Investors have a lifetime to plan for retirement, and yet financial advisors agree savers make critical mistakes every day that cost them thousands later in life.

A host of issues exists that need to be explored over a lifetime in order to be able to retire in the best circumstances possible, say advisors recently interviewed by Financial Advisor magazine.

“This year the continuing debate over the Department of Labor fiduciary rule will put emphasis on retirement accounts, and this creates a perfect opportunity for advisors to highlight their capabilities in retirement planning,” says John Anderson, head of practice management for SEI Advisor Network.

“Advisors should get out in front of the discussion today. This year is a phenomenal time to talk about planning,” he adds.

One mistake individuals are making more frequently in this era of job mobility is to leave orphan retirement accounts behind at former employers, Anderson says. An advisor can use technology to bring all of his client’s accounts together into one plan, whether or not he manages the money, he says.

As clients get older they want to work a little less, but Leah Miller, CEO of Red Anchor Wealth Management in Charleston, S.C., says advisors should not let clients switch to part-time work without knowing how that affects pension benefits offered by the employer.

“Some pensions average the salary for the last five years to determine the benefit. Switching to part time could drastically reduce the pension payment for a lifetime,” she says.

“There are some other things that gripe me to my core,” Miller says. “I had five of these last year, where insurance salesmen were trying to sell pension maximization plans to people.” With those plans, the individuals used money to buy insurance with death benefits instead of putting it into a lifetime pension. “That is only a good deal for the insurance company. There are so many things to think about in retirement that go beyond investments.”

For example, older people get financial offers in the mail every day. “If you don’t understand it, don’t sign it,” warns Saul Simon of Simon Financial Group in Edison, N.J. “So many people without financial planners are in investment contracts they do not really understand.”

“Many people do not plan soon enough for retirement, but it is not necessarily their fault,” says Robert Klein, founder of Retirement Income Center in Newport Beach, Calif. “They do not realize how important a part planning early will play in the future; winging it will not work. Retirement planning is a very time-sensitive issue.”

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