Vanguard personal advisors work with their clients to assess their financial situation and help determine the best time to collect Social Security. They also help clients plan for retirement expenses and advise them on investment and tax strategies.

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Jonathan Cleborne: “Can Vanguard help me think about Social Security and how to approach Social Security?” So, Kahlilah, can you touch on how we help investors think through that dynamic?

Kahlilah Dowe: Yes, that’s a good question. The majority, I would say of our advisors, are also Certified Financial Planner™ (CFP®) professionals. Like Bryan said, we look at ourselves as comprehensive advisors—CFOs, I think you said—of our clients’ financial situations. Part of that is helping them through deciding on when they should take Social Security, especially if they’re filing along with a spouse. Also, looking at their health care costs and helping them to assess what those costs may be.

Jonathan Cleborne: That’s been a newer capability we’ve rolled out recently to help investors try to assess, “Well, when I get into retirement, what should I expect my expenses to be?” It’s usually one of their biggest expenses, right?

Kahlilah Dowe: Exactly. And when you think about helping them through life, that’s one of the major decisions that they’ll make. So when to take Social Security, how to think about health care, especially if they’re coming up on retirement and they’re not Medicare-eligible yet. Those are the main things we cover.

But we also look at making sure they have the right estate plan in place. So if they have an estate plan in place, we give them our thoughts on if we see something glaring that maybe they haven’t accounted for.

We’re not tax consultants, but we often work with our clients’ tax consultants to help them consider other things outside their investments.

Bryan Lewis: And there’s other things that we will help clients with. Investments is the easy part for us because that’s what we do all day, every day. But when you look at a couple years out, how are you going to account for a lower income, why don’t we start thinking about Roth conversions? How did the recent tax reform affect you? You’re in a higher tax bracket now. Let’s think about Roth conversions now rather than maybe delaying until you’re required to take a distribution from an IRA. So there are other opportunities that we will focus on with our clients after we know what their goals and objectives are, but we’re also forward-thinking about other opportunities that may influence them, not only now but in the future.

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