Posted on 12 January 2012
By Mark Miller
At a time when retirement security has eroded, a plan for retirement has never been more important–especially for middle-class families who might be facing deficits in retirement savings, sharp declines in the value of their homes, and unforeseen loss of income from employment.
Do-it-yourself planning certainly is an option, but a little help from a professional advisor can be well worth the time and money. The rationale for hiring an advisor is simple: Money spent now could make a big difference in helping you achieve a secure, happy future retirement down the road.
Middle-class retirement savers often get assistance from advisors at wirehouses, banks, and insurance companies. But that’s mainly asset management advice. I often urge readers to get the bigger picture by hiring a fee-only planner who will examine the client’s complete financial picture–investments, insurance, debt, and estate planning.
Another key benefit: Fee-only planners are Registered Investment Advisors. This type of planner is required to meet the so-called fiduciary standard, which is a legal responsibility requiring an advisor to put the best interest of a client ahead of all else.
If you decide to go the fee-only route, you may discover that finding a good advisor can be challenging. Most of them work as independent practitioners or for small firms that don’t have multi-million-dollar national ad budgets to promote their services.
So, it’s worth the extra effort to find a great fee-only planner; my Morningstar column this month details six steps to take when interviewing and hiring a fee-only financial planner–including those who are willing to work with clients of modest means.