FIC Blog

We believe in – and live by – a philosophy of excellence.

Average is not good enough … Our goal at Family Investment Center is excellence. We find excellent investment products and supervise an excellent service package. We maintain a library of excellent research materials and financial planning resources. We also demand top safety and security for our clients.

We won’t settle for average. We continually seek top managers or securities and meld them into superior custom portfolios. Each palette of investments is carefully tailored to personal or family goals. We enlist excellent managers, research, resources, and effort for our clients. Don’t settle for average. You deserve excellence.

Please search our blog posts for answers to common investment questions, and we look forward to sharing our knowledge and experience with you first-hand.

Financial Planner and National Leader Richard C. Salmen Joins Family Investment Center

Family Investment Center Now Offering Expanded Financial Planning Services

 

Family Investment Center is expanding its financial planning offerings, and a nationally-known professional in the investment industry has joined the team to carry this work forward. Richard C. Salmen, CFP(R), CFA, EA is leading a new team of investment professionals from a Family Investment Center office in Lenexa, Kansas.

Salmen brings a high-impact resume and national recognition to the Kansas City region. As of January 1, 2018, Richard C. Salmen serves as president of Family Investment Center and will lead the financial planning services. Salmen’s credentials include CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER® Professional and a Certified Trust & Financial Advisor (CTFA). He received the CFA Institute Board of Governors Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA®) charter. As an Enrolled Agent (EA), he is authorized to represent taxpayers before the Internal Revenue Service at all levels.

Salmen’s previous experience includes serving as the Chief Executive Officer of Northern Financial Advisors, a Detroit, MI, fee-only financial planning and investment management firm. He graduated summa cum laude with a Bachelor of Science in Business Management from the University of Nebraska at Kearney and was a graduate business scholar while receiving his Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree from the University of Kansas.

In 2006, Salmen began a three-year term as a member of the national board of directors for the Financial Planning Association (FPA) based in Denver, Colorado, ultimately serving as national President in 2009. In 2010, he served as FPA national Chairman. In November 2014 he was elected to serve a four-year term on the Board of Directors for the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, Inc., beginning January 1, 2015. He is the 2018 Chair of CFP® Board’s Board of Directors.

As a true multi-tasker, Salmen is a retired air traffic controller for the Federal Aviation Administration and also spent 14 years as a member of the Army Reserves, finishing his career at the rank of Captain. Read more here in this Kansas City Business Journal article. 

Salmen’s accolades are commendable, but it’s his experience in financial planning that caught the eye of Dan Danford, CEO of Family Investment Center. Danford said in a recent news release that Salmen will expand on existing financial planning services. “This broadens the scope of Family Investment Center to solve client challenges at different levels of goals,” Danford said.

Furthermore, Salmen, like everyone at Family Investment Center, has operated as a fee-only, or commission-free, advisor. He will maintain that model as he works with Family Investment Center out of Lenexa. Areas of financial planning offered by Salmen and his team include tax preparation; estate planning; business planning; insurance planning and risk management; cash flow management; and goal setting.

 

If you’re interested in 2018 being the year that money makes sense, contact our team at Family Investment Centertoday. It’s time to start doing more of what you love.

 

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What is an Investment Advisor and Why Does it Matter?

How Your Goals Can Get a Boost With an Investment Advisor in Your Corner

 

Who do you trust with your money? Or, who do you trust to advise you about what you should do with your money? Too many people might offer up the following: “Friends, family and co-workers.” Unfortunately, these people, while highly trusted for a number of reasons, shouldn’t be a source of expertise when it comes to your investments. That is best left to an investment advisor.

Why not friends, family and co-workers? The reason is simply because they’re telling you what worked for them, and their situation is likely much different from yours. What worked for them might be a choice that isn’t right for you. Getting objective advice from a professional can give you a personalized plan for your unique situation.

Ask Yourself Questions About Your Investments
Have you been asking yourself if your money is in the right place or earning what it needs to earn in order for you to meet your goals? If you already have an advisor, have you wondered if they are offering objective advice? And what are they charging? When you have a fiduciary in your corner, you don’t have to worry about getting conflicting advice, and as a fiduciary, they are required to be transparent about their fee structure.

Why a fiduciary, you ask? A fiduciary is required to put your best interests first - not their own profits. A fiduciary won’t take a commission on products they sell to you, which means any advice they offer will not be motivated by lining their pockets with money.

What’s an Independent Financial Advisor?
Independent Registered Investment Advisors, or RIAs, work in independent advisory firms that offer personalized advice, which is especially beneficial if you have complex needs regarding your finances.

Many RIAs are also fiduciaries, which means they’re held to high standards of care. Furthermore, they’re registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission or their state securities regulators.

What’s the Benefit of Working With an RIA?
One of the most common reasons people say they like working with an RIA is that they develop a personal, attentive and responsive relationship with them. Furthermore, the guidance they offer is customized because no two people are alike, nor do they have the same goals. Their fee structure should be simple and transparent, meaning you never have to wonder if you’re getting charged hidden fees that you will find out about later.

At Family Investment Center, we’ve established ourselves as a fiduciary since day one. Our investment professionals have years of experience and work as a team to serve clients well. Talk to us today and let’s talk about you – your life, your goals and your future. Let us develop strategies to fit your unique situation.

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Investment Advice is Actually Applied Portfolio Science

 

Practical Steps Toward Solid Goals With the Right Investment Advice

 

Investing isn’t about guessing at stocks and bonds or simply selecting which bonds might have the highest interest rates. To the contrary: managers looking over large portfolios, such as pension plans, university foundations and charitable endowments utilize applied portfolio science in a deliberate way, and it’s investment advice you can use in your own planning.

In a practical sense, these large portfolio advisors are looking more at the forest and less at the trees. You can use this philosophy as you look at your 401(k) or IRA investments. If investing has never appealed to you, it should be mentioned that it can actually be fun. Surely you know some people who enjoy the challenge of it. However, be warned – if you’re getting a thrill out of investing, you might be looking at all the trees and have no eye on the forest.

Your winnings on a hot stock might be a thrill, but how many losses did it take to get there? And did you just break even? Results matter, and these aren’t the results you want. If you’ve made a decision that has a potential swing in your eventual portfolio of $100,000, $50,000 up or $50,000 down, what would you do with the $50,000 extra? Buy a better car? Add a cruise or two to your vacation calendar? Upgrade your housing option?

What if the portfolio suffers the $50,000 down? What will you give up? Vacations? Drive an older or cheaper car? Medical insurance? Prescriptions? Rent? You can’t be focused simply on making money – you have to have a plan for long-term results that will set you up for the future when your career ends. This might require some behavioral changes that put less focus on toys, such as bigger homes and faster cars.

Fortunately, you have measurements all along your investment journey to assist you. Here are some practical solutions you need to consider as you plan your strategy:

  • Use a goal-based system for finance and investing. What is the upside and downside of achieving those goals?
  • Internalize that reward or penalty for each financial goal. Often, the penalty is far more powerful than the reward.
  • Don’t impose artificial schedules on something that can’t be scheduled. Investing works, but the cycles and time required are irregular. The stock market, especially, grows in fits and starts.
  • Forget the “get rich quick” stuff. The hot stock tip or lottery ticket are long shots. They aren’t a practical solution for reaching your goals.
  • Find a good fiduciary advisor to help. Not next week or next month, or “when I get some money.” Today. You surely fall into one of two categories: you know what you need, and a professional can help you get better, or you don’t know what you need, which is an even stronger case for getting help.

At Family Investment Center, we bring the investment advice that is customized to fit each individual situation. Come talk to us in our commission-free, jargon-free setting and we’ll help you see that “Money is freedom, and freedom is fun.”

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Off to a Late Start? Planning for Retirement Starts Today

Planning for Retirement Later in Life

 

It’s no secret – many Americans aren’t financially ready for life after a career. If you are 40 or older and unprepared for retirement, what steps can you take to start planning for retirement now?

Take Advantage of “Catch Up” Opportunities

If you are 50 or older, you are allowed to make “catch up” contributions to your retirement accounts. For example, if you have a 401(k), you can contribute an extra $6,000 per year to it. Younger investors are held to the $18,000 annual contribution limit.

If you have an IRA, you’re held to $5,500 annual contribution limit, then when you’re 50 or older, you can put in an extra $1,000 per year. That might not seem like a lot of extra money, but if you make those extra contributions over the 15-year period before you retire (assuming you retire at 65), you will be able to increase your retirement nest egg substantially.

Make Approximations for the Future

Good retirement strategies are based on goals. In order to establish goals, you’ll need to crunch some numbers, which means you have to approximate how much money you’ll need in retirement to cover all your expenses. Keep in mind many people will live ten to 15 years longer than they anticipate.

Once you know how much you will need to live comfortably, you can start adjusting your investment strategy accordingly. This might require some adjustments to the way you are currently living, i.e. making cuts in expenditures so you’ll have more money to put toward investments.

Put the Hammer Down

To use an automotive term for rapidly accelerating, this is exactly what you need to do with your investment accounts if you are 40-plus and haven’t started saving for retirement. You need to do everything you can to max-out your retirement accounts, such as your employer-sponsored plan and IRA.

You may have a lot of ground to cover in a short amount of time. Make cuts where necessary, such as vacations or new cars or buying a new house, and save vigorously.

Adjust Plans as Needed

If planning for retirement has been put on the back burner for you, for whatever reason,  it doesn’t mean all is lost. If your original idea of retirement was one of fun and relaxation, you might have to consider working part-time in “retirement.” This income will help cover the shortfalls that your investments won’t cover while still allowing you to live a lifestyle that fits your comfort level.

Also, if your idea of retirement was to begin at age 65, you might consider keeping that full-time job for a few more years. This extends the life of your investments, meaning you won’t dip into them as soon as you had planned, giving you more assurances for covering costs when you do finally hang up your career for good.

At Family Investment Center, we can help you navigate these complex waters. Don’t be intimidated by the process of planning for retirement. Let us help you make crucial decisions now that will help you later.

 

Here’s a little more food for thought: November 2017 is Millionaire’s Month at Family Investment Center. Why are millionaires wealthy? How do they think? What do they do (or not do) that you can apply to your own life? Is there a secret? Read more on our website or listen to Money is Freedom on SoundCloud or iTunes for a special four-part series.

 

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Is Investing for Women More Stressful?

Take a Different Approach to Investing for Women

 

Are Americans on the right track with a strategy for adequate retirement savings? A report by MassMutual would put the answer at a resounding “no.” The report found that 72 percent of people overall agreed they aren’t prepared for retirement. But what about women? Is investing for women any different than it is for men?  Do women feel they are as unprepared financially for retirement as men do?

The answer is “yes,” as the report found that women are three times more likely to say they can’t save for retirement. Women are also more likely than men to say that financial concerns are a cause of stress in their life, limiting how they function in the world and receive medical care. Not surprisingly, it can also be the source of friction in relationships.

The report did find that women are more likely than men to seek employer-sponsored programs to help them feel more confident about their finances. However, when it comes to Social Security counseling, men are more apt to seek that out than women. That doesn’t mean women are less concerned about their Social Security and talk of cuts to that program, as the report found that only 33 percent of men were concerned compared to 52 percent of women.

What are some steps women can take now toward a financially secure retirement? Here are some keys for starting:

·         Workplace Retirement
If your workplace offers a retirement plan, sign up for it. Your contributions could help reduce your income taxes, and it’s often money that you don’t miss because it is directly deposited to the account from your payroll.

·         Pursue More Education
You will gain more confidence and conquer reservations or outright fear of investing if you’re more financially literate.  Consider talking to an advisor that cuts out financial jargon and explains things simply.

·         Avoid Emotions
It’s been said before – emotions and investing don’t mix. Bad decisions are almost always made on a “gut feeling” that is brought on by an emotional outburst.

·         Stay the Course
Investing shouldn’t be a short-term strategy. Only people looking to “play the market” think of it that way. The market will rise and fall, sometimes sharply in the short term.  Stick to a long-term plan and diversify your portfolio to boost your return potential.


If the process of going to a financial advisor intimidates you, just remember that we work with people in every stage of their investment strategy, from young investors just starting out in their careers to those who are well into their retirement. We work with people who are quite literate in finances and investing and with people whose knowledge goes no further than a checking account.

At Family Investment Center, we can help both men and women with an investment strategy that is personalized for their unique needs. Come in today and let’s chat about your plans for the future. Here’s another note of interest:  November 2017 is Millionaire’s Month at Family Investment Center. Why are millionaires rich? How do they think? What do they do (or not do) that you can apply to your own life? Is there a secret? Read more on our website or listen to Money is Freedom on SoundCloud or iTunes for a special four-part series.

 

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What Makes Our Investment Advisors Unique?

3 Things You Need to Hear an Investment Advisor Say

 

Dan Danford, CEO and founder of Family Investment Center, came to the industry “by accident.” While working in the trust department of a bank, Danford was in charge of pension and profit sharing plans. He found that he was proficient at explaining investing to people that helped them better understand the process.

He parlayed that talent by creating Family Investment Center, bucking the trend in the industry by establishing a fee-only structure of payment. As a fiduciary, Danford and his team are solely focused on the best interests of their clients.

Danford is featured in a video on Investopedia where he explains how the Family Investment Center approach is unique in the industry. He also offers insights into how the team thinks about investing. Read on for a summary of these insights.

1. About Family Investment Center: You get a whole team

“People who walk in our door don’t get assigned to a particular advisor and work with that advisor. Instead, our team helps every single client. Each and every one of us sees all the transactions for all our clients every day. Each and every one of us has access to notes and files. That way, no matter who you are or what your situation is, you aren’t dependent on the whims of one person.”

