How to Find the Right Retirement Planning Services

retirement planning services

You have had your dream retirement in the back of your mind your entire life.

Whether that movie in your head shows you traveling to exotic lands, spending quality time with your grandchildren, or turning a lifelong hobby into a business, retirement isn’t the end of your story. It’s the beginning of an exciting new sequel.

But how do you make the retirement of your imagination a reality? For many, bringing their ideal retirement to life includes consulting with a financial professional who specializes in retirement planning services.

If you have a nest egg, you have experience in personal finance. Earning an income and saving for a “rainy day.” Building wealth in equity markets, and putting away money into a 401(k), IRA, or other retirement account.

But those are all actions on the front side of retirement—called the accumulation phase. The backend? It's known as the distribution phase, or how you draw retirement income from those assets accumulated over many years.

How you prepare for reliable income streams in retirement will determine if you live out the retirement of your dreams -- or possibly deal with some scaled-down version.

Finding the right retirement planning services can help strengthen your chances of a confident lifestyle.

Navigating the Broad Menu of Retirement Planning Services

Just as there are many retirement companies in the financial services industry, you have many options for planning your retirement future.

Several kinds of retirement planning services are available, from retirement investment management and healthcare strategies to legacy planning and income strategies. Some financial firms might offer one or a few retirement services, while others may provide integrated planning services.

   With so many services, finding the right ones depends on your personal situation and conditions. Those factors include:

  • Your current age
  • At what age you hope to retire (or if you are already retired)
  • Your accumulated wealth and assets
  • Your current portfolio strategy, including asset allocations and tax implications
  • Your household tax burden
  • Whether you are planning for retirement with a spouse or partner
  • Your lifestyle goals, financial goals, and income goals
  • Your time-frame for investing and being retired (Hint: You want a financial strategy that continues past your day of retirement as part of your long-term time horizon. This strategy should be incorporated into your financial life.)
  • Your risk tolerance
  • Your liquidity needs

Think about the information above in the context of your situation. Once you start to focus on your needs, it’s time to start your search for retirement planning services and firms that serve your needs.

Selecting Retirement Planning Services

Once you have a clear picture of your financial assets and retirement goals, it’s time to consider which retirement planning services, and what kind of service provider, are best suited to you.

Retirement planning is often broken down two phases:


In this phase, often known as the retirement “red zone,” you are taking steps before you retire. Most likely that includes preserving assets, adjusting your portfolio allocation strategy, catching up on target savings goals, and investing to fund retirement income.


In this phase you are ensuring your money and assets last for the rest of your life. You have taken measures to guard against the many financial risks facing retirees. At this point, you have also implemented healthcare spending strategies.

As mentioned above, the type of retirement planning services you need will depend on your personal situation. Companies you may consider consulting on this important financial issue will offer some or all of these services:

  • Retirement income planning
  • Wealth management
  • Retirement investing
  • Comprehensive financial planning
  • Insurance analysis & coverage
  • Tax planning
  • Healthcare & long-term care planning
  • Legacy strategies or estate planning
  • Senior care planning

How do you know which is appropriate for you?

Exploring Your Retirement Planning Service Options

Many firms provide comprehensive financial planning services and everything under one roof. But there could also be downsides to weighing that as the only or primary factor in your decision.

Some integrated planning firms don’t have a comprehensive knowledge of all the financial products that could potentially address your needs, for example. For example, those products could include fixed annuities for lifetime income or municipal bonds for tax-free income generation.

If exploring such possibilities made sense for you, you would have to evaluate whether or not that firm had the knowledge base to best help you. And what about the other spectrum, in which some firms don’t have an integrated planning model?

What an Independent Firm can Do for You

Many people don’t realize this, but some advisors are limited to offering “one-trick pony” products. Their offerings may be limited to variable annuity contracts, certain families of mutual funds, or groups of bond funds which their parent company pushes them to sell.

It raises the distinction of working with an independent financial professional, or someone who isn’t tied to just one or a few financial companies. With their independent business model, they may draw on a variety of companies for potential solutions for their clients. They aren’t handcuffed or limited to the product shelf they can offer.

Qualifications Are Key

Financial professionals must earn the appropriate licenses for the services they offer. As we focus on “Safe Money” on this website, financial professionals need an insurance license to guide and sell fixed annuity or life insurance products.

It’s always smart to check with your state’s Department of Insurance to inquire about the license status of a potential advisor or agent. Their record can specify whether any complaints are in their file.

When seeking an expert, there are special designations you can look to as one indicator of a financial professional's knowledge. These are highlights that an advisor can achieve through extensive education that is designed to lead to a higher level of competence.

Other ways to gauge professional pedigree are:

  • How many years someone has been in the business,
  • Whether they write articles or columns,
  • What they do for continuing education on a yearly basis, or
  • What they do to educate their community financially.

Designations can provide insight in other ways. Certified Financial Planners, for example, are held to a fiduciary standard by the CFP board. Other designations include Retirement Income Certified Professional, Chartered Financial Consultant, and Life Underwriter Training Council Fellow, among others.

Special Categories of Retirement Planning Services

Say you have benefits at your workplace, are a small business owner providing employee benefits, or you work for a unique employer, such as an agency within the federal government. You will want to seek guidance from a financial professional who specializes in and advises others with those benefits.

You should explore the possibility of guidance from a financial professional who has the expertise to coordinate those benefits with the rest of your financial picture.

How is Your Retirement Financial Professional Paid?

One of the hottest topics in retirement planning—and financial planning in general—is how an advisor is paid for their services and recommendations. They may be fee-based, fee-only, paid by commission on the products they sell, or a blend of any of these options.

There is a misconception that a fee-only approach is the "best-in-every-circumstance" structure for paying for financial planning services. If your unique needs require you to shop around for a specific financial product, a fee-only financial professional may not have the best product knowledge to assist you.

Their scope of practice may be limited. This may cause them to disregard a certain product as a possible solution entirely. With that said, fee-only planning definitely has a place in today's financial marketplace, and it should be considered as one of the service options that you explore.

It’s also true that some financial firms only work with clients who have a minimum amount of investable assets or who have a pre-determined net-worth. Check to see if any of these conditions apply to any retirement planning services you may be considering.

You deserve to have the highest level of retirement planning services available, so don’t be afraid to ask questions. This is your money and your retirement. Take charge and make the choices that make the most sense to you.

Get Your Retirement Financial House in Order

Are you ready to start exploring your retirement planning options? If you want to take the next step toward greater financial security, financial professionals at may be able to assist you. 

Use our "Find a Financial Professional" section to connect with someone directly. Should you need a personal referral, call us at 877.476.9723.

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