Chris Tobey

Chris Tobey

Friday, 05 February 2016 19:23

The Chapters of Retirement

The five phases of life after 50 & the considerations that accompany them. 

The journey to and through retirement occurs gradually, like successive chapters in a book. Each chapter has its own things to consider.

Chapter 1 (the fifties). At this stage of life, retirement becomes less like a far-off dream and more like a forthcoming reality. You begin to think about when you can retire, and about taking the right steps to retire comfortably. 

By one measure, men have their peak earning years in their mid-fifties. Data from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York shows the median male worker earning 127% of his initial salary at that time. The peak earning years for women are harder to statistically gauge, as some women leave the paid workforce for years-long intervals. In inflation-adjusted terms, earnings actually peak earlier in life. PayScale estimates that on average, pay growth for women flattens at age 39 (at a median salary of $60,000), and at age 48 for men (at a median salary of $95,000). So by the fifties, many people are receiving raises to keep up with the cost of living, but essentially earning the equivalent of what they made a decade or more ago.1,2

During your fifties, you may contend with “lifestyle creep” – the phenomenon of your household expenses growing along with your pay raises. These increased expenses may include housing costs, education costs, healthcare costs, even eldercare costs. Despite these financial strains, the inflow of new money into retirement accounts must not cease; your retirement plan assets should not be drawn down through loans or withdrawn too early. 

Chapter 2 (the early sixties). The anticipation builds at this point; you start to think about the process of retiring and the precise financial and lifestyle steps involved. You also begin to think about the near future – not only what you will do next, but how you will do it.

According to the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College, the average American man now retires at age 64, the average American woman at age 62. So the reality is that the early sixties coincide with retirement for many people. This reality is worth noting in light of the difference between Americans’ envisioned and actual retirement ages. Last April, a Gallup poll asked pre-retirees when they expected to leave the workforce: 37% saw themselves working past 65, 32% before 65, and 24% at 65. The same poll asked older, retired Americans when they had stopped working full-time, and 67% of those respondents said they had done so before 65.3,4

You may have to act on your plans to volunteer or start an encore career earlier than you think. If you do not have a set plan for the next chapter, a phased retirement may give you more of an opportunity to determine one.

This is also a time to dial down risk in your portfolio, especially if a bear market occurs right before you retire. You have little time to recover from a downturn.

Chapter 3 (the start of retired life). The first year or so of retirement is akin to a “honeymoon phase” – you have the time and perhaps the money to pursue all kinds of dreams. The key is not to spend wildly. Lifestyle creep also affects new retirees; free time often means more chances to spend money.

The good news is that you may spend less than you think. Transportation, insurance, housing, clothing and food costs may all decline. The common view is that you will need to live on 80% of your end salary for a comfortable retirement, but in a 2014 T. Rowe Price survey of retirees, the average respondent was living on 66% of his or her pre-retirement income. Eighty-five percent of those retirees said they were maintaining their standard of living with less money.5   

Chapter 4 (the mid-sixties through the late seventies). This is when some people get a little restless. It is also when some people find their retirement savings growing disturbingly smaller. You may get bored with all-leisure, all-the-time and want to volunteer or work on your own terms, health permitting. You may want to adjust your retirement income strategy or see if new streams of income can be arranged.

Chapter 5 (eighty & afterward). The last chapter of retirement is one frequently characterized by the sharing of legacies and life lessons, a new perspective on the process of living and aging, and deeper engagement (or reengagement) with children and grandchildren. This is also the time when you should think about your financial legacy, and review or update your estate plan so that when you leave this world, things are in good order and your wishes are followed.

Before and during your retirement, it is wise to keep in touch with a financial professional who can guide and consult you when questions about income, investments, wealth protection, and wealth transfer arise.

          

This material was prepared by MarketingPro, Inc., and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting party, nor their affiliates. This information has been derived from sources believed to be accurate. Please note - investing involves risk, and past performance is no guarantee of future results. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. This information should not be construed as investment, tax or legal advice and may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any Federal tax penalty. This is neither a solicitation nor recommendation to purchase or sell any investment or insurance product or service, and should not be relied upon as such. All indices are unmanaged and are not illustrative of any particular investment.

     

Citations.

