Investors who are facing career changes or major purchases such as a second home often seek guidance from their financial advisors who can offer an unbiased and less emotional opinion.
Some financial advisors wind up taking on the role as a mentor or counselor to help investors reach their retirement goals.
The analytical viewpoints of advisors help investors who need impartial advice on financial planning and not just investment management, said Bill DeShurko, president of 401 Advisor, a registered investment advisor in Centerville, Ohio.
"There are emotional issues involved, but the value of a good advisor is to take the emotion out and 'run the numbers,'" he said.
While an advisor can't help an investor decide which job is better for them or if they should accept a promotion and relocate, they can crunch the numbers by examining and comparing the benefit packages, which can include stock options or other financial incentives, DeShurko said.
"I look at the long-term income benefits or costs and then let the client decide if their emotional benefits are worth the cost," he said.
Real estate is a common question presented to many advisors, whether from a tax or debt viewpoint. Although a 15-year mortgage is less costly than a 30-year mortgage, the majority of analysis by homeowners ignores opportunity cost, DeShurko said.
"If a 30-year mortgage payment is $100 less than a 15-year payment, what does a $100 a month grow to over 15 years?" he said.
While some investors like to keep a larger amount of cash on hand to help their children out or because they are averse to maintaining debt, advisors can examine the opportunity cost of investing the additional savings in the market.
One client who was selling one house and purchasing another one was not able to make up his mind on whether or not to obtain a mortgage or pay for it with cash, said Ron McCoy, a portfolio manager of the LOWS Fund with Covestor, the online investing company, and founder of Freedom Capital Advisors in Winter Garden, Fla.
McCoy recommended that the homeowner pay for the second house with cash from the proceeds of the first one to save money on paying interest on a mortgage.
"I told him less debt is always good," he said. "It never hurts for clients to ask for help or advice. It could possibly save you some headache down the road."
Advising clients on the sale or purchase of a car or home or other real estate is beneficial because often there are hidden errors which can be costly, said Bijan Golkar, CEO of FPC Investment Advisory in Petaluma, Calif. In addition to helping them strategize on their purchase, he will review the closing statements and speak with a loan officer to ensure appraisal costs or other fees are accurate.
"People get cheated," he said. "If your advisor isn't doing that, you should find someone who will. That is why I do what I do. I manage money, but the part that really turns our crank is when we get to help our clients go through these changes."
Decisions on Retirement Income
One of the most common issues to emerge is when individuals should start taking their Social Security income. Many advisors recommend waiting a few years to maximize the amount received, but retirees are often told to accept it earlier by their friends and family.
DeShurko is currently working with a female and single client who had been advised to start taking the payments at the age of 65, but he recommended waiting five years.
"By taking Social Security payments at 65 you give up a lot of potential income based on those guaranteed increases," he said. "No one it seems ever looks at that."
Choosing whether to accept a lump sum or an annuity from pensions being liquidated is another complicated issue. After examining the pros and cons of both options, one client chose the annuity with a 75% survivor option.
Financial advisors often fall into the role of a confidant because information from an in-law, co-worker or neighbor is misleading or incorrect.
"I am still amazed at the number of people who think they have to take out all their IRA money at 70.5 years old or believe that if they get extra income from a raise or capital gains in their portfolio that the taxes will exceed the increase in income because they don't get how tax brackets work on their income tax," DeShurko said.