A reader with some serious chops as an investor has a question about retirement planning.
She wonders which of the various accounts she and her husband have – registered retirement savings plan, locked-in retirement account, tax-free savings account and non-registered savings – should be drawn down first in retirement. This is important stuff for minimizing taxes and the claw back of Old Age Security benefits, and using capital most efficiently.
What she wanted to know is was whether I could recommend an online calculator or an in-depth article that would help her find an answer. My reply is no. I'm not sure such resources exist, outside what financial planners have available to them in terms of professional software. All of this raises a question: Why isn't this reader thinking about consulting a planner for a detailed, expert opinion?
Maybe because it's because she's obviously comfortably managing her money. She and her husband have recently retired in their 50s and she describes herself as an "avid DIY investor" with multiple accounts of all types. But here's the thing – being good at investing is not the same as being good at financial planning.
Planning is a holistic exercise that looks at your broad financial situation – current assets, savings rate, expected rate of return, tax rate, dependents and so on and then maps out a way to achieve your goals. A planner fielding a question like the one submitted by this Globe reader would spend a significant amount of time asking questions and making notes. Next would come a report of some sort with explicit instructions on what accounts to draw down when. There's a cost to this kind of help, naturally. But a good financial plan is more of an investment than an expense.
Financial planning can be done by an investment adviser or portfolio manager, but that's not ideal for someone who seems to be a savvy investor. So what about a fee-for-service planner who charges an hourly or flat rate? I've shared this list of fee-for-service planners endlessly with readers in the past year or so because it seems to answer a need for smart DIY investors to get help with financial planning. Just because you're good at one doesn't mean you can ace the other.