2. Investing Values: Practical insights

“I favor the ones that have been shown to work. When someone comes to me and they ask about investing, one of the first things I want to know is what their situation is so I can compare them in my mind to people I’ve worked with in the past. Then I can draw upon my experience and ask, ‘What has worked for those people and what is likely to work for these people?’”

3. Advice Most Frequently Given: Be mindful

“What I suggest to people is that they are mindful of what they do financially. If they’ll just give it some thought ahead of time, they’ll make wise buying decisions, and those pay off in the long term.”

For more information about how Family Investment Center works for our clients, contact us today and schedule a visit. November 2017 is Millionaire’s Month at Family Investment Center. Why are millionaires rich? How do they think? What do they do (or not do) that you can apply to your own life? Is there a secret? Read more on our website or listen to Money is Freedom on SoundCloudor iTunes for a special four-part series.

 

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Planning for Retirement as a Small Business Owner

Planning For Retirement Requires Focus on Diversification

 

Are you a small business owner who has avoided planning for retirement? If so, you’re one of a third of respondents to a survey from Manta that said they do not have a plan in place for their retirement. Among those, 37 percent said they don’t have enough money to save for retirement. But, what’s really happening?

A number of small business owners say they’re not planning for retirement because they simply don’t make enough to open a retirement account. However, there really isn’t such a thing as “too little” to begin saving. The truth is, many small business owners are actually reinvesting in their own company instead of focusing on a retirement account. While this seems at first glance as a responsible action, it really puts the owner at risk.

Almost 20 percent of those surveyed by Manta said they’ve taken what retirement accounts they had and sunk them into their business. Doing this means the business owner is losing money due to taxes, penalties, and tax-deferred potential growth. It’s a risk that shows the owner has really invested in the growth of the business, but it comes at a high cost.

Of the survey’s respondents, 20 percent also said they don’t have retirement accounts because they plan to sell their business before retiring. However, what if the timing isn’t right? What about those business owners who had a long-term plan to retire in 2009? They are likely still working today, trying to recoup what they lost. The fact is, nobody really knows what the market will bring, so your best-laid plans can fall victim to unforeseen circumstances.

As a small business owner, here are a few important steps for you to take toward a solid retirement strategy:

·         Invest in a self-employed retirement plan, such as an individual 401(k), a SEP-IRA, or a SIMPLE IRA.

·         Create a plan for leaving the company. A succession plan can keep your business afloat in your absence, offering you a stable income.

·         Planning for retirement should include setting a tentative retirement date. Evaluate your lifestyle and talk to your investment advisor about how you can make a smooth exit that allows you to live comfortably in retirement.


Planning for retirement isn’t easy, especially when you’re passionate about your business and you want to see it succeed after you leave, or if you want to get what you feel it is worth when it’s time to sell. At Family Investment Center, we can help you navigate all the various decisions that have to be made. Contact us today and let’s begin planning for your retirement.

 

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Need Investment Advice to Help You Develop Your Portfolio Strategy?

Get Started With Some Investment Advice From Warren Buffett

 

Are you confused by all the conflicting advice out there on how to best invest your money? What would an investor who has seen a large amount of success with his investing list as top investment advice? Warren Buffett has been successful with his investment strategies and offers up some basic foundational steps that can be a key part of any investment strategy. Let’s take a look at several of his recent tips:

Keep it Simple

Warren Buffett says he doesn’t look to “jump over seven-foot bars” with his investments. Instead, he seeks out the one-foot bars he can step over. These one-foot bars include non-flashy investments like utilities, insurance and manufacturing, which is something that will always be in demand, thus representing a generally safer and potentially successful investment.

Be Careful With Forecasts

Buffett is known to say that forecasts say more about the forecaster than they say about the future. He’s extremely mindful of trying to guess how markets are going to behave, and doesn’t go into panic mode when the market fluctuates. Instead, investors need to stick to their long-term plans.

Think Long-Term

Trustworthy investment advisors will tell clients to always think long-term in their investment strategies, especially if they’re putting any assets into the market. Yes, when the economy takes a turn, so too may your investments. However, the market recovers, and so too do your investments. Buffett says you can’t think short-term and that if you’re not willing to own a stock for 10 years, don’t even consider it for 10 minutes.

Don’t Make Impulse Decisions

Buffett is a great student, which means he’s always reading and always thinking. He says the more he does that, the less likely he is to make impulse decisions. Impulse decisions can actually be prompted by something investors read – especially anything that touts a stock as a “sure thing.” Don’t jump on it. Always be reading and thinking.

Don’t Sit Fearfully

The only time you should be fearful of jumping on an investment is when others are feeling greedy. However, a careful and well-planned strategy can provide great results. When an opportunity arises that you’ve had your eye on for some time, take action.

Buying Stocks and Homes Have Similarities

Buffett encourages people to buy stock the way they buy a house. Why? Because, if you understand a stock in the same way you understand a house you plan to live in for decades, you’re on the right path.

At Family Investment Center, we like the words of Buffett because we too share the same values in terms of not being impulsive, having a commitment to attention to detail, looking at investments as long-term strategies and not trying to forecast what the market is going to do. We know every investor is different and requires a different strategy to reach their goals.  Contact us today to help you develop your personal investment plan.

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How Does Your Investment Portfolio Look at Age 60?

The State of the Target-Date Mutual Funds in an Investment Portfolio

 

The best investment portfolio goals are long-term in nature. However, as you get into the latter part of your career, it makes sense to start rethinking how your investments are diversified.

Changing your investment strategies by shifting assets to safer places as you get older could be a change you need to make. Does this mean all ofyour stock investments need to be shifted as you near retirement? Not necessarily. We know that there are risks related to investing in stocks, but there are also rewards.  Generally, when one retires, there’s still a need for at least a portion of stocks, just to keep pace with inflation.  So, for many, the changes to investment portfolios near retirement are only slight.


The Target-Date Fund
The advantage of target-date funds is that you can invest in a variety of stocks and bonds that will automatically become more conservative as you age. The closer you get to your retirement date, the more bonds and less stocks you’ll see in the portfolio.

For instance, you can choose a fund that currently invests 55 percent of your assets in stocks and 45 percent into bonds. The bonds will help to ensure that a good portion of your money is safe while the stock investments give your investment portfolio room to grow with the market.  As you age, the fund manager will adjust the portfolio more conservatively.

Exchange-Traded Funds
Exchange-traded funds (ETFs) are similar to mutual funds in that each ETF owns shares of numerous stocks or bonds. ETFs give you the opportunity to customize how you make investments in equities and bonds in a way that are more suitable for your specific goals and your style of investing.

Another advantage is that ETFs offer lower expense ratios than typical mutual funds. And similar to individual stocks, they are actively bought and sold from open to close of the market.

Going Solo
While buying shares of individual stocks could be the best fit for you, that will definitely not be the case for everyone. Although many of the dividend-paying stocks have rallied for a number of years, that also means that many share prices are higher now. Ask your investment advisor about stocks that will give you a good mix of income, value and growth potential.

Build a Strategy With a Professional
Taking the DIY approach to your investment portfolio might feel gratifying, but this is too important an issue to treat it like a hobby. Consider asking an investment advisor for help assisting you in adjusting your investments as you get closer to retirement.

At Family Investment Center, we’ve worked with many clients in situations just like yours, and we have strategies that can provide you with confidence. Contact us today and let’s work toward your goals together.

 

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4 Tips for Establishing Good Investment Strategies

Simple Investment Strategies to Get You Started

 

 

Are you a part of the Millennial generation that is being discussed so frequently today? Some of the attributes that have been pinned on you aren’t accurate, nor are they fair, but you’re definitely in a generation that is coming up – fairly new to your career and perhaps struggling to come to terms with investment strategies that will see you through to a fruitful retirement. We have compiled some personal finance tips that can put you on the right path.

1. Your Parents Aren’t Always Right
One common characteristic of Millennials is that they have “helicopter parents.” These are well-intentioned parents who took great interest in every part of their child’s life. They are often thought of as friends for whom you can go to for advice. However, when it comes to helping you develop investment strategies, you have to realize your parents’ situation is entirely different from yours.

There is a good chance that the strategies your parents developed for themselves will not work for you. You shouldn’t have your retirement account invested the same way someone from another generation does. You need to look at what you want to accomplish and align with the best investment strategies for your unique personal situation.

2.  Look at Your Finances Often
It can be a source of stress when you’re constantly on a tight budget, but you need to avoid ignoring your finances, as that will make developing a plan more difficult. You’re not always going to like what you see, but at least you have the option to be proactive rather than reactive.

3. Look for Inefficiencies in Your Budget
It’s understandable that as you pay down your student loans and pay all your bills on your base salary, the money you put toward investments may not be a large amount. However, making small cuts to your budget can give you a nice little boost now that could turn into a lot of money later on.

Cable television is one expense that might feel painful to cut out at first, but that extra $100 (or more) per month can do wonders for an investment account. From clothing purchases to eating out, find areas where you can make small changes.

4. Take Advantage of Automatic Contributions
Many employers offer retirement plans with a company match. If your company has this, you’re losing money by not signing up. If your workplace doesn’t offer a plan, consider setting up an IRA and have money directly deposited into it each month.

At Family Investment Center, we’re committed to helping our clients find the right path to financial freedom. Contact us today and let’s discuss where you want your own personal “freedom tour” to take you.

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What is Important for Entrepreneurs When it Comes to Wealth Management?

Protect Your Future With a Wealth Management Strategy

 

We all admire the risk-taking entrepreneurs out there who put so much on the line and reap great rewards in return. However, while entrepreneurs are known for their abilities to creatively build a plan for their startup, they can be lacking in planning their exit strategy for safeguarding their wealth. If you are an entrepreneur and this describes you, the lack of a wealth management strategy will not only affect your own retirement, but the financial good of your family and the generations to follow.

It’s not uncommon for the bulk of an entrepreneur’s portfolio to be heavily invested in his or her own company’s shares. However, if for example, you’ve got 60 percent of your money in your own shares, the remaining 40 percent should be in something with less risk associated with it. This will give you a more diversified portfolio.

Why is it so important for an entrepreneur to take more precautions in a wealth management strategy? Most are supported by investors who could stand to lose their entire investment if something goes awry.

And what about the exit strategy? According to a U.S. Trust survey, roughly 63 percent of business owners have not formulated an exit strategy. They don’t have a plan for whether or not they’ll sell or transfer ownership upon their death or retirement. This is also an important aspect of developing a wealth management strategy because this merger or acquisition process can be quite complex, and a lot rides on the success of this process.

Also, according to a study by Deloitte, only 59 percent of family-owned businesses have a plan in place for an unfortunate event, such as the death or disability of the head of the company. The lack of a plan can lead to a difficult and damaging set of events to follow, and it can sink the company and potentially destroy business and family relationships.

If you head up a company and something should happen to you, you will want your family to be protected. Also, a wealth management plan should establish protections for all your business partners so they have the capital they need to continue on.

Many great and powerful companies have been built on the backs of risk-takers, but when it comes to building and managing a portfolio for wealth management, it’s important to turn to a professional investment advisor who is steeped in the knowledge of what risk means in investments.

At Family Investment Center, we can work with you for a wealth management strategy that considers your unique needs. Contact us today and let’s get started.

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4 Tips for Getting Your Retirement Planning Off the Back Burner:

Steps You Can Take Now to Get Started With Your Retirement Planning

 

Many people who are still years away from retirement look forward to that day when they leave the workforce to enjoy the golden years. However, when the retirement date comes close, those thoughts of rest and relaxation are often replaced with trepidation. Why?  Because retirement planning has been put on the back burner. What can you do to improve your outlook and develop a plan now?

1. Expenses
What will weekly and monthly expenses look like in retirement? This is something you must consider as you begin your retirement planning. Perhaps you have debts today that you know you don’t want to carry forward into retirement. Your plan may include managing a way to enter retirement with reduced debt so you’re not tied down.

There are various calculators, such as DebtBlaster, that allow you to come up with a more solid strategy for retirement expenses. You also need to consider how inflation and the cost of living will differ in terms of where you choose to live in retirement and for healthcare costs.

2. From Where is the Income Derived?
You should develop a complete list of pension, 401(k), IRA, Social Security and other income resources. This will help you gain a better picture of how much you can spend at any given moment. Also, be sure to write out all the contact information, passwords, account numbers, etc., so should you become disabled or pass away, there will be no confusion regarding these accounts.

3. Retirement Goals
Part of planning for retirement is looking at things aside from money. Will you follow a passion or pursue a hobby? Will you be focused on recreation, or will you take this time to continue your education? Obviously, if travel is on the itinerary, you’ll need to budget for that, as frequent travel can get pricey. However, it’s important that your retirement goals will work with the plans of your spouse, family and friends.

4. Finding an Advisor
Planning for retirement can be a process full of complexities. When you partner with an investment advisor, your eyes will be opened to a number of issues that you likely would never have known existed. Look for an advisor with transparent fees and for one that will act as a fiduciary.  When you have a fiduciary working for you, they are acting in your best interest – not their own. Unfortunately, there are many investment professionals out there who are driven by the commissions they earn, which means their investment advice isn’t always in clients’ best interest.

At Family Investment Center, we’ve always acted as a fiduciary, which means you can trust that when it comes to your retirement planning, we’ve got your best interests as our primary focus.

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401(k) Investing at Age 50 and Over

Preparing for Retirement With 401(k) Investing

 

Once you hit the big 5-0, there are some financial advantages that can be beneficial for everyone who hits this milestone, including some tax breaks and perks where your retirement investments, like 401(k) investing, are concerned.

