How can I find a great financial advisor for retirement?
I am interested in working with a financial planner specializing in retirement planning. I would prefer someone with experience and with the newest retirement planning credentials. How can I narrow my search to these types of planners?
Finding a financial advisor can be overwhelming, so I’m glad to see you’ve narrowed your search parameters to find someone who specializes in retirement planning topics and has the relevant credentials.
Interestingly, you’re not the only one who wants someone focused on retirement. In a recent survey, most consumers said retirement income planning is their top priority when seeking advice from a financial advisor. And advisors are listening to this demand, demonstrating their expertise in various retirement-related topics through certifications and accreditations.
Here’s how to find someone who meets your criteria.
What is a retirement financial adviser?
Retirement financial advisors typically help clients manage their finances up to and through retirement.
Their offerings may include consulting services specific to financial planning, investment management, and insurance products such as annuities. An advisor may also specialize — or hire specialized staff — in health insurance, social security, estate planning, and tax planning. A retirement advisor may be the person you consult when considering a Roth rollover, when to start taking Social Security, or how to navigate Required Minimum Distributions (RMDs).
At the heart of a retirement advisor’s expertise, you’ll navigate the withdrawal phase – or the period of your life when you withdraw money from retirement funds. But a retirement advisor should also be skilled at helping you navigate the accumulation — or savings — phase, particularly what it will look like in the final years before you retire.
An important point to note is that the title “retirement financial advisor” is not something controlled by regulation or law. Advisors may use this title at their own discretion, so it is important that you do your due diligence when interviewing a retirement advisor.
Retirement Financial Advisor Skills
Certain credentials offered by third-party financial education programs can let you know if the advisor has recent training in retirement-related topics, adheres to a code of ethics or professional standards, and is taking training courses. continues to maintain its expertise.
Certified Retirement Income Professional (RICP). This certification designates a specialty in retirement income planning, including managing portfolio withdrawals and social security strategies.
Certified Financial Planner (CFP). Although the CFP designation is general in nature, CFP professionals take courses in retirement planning, estate planning, investment management, and tax planning that focus on strategies and challenges specific to retirees. CFP professionals adhere to ethical and professional standards and must act as fiduciaries when providing financial advice.
Certified Retirement Planning Advisor (CRPC). This title is for experienced advisors who focus on the needs of clients before and after retirement. In addition, it deals with issues related to asset management and estate planning. Applicants must follow professional standards.
Certified Retirement Advisor (CRC). According to the International Foundation for Retirement Education, this degree is designed to demonstrate mastery of “retirement accumulation and distribution counseling concepts,” among other topics. Candidates adhere to a code of ethics.
Pension Management Advisor (RMA). This educational program is designed to give advisors an in-depth understanding of topics that help pre-retirees and current retirees navigate the complexities of their financial situation. Candidates must adhere to a code of professional responsibility.
Bottom line: These credentials are just a sampling of what to look for. Your advisor may hold one or more of these brands. But seeing them is shorthand for an advisor who has taken the time to build their retirement-related skills, knowledge, and understanding.
How to find a retirement advisor
There are many ways to find a financial advisor for retirement. On a platform like SmartAdvisor Match, investors with $25,000 or more in investable assets can partner with a financial advisor. The platform can link you to pre-selected matches that you can chat with without any obligation to you.
Additionally, professional organizations such as the CFP Board and the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors have databases for finding advisors in their networks.
Whatever service you use to find names, it’s important to ask potential advisers about topics that are important to you. You will need to do some legwork to make sure you and the counselor are compatible with each other.
I would suggest talking to at least three advisors before you commit to working with one to make sure the person is the right fit for you, has the expertise you need, and is used to working with people in a similar situation. cheers.
Questions to Ask a Financial Advisor for Retirement
You mentioned you wanted someone with recent retirement planning experience and credentials. When interviewing advisors, ask these questions:
What is your experience with retirement planning? Don’t be afraid to grill them on their experience. How long have they been there? Why do they specialize in retirement? And have they helped people in similar situations to yours?
What are your references? We’ve reviewed some more common retirement planning credentials, so find out about them and what these designations have done to help them hone their expertise.
What happens when you withdraw? Normally, this is not a priority when interviewing a potential financial advisor. But you mentioned you wanted someone with a lot of experience, so it’s worth noting that. If the advisor has decades of experience, they are likely at least middle-aged. Find out about succession plans. Who would manage your money if the advisor retired in a decade?
What services do you offer retirees? Determine the range of retirement-related services this person is able to provide. Does it manage investments? Provide comprehensive financial planning services? Tackling Social Security and Medicare planning?
What are your areas of specialization? Are they retirement income specialists? Social Security mavericks? Invest prodigies? Insurance experts? Do they excel at retirement income planning?
How are you paid? Advisors are compensated in several ways. Make sure you understand if you’re paying a percentage of assets under management (AUM), an hourly fee, a per-project fee, or any other cost.
What guardian do you use? Many experts recommend working with a financial advisor who helps you manage your investments but doesn’t actually own them. This can serve as a buffer against fraud.
Are you a fiduciary? Trustees have an obligation to act in the best interests of their clients.
What do you think are the biggest threats to my retirement? Do they understand what keeps you up at night when it comes to retirement? How would they respond to these fears?
What is your investment philosophy for managing retirement portfolios? What does their portfolio management look like and does it differ from how they manage non-retirement portfolios?
What to do next
You know what kind of advisor you need, and that’s a great first step. Using a platform like SmartAsset can help you narrow down your search to a few potential advisors. Then it’s about researching the credentials that matter to you and asking questions to make sure the advisor has the expertise, philosophies, and ethical frameworks you need.
Investment and retirement planning advice
If you have questions specific to your investment and retirement situation, a financial advisor can help. Finding a qualified financial advisor doesn’t have to be difficult. SmartAsset’s free tool connects you with up to three financial advisors who serve your area, and you can interview your matching advisors for free to decide which one is right for you. If you’re ready to find an advisor who can help you achieve your financial goals, start now.
When planning retirement income, keep an eye on Social Security. Use SmartAsset’s Social Security Calculator to get an idea of what your retirement benefits might look like.
Susannah Snider, CFP® is SmartAsset’s financial planning columnist and answers readers’ questions on personal finance topics. Do you have a question you would like answered? Email [email protected] and your question might be answered in a future column.
Please note that Susannah does not participate in the SmartAdvisor Match platform.
Photo credit: ©Jen Barker Worley, ©iStock.com/Mladen Zivkovic, ©iStock.com/AscentXmedia
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