When it comes to financial planning there’s no one-size-fits all solution. We all have unique needs and goals, and the human experience means no two individuals will ever walk the same exact path through life.

This also means not everyone is going to have the same needs when it comes to seeking out the services of a Financial Advisor.

So, while it’s nearly impossible to issue a blanket statement that answers the question, “When should I seek out a Financial Advisor?” there are certain scenarios that can be difficult to navigate without professional guidance.

If you find yourself in any of the scenarios outlined here, it may be time to speak to a Financial Advisor for help into your unique financial planning journey.

Scenario 1: Establishing your financial goals

It’s difficult – if not nearly impossible – to put together and execute a financial plan if you don’t know what you’re working toward. It would be akin to going for a drive without a clear destination in mind.

To complicate matters, it’s rare for investors to only have one major financial goal in mind. When you’re just starting out, you might be making contributions to a retirement account, saving for a child’s future education costs, thinking about buying a home, paying off student loans and a variety of other broad goals. Speaking to a Financial Advisor at this point can help you establish clear and concise financial objectives, as well as understand your time horizon, tolerance for risk and more. The end result should be a clear understanding of what it is you want to achieve financially – and more importantly – a roadmap to how to make those goals a reality.

Life would be simple if we only ever had one goal to pursue at a time, but the reality is most families have several goals they’re balancing at any given moment.

Speaking with a Financial Advisor is a useful way to help you prioritize these goals and begin making appreciable progress toward them.

Scenario 2: Insight and guidance into navigating market volatility

There will always be some level of volatility in markets, but the amount of volatility varies considerably over time. Investors need to be prepared to weather these volatile periods that will come and go over a given time horizon. An example from recent history that shows what volatility can look like is the market during 2023.

From January 1 to December 31 of 2023, the S&P 500® had a gain of 24.2%.[1] If you looked at the year strictly from point to point, 2023 would have looked like an above average year. However, as we all can attest, 2023 brought with it a fair share of volatility and related market swings.

Looking back on 2023, in July the S&P 500 had reached its high point for the year at that time. However, by just October it dipped by 10.2%, only to bounce back to a new high to close out December.[2]

The point being, for all the research and analysis out there, it’s nearly impossible to say with certainty how the markets will react over short time frames like month to month. However, imagine having a retirement plan in place that targets an 8% annual growth rate. An investor who moved their assets out of the markets as October’s losses set in would have missed out on much of the recovery, jeopardizing their ability to hit their target return goal.

That’s where working with a Financial Advisor could provide real value. While a Financial Advisor can’t predict how the market will behave, they can help you understand how your portfolio should react to market swings. 

They can also help you diversify your portfolio and help mitigate some of your exposure to risk, thereby helping you to stick to your investment strategy and position yourself to capitalize on any subsequent market gains.

There’s no shortage of information out there when it comes to market analysis and predictions, but it can be difficult to determine just how much of this information represents real knowledge. Speaking with a Financial Advisor can help you see the signal through the noise and give you the confidence to stick to your investment strategy even during periods of increased volatility.

Scenario 3: Planning for retirement

As retirement begins to approach – say perhaps 8-10 years down the road – you’d think things might come a bit more in focus. Instead, this is a time when investors need to begin asking themselves a lot of difficult questions.

The first step is to define what your retirement is going to look like. What do you want to do with your time? Travel? Start a business? Spend time with family and friends?

Next, you need to figure out how much your retirement lifestyle is going to cost. What are your fixed expenses like a mortgage, groceries and health care? How much do you set aside for discretionary spending like dining and leisure?

From there, you need to determine how long you expect retirement last. Based on national averages, it’s not uncommon for retirement to last 20-30 years.

Finally, you need to figure out how you’re going to pay for it all. Typical sources of retirement income include pensions, employer-sponsored qualified retirement plans, IRAs, Social Security and annuities.

But what if there’s a gap between your expected retirement costs and the income these sources can provide? Speaking with a Financial Advisor here can help you to identify these sorts of retirement income gaps and formulate a plan to help close them. 

An Advisor can also help you determine which sources of income to draw from – and when –  helping achieve your assets are able to go the distance in retirement.

The bottom line

While you may not need to speak to an Advisor on a daily basis, there are key moments in your personal financial life that will likely kick-off the need to make a flurry of decisions. It’s at these moments that working with a Financial Advisor can help you better understand your circumstances and take action.

It all starts with a conversation

At the end of the day, when it comes to subjects as complicated as investing and retirement, it’s only natural to have questions.

During those moments when you want clarity, that’s when it’s time to speak with a Financial Advisor.

At PNC Investments we utilize a goals-based approach to financial planning. Our Financial Advisors take the time to understand you, your family, your needs, goals and more; and they’ll use that information to provide you with personalized guidance and insight.

It all starts with a conversation. To discuss your financial plans in more detail, contact a PNC Investments Financial Advisor, today. Call 855-PNC-INVEST to get started.