As of 2017, you can contribute $18,000 a year to your 401(k). However, once you hit the age of 50, you can put an extra $6,000 into your 401(k) each year. These are referred to as “catch-up” contributions, which can offer people with less time until retirement to contribute more to their plan.

If you’re turning 50 or have already hit that milestone, it can be beneficial for you to take advantage of that extra $6,000 investment. There are also advantages for business owners who have yet to establish their retirement investments. For example, say a couple in their mid-50s wants to finally get the ball rolling on their retirement accounts. They can open a self-employed 401(k), which is also referred to as an individual or solo 401(k), and sink the full regular contribution plus the “catch-up” $6,000 into this account.

For those who would rather go with an IRA investment, there are some options here as well. While traditional 401(k) contributions are tax-deductible, any withdrawals from the 401(k) are taxed as income. A traditional IRA works similarly, but the maximum annual contribution is $5,500, with an extra $1,000 “catch-up” contribution. With a Roth IRA, however, no deduction may be taken for contributions, but then withdrawals in retirement are not taxable. IRAs can be extremely advantageous for extra savings, especially when used in conjunction with employer-sponsored plans. 


According to a recent Forbes article, 50 percent of investors age 50 to 69 took full advantage of catch-up contributions in 2015. For those putting their investments into a Roth IRA, 45 percent did the same.  

 

The rules are different depending on the type of plan to which you’re contributing, so be sure to ask an advisor for the applicable rules. Aging into 50 and beyond can be an exciting and rewarding time. At Family Investment Center, we know a lot about the various ways that age has advantages when it comes to investing. Come in and talk to us today about your investment goals. If you’ve yet to establish a strategy, we’ll discuss the options available to you and get you started on the right path.

 

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How do Fees Impact Investing for Non-Profits?

Cutting Fees When Investing for Non-Profits Can Lead to a Boost in Profits

 

Do you have a favorite charity? If so, you want to see their investments do well so your favorite cause can receive the maximum amount of assistance possible … and in turn, so they can do the most good possible. You may not consider this often, but investing for non-profits is an important part of funding .

Here’s some insight from Dan Danford, founder/CEO of Family Investment Center, on how your favorite nonprofits can see a better return on their investments, which will allow them to do more for those they serve.

First, it’s important that a non-profit gets the best returns possible on their investment. That means whoever is managing the investments should aim to choose stocks, bonds, mutual funds, or other investments that seek to balance risk with reward.


As most of us know, nobody can predict exactly what the market is going to do. If there were such a person, they’d be unbelievably wealthy. But it is important for someone managing a non-profit’s funds to understand the balance between risk and reward. And perhaps more importantly, you want them to have the utmost transparency when it comes to fees.

When times are great and the market is booming, a non-profit may not be worried about fees, especially if it’s half of a percent. But what about when the market sours and funding is desperately needed for all the programs the non-profit administers?

When the economy takes a nose-dive and investments are suddenly reduced to one percent returns (or worse), that fee of half of one percent becomes a massive piece of the equation. This may be the time a non-profit finds out about all the extra fees they’ve been paying for years and never knew about. The new fiduciary rule, which went into effect in June of this year, should help stamp out any fine print that left people unaware of these fees.

If a non-profit wants to boost their portfolio returns, they should look for a safe and insured custodian with a figurative allergy to high fees. Find one that will provide verified statements. Also, it could be a good move to shift portions of a portfolio to a low-cost index or institutional-share manager. Finally, if a non-profit is happy with the performance of a current investment advisor, they can simply ask them if they’ll reduce their fees – some will take that cut.

At Family Investment Center, we’ve always operated as a fiduciary, which means we put our clients’ best interests first. Need advice investing for non-profits? Contact us today.

 

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Investing for Retirement: What’s in Your Buckets?

Taking a Fresh Mental Approach to Investing for Retirement

 

Mental buckets of money. It sounds like an odd idea at first, but when you consider all the investments contained in savings and retirement portfolios, thinking in terms of “buckets of money” can actually help deconstruct a complex situation into something more manageable when strategically investing for retirement.

During our working years, we look forward to that paycheck that comes every two weeks or once a month. We plan around that check; taking into account our rent or mortgage, food, clothes, entertainment and savings. Even if our investment accounts are plentiful, when it comes to retirement, we need to mentally adjust to the fact that the regular check is no longer coming in. Call it “mental accounting.”

Morningstar recently published an article on the subject of mental accounting, where Michael Kitces, director of wealth management for Pinnacle Advisory Group, touched on the fact that there are different ways to sort and separate the different “buckets” of money. It’s essentially the way people categorize their money and how they think about their assets and income sources. Some researchers have narrowed these categories down into three main buckets: current income (paychecks), current assets (money used for current needs), and the future bucket for everything else, including retirement accounts.

What’s interesting, as the article explains, is that as humans we have feelings that often don’t line up with logic, or what is actually happening. Take, for instance, the fact that British researchers found when they looked at people’s happiness, the happiest were the ones with a comfortable amount of money in the first bucket, regardless of what was in the third bucket.

The goal for those people is to have cash on hand rather than savings for the future. Investing for retirement requires a different mindset when it comes to that third bucket. Interestingly, people with plenty of money in their retirement accounts will often stress in retirement because they don’t have that regular paycheck coming in to fill the first bucket. This is why it’s important to do the mental accounting.

Financial advisors will often focus heavily on investing in the retirement bucket, taking much of the importance off the money their clients have in a checking account. However, to appease that need to have a constant influx of cash to the checking account, advisors might recommend an annuity. Interestingly, the source quoted in Morningstar said less than one percent of people actually follow through with this advice.

One of the reasons people don’t adopt the annuity method is because if they do, they don’t really have the opportunity to improve their lifestyle from where it is right now, as it removes a lot of the flexibility of other investment accounts.

At Family Investment Center, we’re experts at helping people understand what they need to reach their goals. Investing for retirement, in all its complexities, is an important topic that deserves the attention of people who make it their life’s work. Contact us today and let’s start some mental accounting that will make you comfortable with your position today and in the future.

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Do You Have a Trusted Investment Advisor?

An Investment Advisor Can Help You Make Important Financial Decisions for Your Future

 

investment advisorWhat’s your opinion of investment advertising? Do you immediately turn away when you come across it? You may not even realize you’ve tuned it out, which is unfortunate because so many Americans need the assistance that an investment advisor can offer.

Dan Danford, founder/CEO of Family Investment Center, recently penned a column in The Kansas City Star that touches on this topic.

Danford says that while some Americans will only take the DIY approach to investing their money, the majority of us would benefit from enlisting the help of a trusted professional.

Some investors are loyal to one brand and will invest heavily in its stock. Perhaps it’s their workplace where they enjoyed a long career and from where they have retired. They sink everything they’ve got into the performance of that one company. But what if the company begins to fail? All those years of saving and investing are now in jeopardy. This is not an uncommon scenario and it’s one that could possibly be avoided with the help of a professional.

It’s likely that the people who get in these predicaments don’t know that they should implement a long-term plan where portions of the stock are liquidated, often in a tax-advantaged manner. That’s the advice Danford offered in his column.

The process of making investments for the future intimidates many Americans. If this is true for you, consider talking to an investment advisor about what you should do. There are a number of investment vehicles that suit the goals that are unique to every investor.

The thing is, people can maintain their loyalty as long as they diversify. It’s really all about risk abatement – making smart decisions by spreading the nest egg out over a number of different investments that carry various levels of risk, tailored to the individual investor’s risk tolerance, time horizon and goals.

Unfortunately, there are many consumer advocates out there that offer poor investment advice, including advice saying no one needs a professional to assist them in their DIY investment efforts. However, it’s unwise for the average person to attempt to tackle the many complexities involved in investing.

“While many people are capable of basic investment and finance decisions,” Danford said in his column, “suggesting that the average person tackle complex financial issues without professional help is like advising consumers to service their own cars. Given the proper training and experience, I suppose it’s an option, but how many people have the knowledge, inclination and time to perform such a complicated and potentially hazardous task?”

At Family Investment Center, clients quickly leave their intimidation behind them as they receive reassurance from our team of professionals. The process is complex, but it’s what we do day in and day out, and we know how to inform you in a way that will educate you and prepare you for the big decisions that need to be made about your financial future. So make an appointment with us and let’s talk about your goals.

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Investment Portfolio and Regulatory Reform

How Taxes Can Affect Your Investment Portfolio

 

There is so much going on in Washington D.C. these days that it’s tough to keep up. However, given the recent movement regarding regulatory reform, it might be a good time to stop following the news surrounding the current administration and look at your investment portfolio to how it might be affected.

The Trump administration is eyeing a three percent or better GDP, which Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said in May is achievable, but only if they make historic reforms to taxes and regulations. He also said he’s got a large group of people working on tax system reform while also making strides to undo the Dodd-Frank Act, which was put in place in 2010 in a response to the financial crisis that led to the Great Recession. It’s controversial and people are taking sides.

Mnuchin also said the administration is working to simplify personal taxes and make business taxes more competitive. The reforms Mnuchin talked about last month at a Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee hearing have some believing that if they are able to make these changes, corporate heavyweights could forge ahead with longer-term planning. Could this ease the uncertainty that causes a volatile stock market? The answer may be a resounding “yes” in the corporate world.

It’s also important to note that in 2015, Congress took the research and development tax credit, which had traditionally included sunsets that were frequently extended, and made it permanent. This means large companies, including those that are publicly traded, can more lay out their planning strategies and product development, which again, could lead to more stable performance on the stock market.

However, there might be a snag in the form of funding gaps for a few reasons. First, there is a move to rebuild infrastructure in the U.S. and keep the military the strongest in the world, which is expensive. At the same time, the aging population requires their entitlement programs, which means there will be a funding gap that must be dealt with. One possible solution is a border adjustment tax, which is being opposed by retailers who get a majority of their goods overseas or across borders.

All of this means that as an investor, you need to consider which companies will benefit from these changes, which will be hurt, and make sure your investment portfolio is set up to weather any storm. An investment advisor will tell you that fear and investing are two things that don’t mix well.

To really stay on top of these reforms, talk to your investment advisor about where your money is and if it should be adjusted to better reflect the positive changes that could result from taxation and reforms.

At Family Investment Center, we make it our duty to follow any change in public policy that impacts our clients’ investment portfolios. We welcome the chance to talk about these changes with our clients and offer strategies that will align with your goals and the current or impending reforms. Schedule an appointment with us today and let’s start planning your financial future.

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How Would You Rate Your Retirement Planning Abilities?

Don't Fall Behind (as most Americans do) on Retirement Planning

 

As much as Americans focus on money, it’s disarming to know how few are focused on their financial future. The American College of Financial Services, in its survey of respondents who are in retirement or nearing it, found that close to 75 percent failed their quiz regarding retirement planning.

Americans are living longer, which means that if you stop working at age 65, you’re no longer planning for a ten-year period where you’re not earning an income – it’s likely much longer and you need to carefully plan for the decade-plus of no income other than what’s been put in retirement savings.

Only six in every 100 people were able to “ace” the quiz, implying that they are well-prepared for their retirement years. Almost 66 percent of the people quizzed reported that they had high levels of self-knowledge regarding retirement planning, which means that in actuality, they are unaware of their real financial situation as it relates to retiring comfortably.

As with any survey, differences in demographics were revealed in the retirement survey. For example, around 35 percent of males passed the quiz compared to 17 percent of females. This is particularly disturbing given the fact that women, on average, live longer than their male counterparts, which means their retirement planning acumen needs to be on point.

Another demographic difference showed that those with higher levels of education and wealth were more likely to be prepared for retirement. People with one million dollars or more in assets were 250 percent more likely to pass the test than those with less than one million. Furthermore, only nine percent of those without a college degree passed the quiz.

The caveat here is that people who can pass a financial literacy quiz are better planners and are better prepared to meet the challenges that can occur in retirement. And while it is evident that some demographics fair better than others, it doesn’t have to be a barrier to financial preparedness in retirement. All that is needed is a trusted advisor who can assist you in developing a sound retirement plan, and your ability to stick to that plan.

When you seek out an investment advisor, you should choose a trusted, experienced professional that can offer objective and non-conflicted advice. The best way to avoid conflict is to seek out a fiduciary, because a fiduciary must act in what they believe to be your best interests. Rather than work toward boosting their income by choosing products that give them a commission, many are fee-only advisors, which means they have no reason to offer something to you that doesn’t fit your goals.

At Family Investment Center, we have always operated as fiduciaries. Our goal is to get you to think about your goals for retirement and find ways to make sure you reach those goals. Contact us today and let’s start planning your own freedom tour.

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How Does the Fiduciary Rule Affect How You Plan for Retirement?

Hint: The Fiduciary Rule is Set to Protect Investors

 

After a delay by the Department of Labor in calling into action a new fiduciary rule, investors need to know that it is now in effect and could affect the way they plan for retirement.

Investors currently have nearly $8 trillion in IRAs, and the new rule looks to protect that money. This almost did not come through as the new executive administration called for the Department of  Labor (DOL) to review regulations and prepare an updated analysis regarding economics and legal areas surrounding this rule, which covers IRAs and 401(k)s. The administration also sought public input regarding new exemptions or changes to the regulatory portion of the rule.

However, as of June 9, 2017, the rule is in effect. So, what does this mean, exactly, for the everyday investor? First and foremost, the rule seeks to protect investors from getting conflicted advice from financial advisors. Brokers and investment advisors are now required to act as fiduciaries, putting their clients’ best interests first.

All financial advisors will be required to comply with the rule’s impartial conduct standard, which should help protect billions of dollars worth of investments. According to a 2015 report from the White House, that’s how much is at risk with conflicted advice from advisors who have something personal to gain from selling various products.