1 - marketwatch.com/story/peak-earnings-for-men-come-in-their-early-50s-2015-06-18 [6/18/15]

2 - fastcompany.com/3025564/how-to-be-a-success-at-everything/when-are-your-high-earning-years-how-much-you-should-make- [1/30/14]

3 - crr.bc.edu/briefs/the-average-retirement-age-an-update/ [3/15]

4 - gallup.com/poll/182939/americans-settling-older-retirement-age.aspx [4/29/15]

5 - news.investors.com/investing/073014-711065-people-adjust-to-lower-income-in-retirement.htm [7/30/14]

Wednesday, 06 January 2016 14:21

The Fed Makes Its Move

Wall Street rallies as interest rates rise for the first time since 2006. 

U.S. monetary policy officially changed course Wednesday. Federal Reserve officials voted to raise the federal funds rate by a quarter of a percentage point, ending an unprecedented 7-year period in which it was held near zero. Nearly ten years had passed since the central bank had adjusted interest rates upward.1

The Federal Open Market Committee voted 10-0 in favor of the rate hike. It also raised the discount rate by a quarter-point to 1.0%.1  

Addressing the media after the FOMC announcement, Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen shared the central bank’s viewpoint:With the economy performing well, and expected to continue to do so, the committee judged that a modest increase in the federal funds rate target is now appropriate, recognizing that even after this increase, monetary policy remains accommodative.”2 

Equities started the day with minor gains, then advanced further. The Dow Jones Industrial Average, S&P 500, and Nasdaq Composite respectively advanced 1.28%, 1.45%, and 1.52% Wednesday. The yield on the 2-year Treasury hit a 5-year high of 1.021%. Gold rose $15.20 to close at $1,076.80 on the COMEX.3,4

As a December rate increase was widely expected, the real curiosity concerned the following press conference. Would Janet Yellen offer any hints about monetary policy in 2016? 

She offered one: she said she doubted that any interest rate hikes in 2016 would be “equally spaced.” Aside from that remark, no new insights emerged; Yellen reemphasized that the Fed does not plan to raise rates aggressively.2

Investors gained more insight from the Fed’s latest dot-plot chart, which expresses the Federal Open Market Committee’s opinion on where the benchmark interest rate will be at near-term intervals. The new dot-plot forecasts four rate hikes during 2016, with the federal funds rate climbing toward 1.5% by the end of next year (the median projection is 1.4%).5

The dot-plot revealed benchmark interest rate targets of 2.4% for the end of 2017 and 3.3% for the end of 2018, slightly lower than the previously stated targets of 2.6% and 3.4%.5

That corresponds with the consensus of analysts surveyed by CNBC. Their expectation was for three quarter-point rate hikes across 2016, taking the federal funds rate toward 1%.6 

Some analysts wonder if the next rate hike might occur at the FOMC’s March meeting. Nothing could be gleaned about that from Yellen’s press conference or the new FOMC announcement.6

With more tightening seemingly ahead, what is in store for the bull market? Bears may want to wait before making any gloomy pronouncements. While rising interest rates are commonly assumed to impede a bull market, this is not always the case. In fact, the S&P 500 advanced 15% during the last round of tightening (2004-06).7

Could higher interest rates decrease inflation pressure? That is a distinct possibility, and that would hurt wage growth and business growth. The Fed would like to see inflation in the vicinity of 2%, yet the Consumer Price Index is up only 0.5% in the past 12 months, held in check by a 14.7% annualized retreat in energy prices and a 24.1% annualized fall in gas prices. On the other hand, the Core CPI (minus food and energy prices) is up 2.0% in the past year.6

The Fed may have made just the right move at the right time. If it had waited until 2016 to tighten, a collective “uh-oh” might have been heard from pundits and analysts, with comments along the lines of “Does the Fed know something about the economy that we do not?” 

As JPMorgan Private Bank chief U.S. investment strategist Kate Moore told CNNMoney this week, “Keeping interest rates at zero is enforcing the idea that the U.S. economy is fragile.” Years of easing certainly helped the bull market, though: Wednesday morning, the S&P 500 was 202% above its March 9, 2009 bear market low.2,7    

Ultimately, the central bank felt the time had come for tightening. At Wednesday’s press conference, Yellen commented that data had led the Fed to raise rates – it had not made its move in response to any shifts in public opinion. “Consumers are in much healthier financial condition” than they once were, she remarked. The rate hike certainly expresses confidence in the economy, which could strengthen further in 2016.2         

 

This material was prepared by MarketingPro, Inc., and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting party, nor their affiliates. This information has been derived from sources believed to be accurate. Please note - investing involves risk, and past performance is no guarantee of future results. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. This information should not be construed as investment, tax or legal advice and may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any Federal tax penalty. This is neither a solicitation nor recommendation to purchase or sell any investment or insurance product or service, and should not be relied upon as such. All indices are unmanaged and are not illustrative of any particular investment.

