It is essential for military personnel to find the right financial advisor who understands their unique circumstances. Whether it’s budgeting, money management, or debt reduction, a military financial advisor can provide valuable guidance and support.
Below, we will explore the importance of having a financial advisor that’s specifically trained to assist military personnel and their loved ones meet their goals in their military career and finances.
Importance of Financial Advisors for Military Personnel
Financial advisors assist military families with their unique financial challenges. From navigating complex benefits and allowances to planning for retirement, these professionals provide valuable guidance and expertise that helps people build their financial readiness and meet their financial goals.
In some situations, they may better be described as financial counselors because their advisory services often get deep into people’s personal life, family dynamics, and core values. These areas of personal finance are incredibly intimate and can trigger a lot of deep emotions, so it’s not without challenges.
In this section, we will explore the financial challenges military personnel face and the benefits of having financial counseling.
Financial Challenges Faced by Military Personnel
Military personnel often encounter several financial challenges that require specialized knowledge and support. These challenges include:
- Complex pay scales: Military pay scales and benefits introduce financial complexities that civilians rarely encounter.
- Deployment and frequent relocations: Military personnel may face frequent deployments and relocations, leading to uncertainties and difficulties in managing finances, housing, and communicating with their family members.
- Complex benefit programs: The military offers various benefits, such as the Roth individual retirement account (IRA) provision under the Heart Act. Understanding and maximizing these benefits can be overwhelming without proper guidance.
- Changes in retirement system: Recent changes to the military’s retirement system have shifted more responsibility onto individuals for their financial security. Transitioning from a defined benefit pension plan to a blended retirement system necessitates careful planning and decision-making.
Benefits of Having a Military Financial Advisor
Having a financial advisor who specializes in serving military personnel can bring numerous advantages, including:
- Expertise and knowledge: Financial advisors who work with military personnel are well-versed in the intricacies of military compensation, benefits, and regulations. They possess the knowledge to navigate complex financial situations unique to the military community.
- Tailored financial planning: A financial advisor can create personalized financial plans that align with military personnel’s specific goals and circumstances. These plans address military-specific challenges and provide strategies to achieve financial stability and future objectives.
- Maximizing benefits and allowances: With their in-depth understanding of military benefits, financial advisors can help service members maximize their entitlements and allowances. They can assist in optimizing retirement plans, education benefits, healthcare options, life insurance, and more.
- Deployment and transition assistance: Financial advisors can support military personnel during deployments and transitions, ensuring financial stability for themselves and their families. They can help manage finances, plan for unexpected situations, and provide guidance during relocations.
- Long-term financial planning: Military financial advisors can assist service members in planning for their long-term financial goals, such as retirement and investments. They can help build wealth, manage debt, and create strategies to ensure a secure financial future.
Financial Advisor Services for Military Personnel
Financial advisors provide indispensable guidance to military personnel facing unique financial challenges.
By leveraging the following services, service members can achieve financial stability throughout their military journey.
- Budgeting and Financial Planning: A financial advisor can help create a budgeting and financial planning strategy that considers military pay, deployment, housing allowances, retirement benefits, and other relevant factors.
- Debt Management and Credit Repair: A financial advisor can provide debt management strategies, such as debt consolidation, and help repair credit scores by providing guidance on responsible borrowing and improving credit history.
- Retirement Planning: A financial advisor can help navigate the intricacies of military retirement benefits, such as the Thrift Saving Plan (TSP) and military pensions. They can analyze your financial situation, consider your retirement goals, and develop a tailored plan to ensure a secure retirement.
- Investment Guidance: Military personnel can access unique investment opportunities, such as the Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance (SGLI) and the Uniformed Services Thrift Saving Plan (TSP). A financial advisor can offer investment guidance to maximize the potential return on these investments while managing risk.
- Insurance Analysis: The military provides certain insurance benefits to its personnel, such as Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance (SGLI) and Servicemembers’ Group Disability Income Insurance (SGDII). A financial advisor can conduct an insurance analysis and recommend additional insurance coverage for you and your family if necessary.
- Tax Planning: A financial advisor can provide tax planning strategies to minimize tax liability and help you take advantage of available tax breaks, such as the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) or tax-free combat-zone pay.
- Estate Planning: Military personnel often have unique considerations when it comes to estate planning, such as appointing a beneficiary for smooth asset transfers. A financial advisor can assist in creating a comprehensive estate plan that includes a will, trust, power of attorney, and other necessary documents to protect your assets and provide for your loved ones.
What to Look for in a Military Financial Advisor
When selecting a financial advisor, it is crucial to consider several key factors to ensure you choose the right professional for your financial needs.
Here is a comprehensive list of what to look for in a financial advisor as a Military member:
- Qualifications: Verify that the financial advisor holds the necessary certifications and licenses. Look for reputable designations such as CFP (Certified Financial Planner) or CFA (Chartered Financial Analyst).
