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Articles on Wealth Management Topics

The SECURE Act Changes the Landscape for Tax-Efficient Retirement Planning

Since March, COVID stories have dominated the headlines, and unprecedented financial market volatility has grabbed the attention of investors. As a result, it's been easy to forget that one of the most far-reaching pieces of legislation to affect the financial planning landscape in more than a decade was passed just before the pandemic struck. The SECURE Act, or Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement Act, contains provisions that impact saving for retirement, estate planning, retirement distribution strategies, tax planning, debt management, and retirement plan administration.

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How Equity-Indexed Annuities (EIA's) Actually Work: A Case Study

Buyers often seem unaware of the shortcomings of annuities until well after their purchase. Equity-indexed annuities are no exception to this statement. While the downside protection they offer is not at issue here (but is subject to the claims-paying ability of the insurance company involved), the upside potential of these products is often vastly exaggerated (or misunderstood) by salespeople motivated by nothing more than the prospect of sales commissions averaging about 6% of the amount invested.

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Predicting Future Investment Returns: Implications for Retirement Planning

In the last installment of Articles on Wealth Management Topics, we discussed academic research on different ways to estimate the magnitude of future stock market returns. As a refresher, the worst of the ways studied was to extrapolate future returns from past returns. Nearly as ineffective is to base estimates of future returns on surveys of individual and institutional investors.

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Supercharge Your Retirement Savings with Mega Backdoor Roth IRA Contributions

Roth 401(k) contributions are especially advantageous to younger workers still looking forward to their peak earning years. And for higher-paid employees, Roth 401(k)'s may be the only way for them to contribute to Roth-style accounts. Now here's a way - courtesy of some fairly recent clarification from the IRS - to potentially supercharge the pace of your contributions to Roth-style accounts at the workplace, regardless of whether or not your employer offers a Roth 401(k) feature.

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Target-Date Mutual Funds: A Step in the Right Direction, But Far From Ideal

Target-date mutual funds have been attracting more and more assets during the last decade, primarily as a result of their burgeoning use in 401k and 403b plans. Plan sponsors and participants alike are drawn to the simplicity of TDF's, but as is often the case, the easy solution is not the best one. The weaknesses of target-date funds stem from three words: lack of customization.

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Financial Advisory Standards of Care and Rollovers to IRA's

The decision as to whether or not to rollover a retirement plan account to an IRA should be based on more factors than just the associated mutual fund management expenses. On its website, the Dept. of Labor provides guidance to retirement plan participants, i.e. employees, on how to evaluate the fees and expenses associated with their plan: "... don’t consider fees in a vacuum. They are only one part of the bigger picture including investment risks and returns and the extent and quality of services provided. Keep in mind the importance of diversifying your investments."

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"Stealth" IRA Contributions

As we begin to prepare for tax season, IRA contributions are on the minds of many taxpayers. This should be no surprise since not only do tax-deductible IRA contributions reduce current tax bills, but non-tax-deductible IRA contributions have the potential to reduce future tax bills as well. With these tax benefits in mind, here are three ways to effectively increase your household's IRA contributions that often fly under the radar:

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"Ten Ways You're Probably Leaving Money on the Table" Updated for 2018-9

The Tax Policy Center estimates that recent changes to the tax code in the form of last year's Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) "... will cut individual income taxes for 65 percent of households overall, but raise taxes for about 6 percent of households." Even so, why not resolve to improve your financial situation even more in the New Year. Depending on your circumstances, there may be a variety of moves to make to reduce your tax bills (or to offset them by saving money in other ways).

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