Resolve to Retire Right in 2018

There’s many reasons people put off planning for retirement. And trust me, many people do. According to a 2016 TransAmerica Retirement Survey of Workers, “84% of boomers don’t have a written retirement plan.” This means there’s a good chance you might be one of them.

While I won’t belabor the reasons for this procrastination, it’s important to note that those who do commit to a written retirement plan accumulate four times more in assets than those who don’t.[1]  Let me repeat…”those who do commit to a written retirement plan accumulate four times more in assets than those who don’t.”

Wouldn’t you like to be one of them?

I’ll take four times more in assets if all I have to do is come up with a retirement plan (and stick to it)…this is a resolution I can really get behind. But, what exactly does a written retirement plan look like? How do I get one?  And how much will it cost me?

Let me tell you what it’s not. It’s not a 401k or a pension plan. It’s not your Social Security benefit. It’s not taking your financial advisors advice and simply withdrawing 4%  from your portfolio in retirement and hoping you don’t run out of money.  It’s not burying your head in the sand and hoping for the best. And it’s definitely not sponging off of your adult kids someday. Although I have thought about which one of our six children would take us in should the need arise!


A proper retirement plan integrates and optimizes several key components or strategies bulleted below (based on academic research vs. gut feel or best guesses)…and when these components are in lock-step with your retirement objectives and  finely tuned, monitored and adjusted by a retirement professional, you’ll be on the right path toward a more successful retirement.

  • Portfolio Risk Reduction Strategy – Statistical analysis proves that a portfolio with lower volatility or risk, for any given rate of return, will last longer when taking withdrawals for income. We utilize a sophisticated technology to “stress test” your current retirement against many different market environments to assure you portfolio will survive across both negative and positive environments.* Our Multi-Discipline Retirement Strategy (MDRS) combines guaranteed Fixed Index Annuities (FIAs)* with a globally diversified stock portfolio to reduce portfolio risk while potentially increasing portfolio returns. The MDRS offers reduced risk with growth potential to offer longer portfolio survival when in retirement.
  • Tax Efficient Withdrawal Strategy – Create a tax efficient income distribution strategy by utilizing proper withdrawal sequencing and efficiently converting taxable accounts to tax-free accounts. The goal is to reduce or potentially eliminate taxes in retirement which will increase the probability of portfolio survival and add 5-10 years or more life to a portfolio.
  • Social Security Timing – Evaluate multiple Social Security filing strategies to determine the most efficient strategy to maximize this benefit. Properly filing for this benefit can increase portfolio survivability by 5 years or more.
  • Efficient Portfolio Management – Proper portfolio management utilizing a high quality, low-cost portfolio of globally diversified stocks can potentially increase long-term returns. Leading research indicates that combining passively managed Index Funds or ETF’s with alpha generating high quality active investment managers can potentially create positive portfolio alpha effect.
  • Home Equity in Retirement – Leading research indicates that the use of home equity in retirement will increase the probability of portfolio survival and increase the legacy to loved ones. HECM Loans or Reverse Mortgages have been called the “Swiss Army Knife” of retirement planning since they can be utilized as part of many diverse retirement planning strategies.[2]
  • Risk Management –a life insurance and Long-Term Care needs analysis to assess and then minimize potential risks.
  • Medicare Planning – a Medicare service to help you analyze your options to select and file the best plan.

*Guarantees are backed by the claims paying ability of the issuing insurance company.


Yes, I know…you have a financial advisor and therefore you’re all set. We run across this sentiment frequently.

Please do yourself a very big favor and ask yourself (and him or her) some tough questions about retirement, including their take on the retirement planning strategies we just listed above.

While there are many financial professionals who have done a good job helping clients accumulate assets pre-retirement, many of them are not retirement professionals. Meaning that they are not educated or trained on the intricacies of retirement planning, and don’t have the skill to help you in the income phase of life, helping you spend what you’ve saved efficiently.

You will find a number of financial advisors out there professing to provide “retirement advice.”  After all, it’s a giant market of 78 million baby boomers retiring every day.  Some of these thinly veiled, self-proclaimed “retirement” advisors are little more than data gatherers who meet with you a couple times: first, inputting your data into a planning software program and letting it do its thing, and then second, giving you the software’s lengthy printout of numbers and projections in a nice leather folder, without the retirement services you truly need. The cost of this glorified retirement plan can be pretty steep as well. The average advisor, according to Michael Kitces is charging 1.65% on a portfolio of $500,000!1

There’s not a lot of difference between these traditional advisors and the new flock of robo-advisors…which are online software companies doing similar data gathering and calculations in the cloud (over the Internet).  While robo-advisors are undercutting the traditional advisor fees for data output, they truly must be on cloud nine to think that the average baby boomer wants a computer program to plan his/her retirement.

What we’ve found after working with baby boomers over the last 30 years, and more recently with a focus on helping our clients plan their retirement, is that people want a person to help them. A qualified person whom they can trust. But, the challenge remains, in an industry run amok with myths and misinformation, extreme biases and so many choices when it comes to advice…how do you stay away from the fox in the henhouse and find a retirement expert who can truly help you?

Get Educated

We believe knowledge is power so first you must educate yourself. Find a source or sources who consistently deliver objective information. Next, make sure to seek out the academic proof…every sound retirement strategy has research and data that proves it out. Demand this proof. Do not accept hearsay or conjecture.

