16 Replies Latest reply on Apr 23, 2014 2:28 PM by BoBraxton

    Anyone worked with a financial planner?

    Beachdreamer
      Now that retirement is on the horizon I feel we should have a professional evaluation of our finances. We had a lawyer prepare a living trust, but they didn't offer any financial advice. We visited a tax specialist, but she just wanted us to return in February with our 1099's, again, no advice. I've searched various sources to find "fee only" planners, but I'm not convinced they know more than I do about investments. I'd like someone to review everything and offer advice on 403B contributions and future tax implications. I'd like to hear your experiences with financial planners, and suggestions of how to find a good one. I'm in California.
        • Re: Anyone worked with a financial planner?
          jkom51

          I worked for almost two years for a wonderful, semi-retired, independent CFP. I had always handled the investment/financial/legal side for DH and I, but it was a real education to see what the 'next level up' could be for those who can afford a fee-based advisor with fiduciary responsibility.

          My work experience confirmed to me that a good planner is far more than 'investment advice'. You can get that from a Dummies book and paying attention to the myriad investment articles available for free all over the Web.

          What a good planner with true fiduciary responsibility to his/her clients can do for you, is to look at your financial situation holistically. This means every type of insurance you have or should have (suitable for your situation), analyzing your risk profile, your longevity prospects, your short/medium/long-term goals, and family/inheritance arrangements. A good registered/certified advisor is a sounding board, a mentor, and the person who will sometimes say "no" to you.

          A good advisor isn't just credentials (although they're important) nor just good references (ditto). A good advisor must have a compatible personality with you, because at the very least you are going to have several initial meetings plus regular follow-ups, every one or two years, or any time a life-changing event happens.

          No lawyer or tax advisor can legally assist you with financial planning. No advisor without fiduciary responsibility to you, can provide a financial plan under SEC law. The only advisors who can legally offer financial planning (formerly called 'estate planning') are: CFPs, RIAs, CPAs with a PFS certification, and insurance agents certified in estate planning (but only for insurance purposes, not for analyzing your portfolio).

          Both the FPA and Garrett Planning websites have very good free consumer articles about what to look for and questions you should be asking. This is an interview process; not only will you need to find an independent advisor who is willing to work with you (most have minimums you must meet), you will want to interview at least two or three, check all the references, see sample reports, and THEN sit down to work with the advisor you select.

          FPA's website for consumers is: http://www.fpaforfinancialplanning.org/

          Garrett's is: http://www.garrettplanningnetwork.com/

          We work with an independent CFP firm who handles my MIL's investments. We had very specific criteria for using a CFP for her. Because DH is an only child and MIL's family lives outside the US, we have no back-up if something happens to both DH and me. MIL is healthier than we are, but suffers from dementia. She is fine with day-to-day, but completely incompetent to handle sophisticated money matters and would be easy to scam (we've already had to refuse a 'small loan' of $30K to a cousin). The few members of her family who would be trustworthy successor trustees, have very little experience handling sizable investments.

          Thus it was necessary for us to find a firm with not just the 'hand-holding' that good independent advisors provide, but also a firm with a strong bench; e.g., partners and staff, so that twenty years from now, there will be good continuity in handling her affairs should anything happen to us.

          Therefore this eliminated my old boss, who was otherwise a great choice. But he is a one-man firm; none of the other staff are registered advisors. He's already semi-retired, and it didn't seem practical to expect him to remain working full-time two decades from now.

          I enjoy doing the investing of our own portfolio, and so we don't need a planner. I have made certain all the legal and financial 'bases' are covered, in addition to being well insured - something many people badly under-estimate. Sometimes we 'piggyback' onto MIL's account and ask the CFP firm to look over our allocations to see if they think we're properly positioned for the short- to medium-term, but I don't do that very often, maybe once every couple of years at most.

          However, should anything happen to me, DH has instructions to sell the house and move the entire portfolio to the CFP firm. He understands investing - we have regular conversations to make sure we're on the 'same page' for both our own and MIL's portfolio - but has very little real interest in it. I have confidence that this firm can provide the advice and expertise both he and MIL would need, should I become disabled or die.

            • Re: Anyone worked with a financial planner?
              Beachdreamer
              Thank you so much for the thoughtful and informative reply. I guess it will be important to visit and interview prospective advisers until we find one we really trust.
                • Re: Anyone worked with a financial planner?
                  Sharon

                  We went to a fee only financial planner who organized us, helped us "diversify" and guided us on our future. He made sure we had a trust, will, and health care power of attorney. But he "fired" us because we didn't have enough money to keep hiring him and we didn't  follow his advice to "downsize", sell the house, and live below our means.

