Financial Advisors and Conflicts of Interest

Politicians.  Used car salesman.  Mechanics.  There are but a few professions less trusted than financial advisors.  The lack of consumer trust is arguably well-deserved as there is nothing trustworthy about opaque conflicts of interest, hidden fees, or bad advice that lines the advice giver’s pockets.  There is nothing trustworthy about consumers being sold expensive annuities that [...]

11 Retirement Plan and IRA Beneficiary Designation Mistakes

A married couple pays a local attorney to draw up estate documents.  The attorney drafts wills and lays out the well-conceived plan for testamentary trusts to be created upon death, distributing assets just as the husband and wife desire.  The couple signs the documents with appropriate witnesses and goes home to the relief that their estate [...]

Relationship of Aging and the Low Return Investment Environment

At various points in life, individuals begin to avoid roller coasters, back flips off the high dive, cartwheels, and full contact football.  They take more frequent breaks in their weekly tennis game and aspire to completing a marathon rather than finish one in less than 3-hours.  Instead of travelling to Spain to run with the [...]

Long-Term Disability Insurance – Group vs. Individual Coverage

From an economic perspective, insurance is useful to protect against low frequency, high severity events.  Quite simply, we are well served to insure infrequent events that would be financially devastating like the loss of a home to fire or an untimely death.  This ultimately begs the question of why people purchase insurance to protect against [...]

Retirement Planning And the Future of Social Security

Lost amidst the hoopla of the Super Bowl last weekend was a historic anniversary.  75 years ago, on January 31, 1940, the first Social Security retirement check was mailed to Ida May Fuller, a legal secretary from Vermont who went to grammar school with Calvin Coolidge. 75 years after that first check, Social Security is an integral part [...]

Opportunity for High Income Earners – the Backdoor Roth Conversion

This week, five years ago, was a period that financial journalists dream about.  We were ushering in the new year of 2010 and significant impending tax law changes provided a bevy of important topics that consumers needed help navigating.  There was the elimination of federal estate and gift tax, the return of IRA required minimum distributions [...]

The Best Retirement Plan for Self Employed Individuals

In financial planning, the right answer to most seemingly simple questions is nearly always “it depends”.  How much life insurance do I need?  Should I contribute to a traditional 401k or a Roth 401k?  Should I use a will or revocable trust for my estate?  How much can I plan to safely distribute from my [...]

The Middle Seat of Retirement Planning – Why Retirement Plan Limits Should Not Limit Your Savings Plan

First time flyers on Southwest Airlines are easy to spot at the boarding gate.  They’re notably confused, trying to figure out the purpose of the stainless steel posts with numbers on them and what they should do with the unusual B22 zone assignment on their boarding pass.  Someone eventually helps them find their spot in line and [...]