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When is the right time to hire a financial adviser?

Written By: Cliff N. Goldstein

Do you have an eye for interior design? A fresh perspective that many people just don’t have? The art is hanging too high on the wall. That sofa should be over here. Let’s add a bit of color right there.

An objective view can make the difference between the ordinary and the uncommon. That’s why people hire financial advisors — when they don’t have the time or desire to manage their own financial assets. Or more important, need a new view.

When to seek help

“It is never too early to get a financial adviser,” says Carrie Houchins-Witt, an independent financial planner in Coralville, Iowa — a suburb of Iowa City. “You should start thinking about it when an area of your financial life — either debt, taxes, savings or budgeting — seems out of your control. Find a trusted professional who has experience with your issue and ask for help.”

That help can include a basic financial plan, especially for someone just graduating and entering the full-time workforce. Celia Brugge calls Memphis, Tenn. home and as a fee-only financial planner , she knows just how helpful an objective opinion can be for someone just starting out.

“The basic planning should include planning for paying off any student loan debt, establishing a workable budget, and getting started on retirement planning , as well as planning for shorter-term goals like a house purchase,” Brugge says. “Regularly revisiting your financial situation is important too, as your finances will get more complex over time.”

Last year, a Wells Fargo “Middle Class Retirement Study ” reported that nearly half, 48%, of respondents were fearful they would never be able to save enough for a comfortable retirement. In fact, most, 59%, said they were working day-to-day just to pay their monthly bills.

But a little planning made a big difference. While less than a third of those surveyed admitted to having a written plan for retirement, of those that did, a whopping 70% described themselves as “confident” about their future for life after work.

William Pitney prefers to be known as a financial coach , and he’s adamant: “It is my personal belief that everyone should have a financial plan.” Based in Foster City, Calif., Pitney caters to high-tech professionals and has seen his share of early-career success. He says planning should start early — with the first post-college paycheck.

“The sooner you start meeting with a professional to establish your goals and develop good saving and spending habits, the bigger the payoff later in life,” says Pitney.

Time and attention

If you struggle to decipher Wall Street jargon and could care less about 90-day moving averages and stochastic analysis, Michael Keeler says it’s time to take a meeting with someone who does. Keeler has been an adviser for over 30 years and is based in Las Vegas.

“Anybody who isn’t savvy about investing can benefit from an adviser. All great sports stars have coaches to give unbiased advice. An adviser does the same for his or her clients,” he says. “I think the day you get your first job is a great time to start. Your adviser can help you save part of your income in a way that it becomes a habit.”

Events can trigger a need for advice

But graduation, a first job and other just-starting-out events aren’t the only benchmarks for when you need to hire a financial adviser. Lili Vasileff is adivorce financial expert in Greenwich, Conn. and says there are other important signs you may need help.

“When expenses exceed income, or when credit cards aren’t paid off in one year — when major expenses throw a budget into turmoil and when a major income source is lost,” she says.

Jean Schwarz, a financial planner based in Vienna, Va. adds more important events to the list: “When major life changes occur — a job change, marriage, the birth of children or the death of family member — divorce and of course, retirement.”

Not just when but how

Not only knowing when but also how to hire a financial adviser is equally important, according to Anika Hedstrom of Medford, Ore . She works primarily with women and Gen X and Y professionals. Hedstrom says it’s a good idea to interview and find a good match before you think you need an adviser.

“We all could use a second set of eyes and ears, as well as perspective, to advance our financial understanding and worth. Keep in mind one doesn’t need to be rich to afford this service. Plenty of advisers work on an hourly or retainer basis and have no minimum asset requirements. It can be as simple as an annual checkup, similar to your routine physical,” she adds.

And finally, Jerome Deutsch offers a common sense recommendation of when to seek advice from a financial consultant: “When the financial aspects of your life go beyond your knowledge, ability or desire to manage them by yourself.”

The fee-only financial adviser calls Decatur, Ga. home. Deutsch says investors seeking help have a lot of options. “Financial advice is available through multiple outlets these days, and people can pick and choose the level of service, advice, fees and products they require. They just need to recognize when to do so.”

Original Article: https://www.marketwatch.com/story/when-is-the-right-time-to-hire-a-financial-adviser-2014-07-21

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