Financial advisors can provide valueable services

Published 12:00 am Sunday, April 12, 2009

There are may do-it-yourself investment resources available to investors today, but none of them can replace the experienced personal service a financial advisor provides. Financial advisors have the expertise and resources to offer an understanding of your complete financial picture, not just your investments, Additionally, in periods of market volatility, when you need the most support, we also can provide:

4 Access to important decision-making research and information

4 Ongoing monitoring of your investment portfolio, while anticipating your changing needs.

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4 A comprehensive plan for retirement that takes into consideration your other goals — education funding and estate planning, for instance — and includes real responses to market volatility and what the changing markets mean for you.

Have a plan

Developing a financial plan is one of the best ways to meet your long-term goals. Your plan should also include a market volatility action plan to help you set realistic goals and manage return expectations in “what if” situations. Financial advisors can create a new plan for you or refine an existing one. Importantly, we will also follow up at set intervals or whenever changes in your life warrant a financial review.

Invest regularly

If you are still working, saving part of your salary for your retirement is an excellent way to rebuild savings that were depressed by market conditions. Your investment could buy more shares of lower-prices equities and other securities that are “on sale” due to market conditions but show good potential. If you don’t feel comfortable investing in more equities, you can choose investments with less risk for your new contributions. Advisors can generate an asset allocation analysis to ensure that your financial holding, both inside and outside of your retirement accounts, are working together to provide you with a well diversified portfolio that meets your needs and risk parameters.

Consider working longer

As the unemployment rate continues to rise, holding onto a good-paying job that brings in regular income can be your lifeline prior to — and even during — retirement. According to a 2007 Urban Institute study, the combination of working longer, continuing to save, reducing spending and delaying Social Security benefits could significantly increase your retirement income. Just like part-time work allowed many people to find a balance between their work and personal lives, part-time retirement could help control the uncertainties of the financial markets by providing an extra cushion of income to fund the pleasures of your retirement.

Check your cash flow

Keeping track of where your money goes can give you a better picture of how long your retirement funds might last, or how much you might need to save.

Financial advisors can perform a cash-flow analysis to take the guessing out of this process.

Consolidate plans for easier management

Bringing all your financial assets together into one retirement account and/or spending account can help clarify exactly what you have, where you are spending it and how you might invest your funds to manage them better. Advisors can provide more information on the accounts offered by Smith Barney. Part of the consolidation process will be a comprehensive assessment of your holdings and how they might be managed more efficiently to provide you with the current lifestyle and the future retirement you envision.

Bill byrne is a financial planner at Smith Barney in Natchez.