Reviewing and adjusting your plan with your advisor

Once you have a retirement savings plan that meets your current priorities and future goals, you’ll want to make sure that it continues to be effective.

Schedule an annual meeting with your advisor.
You should meet with your advisor at least once a year to get a formal update on your financial situation and to revisit your goals and assumptions to see if they are still appropriate. An annual meeting also provides the ideal time to update your advisor of any changes to your personal circumstances and bring any issues or concerns to his or her attention.

The following strategies will help generate a productive annual review:

  • Schedule your meeting outside the busy retirement planning months of January and February.
  • Be sure to bring important information, such as your most recent tax return and assessment, investment statements and other relevant financial documents. For a complete list, see the Annual review discussion checklist PDF document .
  • Review the tools that you completed earlier in this guide, such as your Financial snapshot checklist PDF document and your Financial priority planner PDF document . Revisiting these every year is an important part of staying on track.
  • Make a list of the items you want to discuss with your advisor. See the Annual review discussion checklist PDF document for suggestions.
  • If you’ve created a clippings file of articles and information to discuss with your advisor, be sure to review it and bring it to the meeting.

Reasons to revisit your plan
An annual review will keep your retirement plan on track as your financial priorities change and you make progress toward your goals. However, certain circumstances may necessitate a special review. Contact your advisor if any of the following situations arise:

  • Your marital status changes (marriage, cohabitation, separation or divorce).
  • You acquire a new dependant (birth of a baby, adoption, caring for a relative).
  • Your spouse passes away.
  • You change jobs or embark on a new career.
  • You receive an inheritance.
  • Your income changes (up as well as down).
  • You begin to participate in a company pension plan.
  • You acquire or eliminate a significant debt, such as a student loan or mortgage.
  • You need to access your retirement savings.

Be sure to consult your advisor before making any alterations to your retirement savings plan. Even a moderate withdrawal from your RRSP, for example, can have considerable tax consequences. Even more serious, unexpected alterations could affect your asset allocation and even hamper your progress toward your long-term goals.

Your advisor can help you explore all the alternatives to meet your immediate need, whatever it might be, and still keep your retirement plan on track. Together, you can decide on an appropriate course of action.

A plan you are comfortable with
Helping you achieve a solid, practical retirement savings plan that you are comfortable with is the ultimate goal of the information, tips and suggestions presented in this guide. As well, in working through this process, you will have achieved a better appreciation of how you can best use your financial advisor’s knowledge and expertise. Remember, your savings plan is not intended to be a static program. It needs to change as your financial needs and goals change. So ensure that your financial advisor always has the information he or she needs to continue to do the best possible job for you.

Getting good advice

TIP: Last-minute attention to RRSP deadlines means a lot of activity for your advisor in January and February. Talk to your advisor about planning your annual review outside of this busy period to ensure that you can both give your plan the attention it deserves.