As a columnist for Rethinking65, I write articles geared towards financial professionals to help them better understand the emotional and lifestyle planning challenges their clients grapple with as retirement approaches. I do my best to represent “us.” It is important for investment advisors to go deeper with those they serve to better prepare individuals and couples for the time when they will need to live from the accumulated assets.
However, this should never be a one-sided relationship. In fact, I think the most neglected tool in your post-career lifestyle planning kit is your financial consultant. Whether you have saved for decades or are thinking about starting, having a wealth manager alongside for the journey can be a true benefit.
Let me state that I am not a financial professional. This is not a stealth pitch or quiet referral program. I have had many portfolio managers over the years. Some good, some not so good. As I approach post-career living, I have learned beneficial lessons on how financial professionals can help you beyond the numbers. Ask these questions as you evaluate an often disregarded and ignored instrument in your lifestyle planning.
Are they knowledgeable?
A good financial consultant should have a deep understanding of the financial markets, investment products, and financial planning strategies. They should be able to explain complex financial concepts in a way that you can understand. Knowledge to me is making sound decisions with my money because they fully understand my goals.
Are they experienced?
A talented one should have a track record of success in helping clients achieve their financial goals. They should be able to draw on their experience to tailor a plan that is right for you. Ask for referrals and if you can talk with current clients. Ask trusted friends and family who they know. That is how I got my current team.
Can you trust them?
A good portfolio manager should be trustworthy and ethical. They should put your interests first and not try to sell you products that you don’t need. If you do not get a good vibe or feel like managing the money is everything, it is time to shop around. I did change professionals once because I could just not trust my advisor.
Do they proactively communicate?
If you are the one always having to call, consider that a red flag. Keep in mind, financial advisors have many clients, and they juggle a lot of responsibilities. Nonetheless, if they are not reaching out to you at least twice a year, schedule a meeting and start setting some expectations.
Are they available?
The closer you get to post-career life, the more you are going to want to be discussing your lifestyle and how that will tie into your investment portfolio. Make sure they are available to you in a reasonable amount of time. My team usually answers the same day I call or will at least call or email me back to set a time when they can meet.
Some honorable mentions.
- Holistic: They pursue knowledge of income, expenses, assets, liabilities, and yes…your financial and lifestyle goals.
- Innovative: They are not risk-takers but will inform you of changes in the financial market and new opportunities that fit your strategy.
- Empathetic: When you are concerned, scared, frustrated, unsure, and worried – they should show the right balance between understanding and confidence.
My financial advisors are not there to plan my lifestyle for me, that’s my job (and yours). However, I consider them trusted advisors who help bring clarity to my financial planning. Because we work well together, I constantly communicate the personal elements that are important to me, so they know how to better make my portfolio back my lifestyle plan.
Don’t neglect an important post-career lifestyle planning “tool” – a good financial professional.
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