The road to retirement is full of twists and turns. You might think you’re on the right path, but life can throw unexpected obstacles in your way that derail even the best laid plans.

Numerous variables are at play, from how long you might live to how much you’ll receive each month from Social Security. A few wrong calculations, and you run the risk of outliving your savings. You might envision retirement as a great escape from the daily grind, but planning it can feel daunting.

Financial advisors help you tackle the many aspects of retirement planning by offering personalized recommendations based on your situation. But is hiring one of these professionals worth the cost? After all, a 1 percent fee on your total assets under management is common, while a comprehensive financial plan can easily cost $1,000 or more.

Here’s what you should consider when weighing the financial pros and cons of hiring a financial advisor for retirement planning.

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What is retirement planning?

Retirement planning is the process of preparing and organizing your finances to ensure a secure and comfortable lifestyle after you stop working.

It involves setting financial goals, estimating the amount of money needed for retirement and creating a strategy to achieve those goals. This includes saving money in retirement accounts, such as 401(k)s or IRAs, and investing wisely to grow your wealth over time.

Well-executed retirement planning also considers factors like Social Security benefits, rising health care costs and tax-advantaged withdrawal strategies. Regularly reviewing and adjusting your plan is also necessary.

In short, the goal of retirement planning is to build a financial cushion that allows you to cover essential expenses and enjoy your post-working years with peace of mind.

Benefits of working with a financial advisor for retirement planning

Financial advisors bring a wealth of knowledge and experience to the table. Navigating the complex world of retirement involves understanding investment options, tax rules, government programs and market dynamics to name a few. Instead of spending hours researching and learning about new topics, you can turn to a professional who can answer your questions and provide clarity in a matter of minutes.

One of the biggest benefits of working with an experienced advisor is gaining insights and strategies that may not be readily apparent to someone without a financial background. A qualified advisor can assess your financial situation, goals and risk tolerance to tailor a personalized plan or fine-tune your portfolio. Their knowledge helps optimize your investment performance, ensuring a balance between growth and risk mitigation.

Saving time is another benefit. An advisor can monitor and tweak your portfolio as needed, then meet with you once a year to review its performance and address any other financial goals or concerns. This frees you up to focus on your daily life without neglecting your retirement plan in the process.

Finally, advisors take a holistic look at your finances, which can uncover less-obvious ways to save money. For example, an advisor can help you shop for long-term care insurance so you won’t risk deleting your nest egg late in life. Or if you’re inclined toward philanthropy, an advisor may suggest a donor-advised fund as a tax-advantaged way to donate to your favorite charity.

The cost of DIY retirement planning

You might feel confident mapping out your own retirement plan — after all, there are a lot of online resources at your disposal. It might also feel counterintuitive to pay for advice when your primary goal is saving money for your future.

But the truth is, making simple mistakes when planning for retirement can cost you a small fortune down the road. Getting an unbiased outside perspective can pinpoint overlooked details or raise questions long before you exit the workforce — and when you still have time to make corrections.

Without an in-depth understanding of financial markets, tax codes and investment strategies, you may find yourself making decisions based on gut instinct or advice from family and friends.

One way financial advisors provide value is by optimizing investment returns. By using extensive market research and analysis tools, they can identify investment opportunities aligned with your goals and risk tolerance, potentially maximizing the growth of your retirement assets.

When it comes to saving money, financial advisors can also recommend cost-effective investment options and affordable retirement accounts. This can lead to significant savings over the long term, preventing high fees from eating into your investment returns.

Money can be highly emotional. A drop in the markets can feel like a punch in the stomach, especially if you’re nearing retirement. Emotions can cloud your judgment, leading to impulsive decisions about buying and selling investments. Advisors act as a rational third-party who can help prevent knee-jerk reactions that might cost you thousands of dollars in the long-term.

Is hiring a financial advisor for retirement planning a good idea?

Hiring a financial advisor is a personal decision, so you’ll want to consider your budget and goals.

You might want to consider hiring a financial advisor if:

  • Your financial situation is complex: You have multiple income streams, several investment portfolios, real estate holdings or own a business.
  • You have a high net worth: Managing significant wealth requires advanced financial planning, tax optimization and inheritance strategies — all areas where financial advisors specialize.
  • You received a substantial inheritance: Windfalls require careful planning to maximize benefits and manage taxes. This can be a part of your financial life where emotions run especially high so an objective third-party perspective can be valuable.
  • You’re going through a major life event: Life changes — such as the death of a spouse, getting divorced or getting married — impact financial priorities. Advisors can help adjust your plan to accommodate new goals and responsibilities.

While working with a financial advisor is valuable, here are a few situations when you might be able to avoid paying for professional help:

  • Your financial situation is simple: If you don’t own property and have minimal savings, you may be able to manage retirement planning independently without the need for specialized advice.
  • You’re knowledgeable about financial markets and investing: If you feel confident in your ability to make long-term financial decisions and stay current on market trends, you might opt for a do-it-yourself approach.

How to find a financial advisor

When picking a financial advisor, it’s crucial to look for a fee-only fiduciary. These professionals are ethically bound to work in your best interest — not the interests of insurance companies or financial institutions. They’ll provide unbiased advice you can trust.

You’ll also want to look for advisors with expertise in retirement planning. If your estate is particularly large and complex, you might want to work with a wealth manager, since their services cater to high-net worth clients.

You should also check an advisor’s background and credentials before trusting them with your financial information. A good place to start is BrokerCheck from the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA). It offers an overview of an advisor’s work history along with their firm’s history.

Once you’ve narrowed down your search, interview potential advisors to gauge their investment approach and experience. Make sure your communication styles align. Advisors can get compensated in several ways, so get clear understanding about how they’re paid and make sure the price fits your budget.

Bottom line

A financial advisor brings a lot to the table. The benefits of expertise, time savings, emotional support, goal setting and tax optimization can far outweigh the risks associated with attempting to manage retirement planning on your own. An initial investment might be well-worth the cost if it prevents you from running out of money in retirement.