Raleigh, North Carolina


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Question: I live in Raleigh, North Carolina. I’m about to turn 65 and looking to work maybe one more year. Our combined income is approximately $140,000 a year, and I have about $1 million in assets. What type of financial adviser should I be looking for? (Looking for a financial adviser too? You can use this tool to get matched with an adviser who might meet your needs.)

Answer: The type of adviser you should be looking for depends on the type of advice you’re looking for. “Are you looking for an adviser who can put together a financial game plan for you … that you can implement yourself? Or are you looking for someone who can not only provide the financial game plan but also handle the heavy lifting of implementation,” says certified financial planner Bruce Primeau at Summit Wealth Advocates. 

If you’re looking for advice only, and answers to questions like ‘can I retire next year?’ it could make sense to hire an adviser to do a one-time financial plan, says certified financial planner Chris Diodato at WELLth. “These typically cost anywhere from $1,000 to $3,000 and offer guidance for those seeking answers to big questions, as well as a financial roadmap through their futures. These types of plans also usually offer custom-tailored ideas for maximizing investment returns and minimizing overall tax burden,” says Diodato.

Have an issue with your current financial adviser or looking to hire a new one? Email [email protected].

But, there’s a big caveat with one-time financial plans — implementation of the planner’s advice is up to you. “For folks who don’t want to make their own investments, track their own spending and manage their own tax strategies, an ongoing financial planning relationship makes more sense,” says Diodato. 

Other options are to hire an adviser who charges hourly for their advice who you can call when you need them (or ensure you can do that along with your one-time plan). That might cost you between $150 and $500 per hour, depending on location, expertise and the complexity of one’s finances. Or you might want to hire an adviser who charges based on assets under management (AUM). (Looking for a financial adviser too? You can use this tool to get matched with an adviser who might meet your needs.)

The AUM adviser can manage your investments for you and provide you with a comprehensive financial plan, tax guidance, estate planning and more. In that case you’d typically pay around 1% of your assets under management.

Whatever type of adviser you choose (and note that you can absolutely DIY this too), you have a lot of issues that need to be thought through. Your question talks about current income and assets, but you also need to “address expenses, how you would like to live, your post-retirement income and more. Retirement is a delicate time because at 65, there’s a 50% chance that one member of the couple will live until 95, hence they have a thirty-year horizon with no meaningful opportunity to return to work in case of a mistake. Therefore, the margin of error is limited,” says certified financial planner Chris Chen at Insight Financial Strategists.

Certified financial planner Matt Fizell at Harmony Wealth says having someone who can confidently navigate you through your vision of what an ideal retirement looks like will also be crucial. “This will help shape decisions around whether or not you go full-stop retirement, maybe transition to part-time work and how those decisions impact your Social Security strategy, managing your lifetime tax burden and the impact your taxable income has on key pieces of retirement such as Medicare,” says Fizell. 

Additionally, you may want to consider a certified financial planner with some tax background. “Having a tax background is extremely helpful in designing strategies to minimize portfolio taxes over the long-term, plus to design a tax-efficient cash flow strategy as you draw from your assets in retirement,” says Primeau.

Whoever you pick, you will want to do your due diligence. Consider a fee-only financial adviser — possibly a certified financial planner — who is a fiduciary required to work in your best interest, rather than being compensated for selling or recommending certain products. “This eliminates any potential conflicts of interest with the adviser selling you high-commissioned products that may or may not be in your best interest,” says certified financial planner Eric Presogna of OneUp Financial. 

During your search for an adviser, it’s important to note that an adviser can be dually registered, meaning they present themselves as a fee-only fiduciary but also have the ability to earn commissions from selling products like A-share mutual funds or annuities, registered as a broker, says Presogna. “Start by looking for a fee-only fiduciary who’s not dually registered. It isn’t necessarily a bad thing but may create conflicts down the line given the uncertainty of whether they’re acting as a fiduciary or a broker,” says Presogna.

To search for qualified advisers, experts recommend using the National Association of Personal Financial Advisor’s (NAPFA) online Find an Adviser tool, Garrett Planning Network and XY Planning Network, all of which have fee-only advisers with various specialities and areas of focus. (Looking for a financial adviser too? You can use this tool to get matched with an adviser who might meet your needs.)

Have an issue with your current financial adviser or looking to hire a new one? Email [email protected].

Questions edited for brevity and clarity.

The advice, recommendations or rankings expressed in this article are those of MarketWatch Picks, and have not been reviewed or endorsed by our commercial partners.

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