New Book - Coming November 2010

New Book - Coming November 2010
Help! My 401(k) Has Fallen - And Must Get Up!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

How To Find A Financial Advisor in South Bend

So the stock market has rebounded from its low point in March, 2009. As we are wrapping up the 3rd Quarter of this year, I have been reflecting on a few thoughts.
Although we have seen some market recovery, for many of us, 2009 has been more challenging than 2008.

* As I talk with people, I am sensing more uncertainty over the future of the economy and
their plans for retirement.

* Unemployment continues to stay at a high level. Some regions are higher than others
nationally. The Michiana area, with its long ties to the RV and automotive industry, has
experienced higher unemployment than other areas.

* Most recently, according to today’s South Bend Tribune we learned that the Braking
Division of Robert Bosch Corp. will be sold to Akebono Braking Industry of Tokyo, Japan. This
puts more strain on our area’s economy and could result in additional job losses.

* Many of those I have talked with are continuing to look for ways to pinch pennies, cut
corners and make their money last.

The one thing which hasn’t changed is that people still need to live their lives in dignity when they finally retire. And with people living longer than they used to, that takes Savings & Planning. Costs of living will continue to rise as well.

If you are living in the South Bend, IN area, how do you find someone who can help you develop the right strategy for you to reach your goals in these trying times? There are several qualities you should look for when shopping for an advisor, no matter where you live.

* Is he/she a Good Listener? Can you share your dreams & goals with them?

Do they make you feel important? Do they ask you questions such as “What is
important about your savings to you?” and “What would you like your retirement to be
like?” If all they do is tell you about the latest stock tip, or if they do all the talking, it
may be time to look elsewhere.

* Do they have a reasonable amount of experience?

Advisors can sometimes fall into 2 groups. You may not want an advisor that the ink on
their license has not yet dried. Most of us if asked would prefer an experienced advisor,
although you may want to find out if they are accepting new clients, or is there a
minimum amount to invest. There is a great website,
You can plug in the area you live in and it can give unbiased information on advisors in
that area. Also you can look up an advisor by name.

Another great website to learn information is which is a
professional networking site. This can give you great information about your
Advisor, much like an on-line resume.

* Does he/she have the “heart of a teacher”?

This is a comment often made by financial talk radio show host, Dave Ramsey.
Dave has grown in popularity because people are getting back to basics and
want common sense advice. Most people want investing concepts made simple.
Can your advisor help make this ‘fun’ to learn? Or do they talk in technical jargon?

* Does he/she talk about WHY Investing is so important for all of us?

Can they look at your budget with you and help you determine what type of income
you’ll need at retirement? By helping you know how much income you need (after
Social Security and any other sources of income), you should have a much better idea
for how much you need to be saving - AND put together a plan to do it!

* Will they offer to review your 401(k) and other statements for FREE?

Some advisors are “fee” based and charge by the session or by the hour for advice.
Others work on commission and are only paid when investments are made. For most of
us, this is the fairest method. There will always be times you have a question, and
advice should be free. Depending on how much you invest, you may also qualify for
volume discounts, also known as “breakpoints”.

* Is your advisor independent, or do they work with a larger firm?

This is really a matter of personal preference and there are pros & cons to each. Also
there are great advisors with either side. Many people prefer an established name brand
firm, while others enjoy the personal attention they may get from an independent.
In some ways, you could compare working with an advisor to eating at a restaurant.
There are large national chains, and also individually owned local restaurants which
have found their own niche.

There was a great article earlier this month (Sept 14, 2009)
“Schwab Says Independent Advisers Attract Brokerage Firm Assets”
by Alexis Leondis of The article shows the results of a survey done by
Charles Schwab about where clients are holding their assets. Ms. Leondis states,
“Almost 90% of the independent Registered Investment Advisors said that they gained
assets in the last 6 months and 45% of the assets came from so-called full-service
brokerage firms.”

Whether he/she works independently, or with a larger firm, your advisor can’t prevent
market declines. However, working with someone you are comfortable with should at
least help you to feel better about the future of your retirement.
Best wishes in your search!

Dean Voelker is an Independent Registered Investment Advisor in South Bend. He has
been licensed in Indiana and Michigan since 2003. You can follow Dean on Twitter, and also find his profile at Linked In and Financial Advisor Match. Dean also hosts a weekly Podcast program
on Blog Talk Radio, "Improving Your Financial Health".  

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