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Is a Retirement Coach Right For You?

Is a Retirement Coach Right For You?

You can get somebody to coach you in just about anything – athletics, getting into college, or how to navigate your career, for example. These days, you'll even find specialists who call themselves retirement coaches. Do you need one?

“A retirement coach can get you on track to meet your goals and life's dreams,” says Zack Shepard a financial coach and managing director at Matson Money. “From a simple investment standpoint, the average investor for the last 20 years has earned 3.49% in their investments versus just owning the S&P 500 at 7.81%. That's over a 4% difference. A coach, through education and discipline can help an investor close that gap,” says Shepard.

How a coach can help

Maybe you already have an accountant and a financial advisor, what can a retirement coach do that's different? Matson Money's website makes the case for a coach.

"Coaching is different from traditional financial advice. An investment coach is a financial professional who goes beyond typical financial planning and advice to help you identify your investment philosophy, understand your investment strategy, and provide discipline throughout your investment experience. A coach will not only help you identify the right strategy for you, but help you keep your decisions and behavior regarding your investments on track for achieving the results you want."

It's promising, tempting for sure. Retirement is about more than just knowing how much money you'll need and figuring out what type of investments will likely get you there. Retirement is not just about money. It's much deeper than that. It's a time of great transition and emotion. What the heck will you do with yourself now that you're out of excuses? You have all the time in the world, how will you fill your days? Can you stand being home all day, or will you work part-time in retirement whether you need the money or not, just because you need the social interaction? It's the touchy-feeling stuff that a retirement coach can serve as an objective sounding board, in addition to keeping you track with the hard core financials.

People are looking for guidance. Ameriprise Financial's New Retirement Mindscape II study in 2010, revealed that just 45% of retirees surveyed said they were living their dream in retirement, compared with 68% in 2005. Even more telling, 57% said retirement had worked out the way they planned, compared to 77% in 2005.

Then too, there's nothing like someone keeping you accountable. “A financial advisor can tell you that you're spending too much and that you need to save more toward your future retired. If you're already retired, they can let you know whether you're spending too much in retirement and talk to you about cutting back. A financial advisor can help you take action toward retirement planning instead of procrastinating and help you overcome the urge to panic and make bad choices during times of market volatility,” says Dan Keady, director of financial planning at TIAA-CREF. A coach, as a neutral third party, can also help couples work through the personal dynamics to help them reach a compromise on an overall plan.

Choose your coach carefully

Once you decide you want a retirement coach the big question is where to find good help? You want to focus on those who have not only training in coaching, but a specialty in retirement. If your inner circle doesn't have any recommendations, you can find pros through organizations like the International Coach Federation, the Life Planning Network and 2Young2Retire. Like with any advisor, ask about their credentials and experience. The International Coach Federation has a mid-level certification, the Professional Certified coach, which lets you know that the individual have at least 750 hours of coaching experience, 25 clients, among other criteria.

Know that prices are all over the map. You could be charged between $250-$1,000 to come up with a comprehensive plan and then $250 a year. How much you pay, says Shepard, “Really depends on a number of variables or complexity but for the most part, on average, you can expect to pay less than 1%.”

Some coaches may want a 3-6 month contract, but how much coaching you want and for how long is generally negotiable.

Like with any professional, all coaches are not created equal. “You want someone who has experience with working with clients similar to you,” says Keady. Ask for several references and don't be shy in interviewing them. You want to get a sense of what the coach did and didn't do. How did they help them the most? What were any short comings? Was the coaching experience worth the money?

Your initial consultation with the coach should be free. Don't dismiss intangibles like chemistry and their style. “You must feel comfortable. Avoid anyone who looks like they are offering a generic solution. Retirement is a different animal for everyone. The coach should be asking you what are your priorities, like whether you want to work part-time in retirement or if you would like to spend time volunteering, for example,” says Ron Mizell, vice president at Wright Wealth Management Group.

Bottom line: if your initial impression is not impressive, walk away before putting up any cash.

Edit 1/14/2013: Quote corrections made in paragraph 7.

