Mar 20

A Retirement Guide for Her

CFP_3 18 (2)

A Retirement Guide for Her

By Paul Jarvis, CFP®

Areavoices Financial Planning Blog



As we commemorate the countless women who beat the odds, shattered glass ceilings, and shaped history and society during Women’s History Month, the fact remains that many women still face an uphill battle, including in preparing for a financially secure retirement. Women must overcome obstacles to reaching their retirement goals that don’t exist for men, including longer life expectancy, shorter careers, lower pay, and a higher likelihood of living single during retirement.


Many women approaching retirement are finding they are sandwiched between financial priorities for children and parents.  Being financially prepared means taking an active role in self-assessment to ensure balance between a willingness to help and one’s own financial well-being.


There are several key steps every woman should take to ensure that she is prepared for retirement.


  • Prioritize her financial needs – Even ahead of children and elderly parents, a woman must ensure she is prepared financially for the future, making sure that her resources are not overextended or depleted. She should consider investing in a retirement plan before funding a college savings plan or tap parents’ own assets for their care rather than paying out of her own pocket.


  • Build her own retirement assets – When a woman is not working, she should still set aside funds for her future and in her name, separate from her spouse or partner. This can be done through spousal IRAs, or even in after-tax savings accounts.


  • Invest in her skills – Having relevant and marketable skills affords valuable career opportunities and can ease reentry into the workforce for women who have been away for a time. Employment means participation in a retirement plan, building up more Social Security credits, and getting disability and long-term care insurance coverage.


  • Pay attention to Social Security – There are two numbers she needs to be concerned about – 35 and 10. Her Social Security benefits are calculated on the highest 35 years of earnings and she is eligible for a spousal benefit as long as she has been married for at least 10 years.


  • Consider Increasing investment risk – It’s important that she consider taking advantage of equity growth more than relying on the safety of fixed income, particularly in the early years of investing.


Women shouldn’t be afraid to ask for help. No one – man or woman – should go about planning their retirement alone. A CFP® professional can be a trusted partner in growing and managing wealth and retirement savings, including investment advice and risk mitigation, helping dreams become reality.


Paul Jarvis is a CFP Board ambassador and leads United Capital’s office in Fargo. See more at

Mar 11

Goodbye Wealth Management, Hello FinLife

Goodbye Wealth Management, Hello FinLife

By Joe Duran


Remember when the financial world was really simple? It wasn’t that long ago that there were brokerage firms, banks, insurance companies and independent financial planners with clearly defined roles and descriptions. How the world has changed. Last year when I received our valuation from Lazard, I spent a little extra time looking at the different segments of financial firms that they had used to form an opinion on our valuation. As most institutional teams do, they had categorized firms in the industry into one of three sectors:

  1. The platform companies: Technology-enabled firms like Envestnet, Financial Engines, Advent –all of which have the loftiest valuations, as high as seven times revenue (many lose money so you can’t calculate a PE).
  2. The asset managers: Firms like AMG, AllianceBernstein and SEI fell into this section. These firms have recurring revenue and scalable investment distribution and valuations between three and five times revenue.
  3. The wealth management firms: In this group were LPL, Ameriprise, Morgan Stanley et al. These are the distribution and large brokerage firms with commission and fee-based revenues. They show valuations of one to three times revenue.

By name, the independent adviser who is a fiduciary and helps people with their entire financial life is the same as the broker at a wire-house. You can imagine how confusing it is to the average consumer who is trying to understand the difference.

The co-opting of wealth management

In the early 90s, the retail investment world was made up of mostly commission-based brokers and some pioneering independent advisers who began laying the groundwork for an independent fiduciary, fee-managed solution. Soon the big firms rolled out their own fee-based solutions. In the beginning, most fee relationships were investment focused, but independent advisers soon began differentiating by building a broader and more extensive relationship with clients. Not coincidentally, as the market has changed, so have the naming conventions. Being a broker has become a “dirty” word and now most firms have become “wealth managers,” an opaque term that covers anyone who touches money. And the people who work at a wealth management firm? Why, they are all “financial advisers!” The big firms have successfully co-opted the term wealth management for both institutions and retail clients. So how do you let people know that you are a different kind of wealth manager than the investment-focused broker at a brokerage firm, or the insurance agent representing an insurance company (who both call themselves wealth managers)? We have struggled with this question for years — it’s time to do something about it.

What’s in a name? Here’s the research

We just completed a months’ long research project with a team of social researchers that confirms most people cannot tell the difference between the various “wealth managers.” To most clients, whether it’s the broker who sells securities, the solicitor who sells investment products for a fee, the investment firm, the insurance agent or a planner who is a fiduciary dealing with a client’s entire financial life, we are all financial advisers who help them with their money. Wealth management has become the umbrella term for anyone touching money or investing for people. In our research, most people could simply not tell the difference. That means if you are an adviser who provides guidance to clients’ entire financial lives beyond investments and helps them to make tough choices as a fiduciary, wealth management is not a clearly enough defined category for your clients anymore.

