Retirement, as one of life’s major transitions, can be stressful and confusing. It seems there are so many things to plan for — how to get income in retirement; whether to sell one’s house and downsize; whether to move to a different location; how to manage one’s insurance concerns. To say nothing of how can one enjoy one’s retirement! Where can one get good advice?
Internet Websites Can Help With Retirement Questions or Advice
Your first resource is the Internet. Dozens of websites, including this one, are devoted to providing good retirement advice. Always corroborate information you get from Internet websites; check with a few different sources. You don’t always know how accurate or up-to-date a website might be. However, most longstanding websites are reliable enough, and websites maintained by internationally known brands, such as Money Magazine, are based on original research and are kept as up-to-date as possible. Bookmark several of these websites and refer to them often.
Retired Friends Could Be Helpful
A second resource might be the advice of friends and acquaintances who have already retired. Try to cultivate friendships with people who have found fulfillment and happiness in their retirement; what did they do that was right? What pitfalls were they able to avoid? Even if you don’t have personal friends who have retired or are willing to share their experiences with you, there may be clubs or support groups in your area of newly retired persons, where you’ll find people eager to share advice.
Hire Services of Financial Advisor
If your concerns are primarily financial, you might best be served by hiring the services of a certified financial adviser with specialty in retirement issues. “Financial advisers” come in all stripes, and it doesn’t necessarily take much to hang a shingle outside one’s door, so be sure you work with an advisor who has proper credentials. The most widely recognized certification is the Certified Financial Planner (CFP) designation, recognized in the United States and many other countries around the world. Holders of this certificate must have completed training in a wide variety of topics related to personal financial issues, including investments, insurance, taxes, asset protection, estate planning, and of course retirement planning. Before obtaining the certificate, a designate must have three years of work experience, must have passed a rigorous exam, and must adhere to standards in ethics and professional responsibility. Since the training is so broad, try to find a CFP with specific experience in retirement planning.
Where to Find a Suitable Financial Advisor
Finding a CFP is not difficult; several national organizations maintain databases of CFPs that you can search. The National Association of Personal Financial Advisors, the Financial Planning Association, and the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards all have websites with state-by-state contact information. Try to interview at least a few planners before deciding on one; you’ll need to feel comfortable with your planner, as you will be sharing all of your family’s financial data, some of which may be sensitive. If you believe you’ll have a hard time developing a trusting relationship with a planner such that you may feel compelled to withhold certain information, then find another planner.
Compensation For a Financial Advisor
CFPs or other financial professionals can be paid in various ways, depending on your needs and how the CFP works. In many cases, a one-shot consultation, involving a few sessions, will be sufficient; you might pay the CFP by an hourly fee. If you have substantial assets and want your CFP to manage the assets for you on an ongoing basis, he or she may charge you annually, as a percentage of your assets under management. Or, if a planner works for a brokerage or investment house and sells financial products as well as advice, he or she may earn commissions on sales. In this case, you must ensure that your planner is working in your best interest. Be extremely careful with planners who also earn commissions on sales; the temptation to sell products with high commissions that may otherwise be inappropriate can be strong.
When it comes to retirement, you’re not alone — there’s plenty of help available. Determine what information you need and what issues you need help with, and then find the help.