- Experience: Assess the advisor’s years of experience and track record in the industry. Seek someone with a proven history of helping military families, service members, and their spouses achieve their financial goals.
- Specialization: Determine if the advisor specializes in a particular area, such as retirement planning, tax strategies, or investment management. Choose an advisor whose expertise demonstrates an understanding of military careers.
- Fiduciary Duty: Ensure the financial advisor operates under a fiduciary standard, which means they are legally obligated to act in your best interest.
- Transparent Fees: Understand the advisor’s fee structure. Look for an advisor who charges reasonable and transparent fees, whether a flat fee, hourly rate, or a percentage of assets under management (AUM). Fee-only advisors generally have the most straightforward fee structure for one-off advisory services.
- Communication Skills: Assess the advisor’s communication skills. They should be able to explain complex financial concepts clearly and concisely, ensuring you fully understand their recommendations.
- Ethics: Research the advisor’s ethical standards and professional reputation. Look for any disciplinary actions or complaints filed against them. Choose someone with a strong ethical foundation. FINRA’s BrokerCheck provides excellent insight into registered financial professionals’ ethical background.
- Client Reviews and References: Ask for referrals for colleagues and friends. Read client reviews and ask for references from current clients. This due diligence will give you insights into the advisor’s client satisfaction and the quality of their services.
- Compatibility: Trust is crucial when working with a financial advisor. Consider your rapport and compatibility with the advisor during your initial meetings. You should feel comfortable discussing personal financial matters with them.
How to Connect with a Military Financial Advisor
Here are some steps to help you connect with a financial advisor effectively:
Lean on Your Resources
Military members have access to special financial planning resources, including the Transition Assistance Program (TAP) and Military OneSource. As the name suggests, TAP helps active duty service members transition to civilian life.
The Department of Defense funds Military OneSource, a 24/7 resource that provides advice on nearly every facet of American military life.
Scheduling a Meeting
The first step in connecting with a financial advisor is scheduling a meeting. Many financial advisors offer in-person and virtual meetings to accommodate diverse client needs. To set up an appointment, you can utilize various methods such as:
- Live Chat: Visit the advisor’s website and look for a live chat feature. This feature allows you to communicate directly with the advisor and schedule a meeting at your convenience.
- Phone Call: Contact the financial advisor’s office directly and speak with their receptionist or scheduling coordinator. They will guide you through the process of setting up an appointment.
- Online Booking System: Some advisors have online booking systems where you can choose a suitable date and time for your meeting. This system provides you with the flexibility to schedule an appointment without the hassle of phone calls.
Phone and Video Chat Options
In today’s digital age, financial advisors offer more than in-person meetings. They understand the importance of flexibility and convenience, especially for individuals with busy schedules or those who may be stationed overseas. Here are two popular options for connecting with a financial advisor remotely:
- Phone Consultation: A phone consultation allows you to have a real-time conversation with your financial advisor without needing a physical meeting. During the call, you can discuss your financial goals, ask questions, and receive expert advice.
- Video Chat: Video chat platforms like Zoom or Skype provide an opportunity to have a face-to-face conversation with your financial advisor from the comfort of your home. This option enhances the personal connection and enables a more interactive experience, similar to an in-person meeting.
Both phone and video chat options offer convenience and accessibility, ensuring that you can receive financial guidance regardless of location or time constraints.
Financial advisors are equipped to provide guidance and support to military personnel stationed abroad through:
- Phone Consultations: As mentioned earlier, phone consultations offer a convenient way to connect with a financial advisor, regardless of location. By scheduling a phone call, you can still access valuable financial advice and address your specific concerns while overseas.
- Video Chat: Video chat platforms allow for a more personalized and interactive experience, even if you are thousands of miles away. You can discuss your financial situation, receive recommendations, and gain peace of mind knowing that you have expert guidance no matter where you are stationed.
Connecting with a financial advisor while overseas ensures you receive the necessary support to make informed financial decisions and secure your future.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is First Command free for the military?
Yes, First Command’s advisory services are free for active duty military service members and their families.
What is the difference between a financial advisor and a financial consultant?
The difference between a financial advisor and a financial consultant can come down to who you ask. In simplest terms, a financial advisor will provide more holistic financial planning help whereas a financial consultant is likely to be more specialized in a particular area of personal finance, such as wealth management, investing, home loans, or insurance.
Both terms can be used loosely, so it’s important to vet all financial professionals who will have their hands in your finances and family life.
Does the Air Force have financial advisors?
Yes, the Air Force has financial advisors built into its Personal Financial Readiness benefits package. The service offers financial information, education, and referrals to active duty airmen, guardians, and military spouses.
Are Financial Advisors Worth It for Military Personnel?
Financial advisors possess the knowledge and experience to navigate the complex intricacies of military benefits, retirement plans, investment options, family planning, and more.
By partnering with a skilled financial advisor, service members and military spouses can make informed decisions that optimize their financial resources and lay a solid foundation for a prosperous future.