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Plan for retirement

The economy might be recovering, but some of the changes wrought by recent recession may be long-lasting. Anyone planning for retirement needs to take those changes into account, says financial adviser Philip Rousseaux, a member of the Million Dollar Round Table association’s exclusive Top of the Table forum for the world’s most successful financial services professionals.

“A lot of boomers had all of their retirement investments in the stock market and, if they didn’t lose their principal, it will take some time for them to recoup their gains. Others moved their money to short-term savings, such as CDs. But with interest rates so low, they’re actually losing money when you factor in inflation.”

Only 14 percent of Americans are very confident they’ll have the money to live comfortably in retirement, according to a 2012 survey by the Employee Benefit Research Institute.

Here are Rousseaux’s suggestions for ensuring you’re part of that 14 percent:

•Don’t take risks you can’t afford. “Don’t put the bulk of your assets into anything that makes your principal vulnerable,” Rousseaux says. A portion of your investment should have a guaranteed return.

•Seek any guidance from independent financial advisers. This has two benefits: Advisers who aren’t marketing their own products don’t have conflicts of interest. “You wouldn’t go to a commissioned salesman for advice on buying a high-tech product. Instead, you’d probably turn to a trusted friend or an independent expert source, like Consumer Reports.” The second benefit is that independent advisers can devise creative, innovative solutions to meet the needs of individual clients.

•Consider alternatives to the stock market. One of those is fixed, indexed annuities. “You loan an insurance company money and it guarantees you payments over a specified length of time. It’s a contract between you and the company,” Rousseaux says. Fixed-rate indexed annuities have a minimum and maximum interest payment that’s linked to a common index, such as the Dow. “Your principal is safe and you can ride an up market without the risk,” he says.

– News and Experts

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