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Money Talk: Dec. 18, 2018

December 19, 2018

GateHouse News Service

The economy has changed considerably since the recession. Unemployment is at record lows and the market is flush with opportunities for workers of every level.

While it certainly is good to live in the present, it also is important to plan for the future, and research shows many people are not saving sufficiently to live life at their current standard when they retire.

A recent study found 52 percent of American households are at risk of not being able to carry their current lifestyle into retirement. This is an increase from an estimated 45 percent of households in a 2004 study. The estimated retirement savings shortfall amounts to about $6.4 trillion.

This dramatic number isn’t solely the result of negligence. In fact, in many cases a lack of financial education is a major contributor. Many adults today actually know little about retirement planning because they weren’t educated on the topic during high school or college.

All of this underscores the importance of being smart with your retirement planning and adjusting your strategy based on your age. A good financial planner can help you do all of that.

Look for a planner who is a fiduciary. Planners who are fiduciaries have a duty of loyalty to their clients and a duty of care. The duty of loyalty means they must always consider their clients’ interests above their own, even if that interest negatively affects their own income.

Focus on experience. Your retirement future isn’t something you want to leave to someone without the proper credentials. There are more than 100 professional designations in the financial services industry, but only a few of them truly indicate a professional’s ability to do holistic financial planning.

Look for planners with the CFP(R) certification. This certification means a financial planner has met rigorous professional standards and has agreed to adhere to the principles of integrity, objectivity, fairness, confidentiality, professionalism and diligence.

Focus on financial planning. Your financial future will be dependent on a sound financial plan, so look for a professional who focuses on true financial planning. Ask your planner if they ever have written a financial plan and what the plan might look like for you. Holistic financial planning includes tax planning, education planning, estate planning, retirement advice and more.

Ask how your planner will minimize and disclose conflicts. Your planner is not just a professional entity but also a person with personal interests and business dealings. This means no matter which planner you select, there is a chance your planner’s personal dealings could create a conflict with your financial decisions.

That’s OK and normal. The key is to find a planner who will minimize conflicts and disclose any conflicts to you ahead of time.

Are they compatible with you? This last quality is certainly one of the most important. How comfortable does the planner make you feel? As you speak, do you feel the planner understands your goals and is a person you could trust long-term?

During the course of your relationship, you will share plenty of personal information with your planner and entrust them with your financial future. Listen to your gut, and choose a planner you feel comfortable with.

THE LIST

According to Forbes, the top 10 highest-paid authors of 2018 are:

1. James Patterson ($86 million)

2. J.K. Rowling ($54 million)

3. Stephen King ($27 million)

4. John Grisham ($21 million)

5. Jeff Kinney ($18.5 million)

5. Dan Brown ($18.5 million)

7. Michael Wolff ($13 million)

8. Danielle Steel ($12 million)

8. Nora Roberts ($12 million)

T-9. Rick Riordan ($10.5 million)

T-9. E.L. James ($10.5 million)

NUMBER TO KNOW

7 percent: Telecommunications provider Verizon announced it will reduce its workforce by about 7 percent. The company said by June, 10,400 employees — who volunteered — will depart, with some receiving up to 60 weeks’ salary, bonuses and benefits.

TECH TALK

Google+ to shutdown sooner. After inadvertently giving app developers access to information of about 52.5 million Google+ users, Google announced it will shutdown its social network four months sooner than it originally planned. In October, Google said it was closing the consumer version of Google+ because of a vulnerability that left 500,000 accounts exposed from 2015 to March 2018.

The recent incident — which exposed user’s names, birth dates, email addresses, work histories and other information for a week in November — prompted the company to hasten the shutdown. Google officials said the data that was exposed in November was misused, and the vulnerability did not expose passwords, financial information, ID numbers or other data used for identity theft.

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