With multi-state tax filing, fixed retirement schedules and adjusting your finances to dynamics within aviation, airline pilots have more than their share of financial challenges. Besides dealing with the insecurities that stem from a sometimes-volatile industry, pilots should be aware of tax credits and deductions that are specific to their profession. Aviators also face insurance questions that are unique to their professions. Fortunately, financial advisors can provide guidance and expertise for pilots’ financial needs.
What Is a Financial Advisor?
A financial advisor is a professional who, ideally, has expertise and years of experience managing finances, including taxes, estate planning, investing and more. While anyone can call themselves a financial advisor, financial advisors often earn certifications that show their proficiency.
Financial advisors don’t have specific educational requirements, but lawyers and accountants sometimes become financial advisors due to the nature of their work. Additionally, many financial advisors start out as apprentices at long-standing financial firms and become skilled in the field through years of working with seasoned financial advisors and experts.
Because of pilots’ complex state tax circumstances, seeking a financial advisor specializing in taxes might be a good idea. For example, a financial advisor who is a certified public accountant (CPA) can offer you guidance when untangling tax problems and questions and make sure that your finances are properly protected.
How Much Does It Cost to Work With a Financial Advisor?
On average, financial advisors charge clients around 1% of the assets managed, but it varies by services received, the firm you use and how much you invest. Usually, services rendered include tax assistance, investing services, wealth management and financial planning. It’s also possible that a financial advisor may receive commissions for certain investments or services in addition to their fee for assets under management (AUM), so make sure you get the full picture before committing to a financial advisor.
Additionally, some financial advisors charge an hourly or annual fee instead of a percentage. Others may make money purely on investment commissions, possibly putting the profitability of specific funds ahead of your best interests. That said, you can decide to work with a fiduciary, which is a financial advisor legally bound to put your interests first. As such, it’s crucial to know precisely how your financial advisor makes their living so you can find one you are comfortable with.
If you’re looking to reduce fees, a robo-advisor may be the ideal service for you. Usually, a robo-advisor will charge between 0.25% and 0.5% of the assets managed, halving your cost while still providing financial guidance and investment advice. However, since pilots face industry-specific challenges such as medical stipulations, forced retirement at 65 and risks like acquisitions and mergers, a robo-advisor may provide insufficient information and support.
How to Find a Financial Advisor for Pilots
As with many financial services and products, shopping around is best instead of going with the first one you find. When you start looking you’ll likely find that financial advisors are everywhere and it can be difficult to know if you’re making the right choice. If you’re just getting started in your search, you have multiple avenues for finding a selection of qulaified financial advisors, which include:
- Industry Tools: An online tool such as SmartAsset’s free financial advisor matching tool can streamline your search. By answering a few questions, you can match with up to three local financial advisors, interview each of them personally and decide which one is a fit for you, all at no cost.
- Referrals: Family, friends and co-workers you trust can provide excellent suggestions for a financial advisor. If you have a colleague with a financial advisor who has many pilots as clients, they may specialize in serving clients in your field.
- Databases: Online databases have up-to-date information on financial advisors in your area. You can look at the web-based search features of organizations such as RAA, Garrett Planning Network, XY Planning Network, Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, National Association of Personal Financial Advisors (NAPFA) and the Financial Planning Association (FPA).
Key Considerations for Hiring a Financial Advisor
When gathering recommendations and viewing financial planners online, you can apply a plethora of criteria to help you make a wise choice. Some of the most important things to consider can include things such as what credentials they hold or the specific services that each specializes in. Let’s take a look at some of the important things to consider when making your decision.
Credentials are a way for financial advisors to show off their knowledge and understanding of the services they provide. Financial advisors with one of the following credentials might best serve your needs, and can provide peace of mind that they’ll be able to answer your complex questions:
While the credentials of your financial advisor can be a very important consideration, there are other things that you can do to narrow down your list.
- Size of Company: Some financial advisors operate alone, while others work in companies with hundreds of other professionals. If you want a personal touch or more one-on-one help, you might find a smaller operation more suitable. However, the scale doesn’t necessarily indicate less personalization, and a company’s larger size might indicate its success and efficiency with a robust client base.
- Expertise: Certifications can help you choose a financial advisor, but following up with questions about their field of knowledge can help you further. Any financial advisor should be competent in the following areas:
- Taxes: As a pilot, your state taxes are paramount. For example, the fact that pilots work across state lines may complicate filings. A financial advisor should be able to address all your tax issues and questions.
- Retirement: Your mandatory retirement age is a significant factor in your retirement planning and financial wellness.
- Investing: Your financial advisor should know how to help you invest for retirement, college expenses and more.
- Financial Planning: A financial advisor should be able to help you with budgeting and accomplishing your financial goals.
- Minimum Requirements: Some financial advisors and financial management firms require their clients to bring a specific amount of money to the table. Minimum requirements can range from $50,000 to $1 million, so if you’re early in your career, you may not qualify to work with some financial advisors.
- Fee Structure: Though this guide has already mentioned them (can you tell they’re important?), fees are a top factor when choosing a financial advisor. Working with a financial advisor without understanding how they make money can breed mistrust, miscommunications and stress. Selecting a financial advisor you’re comfortable with not only paying, but paying in a specific way can give you confidence, trust and peace of mind.
Questions to Ask Financial Advisor Candidates
When interviewing financial advisor candidates, you can ask each one the same set of questions to get a sense of who can serve your needs. These questions should help you better understand their expertise related to the airline industry or how they can help your unique financial needs. Some of the best questions to ask might include:
- Do you have experience working with pilots?
- What certifications do you have, and what clientele do you primarily serve?
- Are you familiar with multi-state tax returns for pilots?
- Are you a fiduciary?
- Do you have any disclosures, such as criminal activity or customer complaints?
- What services do you provide?
- What fees and costs do you/your firm charge?
- What’s your investment style?
- How frequently can I expect communication from you?
The Bottom Line
As a pilot, you have unique financial, insurance and tax needs. Luckily, financial advisors have the certifications and skills to help you navigate multi-state tax preparation, retirement, career transition and more. By seeking financial planners with specialized qualifications and asking them specific questions, you can discern which one is right for you.
Financial Advisor Tips for Pilots
- As a pilot, you have specific financial needs only certain financial advisors can address. SmartAsset’s free tool matches you with up to three financial advisors who serve your area, and you can interview your advisor matches at no cost to decide which one is right for you. If you’re ready to find an advisor who can help you achieve your financial goals, get started now.
- Are you ready for age-based retirement? Investing for your golden years can be daunting, but it pays to jump on it as soon as possible. Use the following guide for strategies for retirement income.
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