Do You Need a Financial Adviser?

You’ve thought through your retirement expenses and income. You’ve been introduced to the basic math principles underlying retirement analysis. Where do you go from there? Can you proceed on your own, or do you need help? I’m a strong believer in do-it-yourself retirement. I think most people have the ability, if they can invest the time. But I don’t discount the value of professional advice in all situations. 

Given all the variables in the retirement equation and your personal situation, you might be inclined to seek expert advice. And, if you are truly bad with numbers or financial discipline, or have a very complex financial situation, an expert might be advisable.

But understand that many financial advisers are more expert in how to sell financial products and conform to the thicket of government regulations for their work, than they are technical experts on retirement finance. And their focus is necessarily on their own livelihood.

I’ve met advisers who had never run the retirement calculator on their own company site, and others who tell clients to focus on their “feelings” and let the numbers take care of themselves. I’ve seen serious mistakes made in retirement calculations, from ignoring Social Security, to forgetting to index it for inflation, to using excessive tax rates. 

By DARROW KIRKPATRICK