   

Citations.

1 - marketwatch.com/story/federal-reserve-lifts-interest-rates-for-first-time-since-2006-2015-12-16 [12/16/15]

2 - blogs.marketwatch.com/capitolreport/2015/12/16/live-blog-and-video-of-the-fed-interest-rate-decision-and-janet-yellen-press-conference/ [12/16/15]

3 - cnbc.com/2015/12/16/us-markets-fed.html [12/16/15]

4 - reuters.com/article/usa-bonds-idUSL1N1452HC20151216 [12/16/15]

5 - marketwatch.com/story/federal-reserve-dot-plot-still-signals-4-interest-rate-hikes-in-2016-2015-12-16 [12/16/15]

6 - latimes.com/business/la-fi-federal-reserve-rate-hike-20151216-story.html [12/16/15]

7 - money.cnn.com/2015/12/15/investing/stocks-markets-fed-rate-hike/ [12/15/15]

Wednesday, 28 October 2015 19:28

Dealing With Sudden Retirement

How ready are you?

What if you are laid off or forced into retirement before 65, or even before 60? If that happens to you, what do you do in response now that the next phase of your life is starting sooner than you planned?

As a first step, gauge where you stand financially. It could be that the full-time job you just left will be your last. It could be that you have been thinking seriously about retirement. Depending on your outlook, you may see your glass as half-empty or half-full – but no matter your outlook, you need to assess your financial position.

With no income from work, your household will be more reliant on your spouse’s income or savings (assuming you are married at the time). So how big is your emergency fund? Is your cash position strong enough so that you can lean on it for a while until you decide how much you want or need to keep working?

Do you want (or need) another full-time job? Do you see yourself transitioning into part-time work? Or are you looking forward to retirement? Regardless of your employment prospects, you will have to calculate the amount of income you receive (or can potentially receive) from other sources – the pension or termination payout you were (hopefully) given, your investments, and other sources of passive income.

If that income doesn’t appear to be enough, should you apply for Social Security as soon as you can? Many financial professionals will tell you no, and here is why: for each year you delay filing for Social Security benefits, your benefits grow by about 8% (from age 62 to age 70). If you were born in 1954 and you file for Social Security benefits at 62 in 2016, you will reduce your monthly Social Security benefit by 25% as a consequence.1,2

On the other hand, some people really need the money and/or are in poor health, so they would rather have the income sooner rather than later. Your projected lifetime Social Security benefit remains the same regardless of when you first file for benefits, so even healthy retirees sometimes sign up as early as they can. In fact, in a June survey of more than 600 retirees taken by the Nationwide Retirement Institute, 76% of Americans who had been retired less than 10 years and 68% of Americans who had been retired 10 years or longer said that looking back, they felt they applied for Social Security at the right time.1

Nevertheless, a time like this is a great time to examine Social Security claiming strategies with help from a financial professional – especially if you are married or have been married. The wrong move could leave a great deal of money on the table.

Can you take advantage of any benefits as you leave work? Talk to the HR officer. If you have not been informed of your eligibility for severance pay or an early retirement package, ask about it. Depending on the circumstances of your exit, you may also qualify for Social Security disability benefits or unemployment benefits.

It will not be cheap to secure health insurance if you need it. If you are lucky, you worked for a big company, giving you COBRA eligibility. Maybe you are even luckier – perhaps your employer offered you the option of retiree health benefits when you were hired. (Hopefully, that offer still stands.)

See what you can do to reduce spending & taxes. Leaving work early might mean that your retirement is longer than anticipated. This calls for a reassessment of your retirement income strategy and your probable retirement expenses, including your day-to-day spending habits.

What fixed expenses are non-negotiable? What can you trim? If you are married, you and your spouse should be on the same page regarding how much you spend and what you spend money on. Perhaps gifts to children or grandchildren should be ceased. Maybe you could sell the house and move someplace cheaper. Maybe just one car is enough. You could eat out less. Spending less on mere wants is appropriate in your situation.

Every tax dollar you can save is a dollar back in your wallet. So pay attention to investment location and the impact of taxes on your portfolio, as you may be deriving income from investment accounts.

Stay positive. You may not have left work on your own terms, but you have an opportunity I your hands – the chance to change, and perhaps even reconceive, the way you live and work from this moment forward. If you have significant retirement savings, you may even be surprised at the potential your future holds.  

