This Forbes article paints a picture of two different paths for retirees in America. Some are thriving financially, saving money even in retirement, while others struggle, going into debt in their golden years. Though unplanned expenses like those for extensive medical care can derail your retirement, there is much that can be planned for, and the proper financial planner can make the difference between a happy or a miserable retirement.
Recently, I was speaking with a physician earning a substantial income. His salary afforded his family a comfortable lifestyle, but he hadn’t given much consideration to what could happen if his future cash flow was lessened, through loss of job or downturn in the economy. In addition, he didn’t have life insurance, or any plan for his family if he became disabled through an accident or unfortunate health complication. Our team identified this potential gap in his planning and had him meet with an insurance broker immediately. This is just one example of how the planning process can help ensure a successful financial future.
To be fair, this doctor is far from alone. A 2020 study by The Harris Poll on behalf of the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) found that 23% of American taxpayers do not have an active financial plan for the future.
At AmeriTrust, our relationship managers assist clients in building wealth, planning for a profitable financial future and assembling an individualized plan to meet each client’s financial objectives. Our advice to clients is to view preparing for retirement like preparing for 30 years of unemployment. That concept can really help the reality sink in.
What Financial Planning Is – The Right Path
Financial planning is not a one-size-fits-all proposition. A successful plan is customized, flexible and actionable.
As I recommend to all my new clients, individuals should begin their planning with a financial wellness check to help identify areas for improvement. This deep dive into your financial life might feel a bit like going to the doctor – everything is laid bare and there’s no place for embarrassment – but the results are worth it. The process will almost certainly highlight possible changes that can have a positive impact on your financial future.
The “magic” of financial planning, though, is in the execution. In other words, managing finances so that goals can be achieved, while negotiating the inevitable financial setbacks that will arise. Those barriers could be the aforementioned health care costs, a significant home repair or the loss of a job. In another word – life.
Staying on plan can sometimes seem insurmountable, but with a financial planner, you don’t have to do it alone.
Why a Fiduciary Can Help Your Path
The doctor referenced earlier is a great example of the kind of people that I frequently meet – well educated, intelligent and high-income earners that often feel like a target for the financial services industry.
Legally, fiduciary advisors—like AmeriTrust—must put their clients’ interests and well-being ahead of their own (as opposed to making recommendations that are just suitable). Also, fiduciaries are compensated using a fee-for-service model, versus receiving a commission on investments purchased on behalf of clients.
A fiduciary offers a foundation of trust that is only enhanced over time through personal attention and outstanding customer service.
Overall, my number one goal as a financial planner and wealth advisor is to educate clients. The more a client understands the process, the more they can trust a financial planner to provide recommendations that have their best interests in mind. In addition, working with a trusted financial planner allows a client to concentrate on his or her career, knowing that their advisor will alert them to any potential adjustments needed due to changes in law or life.
Robert Frost famously wrote, “I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.”
Sadly, too many American’s choose not to walk the path of financial planning to retirement, but it is one that truly can make all the difference for those willing to take it.
Kenny Brown, Jr. is a senior vice president and chief operating officer with AmeriTrust, based in Tulsa. He joined AmeriTrust in 2017 after spending four years at Heritage Trust in Oklahoma City, also part of Argent Financial Group.