                  I'm sure had we followed his advice we wouldn't be worrried about the future now. He did not sell any product but explained all about Cd's, stocks, bonds, annuities, etc.  We had to purchase all our choices on our own. He did like TIAA-CREFF and Vanguard as being solid and reliable for many years. But we all need to diversify-- some of everything.

              • Re: Anyone worked with a financial planner?
                JRR

                I find financial planners, by and large, think and act like a pack; they all tell you the same stuff - invest for the long-term, stay diversified, and so on, but don't really help us navigate the current post-crisis period or understand the fact sheets on mutual funds; what does investment grade really mean, given that the rating agencies have been working for the investment houses and not for the consumers? The fact sheets of a lot of 4 and 5 star rated mutual funds say their portfolios include "lower grade" bonds or stocks - does that mean junk? The bond funds that are not hot will probably turn sharply south months before inflationary trends surface - the fund managers will know when to get out, but who will tell the fund holders? 

                Three years ago I was talked into placing a part of my modest portfolio under a fund's "asset management services" that charged 1% a year even as the portfolio was tanking - I took the portfolio out a few months ago and just placed the funds in asset allocation funds, and did at least as well as the professionals if not better!    

                  • Re: Anyone worked with a financial planner?
                    JerryD
                    JRR said...



                    ... 

                    Three years ago I was talked into placing a part of my modest portfolio under a fund's "asset management services" that charged 1% a year even as the portfolio was tanking - I took the portfolio out a few months ago and just placed the funds in asset allocation funds, and did at least as well as the professionals if not better!    

                     I too spent several years with several "asset management" companies. They charged 2% of assets to manage. I finally discovered that nobody cares more about my assets than I do and I dumped them. Counting on these managers was an expensive lesson.

                    That said, an advisor that helps you organize your approach to retirement can be extremely helpful. They should NOT be compensated for anything you discuss or he recommends. With the help of such an adviser I set up a comprehensive spreadsheet that allows me to do what-ifs and to see long-term projections of my financial situation. I may be a control freak but I feel great comfort in knowing where I am going and where I have come from.

                      • Re: Anyone worked with a financial planner?
                        jkom51

                        There are literally hundreds of different 'financial' titles. Virtually all of them are made-up, almost useless, 'instant certification' job titles that have little legal liability and NO fiduciary duty to the client.

                        If you can't be bothered to find a true certified or registered advisor with fiduciary duty to you, then yes, you are better off handling your own affairs.

                        Those of us who understand the difference in using a professional who has to take annual recertification to provide services and products that are legally mandated to be for the CUSTOMER'S best interests, rather than the advisor's or his/her company's best interests (e.g., the maximum amount of commissions and management fees), will make the effort to find either a fee-only (paid by the hour) or an asset-based  CFP/RIA/CPA-PFS through personal referrals and such sites as the Garrett Planning Network and Financial Planners Association.

                        Every individual's financial situation is unique, because everyone's goals and situations are different. Having a Certified Financial Planner look at your situation to advise you on how to achieve your goals, as opposed to having a broker with a fancy meaningless title invest your IRA, is like the difference between someone throwing you a towel when you emerge from a bath, versus having the maid draw the water and hand you the soap and towel, the valet place the dressing robe over your shoulders and shave you, help you dress, then hand you over to the footman to be escorted down to the dining room.

                        If you don't have enough money, you'll never be able to afford the second scenario. But if you saved steadily, didn't panic when 'everybody' said the world was ending (yet again), allocated into a balanced portfolio, and didn't charge your life away on credit cards, you actually can, with a little bit of luck, achieve a lot more comfortable level than you started out with, all those decades ago.

                        A planner can be immeasurably helpful in getting you there - but it should be a REAL planner, not a broker hiding behind a fake fancy-sounding title with meaningless initials after his/her name. There are so many elements that go into a good, comprehensive financial plan. It's like reading an insurance policy - if you're sloppy and don't know the right questions to ask, you can end up spending a fortune because your plan wasn't as good as you thought it was, and didn't cover you for every emergency. A certified financial planner will actually read that insurance policy for you, every word, and talk to you about whether it's useful risk mitigation or not.

                        A broker with the fancy-schmancy title and meaningless initials can't do that, and won't do that. You could do it yourself, but like doing all your own auto repairs or plumbing, you can probably think of much better things to do with your time.

