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Monday, September 30 2019
Liquidity in Savings - Bucks County Financial Advisor

401 (k) Savings Are Not Liquid Savings

In the last couple of years, and especially the last 6 months, the bull market has become increasingly conservative. That has many folks checking their monthly balance statements in their 401(k) accounts, and even in some cases, convinced investors that they have crossed the millionaire threshold.

Not so fast. Their 401(k) account is a retirement savings account. This means that unless you are retired or on the verge of retiring, these savings will only serve you several years down the road. For example, Robert the Businessman can’t easily use his blooming 401(k) cash to take a vacation or remodel a bathroom, or even buy groceries.

I’m guessing that most of these “401(k) millionaires” do not have a millionaire lifestyle. First of all, retirement savings are not liquid savings. Robert cannot use this portfolio practically for everyday needs. The vast majority of people are living off their salary or other regular S-corp earnings. The smart ones are putting reasonable tax-deferred dollars into their 401(k) or other retirement accounts and putting some money aside that can be spent on routine costly items, like vacations or home repairs.

Second, the stock market is due for a correction, based on experts’ predictions and the duration of the current bull market. What happens to the $1 million value of Robert’s 401(k) account if the S&P sinks 20%, even with a balanced portfolio? It may take several years to reclaim those lost assets, and in the meantime, Robert is still working as hard as ever, and shoveling as much of his savings into the 401(k) as he can.

It’s great (and necessary) to have plenty of money packed away for retirement. However, piling as much money as possible exclusively into a 401(k) is not a reasonable approach, unless you are like so many millions of Americans who are well behind on their retirement savings.

That’s why at Isakov Planning Group, we advocate a balanced plan for our clients’ investment accounts. This gives them the liquidity they need to live comfortably today, while planning for their comfort tomorrow.

Being euphoric over today’s retirement portfolio performance is nice for the moment, but it is important to have a balanced savings approach between liquid and nonliquid investment accounts.

Contact Isakov Planning Group for more information.

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Posted by: Eugene Kuntorovsky AT 10:15 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Tuesday, September 03 2019
Choosing a Retirement Program for Your Growing Business

Dedicated employees of a small, growing business need the security of knowing they are helping to finance their retirement. This is a key reason why some employees join one company over another. Starting a retirement plan not only helps finance your future, but it is probably the only way your employees can fund their own. Additionally, retirement fund contributions are tax-deductible as a business expense. This can mean considerable tax bill savings at the end of the year. 

Small business owners have several valuable options in setting up retirement programs. Much of the choices boil down to, (1) who will be eligible for the retirement program, (2) will eligible employees be able to contribute their own money to the plan? and (3) which is most important to you, the business owner—maximizing contributions or simplifying administration of the retirement plan? 

Four types of retirement plans are at the center of small business discussions: 

  1. The SIMPLE IRA (Savings Incentive Match Plan for Employees) 

  2. The SEP IRA (Simplified Employee Pension Plan) 

  3. The Standard 401(k) plan 

  4. The Self-Employed 401(k) plan

Each of these plan types offer the potential for tax-deferred savings growth and the possibility of deducting your company contributions as a business expense. In addition, your business will be entitled to a tax credit for start-up expenses associated with setting up your first retirement plan. 

In order to decide which is best for your small business, you’ll need to lay out all of the costs of administration, contribution limits, and the tax benefits of each type. Don’t make the mistake of choosing a plan that fails to deliver the best combination of costs and benefits. The US Department of Labor has published a detailed paper that compares each type of plan and is available free of charge.

Here is a basic description for each option: 

  • The SIMPLE IRA can be used for any business with no more than 100 employees. Similar to a Standard 401(k) plan, employer contributions (tax deductible) and employee contributions (pretax) are permitted. 

  • The SEP IRA was developed for those who are self-employed, but small business owners with virtually any number of employees can utilize its benefits. However, only the employer can contribute, which slows the speed with which the savings grow. 

  • The Standard 401(k) plan is best suited for larger companies, because of administrative set-up costs and fiduciary responsibilities.

  • A Self-Employed 401(k) plan offers the highest contribution limits (employers can contribute up to 25% of total compensation, to a maximum of $53,000 for fiscal 2016), but it is suitable only for businesses with no “common law” employees, meaning any person working for the business who does not have an ownership interest. 

Speak with our financial planning professionals at Isakov Planning Group about why a small-business retirement program is important and how the options stack up for your specific business.

Contact us for a free consultation.

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Posted by: Eugene AT 03:31 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Wednesday, August 21 2019
Long-Term Investing in Uncertain Times

 


What will happen during the next tumultuous months of the Trump Administration? Will the threat of additional tariffs continue to cause large swings on Wall Street? How will the Chinese government respond and will that affect key industries and the market overall? The Administration’s tax cut was supposed to make the economy soar. Instead, concerns over deepening debt may be harming our long-term outlook.

All of these questions involve various measures of risk, which can affect investment markets, inflation, and currencies. Uncertainty, as illustrated above, unnerves investors and the markets. Individual investors cannot control uncertainty, but the way in which we react to it pretty much defines whether our long view of investing will be a success.

