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What Will a Good Retirement Planner Do for Me?

What Should I Expect from a Retirement Planner?


A qualified retirement planner or retirement advisor will have a skill set that goes beyond just financial planning or providing investment advice.

What Does a Retirement Planner or Retirement Advisor Do?

Like financial planners, retirement planners must understand your financial goals; knowing when you will need to use your money, and what you will be using it for.

In addition, a retirement planner has a clear understanding that the financial assets you are accumulating, as well as other resources you have such as pensions, social security, part-time work, home equity, etc. are all pieces of a puzzle that must be put together in a way that will result in the delivery of reliable monthly paychecks to you once you are retired.

What Type of Advice Can a Retirement Planner Give Me?

A retirement planner or retirement advisor will be able to offer advice on:

  • When to take social security benefits in a way that is best for you
  • What pension distribution choices are right for you
  • If an annuity is a suitable investment for you
  • Which accounts to take withdrawals from each year, and in what amounts, to minimize the retirement taxes you will pay
  • What amount of retirement income you could reasonably expect to have
  • What withdrawal rate is appropriate when taking money from a traditional portfolio
  • How much of your money should be in guaranteed investments
  • What types of taxable income your investments will generate
  • How you can rearrange investments to reduce taxable income in retirement
  • Whether you should leave your money in your company plan or roll it into an IRA account
  • If you should pay off your mortgage prior to or during retirement
  • If a reverse mortgage is a good option for you
  • If you need long term care insurance
  • Whether you should keep your life insurance policies or not

How Much Do Retirement Planners Charge?

Retirement Planners may charge in any of the following ways:

  • An hourly rate
  • A flat fee to run a retirement income plan or retirement cash flow projection
  • A quarterly or annual retainer fee
  • A percentage of assets that they manage on your behalf
  • Commissions paid to them from financial or insurance products you buy through them
  • A combination of fees and commissions

Read 6 Ways Financial Advisors Charge Fees for additional details on all of the above fees.

How Can I Know How My Retirement Planner Will Be Paid?

Always ask a potential retirement planner for a clear explanation of how they will be compensated.

A Good Retirement Planner Will Not:

Make recommendations until they understand your expected time horizon, your level of experience with investments, your goals, your tolerance for investment risk, your need for guaranteed income, and a thorough understanding of all your current resources such as assets, liabilities, and current and future sources of income.

A Good Retirement Planner Will:

Want to know where all your investments are so that your portfolio as a whole will make sense and can be optimized to produce a steady stream of retirement income.

Do Retirement Planners Also Offer Traditional Financial Planning or Investment Advice?

Retirement planning is an area of expertise that falls under the broader category of financial planning. Investment advice is very different than financial planning or retirement planning. Many retirement planners will offer investment advice as well as a broader range of financial planning services. Others may offer only retirement planning.

How Do I Find a Good Retirement Planner?

Use 5 Search Engines to Find the Right Financial Advisor and as you interview seek someone who has expertise in tax planning, Social Security and retirement withdrawal strategies. They need to be able to devise a timeline and plan that tells you how to take money out in a tax-efficient way, and they need to be able to objectively advise you on the use of guaranteed income products that can create security.

You can also read 5 Questions To Ask A Potential Financial Advisor, an article which will help you interview potential retirement planners.

In addition, I belong to an organization called RIIA, the Retirement Income Industry Association. This group offers a designation called an RMASM, or Retirement Management Analyst. I went through it myself and it is a great curriculum. If you want someone who specializes in retirement planning, I would highly advise you seek someone with an RMASM designation; although currently (as of August 2012) there are only a few scattered throughout the country. You can search through them at this list of RMASM holders.

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