                        If anyone thinks a few months of financial classes (about 18, actually, for a CFP) couldn't be much different than a few weeks for an uncertified title, you're wrong. It's easier to pass the bar to be a lawyer than to pass the CFP exams. A lot of years, the pass rate is less than 50%.

                          • Re: Anyone worked with a financial planner?
                            JerryD
                            I believe that CFP also requires a number of years of experience in the financial field.  Also, to eliminate people who create titles, there is an SEC form (can't remember the number right off hand) that they must provide you about their qualifications and past history. GET IT! That said, I obtained the form from the paid advisers that  I used. That does NOT mean that they are proficient.

                            I repeat. Nobody is more interested or focused on your money than you are. If you can, do your own money management. With the new ETF's or similar concepts in TIAA-CREF Accounts, you can probably do as well as an adviser if you are not chasing the latest hot investment. Set conservative to moderate goals and monitor your progress regularly - doesn't mean to trade on every up or down.
                              • Re: Anyone worked with a financial planner?
                                jkom51

                                And again, I reiterate: you don't use a CFP just to invest for you. Any broker can do that, or you can do it yourself on-line at a discount brokerage.

                                You use a CFP or RIA to look COMPREHENSIVELY at your unique financial situation, identify your goals, complete your legal documents, and plan what you want to happen if you become disabled or die.

                                The majority of people I know are insurance-ignorant. For that alone, a CFP can be worth every penny in fees.

                                I remember a young couple who came to my ex-boss' office. They had ended up with a far bigger estate than planned, due to profitable stock options at the tech companies they worked at. Despite being in their late 40's with a child, they had never gotten around to doing their legal docs.

                                It took six months and constant gentle reminders, but at the end of that time they had their accounts consolidated with a real financial plan for early retirement, an RLT, and an ILIT (Irrevocable Life Insurance Trust) to pay the estate taxes on their son's inheritance. They had an increased sense of security from finally having done not only what they'd been meaning to do (the RLT) but had learned how to use their disposable income to guarantee a sophisticated but simple estate transition process. They had not just their tax advisor, but an excellent estate attorney; both ready to work in concert with the CFP whenever necessary.

                                They also made the decision to invest in LTC policies, even though they had a sufficiently large estate to self-insure. As was standard, even for high-income clients, they were given a scenario run with actual numbers to let them see what effect disability might have on their net worth. There were advantages and disadvantages, and it was up to them to decide what would work best with their risk tolerance. My boss didn't care either way, as insurance commissions were a very minor part of his income so his only criteria was top-rated insurers with the best deal (e.g., lowest commission and management charges) for the client.

                                Even for the middle-class, you can both invest and use insurance for risk mitigation, in ways that can increase your odds of a successful retirement. Certainly one can accomplish that without much help; I've done it for decades. In 25 yrs I've quadrupled the total employer-employee contributions to our retirement portfolio. But I NEVER make the mistake of thinking that 'anybody' can do well in investing....because most people can't. They have lousy instincts, and panic easily. They buy high and sell low, then moan about how 'the odds are stacked against the little people.'

                                Those odds are indeed stacked against the little people. BUT, there are tricks and strategies for improving those odds. But it takes not only knowledge and analysis, but a passionate interest, contrarian instincts, and a strong stomach. I know people who have 3 of the 5, and have made consistently wrong decisions for decades. It's painful to watch, and a good advisor could have probably have prevented them from panicking at the most disastrous times.

                                We're the only ones in our immediate family/friends who can afford to take early retirement, despite the upheaval of the past two years. We're the only ones who have affordable LTC insurance and don't fear disability or accidents the way everyone else does, including a lot of people here judging by the discussion threads. We did everything a CFP does for clients, because I had the advantage of working for one and seeing precisely how a well-planned process can eliminate a lot of uncertainty, fear, and confusion from one's life.

                                Even though we made a lot of mistakes along the way, understanding the planning process enabled us to succeed anyway. We can accept getting older and more frail, because we know that the other spouse is going to be financially and legally protected. And THAT is worth more than anything. Security is not just $$$ - it is peace of mind, knowing there is someone who is literally, 'on your side', that you can ask any questions you want and they'll find the best answer for you.

                                A good certified/registered advisor has a track record and satisfied clients for references. To dismiss their help as 'just investing' is to miss the entire point of what Financial Planning - the legal term as mandated by the SEC - is all about. It is much, much more than just 'investing.'

