Sometimes it seems there are retirement plan advisors on almost every street corner, trying to hustle you out of your hard earned savings, squeezing your bank account for commissions and trading fees. When you think about it, choosing the right retirement plan advisor (RPA) is almost as important as choosing the right spouse. This person is going to have an insiders look at the most intimate details of your financial portfolio. Here’s how to choose wisely.
1. Make sure you’re on the same page. Your financial goals have to align with the presumed goals of your RPA. At this stage in your life, financial risks should be undertaken with caution, if at all. If you want to be certain you’ll retire in the black, and not in the red, make sure you don’t unwittingly give permission to your RPA to gamble with your accounts.
2. Ask questions; get answers. Your RPA should be able and willing to give you general retirement advice that you can use to help guide the decisions you make about your retirement future. You shouldn’t have to figure out all by yourself if it makes sense to retire early or to work longer, and the Internet won’t give you the answers you need, either. Your choice to work longer or not must be based on your very personal situation. The factors to be considered will involve your family life, your financial soundness, your physical health, and your emotional willingness to devote more hours of your life in the workplace. Make sure that the RPA you choose is amenable to sitting down with you and having honest communication about your choices.
3. Take stock. RPAs take different viewpoints toward financial portfolio options like stocks, bonds, mutual funds, commodities trading, futures, etc. Though almost all RPAs are legally allowed to—with your permission–move your money where you want, as people, they will have favorite and not so favorite methods for making your money grow. If you have any personal interest in particular arenas of the financial markets that you’d like to pursue, make sure your RPA is on board with that. It’s not worth it to have to argue over your choice of vehicle every time you want to initiate a transaction. If you’re into stocks, get a stock aficionado. It will make all your future communication that much easier.
4. Play an active role. No wise money holder hands over their cash and says “Do what you want with it.” You need to play an active role in the way your retirement money is handled. This means frequent communication via email or telephone. It also means you need to do your homework. Even though you’re hiring an RPA because of their expertise, you need to be able to understand the nuances of the information they’re giving you about your money. Take the lead role in your retirement planning. This isn’t the time to be shy about standing up for yourself and your right to know what’s going on with your money.