FIC Blog

We believe in – and live by – a philosophy of excellence.

Average is not good enough … Our goal at Family Investment Center is excellence. We find excellent investment products and supervise an excellent service package. We maintain a library of excellent research materials and financial planning resources. We also demand top safety and security for our clients.

We won’t settle for average. We continually seek top managers or securities and meld them into superior custom portfolios. Each palette of investments is carefully tailored to personal or family goals. We enlist excellent managers, research, resources, and effort for our clients. Don’t settle for average. You deserve excellence.

Please search our blog posts for answers to common investment questions, and we look forward to sharing our knowledge and experience with you first-hand.

Investing for Retirement: What’s in Your Buckets?

Taking a Fresh Mental Approach to Investing for Retirement

 

Mental buckets of money. It sounds like an odd idea at first, but when you consider all the investments contained in savings and retirement portfolios, thinking in terms of “buckets of money” can actually help deconstruct a complex situation into something more manageable when strategically investing for retirement.

During our working years, we look forward to that paycheck that comes every two weeks or once a month. We plan around that check; taking into account our rent or mortgage, food, clothes, entertainment and savings. Even if our investment accounts are plentiful, when it comes to retirement, we need to mentally adjust to the fact that the regular check is no longer coming in. Call it “mental accounting.”

Morningstar recently published an article on the subject of mental accounting, where Michael Kitces, director of wealth management for Pinnacle Advisory Group, touched on the fact that there are different ways to sort and separate the different “buckets” of money. It’s essentially the way people categorize their money and how they think about their assets and income sources. Some researchers have narrowed these categories down into three main buckets: current income (paychecks), current assets (money used for current needs), and the future bucket for everything else, including retirement accounts.

What’s interesting, as the article explains, is that as humans we have feelings that often don’t line up with logic, or what is actually happening. Take, for instance, the fact that British researchers found when they looked at people’s happiness, the happiest were the ones with a comfortable amount of money in the first bucket, regardless of what was in the third bucket.

The goal for those people is to have cash on hand rather than savings for the future. Investing for retirement requires a different mindset when it comes to that third bucket. Interestingly, people with plenty of money in their retirement accounts will often stress in retirement because they don’t have that regular paycheck coming in to fill the first bucket. This is why it’s important to do the mental accounting.

Financial advisors will often focus heavily on investing in the retirement bucket, taking much of the importance off the money their clients have in a checking account. However, to appease that need to have a constant influx of cash to the checking account, advisors might recommend an annuity. Interestingly, the source quoted in Morningstar said less than one percent of people actually follow through with this advice.

One of the reasons people don’t adopt the annuity method is because if they do, they don’t really have the opportunity to improve their lifestyle from where it is right now, as it removes a lot of the flexibility of other investment accounts.

At Family Investment Center, we’re experts at helping people understand what they need to reach their goals. Investing for retirement, in all its complexities, is an important topic that deserves the attention of people who make it their life’s work. Contact us today and let’s start some mental accounting that will make you comfortable with your position today and in the future.

Continue reading
755 Hits
0 Comments

Do You Have a Trusted Investment Advisor?

An Investment Advisor Can Help You Make Important Financial Decisions for Your Future

 

investment advisorWhat’s your opinion of investment advertising? Do you immediately turn away when you come across it? You may not even realize you’ve tuned it out, which is unfortunate because so many Americans need the assistance that an investment advisor can offer.

Dan Danford, founder/CEO of Family Investment Center, recently penned a column in The Kansas City Star that touches on this topic.

Danford says that while some Americans will only take the DIY approach to investing their money, the majority of us would benefit from enlisting the help of a trusted professional.

Some investors are loyal to one brand and will invest heavily in its stock. Perhaps it’s their workplace where they enjoyed a long career and from where they have retired. They sink everything they’ve got into the performance of that one company. But what if the company begins to fail? All those years of saving and investing are now in jeopardy. This is not an uncommon scenario and it’s one that could possibly be avoided with the help of a professional.

