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A Woman’s Guide To Working With A Retirement Adviser

November 19, 2014

Women today are increasingly becoming breadwinners for their families, gaining ground in the boardroom, and are raking in higher salaries than ever before. With these changes, 21st century women have a greater need for sound advice when it comes to managing their finances; however, according to a 2013 survey by TIAA-CREF many women do not turn to a Retirement adviser for advice.

Certain circumstances, such as becoming widowed or inheriting a large sum of money, create an immediate need for women to seek help about how best to manage their finances. While many women understand the importance of seeking help from a Retirement adviser, a great number are simply uncertain about how to approach this new professional relationship.

Here are a few simple steps to get you started:

Step 1: Get Organized

For any woman who comes into a sum of money – whether it is the result of a pay raise or an inheritance – the first step toward approaching your new Retirement situation is to gather and organize as much information as you can to paint an accurate picture of your current Retirement situation.

During your initial consultation with a Retirement adviser, he or she will undoubtedly ask you questions about your Retirement position, so having a good understanding about your existing assets and expenses,  account plans and insurance policies will ensure you are thoroughly prepared for your initial consultation.

Step 2: Outline Your Retirement goals

If you decide to work with a Retirement adviser, think about what you want out of the relationship. Is your ultimate goal to save for a comfortable Retirement ? Do you need help calculating and investing in your children’s college education? Or are you simply seeking investment guidance or exploring your Retirement options?

Men and women have different investment styles and priorities, so in addition to concrete milestones you hope to achieve, make sure you come to the table prepared to discuss your Retirement priorties, commitments, personal risk tolerance and expectations to better hone the dialogue you have with your Retirement adviser.

Once you have a basic understanding about your current Retirement situation and goals for the future, you are now ready for your initial consultation.

Step 3: Ask Questions & Communicate Openly

Retirement advisers run the gamut, ranging from risky to conservative, mutual fund-focused to options-oriented. If you don’t already have an adviser, ask your friends, family and colleagues to recommend Retirement advisers to you, or do a simple search for advisers nearby. Employers often also have resources available that can help you find and select a Retirement adviser that best suits your needs.

In exploring your options, be sure to ask questions and be open and honest about your comfort level in risk-taking, knowledge and skill in investing, and your Retirement goals and expectations.

If widowed, remind your existing adviser that you are not your husband and that your Retirement needs may differ from his based on your experience or investing style. If your late husband’s investing style was an aggressive one and you like to err on the side of caution, you may need to ask your adviser to pull on the reins a bit to cater to your comfort level. Without open and honest dialogue, your Retirement adviser may resume the same approach he or she took in the past, so be sure to manage your Retirement adviser’s expectations if differences arise out of your new situation.

In your meetings with prospective advisers, they will surely want to get to know you, but it is also important to get to know your Retirement adviser as well. He’s heard your goals and expectations; now what are his? How does your Retirement adviser prefer to communicate with you? Do his priorities seem to align with yours? These are just a few of the questions you should ask before narrowing the field and finding the Retirement adviser that works best for you.

Step 4: Educate Yourself

One Prudential study revealed that 78 percent of women thought of themselves as beginners or in need of help in many areas of finance, compared to 63 percent of men. No matter where you’re starting from, don’t let inexperience in finance or investing stop you from asking questions and learning from the pros.

Youradviser may present you with educational opportunities to learn more about investing. Take advantage of these! There are a number of group events that are geared specifically toward women investors. These networking or social events are a great way to meet with other women who share similar Retirement goals and concerns, ask pointed questions to Retirement professionals, and listen and learn from thought leaders in the industry.

There are endless resources available to women who are interested in educating themselves about finance and investing, including seminars and roundtables hosted by local Retirement institutions and colleges, community group discussions and networking events with other likeminded individuals. Or, if independent study is more your speed, there are countless online resources and print publications that can help you gain access to a wealth of Retirement knowledge.

Just like any solid progress; Retirement literacy and confidence does not happen overnight. It takes time for women to evolve into the savvy, confident investors they hope to become. By outlining goals and expectations, being open and honest with Retirement advisers, and taking advantage of the educational opportunities available, women are well on their way toward boosting their confidence in their Retirement portfolios and building a sound investment for the future.

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