Our Insights on

  • Fiduciary - Once Again

    Second Quarter 2017

    The Department Of Labor (DOL) Fiduciary rule, which has been addressed here previously has gone into effect, but the ultimate future of the rule remains mired in the political crosswinds. Whether the rule is retained or not is only of minor consequence at this point. The rule is deeply flawed in that it only addresses certain "accounts" and doesn't address other "accounts". Most consumers have no clue as to the subtleties of how the rule may or may not apply. The rule does not really clarify the underlying relationship between client and advisor.

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  • The Futility of Active Management

    First Quarter 2017

    Throughout the life of this firm, we have as a part of our investment policy discussions, cautioned our clients about the futility of attempting to time the market. There are a number of compelling arguments against the idea of market timing including: the lack of evidence that anyone can do it consistently and regularly, the need to make two decisions in a row correctly (when to buy/sell and when to sell/buy), increased tax drag and trading costs, and the fact that being out of the market on the good days will be devastating to long term returns. There are many more, but we tend to emphasize this last one since it is objective and verifiable and gets to the heart of the matter.

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  • DOL Fiduciary Rule - An Update

    Fourth Quarter 2016

    The landscape for personal financial planning will change this year.  It is highly likely we will see changes in the income tax and estate tax areas.  There has grown up, to the extent it did not exist before, a cottage industry in prognostication about where things are headed.  Of course, like almost all prognostications, most of these will turn out to be wrong and as always we recommend you treat prognostications with a good dose of skepticism.  They are guesses.  No more, no less.

    One subject of interest is whether the recently promulgated DOL (fiduciary) rule, which I discussed in our 1st Quarter 2016 letter, will be repealed or otherwise vacated.

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  • Reverse Mortgages

    Third Quarter 2016

    We have begun to reconsider the use of reverse mortgages. This has been an "against the grain" exercise since we have always preferred to leave the home equity in our plans for clients so that even at an advanced age and out of money, the client would still have the equity in their home to fall back on as a last resort. The availability and continued evolution of reverse mortgages, or Home Equity Conversion Mortgages (HECM's), have prompted us to refine our thinking on this issue.

    The conventional wisdom has been that reverse mortgages are for use as a last-resort. Last resort situations can still be a reason to take out a HECM, but other uses may make the HECM attractive as well.

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  • A Powerful Charitable Device

    Second Quarter 2016

    As a part of the year end legislation in 2015, Congress made permanent a special rule on IRA distributions that can be quite useful and beneficial to those IRA holders that are charitably inclined. Called the Qualifying Charitable Distribution (QCD) rule, the provision allows special tax benefits for an IRA owner who makes a distribution of IRA funds to a qualifying charity. The rule had been in place for several years before, but was of quite limited utility since the QCD was always in the "extenders" legislation that only were extended after the end of the year. That left the use of the provision in a state of being quite uncertain from a planning perspective. Again, now the QCD provision is permanent. How can QCDs work for you?

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