Anchor Rob Boisvert speaks with financial planner Michael Baker

Anchor Rob Boisvert speaks with financial planner Michael Baker of Vertex Capital® about an upcoming lecture and other resources for those thinking about retiring soon. – See more at: http://coastalnc.twcnews.com/content/news/in_depth/713518/in-depth–michael-baker–vertex-capital/#sthash.JHC3wqTC.dpuf

Ross Marynell earns CRPC® Designation

We congratulate Ross as he earned the Chartered Retirement Planning Counselor designation. Individuals who hold the CRPC® designation have completed a course of study encompassing pre-and post-retirement needs, asset management, estate planning and the entire retirement planning process using models and techniques from real client situations.

Retirement Income Planning, “How To” or “How Much”?

I recently searched the terms “Retirement Income Planning” on the web and found that the majority of returned searches focused primarily on “How to” generate retirement income, with only a few posts beginning with a more logical question–“How much” income do you need?

Certainly there is no shortage of opinions on how to generate retirement income. Academics, economists, advisors, and insurance professionals have broad, and often polarizing, opinions. Income generation ideas include: systematic withdrawals, flooring strategies, bond ladders, dividend investing, and annuitization. The debate continues into the wealth management field as to which investment strategy is best suited for the majority of retirees.

As important and interesting as these conversations may be (all depends on what you find interesting!), these varying opinions may fail to reach reader’s expectations because they are missing a critical piece of information—“How much income do you actually need and desire to have in retirement?”

The amount of income you plan to generate from savings, along with your views toward growth and safety, should have a substantial influence on determining the best path to create a suitable stream of income in retirement. In other words, there is no universal strategy for the masses, only what is right for you.

So how much income should you plan on replacing?

To help uncover your retirement income number, grab a pen and paper and complete the following exercise:

Let’s begin by calculating the essential and lifestyle expenses you anticipate in retirement (what you expect to spend). Take that number and subtract your anticipated Social Security and pension income (what you expect to receive before using your savings). If you have not recently estimated your Social Security benefits, you can calculate expected benefits at www.ssa.gov. For a more detailed analysis of the claiming options available to you through Social Security, please contact us for a complimentary Social Security Analysis.

If you complete the calculation above and your expenses exceed your base income, then you have an income shortfall.  With this figure, you’ve likely pinpointed how much income you’ll need to start producing from your savings to sustain your desired quality of life.

So, with a detailed budget and a clear understanding of your expected Social Security and pension income, you will be more prepared for a thorough “How To” conversation with your financial planner.

The Wisdom of Warren Buffett

“American business will do fine over time. And stocks will do well just as certainly, since their fate is tied to business performance. Periodic setbacks will occur, yes, but investors and managers are in a game that is heavily stacked in their favor. (The Dow Jones Industrials advanced from 66 to 11,497 in the 20th Century, a staggering 17,320% increase that materialized despite four costly wars, a Great Depression and many recessions. And don’t forget that shareholders received substantial dividends throughout the century as well.)

Since the basic game is so favorable, Charlie and I believe it’s a terrible mistake to try to dance in and out of it based upon the turn of tarot cards, the predictions of “experts,” or the ebb and flow of business activity. The risks of being out of the game are huge compared to the risks of being in it.”

–Warren Buffett

*The quote above is taken from Berkshire Hathaway’s most recent annual letter.  It was cited by Morningstar in their most recent article about the stock market.

At the end of every year, analysts from all disciplines will weigh in with their forecasts for the next year. In one recent publication from a very well-known financial paper, I read 3 extremely different predictions for 2014. One expert predicted that the market was due for an immediate correction, and on the very next page, there was another gentleman saying that the bull market would continue to run (although not quite at the pace of 2013). I turn the page and we have yet another analyst saying that he didn’t know why everyone was giving predictions because no one knew what was going to happen.

The beautiful thing about editorial content that promises some type of prediction or foretelling of the future is that it’s almost a surefire way to attract readership. Just about every investor that is looking for the extra edge drinks it all in, hoping for the one secret that will unlock the mystery of the stock markets.

Sadly, most people tend to suffer from confirmation bias, which leads them to only confirm their pre-existing opinions.  People who are looking for growth will seek out analysts forecasting more growth. Fearful investors who are anxiously looking for any sign that another market apocalypse is upon us will cling to the words of the most bearish analysts. And, for those who don’t know what to believe, many will end up more confused that they were to begin with in the first place.

Here’s what you need to know– No one, I mean no one, can predict what will happen in the stock market on a consistent basis over the long term. Understand that if you are going to be an investor, you must first realize that, yes, there is money to be made. Yes, it can be scary. However, if you can stay focused on your long-term goals, hold steady when the markets face volatility, and play for the long-run; you have the best chance at winning (at least that’s what Warren Buffett thinks).

Why do YOU invest?

“Knowing WHY is essential for lasting success and the ability to avoid being lumped in with others.”  –Simon Sinek

 

Do you ever stop to think about how many different decisions we make every single day?  The average person potentially faces hundreds of decisions every single day, but few of us actually realize that our days are so filled with actionable choices. The reason for this innocent blindness is that we have conditioned our mind to make so many of the choices for us–to remove the actual thinking part of the decision and just be on autopilot.

Don’t believe me?  Consider when you are driving your car–how many actions do you actively think about? Do you have to focus intently on staying in your lane? Do you have to send brain signals to you foot so that you press the brake in time to stop for the red lights? If you are not a teenage driver, the odds are your body and mind have conditioned themselves to operate that vehicle on a subconscious level—allowing your mind to focus on more important things like what song you want to play in your mp3 player or where you might eat lunch or “did I forget shut the garage door again?”

We don’t realize it, but we live so much of our lives on autopilot simply because our brains are wired to do that—take care of the easy stuff so that more brainpower is available to focus on difficult tasks.  Sadly, this also applies to our financial lives, especially in the realm of investments. You see, I have rarely met anyone who doesn’t believe they need to save more or invest more money for retirement. It’s become a social norm in our society that, for the most part, investing in a 401k, IRA, or some other type of account is just what you do.

Unfortunately, that’s where our minds fail us once again…by focusing on the WHAT or the HOW before we focus on the WHY. I meet clients from all walks of life that have a portfolio of some sort. In truth, portfolios are not hard to put together…especially now that we have all of the online discount brokers (I’m trying to hide my sarcasm).  What IS hard, however, is helping someone understand why they are actually doing what they are doing—you know, what’s the real purpose?

The-Golden-Circle

Too many institutions and representatives in the financial sector only focus on the WHAT or the HOW.  Very few take the initiative to engage their clients on a personal level to find out the WHY. I know this because whenever I speak with clients that have been working with another group, they react as if they’ve never been asked that before…and it’s because they haven’t.

What is your WHY?  Why do you Invest?

Michael Baker earns the CFP® Designation

We congratulate Michael as he earned the Certified Financial Planner Practitioner designation.

 

CFP® – Certified Financial Planner  The CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™, CFP® and federally registered CFP (with flame design) marks (collectively, the “CFP® marks”) are professional certification marks granted in the United States by Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, Inc. (“CFP Board”).  It is recognized in the United States and a number of other countries for its (1) high standard of professional education; (2) stringent code of conduct and standards of practice; and (3) ethical requirements that govern professional engagements with clients.