Retirement Planning

Getting to Retirement vs. Getting Through Retirement

And those who want to thrive during retirement, rather than merely scrape by, will need a different type of advisor.

“What many clients don’t realize when they first meet with us is that the type of investing and planning that got them to retirement is not the type of investing and planning that will get them through retirement,” he said.

Kaarlsen is a San Antonio-based wealth manager and president of KFSG Wealth Management, LLC. KFSG, which stands for Kaarlsen Financial Strategies Group, primarily serves clients who are, or will soon be, retired.

The firm offers comprehensive financial planning services, and prides itself for offering customized solutions tailored to clients after a thorough review of their situation. Kaarlsen himself holds a Certified Financial Planner (CFP®) certification, an advanced Chartered Financial Consultant (ChFC®) designation – considered the most advanced certification in the field – and is also a Registered Employee Benefits Consultant (REBC®).

Kaarlsen works to build the kind of relationships he insists cannot be replicated by technology or by an absentee advisor.

“I feel firmly that the complexity of retirement and retirement planning necessitates … a relationship,” he said. 

Doing-it-yourself during the golden years just might not be a good idea, either. After all, the tools you used to make it to retirement are not what you will need to thrive during retirement. Buying and holding, for example, might work well in the run-up to retirement, but a retiree has different needs. Kaarlsen said that he focuses on diversification, creating a cushion to absorb market pullbacks, and he looks for income producing products that will allow his retired clients to maintain their standard of living well into their non-working years.

“We don’t just mean large cap stocks, small cap stocks … that’s diversification of one asset class,” he said. KFSG looks for diversification for clients across several asset classes, with the final choices customized for each investor. “The potential of a 2008 pullback is greatly diminished in their accounts [by diversifying].”

KFSG also considers alternative investment vehicles with his clients – including annuities and non-traded products such as REITs. Kaarlsen said that he often has to overcome a lack of client knowledge about these products, but the increased communication is well worth it if the investor walks away from the conversation knowing the possibilities behind each investment type. He adds that, rather than avoiding certain types of investments, he encourages his clients to view each product as a “tool” that can either benefit them or not, depending on their situation.

“The primary purpose of a good wealth management firm is to educate clients as to the whole gamut of products and services available to them,” he said. “In my opinion those who say “always” use this or “never” use that – I think they’re both wrong.”

“It is a very different style of money management than clients might be accustomed to,” he said, but retirement presents particular choices and challenges as well.  While there’s no minimum to work with KFSG, Kaarlsen said that the majority of his clients hold assets in the area of $500,000. There is no need to wait until retirement, either, as KFSG can start working with a client at any time before they leave their career behind and enter the next chapter.

“The folks I’m best able to help are the people who are already retired or concerned with retirement in the near future,” Kaarlsen said. “We serve people who want to be sure that their money will last through retirement.”
Making that money last can prove difficult, with longer retirements and unforeseen challenges complicating the process.

Kaarlsen cites an experience he had after a long-time client passed, in which he spent a day with the investor’s widow and children, making sure they knew that money, at least, would not be an issue going forward.

“The plan came together … his widow told me when it was all set … how glad she was that I was working with her and how much more I am than just a financial advisor,” he said.

Curveballs like unexpected deaths or the sudden need for long-term care can derail even the most carefully laid plans. KFSG tries to ensure its clients will not be taken unawares by exposing them to a variety of long-term care and insurance tools, and also by looking for ways to make affording these unforeseen expenses a bit more bearable.

For example, Kaarlsen encourages some clients to apply for an asset-based long-term care policy that will keep their costs in line with what they will be able to afford. It is a fairly new vehicle, so many do not know it exists– and one that can be very useful, not to mention comforting, to a spouse confronted with a long-term care issue.

“These questions need to be tackled early on in the process,” Kaarlsen said, adding, “It’s one of the biggest things that can upset the planning of the client.”

This careful planning is why clients trust KFSG Wealth Management, LLC to manage their money throughout their later years. The security of knowing that their hard-earned assets will be safe, even during market difficulties, is priceless.

“I think the clients recognize that in boom times, everything looks great … but when the rubber hits the road is when things turn bad in the markets or the economy,” Kaarlsen said. “It’s an awesome responsibility to have as a wealth manager … and it’s not a responsibility I take lightly.”

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