It’s likely that the people who get in these predicaments don’t know that they should implement a long-term plan where portions of the stock are liquidated, often in a tax-advantaged manner. That’s the advice Danford offered in his column.

The process of making investments for the future intimidates many Americans. If this is true for you, consider talking to an investment advisor about what you should do. There are a number of investment vehicles that suit the goals that are unique to every investor.

The thing is, people can maintain their loyalty as long as they diversify. It’s really all about risk abatement – making smart decisions by spreading the nest egg out over a number of different investments that carry various levels of risk, tailored to the individual investor’s risk tolerance, time horizon and goals.

Unfortunately, there are many consumer advocates out there that offer poor investment advice, including advice saying no one needs a professional to assist them in their DIY investment efforts. However, it’s unwise for the average person to attempt to tackle the many complexities involved in investing.

“While many people are capable of basic investment and finance decisions,” Danford said in his column, “suggesting that the average person tackle complex financial issues without professional help is like advising consumers to service their own cars. Given the proper training and experience, I suppose it’s an option, but how many people have the knowledge, inclination and time to perform such a complicated and potentially hazardous task?”

At Family Investment Center, clients quickly leave their intimidation behind them as they receive reassurance from our team of professionals. The process is complex, but it’s what we do day in and day out, and we know how to inform you in a way that will educate you and prepare you for the big decisions that need to be made about your financial future. So make an appointment with us and let’s talk about your goals.

Continue reading
472 Hits
0 Comments

Investment Portfolio and Regulatory Reform

How Taxes Can Affect Your Investment Portfolio

 

There is so much going on in Washington D.C. these days that it’s tough to keep up. However, given the recent movement regarding regulatory reform, it might be a good time to stop following the news surrounding the current administration and look at your investment portfolio to how it might be affected.

The Trump administration is eyeing a three percent or better GDP, which Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said in May is achievable, but only if they make historic reforms to taxes and regulations. He also said he’s got a large group of people working on tax system reform while also making strides to undo the Dodd-Frank Act, which was put in place in 2010 in a response to the financial crisis that led to the Great Recession. It’s controversial and people are taking sides.

Mnuchin also said the administration is working to simplify personal taxes and make business taxes more competitive. The reforms Mnuchin talked about last month at a Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee hearing have some believing that if they are able to make these changes, corporate heavyweights could forge ahead with longer-term planning. Could this ease the uncertainty that causes a volatile stock market? The answer may be a resounding “yes” in the corporate world.

It’s also important to note that in 2015, Congress took the research and development tax credit, which had traditionally included sunsets that were frequently extended, and made it permanent. This means large companies, including those that are publicly traded, can more lay out their planning strategies and product development, which again, could lead to more stable performance on the stock market.

However, there might be a snag in the form of funding gaps for a few reasons. First, there is a move to rebuild infrastructure in the U.S. and keep the military the strongest in the world, which is expensive. At the same time, the aging population requires their entitlement programs, which means there will be a funding gap that must be dealt with. One possible solution is a border adjustment tax, which is being opposed by retailers who get a majority of their goods overseas or across borders.

All of this means that as an investor, you need to consider which companies will benefit from these changes, which will be hurt, and make sure your investment portfolio is set up to weather any storm. An investment advisor will tell you that fear and investing are two things that don’t mix well.

To really stay on top of these reforms, talk to your investment advisor about where your money is and if it should be adjusted to better reflect the positive changes that could result from taxation and reforms.

At Family Investment Center, we make it our duty to follow any change in public policy that impacts our clients’ investment portfolios. We welcome the chance to talk about these changes with our clients and offer strategies that will align with your goals and the current or impending reforms. Schedule an appointment with us today and let’s start planning your financial future.

Continue reading
524 Hits
0 Comments

How Would You Rate Your Retirement Planning Abilities?

Don't Fall Behind (as most Americans do) on Retirement Planning

 

As much as Americans focus on money, it’s disarming to know how few are focused on their financial future. The American College of Financial Services, in its survey of respondents who are in retirement or nearing it, found that close to 75 percent failed their quiz regarding retirement planning.

