Anyone who has diligently saved in hopes of being able to live off the income from their investments is being punished in the current economic environment.
Retirees living on savings used to rely on income from easy to understand sources: U.S. Treasuries, bank certificates of deposit, municipal bonds and stocks whose returns were predictably positive year after year. These days, it's hard to find safe, predictable returns that are higher than 3 percent -- a rate that is below inflation. And that makes managing money in retirement a serious challenge.
Because the returns are so meager, my accountant husband, who has a lot of experience managing money in a corporate environment, nearly gave up on the idea of managing our retirement nest egg and went searching for help.
We've interviewed several investment advisers, and we certainly haven't been wowed. Two of the people we interviewed had complaints against them in the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, or FINRA, database, a trade association that arbitrates disputes between financial advisers and their customers.
And no one was very straightforward about fees. One adviser, who is no longer in the running, said, "You won't have to worry about fees. You'll never see them; they're buried in the transactions."
My frugal husband nearly fell off his chair.
Today, I received from ING Financial a copy of a study about people's concerns about retirement planning. The study found that 89 percent of respondents want help allocating their investments; 86 percent want guidance calculating their financial needs in retirement; and 84 percent say they want help calculating and creating retirement income.
Clearly, there is a business opportunity helping people with retirement planning. And there seems to be no shortage of people who claim to be experts and who are willing to do the job. But take it from me, finding the right people and the right plan is no slam-dunk.