“Put a hat on that baby!”
“Never go to bed angry.”
“One word: plastics.”
The world is full of advice. Some of it’s good, some of it isn’t, and it’s not always easy to tell the difference. And at every stage in life—whether you’re headed for college or for your golden years—people are waiting to give you their advice. So how do you know who to listen to?
It’s important to remember that there’s no one-size-fits-all formula for retirement income planning. Your needs are as unique as you are. Here are some tips for evaluating any financial or retirement income counsel that comes your way—and finding the people who can guide you.
How to Find Guidance
- Look for a licensed professional who’s focused on assisting you in meeting your retirement income needs. Ask about how the professional gets paid for assisting you—is it a fee-only or fee-based arrangement, or is he or she a commissioned professional?
- Many different kinds of professionals offer retirement income planning guidance. Certified Public Accountants (CPAs), attorneys, estate planners, insurance agents, and investment advisors are just a few options. Consider what kind of professional will be a good fit for you.
- Ask about a potential professional’s license. What type of license is it, and what kind of training was required to get it? What kind of services can they provide? Is the professional certified in any area? A reputable professional should answer your questions candidly.
- Check out reviews and testimonials, both online and from people you know. Former and current clients are some of the best sources of information when choosing a licensed professional. Ask your friends for referrals as well as searching online.
- A good licensed professional should ask lots of questions. No one should give you retirement income planning advice or guidance without an in-depth understanding of your unique situation. They need to understand your budget, your lifestyle, what level of risk you are comfortable with, and any special circumstances you bring to the table.
Your Retirement Reality Tip
Getting help planning your retirement income from licensed professionals may not always cost fees. Financial professionals are paid differently based on the services they provide. In some cases, they may earn a commission paid by the company based on the sale of the financial product—not directly by you. Ask your financial professional how he or she gets paid.
How to Evaluate Retirement Tips, Advice, or Guidance
- Discussing your financial decisions with your family is a good idea, but they may not have the expertise necessary. Use them as a sounding board, but not the only source of guidance.
- Are you doing some DIY-style retirement income planning online? The Internet is an amazing tool. Who hasn’t looked up their achy shoulder or blurred vision on a medical advice website? But just like you wouldn’t diagnose yourself with arthritis or glaucoma from a website, don’t map out your entire retirement income strategy based on Internet research.
- Is the person or entity giving the advice or guidance trying to sell you something from one particular company? If someone sells products from only one company, be sure to understand why they limit their products to one company and ask if those products meet all your different needs.
- Will the person advising you continue to work with you over the years, or is this a one-time consult? Your financial and retirement income needs will evolve over time. Retirement income planning is a continual process, not a one-shot deal.
- Are you feeling pressured? If you have a bad feeling about someone, listen to your gut. Lots of knowledgeable professionals can give you sound guidance, but there are some that should be cautioned as well. Stay alert and trust your instincts.
Download the “Finding and Evaluating the Right Guidance” checklist.
Remember: You don’t have to do it alone. Surrounding yourself with licensed professionals is your best bet. Contact one of our licensed professionals to get started. Feel free to read our Code of Ethics to evaluate if working with one of our licensed professional may be right for you.