Financial Expert Spotlight: Rodney Brooks, Retirement Columnist at USA Today

Personal finance and retirement expert talks financial planning, outreach for seniors.

People might think that financial planning is just for the wealthy, but experts know that working with a professional can help everyone, especially seniors—no matter their income bracket.

Rodney Brooks, Deputy Managing Editor and Retirement Columnist at “USA Today,” chatted with Elder Care Alliance about seniors and financial planning.

Q: What is unique about financial planning for seniors?
A: When you go into retirement, things can be drastically different. You are basically going from the saving mode you have been in all your life, to a distribution mode. That means you have to understand the best ways to preserve your money while at the same time avoid paying a big tax bill when you receive it.

Q: Seniors need to plan for their futures but might think they don’t need a financial advisor. How can financial planners reach them?
A: The key is to connect the planner with middle-income seniors—people who may not ordinarily work with financial planners. I would say do more outreach. I can tell from the feedback I get from my column that people are eager for retirement information, and many do not have planners [as they don’t believe they have enough assets to justify hiring an advisor].

Q: What are the common challenges financial planners have when working with seniors?
A: Many of the people who email me have never been to a planner. They are do-it-yourself – some because they want to and others because they’ve just never thought to go to a planner. So, there does appear to be an issue of how people connect with planners. I’d say there is room for outreach, including interviews, [sending] newsletters, speaking at community centers and in spiritual centers.

Q: How can senior living communities support financial planners in helping seniors?
A: Senior living communities should promote sessions with planners and volunteers. You could do a weekly or monthly session and invite seniors – both residents and those living in the surrounding community. Ask planners to volunteer to do short one-on-one sessions with residents. They don’t have to be long but would need to provide the privacy that some residents would require. And here’s something crazy: How about a planner or planners establishing regular office hours at a senior living community? That could have some really positive and even unexpected results.

If you are a financial planner interested in working with seniors, check out our fact sheet: 6 Discussion Points About Senior Living for Financial Planners. If you’d like more information from Rodney Brooks, check out his ebook “Is one million dollars enough?: A guide to planning for and living through a successful retirement.”

If you would like to learn more about how to pay for senior living expenses, contact us.

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