Today I want to share part of a story of an interaction I had while interviewing a prospective client. During the interview process is when I get a general understanding of what a client’s financial situation looks like. Last week I met with someone who’s been trying to do all the right things. This person has saved. They have been frugal. Other than their home, they don’t have any debt. But, what I found out was the entire time this person was saving into the company retirement plan, the money invested was invested far too conservatively for the desired risk tolerance level. When I asked the client, “why was the money invested so conservatively?”. The answer was, “The investment company never told me I was invested improperly”.
Why am I sharing this? Because this is not the first time I’ve heard this exact same answer. At some companies, you receive virtually no help when you set up your retirement plan. You receive an enrollment form with some investment choices and you close your eyes and point your finger. Some companies actually have representatives help set up your account and make choices for you. This was the scenario mentioned above. Now what’s happened is the client thinks a representative is going to help with managing the account and the rep never does anything after the initial setup. The allocation stayed exactly the same throughout the client’s career! That’s a problem.
My hope from writing this post today is that you will pull up your 401k, 403B, 457 or IRA and check your allocation versus your risk tolerance level. My hope is that you will reach out to a financial advisor and say “I’d like to know if I’m invested properly?”. Many investors tend to set their accounts up and let it ride while hardly ever making changes to the account. Other investors pull up the 401k account daily and make changes off every word that comes out of Jim Cramer’s mouth! You need a better plan.
Part of the reason I went into business as an Independent, Fiduciary, Fee type financial advisor was to help ensure people like my Mom and Mother In Law would have a place to turn they could trust. Yes. Having a financial advisor costs money. But, I can assure you that for most of the population, not having one will cost you much much more. As investors, you now have more choices than ever when managing your assets. This is inherently good as you have more information to make sound decisions. This can also be a bit paralyzing because you don’t know what information is right for you or what account or investment or even what kind of advisor is right for you! That’s why you need to interview prospective advisors. You have to research the kind of person you want to help you plan for your future.
Going back to the above referenced client, this person is now in a position of trying to play catch up to meet the retirement goal. How unfortunate is it to feel like that when you thought you were doing all of the right things throughout the years? Just because we have 401k plans at work doesn’t mean we are planning for retirement. It just means we’ve started something for retirement. As you think about retirement, you should be thinking about things like: “I want to have a home near my kids and a winter home” how much do I need to save today to make that happen? What kind of return should I expect on my money? How does this goal affect my goal of paying for my kid’s education? Paint a picture for yourself of what retirement looks like. Think about the entire big picture. For me, I anticipate working for non-profits. So I don’t expect to be fully retired. But, I’d like to have a home in the woods for the summers and a home in Florida off the ocean for winter. I’d like to take one year and travel via RV throughout the United States to visit every state with my wife. I plan to travel internationally and I plan to take my kids and their kids with me!
My point is to do these things, I need a plan. I can’t wing it. I need to know the amount of money I need today to make this happen. With money, the longer we wait to develop a plan, the more money we lose due to compounding growth. If you knew you needed to save $500 per month to attain your goals and you are currently saving $400, you would probably start making different decisions so you could attain your goals in the future.
Find an advisor. Set a plan. Stick to it. And, revise it as necessary. Don’t just rely on your company retirement plan to get you where you need to be.
Thanks for reading.
If you are looking for a financial advisor, please contact me at 847-290-0753 or send me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org