The response from the industry has been everywhere from panic to acceptance. Many firms make a lot of money off their former business model, which involved taking commissions on various products they sold to investors. For example, many have adopted new models that involve mutual funds that exclude various fees.

Does this mean that all investors are no longer going to be subjected to investment advice more motivated by profit for the advisor than for themselves? It does not. Investors need to take a little time and look into who is managing their finances. The first question they should ask of prospective advisors is if they are a fiduciary.


Ask them how they are paid for the work they do for you. Are they taking an hourly fee or just a percentage based on your overall portfolio? You need to make sure they’re not taking a commission, or you could be one of the many who are receiving conflicted advice that costs you money.

At Family Investment Center, we have operated as a fiduciary from day one. Our relationships have always been on solid footing because our clients come first, not commissions. When our clients do well, so do we. Let’s start planning your financial future in our truly commission-free and client-focused environment.

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Want Out? Investing Strategies for Early Retirement

Retiring Early Requires the Right Mix of Investing Strategies and Diversification

 

Do you dream of an early retirement?  If you want to get out of the workforce before the traditionally targeted age of 65, your investing strategies may need to be adjusted. It may seem simple, but a quick reminder can be very beneficial. Here are some important steps to take:

Get Involved Early
It’s an overused saying but it is true: the best time to start saving is yesterday; the second-best time to start getting serious about investing for your future is today. If you want to retire early, you need to start planning as early as possible, which is why Millennials should consider strategies now that will put them in a position to make that early retirement decision in a couple of decades. The sooner you begin saving, the more compounding you’ll have working in your favor later.

If you’re making up for lost time, don’t worry – you’re not alone. Many investors pick up the intensity of their investments in mid-life. It’s important to start where you are and move forward consistently.

Establish Solid Goals
If you’re in your mid-to-late 20s, your vision of the future is likely going to alter by the time you’re in your late 30s. That’s fine, but establish your goals for retirement now so you have a plan to guide your investing strategies.

“Where should I put my money?” It’s an appropriate question, and most investment advisors will point to an IRA and an employer-matching 401(k) as excellent vehicles for early retirement. Talk to your investment advisor about diversifying your investments in a variety of types, as this will give you the best chance at growth, especially when the market is volatile.

Keep an Eye on Taxes
Being tax-efficient in your investing strategies is important for an early retirement. For instance, tax-deferred savings vehicles like 401(k)s and IRAs can help you boost your savings. If your employer offers a match on your 401(k) contributions, you're going to see your savings grow more quickly.

Healthcare Can Get Expensive
This is an area of retirement planning that you may not have thought about – your health. Maybe you haven’t been to a doctor in 15 years and any sickness you’ve had has been managed from home. Unfortunately, you’re likely going to be visiting your family practitioner more often when you hit your golden years, which will increase your cost for healthcare.

Even though you may not have medical problems now, you need to budget for costs related to healthcare because your medical issues can wipe out your savings if you’re not prepared.

At Family Investment Center, we’ve established many investing strategies for our clients who want to retire early. Every situation is different and requires a customized approach, which is why you should come in and talk to us about your retirement goals. We’ll help put you on a path where an early and comfortable retirement may actually be attainable.

 

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Do it Yourself or Investment Advisor? Outcomes Improve With Professional Advice

The Benefits of Having an Investment Advisor on Your Side

 

Taking the DIY approach can be a fiscally responsible and perfectly acceptable way of approaching a variety of projects. But when the project is complex and requires a great deal of skill to pull off, it is valuable to bring in a professional. When it comes to retirement planning or building up investments for other things in life, taking the DIY route is risky. Working with an investment advisor can ensure you have all the right information you need for your investment planning.

Dan Danford, a frequent contributor to Investopedia, writes in a new column about the joys of the do-it-yourself process and the realities of the complex investment planning that requires a professional investment advisor. Using the analogy of lawn maintenance, Danford dives into the DIY vs. hiring a professional lawn service approach.

“If you want a lawn to look nice and enhance the value of your home,” Danford said, “you can do-it-yourself or you can hire a lawn service. Either approach can create stunning results, but that’s where the similarities end.”

Danford argues that to take care of your lawn, you must purchase all the necessary tools and know how to use them if you want to see a greener lawn. A mower, irrigation system or hoses, fertilizer, grass seed, organic applications, nutrients, blower, spreader, etc. – these are the tools that will cost you a lot of money, not to mention the man hours you have to put in, to make that lawn lush and green.

Granted, some people really enjoy the process of caring for their lawn. Perhaps they find it meditative or an activity shared by the family. And the results are satisfying, if they’ve done it right. The risk is that if you make a mistake, it could take years for the lawn to recover, just as it would if you make a DIY investment mistake.

When you hire a professional lawn service, it “requires less personal attention,” Danford said. “They just show up when something needs doing and they take care of it. They own and maintain the equipment, provide supplies and hire the required labor.”

The investment business offers similar parallels. A full discretionary investment management service offers many more tiers of options than a DIY investor can gain access to. You can spend time and money on the necessary tools to make an investment plan, and perhaps come up with a solid one, but the money (fees) you put toward an investment advisor who does this full time can offer more promising results.

 

“Many investors would be far ahead to let professionals do their heavy lifting,” Danford said. “A green thumb – in lawns or money – grows ever greener with quality professional help.

Danford and his team at Family Investment Center have the tools required to assist you in your investments. They will discuss your options with you and assist you in making fact-driven decisions regarding your financial future.

 

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Conflicted Advice and the Fiduciary Rule

Safeguarding Investors Should be Mandatory

 

The Department of Labor (DOL) is taking a close look at the fiduciary rule as opposing sides are heating up their banter. On one side, people argue that the rule has prompted many frivolous lawsuits against brokers whose clients believe they breached their fiduciary duty. On the other, proponents say the rule protects investors from conflicted investment advice.

Will the increase in litigation cause the cost of advice to go up? That’s something the DOL will be looking at. Also, regulators want to look into any abuse upon sponsors of defined contribution plans.

While the rule is focused on making sure those who want to offer conflicted advice have a disincentive to do so, President Trump signed an executive order to review and perhaps rescind the fiduciary rule, which went into effect in April.

Before the rule went into effect, a financial advisor who is also a registered broker was only supposed to recommend investments that were “roughly suitable” for their clients. This means that if one fund would offer that advisor a better commission, they were more inclined to offer it to you, regardless of how it would fit your investment planning.

The rule took several years to develop, but it has some flaws, including the fact that advisors have found some ways to work around the rule. Regardless of weak areas, it’s estimated that without the rule, investors were losing close to $17 billion a year due to conflicted advice.

Some in the industry are saying the DOL will find that litigation has increased, which means it could be rescinded. Others, however, believe the DOL will recommend adjustments to the rule, not a full rescinding.

Dan Danford, founder/CEO of Family Investment Center, said as a fiduciary, he and his staff want to put all the information out that they can so their investors are safeguarded. For instance, over a 30-year period, investors seeking advice that turns out to be conflicted see a 12 percent loss in potential growth. That’s not something a fiduciary will find acceptable. Founding the Family Investment Center in 1989, Danford opened his doors as a fiduciary, which was rare at that time.

The best choice, regardless of what the DOL does or doesn’t do with the fiduciary rule, is to seek out a fee-only advisor. These are licensed professionals who don’t take commissions. Furthermore and perhaps more importantly, they’re only looking out for the best interests of their clients.

When you come to us at Family Investment Center, we’ll not only act in your best interests, we’ll walk you through everything you need to know about your specific investment planning strategy.

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America’s Favorite Pastime and Your Investment Portfolio

How Baseball Can Help You Know How to Approach Your Investment Portfolio

 

Warren Buffet, the “Oracle of Omaha,” has a reputation for being a great admirer of America’s pastime – baseball. So when he gives out investment advice, he likes to use a few baseball analogies. As baseball season is in full “swing,” take a look at some of these baseball parallels as they serve as a reminder of how to approach your investment portfolio.

“What’s nice about investing is that you don’t have to swing at pitches,” says Buffet. This is a good rule to follow, as many pitches offered by those who are selling products might often come with too much risk attached, and little to no insight into those risks. Buffet advises that investors only swing at the pitches that are right for them.

Buffet also says that in baseball, when one wants to score runs, they have to watch the playing field, not the scoreboard. He is a consummate student of what’s going on around him and only jumps at investments that have a long history of stable earnings. Investors who are planning their strategy would be wise to do the same – think long term and for the future, not of long shots meant to achieve short-term gains.

The Financial Post also jumped on the baseball analogy bandwagon, offering up the idea that a really strong baseball team will be proficient in pitching and batting, and they’ll have speed, excellent defense and a winning culture in the clubhouse. However, rarely are all of these components firing at the same time.

The same is true of a strong investment portfolio – you’ll have your money spread across many different products, from stocks to bonds and other investments. They all have different levels of risk, but while one is performing poorly, others may be bolstering the bottom line.

The New York Yankees have been notorious for paying big money for players who are no longer worth the large contract? The same could be said of investments people make on products that were once starlets, but have their good days behind them. The best scenario is to acquire them while they are on the rise but still at a low price.

Smart baseball managers won’t hold on to an under-performing player just because they overpaid for him. Similarly, smart investors won’t hold on to an investment just because they overpaid for it. Eat the mistake, learn from it and move on so your investment portfolio has a chance to grow.

Playing baseball at a high altitude is different from playing ball at sea level. The air is thin, which means batters can really let it fly. That’s why Denver’s team looks for batters who can consistently get the ball in the air. They also look for pitchers who can keep the ball low so as not to allow their competition to hit fly balls. They plan for their environment, which is what investors should do.

Every environment is different, which is why every investment portfolio has to account for these differences. When you talk to your investment advisor, they will look at your individual goals, your financial situation, and help you make the right choices to help you reach your goals.

We’re baseball fans at Family Investment Center, but we’re also huge advocates for smart investing. Let us assist you in building a strong investment portfolio for you. Contact us today and let’s talk about how we can improve your situation.

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Retirement Planning Means Having a “Financial Purpose”

How Establishing Goals Can Improve Your Retirement Planning Strategies

 

Retirement planning should really be about planning with a purpose in mind. Many people avoid this crucial planning stage because the numbers confuse them and the whole process may seem daunting. However, money is more than a number; when you attach a goal to it, the planning process become less confusing.

Rather than thinking about dollars, try thinking about what you want your wealth to do for you in retirement. And remember – your goals will probably change, even in your golden years, which means you have to be flexible in your planning.

In fact, a recent Kiplinger article titled “To Make a Financial Plan, You Need a Financial Purpose” reminds readers of key questions to ask now, and to revisit often. As you embark on retirement planning goals, keep the following questions in mind:

·         Which relationships are important enough that you will be willing to provide (financially) for them?

·         Do you have health concerns?

·         What lifestyle do you envision in retirement?

·         What is your idea of a happy and healthy retirement?

·         What hobbies would you like to pursue in retirement?


Answering these questions will help you round out more concrete ideas of what your future will look like and also give you an idea of how much money you will need in retirement. Here are some other questions to explore:

What will you do in retirement? Everyone has different ideas about that, which is why every plan has to be just as unique. For instance, do you plan to continue working part time into your 70s? If the answer is yes, your planning will differ from the person who plans to never work again after the day they retire. Do you want to travel extensively or just stay local and enjoy your family and friends? Again, the traveler will have to make extra room in their budget for the expense of traveling.

When will you quit your career? Do you have a set date that you’ve been looking forward to for years, or are you going to step down when you have saved enough money to retire and have enough for the goals you’ve set for yourself during those years?

 

Where you plan to retire will also have an impact in how you plan your investments. Are you planning to downsize your current living situation or upgrade to something less modest? Maybe you want to move to a different city in a different state or live with nearby family. The way you answer the question of “where” will also change how you approach your investments.

Getting an objective viewpoint from a qualified professional can go a long way in making the decisions that will put you on the road to reaching your goals. An investment advisor has the expertise to help you invest money in a way that is as unique as your goals. However, be sure to seek out the assistance of a fiduciary. When your investment advisor operates as a fiduciary, they will work for your best interests, not theirs. Instead of pushing products that pay them a commission, a fiduciary will only make recommendations that match your goals.

At Family Investment Center, we’ve looked out for our clients’ best interests since day one. We’ll listen to your plans for retirement and help you choose investments that provide you with confidence toward your future.

 

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Survey Shows What Americans Have to Say About Working With an Investment Advisor

Those Working With an Investment Advisor Have a Better Understanding of Financial Terms and Concepts

 

When it comes to working with an investment advisor, many Americans say that they feel they don’t need to work with an advisor. Getting to the reasons behind this decision, respondents in a recent survey from Plan Adviser were asked why they preferred not to work with an investment advisor and 44 percent responded that their assets didn’t warrant any planning.

 

Among the respondents that reported not having enough assets to bother with an investment advisor, 28 percent had an income of at least $75,000 a year. These individuals could see many benefits by working with an advisor and planning for their financial future.

 

Overall, those Americans that reported working with an investment advisor were more comfortable with their understanding of financial terms, including “long-term care insurance”, “Roth IRAs,” and “annuities.” Among those respondents that were working with an investment advisor, there was a high rate of confidence that they understood these terms, at a rate of 41 percent, 69 percent and 49 percent, respectively.

 

For those not working with an investment advisor, there was a significantly lower level of comfort with financial terms. Using those same terms, only 31 percent felt confident they understood the term “long-term care insurance,” 42 percent understood “Roth IRAs” and 28 percent understood “annuities.”

 

Of those who did not have an investment advisor, the reasons were varied. As noted above, many didn’t feel that they had the kinds of assets that warrant seeking out a professional opinion. Still others said they preferred to manage their own finances (38 percent) or felt that an investment advisor would cost too much (36 percent). Some don’t know what kind of professional to hire (14 percent) or don’t understand the value of engaging these types of services (10 percent).

