All financial advisors are not equally helpful. In this episode, Michael and Anthony Pellegrino illustrate why your choice of financial advisor could guide — or derail — your journey into retirement. The advice you receive will set the foundation for your financial future; you need to make sure that the person you turn to for help has your best interests at heart.
As Michael explains, there are two primary categories of advisors. The first is a fiduciary. All of Goldstone Financial Group’s advisors are certified fiduciaries and are thus legally obligated to put their clients’ needs above their own financial interests. The second category of advisors holds to a suitability standard. Unlike fiduciaries, suitability-grade professionals do not consider the client’s long-term financial health. So long as the advisor deems a product suitable for the situation at hand, they can sell it — regardless of whether it will still be useful in five or ten years. The only way that a client can be certain that their advisor has their best interests at heart is to sign on with a fiduciary.
However, a fiduciary certification alone doesn’t guarantee that an advisor is right for you. As Michael and Anthony Pellegrino point out in this episode, a genuinely effective advisor has other positive qualities.
Good Listening Skills
Even the best-qualified advisors will fall short if they don’t bother to engage with their clients. They need to listen to their clients’ goals, acknowledge their concerns, and ask the questions that will give them enough context to establish a solid financial plan.
Advisors should be accessible — and yet, many retirees find it difficult to schedule an appointment that lasts long enough for their advisor to address their questions and concerns fully. This issue is particularly pressing at larger firms that have higher turnover rates for advisors. With these organizations, clients might cycle through advisors every six months, and never get a chance to build a long-term, trusting relationship with any one person.
We exist in an ever-changing market environment. Retirees need advisors who can be proactive and adaptive in good and bad times alike. If an advisor is reactive and only makes a move after circumstances have changed for the worse, they won’t be as effective as someone who acted preemptively.
To sum up — when you look for an advisor, search for a fiduciary that you like and trust!
Where there is internet, is there more prosperity? Generally speaking, yes.
It costs much more to lay fiber to outlying communities than it does in larger metropolitan areas, which may contribute to the growing geographical discrepancy between income, education and even health care. Some places, like Indiana, hope to bring rural areas up to speed by expanding broadband access. Indiana, for example, is planning a $1 billion infrastructure update.1
Internet access opens the door for opportunities in a variety of areas, including education. Enrollment for online higher education classes is increasing each year, according to the report “Grade Increase: Tracking Distance Education in the United States.” Most of this enrollment (67.8 percent) is by students attending public institutions, with about half of students also attending on-campus classes. While online educational enrollment is rising swiftly, the number of students studying on a campus dropped by more than 1 million between 2012 and 2016.2
Keeping in touch with friends and the world’s current events is also simplified by internet access. Use of social media websites and apps is widespread among all demographics. According to a Pew Research Center study, while the share of teens using Facebook fell 20 percentage points over three years, a larger share of lower-income teens continue to use Facebook. Sociologists interviewed noted that higher-income teens often seek the prestige of the next “hot” social media platform, whereas lower-income teens continue to rely on Facebook to connect with a diverse network of friends and family.3
Unfortunately, the internet also has become a tool for negativity, particularly when it comes to bullying and misinformation. While social media has done much to establish and strengthen connections among people, it also enables the propagation of cyberbullying, a growing threat for teens and preteens. In 2018, 26 percent of parents reported their child had been a victim of cyberbullying. However, this share has dropped from 34 percent in 2016.4 First Lady Melania Trump has made cyberbullying her primary focus, encouraging adults to provide children with information and tools to develop safe online habits.5
Perhaps one of the most detrimental uses of the internet in recent years has been the spread of misinformation, particularly “fake news” stories that look like legitimate articles but which report inaccurate or fabricated facts and statistics. The problem is exacerbated by social media users who read and believe the stories, then share them with friends and followers.
Worse yet, these fake articles are circulated by bots on Twitter and other websites. A “bot” is an automated account made to look like a human user that is programmed to spread false information. More than 13.6 million Twitter posts shared misinformation linked to bots between May 2016 and March 2017.6
Sadly, people tend to be more interested in dramatized falsehoods than the truth. One researcher found that while true news stories tend to spread to no more than about 1,600 people, shared false stories on the internet tend to reach tens of thousands of readers, even though they originated from far fewer sources.7
We are an independent firm helping individuals create retirement strategies using a variety of insurance products to custom suit their needs and objectives. This material is intended to provide general information to help you understand basic retirement income strategies and should not be construed as financial advice.
The information contained in this material is believed to be reliable, but accuracy and completeness cannot be guaranteed; it is not intended to be used as the sole basis for financial decisions. If you are unable to access any of the news articles and sources through the links provided in this text, please contact us to request a copy of the desired reference.
In this ongoing series, Goldstone Financial Group principals Michael and Anthony Pellegrino answer personal finance questions from the residents of Chicago. This episode centers on employer-sponsored retirement accounts — and, more specifically, the strategies a retiree can use to grow the money they save further.
How limited am I to my company’s 401K options?
MICHAEL PELLEGRINO: Unfortunately, you probably are relatively limited. Most people only have a few options available when they sign on to a company 401(k) plan. If you do enroll, it’s crucial that you contribute — and if your employer offers a match, take them up on it! That’s free money in your account. Aside from that, I’d suggest working with an advisor to see if you’re eligible to make an IRA or Roth contribution.
