Retirement Planning: How to Work with Your Financial Adviser to Solve Tough Retirement Concerns

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Young couple | Ridofranz/iStock/Getty Images Plus

Are retirement concerns keeping you up at night? The Cheat Sheet spoke to Lou Cannataro, wealth management adviser at Cannataro Park Avenue Financial. He told us what goes into creating a solid retirement plan. He also discussed how retirement planning sometimes involves a reality check when it comes to current spending and savings habits. Here’s what Cannataro had to say.

The Cheat Sheet: What’s the first step when meeting with an adviser?

Lou Cannataro: From the beginning of a client relationship, a good adviser should start with a detailed financial plan that lays out where an individual is compared to where they want to be concerning all their different financial goals. It should highlight the probability of success, what needs to be done to get there, and most importantly, how realistic the goals are from the beginning.

CS: Should a retirement saver be concerned if they’re not on target with retirement goals?

LC: Whether a client needs $1 million or $10 million to comfortably retire, being “off target” should never be a surprise. An individual just starting to plan needs a good reality check on what they want out of life compared to what they have already created and their ability to increase their net worth over their working years based on their income, spending/saving habits, and commitment to achieving their goals.

CS: What’s the mark of a good adviser?

LC: In the end, a good financial adviser delivers not only a realistic view of your goals, but initiates and drives the most important hard-hitting conversations in an adviser/client relationship. The adviser needs to look the client in the eyes and at times tell the client, “unless you change your spending habits, increase income, and/or fully commit to a systematic saving/investing process, your goals are unobtainable.” Based on your current situation this is what retirement is going to look like.

Either we adjust your goals/expectations now to be realistic with your current situation, or follow these necessary steps outlined in the planning to get you on track. Either way, a good advisor is there every step of the way, reviewing progress and making sure their client stays true to their goals.

CS: What’s an important question retirement savers don’t ask but should?

LC: Many will ask, “will I be able to retire, what is my ‘number’ to retire, what are the best vehicles to save for retirement?” What many fail to ask themselves is, am I ready to commit to planning for the future?

CS: Why don’t retirement savers ask themselves if they’re ready to commit?

LC: This is when the conversation gets real. This is when our human nature to value more the desires to consider/chase what one can do, enjoy, or consume now versus planning for later. What one thinks their life should be like or that they deserve now, in the beginning, will consume most of their consideration and disposable cash flow. This is especially true if they socialize with individuals in a similar mindset and/or live in the same neighborhood. Some may be lucky enough to live/consume the way their friends/family see them do and still adequately save so they can maintain a comfortable lifestyle down the road. Most, however, are hoping their income will increase later and then they will start to commit to the future.

CS: What are some of your clients’ biggest obstacles to retirement planning?

LC: Sometimes our clients’ greatest obstacle is themselves. If we can get our clients to come up for air at least twice a year and have deep, meaningful conversations about what is going on in their lives, and more importantly, what needs to be changed for them to feel they are accomplishing their goals, not only do these questions get addressed head on but also answered straight out. Quite often the things we think we need are just items we want, and for the most part for all the wrong reasons.

Read more: How Much Do You Need to Retire?

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