A better name for what we do

We believe that for those of us who work with clients’ life choices, as well as their investment choices, it’s time to create a different category. We tested and contemplated many different combinations and words to capture the essence of the Venn diagram below. The one that resonated for most people was Financial Life Management (or FinLife in short form). We discussed the difference between our specific niche and the typical investment-focused adviser in an article about the client’s bill of rights. The market can’t tell the difference between us because we are all called the same thing, so we have to create a new category.

A fork in the road

When you have market adoption and dilution of a concept, you can either bang your head against the popular position, explaining to clients that you are a “different” or “unique” version of a wealth adviser (and try to outspend the big guys), or take a different road and create a new category. Our research suggests that the latter path makes more sense.

When asking hundreds of people what the difference was between “wealth management” and “financial life management” (a term we coined, which no client had used before, but fortunately all of them seemed to assume they knew what it was), the general response was that the first was more about money and investing and the second was bigger and more about how your whole life works with money. I know those are two very different job descriptions — it’s time we weren’t all called the same thing. We believe deeply that this clearly articulated service, and the appropriate naming shift, is the next “big thing” for our industry.


Life Finances


How committed are we to this concept? We showed the research and our findings to all of our partner advisers in person earlier this year (we will be sharing some of the more interesting findings with you in the coming months), and there was unanimous agreement by all to change the definition of what we do.

In the next year, you will see the shift in our branding and logo from “Private Wealth Management” to “Financial Life Management” (we invite you to watch our video about FinLife). We have already spent millions to create a truly unique client experience, and we will spend millions more to continue building the dominant FinLife platform in the country. We believe Financial Life Management is superior to wealth management, when describing what we do: Improve lives by bringing truth, understanding and discipline to people’s choices over their entire financial life. That’s probably true for most of you advisers reading this, too. We believe our clients will quickly and more easily understand the difference, even if the industry takes a while to catch on.

Joe Duran is chief executive of United Capital and author of “The Money Code: Improve Your Entire Financial Life Right Now.” Follow him @DuranMoney.

Feb 26

Location, Location, Location: Making the Decision to Stay or Go in Retirement


Location, Location, Location:

Making the Decision to Stay or Go in Retirement


Fargo, ND, February 26, 2015 – With approximately 10,000 baby boomers – America’s largest generational group – transitioning to retirement each day, the pressures to plan for where they will spend their retirement years are significant. Soon-to-be retirees must ask themselves where they will be the most comfortable: remaining in their home, also known as “aging in place,” or moving to a dedicated retirement community.


The frigid arctic of the Midwest has many local soon-to-be retirees contemplating a warmer climate, but cost of living changes have many carefully evaluating the move.


Here are some important factors to consider when deciding whether to “age in place.”


  • Living arrangements: Married retirees or singles living at home with other family members are generally good prospects for aging in place. The primary issue here is safety. As we age, we lose physical acuity, including our vision, hearing and balance.


  • Suitability/adaptability of the home to physical needs: Open floor plans and one-level living are obvious wants and eventual needs for most retirees. As hale and hearty as you may be in your early retirement, you need to be realistic about your physical needs in the future.


  • Services in community: How retiree-friendly is the community? Is it easy to get around by means other than driving? Are good medical providers and facilities easily accessible? Some communities with a high concentration of retirement-aged residents are designated as “NORCs” – or Naturally Occurring Retirement Communities – with special services for the aging-in-place retiree population.


The Certified Financial Planner Board ( also advises that when making the decision to “age in place,” financial costs must be carefully evaluated. Retirees determined to stay in their homes need to plan for how they will pay for needed services such as in-home caretaking. Some of the major options to ensure retirees can afford these expenses include:


  • Long-term care (LTC) insurance: Most long-term care policies today provide coverage for in-home caretaking services. Unfortunately, a 2014 Genworth Financial study found that very few Americans have LTC insurance despite the high likelihood they will eventually need care.


  • Reverse mortgage: Rent or mortgage payments, property taxes and depreciation may make staying in the home while receiving LTC services more expensive than the annual costs of a nursing home or continuing care facility. Reverse mortgages have, fortunately, become a more mainstream financing option and less expensive. However, retirees should still be mindful of the pitfalls involved, such as possible loss of the home if the stipulations of the mortgage agreement are not met.


