A Second Opinion: How Important Is It to Your Financial Health and Well-Being?

A Second Opinion How Important Is It to Your Financial Health and Well-Being on stuartplanning.com

It’s time to take the wheel and put your financial advisor and retirement plan to the test

It’s almost second nature to seek a second opinion before moving forward with big life decisions. When it comes to your physical health, for example, medical professionals can assume that their patients will seek the advice of an additional doctor before agreeing to a procedure that can greatly impact their health.

By Craig Kirsner, MBA, Nationally-Recognized Author, Speaker, Retirement Planner, and President of Stuart Estate Planning Wealth Advisors.

Since our financial health is nearly as important, shouldn’t the same philosophy apply when making decisions that impact our financial future? While the answer may seem like a no-brainer, it is not industry standard to seek the opinions of anyone other than your current financial advisor, who may even be offended at the mere mention of the idea.

Here’s the thing, though: not all advisors are required to put your best interests at the top of their priority list. For example, many captive agents represent their company and its associated products first and foremost, turning their role into more of a commissioned sales opportunity. And while we all want to believe that our trusted advisors are giving us the same advice that they are using in their own personal lives, a study by the Financial Planning Association found that just under half of financial planners don’t even have a retirement plan in place for themselves “yet 40% are planning to retire within the next 14 years.” If they don’t take their own advice, they shouldn’t be giving it to you.

Here are a few reasons to consider getting that second opinion:

You might be a “do-it-yourself” investor and need complex advice

You certainly trust that you have your best interests at heart, but you may not have the expertise to navigate retired investing, which should focus on mitigating risk, ensuring a steady income stream, and protecting and preserving wealth for generations to come.

For example, many DIY investors simply put their money toward a ratio of index funds that track the performance of the stock market, diversified with a proportion of more conservative investments, like bonds and cash. But as your life changes, so do your investment goals. Over-exposure to index stock funds can put a retired investor in a bad situation when the market crashes and takes a great deal of time to recover, and the ratios of safe investments – and what those investments actually are – should change according to an individualized risk assessment that factors in your priorities and stage of life.

And many investors buy higher-risk, higher-income investments like energy investments that pay a higher dividend yield, not realizing they are risking a substantial amount of their principal in those investments.

Something doesn’t feel right

Maybe your gut tells you that your investments carry too much risk. Or you are paying fees or investing in products that you don’t understand.

And how would you feel if your doctors got paid each time you bought irrelevant medications or underwent unnecessary surgeries? Believe it or not, there are a lot of financial advisors that get paid in commissions to push products, which can make their recommendations to you completely self-serving. Unfortunately, being highly trained in sales can be a lucrative and common way for financial professionals to get ahead.

This is not to say that most financial advisors make suggestions designed to benefit them and them alone. Quite the contrary. But obtaining a second opinion will allow you the opportunity to ask the right questions and ensure that you are, in fact, working with someone who puts your best interests first.

Pro tip: Ensure your financial advisor is a fiduciary, someone who is legally bound to make decisions and recommendations based solely on your financial wellbeing.

You also want to update your estate plan

Thinking about the legacy you want to leave for your family can make you wonder whether your current plans are sufficient or well-structured. They key to a good estate plan is creating one in coordination with your investing and wealth management strategy and structuring it so that your wealth goes exactly where you want it to go after you pass while lessening the burden on your heirs. This is why “estate planning” is in our company name, and why we work with attorneys who have vast experience in specific mechanisms, such as dynasty trusts, that are designed to preserve and protect the distribution of your wealth and keep it in your family bloodline.

You might have outgrown your current plan

It’s important that your financial plan is customized for YOU, and there is no one-size-fits-all strategy, even if your family has enjoyed financial security while working with an advisor. This is why Stuart Estate Planning Wealth Advisors conducts a comprehensive portfolio risk analysis on every client. It examines all of your current investments – stocks, bonds, mutual funds, 401(k) accounts, IRAs, ETFs, annuities, and more – and then produces a “Risk Number” between 1 and 99 using specialized software.

“1” represents the safest possible investments (all cash) and “99” would mean all of your investments are in an aggressive stock. This number gives you a highly-detailed look at how much risk you are exposed to and its reassessed and rebalanced every quarter to make sure it matches up with an ideal risk number – the number based on your specific goals at the time.

A risk number gives you a more specific idea of exactly what your retirement plan looks like right now. It’s much more accurate than using generic terms like “aggressive” or “conservative” for an investment strategy.

Fees are too high

Negotiating lower rates can be an uncomfortable topic to broach for anyone, let alone with someone that you’ve been working with for a long time. The harsh reality is, however, that you may be overpaying for financial guidance or specific investment products, and what better way to confirm or debunk that than to consult with other qualified financial professionals.

During your discovery, you may even learn that there are actually less expensive ways of accomplishing the goals that you already have in place. Ideally, you’re already working with an amazing advisor who offers fair fees, but it’s worth a few hours of your time to confirm that.

In short, when it comes to your finances, obtaining a second opinion is one of the best ways to confirm that your financial health is in peak shape. It’s also the fastest way of uncovering any red flags that may be discreetly hiding in your financial plans.

Although it is not customary to seek an outside opinion, it’s in your best interest to do it.

Learn more by attending an upcoming complimentary dinner workshop at Ruth’s Chris or Abe & Louie’s Steakhouse in Boca Raton or Fort Lauderdale. This workshop is best suited for those over age 60 with investable assets between $500,000 to $10,000,000 or more.  Call our office at 1-800-807-5558 to register now.

Investment advisory services offered only by duly registered individuals through AE Wealth Management, LLC (AEWM). AEWM and Stuart Estate Planning Wealth Advisors have not affiliated companies. Stuart Estate Planning Wealth Advisors is an independent financial services firm that creates retirement strategies using a variety of investment and insurance products. Neither the firm nor its representatives may give tax or legal advice. Investing involves risk, including the potential loss of principal. No investment strategy can guarantee a profit or protect against loss in periods of declining values. Any references to protection benefits or lifetime income generally refer to fixed insurance products, never securities or investment products. Insurance and annuity product guarantees are backed by the financial strength and claims-paying ability of the issuing insurance company. Any media logos and/or trademarks contained herein are the property of their respective owners and no endorsement by those owners of Craig Kirsner or Stuart Estate Planning Wealth Advisors is stated or implied. 734252

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