 

Yet in addition to the value of having an investment advisor help you plan for your future and work with you in creating a strategic investment plan, working with an investment advisor positively affects other aspects of your financial life outside of your investment or retirement planning. For instance, those that hired an investment advisor were also more likely to have an emergency fund and a retirement plan. Seventy-seven percent of those working with an investment advisor had an emergency fund or a retirement plan, versus 46 percent of those that had never worked with an investment advisor.

 

If you’re looking for ways to take some of the guesswork and the emotions out of your investment future, make an appointment with an advisor at Family Investment Center. We can take a look at your current financial picture and help you develop a plan in a client-first, commission-free setting.

 

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What is the Outlook on 401(k) Investing in America?

401(k) Investing is a Valuable Tool, Yet Underutilized

 

One of the most widely overlooked investment vehicles today is the 401(k). Surprisingly, two-thirds of all Americans don’t contribute at all in a 401(k) or other retirement account available through their workplace, and that number could shift even more if Congress stops auto-enrollment. 401(k) investing is a remarkable tool, yet often overlooked as an important part of planning for retirement.

According to tax records gathered during the most recent U.S. census, only 14 percent of employers offer a company-sponsored 401(k) plan. However, the majority of Americans work for larger companies which do offer these plans. Ben Steverman covers this topic in a Bloomberg article this year, saying bigger companies are the most likely candidates for offering a 401(k) plan and around 79 percent of Americans work for large companies.

“Four out of five workers are employed by companies that offer a 401(k) or similar plan, but many workers aren’t using them - either because they’re not eligible or because they aren’t signing up,” Steverman says.

These workplace plans create an environment where employees can build up their investments on a tax-advantaged basis. Unfortunately, too many Americans feel that it’s not worth the effort to get involved, probably because in order to get the most out of the plan, the money is tied up for a span of time and a penalty is assessed if the employee withdraws from it early.

Another possible reason for why so many workers aren’t getting involved in 401(k) investing is because they’re not willing to send incremental dollars to a long-term retirement plan, especially those who earn low wages.

People who change jobs often or who work part-time are also less likely to be eligible to participate in a workplace retirement plan. Many companies require employees to work for months or a year before they become eligible to participate in a plan, thus complicating the issue further.

Making investment decisions is difficult for many people. They’re intimidated by the choices that have to be made, so they don’t make any choices. Also, the cost of many plans can be high, which has been widely scrutinized in the media, drawing even more negative feelings out of workers, further complicating their savings plans.

Many companies that offer a 401(k) plan will automatically enroll their workers, as it costs the worker nothing. However, Wall Street believes this practice creates an unfair advantage against the products they sell. Unfortunately, Wall Street has the ear of many lawmakers in the Capitol, which is why there is a real threat that auto-enrollment could be wiped out.

At Family Investment Center, we can assist you in overcoming any fear, intimidation, or trepidation about investing your hard-earned money. Contact us today and let’s discuss your financial goals and how to accomplish them.

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Everyday Investments: An Interview With Dan Danford, CEO, Family Investment Center

Maybe the New York Stock Exchange comes to mind when you think of investing and investments. But you’re faced with investment decisions every day. Being aware of these choices can ease worries and help lay the groundwork for a profitable future.

 

Dan Danford, chief executive officer of Family Investment Center in St. Joseph, offers these tips:

 

  • Be mindful about money. You’re faced with hundreds of decisions every week. Don’t automatically respond. Think it over first.
  • Make wise buying decisions. Look for the differences between price and value in making a purchase.
  • Make wise use of any debt. Some things are good to finance, while others are terrible. Buying a house at three or four percent interest is a good investment.
  • Keep track of net worth. Make a list of what is owned and what is owed for tracking purposes. It’s easy to do on a monthly basis.
  • Credit cards should be used for convenience alone. Pay off cards at the end of each month.
  • Use tax-savings vehicles, like college savings plans for students or retirement plans, as much as possible.
  • Keep learning. There are nuggets that can be picked up by reading. The lessons parents learned may not necessarily apply today. Many innovations are being created daily.
  • Ensure that student loans are in sync with career opportunities. Make automatic arrangements to make monthly payments.
  • Stay healthy. It’s a whole lot cheaper to belong to a health club than seeing a doctor all the time.
  • Choose the right mate. What your mate does for a living can have a huge influence on your finances.


Ray Scherer - St. Joseph News Press / Tomfoolery Magazine

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Do You Need Investment Advice for a Tax Refund? (Or Any Windfall?)

Investment Advice for Making the Most of Your Tax Refund

 

You’ve likely already received a nice refund on your tax return. If you’re like most people, your wheels have started turning. Do you add a few days onto your summer vacation or finally splurge on that new furniture you’ve been eyeing? Few want to consider investment advice that starts with not spending your entire refund, but you may find that you’re happier in the long run investing into a solid retirement fund.

 

There’s more than one way to invest, though, and it is important to carefully think about your options before you plan your strategy for handling a small windfall that comes in the form of a tax refund.

 

Why would you want to think about investing some of your refund, rather than spending it all on entertainment, luxury items or home improvement? The average refund enjoyed by Americans is $3,000, an amount that may seem perfect for a good, guilt-free splurge. It’s sizable, but not life-changing, so it may be easy to justify buying yourself a treat.

 

However, with the average rate of return that the stock market delivers, you could potentially turn $3,000 into $50,000 in 30 years because investment growth and compounding interest.

 

You could choose from an index, like the S&P 500 or the Dow, but you can also invest in a mix of blue-chip stocks and enjoy solid returns over the course of your investment time. What matters most, of course, is that you don’t go out and spend all of your refund, but invest a portion instead.

 

At Family Investment Center, Dan Danford, CEO, has a three-part strategy for making the most of your tax refund, or any other small fortune that comes your way. Take a look at these steps for what could be a more satisfying approach to tax refunds:

 

Blow it: Whether it’s a weekend trip or a great pair of shoes, you should get to spend part of your refund on something that improves your quality of life. Making memories and enjoying a treat are great ways to invest in your satisfaction. Danford believes that many financial plans fail simply because they fail to include some joy and some fun into the mix.

 

Mow it: Part of your refund should go to maintenance that protects your investments, such as your home or your car. Maybe you have a leaky roof or a fence that needs repaired, or maybe you need to upgrade to a vehicle that is more reliable. These are also important ways to spend your money and are a good option for a portion of your refund.

 

Grow it: Take part of your refund and invest it in your retirement savings or a college fund. Even a small amount invested will multiply over time and can yield impressive growth. Don’t limit your investments to traditional accounts, though. Danford suggests that taxpayers receiving a refund also consider investments that could further their career, like a college class, or experiences that might widen their horizons.

 

A balanced approach to investing is always best, and we believe that you’ll have the most satisfying results if you get to enjoy spending some of your money and enjoy watching some of it multiply over time. Make an appointment with us today at Family Investment Center. We welcome you to enjoy jargon-free but experience-based conversation around our table.

 

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Retirement Planning: Your Strategy Should be Unique to You

Avoid Retirement Planning Missteps and Plan Your Exclusive Freedom Tour

 

 

If you’re intimidated by retirement planning, you share a similarity with a great many Americans. However, this intimidation leads to the first big mistake – not planning at all.

“I’ll get to my planning for retirement later,” many people say to themselves. You may think you’ve got decades ahead of you before you have to start worrying about it. Don’t fall victim to this thinking.

Another mistake many people make in retirement planning is that they have a faulty vision of what they’ll be able to spend in retirement. A survey conducted by Fidelity Investments reveals that more than 10 percent of Baby Boomers think they can withdraw 10 to 12 percent of their income on an annual basis. Following that line of thinking can drain a retirement account within a decade.


Everyone’s vision of retirement is unique, as are the strategies one must use to plan for their retirement. A common denominator in all scenarios is that an accurate forecast for retirement relies on how old you are today, how much money you’re saving and how you’re investing it.

This means that if two people have the same vision of living on a golf course in Arizona during retirement, they could have vastly different prospects for reaching that goal. If one of them has a few thousand dollars in the bank while the other has hundreds of thousands, the retirement planning is going to be just as disparate.

To get into the right mindset for reasonable retirement expectations, you have to stop thinking about retirement as a single event; it’s actually a long, extensive event. There are 70,000 people in America right now who have reached the age of 100. Not many of them will tell you they thought they’d reach that milestone.

Think of your retirement as a freedom tour, a series of events that you are free to choose to do during your years of retirement. Here are a few tips for a successful retirement freedom tour:

 

·         Think about your retirement in terms of a theme or idea

·         It takes expertise to plan this theme, which some might consider a “tour”

·         Planning for the tour begins months before the excursion takes off

·         All stops along the way are planned

·         There will be emergency stops, so have money set aside for them (think medical emergencies)

·         Working together with family and investment advisors provides for a smoother tour


The snapshot of your tour is going to differ from others’ snapshots, which means you can’t rely on someone else’s investment strategy to make yours become a reality. Work with an investment advisor to make sure you’re not making mistakes that could keep you from enjoying retirement.

At Family Investment Center, we love assisting our clients in retirement planning. In fact, we form relationships that have followed through to the next generation of our clients’ families. Let us help you plan your tour.

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3 Ways Your Mind Tricks You Out of Building Wealth

Solid Strategies for Building Wealth ... Avoid These Mental Pitfalls

 

Careful and diligent planning over time is a reliable strategy for building wealth, but did you know that your mind may be working against you and your long-term plans? There are a number of mistakes that people make in their financial decisions that can throw off their wealth strategies. Here’s a quick guide to ways that your mind can trick you into making poor financial decisions:

 

Anchoring: Don’t fall into the trap of relying too much on the first piece of information you learn about something. For instance, pretend you are interested in hiring a housecleaning service and you begin to call around to check rates. The first company you call quotes you $75 per hour. The second company gives you a rate of $90 per hour.

 

You may dismiss the second company because they are charging $15 more per hour and go with the first company instead. In fact, though, the going rate in your community is $60 per hour, but you overpaid because of the anchoring fallacy.

 

How do you get past anchoring if you don’t have endless hours to call cleaning companies and compare every rate out there? Some experts recommend that, instead of trying to get a true average rate, you estimate how many hours you’d have to work to cover the cost of a service or product, or what else you will have to give up to purchase it. This might help you get a truer sense of your cost.

 

One particularly strong anchor in investing is a stock’s price. Investors tend to keep their purchase price at the forefront when making trading decisions. For example, if you buy a stock at $10 per share and it’s currently trading at $8 per share, you may hesitate selling the stock because it’s lower than your initial purchase price. But what if the stock was overvalued when you bought it? Anchoring is often responsible for investors selling winners too soon or holding losers for too long.

 

Availability Heuristic: In this financial misstep, you pay more attention to more publicized events over those that are most likely to actually happen. For instance, you may have an outsized anticipation of winning the lottery because instances of lottery winners shown on the news stand out in your mind.

 

This concept carries over to other areas in life, too. You may have sweated a little on a trans-Atlantic flight, but probably not on your drive to the grocery store. Despite the fact that traffic accidents are far more likely than a plane crash, you brain latches on to news stories you’ve seen about flights that ended in crisis.

 

Likewise, an investor tends to overreact to the “talking heads” on the radio or television who warn of doom and gloom in the markets.

 

Hedonic Adaptation: When you purchase something new, you often feel a rush of satisfaction and excitement. In some cases, such as with a new car or a dream home, you may feel unable to contain yourself as you bask in the glow of acquisition. Even a new pair of shoes or a weekend trip can make you feel like you could never ask for anything more.

 

The trouble is, you always do, and it’s keeping you from building wealth. The hedonic adaptation principle says that no acquisition is capable of satisfying you forever. What’s more, you become less willing to go back to your previous lifestyle, even though your new purchase isn’t satisfying you like it did when it was new.

Overconfidence: Overestimating your own ability, at choosing investments, for example, can be detrimental to your financial strategy. If you don’t have the time, expertise and experience to handle an investment portfolio, consider hiring an investment advisor to help.

 

Hindsight: We’ve all heard it: “hindsight is 20/20.”  When analyzing past events, it’s easy to hinge on information that hadn’t been available at the time, believing that the event was predictable (and perhaps preventable) when it really wasn’t. For example, after a stock market crash, you suddenly think of many reasons why youshould have adjusted your portfolio more conservatively, when in reality, there was no way of knowing it was coming. (Interestingly, hindsight can lead to overconfidence, as well.)

 

Building wealth over time takes a lot of discipline, but it also takes an awareness of the tricks your mind might play on you as you make financial decisions. No matter how solid your wealth strategies are, be careful that you aren’t derailing your goals by buying into these fallacies.

 

To learn more practical ways to think about building wealth, make an appointment to talk with the advisors at Family Investment Center. Always commission-free and client-focused, we help you develop strategies that are clear-minded and designed to help you plan for a solid future.

 

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The DIY Investing Mistake: Are You Relying on “Vacuum Investing” or “Soapbox Time?”

Dan Danford Explains 5 Surprising Investing Myths in “Money is Freedom” Podcast Episode

 

Much of our financial knowledge comes from trusted sources – friends, coworkers, colleagues, family members. But a lot of this information requires a serious update. In fact, it may be holding you back from the success you want.

Today, ask yourself this:  Are you believing the five common myths (mistakes) about DIY money management? These mistakes include relying on the “special knowledge trap,” “soapbox time” and “vacuum investing.”

Listen to this brief, jargon-free and value-packed podcast today. It might change your thoughts on DIY investing, and, more importantly, it might change your future.
 

