These days, you can purchase just about anything you want on the Internet. However, you can still benefit from a human, face-to-face experience for some purchases — such as your investments. And that's why you may want to work with a financial professional.
Unlike a computer interface, a financial professional will take the time to truly know your situation today — and then help you make adjustments tomorrow.
Let's first look at two key areas a financial professional will consider today:
•Your risk tolerance — By asking the right questions, a financial professional can help you determine if you're a moderate, conservative or aggressive investor and then recommend those investments that are suitable for your risk tolerance.
•Your time horizon — If you're saving for a down payment on a new home you expect to purchase within two or three years, you may want an investment that offers significant preservation of principal. But if you're saving for retirement, and you're three decades away from it, you'll likely need investments that offer the potential for growth. Your financial advisor can help you choose the mix of short- and long-term investments that can help you make progress toward all your goals.
Now, let's look at the types of milestones that a financial professional can help you with as your life progresses.
•New child — When you bring a new child into your life, you also add new responsibilities. Do you have sufficient life insurance? Do you plan on helping the child pay for college? If so, what college funding vehicles should you consider? A financial professional can help you answer these questions.
•New spouse — Whether you're getting married for the first time, or you're remarrying, you'll have to reconcile your financial picture with that of your new spouse. A financial professional can review both your situations and possibly recommend ways for you to reduce debt, eliminate redundancies in your investment portfolios and consolidate insurance coverage.
•Career change — When you change jobs, you may have to make many investment-related decisions: Should you move the assets from your old employer's 401(k) to an IRA? Or should you roll over your old 401(k) to your new employer's plan, if a rollover is allowed? Knowing your options when you leave your job can help you make the right choice for your retirement savings. A qualified financial professional can help you review and understand your rollover options.
•Retirement — Once you retire, you'll have several issues to consider: How much can you withdraw from your investments each year? From which accounts? Should you rebalance your portfolio to provide more potential sources of income? What about the transfer of your wealth? A financial professional who is familiar with your situation can help you make the right moves to enjoy the retirement lifestyle you've envisioned.
So, when you really want to invest, leave the "virtual" world behind and connect with a financial professional — someone who has gained insight into your individual needs and who has the experience and expertise to help you build, maintain and adjust a portfolio that can help you move toward your goals.