Many people know they need help planning their financial future but not everyone who knows this actually follows through and does anything about it. Nearly 20% of American adults who are close to retirement age have no money saved for their retirement. Nearly 10,000 baby boomers retire every day in the United States. For younger people (aged 19 to 49, nearly 41% say they have never given their retirement a single thought. Finding a good financial planner you trust is the first step you should take in getting things ready for your future.
- What kind of financial planner do you need? Different financial advisors are good for different things and situations. Do you need help planning all of your finances? Do you need help with your investments? An investment advisor may offer much different information and help from someone who will help you set up a 529 plan for your children’s education. Before you talk to any financial planners, spend some time looking at your finances and decide what exactly it is that you need.
- Talk to more than one financial planning firm. You should look into your options and research a few before you set your mind on any one firm or kind of financial planner. If this is totally new to you, and it is for everyone at some point, you should make sure you take your time and do your research before you take the plunge and hire someone.
- Talk to your friends and family. You know at least one person who has a financial planner. Getting personal recommendations for this kind of thing is the best way to get a good financial planner. You should ask the people you trust how they found their financial planner and what they think of working with them. You may not end up hiring the same person as your friend or family member but this can get you started in the right direction. Remember, your situation may be very different from theirs so their person might not be the best person for you.
- How much risk can you tolerate? Some of this will depend on where you are in your life. If you are looking to have a decent retirement and that is a long way away, you may have more of an ability to deal with risk. As you get closer to that age, your risk tolerance may decrease. Spend some time thinking about this before you check out investment firms. There are online questionnaires that are designed for people to measure how risk adverse they are. Look online and take a few. See where you fall in that area.
- Learn the lingo. Like any industry, the work of financial planning and investing has its own language. The vernacular of the financial world may seem foreign at first but if you take time to learn it, all of your experiences with different financial planners, investment firms and others will be easier. You will feel better knowing you understand what they are talking about when they toss around the various financial and investing terms. This is not about helping you look smart, though you will, but helping you feel you are not being taken advantage of.
- Pat attention to fees. They may be small but they do add up very quickly. Most individual investors do not pay very close attention to the fees they are charged by investment firms and that is a real mistake. When you are talking to different financial planners, you should always make sure they are very transparent with the fees they charge for everything. What is their commission structure? Some firms get a commission whenever they sell a client anything so they are more aggressive. What fees do they charge and how does that compare with other, similar firms? These are things you need to look into before you hire anyone to help with your money.
It is never too early or late to plan for your retirement. When you are looking into different financial planners, if you do your research and decide what you need, you will find one who can help you.