Uncertainty is not the same as risk. Uncertainty fuels risk. Uncertainty cannot be measured, but we try to measure risk. For reasons (that will not be explained in this post), stock markets despise surprises. They usually react badly to them, with large drops in value. Individual and corporate investors may sense further trouble ahead and try to move significant holdings into areas they believe are relatively protected from market volatility. On the other hand, others exploit that uncertainty and buy shares, expecting that the crisis will pass and rebounds are inevitable. Either reaction is not compatible with sound long-term investment planning.

One of the most difficult challenges in investing in uncertain times is to identify situations when emotion is dictating portfolio decisions and discipline yourself against these forces. That means determining whether you need to reevaluate your portfolio more than once annually. If investing for retirement, for example, try to tune out the daily market noise and think more broadly‑do you have the right investment balance of stocks vs. bonds vs. other options? If you limit the frequency with which you consider making significant changes, you will be able to resist the emotional urges that come with sudden environmental changes. The fact is, if your portfolio is properly diversified, one aspect of it will always underperform the market over the short term. But the other side of the coin is the one component should always perform substantially better than the market indexes.

Regardless of volatility in the market, continually putting money away is critical for successful long-term investing. In other words, don’t suddenly stop making monthly contributions to your investment account, simply because you are worried whether a massive tax cut will be passed. Investing for the future requires a discipline that must be learned (and earned!) and a detachment to today’s wild events and uncertainty.

Contact an Isakov Planning Group Financial Advisor today to discuss your long-term investment goals.  

Posted by: AT 01:17 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Friday, July 19 2019

retirement planning
Managing your financial assets to ensure a comfortable retirement can be daunting. You want your carefully tended nest egg to last a long time, and maybe even provide an inheritance for your children when you’re gone. A financial advisor can help tremendously in your transition into retirement and to provide the peace of mind that your long-term planning will continue to pay off many years in the future.

 

How do you choose a financial advisor that will best meet your retirement needs? Here are a few points to consider:

 

Make Sure Your Advisor Is Working for You! Don’t fool around with this… Your financial advisor must be someone you can trust fully: They must be legally bound to give you advice that is in your best interest, and no one else’s (especially their own). This is not the case with most financial advisors; they may be more focused on earning commissions than on growing and managing your retirement assets to the best of their ability. Ask this person if he or she is a “true fiduciary.” If the advisor is, they should have no problem disclosing the money he or she will make (upfront and long term) with any recommended investment. Related to this question is:

 

Understand How They Earn Money When Advising You. Good financial advice is valuable. There is nothing wrong with paying a fee to a fiduciary you trust and is providing the results you’d expect from an expert. On that same note, your financial advisor should have no problem disclosing how the fees you pay are spent.

 

How Many Years of Experience Does Your Financial Advisor Have? Let’s assume you are working with an expert. To attain this level of professionalism, your advisor had to build many years of training and education, and have extensive experience guiding other customers through their retirement. This sounds like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised how often this question goes unasked!

 

Check Whether Your Advisor Has Been Sanctioned. No one wants a financial advisor who has regulatory or licensing issues or complaints against him or her. There are easy ways to check to see if this is the case. A free tool that is available on the Web is called Broker Check, which is maintained by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority. Also, do they have the certificates (such as a Certifed Financial Planner) that they say they do? If you’d like to take a closer look, the organizations who issue certifications or licenses maintain their own websites that consumers may use to check creditials.

 

Your Financial Advisor Should not Hold Your Money or Investments. Firms that invest your money and hold onto it are not necessarily a situation that must be avoided at all costs, but if they do hold your money, know that there is a greater risk for fraud or embezzlement. A custodial firm is a far better situation. You’ll sleep better knowing that a firm like Fidelity or Schwab is holding your money, and a separate financial advisor is managing it.

 

Ask Your Advisor to Create a Retirement Income Strategy. Most often, when you invest before retirement, you are seeking to maximize the growth of your money while considering the amount of risk you believe is acceptable. Once you retire, that may not be the case. The goal may be to ensure stable income through your retirement years. If your financial planning professional says that he or she can devise such a plan for you, make sure that you understand the approach fully (and therefore can avoid unnecessarily risky investment options). Just as importantly, don’t believe an advisor who tells you that there is no risk or that he or she has eliminated all risks. Financial risks can only be minimized, almost never eliminated (think of putting your money under your mattress!). Your advisor will serve you best by explaining the risks fully and discussing with you whether they are worth taking.

 

You’ve worked too long and saved too much to be uncomfortable with how your money will be invested once you retire. This money needs to work with your other income sources (such as Social Security and pension plans) to create a secure living for a lifetime. These simple tips can help you find the right direction for you and your loved one to achieve your financial retirement goals.

Posted by: AT 12:36 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Tuesday, June 04 2019
Test Blog

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell signaled an openness to cut interest rates if necessary, pledging to keep a close watch on fallout from a deepening set of disputes between the U.S. and its largest trading partners.

Referring to “trade negotiations and other matters,” Powell said Tuesday in Chicago that “we do not know how or when these issues will be resolved.”

“We are closely monitoring the implications of these developments for the U.S. economic outlook and, as always, we will act as appropriate to sustain the expansion, with a strong labor market and inflation near our symmetric 2% objective,” Powell said in opening remarks at a conference at the Chicago Fed.

Posted by: Eugene AT 10:33 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Tuesday, May 28 2019

Thanks for visiting our blog, stay tuned for interesting blogs.

Posted by: AT 11:45 am   |  Permalink   |  Email

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