                                  • Re: Anyone worked with a financial planner?
                                    JerryD
                                    Nice that your boss didn't care about commissions, but the GOLDEN RULE is that anybody that is compensated by recommendations has an automatic conflict-of-interest if they recommend their products.

                                    Back to the original post. When looking for a financial adviser, it seems wise to ask your trust lawyer for suggestions to start. Ask relatives, friends and acquaintances for ideas and carefully evaluate their experiences. Just beware that this type of recommendation will probably be either very negative (AVOID!) or glowing (take with a GRAIN OF SALT!).

                                    While looking around, why not try to put together your own analysis in a spreadsheet. Start with a reasonable budget to gauge expenses. Move on to income. With this clearer picture of where you are at, come up with some goals for investment goals and assumed returns - retirement assumptions will probably be much more modest. Now come up with another with retirement needs in mind that factor in all of these things that you have discovered to make sure the expected cash flows are supported by your analysis. You can get really detailed by throwing in taxes, pensions, Social Security, inflation (a very good idea - I used 3.5% long-term), major expenses (new car, vacation home, etc.). If it isn't working, changes are needed or goals modified.

                                    When you have the details in front of you, it is much easier to do what-ifs and to track actuals. I found that such an analysis, with or without professional advice, is a great comfort and helps remove the indecision on what you need to do to get where you want to be or, if unrealistic, set you back on a course that you can obtain and live with.

                                    This may seem like a lot of work, but it is likely that you have much of this information and you just need to pull it together in an organized way. The assumptions have to be faced at some time. Why not start out conservatively.


                                      • Re: Anyone worked with a financial planner?
                                        jkom51

                                        >>Nice that your boss didn't care about commissions, but the GOLDEN RULE is that anybody that is compensated by recommendations has an automatic conflict-of-interest if they recommend their products.>>

                                        And by that standard, you would never take the advice of any repairman, nor would you ever be influenced by a single advertisement in any manner, shape or form, whether retail or political. I'd say the likelihood of any of us being such a person is maybe slim to none.

                                        Your golden rule may sound sage, but you are ignoring the difference between the suitability standard and the fiduciary requirement. If you don't understand that a registered advisor is in fact, 'on your side', then you have misunderstood every post I've made.

                                        Unlike you, I've worked with BOTH the commissioned and the non-commissioned pros. As I've said, it's not impossible to find an ethical, thoughtful broker to help you....but it isn't easy, either. Your chances are higher with a registered/certified planner. JerryD, have you or anyone close to you, ever actually worked with a good independent CFP? If not, how are you judging their effectiveness? I might as well be saying what a great, fantastic car XXX is, without ever having driven one.

                                        I absolutely agree anyone considering retirement needs to track expenses and establish a budget. But "assumed returns"? I don't know many friends and family who have achieved anywhere near the returns I've logged. At the very least, they should use one of the calculators on the web to figure out if they get a 3-5% annual return, by how much do they need to increase their saving rate to achieve their goals?

                                        In fact, how do you propose they figure out how much they need in retirement? Everyone's situation is individual and not easy to calculate. There is no one-size-fits-all. At the very least, a good pro can help one figure this out. A neutral sounding board can be of great assistance in getting answers to difficult questions, such as "what's your life expectancy based on your family history?" and "here's the pros/cons to different annuity products or long term care insurance".

                                        I participate in a lot of forums, including ones strictly for women. There are way too many people who are running into difficulties because their own planning was insufficient, too narrowly focused, and ignorant of the many things that could, and did, go wrong with their assumptions. When you pay a good registered planner, THAT'S what you get, if you've educated yourself and done your homework. You get answers to questions you never realized were important but are.

                                        Ignorance is not bliss. You personally might be lucky enough to never need a fiduciary-based planner. But a lot of people we know would have been much better off with one. There's a reason why they're still working, and we're not, even though many of those people made more money than we did.

                                          • Re: Anyone worked with a financial planner?
                                            JerryD

                                            Jkom, I don't mean to criticize your input, just present other alternatives that many capable people on this forum might consider. I also don't want to start a posting debate, but let me at least comment on some of your responses.

                                            And by that standard, you would never take the advice of any repairman, ... I'd say the likelihood of any of us being such a person is maybe slim to none.

                                            In general, any vendor is also by definition biased. They are selling a specific product and that is how they make a living. Not likely they will tell you go to a competitor. On simpler matters like repairs, cars, services, etc., many are familiar with them from experience, advice from family/friends, education, etc. Not many have an in depth understanding of finances without educating oneself and doing a bit of work, thus the spreadsheet suggestion.

