Starting in 2011 and continuing for the next 20 years, 10,000 people will turn 65 every day in the U.S. If you are a member of this dynamic group, you must act now to protect your freedom and independence.
Taxes are an essential consideration of any strategy to achieve long term freedom. Consider these tax tips.
According to a survey that Franklin Templeton Retirement Income Strategies and Expectations released last week, roughly a third of adults of all ages say that running out of money is their top retirement concern. For older Baby Boomers, that number is higher because they have less time to rebuild their nest eggs from the recent economic downturn.
With retirment looming on the horizon, many are now seeking financial help. Unfortunately, good help is not always easy to find.
Investment scams have received a great deal of press in recent months, however Bernie Madoff's Ponzi scheme is just an extreme example of the many scams that can trap unsuspecting investors. The Securities and Exchange Commission filed a record 735 enforcement actions in the 12 months ended Sept. 30.
With all that doom and gloom, how do you find sound, unbiased advice?
"The vast majority of investment professionals are hard-working individuals who look out for the interests of their clients and customers," says Gerri Walsh, vice president of Investor Education at the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA).
But to find a reliable broker, adviser or financial planner, experts say, there are some guidelines that can help you avoid the financial pitfalls.
Know what your goals are.
The most fundamental goal is having enough money to live on in retirement. But others also may want to provide investments and assets for their heirs. Different professionals can help you with investment products or tax and estate planning.
Do comparison shopping.
Look for professionals who seem to meet your goals. Then check out their backgrounds. There are a number of ways to do that. You can go to BrokerCheck, which is a tool on FINRA's website. It allows you to search for brokers and their firms that are currently or previously registered with FINRA to learn about their education, where they have worked previously and whether they have a history of disciplinary actions or complaints. You also can get information from your state securities regulator.
Bring many questions when you meet with an adviser. Too often, consumers are embarrassed to ask for more details or a better explanation.
Walsh suggests the consumers use a script like this: "Back up one second and bear with me. How exactly does this work? Exactly how does this make money for me? What exactly are the risks? What exactly will I have to pay to own this investment?"
What you should ask your financial planner
• What experience do you have?
• What are your qualifications?
• What licenses do you have?
• What products and services do you recommend?
• Will you be the only person working with me?
• How are you compensated? For example: Do you charge a flat hourly rate (or "à la carte" rate) for services? Is the fee a percentage of assets under management? Do you receive a commission or a referral fee paid by the product or service providers that you sell?
• What organizations are you and your firm regulated by?
• Will you provide a written agreement that details the services and fees that will be provided?