Listen to the “DIY Mistake” here on Sound Cloud:
https://soundcloud.com/money-is-freedom/the-do-it-yourself-mistake

Listen to Dan Danford on “Money is Freedom” on iTunes.

 

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Investing for Women: More Female Millionaires Working With Advisors

Recent Numbers on Investing for Women Show Increasing “Clout”

 

investing for womenThe numbers of male clients to female clients at investment firms began to even out during 2016, says a recent CNBC article. Why? Because the number of women who have reached millionaire status is also climbing. In fact, it’s believed that in the next 13 to 15 years, as much as 66 percent of wealth in the U.S. will be owned by women.  How do these numbers affect investing for women?

According to the article titled “For Women, Retirement Can Be a Serious Challenge,” wealthy women are emerging now in stronger numbers. Approximately 45 percent of millionaires in the U.S. are female, says the article. During the next 14 to 15 years, females will be responsible for at least 66 percent of the country’s wealth. As a reflection of these numbers, it’s no surprise that women are currently the chief money makers in nearly half of U.S. households.

What’s the Challenge?
The numbers are encouraging, yet unique challenges remain for women in investing. As of 2015, women earned roughly 80 percent of what men were paid. This means when retirement comes around, women will draw less in Social Security benefits.

Many women choose to shift focus away from their careers during top-earning years to turn more attention to raising children, meaning less money goes into their retirement accounts. Some work part-time for a season to raise their families, which often makes them ineligible for employer-sponsored  retirement programs.

In addition, with 63 million women earning wages today, only 45 percent are enrolled in retirement savings accounts. Of those that are enrolled, they average 50 percent less in their accounts than their male counterparts.

Another challenge, say experts, is that women who reach the age of 65 will live, on average, another 20.5 years. This means many of them will need more money in their retirement accounts than anticipated to live comfortably. Ultimately, too many women may be underfunded in their retirement accounts.

Addressing the Challenges
Investments can be a challenge, even for those who consider studying financial and investment news an enjoyable hobby. That’s why bringing an advisor into the plan can create a number of advantages.

An advisor can put together a plan considering all your information, including your insurance policies, your tax returns and banking records, information about mortgages and loans and all the investment records on your retirement accounts. Your advisor will help you create a strategy, which includes prioritizing expenses in categories such as wants and needs. This will help you devise a savings plan that matches your goals for retirement.

If debt is a concern, an advisor can assist you here as well. You might be surprised to learn that some debt can actually be used as leverage to increase your success. Contrary to some popular thought, not all debt is a hindrance to reaching your goals.

One of the most important things a good investment advisor will do is help you establish your goals and an investment plan that will help you reach those goals – despite media headlines, emotions and market shifts.

A final note:  When you look for an advisor, find one that operates as a fiduciary. When you partner with a fiduciary, you have an advisor that puts your interests first. Also, a “fee-only” advisor will never take a commission on an investment they recommend. This is how Family Investment Center has operated from the start. Contact us today and find out more about what makes us so unique.

 

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Keeping an Eye on Fees in Portfolio Management

Do You Know What to Look for in Portfolio Management Fees?

 

portfolio managementThe Beatles said in their hit song, “Money,” that the “best things in life are free,” and they definitely have a point. However, when it comes to managing your money, paying fees to a portfolio management professional can help that money grow, and it’s certainly worth it.

However, due to industry complexities and varying degrees of customer “service,” investment management fees can often be obscure. This can lead to mistrust and poor decisions on behalf of the investors. While the most trustworthy investment advisors use fee structures that are completely transparent, following the tips in a “fee triangle” can assist you in understanding exactly what you’re paying for.

Don't be the victim of unfair or elevated pricing schemes. You can avoid this by shining the light in the right places.

Layer 1
The first layer of fees is often tied to local investment management fees. This is usually a percentage of the portfolio size, AKA assets under management or AUM. Your investment advisor, broker, bank, or trust company or department will charge this first layer of fees.

Layer 2
Portfolio manager fees are the second layer, and although they’re the most common, they’re often less obvious. These are fees that the underlying managers of the mutual funds, hedge funds, exchange traded funds, unit trusts, REITs and other managed products charge to manage the fund. It’s how the manager of the underlying investment is paid.  Although it’s difficult to rid your portfolio of these altogether (unless you buy only individual stocks), your advisor should aim to find investments that minimize your expenses while maximizing your investment potential.  

Layer 3
Transaction fees are the most insidious of all these fees, which are often hidden from you in trades. For instance, if you buy a thousand shares of stock, a trade fee or commission may be paid on that trade, which should be reported on a trade confirmation. However, you may not see it if your custodian reports the trade at “net” prices. Even scarier is that there is often a huge disparity among the level of transaction fees that are charged to clients.

Not all investment portfolios will include all three fees. Some might only have one or two. A stockbroker might have a recommendation for you, and if you follow through on that, they will take their payment through a commission. If a mutual fund is recommended, there could be a sales commission involved, as well as ongoing portfolio manager fees, which means you could be getting hit with all three layers of fees.

Remember - it’s the total fees that matter to performance, not the particular fee scheme. Investment performance should be tied to broad market averages, not individual stocks and bonds. There are too many instances out there today where investors are getting hammered by layered fees, most often in the hidden fees.

At Family Investment Center, we remain totally transparent about our fee structure and communicate it clearly. We never take a commission – the only way we get paid is through a percentage of assets under management. That way, there’s a direct incentive for us to keep clients’ expenses low and their balances growing over time. We follow core investment principles and practices that go above and beyond the definition of a fiduciary. Contact us today and let’s discuss how we approach portfolio management differently.

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Can Investment Advisors Really Help You Utilize Investment Tools Wisely?

Why Fiduciaries are Looking Out for Your Investments … and Your Future

 

Money. It’s a lot of things, but most importantly, it’s a tool. When it comes to investments, money is a tool that helps people reach their goals. Maybe that goal is to have freedom in retirement, or to go to school, or to travel. Perhaps money is the tool that assists a family legacy. Regardless of the goal, making smart investment decisions can leverage your tools and make those goals a reality.

The investment process can be made difficult by the massive volume of information available today through sources that include television, books, magazines and the Internet. Sorting through all of it can lead to confusion andpoor decision making that can have a negative impact on investments and end goals, which is why it truly pays to have an expert on your side in the form of a fiduciary.

A good investment advisor will explain these complexities in layers, presenting the easiest-to-absorb information first. Some investors are more comfortable taking a hands-off approach and letting their advisor take control. Others have a more vested interest and want to drill down on specifics, which often require a custom dashboard that simplifies the important and complex points.

Dan Danford, CEO of Family Investment Center, is often quoted as saying his firm can provide as much depth as a client wants.

“I’m glad to answer questions and provide detail,” Danford said. “However, just because we follow all the details doesn’t mean clients need or want all that information to get to their goals. We tailor our conversations toward each individual’s preferences. A fiduciary can follow a client’s path through life; looking out for their best interests and helping them achieve their goals along the way.”

For an investment advisor operating as a fiduciary, these end goals might include establishing a fund for a child’s college account, for example. Ultimately, the child graduates from college utilizing that fund, and go on to establish a career and perhaps even begins to save for their own child’s college fund.


Danford says investment advisors feel a special kind of attachment when their client reaches their goals. The relationship that a good investment advisory team forms with a client and their family can span for years – and is often marked by life events and milestones along the journey.

“There is a wonderful sense of friendship and camaraderie among our team and the clients we help,” he says. “In that regard, our clients’ stories, their phone calls, or visits to our office remind us that we are creating brighter futures for families each day.”

Additionally, Danford seeks to remind investors that fiduciaries offer their services based on fees only -  not commissions. This allows them to truly focus on the outcomes of the client’s portfolio, rather than their own benefit. This is especially important today when pending national industry changes mean many firms will say they are client-focused  - but may not have true experience in this area. (Note: A 2015 report from the White House and Department of Labor indicates investors lose roughly $17 billion a year due to brokers offering conflicted advice. Read more about the report here.)

 

At Family Investment Center, we have always operated as a fiduciary and always in a commission-free, jargon-free and client-focused setting. Schedule a meeting with us today.

 

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Are There Really Rules for Building Smart Investment Strategies?

Focusing on Investment Strategies

Feel like it’s too late to start on your investment future? Think again. There’s no hard and fast rule set on exactly when to start or build up your investment strategies.  Although getting an earlier start reaps better results over the long term, it’s not too late to start.


Do you need to move past a feeling of intimidation? Compare it to this analogy: do you need to know how to build a car in order to drive it? To combat intimidation, remember there is nothing wrong with taking interest in how investments work, but you can leave the expertise to your investment advisor, a person who has the experience and knowledge to help you develop a goal-focused and personalized investment strategy.

Smart investment strategies are those that work for you personally, not for your friends, family, and associates. Unfortunately, too many investors get caught up in the advice they get from these individuals, all of whom are well meaning, but want to pass off investment advice that worked for them. It’s okay to listen and learn, but don’t be swayed by strategies meant for a person in a completely different situation.

Many decisions are based on emotion, but investment decisions based on emotion can be financially detrimental. Additionally, when you bring other peoples’ emotions into the equation, it quickly can turn into a poor decision for your financial future. Reacting to these heightened emotional situations usually results in actions that can negatively affect your finances. Instead, consider maintaining a calm, “big-picture” focus.

According to Dan Danford, CEO of Family Investment Center, there are some rules to follow regarding investment strategies that will help you fight drama and stick to a long-term plan (of course, these can vary person-to-person, so be sure to speak with an advisor regarding specifics):

·         Don’t quickly respond financially to political or economic news

·         Use payroll deductions for savings and retirement accounts

·         Use mutual funds or exchange-traded funds (ETFs)

·         Gauge performance at five-year (or longer) intervals

·         Benchmark at broad market averages

·         Performance only matters in reference to similar investments

·         Increase your savings amount every year


In conclusion, Danford said one of the biggest flaws he sees with do-it-yourself investing is that people don’t set aside enough time for personal finance issues.

“Reading The Wall Street Journal once a week or visiting for five minutes on the phone with your broker isn’t enough,” he says. “If you want to do it right, dedicate one full evening a week or a few hours each weekend. If you can’t do that, then you need professional help.”

Professional advice is good idea for any investment strategy. Find a good fiduciary advisor, like those at Family Investment Center, who can listen to your ideas and concerns and help you move toward a clear plan in a commission-free environment. (In fact, this is our sole focus, every day.) Come find out why we’re a little bit different when it comes to investments … and why our clients like it that way.

 

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Is the Middle Class Listening to the Wrong Investment Advice?

Investment Advice for the Middle Class

 

If you are like most middle class investors, it may seem as if there are a million things that separate you from millionaires. In reality, the way the middle class and the wealthy handle investments can be quite similar; investment advice can be founded on the same principles – and the same misperceptions.


One misperception about wealthy investors is that they are geniuses when it comes to the stock market. Some investors believe they “play” the market every day and take great risks, but enjoy massive rewards. Typically, this isn’t true on many levels. Most experts agree, not many successful investors “play” the stock market. Instead, they focus on consistency over time and planned risk. Additionally, less than one percent of millionaires make daily trades on the market. Instead, they’re likely doing what you might consider for your own investments – thinking long-term and owning a variety of investments for the purpose of diversification.

In fact, the heart of wealth management science, according to Dan Danford, CEO of Family Investment Center, “is the idea of a thoughtful long-term diversification. This scientific basis for portfolio theory won a 1990 Nobel Prize in Economics.” Danford explains that, in essence, an investor’s risk is reduced and performance of investments is enhanced when investors own a wide variety of investments.

If you’re getting investment advice from friends, family, or colleagues telling you that you should put your money in government bonds and bank deposits, this may not align with the strategies of professionals who work with both the wealthy and the middle class. Putting your money in these “safe” places offers low interest rates, but if you consider inflation and taxes, your investment there is nothing more than a shelter where compound interest doesn’t stand a chance.

Wealthy investors seem to understand the difference between price and value. Dr. Tom Stanley’s book titled The Millionaire Mind brings up an issue that many investors fall victim to: they don’t make enough distinctions between price and value. Millionaires tend to look at investment products through the lens of a long-term situation. For instance, Stanley offers up the analogy that they’re purchasing their furniture and shoes based on the lifetime cost of ownership. Are they buying better quality products? Yes. But they last longer than the cheap stuff. When you put yourself in that mindset for your investments, you’re on the right path.

Finally, if you’re a DIYer when it comes to your investments, rethink what your efforts are actually getting you. You might spend hours studying various investments, shopping around to find something that is only marginally better than the previous product you researched. Let an investment advisor who has experience working with a variety of investments help guide you with your investing strategy.

At Family Investment Center, we believe in practical, jargon-free and client-focused service – and always within a commission-free environment. Contact us today to learn more.

 

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401(k) Investing: What’s New in 2017

How Will 401(k) Investing Change in the New Year?

 

The 401(k) plan is among the strongest investment tools for many working Americans, especially those whose employer does not offer a pension plan, but will match contributions (up to a specific percent) to the company-sponsored 401(k). When you invest in a 401(k), which utilizes the stock market and other products, you are investing for your future. It’s important to stay informed of the rules that govern your 401(k) investing as they change each year.

The IRS limits your 401(k) contribution and those limits are subject to change annually. The company you work for also limits how much they match on the amount you contribute. The current IRS limit on employee elective deferrals is $18,000. This will continue into 2017, but keep your eyes on 2018 as that deferral amount could go up.

For those of you who are 50 or over, you can make what the IRS refers to as “catch-up” contributions, which allow you to put an extra $6,000 a year into your traditional and safe harbor 401(k) investing plans, or $3,000 extra into your SIMPLE 401(k) plan. When the IRS makes changes to these catch-up contribution limits, it’s generally tied to a cost-of-living adjustment.

