Establishing and pursuing a long-term investment program requires time, skill, discipline and confidence — a combination that many individuals may lack. In fact, Standard & Poor’s research shows that most retirement plan participants are “reluctant” to take on the responsibility of planning and implementing their own investment programs. If you find yourself in this situation, it may make sense to consider working with a financial professional.
Investment advisors are trained to estimate your financial needs, minimize the impact of taxes and pursue portfolio diversification. An investment advisor or financial planner can help reduce the emotions involved in decision-making and keep your long-term strategy on track. Whether you are an experienced investor or just starting out, a financial professional can help support your financial goals and bring clarity to issues you may not have thought about, such as:
- Income and savings: This may be a particularly important topic if you anticipate changing jobs, starting a business or staying home to care for children.
- Retirement: A financial professional can help you calculate your goals and evaluate your investment risk tolerance.
- College: A financial professional can help you plan and take advantage of new rules governing educational funding.
- Estate planning: Having a tax-efficient plan for the distribution of assets to your heirs may allow them to keep more of the money you accumulated during your lifetime.
- Contingency fund: Thinking about the possibility of a job loss or illness is not pleasant, but it is important to have a contingency plan for such setbacks. A financial professional can help you work toward building a three- to six-month surplus for unexpected events.
To help you create a formal financial plan, your financial planner will need to assess your personal situation, including tolerance for risk, current portfolio allocation and time horizon, among other matters.
At your first meeting, you may want to bring copies of documents such as wills and insurance policies, as well as recent pension, investment and savings account statements. There is no single right way to establish long-term financial goals and objectives. Some investment professionals use a series of worksheets to identify a client’s current financial circumstance and to design a personal plan of action.
Because a financial plan is a long-term working document, it makes sense to meet with your investment professional at least once a year to make adjustments for any changes in lifestyle and market conditions.
Building a relationship of trust takes time. The sooner you contact an investment professional, the sooner you will be able to take charge of your finances, simplify your financial life, and devote your energy to other important matters.