Americans are living longer, which means that if you stop working at age 65, you’re no longer planning for a ten-year period where you’re not earning an income – it’s likely much longer and you need to carefully plan for the decade-plus of no income other than what’s been put in retirement savings.

Only six in every 100 people were able to “ace” the quiz, implying that they are well-prepared for their retirement years. Almost 66 percent of the people quizzed reported that they had high levels of self-knowledge regarding retirement planning, which means that in actuality, they are unaware of their real financial situation as it relates to retiring comfortably.

As with any survey, differences in demographics were revealed in the retirement survey. For example, around 35 percent of males passed the quiz compared to 17 percent of females. This is particularly disturbing given the fact that women, on average, live longer than their male counterparts, which means their retirement planning acumen needs to be on point.

Another demographic difference showed that those with higher levels of education and wealth were more likely to be prepared for retirement. People with one million dollars or more in assets were 250 percent more likely to pass the test than those with less than one million. Furthermore, only nine percent of those without a college degree passed the quiz.

The caveat here is that people who can pass a financial literacy quiz are better planners and are better prepared to meet the challenges that can occur in retirement. And while it is evident that some demographics fair better than others, it doesn’t have to be a barrier to financial preparedness in retirement. All that is needed is a trusted advisor who can assist you in developing a sound retirement plan, and your ability to stick to that plan.

When you seek out an investment advisor, you should choose a trusted, experienced professional that can offer objective and non-conflicted advice. The best way to avoid conflict is to seek out a fiduciary, because a fiduciary must act in what they believe to be your best interests. Rather than work toward boosting their income by choosing products that give them a commission, many are fee-only advisors, which means they have no reason to offer something to you that doesn’t fit your goals.

At Family Investment Center, we have always operated as fiduciaries. Our goal is to get you to think about your goals for retirement and find ways to make sure you reach those goals. Contact us today and let’s start planning your own freedom tour.

Continue reading
510 Hits
0 Comments

How Does the Fiduciary Rule Affect How You Plan for Retirement?

Hint: The Fiduciary Rule is Set to Protect Investors

 

After a delay by the Department of Labor in calling into action a new fiduciary rule, investors need to know that it is now in effect and could affect the way they plan for retirement.

Investors currently have nearly $8 trillion in IRAs, and the new rule looks to protect that money. This almost did not come through as the new executive administration called for the Department of  Labor (DOL) to review regulations and prepare an updated analysis regarding economics and legal areas surrounding this rule, which covers IRAs and 401(k)s. The administration also sought public input regarding new exemptions or changes to the regulatory portion of the rule.

However, as of June 9, 2017, the rule is in effect. So, what does this mean, exactly, for the everyday investor? First and foremost, the rule seeks to protect investors from getting conflicted advice from financial advisors. Brokers and investment advisors are now required to act as fiduciaries, putting their clients’ best interests first.

All financial advisors will be required to comply with the rule’s impartial conduct standard, which should help protect billions of dollars worth of investments. According to a 2015 report from the White House, that’s how much is at risk with conflicted advice from advisors who have something personal to gain from selling various products.

The response from the industry has been everywhere from panic to acceptance. Many firms make a lot of money off their former business model, which involved taking commissions on various products they sold to investors. For example, many have adopted new models that involve mutual funds that exclude various fees.

Does this mean that all investors are no longer going to be subjected to investment advice more motivated by profit for the advisor than for themselves? It does not. Investors need to take a little time and look into who is managing their finances. The first question they should ask of prospective advisors is if they are a fiduciary.


Ask them how they are paid for the work they do for you. Are they taking an hourly fee or just a percentage based on your overall portfolio? You need to make sure they’re not taking a commission, or you could be one of the many who are receiving conflicted advice that costs you money.

At Family Investment Center, we have operated as a fiduciary from day one. Our relationships have always been on solid footing because our clients come first, not commissions. When our clients do well, so do we. Let’s start planning your financial future in our truly commission-free and client-focused environment.

Continue reading
473 Hits
0 Comments