Another change impacting a number of people relates to 2017 IRA income limits.  Employees who have a 401(k) account through their work can make tax-deductible contributions to a traditional IRA. For example, employees earning up to $62,000 a year are allowed to deduct from income tax IRA contributions of up to $5,500. Unfortunately, if you earn between $62,000 and $72,000 (in 2017), that  phases out.

Workers making less than $118,000 can make Roth IRA contributions in 2017, which allows for tax-free withdrawals in retirement. Roth contribution limits phase out for those making $118,000 to $133,000 (in 2017).

It can be challenging to keep tabs on all the rules, regulations, perks, and privileges available to you in your retirement plan investing. This is why it is important to include a professional advisor to keep you informed on the decisions that impact your investments. At Family Investment Center, we’re ready to assist you in these important decisions and more. Contact us today and see why our commission-free environment remains the investment “home” of so many families and individuals.

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Planning for Retirement: Small Business Owners Face Unique Challenges

Survey Says Few Small Business Owners are Planning Adequately

 

Small business owners are seemingly tireless entrepreneurs when it comes to building and maintaining a business, but they often forget to plan for their exit strategy. A survey by BMO Wealth Management confirms that startlingly few small business owners are planning for retirement adequately.

The survey by BMO found that 75 percent of the owners between ages 18 and 64 had not saved more than $100,000 for retirement. The good news is that nearly 40 percent of business owners age 45 to 64 had at least started an IRA and nearly 30 percent had established a 401(k). For many entrepreneurs and small business owners, their way of planning for retirement is to invest in their business and sell it when the time is right. Essentially, the business becomes their retirement plan.

In some cases, the business owner will wish to keep the business alive. Therefore, they transfer ownership to a family member and get a share of the future wealth in return, which helps to support their retirement. Unfortunately, this doesn’t always work out as planned. Different management methods, a jarring transition between owners, and/or the unpredictability of the market can wreak havoc on a business, potentially leaving the retiree with little or nothing for their retirement.

A number of business owners will say that if their planning for retirement hits any snags, they’ll simply delay retirement. While this seems like a fair way to approach retirement, plans made while relatively young and healthy can turn quite suddenly as we age and our health begins to fail. For example, a survey by the Employee Benefit Research Institute reveals that nearly 55 percent of people surveyed said they retired earlier than expected due to health issues.

What steps can you take in planning for retirement that can help protect your investments?

·         Diversify: Putting a set amount of money per month in a variety of investments is a smart move because you’re spreading out your wealth in several directions. As the market ebbs and flows, you’ll see the advantages of a diversified portfolio. Talk to your investment advisor about popular options, like an IRA or 401(k).

·         Specialize: Ask your investment advisor about retirement plans that are specifically for small businesses. For instance, a SEP-IRA, solo 401(k), or SIMPLE IRA.

·         Know What You Need: How many of your current expenses are lumped into your business dealings? You’re won’t have that luxury when you retire, so crunch the numbers to get an accurate estimate of what you’ll need on a monthly basis when you retire.


If you’re like most small business owners, you have few hours in the day to research retirement vehicles on your own. Talk to a fee-only professional advisor like our team at Family Investment Center. Since our founding, we’ve maintained a client-first, client-focused philosophy. Today, we welcome you at our table to learn more about what makes us truly unique among investment advisor teams.

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With the Inauguration Pending, What are Your Investing Strategies Now?

Investing Strategies in a Time of Uncertainty

 

The election is officially over and inauguration is just weeks away. Many Americans were surprised at the results as our nation begins a journey with a controversial president. Many investors are beginning to take a second or third look at their investing strategies and preparing for this change.

Actually, many investment professionals may share the viewpoint to stay the course and not change investment portfolios in any drastic way. Refraining from reacting impulsively — while maintaining a focus on your long-term retirement investment plan — may help lead you toward new confidence as presidential changes officially unfold.  Note: While analysts seemed wrong about the predicted election outcome, U.S. economic strength was actually improving leading up to the vote.  Policies and changes to come, say some analysts, could actually lead to even more economic growth. If this trend continues into 2017, investment options could improve and market levels could return to “typical.”

It’s also important to realize that it’s not unusual for emotions to run high as markets move. Most investors won’t need to access the money they have in investments for at least a decade, which means even if market volatility affects your balances, there is plenty of time for a rebound. Besides, experts have noted that other economic factors remain strong and will carry most investors through the volatility.

If you are nearing your projected retirement date and want to make some changes, ask a professional commission-free investment advisor for help. If you haven’t yet talked to an investment advisor, now is the time. Talking with your advisor about your plan is a great way to review your situation, make adjustments as needed and regain some of that confidence you had before election night.

Historically, when considering long-term investing strategies, the stock market has demonstrated success as a way to build up a nest egg. The ebb and flow of the market is less dramatic when you look at its movement over decades. Even during recessions, such as 2008, the market historically has recovered.

At Family Investment Center, we offer a consistent, commission-free and jargon-free atmosphere for addressing all of your questions and concerns. Contact us today and find out why our team has been interviewed by sources like The Wall Street Journal, Forbes andU.S. News and World Report for our slightly “unconventional” approach.

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Who Are You Taking Investment Advice From?

Experts Suggest Investment Advice May be Best Left to the Professionals

 

Most people who invest money and are purposeful about their retirement plans believe they have the basics of investing down. They may even consult with well-meaning friends and family when they are seeking outside guidance. However, some of the most common mistakes in investing may be related to taking investment advice from someone other than a professional – along with not keeping up with investing innovations and relying on outdated information. Read on for some other challenges that may be holding you back from the success you want.

Some investing mistakes date back to early family experiences. Ideas about money are often shaped by what a person saw and heard growing up. In reality, what many people are taught growing up is very different now as the landscape of investing has changed, particularly in the financial products, services and fees under which investors operate today. These family experiences may mean an investor follows and seeks advice from friends, neighbors, coworkers and family members; but these people are not likely to carry professional investment experience. Seeking advice this way can also lead to a strong emotional connection instead of a neutral, strategic approach to investing – and this can cost an investor significantly over time.

Another common investing mistake can be connected to changing an investment strategy when feelings or emotions change. Today, you may want to ask yourself, “Is my investing driven by feelings and emotions?” This can manifest from watching media headlines and wanting to make quick changes rather than staying the course through the natural ups and downs of the markets.  

It’s human nature to follow the crowd. However, when it comes to investments, giving in to that urge to follow the crowd can lead to investment setbacks. Everyone’s situation is different. What amounts to an excellent decision for one person might be a wrong move for the next, depending on life situations and goals. Most investors with long-term success are operating on a consistent plan that is tailored to their situation, not everyone else’s. Also note that many professional investment advisors suggest caution around making decisions for short-term gains in favor of long-term growth. It’s vitally important to stick to a long-term plan, even and perhaps especially during times when the market is volatile.

Performance is an easy metric to measure, but it’s not the one that matters most. Value and convenience, both of which are metrics more subjective and harder to measure than performance, carry just as much weight as pure performance.

Some people fail to reach success because they think the investments are boring. Investment advisors reject that notion; they see investing as a path to key lifestyle benefits that are definitely not boring. They also know that it’s one of the biggest reasons people fail – or a reason they never get started. A visit to an investment advisor who truly cares about helping clients should not be boring, but instead, should help you feel excited and confident about the direction you’re headed.

At Family Investment Center, we have observed investors time and time again come in with reservations and leave with a sense of confidence they didn’t know they could have toward their long-term goals for investing. We know that many people have an outdated view of money practices, and we are here to listen. Contact us today and let’s get started with a plan that makes sense for your situation.

 

Listen to jargon-free insights from the Money is Freedom podcast, produced by Dan Danford, founder/CEO of Family Investment Center, at Sound Cloud and iTunes. Enjoy more about advice from friends and family on the episode titled “Free Advice is Poor Advice.” https://soundcloud.com/money-is-freedom/102-free-advice

 

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Your Freedom Tour

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Dan Danford Shares Advice on Writing and Publishing Book; Danford to Speak at Two KC Area “Lunch and Learn” Events

For many it’s a labor of love. For others, it’s overwhelming to think about what it takes to start and finish the writing of a book. This is something Dan Danford, CEO of Family Investment Center, knows quite well. Danford will relay the experiences he gathered while writing his book, “Stuck in the Middle” at two KC-area Lunch and Learn Events.

Danford, who has worked for decades in investing, wrote the book to highlight the mistakes investors make that jeopardize their financial success. The book also offers tips on how to fix those mistakes. The 20 chapters in the book cover everything from how paying off a mortgage can hurt retirement, investment mistakes endorsed by the media, the stock market (why/how it’s not a casino), how banks are for managing cash (not investing) and many other topics.

Danford says the book is a valuable way to share insights and knowledge gained across his career. He began his career in business in 1984 as a bank trust officer, where he was responsible for managing tax-qualified retirement plans and IRAs. He has since visited with thousands of people who are planning for retirement. He is now sharing his knowledge in the book that asks the question “What if your middle class background is holding you back from the financial success you want?”

Danford will speak at two “Lunch and Learn” events with the topic – “What’s your truth? Using your story to write a book, and using that book to grow your business.”

The events are:

 

·         Friday, December 9, at the Northland Regional Chamber of Commerce office, 634 NW Englewood Rd, Kansas City, MO. Click here for more information. 12 p.m. to 1:30 p.m.

·         Tuesday, December 13, at the St. Joseph Chamber of Commerce, 3003 Frederick Avenue, St. Joseph, MO. Click here for more information. 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.

 

Danford will also share information about investing that he covers in his book, largely written for middle class investors. Danford said he has been surprised, quite often, at the mistakes he encounters, which are mostly ideas that conflict with what professional investors know to be true today. He said many people haven’t kept up with innovations in investing, which could lead them to decisions based on outdated information.

“For many investors, their ideas about money come from early family experiences, which leave a powerful imprint on them that makes change difficult to achieve. However, it’s easy to see that the world we live in today is far different from what our parents experienced at the same point in their lives. Everything from fees to financial products and services – they’ve all evolved, and investors need to evolve as well,” says Danford.

 

Learn more at Stuck in the Middle: The Mistakes That Jeopardize Your Financial Success and How to Fix Them.

 
Listen to insights on “Money is Freedom,” a new podcast available on iTunes and Sound Cloud.

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Changes Are Coming … What Should You Know?

As the U.S. Department of Labor fiduciary rule moves closer into the spotlight, more investment firms are making changes to shift their service to a “nonconflicted” setting – meaning they will no longer charge commissions on products they sell to investors.

 

A few months prior to the Department of Labor rule, the White House released their own report outlining the millions of dollars in lost potential revenues investors could see if they receive conflicted advice in a commission-based setting. By the start of 2018, financial brokers who sell retirement products must become "fiduciaries" and act in clients' best interests, instead of choosing products that line brokers' own pockets. Some national entities are putting changes into place, now.

 

Recent headlines have outlined challenges with this process. What should you know?
 

1) Family Investment Center has always – and will always – operate in a commission-free, client-focused and nonconflicted setting. It’s how we have always believed your interests as an investor are best served. These changes nationwide mean business as usual for us.


2) Some firms will begin to use terms like “nonconflicted” and fee-only as they make the shift over to these models … but this doesn’t mean they have a genuine client-focused perspective.


3) National responses to the fiduciary rule will be varied. LPL Financial Holdings Inc., the largest independent broker dealerand registered investment advisor in the UnitedStates, is exploring a potential sale – according to an articlein Financial Advisor – as it lowers commissions on high-feeinvestment offerings and looks at higher regulatory costs. Inanother example, Merrill Lynch is among the first to institutechanges and stop its commission for its IRA business. This could trigger brokers who rely on commissions to go elsewhere – as well as push a surge of other giant firms to do the same.

 

We welcome any discussion or questions as the biggest shift in the investment industry has seen in decades begins to take shape … and we’re proud to say we’ve been helping families reach their goals in a nonconflicted setting since the first day we opened our doors.

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How Are You Approaching Your Investment Strategies as 2016 Draws to a Close?

Investment Strategies for the Year’s End

 

We’re in the final quarter of 2016. That means it’s time to start looking at your investments as the year winds down and where you are in meeting your retirement goals. Here are some top things you need to look at:

Put your investments back into balance. Different types of investments will perform differently over time. Diversification of investments is key, but even the most diverse portfolios will have products that do better or worse than anticipated. To reach your original intended asset allocation, you may need to rebalance.

If you monitor your asset classes, you’ll find that in any given year, their returns could knock your portfolio out of balance. For instance, let’s say you want your portfolio to include 20 percent of your assets in real estate and commodities, 30 percent in bonds, and 50 percent in stocks. By now, your investments have been in place long enough that the economy could have shifted those percentages drastically. Now may be a good time to make changes and adjust them to help you meet your goals.

Has your W-4 been reviewed lately? If you’ve had major life changes this year, it’s a good idea to take another look at your W-4. For instance, as you age, your tax situation will change. Or, perhaps you’ve had children who have grown and left the nest – this will need to be reflected in your dependents status. Maybe you’ve re- married, which will also need to be updated. When you make these changes, you can free up more money for investments like your 401(k) and your IRAs. It’s all about compound interest, and even a year’s worth of investments can make a difference.

We know it’s not wise to make investments decisions under duress. However, when the stock market is volatile, risk becomes a factor worth investigating. Some investors will protect themselves with larger cash allocations, which can be beneficial because this gives you something to work with if the market performs strongly. 

Are you maximizing your contributions? Workingtoward maxing out right now is a good idea, especially if it’s a deductible retirement plan contribution. It can help reduce current taxable income, which reduces the associated income tax come April.

