What you SHOULD be asking your advisors (and what they should be answering for you).
If you think your financial advisor's primary job is to deliver market returns PLUS something consistently for the rest of your life, you're kidding yourself. That's not really what good financial advisors do. Nobody is that good. Anyone who claims they can "beat the market" consistently over long periods is...not being entirely truthful.
However, good financial advisors can add a lot of real value over your lifetime when they focus on the controllable behaviors, decisions, and actions that make a difference in your life. Here is where you (and your advisors) should be focusing your energy. If these questions are addressed each year (with action!), your odds of success will rise.
1. Am I on track to successfully achieve my goals?
- Is my lifetime retirement goal fully funded with a high probability of success?
- How will a long term care event affect my plans? Can I cover the cost?
- If I die prematurely, how will my family be affected? Will they be able to achieve their goals?
- What about paying for the education of family members?
- Will my wishes be carried out effectively and cleanly when I pass on?
2. What controllable actions and decisions can improve my ability to reach my financial goals? (Sooner, more certainty, less expensively)
- Am I saving and investing enough?
- Is my lifestyle growing too fast?
- Is my insurance coverage getting me the most for every dollar I pay?
- Will my portfolio likely deliver the returns I need for my goals?
- Am I taking too much risk in my portfolio? Too little?
- Am I at risk of making life-altering decisions that could sabotage my goals?
- Am I optimizing my social security and pension options?
- Are there any ways I can further reduce the tax cost of my investment portfolio?
- How can we address the risk of living longer than expected?
- Are my individual investments of high quality? How do you know if they are consistent and reliable?
3. What are some fundamental concepts that I should understand as I engage in financial planning and investing?
This last one will depend on your specific situation. Some people just need some basic financial education, while others may be very educated, but focused on short-term trading ideas or the "guru of the day." Ask questions that help you understand the answers to the questions above. If you do, you'll be happier.
For more information, or to discuss your own questions, please contact us at (847) 299-8877 or HERE.