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4 ways to boost value of advice

By Jennie L. Phipps ·
Sunday, October 6, 2013
Posted: 6 am ET

If you had to find an expert to give you retirement planning advice, where would you turn?

About 48 percent of Americans have no good answer to that question because they don't know which source of retirement advice to trust, according to a new survey from financial services company TIAA-CREF. On top of that, 37 percent of people don't want to talk to a stranger about their finances, and another 40 percent think good financial advice costs too much.

Whatever your reservations about sources of advice, if you're a baby boomer, chances are you're growing more concerned about retirement planning, and you are increasingly determined to find help, says Eric Jones, senior managing director of advisory solutions at TIAA-CREF. The study found that people's interest in retirement advice rose 11 percent from 2012 to 2013. "I believe that confirms that boomers are beginning to focus seriously on their retirements," Jones says.

The TIAA-CREF study found that 54 percent of people primarily are interested in how to make their savings last in retirement. If you're in that camp, here are four pieces of advice from Jones about getting the most out of a visit to a financial adviser:

Be an informed consumer. Read up on the process of saving for retirement before you make an appointment with an expert.

Gather your personal financial information. You'll expedite the retirement planning process if you show up at your appointment with things like bank statements, life insurance policies and information about real estate, including your residence and any investment properties.

Get familiar with Social Security. Sign up for an online Social Security account at, and get your spouse to do the same so the adviser knows what kind of benefits you'll be expecting.

Do some advance work yourself. There are a variety of online calculators that can help you sort through your information and identify areas where you have questions.

With this kind of preparation, you'll be well on your way to devising a savvy plan, and you'll be in a good position to judge whether you're getting the kind of retirement planning help you can trust.

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