Hiring a Financial Advisor For Military Retirement Planning: 7 Questions You Should Ask

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by Scott R. Tucker // June 18 /

If you’re a military retiree, there are a few things you need to know about hiring a financial advisor. Many people assume that all advisors are created equal, but this isn’t the case. Not all advisors have experience with military retirement planning, so it’s important to ask questions before you make a decision. In this article, we will discuss some of the most important questions you should ask before hiring an advisor.

What is a military retirement planner and why do you need one

A military retirement planner is a professional who helps military members and retirees plan for their financial future. They can provide advice on investment portfolio strategies, saving for retirement, and managing your money after you retire.

Know what military retirement financial planning services you need

For many military retirees, the idea of hiring a financial planner may seem like a foreign concept. After all, you’ve been handling your finances on your own for years, and you don’t really need help, right?

In reality, though, hiring a financial planner can be a very wise decision. A good planner can help you make the most of your military retirement benefits and ensure that you have a solid financial plan in place for the future.

Investment Philosophy is Important

When you’re interviewing a potential financial advisor, be sure to ask about their investment philosophy instead of asking about their investment performance. This will give you a good idea of how they provide professional advice to those nearing retirement as well as explain their other financial services.

If they repeat the same buzz words about asset allocation, diversification, fiduciary, and dollar-cost averaging then let me tell you a little secret. Like they do in politics, they make up marketing slogans to keep everyone on the same page. It’s not good or bad, it just is.

But what if you don’t need to be on the same page for everything? Maybe some of your financial plan needs to be different.

If you want to become autonomous and increase your work/life balance then it must be different.

Avoid common mistakes

One of the biggest benefits of working with a financial planner is that they can help you avoid common mistakes made by military retirees. For example, many retirees mistakenly believe that they need to spend all of their money as quickly as possible. This can lead to irresponsible spending and unnecessary debt.

A good financial planner will help you create a sensible budget and develop a plan for spending your money responsibly. They can also offer guidance on how to invest your money wisely and ensure that your savings are protected.

A Certified financial planner will keep you average

You must understand that once a financial consultant chooses to join the ranks of certified financial planners and charge an hourly fee or provide direct investing advice and services they are legally required follow the CFP board financial planning requirements. They must give the same advice for everyone on the primary financial topics.

We realize at US VetWealth that as a military retiree you are among less than 1% of the US population, and therefore it is in our fiduciary duty to offer a more unconventional approach to help you manage your life events.

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Questions to Ask Financial Advisors about your military retirement

If you’re considering hiring a financial planner for military retirement planning, here are seven questions you should ask:

What experience do you have with military retirement planning?

This is an important question to ask because not all financial advisors have experience working with military members and retirees. You want to make sure you’re working with someone who understands the ins and outs of military benefits, pension plans, and other factors that can affect your financial future.

More importantly you need to find the right financial advisor to help you make important financial decisions without wasting your time talking about mutual funds, fiduciary duties, and past performance.

Have you published any content that clearly outlines your investment philosophy?

It’s always a good idea to review an advisor’s investment philosophy before hiring them. This will help you determine if their strategy aligns with your goals and values. If they haven’t written any original content and produced original videos then it can be difficult to know if they are truly independent.

At US VetWealth we have spent over a decade researching every financial aspect of the Military retirement process. We’ve published several books, videos, podcasts, and articles where we clearly explain how the convention financial planning approach for military retirees backfires.

But it’s not too late to readjust your financial strategy to better fit your new high-income opportunities.

1. What is the one mistake you see repeatedly?

Asking this question will give you insight into an advisor’s area of expertise. If they are able to identify common mistakes made by military retirees, it shows that they have a good understanding of the unique challenges you face.

One mistake we see military retirees make is not having a clear plan for how they will use their money after retirement. Many people mistakenly believe that they need to spend all of their money as quickly as possible. This can lead to irresponsible spending and unnecessary debt.

2.What services do you specialize in? 

A holistic or comprehensive financial plan may sound like a good idea. In fact, its pitched to you are a simple solution to give you the confidence you need to retire. But it’s not simple. And the plan is projecting goals and values decades away.

We would never plan that way in any other aspect of our lives. Why do we accept this?

We shouldn’t and we need to avoid those who claim to offer it as a valuable service. When the persuasion that is taking place is this.

The idea is to make the financial planning process and investment choices seem complicated, the plan lays it out nicely to make you feel like you should know what you’re looking at. But it’s not useful information.

The simplicity is the promise that all of this will be taken care of for you “comprehensively”. Really? How?

The reality is that financial professionals spend 90% of their time prospecting for new clients, especially if they aren’t published.

We publish so much content here on our website and YouTube channel because we want to make it very clear that we specialize in one thing.

We offer military retirees a more pragmatic approach to achieving autonomy and work/life balance in post-military life.

3. Can’t I Google this and watch a few YouTube videos?

Yes, Exactly.

There is not any specific financial planning knowledge that isn’t easily available as there are only so many ways to offer the convention financial planning advice. Especially for such a unique situation as the survivor benefit plan decision, or what to do with Thrift Savings Plan.

