- 4-Minute Article
- Aug 31, 2017
Ways to Improve Financial Health with an Advisor
Financial advisors can offer more than retirement planning advice. They can consult on a number of goals that affect overall financial health.
A good financial advisor is like a doctor: one helps take care of physical health; the other helps protect financial health. And just as you consult a doctor for a range of health questions, you can work with a financial advisor for more than just retirement planning.
Here are five areas where a financial advisor can help people stay on top of their financial needs.1
1. Optimizing Saving Strategies to Help Achieve Your Desired Lifestyle
Having enough savings is a key element of financial health, and a financial advisor can provide crucial guidance on optimizing a saving strategy — from offering ideas for reducing expenses to calculating how much to save.
Develop and refine key parts of a savings strategy by asking questions such as:
- How much money do I need to achieve my desired lifestyle before and after retirement? A financial advisor can help clarify financial goals, develop estimates for how much it will cost to achieve them, and create monthly savings targets to help keep you on track.
- How can I save while managing competing financial priorities? Financial advisors can help prioritize different financial goals, from saving for retirement and children's education to setting aside money for vacations or home improvement. They can help identify the most effective mix of savings tools to reach those goals.
2. Crafting an Appropriate Investment Strategy
A financial professional can help people make more informed decisions. In fact, pre-retirees with a financial advisor are twice as likely to feel confident about their retirement planning than those without an advisor1.
Ask questions like these to help make investment decisions:
- Do I have the right mix of investments for my age and income? Many people change their investment mix as they age, moving from an emphasis on growth in early years to the need for income and savings protection near retirement. A financial advisor can help find the best mix of stocks, bonds, cash, and other tools to provide the right mix of growth and income for an individual’s age, income, and other factors.
- How can I reduce the risks in my financial plan? People face multiple risks to their savings, from the threat that market declines will decrease the value of investments to the chance that they’ll outlive their savings. Some people are more concerned about certain risks than others—and an advisor can help identify the most pressing concerns and develop an appropriate investment strategy to manage them. For example, a financial advisor might suggest additional savings protection strategies for someone most concerned about running out of money in retirement.
3. Minimizing Taxes
Taxes may be a fact of life, but there are tax-smart strategies that can reduce their impact.
Work toward minimizing your tax burden by asking questions such as:
- What are the tax implications of making changes in my investments? Financial advisors can explain the tax ramifications of buying and selling different investments, helping people keep more of what they’ve earned. Short-term investment gains, for example, are taxed at a higher rate than long-term ones, so timing is important.
- How can I minimize taxes in retirement? An advisor might suggest a diverse mix of retirement accounts with different tax structures. For example, some people balance withdrawals from 401(k)s and traditional IRAs — which are subject to income tax — with income from a Roth IRA, which is tax-free.
4. Planning for Medical Expenses
Healthcare costs are one of the top retirement concerns for most Americans2, but financial advisors can help prepare for these expenses. Asking these questions can ensure healthcare considerations are included in a financial plan:
- How do I make sure I'm well taken care of in the event that I can't make medical decisions for myself? Financial advisors can assist with planning for a debilitating illness by helping find a lawyer to draft a medical power of attorney that designates who will make medical decisions in case it is needed. Advisors can also initiate a conversation that makes this person aware of those plans.
- How can I make sure I have enough money for future medical expenses? There are types of insurance that specifically address future medical expenses, such as long-term care insurance riders and chronic illness coverage. An advisor can help assess the suitability of these options, and review existing coverage to determine whether it provides inflation protection or other options that enhance financial security.
5. Tackling Estate Planning
Thinking about what will happen to your money after you’re gone may be difficult, but can help ensure loved ones are taken care of financially. Financial advisors can explain the importance of this process and partner with other professionals to develop an estate plan.
Important questions to ask:
- How can I ensure my money and other assets go where I want them to after I’m gone? A financial advisor can help find an estate planning attorney to develop a legal structure that reflects your wishes, while also identifying insurance or other financial tools that provide for surviving spouses and children.
- How do I implement my estate planning attorney’s recommendations? Financial professionals play an important role in implementing estate plans, from making sure specific assets are properly titled and transferred to trusts to reminding people to update beneficiary forms on retirement accounts, insurance plans, and other documents.
- Asking these questions can help you take control of important financial decisions and maximize the benefits of a relationship with a financial advisor.
If you don’t yet have a financial advisor, read 5 Questions to Ask a Financial Professional to help you select the best fit for your needs.