Financial Planning

How to Wisely Use the Internet to Serve Your Financial Planning Needs

You can start your research online, but be wary of the information you find.

The Internet is filled with information about retirement planning these days, so it's only natural that people start typing into Google to do a little research before they pay a visit to a financial professional.

Let's face it; we do this with all sorts of things. Your car's engine is making a funny sound? You check the online to see what the cause might be before seeing a mechanic. You have a persistent cough? You seek a virtual diagnosis before scheduling a doctor's appointment.

And you need help managing your retirement assets? You start reading the conventional wisdom out there to see if you can find useful advice that applies to your personal situation.

The Internet is wonderful, no doubt about it. Today, we receive more information in one day than a person received in their entire lifetime through the 19th century.

However, most of us also have figured out by now that we also have to use some discernment when gathering information online. You want to make sure the advice comes from a legitimate source—someone with expertise in the area you're researching, whether financial, medical, automotive or whatever.

Fortunately, several websites exist that can help you do your homework and be better prepared before visiting a financial professional.

Just a few that I recommend include: www.fixedannuityfacts.com; www.indexedannuitiesinsights.com; and www.acli.com/consumers/annuities.

Each of these sites provides valuable facts on annuities and some points for consideration about how certain financial products might have a part to play in planning for retirement income. During your research, you no doubt will come across other sites that also provide useful information.

As you cruise the Internet improving your financial knowledge, here are a few things you can do to better prepare yourself for a meeting with a financial professional:

  • You are almost certain to have questions about some of the information you're finding, especially if you encounter a couple of sites with contradictory advice. Write down your questions as you go, so you'll know exactly what it is that you want cleared up. Then take that list of questions with you when you visit an adviser so you won't forget to ask.
  • Be sure to find definitions for any terms you're not familiar with. Just about every profession has its own language, and people in that profession can be guilty of tossing around words or acronyms that are second nature to them but might be unfamiliar to others. The financial world is no different. If the site you're on doesn't define words or phrases it's using, Google them for a definition. That will help give you a deeper understanding and make you better prepared for your meeting.
  • As you learn more through your online reading, there's also a good chance you will begin to get a better grip on your financial goals. Once you do, write down those goals to go over with your financial professional. That doesn't mean those goals won't need to be adjusted and refined, but you'll at least have a good starting point for that initial meeting.

If you use a little discernment to weed out the bad or irrelevant advice online, while adding to your body of knowledge, you'll be better armed to work with a financial adviser, setting goals and planning a strategy that will work best for you.

Yvette Hammett contributed to this article.

GFPC is not responsible for the views and opinions contained herein, and make no representations or warranties about the accuracy, reliability, completeness or timeliness of the content, and do not recommend or endorse any specific information herein.

About the Author

Donald B. Bergis, Investment Adviser

Founder, Authentikos Advisory

Don Bergis is an Investment Adviser Representative (IAR) and the founder of Authentikos Advisory, a full-service fiduciary firm focused on the protection and growth of client assets toward and through retirement. 

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