How Hard It Is To Find Competent Retirement Advice: Financial Advisors' Daily Digest

by: SA Gil Weinreich

Summary

A retirement expert warns there are not too many capable retirement advisors and candidly admits to areas beyond his ken.

Where do robo-advisors stand in the fiduciary standard debate?

NCAA championship brackets suggest a thoughtful approach to describing your investment process.

The paucity of truly capable retirement advisors, in the view of SA contributor and retirement expert Dirk Cotton, is such that investors should prepare to look outside their city, or even outside their state.

Cotton, who actually conducts studies on technical retirement topics - so he is knowledgeable and evidently picky as well - views credentials such as a CFA, CFP or RMA mere starting points for one's research; he offers other ideas as well but seems to place the highest weight on referrals from trusted sources.

Cotton looks at other persnickety retirement questions as well, including Social Security claiming strategies, an area that befuddles most retirees and, he admits, eludes him as well. For that reason, he recommends sources he does think can help while warning that "trying to become a Social Security benefits expert on your own will be quite frustrating."

Financial advisors are currently held to two separate standards vis-à-vis their clients - a highly contentious issue in the ongoing fiduciary debate. So where do robo-advisors fit in all this? SA contributor Jack Waymire, a proponent of a uniform fiduciary standard, wants robos to be fully compliant, receiving no exemptions, with fiduciary rules.

Indeed, he believes robos excel at rules:

"The models of robos and advisors are strikingly similar - based on age, risk tolerance, investment horizon, and return objective. What is new is the sophistication of the computer models that run the robos' model portfolios. Computers are more efficient than humans."

Worried investors seeking a basic introduction to managed futures, an investment strategy generally thought to be highly countercyclical with stocks, can get the lowdown from FundGuru, who says:

"The key benefits of managed future strategies are their low correlation to traditional assets, such as stocks and bonds, and the ability to provide protection during down markets."

Another strategy for downside protection comes in the form of structured products. SA contributor Reid Guenther is making good progress on a series of articles rating and reviewing various products, including this latest article which pans one such offering.

But a cautious investing approach may be becoming passe again. New economic forecasts from both Pimco and BlackRock sound a lot alike, each calming recession fears and anticipating that the long economic expansion looks set to continue.

And for advisors following the NCAA championships, or with clients who do, SA contributor 720 Global suggests a way to describe a more thoughtful investment process via the brackets that basketball fans fill out this time of year.