Q. I am a recently retired Fed and my wife (also a Fed) is within 6 months of retiring. We have been actively looking for a qualified financial advisor. I have met with 2 advisors recently that came highly recommended. But, neither understood federal benefits. I recognize the potential for serious problems by working with an advisor (even a good one) that isn’t knowledgeable about our income benefits packages.
We have looked throughout our home town and can’t find even one advisor that specializes in working with Feds. Yet, I’m uncomfortable working with an advisor in another area of the country.
So, which bullet should we bite? Do we hope for the best and begin working with a generalized advisor near home? Or should we begin working with a specialized advisor from afar?
A. I am currently working on an article for FedSmith.com that will delve into this very issue. However, since it sounds like you are in need of an advisor now, I’ll give you the “Cliffs Notes” version.
Find a qualified advisor…period. If they are near your home, all the better.
But, if you have to find someone that is in another part of your state or even the other side of the country, then so be it. There are just too many opportunities for “general” advisors to make mistakes with a Fed’s retirement. This is your future retirement income. I don’t suggest leaving that in the hands of an all-purpose advisor who is unfamiliar with your unusual retirement benefits.
Note: Financial Advisors work in one of the most regulated industries in the country. You should understand that FINRA, SIPC and broker/dealers are the police, judges, and juries in the investment world. They all have a genuine desire and mandate to protect you from fraudulence and incompetence. And their reach extends to every corner of the country.
Still, be cautious. The minimum, I believe, you should require from an advisor to develop a good fit:
- Series 7 license for at least 10 years. This will demonstration experience and knowledge.
- FED FOCUSED practice. You can find this out by reviewing their website. If Feds aren’t mentioned or are mentioned only as one group in many, keep looking.
- Do you like talking to them? You will be working with them for a long time, so this is important.
- Do they listen to your needs?
- Do they explain options so you can understand or do they try to wow you with jargon?
- FINRA/SIPC listed on the bottom of their website.
Finally, if you still have a hard time finding a Fed focused advisor, contact my office. We are willing to provide financial services for Feds anywhere in the country. However, if we find that we are not a good fit for one another, my office will work with you to search for/interview, another Fed focused advisor.