Planning for the “What-If’s” of Life
In this age of unusual economic uncertainty, people’s personal economies are in the forefront of their minds. A ton of information is available online, on air, in print, and around the water cooler.
To help one navigate through the maze of financial choices in life, it is critical to engage the services of a trustworthy financial advisor. While many factors can be used to choose the best advisor, it is critical to find one who possesses a sound financial philosophy.
A sound financial philosophy is one that seeks to position a client on a firm financial ground no matter what. Ask your prospective advisor, “What happens to your clients if ____________ occurs?” The blank could include any of the things in life that are unpredictable but likely to occur: market volatility, inflation, taxes, job change, sickness, death, and disability.
What if your advisor retires, dies, or one of you moves away? Will you be forced to start back at square one with a new advisor that possesses a different financial philosophy? A sound financial philosophy should be based on empirical data and a thorough knowledge of financial rules and regulations, not on the personal opinions of an individual, no matter how successful they are.
When determining the financial philosophy of an advisor, ask him about exit strategies. Many advisors focus on the accumulating their clients’ wealth; determining how to amass the biggest nest egg by the time you retire. The average retirement career has dramatically increased in recent years; surviving 30 years into retirement is not uncommon any more. Your nest egg may provide nicely for you when you retire at 65; what if you live into your 80’s and inflation and taxation has dramatically reduced the buying power of your fixed income?
Inflation has always existed at some level throughout financial history, and most experts expect it to increase dramatically in the next five or 10 years. Can your plan handle this “what if” scenario?
In retirement, your major tax deductions are dramatically reduced or eliminated. Many retirees are surprised to find that they pay more in taxes during retirement even though their income has decreased. What if your taxes increase? Have you established tax free income streams to combat this?
Not all financial professionals are advisors; the primary goal of many is to sell you as many financial products as possible. Be careful to choose an advisor who puts your financial interests first. This is critical because he will be handling your most precious material asset for the rest of your life.
Jonathan Lee is Founder and CEO of the non-profit Foundation for Financial Education (F3E). He is a widely sought out conference speaker on financial management, training, and wealth management strategies. He lives in Montgomery County with his wife and 5 children. Jonathan can be reached at 240-499-0381.