Shãn Sutherland, Wealth Adviser at Simple Impact LLC, Weighs in on Why People Need Certified Retirement Counselor®

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Shannon M. Sutherland

Why People Need Certified Retirement Counselor® 

Do you know enough about financial management to take care of all of your investing on your own? Or do you need help from a seasoned expert? That question comes up for millions of Americans each year, and is always surrounded by a fair amount of anxiety and uneasiness. Regardless of your financial state, everyone can benefit from taking stock of what stability means for them, and oftentimes, a financial adviser can help you find this mindset.

Shannon “Shãn” Sutherland, a wealth adviser at Simple Impact LLC, knows how difficult handling finances can be. “Embarrassment and shame often prevent people from making informed choices that will lead to better financial outcomes,” Sutherland explains, “trust and coaching can help you feel better and understand your choices more.”

For smart successful people, getting control of their finances may seem difficult or even impossible. Money flows in, then flows out just as easily. Try categorizing your spending into wants and needs for one month. Think- yeah I’ve earned it, but do I need to spend money on it? This eye-opening exercise will help you be more aware of how much you are diverting resources to frivolous activities or products. Whether someone is a recent graduate trying to figure out how to handle student loans, a retiree looking to maximize their 401(k), or anything in between, everyone should be aware of their own spending habits. “Americans need to understand that financial planning isn’t just for the wealthy,”  explains Geof Brown, C.E.O. of the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors. “It’s important to sit back and reflect on your own individual circumstances, understanding your long-term goals. That’s the first step to managing your finances.”

But when should people make the transition to being more financially accountable? Energy consuming life transitions like getting married, buying property, or even having a divorce are all catalysts for a person to start thinking about their financial future. During these times, a financial planner can help coach you through the experience. While a capable person can pay down credit cards, set up a Roth IRA and do basic investing online, a professional trained in the everchanging regulatory landscape can identify money saving nuances unique to you. “Frequently, clients hire me, on an hourly basis or Fee Only Planning to help them solve a specific financial headache, or to analyze an investment,” Sutherland continues, “and then share the information back to them in plain understandable language.” The extra input can indeed be helpful for those who feel burdened by their current financial state.

Clients should still ensure their adviser is acting in a fiduciary capacity, meaning they must legally put your needs ahead of theirs.  Two highly credited organizations to watch for are the Certified Retirement Counselor® and the Accredited Investment Fiduciary® (AIF) Designations. That ensures the planner adheres to a certain level of competence and ethical standards.

Finally, a good financial adviser can help people reach goals such as vacation and retirement faster. Because finances are attached to fallible humans and, to an extent, volatile markets, plans often grow and change over time, and it’s imperative that your daily choices match your long term goals. In these cases, it’s helpful to have a strategy with tools to measure, and ensure that everything is always on track. Maximizing retirement income requires smart decisions around complex topics such as Social Security, 401(k) and IRA withdrawals. Even if clients are still decades from retirement, good decisions today can compound thousands to future retirement accounts. “Fine tuning financial habits will buy years of comfort and dignity in retirement,” states Sutherland, “many people want a trusted confidant and an accountability partner.”

A woman of many talents, Shãn Sutherland was featured in Forbes Magazine 2017 Women Business Leaders California edition*. In addition to developing investment plans for executives and leadership professionals, she applies a unique gender filter when establishing investment portfolios that emphasize a women's contribution to corporate decision making and lifelong financial confidence. In 2013, 2016, 2017, 2018 and again in 2019, she was recognized by Los Angeles Magazine as a **Five Star(SM) Wealth Manager. Her credentials and designations are the result of a vigilant passion to meet the needs and requirements of her clientele. Her annual investment in education to maintain these credentials is part of her ongoing commitment and focus.

Sutherland has set up 401(k) retirement trusts for companies with 100+ employees and, more frequently, individual 401(k)s for S-Corps. Being responsible for the money of others, she obtained the Accredited Investment Fiduciary® AIF® designation, which increased her knowledge of fiduciary considerations when reviewing retirement plans. The AIF® process is best applied to overseeing and recommending choices for large-scale 401(k) retirement plan asset and charitable trusts. She also advises other fiduciaries (such as board members) on investment policies, asset allocation, and regulatory updates.

“Financial accountability to yourself can be liberating personal growth,” concludes Sutherland, “but it’s important to start now rather than later. Financial advisors are here to help you. They’re on your side. That way I always have my client’s needs in mind.”


Shãn M. Sutherland (CA Insurance Lic. #0D28620) is a Registered Representative and an Investment Adviser Representative with/and offers securities and advisory services through Commonwealth Financial Network®, Member FINRA/SIPC, a Registered Investment Adviser. Fixed insurance products and services offered by Simple Impact or CES Insurance Agency. *Forbes feature is a paid promotional advertisement.**Based on 10 objective eligibility and evaluation criteria, including a min of 5 years as active credentialed financial professional, favorable regulatory and complaint history, accepts new clients, client retention rates, client assets administered, education, and professional designations. 3,528 Los Angeles area wealth managers were considered for the award; 154 (4 percent of candidates) were named 2019 Five Star Wealth Managers. The criteria used, the number of wealth managers considered for the award, and the percentage of those who receive the award, may vary from year to year. These awards are not indicative of the wealth manager’s future performance. Your experiences may vary. For more information please visit

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