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Anonymous   |     |   Comment #1
Sorry coach, don't send me in...I'm not quite ready to pay, er, ah, I mean play.
Paoli2   |     |   Comment #2
What about those finance guys every bank has?  They're free (I think) and they should be able to do what those pay for coaches do.  I know for certain that  if I fly off from this life before DP he is going to need more than one coach to help him so I need to find somebody FREE before I take off.  I hate the idea he would have to pay for help. Then again, I can just make sure he knows how to access this site and you people can help him (for free!)
Shorebreak   |     |   Comment #3
Re: Paoli2 - #2, Sunday, January 13, 2013 - 11:51 AM

"What about those finance guys every bank has?"

There is no "free" lunch in this world. Those so-called financial advisers with the fancy desks in the banks are there to make money for the bank, and themselves, through large commissions on the products they recommend. Caveat emptor!
Paoli2   |     |   Comment #4
Shorebreak:  They got real angry with me when I accused them of that!  One said he even recommends products to his own grandma and he would not try to fleece her.  I don't think this guy would be good for DP because he is not too happy with me for not letting him guide my choices.  Like they say:  "there are no free lunches".   Commissions are the way they survive no matter what they tell us.
Anonymous   |     |   Comment #5
If you need a "Retirement Coach" then that's a clue you need a better financial advisor.  These days banks don't staff advisors, or even anyone with any business savvy (loan decisions are made by computers, not people)--they only have salespeople in sheep's clothing.
Paoli2   |     |   Comment #6
#5  I don't need a Retirement Coach, I was referring to what to do about my DP when and if he has to handle finances.  He will need all the help he can get.  I sure would not want to put my trust in those bank guys!  (No offense to anyone on here who works for a bank. :))
51hh   |     |   Comment #7
"Coaching is different from traditional financial advice. An investment coach is a financial professional who goes beyond typical financial planning and advice to help you identify your investment philosophy, understand your investment strategy, and provide discipline throughout your investment experience. A coach will not only help you identify the right strategy for you, but help you keep your decisions and behavior regarding your investments on track for achieving the results you want."

Easy said than done.  It is a different title with the same goal: Get money from you.

Hmm, (1) why do I need a coach when I am doing fine with my own investment??, (2) why would he/she work for my benefits only??, (3) It is my own situation, why would he/she know better?  (4) I know myself, why would he/she know what is best for me unless I tell him/her?  If I tell him my situation, go to (3).

In conclusion, ditch the coach (and financial planner).  Just my case. 
Anonymous   |     |   Comment #8


Dear Shorebreak - #3,

Overall I agree about the "Caveat emptor!" part.

A small exception, that I know of is the fees/commission that a FA charges who has an office space on the premises of a Credit Union or a Bank (that is insured by NCUA/FDIC repsectively), but works for a brokerage, and offers Structured CDs/Notes by different issuers.  The commissions/charges are quite "reasonable", so far as my experience goes, in such cases.

In my experience, the fees/commissions of the FAs hosted by Banks like Chase, BofA, Citi, and the Credit Unions like Prentagon FCU, Alliant FCU, Digitial CU, on their premises and/or on their web-sites who sells these Structured Products have "reasonable" compensation structure. About $0 to $5 per trade of a partcular Note or a CD, besides some annual charge.  So ... If I buy say 5 identical CDs in a single trade then typically $5000 will be used to buy 5 CDs each of $1000 denomination, and $5 will be charged by the brokerage as commission (or whatever they call it).  No matter if I were to buy 1 CD or 10 or 100, the commission will stay the same.  Therefore the more assets one uses per trade, higher will be the perceived resonablity of commission.

Now ... if one is buying other products viz Annuity, Mutual Funds, Bonds etc. then the fees/charges are what I'd consider as "significantly" high.  As I've mentioend many times, the principal of the Structured CD is insured by the FDIC.  For a Structured Note, neither the principal nor the interest is insured by the FDIC.

Yours Truly,
- Anonymous
Anonymous   |     |   Comment #9


Dear 51hh - #7,

Personally, I have no problem to pay the FA, or the Coach, or Financial Institute so long as the product(s)/service(es) they provide is/are what I want, and which I cannot get for myself without them acting as a "go-between".

Case in point - an Annuity. (Variable type of Annuity of course, where I retain ownership of the assets.)  The Financial Institutes will charge money (some of then what I'd consider as "reasonable", and some not so) for an annuity products.  I have no problem to pay-up.

