• Thu. Apr 18th, 2024

I’m 57 and own a home, but have a low income. Who can help me secure my financial future?


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Question: I’m 57, low income and looking for a certified financial planner (CFP). I own a house but am still paying the mortgage. What would be the best route to take in terms of finding someone to help me with my finances and my future?

Answer:  Though you have a low income, there are still financial planners who may be able to help you — though admittedly it might take some work to find someone. (This tool can match you to a fiduciary financial adviser who may meet your needs.)

“Most advisers specialize in helping high-net-worth income clients and their expertise might be more suited for affluent clientele,” says Chris Diodato, CFP, founder and lead financial planner at WELLth Financial Planning in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla. “An adviser who typically works with regular people will have expertise more germane to you.”

But how do you find one? Firstly, you may even qualify for free or deeply discounted financial advice, says Alonso Rodriguez Segarra, CFP, founder and CEO at Advise Financial in Plantation, Fla. “Every day, more CFPs contribute their time pro bono through an alliance with the Foundation For Financial Planning,” Segarra says. “This support is often provided remotely via video conference, making it more viable and comfortable Indeed, the Foundation for Financial Planning gives free financial help for at-risk seniors, people with cancer, communities of color, military and veterans and more.”

Have an issue with your financial planner or looking for a new one? Email [email protected].

You might also be able to get free or discounted financial help via the Financial Planning Association Pro Bono Program if you’re a low income individual or family, a domestic violence survivor, affected by a natural disaster, have serious medical crises, bankruptcy or are military personnel. Marguerita Cheng, CFP and CEO at Blue Ocean Global Wealth in Gaithersburg, Md., says “credit unions may offer free financial advice as part of community outreach.” Your employer or 401(k) provider is another place to look.

You may also want to consider an hourly certified financial planner; most offer a free initial consultation. While most CFPs tend to charge based on assets under management (AUM), there are increasing opportunities to work with planners under different fee structures. As you strengthen your finances and desire additional support, remember that although few CFPs work hourly, it’s a trend that is growing. “There’s a wide variety of proposals regarding the cost of the hour and you can look for the one that adapts to your finances,” says Segarra. To find planners who work hourly, check the FeeOnlyNetwork or XY Planning Network.

You could also look for a fee-only, project-based or advice-only CFP. “Fee-only professionals are only paid by you and receive no additional compensation from commission or referrals. They also often bill one flat fee or by the hour. Since an advice-only CFP will teach you to manage your accounts and not take them over, you’ll only pay them while you’re actively working together,” says Bri Conn, cohost of the Childfree Wealth Podcast. Hourly planners tend to charge between $150 and $450 per hour, but clients can engage on an as-needed basis to make the cost palatable. 

It’s also possible that you’ll find the assistance you’re looking for with a larger financial services company, says Jacob Montemayo, a CFP at Vanguard. “Charles Schwab & Co., The Vanguard Group or Fidelity Investments tend to be cost effective options with transparent fee structures,” Monteymayo says. “Working with one of these trusted brands should also give you access to user-friendly websites and apps that provide a depth of financial resources for your education.” (Looking for a new financial adviser? This tool can match you to an adviser who may meet your needs.)

No matter who you decide to work with, as you meet with potential planners, ensure that you have a list of must-answer questions for those you interview. “Focus on the scope of your potential relationship as well as their ability to assist with the specific guidance you’re seeking,” says Montemayor. “You want to be able to understand the fees you may be faced with and their individual compensation structure should you engage them in a planning relationship.” MarketWatch Picks has curated this list of helpful questions for prospective planners. 

Have an issue with your financial planner or looking for a new one? Email [email protected].

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