Retirement Guide: 7 Questions to Ask a Financial Planner About Retirement

Chris Maurer |

As you approach retirement, you may be thinking of how to remain financially secure throughout your "golden years." To make the best decisions moving forward, it may help to enlist the aid of a qualified financial planner. Before you choose one, however, be sure to ask these 7 questions in our retirement guide below.

Question #1: Which services do you offer clients?

It goes without saying that you want a Certified Financial Planner with the right skill set and who offers services that are relevant to your financial situation and goals. Such services may include:

● Assistance in setting savings goals with monthly or yearly benchmarks as progress markers

● The development of a long-term investment strategy that aligns with your risk tolerance

● The creation of a favorable tax strategy

● Assistance in developing a plan for long-term care, perhaps using the tax breaks provided by flexible spending accounts (FSAs) and health savings accounts (HSAs)

● & more

Question #2: What are your credentials/qualifications?

It's almost always a good idea to go with someone that has been comprehensively educated in the fields of advanced financial planning and retirement planning. Credentials include Certified Financial Planner (CFP®), Chartered Financial Consultant (ChFC®), Retirement Income Certified Professional (RICP®) and Chartered Life Underwriter (CLU®). If you have any doubts about your financial planner's qualifications, sites like Designation Check can help you confirm that his/her credentials are legitimate and come from an accredited source.

Question #3: How will I pay you?

This is a big question. In general, it's wise to steer clear of financial planners that are paid on a commission model since it may generate significant conflicts of interest. Reputable financial planners are usually paid hourly, per transaction, or on an annual basis, depending on the overall value of your portfolio.

Question #4: How much money do I need for retirement?

One common rule of thumb for this question is that you'll need 70-80% of your pre-retirement income to live comfortably. Of course, this is just a general guideline; each person is different. Financial planners will first seek to understand your personal goals for retirement, your current circumstances, and your obligations. You and your planner can then collaborate on a workable, realistic figure for your post-retirement income and how to get there.

Question #5: What is your investment philosophy?

When it comes to making investments, there are many schools of thought on maximizing returns and minimizing risk. You want to know which strategy your financial planner subscribes to and whether you agree with his or her philosophy.

For example, if the financial planner's philosophy revolves around value investing, then he/she will likely guide you towards under-priced stocks on the market that have a significant upside. On the other hand, fundamentals investing is dependent on identifying companies that have strong earning potential.

Each type of investment philosophy comes with its unique strengths and set of risks. Your financial planner should be able to explain to you the elements of his/her investment philosophy, as well as its advantages and drawbacks, in easy-to-understand terms.

Of course, your planner will personalize your portfolio based on age and your personal preferences (e.g., whether to go after aggressive stocks or take a minimal risk). It is a collaborative effort that matches the planner's expertise to your financial objectives.

Question #6: What's the "exit plan" for my money if something happens to you?

The old adage "nothing is certain except change" is just as true in the financial industry as it is anywhere else. Your financial planner may relocate to a new area. He or she may change jobs, retire, or even die. You want to make sure that there's an established process to handle such situations and that your money will remain safe during any resultant transition period. Your financial planner should be able to walk you through this "exit plan" step by step.

Question #7: Why do you enjoy your work?

On the surface, this may seem like an odd question to ask a financial planner. Certainly, it has nothing to do with the technical aspects of the job.

However, you want your financial planner to gain a certain amount of satisfaction and even joy from his/her work. A passionate financial planner will be more focused, more interested in the task at hand, and more willing to "go the extra mile" to help you make sound financial decisions, whether they involve tax deductions, stock investments, or savings goals.

If you get the sense that your financial planner is just showing up for the paycheck, then you may need to move on to someone else. On the other hand, an engaged, smiling, animated financial planner that can tell you exactly why he/she loves the finance industry will probably be a much better choice. Exceptional financial planners get genuine satisfaction from helping people enjoy their retirement.

Use our Retirement Guide to Help Narrow Your Decision

If you ask these 7 questions discussed above, you'll be in a much better position to select the right financial planner for you. Of course, several other factors go into making this decision. Feel free to reach out to our friendly team of experts at Park Place Financial for your complimentary financial checkup. We can help you find a financial planner that's the right match for you, one that will help make retirement the best time of your life.