When should you start working with a retirement advisor, and what should you look for?

By Travis Forman, Portfolio Manager at Strategic Private Wealth Counsel

During your working years, you may find that managing your budget takes precedence over other aspects of financial planning, including retirement. The allure of present-day indulgences often casts a shadow over the distant notion of retiring. Retirement is a phase that, for many, seems like a far-off dream, one that is not worth thinking about or planning for. Unfortunately, this mentality ignores an important truth: It is never too early to begin saving. Initiating your retirement plans sooner rather than later can provide peace of mind and pave the way for more comfortable golden years. While you may feel overwhelmed with this idea, the best way to get started is with the help of a retirement advisor.

When to seek a retirement advisor

The sooner you begin to save for retirement, the more time there is for your savings to grow, thanks to compound interest. By starting early, you will earn interest on the principal amount saved and also on the interest that accumulates over time. This compounding effect can lead to exponential growth within your savings, transforming your contributions into a substantial nest egg. Time is an invaluable asset when it comes to planning for your golden years, which is why it is important to seek the guidance of a retirement advisor long before you enter that phase. In this case, the sooner you can get help, the better.

Different types of advisors

Before you begin working with a professional, it is crucial to acknowledge that not all advisors are equal. There are different types of retirement advisors, and the best one for you will depend on your goals.

Many investors looking for advice will turn to a Certified Financial Planner (CFP). Advisors with the CFP designation have undergone rigorous training and examinations to ensure they can offer holistic financial advice. CFPs specializing in retirement planning will add expertise, helping their clients develop a strategy to prepare for retirement.

On the other hand, a portfolio manager plays a crucial role for those more concerned with managing their investments. These professionals are registered to give investment advice and directly handle their client’s portfolios. Their primary focus is to align investment strategies with the client’s financial objectives, risk tolerance, and future needs, ensuring sustained growth and capital preservation.

Both CFPs and portfolio managers can be helpful with retirement planning, though the best choice hinges on your personal needs and financial objectives.

Selecting the right retirement advisor

Once you know the type of guidance you need, the next step is to choose the retirement advisor. Considering this individual will be instrumental in shaping your financial future, it is imperative to select the right person. One of the most reliable methods to find a trustworthy advisor is through recommendations from people you know, including friends, family, and colleagues. Personal testimonials often provide insights into the advisor’s professionalism.

While experience and credentials are important, the compatibility between an advisor and an investor is also vital. Effective communication forms the foundation of this relationship. It is essential that you feel comfortable discussing your financial goals openly. Trust is another cornerstone, as you must be confident that your advisor always has your best interest in mind.

What to expect from a retirement advisor

As you start working with a professional retirement planner, you may wonder what to expect from them. Initially, your advisor should ask you questions and gather information to gain an understanding of your current financial position. By evaluating the information you provide, they can craft a detailed picture of your finances, identifying areas of strength and opportunities for improvement.

Next, your advisor will work with you to create a retirement strategy. While this involves an analysis of your retirement plan, it is also about uncovering your post-retirement dreams and understanding the kind of life you envision for your golden years. Your advisor should work closely with you to tailor a strategy that aligns with your lifestyle goals, ensuring your savings and investments are structured to achieve those goals.

Tax considerations also play an integral role in financial planning and should be considered by your retirement advisor. Whether maximizing Tax-Free Savings Accounts (TFSA) benefits, navigating Registered Retirement Savings Plans (RRSP) withdrawals, or understanding pension adjustments, your advisor should prioritize tax-efficient strategies to safeguard and grow your wealth.


The journey to a comfortable retirement begins long before the golden years approach. Early retirement planning allows you to utilize the power of compound interest and also affords you peace of mind, knowing that you have a strategy in place for the future. Central to this planning is the role of a retirement advisor, a partner who understands your financial goals.

An effective advisor-client relationship thrives on open communication and regular check-ins. By staying attuned to market changes and maintaining frequent dialogue, your advisor can help you plan for your future. Selecting the right advisor goes beyond credentials — it is about forging a partnership that serves your best interest and developing a strategy to turn your retirement dreams into reality.