NEW YORK (MainStreet) – Financial advisers come in all different shapes and sizes, and there’s no shortage of them in the U.S. Truth be told, it’s one of the rare “high growth” careers tracked by the federal government.

Currently there are well over 200,000 financial planners operating in the U.S., according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. and the financial advisory market is expected to grow 30% by 2018. 

Perhaps the most valuable type of financial adviser is the pre-emptive one who plans for unexpected financial costs and factors them into your retirement savings plan. Since such costs can total in the thousands of dollars, you better hope your financial planner accounts for those unforeseen financial events.

A recent MetLife (Stock Quote: MET) study, “The MetLife Study of Thinking About Retirement in Uncertain Times,” warned that while Americans may be preparing for as comfortable a retirement as they can, one thing they’re ignoring (at their peril) is planning for events that can trip up the best laid retirement plans.

The good news is that it’s not too late to adjust your financial plan to accommodate hidden landmines along the path to your golden years, but you might need the right bank or adviser to get the job done.

MetLife gives some examples of unanticipated scenarios:

  • Being forced into early retirment due to health issues or losing a job.
  • Retiring later for financial reasons.
  • Having only tenuous health care coverage and risking high long-term care costs.
  • The vagaries of the stock market.
  • Unexpected expenses for health care, housing, family support or other emergencies. MetLife estimates that such scenarios can be a one-time or ongoing expense for six months or longer, and may cost anywhere from $6,700 to $8,300 for each occurrence.

It’s kind of tricky, but Met Life encourages investors to actually expect such events.

“We found that actively preparing for the surprises that inevitably come our way is the most successful approach to retirement,” says Sandra Timmermann, director of the MetLife Mature Market Institute. “Knowing you will have guaranteed income sources available and access to emergency funds is key.”

How do you and your pre-emptive planner prepare for costly financial scenarios such as ill health or the early loss of a job? A big part of that calls for adopting a pre-emptive planning stance of your own.

One forward-thinking tactic is to combine a good investment strategy with increased liquidity – because you may need to get to your cash fast if something bad happens.

“To maximize income in retirement while maintaining liquidity, consider options beyond low-yielding savings accounts,” Timmermann says. “Some annuity and home equity products enable you to have access to cash while optimizing returns at the same time. Ultimately, the capacity to withstand the unexpected is dependent on the ability of people to imagine, anticipate and prepare for the circumstances that are often beyond their control.”

The study takes a lighthearted approach to a serious matter to classify retirement investors in one of the following 10 categories.

  1. Snoozers who don’t think about future risks at all. Future risks are not on their radar screens.
  2. Active Resisters who “choose to snooze,” or choose to ignore information about future risks.
  3. Immobilized Worriers who understand future risks, but whose worry prevents them from acting.
  4. Oversleepers who are late in their thinking and planning and may regard their decision or action windows as “come and gone.”
  5. Wood Knockers who think about the unexpected but rely on hope; they choose optimism. Somehow, things will “work out.”
  6. Plan B-ers who hold on to a contingency plan, or the loose idea of one, as a protection against trouble ahead. A Plan B may be a “plan” in name only.
  7. Realists who use the lessons of experience to think about the future.
  8. Stewers and Brewers who take a while to make decisions. Stewers may fuss and fret, while Brewers play with ideas and planning strategies.
  9. Compromisers who think about today and tomorrow and balance their current needs against future risks.
  10. Pre-emptive Planners who strive to pre-empt future risks, or at least their consequences.

If you have a financial planner, set up a meeting to discuss those “surprises’ that might dent your retirement account down the road. If not, learn how to become a pre-emptive planner and take control over your own money, no matter what disaster may be lurking in the shadows.

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