Q&A: Getting a second financial opinion

Dear Liz: My wife and I recently retired. Our investments are managed by a certified financial planner. Our nest egg has not shown much growth over the last several years. We think it is time for another professional advisor to analyze our portfolio and see if we are really heading in the right direction. Is this out of the ordinary to seek more advice and how would we go about it, without offending our current planner?

Answer: You can certainly consult another advisor, but consider talking to your own first.

Start by asking the certified financial planner how your portfolio has performed relative to an appropriate benchmark over the last five years. The planner should be able to explain what benchmark was chosen and why. A portfolio that invests heavily in bonds, for example, will have a different benchmark than one that invests mostly in stocks.

If your portfolio is lagging behind this benchmark, then ask the planner what changes can be made to improve your investment performance. Switching from actively managed investments to passive ones, such as index mutual funds or index exchange traded funds, could save on costs and improve performance because few actively managed investments manage to beat the market.

If your portfolio is performing appropriately relative to its benchmark, then discuss whether you want to take on more risk for better returns. Many planners recommend retirees have a substantial portion of their portfolios in stocks for inflation-beating growth.

Your certified financial planner should be open to this discussion and ready to course correct if necessary. If you find that’s not the case, then it may be time not just for a second opinion but for a new advisor.

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