How investment advice is helpful, and who's qualified to give it

All through your life, you make investments. You invest in your earnings potential by going to college. You invest in real estate when you buy a house and you defer money into your retirement plans. Sometimes, you do not seek advice and end up making poor investments.

So it may be a good idea to improve your odds by hiring a professional. It could be a career counselor when you are in school or a Realtor when you buy a home. But who is there to help you when it comes to picking the right investments to put into your retirement plans?

When you were young, perhaps no one told you about the company 401(k), how much you should defer from your salary and what investment choices to make. The major reason why investment advice would have been helpful is because early planning could have made a significant difference in the quality of your life.

If you had invested at a younger age and knew how much to put away and where, could your outcome be different? That could mean an earlier retirement date, a vacation home or some of those toys that you always wanted. I tell my clients that time is the best manager of risk, so if you have more time, you can take more risk. I am sure that many of you have seen those investment charts with the lines on them that look like you are going up a mountain. You see the lines go up and down, but the longer the line, the more the chart seems to go up.

When you start saving for retirement later in life, you have less of that mountain before you retire, so you may have to postpone your retirement date or you may end up taking more risk than you feel comfortable with in your IRA or 401(k). This is not good planning.

Retirement financial plans are made for the opportunists who want to improve their odds through well thought-out and researched investments.

Using an investment advisor to improve those odds may well be worth the price, but how do you know if the person that you are talking to is a qualified investment advisor or a salesperson? Education, experience and credentials are very important, so do not be afraid to ask. It is a good idea to ask about how they get paid as well.

There are many different platforms these days. There are commission-only advisors, fee-only advisors or a combination of both. There are advisors that do not provide investment products and those that do.

Find the platform and advisor that is right for you and set up an appointment. The best thing to know is that you are the most important component of your financial plan and the sooner you get started the better your odds.

Some of you may remember my last article when I was writing about mergers and acquisitions. I mentioned that some changes may be happening here at my practice, and they are. I am merging with another LPL practice, AWA Wealth Management. This merger will provide even more experience, education and credentials.

If you want to improve your odds with retirement planning, call our office at 841-4277 and ask for Derrick Andrews, CFP.

• Carol Perry, a Northern Nevada resident since 1983, represents the firm of Wachovia Securities in Carson City.


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