Have a meeting scheduled soon with your financial advisor?
If so, it could be time to ask a few probing questions that might surprise and challenge him or her, but could help you be better prepared if the U.S. economy takes a turn for the worse that some economic forecasters are predicting.
But first, before that meeting and before you start posing those questions, it’s important to understand some of the factors affecting the economy’s future and why there are potential problems that likely won’t go away, says Nahum Daniels, a Certified Financial Planner and Retirement Income Certified Professional.
“Many Americans today have anxiety confronting retirement,” says Daniels (www.integratedretirementadvisors.com), author of Retire Reset!: What You Need to Know and Your Financial Advisor May Not Be Telling You. “And in an unfortunate turn for baby boomers, the U.S. economy is struggling to recover from one of the worst downturns in generations.
“When closely examined, the retirement challenges we face as a society are actually much more complex than they first appear. The mainstream media skate along the surface, pointing to baby boomers with inadequate personal savings who are looking to a fragile — if not insolvent — Social Security system unable to make up the difference.
“But upon deeper analysis, there’s much more to the problem in the U.S. and globally. That includes slowing population growth, shrinking consumer demand, exploding debt, inflated financial bubbles in the stocks and bonds market, deflationary wage and employment pressures, and overspent governments. The connectivity of these global forces may be forming a tsunami.”
Daniels says those in retirement or nearing it are going to want answers from their advisors on how to avoid pitfalls in a possibly volatile future economy. And it starts, he says, by asking the right, penetrating questions. The answers may depend on your particular situation, but the important thing is that you and your advisor have a deeper conversation about your situation and that you are satisfied with the answers:
• Do you think our economy faces the risk of an extended period of secular stagnation and, if you do, how do you think my nest egg should be positioned to counteract any negative effects?
• Is the possibility of a volatile economic future during my retirement years worthy of hedging against and, if so, how?
• Do you believe that our low rates of economic growth reflect bad tax policy predominantly and that corporate tax relief in the U.S. will turn our economy around for the long term?
• How reliable are my Social Security and pension benefits, and do you think I should start taking them, or would it be better to defer them for as long as possible?
• Can I retire before paying off all of my debt, or should I keep working until I’m completely debt free?
“Some prominent economists predict a long-term slowdown in economic activity, productivity and innovation,” Daniels says. “And neither fiscal (tax) nor monetary (Fed) policies alone may be able to reverse it. Consequently, our personal nest eggs have taken on a level of importance they haven’t previously had.”