This material was prepared by MarketingPro, Inc., and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting party, nor their affiliates. This information has been derived from sources believed to be accurate. Please note - investing involves risk, and past performance is no guarantee of future results. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. This information should not be construed as investment, tax or legal advice and may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any Federal tax penalty. This is neither a solicitation nor recommendation to purchase or sell any investment or insurance product or service, and should not be relied upon as such. All indices are unmanaged and are not illustrative of any particular investment.      

Citations.

1 - cnbc.com/2015/09/23/when-you-should-file-for-social-security-benefits.html [9/23/15]
2 - ssa.gov/retire2/retirechart.htm [10/22/15]

Thursday, 10 September 2015 00:00

Teaching Your Heirs to Value Your Wealth

Values can help determine goals & a clear purpose.

Some millionaires are reluctant to talk to their kids about family wealth. Perhaps they are afraid what their heirs may do with it.

In a 2015 CNBC Millionaire Survey, 44% of families having at least $1 million in investable assets said that they had not yet told their children about their future inheritance. Another 27% said they had refrained from mentioning it until their children were 30 or older.1

It can be awkward to talk about such matters, but these parents likely postponed discussing this topic for another reason: they wanted their kids to grow up with a strong work ethic instead of a “wealth ethic.” 

If a child comes from money and grows up knowing he or she can expect a sizable inheritance, that child may look at family wealth like water from a free-flowing spigot with no drought in sight. It may be relied upon if nothing works out; it may be tapped to further whims born of boredom. The perception that family wealth is a fallback rather than a responsibility can contribute to the erosion of family assets. Factor in a parental reluctance to say “no” often enough, throw in an addiction or a penchant for racking up debt, and the stage is set for wealth to dissipate.

How might a family plan to prevent this? It starts with values. From those values, goals, and purpose may be defined. 

Create a family mission statement. To truly share in the commitment to sustaining family wealth, you and your heirs can create a family mission statement, preferably with the input or guidance of a financial services professional or estate planning attorney. Introducing the idea of a mission statement to the next generation may seem pretentious, but it is actually a good way to encourage heirs to think about the value of the wealth their family has amassed, and their role in its destiny. 

This mission statement can be as brief or as extensive as you wish. It should articulate certain shared viewpoints. What values matter most to your family? What is the purpose of your family’s wealth? How do you and your heirs envision the next decade or the next generation of the family business? What would you and your heirs like to accomplish, either together or individually? How do you want to be remembered? These questions (and others) may seem philosophical rather than financial, but they can actually drive the decisions made to sustain and enhance family wealth.

Feel no shame in exerting some control. A significant percentage of families seek to define a purpose for transferred wealth. In CNBC’s survey, 32% of parents aged 55 or younger said they were going to specify what their heirs could use their inheritances for, and that was also true for 15% of parents aged 55-69 and 9% of parents aged 70 or older.1

You may want to distribute inherited wealth in phases. A trust provides a great mechanism to do so; a certain percentage of trust principal can be conveyed at age X and then the rest of it Y years later, as carefully stated in the trust language.

This is a way to avoid a classic mistake: giving your heirs too much money at once. In fact, a 2015 Merrill Lynch Private Banking & Investment Group report notes that 46% of high net worth parents share that very concern.2 

Just how much is too much? Answers vary per family, of course. In the aforementioned Merrill Lynch survey, 46% of families said that they wanted to avoid handing down the kind of money that would dissuade their heirs from realizing their full potential in their lives and careers.2

By involving your kids in the discussion of where the family wealth will go when you are gone, you encourage their intellectual and emotional investment in its future. Pair values, defined goals, and clear purpose with financial literacy and input from a financial or legal professional, and you will take a confident step toward making family wealth last longer. 

This material was prepared by MarketingPro, Inc., and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting party, nor their affiliates. This information has been derived from sources believed to be accurate. Please note - investing involves risk, and past performance is no guarantee of future results. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. This information should not be construed as investment, tax or legal advice and may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any Federal tax penalty. This is neither a solicitation nor recommendation to purchase or sell any investment or insurance product or service, and should not be relied upon as such. All indices are unmanaged and are not illustrative of any particular investment.

   

Citations.

1 - cnbc.com/2015/07/22/wealthy-parents-fret-over-inheritance-talk-with-kids.html [7/22/15]

2 - bankrate.com/finance/estate-planning/critical-questions-before-leaving-an-inheritance-1.aspx [8/6/15]

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