Finding Trustworthy Financial Advice
Not all sources of financial advice are created equal
If the coronavirus pandemic has left you struggling financially, you’re not alone. According to recent research conducted by the Harris Poll on behalf of Empower Retirement and Personal Capital, just over a third of Americans reported feeling their personal finances were “stable” as of December. With the future of the economy still uncertain, many Americans remain concerned about their own job security and the costs of everything from healthcare to higher education. If you’re considering seeking out financial advice to get things back on track, here are a few places to start looking:
Employee assistance programs
If you work for a relatively large company, your employer may offer an employee assistance program, or EAP. EAPs can provide a wide range of services for employees — from short-term mental health counseling to personal financial support. If you’re struggling with debt or otherwise feel you need help getting your finances under control, your company’s EAP counselor may be able to provide you with resources. EAP services are always confidential, so there’s no need to worry about leaning on them for help.
If you have a workplace retirement plan, like a 401(k) plan, you also have your retirement plan recordkeeper as a resource. A recordkeeper is essentially a retirement plan’s bookkeeper. They keep a record of your and your employer’s contributions and track your account’s growth. They also typically provide a platform for you to track and access your account ― along with information to help you understand how your savings plan works. You may want to ask if they offer managed accounts, webinars or other resources, such as advice offerings, to help you take a more active role in your retirement planning.
For most retirees, Social Security and Medicare are integral parts of their retirement strategies. The websites for both offer important resources that can help you understand how the programs work and how to make the most of them. Additionally, state health insurance assistance programs (SHIPs) provide free, non-biased information about Medicare that’s tailored to the area in which you live. Making smart decisions about your Medicare coverage is an important aspect of retirement planning as it can greatly affect your out-of-pocket healthcare costs as you age.
Depending on your financial situation, you may want to consider hiring a financial professional, such as a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professional. They can help you determine exactly what your financial goals are and how best to meet them. They’re also bound by fiduciary standards — meaning they’re obligated to look out for your best interests — and you can check their credentials through the CFP Board. Or consider online tools offered by a company like Personal Capital, which provides a combination of mobile investment tools and personalized advice from dedicated financial advisors. Many of Personal Capital’s online tools are accessible for free even if you don’t hold an account with them.
Many Americans are beginning 2021 feeling far less secure than they did a year ago. But seeking out trustworthy financial advice can have a big impact on how you feel about your prospects going forward. Whether you’re working to pay off debts you accrued over the past year or to build an emergency fund for future rainy days, making the decision to seek advice can be an important first step.
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