Can your Certified Financial Planner guide you through retirement?

Certified Financial Planners are great at helping people accumulate wealth during their working career, but most financial planners agree that more education is needed on the topic of retirement income. A new designation launched by the American College of Financial Services is working to address this problem.

Retirement income is taking on much greater importance due to the number of baby boomers that are entering retirement. At the start of 2011, baby boomers began hitting the retirement age of 65. It is estimated that for 19 straight years, 10,000 baby boomers a day will turn 65. By the year 2030, 18% of U.S. citizens will be at least 65 years old, up from 13% as of the end of 2010.

As a result, a new breed of financial planners is forming. The American College of Financial Services launched its program for Retirement Income Planning Professionals (RICP) last year. So far the college has reported that 250 people have already completed the program, and 3,000 others are currently enrolled.

For retirees, the new designation is a great thing. The American College ran a survey along with InvestmentNews that showed that 94% of financial planners feel planners need to be better educated on retirement income planning.

A lot of people are so consumed with retirement savings that they fail to understand the importance of retirement income. We spend our entire working lives saving and building our nest egg, but the accumulation phase ends when we get our last paycheck, and then the focus shifts to spending and trying to earn on our savings.

Retirees have to make sure that they have sustainable retirement income, which is the primary focus of the RICP training. The program has three basic curriculums. The first is Retirement Income Process, Strategies and Solutions. The other two are Sources of Retirement Income, and Managing the Retirement Income Plan.

Among the many difficult questions that retirees face are, when to start taking social security, which savings accounts should be tapped first, and how to handle long-term car financial needs. The RICP program helps train financial planners on how to best answer these questions for their clients.

RICPs are trained at helping manage retirement income, but you should not wait until you hit retirement to begin thinking about these questions. According to Dave Little, the RICP Retirement Income Program Director, retirement income planning should start by the time you are in your mid-50's. He believes that of all of forms of financial planning, retirement income is the area that requires the highest level of monitoring.

The biggest fear anyone has is running out of money. It can be a scary thought when you are young, or in the middle of your adult life, but it can be terrifying in your retirement years.

The next time you talk to your financial planner, ask them about his or her plans for your retirement income. If they aren't helping your plan for your retirement income, then find someone who will. An RICP will have the answers to your questions, and with 3,000 people currently enrolled in the program; it will soon become much easier to find one near you.

If you want to get in touch with a RICP, you can search for one near you on


Michael Fowlkes

Michael Fowlkes

Michael Fowlkes is a financial writer who has been with the Fresh Brewed Media family since 2004. Over the course of his tenure with Fresh Brewed Media, he has worn many hats, including portfolio manager, options analyst, and writer. Michael received his undergraduate degree from Virginia Tech in Accounting and got his start in finance working as a stock trader for six years at Chase Investment Counsel in Charlottesville, Va.

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