  • Medicaid: A last-resort option that few retirees like to think about is Medicaid. Unlike Medicare or private health insurance, Medicaid does provide for caretaking services in the home, but only for those aging-in-placers who have exhausted most of their net worth.


Choosing to age in place or move to a retirement home requires taking a realistic and non-sentimental view of the potential costs that may be incurred in retirement, and comparing them to the costs of other less familiar and comfortable options



The mission of Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, Inc. is to benefit the public by granting the CFP® certification and upholding it as the recognized standard of excellence for competent and ethical personal financial planning. The Board of Directors, in furthering CFP Board’s mission, acts on behalf of the public, CFP® professionals and other stakeholders. CFP Board owns the certification marks CFP®, Certified Financial Planner™, CFP® (with plaque design) and CFP® (with flame design) in the U.S., which it awards to individuals who successfully complete CFP Board’s initial and ongoing certification requirements.  CFP Board currently authorizes more than 71,000 individuals to use these marks in the U.S.



CONTACT: Jessica Lewis, Communications Specialist P: 202-379-2256 E: Twitter: @cfpboardmedia



Jan 26

Approach Retirement with a Smile

CFP Board Gives Tips on How to Control Retirement Spending


Fargo, ND, January 26, 2015 – As millions of Americans prepare for and enter retirement, it’s natural for many of us to feel worried or concerned about how much money is needed to live comfortably. Despite all of the apprehension, CFP Board Ambassador Paul Jarvis, CFP® explains that there are a few reasons to smile.

In fact, recent research into retirement spending describes the “retirement smile”: retirees begin retirement at a higher than average spending level and end their retirement period with another higher expenditure level (the corners of the “smile”), but in between the two is the curve of decreasing then increasing spending.

“What soon-to-be retirees often miss is that many retirees start retirement crossing items off their bucket lists causing their income need to go up. Understanding your basic expense needs as well as those additional costs will help you prepare for and to live your one best financial life,” says Jarvis.

In the latest contribution to, CFP Board explains how each of us has more control of our spending in retirement than we may think:

  • There’s nothing “fixed” about retirement. We often think that the last phase of our lives is defined, if not confined, by the constraints of living on a fixed income. The reality is far more flexible. There will be years of more and years of less, years of having fun and years of taking care.
  • While planning for retirement is imperative to ensure you have the resources to support your spending, planning in retirement is critical, too. The ebb and flow of spending – which in turn dictates the amount of taxable income you need to withdraw from your retirement accounts – can create opportunities for creative tax planning. For example, keeping your adjusted gross income down in a low-spending year may allow you to take advantage of certain tax credits and deductions.
  • During the years of spending more, be sure to spend smart. At the beginning of retirement when you’re still healthy, energetic, and have an overflowing bucket list of things to do and places to see, it’s tempting to live large and enjoy life. That can be okay, as long as you plan carefully for that largesse and make smart spending choices. Use the free time afforded by your retirement to budget and price compare before you spend. For example, eliminate all those premiums you paid for convenience while working and time was short. Travel during the off seasons; fly through a connecting city, rather than direct; dine out at that new restaurant at lunchtime rather than dinner; get tickets for the matinee film or play.
  • Just because you are in retirement, does not mean you shouldn’t save for it. Use the lower expense years – that period between ages 70 and 75 – to start preparing for the higher expenses likely to come at the end of retirement. If you can, set aside any “leftover” income at the end of the month in a reserve account to hedge against future medical and personal care expenses not covered by insurance.
  • Real spending is what really matters. Retirees should focus on maintaining the purchasing power of their sources of income. This means keeping a healthy allocation to equity investments, real estate and commodities in one’s portfolio, rather than trying to lock everything into guaranteed sources of income. Playing it too safe, investment-wise, can mean retiring sorry.

If thoughts about retirement are turning a smile into a frown, consider hiring a CFP® professional. CFP Board studies have shown that those who do their financial planning with a trusted professional feel much more in control of their futures.

The mission of Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, Inc. is to benefit the public by granting the CFP® certification and upholding it as the recognized standard of excellence for competent and ethical personal financial planning. The Board of Directors, in furthering CFP Board’s mission, acts on behalf of the public, CFP® professionals and other stakeholders. CFP Board owns the certification marks CFP®, Certified Financial Planner™, CFP® (with plaque design) and CFP® (with flame design) in the U.S., which it awards to individuals who successfully complete CFP Board’s initial and ongoing certification requirements. CFP Board currently authorizes more than 71,000 individuals to use these marks in the U.S.

CONTACT: Jessica Lewis, Communications Specialist P: 202-379-2256 E: Twitter: @cfpboardmedia

Dec 29

Market Week for December 29, 2014

Market Week for December 29, 2014


PDF for larger viewing here—>  Market Week December 29 2014


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