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Stocks and Steaks

Michael Flack  |  Apr 17, 2022

I WAS OFFERED a “free retirement review” by Carlson Financial a year ago. The review would—among other things—”help me answer the five biggest questions I have about retirement.” I didn’t realize I had only five questions. Still, I decided a financial review might be in order.
I then forwarded an uncomfortable amount of personal information, financial statements and tax returns to a man I’d never met. Scott seemed like a nice enough guy, but hey,

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Off the Hook

Michael Flack  |  Apr 2, 2022

ONLINE INVESTMENT advisor Personal Capital offered me a $25 Amazon gift card to open an account and then link it to one of my existing financial accounts worth more than $1,000. As a bonus, it also offered a complimentary financial checkup.
I duly signed up and linked one financial account. I then dodged the complimentary checkup and subsequently used my newfound wealth to purchase a portion of a good-enough HP computer.
I thought I was home free until I inadvertently answered a phone call from a member of my “Personal Capital team,” who again offered me the complimentary financial checkup.

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Paying Them to Worry

Dennis Friedman  |  Feb 24, 2022

EVERY SO OFTEN, I see comments on social media about Vanguard Group’s Personal Advisor Services (PAS). One person posted that he’d talked to a growing number of people who quit PAS. There was no particular reason given for why they left. But I don’t doubt it. I’m a PAS client. I’ve often thought about terminating my relationship.
I’ve been with PAS since 2018. When I first joined, the PAS advisors made a few changes to my investment portfolio.

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Less Funds More Gain

Sanjib Saha  |  Dec 11, 2021

READERS MAY RECALL Laura, my acquaintance who didn’t need life insurance but was sold a policy anyway. Alarmed by her ignorance, she vowed to manage her own money. As a first step, she parted ways with her financial advisor.
The advisor had her invested in 35 funds. She never fully understood what these funds owned or why she needed them. She had previously thought that investing had to be complicated and was best left to the professionals.

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Advice at a Price

Richard Connor  |  Dec 8, 2021

THE PREDOMINANT WAY financial planners get paid is by charging a fee based on the amount of money they’re managing. The typical industry fee I’ve seen is 1%, and it’s been that way for years. Under this model, a financial planner managing a client’s $1 million portfolio would charge $10,000 a year.
Charley Ellis’s recent article explained how this approach came into being. His article also demonstrated how a seemingly innocuous 1% fee can actually consume a large portion of a portfolio’s return.

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Too Heavy a Load

Michael Perry  |  Oct 16, 2021

I’M A MORNINGSTAR subscriber. I find that the site provides investing and personal finance information that’s sensible and useful for the average person, and that it promotes good investing and planning behaviors. Still, I was taken aback by a recent article, which discussed four funds that investors have been buying.
In terms of deciding what I buy, I don’t really care what others have been purchasing. Still, it’s interesting to see, so I checked it out.

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The Right Tools

Richard Connor  |  Oct 6, 2021

WE RECENTLY UPGRADED our home with smart locks, which open with a keypad code or cellphone command. After a bunch of research, we settled on Yale Assure Locks, which I’d also seen on an episode of This Old House. I’ve installed many locksets in the past, so I didn’t expect any problems.
Once they arrived, I gathered my tools, opened the packages and read the instructions. It seemed pretty straightforward. I set to work on the deadbolt,

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You Aren’t Listening

Andrew Forsythe  |  Sep 24, 2021

WHEN IT COMES to communication, I’m kind of a fanatic. (My wife would say I should drop the “kind of.”) More specifically, I’m a fan of responsive communication.
Back in my working days, when I practiced criminal law, I made it a point to return phone calls and emails from clients promptly. It was rare that I didn’t do it the same day. If that meant staying late at the office until I caught up,

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Dinner Is Served

Mike Zaccardi  |  Sep 15, 2021

HOW LUCKY I WAS to be the recipient of a dinner invitation to Ruth’s Chris. I love a sizzling ribeye, so I booked my seat at the event. Those nearing and in retirement have a good idea of what I’m referring to—the good old annuity sales presentation.
These dinners are put on by financial advisors looking to expand their business. The routine goes like this: Invite prospects, present for an hour on the benefits of owning insurance or an annuity,

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Personal Touch

Andrew Forsythe  |  Aug 2, 2021

I’M 69 YEARS OLD and so have spent most of my life dealing with people—and businesses—in person. That said, I’ve loved and greatly benefited from the internet revolution and appreciate its marvels in a way that only a person who lived in the “before” period can. I’ve been thinking a lot about this recently, and about how important it is—or isn’t—to have face-to-face relationships with the people I do business with.
For many years,

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Calling for Backup

Dennis Friedman  |  Jun 29, 2021

WHEN I RETIRED, I was surprised by how many of my friends and former colleagues had a financial advisor. My thought: Why would folks pay someone else to manage their money when they could easily do it themselves?
But I found out early in retirement that hiring an advisor was a good idea. There’s a big difference between investing while drawing a paycheck and investing without one. When I retired, I realized that the money I was investing was all the money I’d ever have,

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What a Drag

John Lim  |  Jun 3, 2021

ONE PERCENT is the average annual cost charged by actively managed stock mutual funds. One percent is also the typical fee charged by financial advisors for managing a client’s portfolio. Paying 1% means keeping 99% for yourself. What’s the harm in that?
Here are some pictures of Lower Manhattan. It’s dotted with the skyscrapers that comprise the financial district, home to some of Wall Street’s largest firms. Just the seven largest U.S. banks together are worth more than $1.5 trillion (yes,

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Staying Wealthy

David Powell  |  May 24, 2021

A CLOSE FRIEND’S long career in the motion picture business recently came to an end when the studio eliminated her job. Even before the pandemic, the industry was changing, so she wasn’t surprised or, for that matter, especially sad about getting laid off. She was lucky to receive a good severance package and is now ready to do something different. But finding the right job will likely take time, so carefully managing her cash through the transition period is crucial.

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Late to the Rescue

Brian White  |  Nov 25, 2020

MY FATHER-IN-LAW William retired from Duke University after teaching there for more than 30 years. He had a good pension, which—along with Social Security—covered all his expenses at the continuing care retirement community (CCRC) where he spent most of his retirement. Almost to the end, he was mentally sharp. I saw no need to inquire about his finances. I was mistaken.
In summer 2014, my wife noticed that William, then age 96, had left a large check for a matured life insurance policy on his desk for a couple of months.

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Helping Out

John Yeigh  |  Oct 15, 2020

SOME FAMILY MEMBERS recently asked me to help them find a financial advisor. As luck would have it, soon after, Barron’s published a perfectly timed article, “America’s Best RIA Firms,” which listed 100 highly ranked registered investment advisors (RIAs). Similar lists are available from CNBC and the Financial Times.
It was time for me to get to work. Who wouldn’t want to recommend a “top” firm to his or her family?

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