Wall Street Journal columnist Jonathan Clements is worried that Americans are overlooking major financial issues while they focus on smaller ones.

Today, many folks are well aware of the slow erosion caused by high fund expenses, hefty advisory fees and big investment-related tax bills, as evidenced by the growing enthusiasm for exchange-traded funds, robo advisers and tax-loss harvesting, he writes.

My fear: while investors are focusing on these relatively modest drags on their annual investment returns, they may be overlooking big gaps in their financial plan that could quickly destroy the savings they have accumulated.

And what are the big issues to which were devoting too little attention?

Failing to buy life, health and disability insurance, Clements says. Holding a badly diversified investment portfolio, wagering on one or two heavily mortgaged rental properties or betting big on stocks when you dont really have the stomach for it.

Thats a pretty big list. So unless you have a lot of time to devote to all these issues the small as well as the big you might want to consider hiring a financial adviser.

Many of us are reluctant to hire financial help, of course, either feeling we should do be able to do it ourselves or were repelled by the horror stories of unethical advisers.

Admitting that you need help is hard. There is shame in having gotten money wrong so far, or shame that you cant figure it out or shame that its taken so long to start, writes New York Times columnist Ron Lieber.

As for the rip-off artists in the financial advisory industry, Woe to us and our profession that weve made it so hard, Michael Kitces, co-founder of XY Planning Network, a financial planners network, told Lieber. Our standards are so low that weve brought this upon ourselves.

Fees are an issue too. So if you decide to go the financial advisor route, take time to ensure your choosing a good one.

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KKR Co-backed financial advisory company Findex Group has hired former MLC chief investment officer Chris Condon and former Optimix money manager Emmanuel Calligeris to its group investment committee. 

The pair are expected to oversee Findexs process for mandating investment products and follow Findexs appointment of former hedge fund manager Stefano Cavalia as head of investment research. 

Condon was chief investment officer at MLC Investment Management where he led a team implementing a manager-of-managers approach for about $60 billion.

Calligeris, who was chief investment officer at Optimix, has worked across asset and product classes and has experience developing new investment products. 

How much stress can we expect to see for oil and gas producers and related companies as a result of the current low prices?  And what special issues does this industry face when it's time to restructure or file for bankruptcy?

Over the course of seven months, the price of West Texas Intermediate crude oil dropped to $44 per barrel in January 2015 from a high of $107 per barrel during July 2014a 59% decrease. Although a small rebound occurred, WTI prices have continued to hover below $50 per barrel, reaching $48.87 per barrel on March 27. A similar but less severe decrease has occurred in natural gas prices. These decreases will have significant impact on oil and gas companies and several related sectors in a series of waves that have already begun and will most likely continue for some time.

A number of highly-levered producers have already been overwhelmed by the abrupt commodity price decreases and as a result have missed interest payments. Several have file for protection under chapter 11 of the bankruptcy code. As producers search for liquidity, we will likely see attractive midstream assets offered for sale by integrated oil companies, accompanied by an increase in sale and merger activity involving independent producers.

The magnitude of the recent oil price drop is not without precedent; during 2008, WTI fell to $34 per barrel from $145 per barrel in less than six months.

Consistent with industry reactions to previous price declines, producers are already curtailing capital expenditure budgets by significant amounts. Several recent surveys indicate that producers are cutting capital expenditures by as much as 20% to 30% as compared to 2014 levels. These reductions will severely affect companies providing services to oil- and-gas producers over the next 12 months and will likely spawn another wave of restructurings and bankruptcy filings.

Thus far, service providers have announced layoffs impacting 58,000 jobs, with Schlumberger, an industry leader, accounting for 9,000 of those. Cal Dive International Inc., an early casualty, filed for bankruptcy on March 3. While the industry faces many of the same issues as other industries, it requires a high level of technical expertise that is unique to oil and gas, and energy in general.

Although reductions to capital expenditures can help producers to bridge short-term liquidity needs, they also reduce cash flow and impair value in the long term. Resulting reductions in cash flow could prolong some of the "pain" in the industry, even after a partial recovery in commodity pricing.

Prolonged reductions in producer cash flow could impact borrowers' ability to service debt, which will affect lenders with significant exposure to oil and gas producers and their complementary service companies. The Wall Street Journal reports that a number of major banks are facing significant losses on loans made to energy companies. In addition to affecting the financial results of these lending institutions, such losses will likely reduce new lending into the sector, exacerbating the degree of financial distress in the industry.