                                            Your golden rule may sound sage, but you are ignoring the difference between the suitability standard and the fiduciary requirement. If you don't understand that a registered advisor is in fact, 'on your side', then you have misunderstood every post I've made.
                                            Not sure this is the best definition, but I found this on Wikipedia: "A fiduciary duty is the highest standard of care at either equity or law. A fiduciary (abbreviation fid) is expected to be extremely loyal to the person to whom he owes the duty (the "principal"): he must not put his personal interests before the duty, and must not profit from his position as a fiduciary, unless the principal consents."

                                            Not saying that your boss violated this but it sounds similar to my Golden Rule. The touchy part is how does one insult somebody that is doing a plan for them that requires his product/service by telling him you will possibly acquire it elsewhere after you discuss it with a number of other vendors?

                                            ... JerryD, have you or anyone close to you, ever actually worked with a good independent CFP? If not, how are you judging their effectiveness? ...

                                            I believe that I admitted to at least using several percentage of principal investment advisers. All had the appropriate SEC forms and provided them. I don't want to go to deeply into it because this site has warned about specific discussions of TIAA-CREF services, but I have worked quite a bit with a Wealth Management Adviser. They provided the same SEC forms and the current one just recently confirmed that he has a fiduciary relationship with me.

                                            I absolutely agree anyone considering retirement needs to track expenses and establish a budget. But "assumed returns"? I don't know many friends and family who have achieved anywhere near the returns I've logged. At the very least, they should use one of the calculators on the web to figure out if they get a 3-5% annual return, by how much do they need to increase their saving rate to achieve their goals?

                                            Thank you for the support on doing the budgeting process. I didn't imply that my approach is to maximize returns nor do I recommend to anybody that is about to retire or is retired that they use this as a strategy to catch up. Selecting a conservative assumed return isn't hard - say, assumed inflation rate plus a sub-10% real return, the lower the better and obtainable IMO. It's a goal not a must have; a means to measure how you're doing and whether you need to change it or work harder. On how much to save, a spreadsheet can do that for you by telling you how much you need to get a monthly/yearly payout. Other simple tools are the Rule of 72 for how long it takes to double your money (see Wikipedia) and a little more complex but easy enough formula (using a scientific calculator that can raise numbers to powers other than 2) to see how your money compounds at an assumed number of years to accumulate, rate of return (as a decimal value) and either starting principal or desired future value:

                                            principal * (1 + rate of return) ^ number of years = FUTURE VALUE

                                            or solving for principal required to reach a desired future value

                                            PRINCIPAL = future value * (1 + rate of return) ^ (-number of years)

                                            In fact, how do you propose they figure out how much they need in retirement? ...

                                            Use their retirement budget and the rules above to set goals on how to get there or whether it is even possible and goals need to be changed. I did say to look for an adviser if you need one and I do agree that one needs to consider investment alternatives, even ones you are not familiar with, to get to one's goals. But the Internet is very, very helpful these days and can reduce the most complex topics so that even this dummy can grasp, or at least decide I need help.

                                            ... There are way too many people who are running into difficulties because their own planning was insufficient, too narrowly focused, and ignorant of the many things that could, and did, go wrong with their assumptions. ... if you've educated yourself and done your homework. You get answers to questions you never realized were important but are.

                                            I totally agree that one can have unreasonable or insufficient analysis. I would also throw in what IMO is even worse, people who are too busy, lazy, intimidated, etc. to even attempt an analysis. These need REAL help. I would also agree that another set of eyes with a broader horizon can't hurt. But then there are TIAA-CREF services that can help with this and I personally have a better faith in them due to many years of association and experience than a random or unknown and potentially expensive adviser found elsewhere.

                                            ... a lot of people we know would have been much better off with one. There's a reason why they're still working, and we're not, even though many of those people made more money than we did.

                                            I can't agree more. If you start to think about retirement when you are thinking of doing it, you probably are in deep trouble. But, if you were disciplined (I started at around 30 even though I might not have known at the time), like many on this forum probably were, a crash course from an adviser may be unnecessary even if an independent set of eyes never hurts in complex decisions with long range impacts.

                                            Again, Jkom, I believe that you offer some excellent advice. I am just trying to project another point-of-view that others, especially the original poster, might consider and try themselves, at least initially. Thank you for your informed experiences.

                                              • Re: Anyone worked with a financial planner?
                                                jkom51

                                                JerryD, thank you for the long and thoughtful reply.