At US VetWealth, we like to call our program the “Unconventional” Military Retirement Blueprint.

The difference is that we offer a step-by-step system that is easy to follow and designed for military retirees.

The system walks you through the process of creating your own personal balance sheet, income statement, and cash flow so you can understand what you own, what you owe, and how much money is coming in and going out each year.

4. How can you help me be done working for someone else?

It should be obvious to everyone by now that financial advisors are a commodity and find it very difficult to differentiate themselves. It’s not their fault, they are taught to learn financial planning skills first and then sales skills second.

And perhaps I’ll be the first to tell you, that neither of those skills will help you become your own boss within five years of military retirement. Because if you want financial freedom then ultimately you’ll need to be able to communicate to other humans the value you offer so that you can get what you want.

And if you’re like more military retirees that means you want to be done working for someone else as soon as possible so that you can decide how you want to make an impact again when the time is right.

At US VetWealth, our approach is about far more than managing your money. We offer you access to our tools, tactics, and techniques that we have used to live an autonomous lifestyle ourselves (without a military pension) for over a decade, living in Europe, San Diego, and Coastal Virginia.

But this approach is only possible if you recognize that the conventional military transition and financial planning approach is designed solely for you to begin another career to work another 20 years or more.

How do we make the most of our relationship?

In order to achieve autonomy, you’ll need a better approach than having an annual review. With modern technology, you can and should be able to track your progress in real-time so that you can see the results of your decisions and know whether or not you are on track to reach your goals.

We use a tool called “Asset Mapping” which is free and gives you the ability to see all of your accounts in one place, provides helpful visualizations of your progress, and has a great mobile app.

How much does it cost to work with a military retirement planner?

The answer to this question is entirely up to you. You’ll get what you pay for. That includes your time, talent, and treasure in all aspects of post-military life.

Providing retirees with so many free benefits has resulted in a skewed perspective of expectations of how the corporate economic world works. People don’t offer their valuable time, or the knowledge and skills they’ve mastered for free until they have reached full autonomy. Even then, the masters command hefty profits.

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Manage your own money through a system

We can provide as much or as little help as you want. Our program is designed such that you can do it all yourself if you want to, but we are always here to answer your questions and offer support when needed.

The bottom line is that we want you to be in control of your finances and your life.

At US VetWealth, we make this easier for you by designing a system with you using three tools:

Asset Map

This is a free tool that allows you to see all of your incomes, accounts, and assets in one place. Spouses have told us this has saved marriages by finally simplifying the finances in one place. Ironic that we have to call out an approach unconventional. but again, the conventional approach is to make it confusing on purpose so that you need them. That’s manipulation, not persuasion.

It also provides helpful visualizations of your progress and your target change. You can use it to track your progress and make sure you are systematizing your approach to autonomy.

Automated financial advice: Robo-Advisors

This is our favorite tool and it’s what we use to allow you to manage your own money. We are firm believers that you can do it yourself with the help of technology.

With a Robo-advisor, you can get started managing your own money in a few minutes. This will reduce cost and complexity, but more so it will remove layers of human financial bureaucracy (people who get paid) so that more of your money stays invested.

On average we are able to reduce our client’s investment fees by 50% for the remaining lifetime of the account.

Private Pension

A private pension plan is a great way to reduce your future income taxes, but they are also a great tool to use well before your conventional retirement.

You can use them to save for retirement or other long-term goals, but you can also access the money before age 60 without penalty.

We have found that many military families are not aware of these products and strategies because they are designed for high-net-worth families and high-income earners.

You may not yet be a high net worth on paper. However, you are or will become a high-income earner once you start collecting your military retirement pay, VA disability, and begin a new career.

You need to take advantage of these products and strategies now so that you can retire sooner, have more money in retirement and be less reliant on the government or a traditional employer.

What if I don’t want to retire early?

This is a valid concern for many military families. They have spent their entire lives in service to their country and they are not ready to stop working.

We have good news for you! You don’t have to retire early to take advantage of our system.

You can continue working as long as you want, but you will have the added security of knowing that you have a plan in place to retire on your terms.

What should I do next?

If you want to learn more about our approach then the best thing to do is schedule a call with one of our military retirement planners.

We offer a free 15-minute call to answer any questions you have and to give you a brief overview of how our system works.

You can schedule your call here.

If you are not quite ready for a call, then we suggest that you Demo our free wealth management dashboard. This will allow you to see all of your accounts and assets in one place so that you can begin to get a handle on your finances.

You can access and demo the investment management dashboard here.

We hope this has been helpful and we look forward to helping you achieve financial freedom!

Scott R. Tucker is an author, speaker and the founder of US VetWealth, a lifestyle and financial consulting brand that helps US Military Retirees achieve more autonomy and work/life balance. He likes to say, "I help the 1% who serve our country become the 1% who influence It." A West Point graduate, serial world traveler, military financial expert, and entrepreneur, Scott brings valuable experience and insight to those who have sacrificed so much in service to our country.

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