Retirement plans and fiduciary responsibilities

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One of the “hot button” issues with retirement plans is the Department of Labor (DOL) plan to label people that provide services to an employee retirement plan as Fiduciaries.  In short, this means that the service providers must put the needs of the plan participants ahead of their own need.  Below is my comment letter sent to the DOL earlier today in full support of making those service providers subject to a very strong fiduciary standard.  The letter is not ...

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Social Security Changes

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On Wednesday December 8, 2010, two rule changes were made to Social Security that received very little media attention.  Both of the changes impact the ability beneficiaries to take advantage of loopholes in the system.  With these changes, effective immediately with the press release, beneficiaries only have 12 months to withdraw their application for benefits and pay back the amounts they received.  This is also now limited to 1 time per person in their lifetime.  The second change only allows ...

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The revenge of “buy and hold”

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How well do you remember what happened in March, 2009?  That was the month that S&P finally stopped its historic downturn and slowly turned around.  While I don’t have exact numbers, my memory is that most news stories at the time were predicting a short upswing, then the dreaded “double dip” recession that would take stock prices down even lower.  More importantly, I don’t remember anyone saying this is the bottom and will get back to our highs in just ...

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Are Indexed Annuities bad products?

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Recently, some articles have called Indexed Annuities “terrible ideas” for senior citizens.  Proponents disagree and feel these are the perfect solution for people who need market returns but don’t want to take market risk.  Click here to read a  Bloomberg article on this topic.

First, a primer…an Indexed Annuity is a type of deferred annuity.  In theory, the purchaser gets to put their money in the stock market, realize some of the gains as the market goes up, but ...

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Bond funds versus individual bonds

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Individual bonds and bond funds have many similarities.  They are both major components of the fixed income portion of your portfolio, both pay interest to their investors on a regular basis and both carry similar risks (call or email me with questions on the risks).  Below are some of the major differences:

A)  The current value of an individual bond in your portfolio does not impact the payments you receive, so its value at any point in time is only of ...

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Reducing the impact of Illinois’ tax increase

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This week, Illinois increased the state income tax rate from 3% to 5%.  The items below are my top 5 ways you can minimize the impact of the tax increase to you and your family:

1.      Increase contributions to your retirement plan.  Increasing the contribution to your retirement account will reduce your taxable income, lowering your tax bill for both state and federal taxes.

2.      Increase the funding to your Health Savings Account.  Contributions to Health Savings Accounts are considered “Adjustments to ...

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