My wife (62) and I (60) have $2.4 million in our Edward Jones IRA account and have no mortgage payment and our children are out of the house. Do we really need a financial advisor (at 1%) or could we go with a less expensive option like Vanguard? We don’t see any adjustment with our current advisor during changing market conditions.
Cheaper services are always something to consider. If you can get the type of service you want at the level of quality you need, then paying less is a good thing. However, it’s important to assess whether the service you’re paying for meets your needs, as services can vary among financial advisors.
Here, I think you should consider whether you solely need help managing your investments or want broader financial planning. The answer may inform whether you should work with an advisor or seek out an alternative service, as you mention. (And if want to find a financial advisor, this tool can help match you with potential advisors.)
Investment Management vs. Financial Planning: What Services Do You Need?
Some advisors strictly manage your investments. Other advisors may do more comprehensive financial planning, for which investment management is a component. This more holistic approach might be exactly what you are looking for or expect from your advisor.
Financial planners provide many benefits beyond investment management. They can help you see the big picture and provide guidance for making the most of your finances and meeting your goals. Financial planners may focus on specific types of clients or issues, like people who work for a certain employer, self-employed professionals or those entering retirement. (Whether you need help managing your investments or building a holistic financial plan, consider speaking with a financial advisor.)
Some of the specific services financial planners provide include:
Retirement Income Planning
Your advisor may be able to help you navigate distribution planning in a way that provides you with reliable and sufficient income streams in retirement. This might involve determining when to withdraw from various accounts, how much you can withdraw and knowing when you may need to adjust.
Knowing how tax laws might affect you can save you a lot of money, and there’s more to it than claiming deductions. Understanding how your tax rate may change throughout your life and the implications of timing your tax liabilities to be as efficient as possible are two ways in which a financial planner can potentially help.
Not all financial planners manage investments, although many do. A common theme among those who do is that it’s less about chasing investment returns and more about making sure your investments align with your goals.
Your advisor should be mindful of your risk tolerance. For example, if you’re retired and living on a fixed income, your portfolio will likely need to be more conservative.
When can you retire? Can you afford that vacation? What happens if you get laid off? When should you claim your Social Security benefits? These are just some of the questions that a financial advisor, like a certified financial planner (CFP), can help you answer. They can also help you create a plan for meeting those goals.
Estate planning refers to the process of mapping out how your assets and property will be distributed to family, friends and causes you care about when you die. Having a plan in place for how your assets will be distributed can make things easier for your heirs and potentially reduce the taxes that your estate owes.
Next Steps to Think About
The difference between hiring an advisor versus using an automated investment management platform comes down to the service and degree of personalization you want, as well as price. I think of services like the one Vanguard offers as a middle ground between doing it entirely by yourself and hiring a professional.
Not all services are right for everyone, so you’ll need to consider what you specifically want and need from your advisor. If you don’t see the value in having a personal advisor and think you can get what you need from a less expensive service, then it may be a good option for you.
Tips for Finding a Financial Advisor
- Finding a financial advisor doesn’t have to be hard. SmartAsset’s free tool matches you with up to three vetted financial advisors who serve your area, and you can have a free introductory call with your advisor matches to decide which one you feel is right for you. If you’re ready to find an advisor who can help you achieve your financial goals, get started now.
- Consider a few advisors before settling on one. It’s important to make sure you find someone you trust to manage your money. As you consider your options, these are the questions you should ask an advisor to ensure you make the right choice.
Brandon Renfro, CFP®, is a SmartAsset financial planning columnist and answers reader questions on personal finance and tax topics. Got a question you’d like answered? Email AskAnAdvisor@smartasset.com and your question may be answered in a future column.
Please note that Brandon is not a participant in the SmartAdvisor Match platform, and he has been compensated for this article.
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