Financial Planners for the Rest of Us

Whether your retirement savings are small, medium or large, a study shows that you will amass greater wealth with the help of a financial advisor than you would be able to do on your own.  Naturally, the amount of additional wealth accumulated, even with a comprehensive planner, depends on whether your income is modest, medium or high, but this is another area in which there is no substitute for a principled professional.

Beware of “free” advice.  You may be compensating that advisor unbeknownst to you when they steer you to buy the financial product they are selling, not necessarily the best product for you.  Most planners earn a living from commissions and money-management fees.  Frequently these fees are buried in your statements and deciphering the true cost of a product may be nigh unto impossible.

However, some financial planners charge only for advice, without selling a product.  Sometimes referred to as a pay-as-you-go planner, they will review your current assets, income and investments and render unbiased advice.  Budgets, taxes, debt retirement and other specific topics of concern to you can be addressed, too.

Such planners may not be easy to locate, but the unadulterated guidance they provide buys a common-sense road map and priceless peace of mind.  You may be charged hourly or a flat fee.  To pay a monthly or annual fee for answers to questions as they arise may also be available.  Fees could be in the range of $150 per hour or $200 per month.  A full, comprehensive review could cost $5,000.

Be prepared to spend some time on the phone for recommendations, ascertain qualifications and to establish the professional’s compensation.  The good advice you pay for now will earn money for you in the long run.