The Key to a Successful Financial Plan - October 2015
In the GMO scenario titled “Who Ate Joe’s Retirement Money”, the final portfolio difference of around $300,000 between Joe and Jane was timing: Jane was in the accumulation phase during a phase of stock market appreciation while Joe missed a good part of that era because he started work more than a decade earlier (1954) than Jane (1967). In Joe’s example, timing was everything as he became subjected to a period of lower returns while his asset base was significant as he entered the distribution phase for his nest egg.

Buy Low, Sell High - or Don't - October 2015
Three years ago I wrote about the S&P 500 based on valuations from a historical perspective, and subsequent returns. The results were clear: low starting valuations were followed by high returns, and high starting valuations were followed by low returns – the perfect representation of ‘buy low, sell high’.

Jim Rothenberg and The Multiplier Effect - September 2015
A picture of Jim Rothenberg has hung proudly in my office for many years. I considered Rothenberg as one of my earliest mentors in a distant way – we met five times in 30 years. His recent death at the age of 69 was not only stunning for family, friends, and admirers, but it was a great loss for a profession and institutions needing sage advice and leadership during turbulent times.

How Not To Fail In Retirement: Setting A Retirement Budget - July 2015
We recently read an academic article titled “Why Clients Fail at Retirement,” that caused us to reflect again on the many dimensions of the client/adviser relationship. The thoughtful article written by Evan Simonoff in Financial Advisor magazine provided a list of the various reasons people struggle in retirement. Interestingly, these reasons often have little to do with the diligence and financial planning that goes into creating a prudent and diverse nest egg.

Is There Value in Advice?  - June 2015
What is the value of financial advice? It is an interesting and debated question. Ultimately, the value depends on how well the advisor knows his or her client, how well the investor knows and can communicate what they want and need, and finally on what the investor wishes to accomplish.

Questioning Global Investment Diversification - March 2015
After a five year bull market in U.S. equities, many investors may be questioning the purpose of owning anything other than a U.S. index fund – I understand, I’m human too. Anyone who hasn’t questioned the proposed benefits of global diversification likely has 'Bill Belichick syndrome' - i.e. the rare ability to emotionally disconnect.

On Mentoring - January 2015
Three years ago I posted a column about the importance of mentoring and reverse mentoring in one’s life and career. In retrospect, the word “importance” may have been an understatement. Early in my career, I was blessed to receive the thoughtful guidance of mentors whose pictures now prominently hang on a wall in my office.

Do Financial Advisors Practice What They Preach? - November 2014
One survey of 117 financial advisors compiled earlier this year by CLS Investments, LLC, found that only 19 advisors had completed a formal succession plan for their own businesses. This lack of a long-term plan may explain why half of the advisors in the study say they will not retire until at least age 71, if at all.

Good for Gamma - September 2014
Recent Morningstar1 and Vanguard2 studies on the value of advice suggests that gamma, defined as the value of advice in achieving client objectives including retirement income, could be worth up to 300 to 430 basis points (3-4.3%) to the typical investor.

In Praise of Competent Tax Attorneys - June 2014
As our clients know, taxes are often our largest lifetime expense and we put a premium on proper tax planning and tax efficient portfolio construction. In conjunction with our client’s tax counsel, we focus with great detail on the important formula of how and when taxes should be paid (up front or deferred). The 0.9 percent Medicare tax surcharge (courtesy of The Affordable Care Act) on income earners over $250,000 (though it was not assessed on retirement fund and Social Security distributions) and the hike in capital gains taxes (3.8 percent) for 2014 were the points getting the most attention.

Why You Need a Tax Deferred IRA- February 2014
I’m puzzled why there are not more discussions and articles about tax efficiency and investments - particularly when it comes to the issue of tax deferral. There are myriad posts on the importance of expense ratios, performance and management but very little ever written on the significance of tax minimization as a portfolio is constructed.  Taxes are typically our largest lifetime expense (yes, even larger than our kids).


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