, but those are the main ones to look out for.)
Unfortunately, the vast majority of advisors are, in fact, affiliated with one or more of these types of organizations. This is because many advisors are simply glorified distribution channels for certain products & services. But if you look hard enough, you can find advisors who aren’t. I assure you of that.
Look for truly independent, registered fiduciaries, who use only third-parties to implement their strategies/solutions – meaning they aren’t selling their own products or money management services, or the products or services of an affiliate.
Even with the best of intentions, if these affiliations exist, it will taint the advice you receive, and you won’t know the difference until it’s too late. Objectivity is the key here. So that’s key #1. Truly independent.
Key #2 is Truly Comprehensive
So often, the retirement planning process focuses on investments, with all the other issues being an afterthought. This is a huge mistake.
An effective retirement plan must include the following, crucial areas:
Investment planning – This is very important, but it is not the end all, be all. Income planning – which, contrary to popular opinion, is very different from investment planning. As you’ll see, a really good, reliable plan will identify where every bit of your income is coming from, for every single year, of the entire remainder of your life. Tax planning – This is long-term tax planning, not just what should I do this year or next year, but how do I minimize my taxes over the next thirty years. Healthcare Planning with two major areas: Medicare planning – understanding the system and making sure you have the best coverage for your unique situation & Long-Term Care Planning for the cost of potentially chronic, long-term needs, such as home care, assisted living, or a nursing home. Survivor and Estate Planning – Survival, if we’re talking about a couple, is what happens if someone dies prematurely. When both are gone (if we’re talking about a couple) or obviously an individual upon their death.
You must consider each of these critical areas because they all affect one another, which we’ll explain in detail as we go along. So that’s key #2. Truly Comprehensive. The right advisor will have expertise in Investment, Income, Tax, Healthcare, Survivor and Estate planning – because your plan must encompass each of these five areas.
Key #3 is Truly Focused
You have to work with someone who specializes in retirement planning. I can’t stress this enough. This is because, as I mentioned earlier: The rules of the game – and the keys to success – completely change as you make the transition from accumulation to preservation and distribution. And if you don’t understand that reality, but instead keep on playing by the same rules you’ve followed throughout your accumulation years, the likelihood of optimizing your financial outcome is extremely low.
Unfortunately, most advisors are generalists – trying to be all things to all people in order to cast as broad a net as possible to gather as many assets as possible. Because that’s how advisors get paid. They don’t get paid for: Social Security planning, or Medicare Planning, or Tax planning Survivor and Estate Planning. They get paid for managing assets. So most advisors don’t actually specialize. And just like in the medical industry, there are generalists and specialists. But you don’t want your GP performing your brain surgery, do you?
These are the three keys to finding someone who can help walk you through this process of beginning to build your retirement road map.