Be Picky

Next, be really picky about choosing who you work with for advice. Ask how much time he/she is going to commit to doing your planning… working collaboratively to plan your retirement, not just behind the scenes running software programs in his/her comfy office. Retirement planning is hard work and requires a BIG time commitment on both parties to be done right. Demand this time. Don’t settle for less.

Ask Some Tough Questions

Next, ask tough questions to be sure he/she isn’t a thinly veiled “retirement” advisor. You wouldn’t hire just anyone to take care of your kids or to work in your company…the same time and care should be taken to find the right retirement planning advocate. Aside from asking about his/her background and experience, and getting to know their firm, these are the questions a retirement advisor must answer for you:

  • What’s their approach to retirement planning and their process? Is it well defined and disciplined?
  • Do they educate you in the planning process? How?
  • Do they help organize you financially and help clarify your retirement objectives and timeline?
  • How much time do they commit to working collaboratively you?
  • Are they knowledgeable beyond growing a portfolio? What do they know about distribution planning in retirement?
  • Are they licensed to offer annuities and do they educate you on how they work to offer guarantees and protect your portfolio from loss?
  • Have they discussed how to use the equity in your home through a reverse mortgage to increase the effectiveness of your retirement plan?
  • Do they understand how wills and trusts work, and work with you to develop a proper plan to protect your assets from a potential healthcare event?
  • What other value added services do they offer you?
  • Do you like them as a person and trust in their recommendations?

And don’t forget to ask about his/her retirement planning strategies for your portfolio, taxes, Social Security, use of home equity, Medicare, and risk management.  If you’re working with the right advisor, you won’t have to ask yourself “Am I working with the right person?” It will be evident in everything they do for you.


Finally, proper retirement planning from a retirement professional doesn’t have to cost you an arm and a leg. I always thought I couldn’t afford a financial advisor. Now I believe you can’t afford not to have one…especially when it comes to retirement planning. The proper advisor can help preserve your nest egg  and protect you from the myriad of risks in retirement that can threaten the money you’ve worked so hard to accumulate.  A sound retirement plan is one of the best investments you’ll ever make…and  with proper research and understanding advisor fees, you’ll spend much less on advice than you have to.

Case Study: The Impact of Fees

Here’s a quick case study to show the impact fees have on the value of your portfolio.

Jack and Diane have IRA Retirement Assets of:  $1,000,000

The Annual Income Generated (Age 65-95) from their portfolio is:  $30,000 (inflated at 3% per yr.)

The Annual Assumed Rate of Return is:  6%

We’ve analyzed the impact (income generated between the ages of 65-95 and the portfolio balance at 95):

Annual Fee       Total Retirement Income Generated ( from age 65-95)       Total Portfolio Balance @ age 95

1.00%                                                        $ 1,691,948.                                                                                  $ 1,056,226.
1.50%                                                        $ 1,559,535                                                                                    $    705,813.
2.00%                                                        $ 1,442,797.                                                                                 $        0


Which fee would you rather pay?

It’s important to understand how the investment industry works and how fees are assessed and paid. The total fees that an investor will be paying for management of his/her account will be dependent on the product(s) being utilized in the portfolio.  A high quality portfolio with low TOTAL fees gives you a better return potential.

Helpful Questions to Ask an Advisor About Their Fees

It’s critical to get FULL DISCLOSURE of “all” fees you’ll pay. You must also determine if the advisor offer all of the above services for the fee you are paying. Ask the tough questions above to flesh out the value he/she brings to your planning process and your retirement outcome.

The number one question to ask an advisor: What are the “total” fees to work with you? (it’s critical to receive full disclosure from anyone that is going to provide you financial advice and products).  Use this form to uncover your TOTAL fees and have the advisor sign it.

  • What is your custodial fee? $ ________________ OR  ______________%
  • What are your trading costs? $ ________________ OR  ______________%
  • What is the advisory fee? (this is the fee that does to the registered investment advisor to manage your portfolio)                                                 $ ________________ OR  ______________%
  • What are the internal mutual fund, ETF, money manager fees? $ ________________ OR  ______________%
  • Are there any other fees such as statement fees, technology fees, etc? $ ______________ OR  ______________%
  • What do your fees include for additional services; i.e. Retirement Planning (make sure you get specifics)?___________________________________

Advisor Signature  X _________________________________________________

Finally, remember…hope is not a plan. Fortune favors the smart, the bold and the prepared. We challenge and encourage you to make 2018 the year you get prepared and get your retirement right.  Please consider Her Retirement as you embark on this resolution. Our mission is to make preparing financially for retirement easier  and more affordable, and living in retirement dreamier.  You’ve got the dream. We’ve got the resources to help you live it.

To learn more about the proper retirement plan and to get started on preparing for retirement, request access to our online Retirement Readiness kit.

To see how we compare to your advisor or traditional advisors, schedule a complimentary phone call or meeting with us. What do you have to lose?

Read about our full service offerings and also our a la cart Assessments.



[1] Wells Fargo Retirement Study, 2015

[2] Using Reverse Mortgages In A Responsible Retirement Income Plan, Wade Pfau (2016)


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