So ... I appreciate the fact that they are "for-profit" organization, with a fiduciary responsibility of generating profits for their shareholders.  Therefore, surely they will charge me money, if I'm using their Annuity.

And I have to make an small exception when an Annuity by USAA is concerend.  The legal structure of USAA is different than say AIG (which - we - the taxpayers - bailed out), or Citigroup, or Metlife.

Yours Truly,
- Anonymous
Tommy   |     |   Comment #11
I have a free coach for years, and that's Ken the banking guy....
Anonymous   |     |   Comment #12


Tommy (anonymous) - #11,

Indeed ... We all do!

Yours Truly,
- Anonymous
Anonymous   |     |   Comment #14
There is a great book called 'RETIRE OVER SEAS" it is all about where one can live and save money.
Anonymous   |     |   Comment #15
#14.........One can only hope that it is actually "Overseas" & not Over Seas. Actually there are 100 books that cover that topic.
Anonymous   |     |   Comment #16
I think a coach will coach you until you are broke. No thanks coach, I will coach myself.
Maecl   |     |   Comment #17
Paoli2:  I know exactly what you mean in reference to your DP.  I have the same issues.
Anonymous   |     |   Comment #21
My 2 cents:Study,read books,look up historical data,don't fall for the

"crap"advisors give out.Do your own thing,and stay away from trouble.Being

here shows me that you care about your own finances. 
Paoli2   |     |   Comment #22
Yours Not Truly:  I see you are bored again and was just lying in wait to pounch.  But I will appease your thirst for information on the topic.  HE got in trouble and apologized to ME!  Those are MY and DPs accounts and that bank had no right to just let anyone nose through them!  That bank apologized to me also and to this day assures me NO one will look at our private records unless it is for a bank problem.  I never authorized them to open my records to financial salesmen in order to sell me their products.  That same salesman and I are now on friendly terms.  Maybe you signed some agreement like you talk about but I didn't and the bank knew I was within my rights to want my accounts protected.   

WHY do you always have to think I am a troublemaker just for standing up for my rights?  Is it because you don't defend your own?  Too bad for you.  I see you are looking for another fight tonight and I am not in the mood to play this sick combative game of words with you.  Ask your mommy for a cookie and go watch some cowboy videos or play with your rattlesnakes.  Have a good evening.
Paoli2   |     |   Comment #23
Maeci:  Since you posted you have the same problems with your DP, have you found a good way to resolve them without it being costly?  I keep telling mine that if he doesn't take the time and effort to learn about his own taxes and finances while I am still here, it is going to cost him thousands of dollars to pay others to do what I do for us for free.  He seems to think I will live forever.  I don't know if you are male or female but this happens with both ****es it seems.  If you come up with an answer to our problem, I would welcome suggestions on how to deal with it.  Thank you for the kind reply.
financially strapped
financially strapped   |     |   Comment #27
  Severe discipline and frequent DP have given me great release from my pent up fiscal anxieties.
Maecl   |     |   Comment #33
Paoli2:  I haven't found a solution.  My husband retired 1/2012.  He had a 401K at Fidelity that we moved it into their brokerage division in March.  It was the fastest way to make the move, as it can take time and I was afraid the account would close during market decline and arrive when the market was up.

We put 50K in a managed account which is more aggresive than I would manage.  We have paid $335 in fees so far.  I haven't received a 4th quarter bill yet.  The income for year was $1,603 and the account value was just under 53K.  Most of the year we had a loss in the account.

The rest of the money is in funds that I manage.  A large portion is in a money market because I thought there would be a better buying oportunity.  I don't think the experts did better than I.  They were up because the market was up.

My guess is that my husband will choose managed.  It wouln't be my choice and I would like to move to Vanguard, where we have our Roth's.  Not that Fidelity is bad.

If you listen to the radio you may know Clark Howard, Ric Edelman, or Dave Ramsey.  You can check their websites.  Edelman is a manager and the other two can lead you to no commission advisors.
Paoli2   |     |   Comment #34
Maeci:  I use Fidelity and Vanguard and only keep CDs in the accounts.  I have never paid any fees to either one because they do nothing for us.  Of course they keep reading pages of info to me which state they don't approve of my financial choices and keep trying to get me to buy products which I guess will get them commissions.  I did real well for DP all these years with my CD choices when rates were much higher but now they have trashed and I am still refusing to change course.  The only money I ever lost was when I tried a mutual fund.  I got out quick before it was a large lost and made it up as a lost on our taxes. 