Ralph S. Tuliano is chief executive officer of financial advisory firm Mesirow Financial Consulting LLC and a member of the American Bankruptcy Institute's board of directors.

Over the past few years, target-date funds have been growing in popularity. According to Morningstars 2014 Target-Date Series Research Paper, estimated net flows in target-date funds tripled from 2007 to 2013, growing from $200 billion to $600 billion. Before going any further, let's briefly describe what a target-date fund is.

A target-date fund is a type of mutual fund that automatically changes its mix of stocks, bonds and cash based on a specific end date that is appropriate for a particular investor. In most instances, the date is viewed as the day someone will retire, although they don't have to be used that way. For example, someone aiming to retire 35 years from now could choose a target date 2050 fund. Because it has a long time horizon, the portfolio would likely be weighted heavily toward stocks and would gradually allocate more in bonds as time passed.

With more and more people using these types of investments, you may find yourself wondering, "Should I be using target-date funds?" Whether you are two, 10 or 50 years away from retiring, you should answer these three questions before adding one to your portfolio.

1.How much control do I want to have over my investments?If you consider yourself more of a hands-off investor and don't mind buying something and holding it for a long time, then target-date funds could be a good fit. They have built-in diversification between stocks and bonds, they automatically rebalance and they are offered by companies that have been around for decades and oversee trillions of dollars, so you don't have to worry that it's not being managed by professionals.

However, if the answer to this question is "a lot," "some" or even "a little," then target-date funds probably aren't right for you. The biggest issue most people have with these funds is that you are letting someone else decide how to much invest in stocks and bonds over the life of the fund. What happens if, three years down the road, you change your outlook on the economy and you'd rather hold more bonds than stocks?

The only way to do this would be to sell your holding and buy a different target-date fund, which defeats the purpose of buying one in the first place.There's nothing wrong with entrusting someone else to choose how much to invest in stocks versus bonds, but if you want any say in the matter, then it doesn't make sense to buy a target-date fund.

2.What is the glide path for the target-date fund?What's core across all target-date funds is how they move to a more conservative allocation as the end date approaches, which is known as the fund's glide path. What's different is how they get there and what they do once you reach the end date.Some funds are designed to be nearly all cash once they hit the target date, and those types of funds are called "to retirement." They focus more on keeping your investments stable, since one of their main goals is to minimize the potential for loss of principal as of the end-date.

The other kind of target-date funds are known as "through retirement," and are built for investors who want their money to stay in the market after you reach the target date. Being retired doesn't mean you don't need to continue to grow your assets, right? The advantage with this type is that it lowers the chance that you'll outlive the amount of money you have, which is known as longevity risk.

Both types of funds serve a specific purpose, but the bottom line is that you need to be aware of how the fund's allocation changes through time before deciding if a target-date fund is right for you.

3.How important is tax efficiency to you?This question is similar to the first question because it addresses the issue of control, but specifically from a tax perspective. Let's assume you're retired and all of your investments are taxable. Owning a target-date fund can be tax-efficient from the standpoint that it typically has low turnover and some of its distributions may be taxed at the long-term capital gains rate which is lower than the ordinary income rate. However, you miss out on other opportunities to reduce your tax bill.

For example, tax-sensitive investors like owning municipal bonds because the interest generated is not subject to federal income tax. Another way to lower your taxes is to do what is known as tax-loss harvesting. This is where you sell your holdings that are trading at a loss in order to offset any realized gains you have incurred. These are two fairly simple tax-reduction methods that you wouldn't be able to take advantage of if all of your money was tied up in a target-date fund.

The decision of whether or not to buy a target-date fund doesn't have to be an all-or-nothing question. There's nothing stopping someone from buying one of these funds with some of their money and then managing the rest on their own, which could be a nice compromise. Regardless of what you decide, make sure to do a little bit of homework before you invest so you know what you're getting yourself into.

Spencer D. Rand, CFA, is an asset management associate at Monument Wealth Management, a financial advisory firm that helps accomplished entrepreneurs transition to a life of long-term financial independence and wealth defined on their own terms. Based in the Washington DC area, Monument offers clients unbiased advice, true wealth planning, advocacy and access throughout the wealth creation life cycle.