To many people, retirement is the Holy Grail of financial planning. Clients almost always list retirement as their top financial planning objective. This makes retirement planning central to what I do for a living, yet I don’t spend much time thinking about actual retirement. I’ve been focused more on the process of helping people grow and protect their wealth in order to have more choices in the future. Prior to writing this article, I didn’t give retirement much attention except as my role as a facilitator for others in their pursuit. My assumption has been that people know what they want and my job is to help them get it. While largely true, not everyone truly knows what they want or have even given retirement any deep thought.
It’s not supposed to be over until it’s over - but since most of the results are already in – I guess it’s over. Hedge fund manager, Ted Seides of Protégé Partners, has conceded defeat before the “official” end of his public wager with billionaire investor Warren Buffett.
The term Animal Spirits seems to have replaced The New Normal as the description of choice for economic commentators. The new normal describes an indefinite state of slow economic growth, while animal spirits represents a more positive outlook that is underpinning the surge in stock prices since the November election. While intriguing language, neither term helps much with understanding or navigating the financial markets. Let me give you my perspective and a potential solution to the inherent uncertainty of the current financial climate.
Tax time is sure to bring out certain things, such as confusion, anxiety, and shoe boxes of records and receipts to name a few. It also invariably invokes financial articles, providing advise such as “last minute tax saving tips” that are either irrelevant to the average reader or not really helpful. Susannah Snider, of US News & World Report, took a refreshing twist in her piece, Making Sense of 10 Confusing Tax Phrases, where she asked financial professionals to list tax jargon that they would like to see disappear.
Are you a true believer? If you are not, it’s okay. Most people who invest in index funds do not fully understand them. You can still be a successful investor, but it would be even better if you were a true believer.
Last week, the Department of Labor (DOL) issued a rule change that imposes higher standards on brokers and other commission-based investment advisors in an attempt to reduce conflicts of interest. The DOL, which overseas retirement accounts such as 401(k) plans and IRAs, issued the new regulations after six years of debate. These regulations impose fiduciary responsibility on anyone giving advice regarding retirement accounts and are supported by the CFP Board, the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors (NAPFA) and the Financial Planning Association (FPA). The fiduciary standard says that advisors must put the interests of the client ahead of their own.