I have decided to stick with CDs and I do a lot of work finding even 2% CDs these days.  My concern is that if I go first, DP will have to find a professional to help him and it is going to cost him thousands of dollars for the help and he may have big losses because they will encourage him to buy products which will get them good commissions.  As you seem to know, even Fidelity and Vanguard are not free.  Their CD rates are crap nowadays but so is everyone else's.  I will ride it out because sooner or later, they will inch up a bit.  What I hate most is the blasted Required Minimum Deductions we have to now take whether we want to or not.  It raises our taxes and causes us to have to pay more tax on Social Security income.  I don't know if you have gotten to that stage yet but if you haven't I hope you are packing in as much savings as you can so your money will last longer.  Next life, I am going to marry an accountant who will specialize in finances and "he" will do all the taxes and financial work for us! :)   Have a good evening. 

BTW, I rarely listen to the radio these days but always enjoy listening to financial advisors especially if they are no commission advisors.  Thanks for sharing.
Anonymous   |     |   Comment #35
My opinion of financial advisers on radio or TV shows is that they are just "talking heads" with a little personality for show.  If they were really good at giving good financial advice, they would be following it themselves and off living the high life free and clear rather than working on some radio or TV program.

Sure they are right, sometimes, but sometimes isn't good enough when dealing with my retirement savings.  That is why it is CDs for me.
Maecl   |     |   Comment #37
Paoli2:  I'm confused.  Why would you need to pay someone if you want your DP to remain in CD's?  Ken has a great site for that purpose and it's free.  I actually feel foolish asking that question because I know what it's like.  I took over bill paying when we were newlyweds because we had bills stuffed in drawers that were overdue.

I looked at CD's at mutual fund companies and didn't like what they offered.  I'm happy with my fund choices.  In the past when the market was down I saw it as an opportunity.

When Tiaa-Cref first offered funds retail you could start a fund with $250- and only need $25- for additions.  That was a great time.  The money market was paying 6% and bond funds paid great dividends.  That was the time when I first started saving for retirement and it served us well.  I had a very late start and strongly suggest everyone to start early because the years fly by.  It is difficult to catch up.

We haven't reached required minimun distribution age yet and I'm worried we may need funds before that, as our expenses are increasing.  I'm worried for our future and that of our children.  I don't see a bright future but I hope I'm wrong.
Paoli2   |     |   Comment #38
Maeci:  It's because I want him to stay in CDs that I am concerned if he gets with a financial manager, the first thing they will do is convince him he needs to make more income by getting into things like bonds, stocks, and other products that are not insured.  DP may be  overwhelmed by everything and end up losing a lot of the savings listening to "professionals".  At our age, the end game is "protecting" the funds even if we have to put up with trash interest rates. 

We got hit a few years ago with financial problems we never expected and if I had not "over saved" we would be in really bad shape today.  Unless the politicians in Washington can come to their senses about the deficit, I also don't see a bright future for us or our children.  I have a beloved DD who has a chronic medical problem and we are supporting her and paying a fortune for her medical insurance and bills.  My goal was to protect her financially when I have passed on.  I was doing very well until interest rates crashed but I have reorganized our lives so we can all survive on the income I have coming in.  By oversaving in earlier years,  I made sure I had available CDs to cash in when necessary so I could keep us financially solvent.  So Merci, save as much as you can and in a way it will be protected.   Since your DP is retired, it sounds like you don't have 50 years to undo any financial mistakes.  I wish you all the best and hope both of our fears for the financial future is unfounded.
Anonymous   |     |   Comment #40
quierotucuerpa - #36,  Although, ninety five percent of my retirement account is in CDs, I never said that I "feel good" about the low interest rates that the CDs earn.  In fact, the exact opposite is true.  I don't think anyone else "feels good" about the artificially low CD and savings rates either, but I can't speak for them, only myself.  I am retired and not about to gamble with my retirement savings. 
Paoli2   |     |   Comment #43
quierotu:  Sitting around counting my posts?  Not busy enough??  TA TA!