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What Happens if My Financial Planner Retires?

What Happens if My Financial Planner Retires?

August 23, 2018

Financial planning is about thinking ahead, prudently planning for the future. With that in mind, it’s only natural that from time to time you might ask the question: “What happens when my financial planner retires?” Or you might as the question: “What happens if my financial planner gets hit by a bus?”

What should I do if I can’t get ahold of my financial advisor?

Like nearly everything in financial planning, the answer is “that depends.” The details of your situation will be different, but here are a few things you should know:

  • You own all your investment accounts, insurance contracts and bank accounts. Even if your planner is very involved with day-to-day management of these accounts, you own them. You have control. You can always get access to your money. If you call the 800 number on your statements you should get answers to your questions.
  • In every firm, there is a technical succession plan in place such that somebody can access your files and answer your questions the day after your financial advisor is gone.
    • Usually, if you call the phone number for your planner and hit zero, the receptionist can connect you with somebody who can help you.
    • If your advisor is part of a registered investment advisor, most of your documents will include disclosure information that will include a phone number for the compliance office of the RIA. They can direct you to someone who can help you.
  • During your regular review and update you should discuss with your planner how things are going and plans for the future. If your advisor is “of a certain age” it’s entirely appropriate for you to ask them how much longer they plan to work and what their vision is for the transition into retirement. As the client, you have a right to understand these plans. Do not be bashful.

Interesting facts about financial advisors

  • CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professionals, the industry’s most respected financial planner designation, have an average age of 49.9 according to the CFP Board.
  • There are more CFPs in their 70s than in their 20s, according to Michael Kitces, industry columnist.
  • Researcher Cerulli Associates says the average financial advisor in the United States is 51.
  • Cerulli also says that 38 percent of “financial advisors” plan to retire in the next 10 years.
  • And Cerulli says that 73 percent of “advisors” don’t have a succession plan.

What do these numbers mean?

They might mean that if your financial advisor is doing this work primarily for the money, she might be thinking about retirement soon. Why not? If you are 50 years old and have a bunch of money saved, too, you might be thinking about retiring.

Alternatively, if your advisor is doing this work because they are called to do it, because they love it, they might want to do it until they die. The average American will live to an age of 85. So you might have a few years before your advisor hangs up his spurs.

This brings us back around to a conversation with your advisor. I know that I plan to work for 20 or 30 more years. I love this work and I love my clients. So I don’t plan to go anyplace anytime soon. But since I am always an advocate for my clients – a fiduciary financial planner – I feel an obligation to be sure that my clients have a smooth transition in the event that I have to stop working unexpectedly.

With that in mind, I’m happy to be a part of the Advisornet Wealth Management family. This is the SEC registered investment advisor with which I’m affiliated. This organization has several young, capable professionals who I know well and who could step in in the event I needed to leave the scene.

So my clients can rest assured that I’ll be around for a while. I plan to be around for a good long time and I have a backup plan in place just in case things change. If I’m unexpectedly gone, I have capable people in place to help out. But how clear are you on the situation with your financial planner? It pays to find out.

If you are thinking about beginning a relationship with a financial planner to help with your transition from work into retirement you may want to be sure your advisor can help you all the way to finish line. In that case, you may benefit from a multi-faceted approach. If you work with a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professional you will get broad based retirement planning that includes a detailed plan for many aspects of your retirement life. This takes much of the guesswork out of your retirement journey.

And if the CFP® professional is always an advocate for the client– a fiduciary advisor – and only works for the client – a fee-only advisor – you can be confident that the advice you get is focused on your best interests and is a good fit for your complete situation.

A CFP® professional can help you create a financial plan that is driven by your goals and priorities and addresses all aspects of your financial life. With a big-picture approach, you will get a meaningful understanding of your goal progress. And you will get a personalized action plan for how to move forward.

Yes, I am a CFP® professional. I’m always a fiduciary and I only work on a fee basis. And, yes, I plan to do this for the next 20 or 30 years. I’m still taking on a few great families to be part of my financial planning practice.

If this article has you thinking about what to do if your planner retires, contact my office at I am always happy to meet with people who are serious about their financial goals. Dunncreek Advisors does not provide legal or tax advice, nor is this article intended to do so.