I am 60 years old and I want to retire in two years. Should I use a financial adviser?

Getty Images/iStockphoto


Question: I am 60 years old, I am single and I have no children. I’m well into seven figures with retirement savings, consisting of three 401(k), two mutual funds, and a $350,000 pension. My only debt is a $60,000 HELOC. I have no mortgage, credit card debt or car loan. I don’t care about leaving a legacy after I die. I would like to retire at 62 and receive social security. My question is, do I need to hire a financial advisor for a 1% fee or can I financially manage my retirement with an accountant only? (You can use this tool from SmartAsset to be connected with a financial advisor who could meet your needs.)

To respond: First, understand the differences between what an accountant can do for you and what a financial advisor can do. “An accountant could help with taxes, but they’re unlikely to do anything else,” says Julia Kramer, Certified Financial Behavior Specialist and CPA at Signature Financial Planning. A financial planner, on the other hand, will tackle issues such as managing your investments as you retire, how much money you can withdraw each year in retirement, how to plan smartly social security and pay for any long-term care needs. You can read our guide to hiring a certified financial planner here.

Have a question about dealing with your financial advisor or hiring a new one?
Email [email protected]

You may be able to handle this on your own, depending on how comfortable you are with dealing with these financial issues, and how much time and energy you can devote to doing so, the pros say. “It is important to recognize the scope of the decisions you make [facing], if you choose not to hire a financial advisor, so you can make a clear decision about where you want to spend your time and energy in retirement,” says Michael E. Kitces, Chief Financial Guru. financial planning at Kitces.com. (You can use this SmartAsset tool to connect with an advisor who might meet your needs.)

You should also ask yourself if you think an advisor will be worth it. Ask yourself, “Is it worth spending a traditional 1% a year advisory fee…and getting help with the other financial and retirement issues that come with retirement,” says Kitces.

Also consider whether you enjoy keeping up with the economy, markets and investments, says Kramer. “In my case, from my 20s to 40s, I really enjoyed managing my investments. In my mid-40s, I discovered that I didn’t enjoy it as much and wanted to spend my time on other personal and professional pursuits. So outsourcing that part of my finances was a good choice,” says Kramer, who now employs a financial advisor herself.

Another thing Kramer recommends thinking about is whether or not you can tolerate market ups and downs without making emotional changes to your portfolio. “If this is the case and you answer yes to the pleasure of following the market, you may not need a financial adviser. If not, having an adviser is a great choice to help you navigate the inevitable ups and downs,” says Kramer.

Also know that you don’t need to hire an advisor on an ongoing basis if you just want to dip your toes into trying one. “It could be an hourly planner if you don’t want to engage in ongoing planning initially,” says Karla McAvoy, certified financial planner and president of the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors (NAPFA).

Helen D. Jessen