The Evolution of Retirement Planning

by Scott Smith, CIMA®

Retirement planningIt should be no surprise that traditional pension plans are a thing of the past. As I believe it should be, retirement planning is the responsibility of the individual, not the employer. Automatic enrollment, automatic annual escalation of salary deferrals, annual opt out requirements for nonparticipants, default investment options into target date retirement funds, performance history and description of investment options and expenses, as well as, employer matching are all meant to increase participation in company 401(k) plans so employees can take responsibility for their own retirement security.

Employee salary deferral limits for 401(k)s and 403(b)s are $18,000 for 2016. Those who are 50 or older can contribute an additional $6,000 a year. According to the Employee Benefit Research Institute, the average and median 401(k) balances were $76,293 and $18,127, respectively, at the end of 2014. 401(k) retirement balances vary significantly by age and years of service.

Continue reading

Avoiding Spousal Beneficiary Mistakes in 5 Easy Steps

Who is a spouse beneficiary? Spousal Beneficiary

A spouse beneficiary must be married to the account owner at the time of the account owner’s death, and he or she must be named on the beneficiary form (or inherit directly through the document default provisions).  A spousal beneficiary has a number of unique options

Continue reading

The Winner is Gold!

goldDuring the Olympics, the United States showed the world its dominance in sport, earning a total of 121 medals (46 Gold, 37 Silver, & 38 Bronze). Great Britain finished second with 27 Gold medals and China finished third with 26 gold medals. It was special to watch Usain Bolt and Michael Phelps continue their dominance and cement their legacies. For global financial markets, the winner is gold! Gold prices are up 25.94%, handily outperforming domestic, international, & emerging equity markets.

Gold’s out performance this year comes after a very challenging three-year performance stretch, where gold was down 28.33%, 2.19%, & 10.67% in 2013, 2014, & 2015, respectively. It’s not hard to fathom why gold is performing well considering the quantity of debt in the world that is paying negligible interest rates.

Continue reading