                                                 

                                                I admit I hate working with spreadsheets. I can write forever, but my expertise at Excel stops at the very simplest formulas and doing some formatting. As I've said elsewhere, DH and I did a lot of things wrong in our younger years, but were just lucky that circumstances gave us the chance to learn the right things to do, in time. And those things were much more inclusive than just focusing on stocks and bonds.

                                                 

                                                I don't know what kind of financial plans you have seen before. There's many kinds, most of them software based. However, I was fortunate to work with someone who produced financial plans (very expensive) by hand, analyzing every aspect of one’s life, from auto insurance needs to legal issues to retirement goals.

                                                 

                                                A true financial plan is a roadmap. It is as different from a broker’s investing advice, as a DIY will is from a customized RLT.

                                                 

                                                The financial plan from our office was COMPLETELY independent of portfolio management. If you wanted to pay for one without becoming a client, you did just that. And quite a few people did take the plan and go elsewhere. If she recommended you consolidate your old 401k’s into a single IRA, you were free to do it yourself and implement the suggested portfolio allocation using any funds you wanted from E-trade.

                                                 

                                                Again, a financial plan, and financial planning, is so much more than investing and figuring out a reasonable ROI. Until one has experienced how profoundly positive a good professional's help can be, a lot of people are just 'shooting in the dark.'

                                                 

                                                All the spreadsheet analysis in the world may not be enough to get most workers to where they want to be, because they’re not asking themselves the right questions.

                                                 

                                                Any education and analysis people are willing to do, is just the first step on a long road. One shouldn't take that first step and assume that’s all there is to the process. There is so much more to it, and someone with a fiduciary responsibility to you can really ease that path if one is willing to engage in a true working relationship.

                                                 

                                                It is simple, really. The auto repairman doesn’t care how early you retire, as long as you can pay his bill. A broker makes his money off you in trades, the brokerage makes it by management fees and charging you NAV+ whatever percentile your account is eligible for.

                                                 

                                                A financial fiduciary, by contrast, has a vested interest in helping you achieve your goals. That’s a powerful advantage one can utilize, but most people don’t....and that is unfortunate.

                                                  • Re: Anyone worked with a financial planner?
                                                    JerryD
                                                    I guess my posts may reflect a technical IT background based on a math degree which I almost never used throughout my career. Maybe adding in a moderate control freak personality helps to explain my approach. That said, I haven't the slightest idea what pivot tables or other advanced spreadsheet concepts are. I imagine that many participants on this forum are very capable of the level of spreadsheet work I suggest. Some, if not many, are probably advanced users and only need to do the hard work of analyzing the right problem.

                                                    While I addressed one area, your comments are very important if one has not thought deeply about the retirement problem and needs help and suggestions to enable them to get down to the important issues and decisions.

                                                    Just wondering if the original poster has found any of this discussion of use or has any comments.


                                                      • Re: Anyone worked with a financial planner?
                                                        Don49
                                                        My wife and have had two.  Yes, they are required to have the same philosophy due to the certification requirement-ie. long term out look.

                                                        While this prevents churning it also prevents a portfolio  from recovering from the  '08"correction " as well as the change in market dynamics due to computerized trading and poor economic conditions.  (Look at the averages through the 30's and 70's to appreciate our current market pattern).

                                                        Talk to several planners, go to meetings and buy different financial periodicals every month.  Hopefully you'll learn about investing at least enough to avoid falling for unrealistic expectations and greed (e.g. Madoff's  (Sp) customers).
                                                  • Re: Anyone worked with a financial planner?
                                                    cromuggin
                                                    My wife and I have about a third of our own retirement funds under professional management.  We use their advice in our planning, which does assist in getting another viewpoint.  It is in that function I feel the professional is worth the expense.

                                                    I do use a spreadsheet to track funds and expenses, and project  "what if" simulations.  Before spreadsheets, a calculator was quite capable of doing the same.  The spreadsheet justs tells us where we are, what we think our income & expenses will be.  We use our current expenses in the review, as it is difficult to know if your "educated guesses" are close to what you will be living with.  I retired at 55, three years ago and my wife works.   We do show the "plan" we have to the professional, and take input.

                                                    The important part is you have a plan and an idea of what is happening around you.  Outside views are important to give you feedback, perhaps point out  missing elements of the plan.

                                      • Re: Anyone worked with a financial planner?
                                        BoBraxton

                                        Feeling hung out to dry - on my / our own - same kind of situation - lawyer, accountant - except now (for the time being) I feel satisfied with self guiding the financials.