Q. I am an active-duty service member and will be eligible for retirement in about seven years. I have contributed the maximum amount allowed to my TSP account but have only been contributing for roughly five years. I maintain a large amount of cash in my personal checking account because I’m not sure I know how to invest it properly. I feel like I could be getting a better return on it somewhere but just don’t know the best place to put it. I own a small condo that we pay mortgage on that I rent, but honestly I wish I could rid of it. Other than this condo, I don’t own a house. I have three young children, and I’ve started saving for college for them. Where can I find a good financial adviser that understands military/federal government retirement?
A. I suggest that you start you search with the Paladin Registry at www.paladinregistry.com. Limit your search to certified 5-star advisers, which is their highest rating and only those who are also CFP licensed. The tricky part may be finding one who knows the federal benefits system and how to use the TSP to your advantage. This will take some research. Here are the five criteria that any adviser or planner you consider should meet:
1. No conflict with your interests
2. Fiduciary responsibility to you
3. Competent in the type of work you need performed
4. Concerned with your success
5. Cost effective (total investment costs, including their fees, fund and transaction costs, of no more than 1.0 percent of your portfolio’s value per year)
Don’t settle for anyone who doesn’t meet all five!