At Family Investment Center, we can help you maintain confidence (and joy) as 2016 draws to a close. Why not make today the day? Contact us and let’s talk.

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Family Investment Center: Not Just Another Start-Up Story

If you think you’ve heard every investment advisor start-up story, think again. The story of Family Investment Center reflects a passion to be true to their core values and remain steadfast in a client-first approach (even when no one else was doing it).

 

Dan Danford, founder of Family Investment Center, had 15 years’ experience as a bank trust officer before striking out on his own, establishing Family Investment Center in 1998, just in time for a big technology boom. He had a “million dollar idea” to marry the safety of fiduciary investing with the benefits of a client-focused, commission-free atmosphere and the perks of a tech-friendly world. Nearly 20 years later, Danford and his team continue to bring investment services that cater to each individual client.

Danford’s solid background working with investments coupled with his desire to avoid the sales-driven mentality – a driver for many professionals in the investment field today – brought him to an important question: “What do I need to prosper?”  It’s that question that drove a philosophical change from seller to buyer, and it “rocked our marketplace,” Danford said.

He began working for clients under a textbook approach to investing and analyzing portfolios. Ultimately, what he lays in front of clients is a plan that they would devise if they knew as much about investing as Danford does. In fact, it’s a plan that he uses for his own family’s investments.

Here are the five key concepts applied by the Family Investment Center team to each individual:

·         World class managers and products

·         Total transparency at every level

·         Portfolios that are tailored to fit individual needs

·         Deliberate diversification

·         Ongoing monitoring and evaluation


At Family Investment Center, commissions have never been accepted (and never will be) for any investment product. The only source of revenue is a modest management fee charged to clients. Another key difference is jargon-free conversations. The Family Investment Center team of professionals are competent, confident, have excellent communication skills and make clients comfortable talking about their ideas.

The families that partner with Family Investment Center enjoy extra safety measures, including custodial, professional liability, and employee dishonesty insurance, plus ERISA bonding. Family fee schedules are scaled for large portfolios, and the investment products selected are already scaled for large portfolios as well.

 

Family Investment Center has always believed that investing really isn’t about the money itself - but rather how a person can share that wealth with those they love. Even so, it’s a team where investment advice offered comes from a place of logic – not emotion - which is crucial to succeeding in the investment space.

Find out all the reasons Family Investment Center maintains a unique approach - and why the team is interviewed by sources like the Wall Street Journal, U.S. News and World Report, Forbes, and many others. Visit www.familyinvestmentcenter.com today - or listen to the podcast “Money is Freedom” at Sound Cloud and iTunes.

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Insights Into 401(k) Investing in 2016

Make the Most of Your 401(k) Investing Opportunities

 

If you are like the majority of investors investing through a 401(k), you are doing so through your employer’s sponsored plan. The recent T. Rowe Price benchmarking report can help you can gain some insights into practices that other 401(k) investors have used to make the most of their 401(k) investment options. We want to highlight a few of those findings.

 

1.   Sign up. (Yes, it’s simple, but some people don’t). One of the practices many respondents said they take advantage of is auto-enrollment. This has been on the increase over the last few years, and it’s a benefit to the employee who might otherwise choose not to enroll and forfeit the company’s matching donations.
 

2.  Put more money in. Raising your contribution rate can make a big impact. The maximum amount you can contribute per year is $18,000. However, if you’re 50 or older, you can invest a maximum of $24,000. Meeting that maximum amount every year can help you enjoy more freedom in retirement. However, the report from T. Rowe Price also shows that many people are saving too little or nothing at all. In fact, the average deferral rate is around seven percent, which is less than half the 15 percent that many experts recommend. More alarming is the fact that roughly a third of workers are putting nothing into their company’s 401(k) investing program.
 

3.  Don’t say “next year I will” or “when I pay down my debt.”Many responded to the survey that they have too many outstanding debts to put money towards retirement. In waiting to invest until later, though, you will lose out on the benefits of compound interest and risk the possibility of not having enough saved for your retirement. Taking a hard look at expenditures will often reveal money that could be going to your retirement.
 

4.  Don’t let yourself become overly perplexed at natural market ebb and flow. Despite market changes, many successful people maintain a simple, consistent approach and don’t let their emotions get too much attention. They also work with a professional investment advisor so they can set aside fears and move forward with confidence.

 

At Family Investment Center, we know each person has their unique investment challenges and goals. If you’re part of that one-third of workers who are putting off investing for retirement, or setting aside too little, we can assist you in building a strategy that will set you on the right path toward the freedom you want. Our investment advisors have experience working with individuals and families of all ages. Plus, we don’t use complex jargon and we have always been – and will always be – commission free and client-focused. Let’s talk.

 

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Do You Need to Adjust Your Retirement Planning Goals?

Retirement Planning Isn’t Rocket Science … But There Are Basic Tools

 

Today 60 percent of Americans are confident in their retirement planning, according to a survey from financial services team, TIAA. These are Americans who feel confident that their savings are adequate and that when retirement time comes, they’ll have enough to live comfortably. But are these people fooling themselves?

Experts say less than half of Americans know how much they’ve saved for retirement. Only around 35 percent have calculated where and how much their income will be per month during retirement. Furthermore, they say many underestimate how much they will need to live comfortably in retirement. In fact, experts say now that you and/or your spouse may need to plan for 30 combined years of retirement living.

However, rather than placing your entire focus on a dollar amount, consider that compound growth over time is the blueprint. A mix that includes bonds or bond funds, stocks or stock funds and other tools is a common trend among successful investors. They set up their strategy and stick with it over time – and although this sounds very simple, it’s actually a classic investment principle.

Also consider that there will be fees. You pay a fee for almost every service, because you’re using someone’s tools. However, when these fees take the form of commission, you may not be receiving unbiased information. As this topic continues to gain momentum, especially in light of the pending Fiduciary Rule, be aware that many investment companies may use these phrases. Look for one with experience in this type of environment.


Like any service you take into your world, explore all aspects of any investment. Long-term compounding is impaired by high fees. Tax-favored products aren’t appropriate for IRA or retirement accounts, which are already tax favored. Avoid layers of fees and take advantage of volume pricing whenever available. Remember, too, that if an investment offers a high return and you can’t see the risk, there is still risk -- whether you see it or not.

Feeling unsure or overwhelmed? Contact Family Investment Center and let’s talk, together. We believe “money is freedom and freedom is fun” because we’ve worked with many different types of investors successfully over the years. We’ve done it all in a commission-free setting and we have our own unique approach. Call us today and find out why different is a good thing.

 

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How Should You Approach Paying Off Your Mortgage in Your Investment Strategies?

Investment Strategies: Making a Mortgage Work in Your Favor

 

A little simple math can reveal some cost savings when it comes to paying more per month on your mortgage, but is it really worth it in the long run? Some homeowners implement conventional investment strategies to save thousands of dollars, but few ask what the outcome could be if that extra money were placed instead into investments.

Here’s the scenario from Dan Danford’s recent podcast “The Happy Side of Mortgages”: A homeowner has a $100,000 mortgage with a 30 year term at a rate of four percent. That equates to a total of $71,871 in interest paid over those 360 payments. However, if that homeowner were to put an extra $100 a month paying $577 instead of $477, they would pay $49,408 in interest and the home would be paid off in 21 years instead of 30. Who wouldn’t want to save $22,000 in interest? This concept represents the money-saving approach.

“I think people love doing this because they can make a small move and see a big result,” said Dan Danford, CEO of Family Investment Center. “Pay an extra $100 each month and save $22,000. It’s a money-saver approach and it’s so simple that almost everyone can understand it. Let’s ignore for a minute that they made 259 payments ($25,900) to save $22,000 in interest!”

 

Danford explains that purchasing a home has long been an investment vehicle for Americans. Over time, the amount of money owed on the home goes down, but the value goes up until it becomes the largest portion of the family’s nest egg.

 

“It’s the mortgage that makes this work,” he said. “Without that loan, owning real estate isn’t nearly as lucrative.”

The reason, Danford said, is that without a loan, you have to have all the cash up front, which most people don’t. However, owning the property outright means that the returns are much smaller because the homeowner is essentially waiting for the property value to rise.

 

“With a mortgage,” Danford said, “you are using other people’s money to enhance your wealth. This is called leverage, and it is the magic behind real estate investing.”

The Money-Making Approach:
It stands to reason that a homeowner should take advantage of low interest mortgages and take the longest possible term when they buy because it creates cash flow flexibility. However, Danford recommends that instead of sending an extra principal payment each month, investors could consider taking that extra money and put it into a growth-oriented investment, such as a mutual fund or a target date fund – both can be stronger choices over time than paying extra on the monthly mortgage payment. Even if an investment portfolio earns just six percent over time, the gain could reach $30,000 when an investor puts money set aside for an “extra” mortgage payment into investments instead. If the portfolio earns 10 percent, the investor’s earnings over time could reach $86,000. In this scenario, the potential portfolio gains beat the money saved from extra house payments by $60,000.

“Find a good fiduciary advisor to help today,” Danford advises. “Not next week or next month, or “when I get some money.” Do it today. You surely fall into one of two categories: you know what you need, and a professional can help you get better, or you don’t know what you need, which is an even stronger case for getting help.”

Get more information about unconventional and commission-free investment strategies by contacting the Family Investment Center team today.

 

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Wealth Management and Rich People

Why Did the Top One Percent of Rich Americans Have a 3.73 Gain Last Year?

 

The top one percent of wealthy Americans saw a 12-month gain of 3.73 over the past year, whereas the bottom one percent of investors saw a negative 3.32 percent return, according to CNN Money. The difference? It’s all in how they invest. What wealth management tips can you take away from this?

One classic investment success strategy focuses on spreading out their investments, which means if one stock isn’t doing well, it’s not going to significantly impact the entire portfolio. Lower gains are sometimes seen when an investor places the majority of investments in single stocks, such as major companies like Apple or Ford or Bank of America, making your investment gains or losses highly dependent on the performance of that company.

More specifically, the top five percent of investors have less than 40 percent of their investments in a single stock. The bottom five percent have around 70 percent of their investments in a single stock, making them more vulnerable to market volatility.  CNN’s report shows the volatility of a wealthy investors’ portfolio is around 15 percent, whereas the bottom investors work with volatility in the 33 percent range.

How Can You Invest Like the Wealthy?
As an investor, you want to plan for long-term gains, which means you will want to spread the risk among your investments. Many young investors will put a higher percentage of investments in stocks that are more susceptible to volatility; sometimes they can see tremendous gains. But this can be risky when you face downturns. However, when balanced with other investments, the outcome can level out successfully over the long-term.

When it comes to wealth management, many experts warn against gambling on the market. It is also important to remain emotionally neutral about your investments while sticking with your investing goals, which must also evolve over time. This means you may have to ride out a poor economy when it comes along, instead of making rash decisions based on fear about the market. You may also have to avoid the advice of family and friends. Although well-meaning, they’re typically not experienced professional investment advisors. Work with a professional; the outcomes are too important.

Don’t believe the myth that “it’s too late” to start investing more strategically. A professional investment advisor – especially one that’s commission-free, a.k.a. non-conflicted advice – can help you with your investment strategies at any life stage. Start where you are, and don’t look back.


Family Investment Center has developed a culture of quality for our clients. We approach each individual situation for what it is – meaning every client gets a personalized approach to wealth management. Contact us today and find out what makes us unique enough to be interviewed by publications including the Wall Street Journal, Forbes and U.S. News and World Report.

 

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Discipline and Patience: Are You Overlooking These as Part of Your Investment Strategies?

Think Long-Term When You Establish Your Investment Strategies

 

If there is a theme common among those who have successful investment portfolios it is that they have established goals and been intentional about their investment strategies to help them meet those goals. Successful investors also share the attributes of patience and discipline.

Discipline: Avoid the media stream …
A large variety of books about how to invest are published every year. Television, radio and podcasts are full of experts talking about exactly what you need to do to get rich – yet many of them are providing a one-size-fits-all solution that might not be a good fit for every person.

It takes discipline to work through all the information and find sound advice that fits your situation, and in many cases, that decision is aided with the help of a trusted advisor that works as a fiduciary to assist you in managing your investments.

Discipline also comes into play when the market turns volatile. It takes tremendous discipline to stick to your investments, stick to your goals and not become a victim of panic. This is probably one of the toughest components of following your investment strategies because market fluctuations can cause a sense of unease that older investors know quite well from market collapses in the late 80s, early 2000s and in 2008. Talk to your advisor when your panic level is at full tilt and voice your concerns. (And listen to their advice).

Patience: How does it apply to investing?
Smart investors are patient. They know that their investment strategies are built on long-term goals that minimize risk while maximizing returns. They know that the market will ebb and flow. They’ll see years where the gains are strong, interspersed with years that are down when recessions hit.

Having the patience to ride this wave will almost always lead to a positive outcome. The timing can be troubling, especially for investors who see market drops just prior to retirement, but history shows that using the market to make gains works – in the long term.

Why? Investors who have established short-term goals for big gains can fall victim to what’s known as “playing the market.” They absorb all the information they can, pick a “hot” stock and sink a large percentage of their money into it. Do they hit sometimes? Yes. Is it a smart way to invest your hard earned money? No, because it’s a gamble. People who look for short-term gains are investors without the patience to realize the attributes of investing for the long term.

At Family Investment Center,our clients come to us with a range of emotions, plans, goals, strategies and attitudes about investing. We know how to communicate with each of our diverse clients who are in various stages of the investment process. We can guide you toward patience and be discipline in your investment strategies. Plus, we’ve always been commission-free, since our founding. Read more today about Our Story: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fo0tC-Mvvus&feature=youtu.be

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