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SMART INSIGHTS FROM PROFESSIONAL ADVISERS

The Key Word in a Quality Financial Plan: Comprehensive

If you’re worried about your financial future, having a plan (and a planner) that goes beyond just investments to cover aspects like Social Security and Medicare can help calm your fears.

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If you’ve talked to friends about their “investment guys,” or if you stay up on market news, by now you’ve likely realized that all financial professionals are not created equal. The services we offer – and how we go about getting you to your goals – can vary widely.

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From my experience it seems that for many in the industry, it’s all about the products. They’ll make recommendations and help you purchase the financial vehicles you hope will make your money grow. But that’s all.

And that’s fine, if it’s what you’re looking for.

But those who offer comprehensive financial planning will do more than that. For us, it’s about being available to offer advice on every aspect of your financial life – and beyond that, really. We’ll look at your expectations, your motivations and what you hope to accomplish with your wealth. It is important we understand what your wealth means to you and how you got to where you are today, and we’ll use processes – not just products – to put you on track to getting you where you want to be, with a focus on:

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  • Creating and implementing a customized plan: Whatever stage you’re at in life, a financial adviser with a comprehensive approach will meet you there. We’ll build a plan that addresses your dreams and goals, but also the concerns that might be keeping you up at night. And while they may need some tweaking, the strategies in that written plan are designed to take you to and through retirement.
  • Ongoing communication: Once we understand your ambitions, we’ll check in regularly to be sure you’re satisfied with the course you’ve set and whether anything has or is expected to change.
  • Comprehensive management: It’s easy to let your financial life become segmented among assets, liabilities, family needs, business obligations, tax consequences, etc. Comprehensive planning takes it all into consideration, working to help you attain and sustain your financial goals.

Helping with Social Security and Medicare

It’s not a coincidence that the things pre-retirees and retirees say they worry about most (including medical and long-term-care costs, changes to Social Security and Medicare funding, debt, low returns on safer investments and running out of money in retirement) are all matters a good adviser covers in a comprehensive retirement plan – and during regular client visits.

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Your financial professional should keep you updated on changes to Social Security claiming options and discuss with you ways to maximize those benefits. He or she should address what Medicare will and won’t cover, and the options you have to help pay for the medical and long-term care costs that likely will come up as you age. And you should talk about ways to account for inflation.

Savers – who now bear most of the responsibility for their own financial security due to the decrease in defined-benefit pensions and the rise of defined-contribution plans - can benefit from that kind of help.

Keeping your plan flexible enough to last a lifetime

Financial advisers who are dedicated to helping clients achieve their retirement goals are constantly exploring what’s out there, keeping an eye on the future about what concerns are relevant and what can be done about them.

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The goal is to design a plan flexible enough to deal with our fast-changing global economy and any transitions in your personal life, yet strong enough to keep you on course through highs and lows in both worlds. Confidence keeps people from making unintelligent decisions.

Capital One Investing’s 2017 “Financial Freedom Survey” found that when markets are volatile, 74% of investors would prefer to work with a financial adviser. I would add that it’s also imperative to look for someone who has a clear process for how you can get to your desired end result. It’s really a journey we go on: investigating what your cash flow is, what your expenses are, what your needs are and will be, how much you’re hoping to save and how much you’re willing to lose. That way, at the end of the day, your financial strategy is sound, and you feel comfortable with the plan we put together.

And it’s important to note that you don’t have to wait until you’re right on top of retirement to put your comprehensive plan in place. It’s never too early to start.

Kim Franke-Folstad contributed to this article.

SEE ALSO: Like Your Portfolio, Your Financial Team Should be Diversified, Too

Matthew del Junco is a registered representative and licensed life insurance agent with Liberty Group, LLC in Oakland, Calif. He holds his insurance license in the state of California and has passed the Series 7, Series 24, Series 63 and Series 66 exams. Del Junco earned a bachelor's degree from the University of California, Berkeley, where he was an NCAA Division I student-athlete and captain of the men's gymnastics team.

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This article was written by and presents the views of our contributing adviser, not the Kiplinger editorial staff. You can check adviser records with the SEC or with FINRA.