ANTHONY PELLEGRINO: Another factor to consider is age. Most people assume that they can’t touch their 401(k) while they’re working, but you have more options once you reach 59.5 years of age. If you’re still working and contributing at that point, a fiduciary could help you put together an in-service rollover. You can go in and access some part or all of your 401(k) and then roll over those funds to an IRA. At that point, you have more options for your investment — and you don’t have to stop contributing to your 401(k), either! You’ll have two buckets to grow your investment, instead of one.
Should I leave my old 401k with my past employer?
MICHAEL PELLEGRINO: That’s one option, but you may have others. It’s important to look at the specifics of your 401(k) before you make any decisions. Again, though, an employer-sponsored plan is going to limit your options. It might be worth looking into rolling the money over into other investment vehicles — an IRA account, for example.
Should I take out money from my pension fund from a previous employer, or should I leave it there to grow over time?
ANTHONY PELLEGRINO: Those of us at Goldstone Financial Group specialize in these “lump-sum pension option rollovers.” People come to us all the time to ask about lump-sum buyouts, wondering whether they should take their pension money out all at once or access it in installments as “income” in retirement. In our view, a pension is just a large annuity. Once you start drawing income, you give up all access to its liquidity. You’re locked into that model, and you have no way to move the money you’ve saved into other investment vehicles. Worse, a pension does not come with death benefits — if a retiree were to pass on after spending decades with a company, their family would get nothing.
MICHAEL PELLEGRINO: As fiduciaries, we can create a comparison of your options and help you determine whether you should keep your 401(k) as is or roll those funds over into another investment vehicle.
Anthony Pellegrino, Goldstone Financial Group founder and firm principal, has dedicated his practice not only to helping individuals plan for their financial future but also remaining by their side as a partner in achieving their desired results. When Goldstone Financial Group helps a client prepare for retirement, they aren’t afraid to talk about the worst-case scenarios.
“Everyone likes to hope for the best – heck, we like to hope for the best,” Anthony Pellegrino says, “But we have to think about the practical issues, too. The last outcome we want is for a client to put away money every day for two, even three decades and then find themselves struggling to pay their bills after an unexpected and financially catastrophic life event.”
When it comes to money, most people prefer a predictable approach; they feel secure with the regular schedule of a paycheck or the guarantee of a reliable income. There are some who may find a thrill in the possibility of a riskier and potentially more profitable investment, but their worry exceeds their optimism. Understanding the actual level of risk can make a huge difference.
The calculated risks investments demand isn’t for everyone. However, for Goldstone Financial Group founder and principal Anthony Pellegrino, assessing risk is a way of life. Anthony Pellegrino has built his career on determining good investments from bad investments while guiding his clients towards a secure financial future. Assessing and determining the level of risk in investments, he explains is one of the most important aspects of his job – mainly because many of the people he connects with do not realize how risky their portfolio really is.
When most people save for retirement, they do so with the expectation that after they cash their last paycheck, they will have enough money in savings and investment assets to carry them through the entirety of their lives. They feel secure in knowing that they have money tucked away, so they rarely consider the worst-case scenarios.
What if they face a massive investment loss shortly before or after their retirement? What do they do if they spend most of their savings in the first decade of retirement, only to live another ten years?
Without a steady paycheck, retirees don’t have a fixed source of monthly income or a way to guarantee that they will be able to pay their bills during their sunset years. They need a plan – and Goldstone Financial Group is prepared to offer a few suggestions.
In this episode, firm principal Anthony Pellegrino provides a few insights into how those planning for retirement can establish a predictable income stream before they lose the security of their monthly paycheck.
According to Pellegrino, one of the best options available to retirees today are annuities. These investment vehicles come in all varieties, each with their pros and cons. An annuity that works for one person may be financially damaging for another – and as such, it is essential to consult a certified fiduciary before signing up for one. In this video, however, Anthony Pellegrino provides two examples of annuities that may be helpful for some retirees.
At age 60, you place $250,000 in an annuity account. This account will give you a bonus of six, seven, or even eight percent for signing up if you agree to a ten-year term. Throughout the decade, that percentage bonus will generate an additional $28,000 for your retirement fund.
Some annuity packages also come with a Home Healthcare Doubler, which would effectively double your income during the years that you might need assistance with two or more of the six active daily living (ADL) needs such as bathing, eating, or walking. It is worth noting that the doubler benefits only apply up until a set age ceiling; after that, the income provided would revert to the original amount.
Let’s assume that you place that same $250,000 in a different variety of account. In this scenario, you have the security of a floor beneath your initial contribution. Even better, the annuity is designed with a built-in inflationary hedge. Every time the market trends upward, you will see your annual income increase by the same percentage – and when the market trends downward, your income remains fixed at its previous yearly amount. As a bonus, these accounts can also be structured to include a clause for spousal continuation, which would allow the account holder’s spouse to take ownership of the annuity if they pass away.
Most retirees hope to build and build – but they don’t have a plan in place for establishing a stable income stream. Goldstone Financial Group can help! Reach out today to consult with a certified fiduciary.