Investments can play a key role in any financial plan. Whether you are investing for wealth accumulation, college/educational funding, retirement saving, or retirement distribution, we can help you put together an investment strategy to help you reach your financial goals.
- Mutual Funds
- U.S. Treasury Securities
- Certificates of Deposit
- 529 Qualified Tuition Plans
- 401(k) Retirement Plans and Individual Retirement Accounts
- Group Retirement and Savings Plans
- Other Retirement Planning Options
Mutual funds can be a key component of a diversified investment portfolio. Managed by registered investment agents, mutual funds allow individual investors with common objectives and risk profiles to pool their savings in a portfolio of investments. This allows for an investment portfolio that is diversified among different companies and industries in the United States and around the world. Advantages of this strategy include:
- Potential for increased returns
- Expertise of registered investment agents who are registered with the state they practice in
- Increased purchasing power from pooled savings
Here is an overview of some of the mutual funds available:
Money Market Funds: Money market funds are a relatively low risk choice. By law, they invest only in specific high-quality short-term investments issued or guaranteed by the U.S. government, its agencies or instrumentalities. They generally pay dividends that reflect short-term interest rates, and so returns are historically lower than those for bond or stock mutual funds.
Bond Funds: Bond funds typically pursue strategies aimed at producing high investment yields, but for this reason carry higher risks than money market funds. Bond funds are not restricted to high-quality or short-term investments. Given the variety of bond funds available, there is a wide range of choice.
Stock Funds: When held over the long term, stock funds can historically perform well. However, their value can rise and fall quickly over the short term for a variety of reasons, such as shifting demand for products and services or the overall strength of the economy. There are several different types of stock funds available, including growth funds, income funds, and index funds.
- Growth funds have the potential for large capital gains, but may not pay a regular dividend
- Income funds pay regular dividends
- Index funds invest in all or some companies included in a market index to achieve the same level of return as that index
Always remember the importance of careful decision-making when choosing investments. Before investing, carefully read through a mutual funds’ prospectus for important information. Remember that commissions, trailing commissions, management fees and expenses, and taxes (personal capital gains when you sell your shares and potential annual taxes on a fund's capital gains) may all be associated with mutual fund investments. Mutual funds are not guaranteed or insured by the FDIC or any other government agency, and since their values change frequently, past performance may not be repeated. Investment returns and unit values will fluctuate.
Annuities offer an extremely flexible, customizable long-term investment option that can be tailored to fit almost any lifestyle and financial plan.
Annuities, which are available through insurance companies, share similarities to mutual funds. Some can minimize risk by guaranteeing all or part of the principle amount invested. Since they are designed for retirement, compound earnings are tax-deferred until withdrawn, and contributors can choose to make contributions and receive returns in either a single lump-sum amount, or through a regular stream of payments.
There are several types of annuities. A non-qualified annuity is bought individually with purchased with pre-tax dollars from either an IRA or 401(k) rollover, or may be part of an employer-sponsored retirement plan which may have differences in limits of withdrawals and contributions.
Annuities are also different in the ways they generate earnings. A Fixed Annuity is designed around regular fixed interest rates, while a Variable Annuity is managed by a professional money manager, who invests in a portfolio of mutual funds that might be in stocks, bonds or other instruments. Variable annuities are best suited for long-term investments, since taxes and insurance company charges can apply if money is withdrawn early. Depending on the performance of the annuities selected, an investment’s unit values will increase or decrease.
Depending on the specific annuity chosen, benefits can include:
- Tax-deferred growth
- Access to professional money managers
- Lump-sum or periodic payments
- Choice of fixed or variable annuity types
- Some annuities offer guaranteed returns of principal investment
- Annuities may offer income benefits for life guaranteed by the insurance carrier
- Hundreds of variable annuities to choose from
Note that any amount allocated to an annuity may increase or decrease in value, and is invested at the risk of the policyholder.
In today’s uncertain investment environment, U.S. Treasuries Securities offer a safe, secure, government-guaranteed option for investors worried about the impact of the recent economic downturn on their savings.
The federal government issues U.S. Treasury securities to raise funds and help pay off its debt. The U.S. government guarantees that interest and principal payments will be paid on time, making securities a source of dependable cash flow.
There are several different kinds of Treasury Securities, which range from short to long-term investments. Securities are sold at Treasury auctions, and include treasury bills, notes, bonds, TIPS, and U.S. Savings Bonds.
- Treasury Bills mature in a year or less, and are sold at below par (face) value. When matured, owners can sell them and receive their par value.
- Treasury Notes and Bonds pay a fixed rate of interest on a semi-annual basis until they mature. Treasury notes mature between two to 10 years, while longer-term bonds mature in 30 years.
- Treasury Inflation-Protected Securities (TIPS) pay interest on a semi-annual basis, and their principal value is adjusted twice a year to reflect inflation rates.
Many investors are careful when choosing where to invest their hard-earned money, particularly given the recent economic downturn. For this reason, Certificates of Deposit (CDs) are a popular low-risk investment, since they can feature federal deposit insurance. A CD is a deposit account that generally offers a higher rate of interest than a regular savings account. Investors put a fixed sum of money into a CD for a fixed period of time, and when the CD is redeemed, gain the accrued interest, plus the principal amount invested. Several different kinds of CDs are available, including variable rate and long-term CDs. If a CD is redeemed before it matures, the issuing institutional may enforce an “early withdrawal” penalty or forfeit a portion of the interest.
A college education is expensive – and prices for tuition and living expenses are only getting higher. Families with children might consider planning how to finance an education as early as possible, so as to take advantage of tax and investment opportunities and contribute to pre-paid tuition rates.
Many states and educational institutions offer a 529 Qualified Tuition Plan (529) to help finance a college education. The specifics vary between states and institutions: some guarantee a minimum rate of return, while others offer tax incentives. Even if your state does not offer a 529 plan, many allow non-residents to contribute to their plans, and private plans are available.
There are two main types of 529 plan: a pre-paid tuition plan, and a college savings plan. Pre-paid tuition plans involve purchasing units or credits at participating educational institutions that can applied to tuition and, in some cases, living expenses. Most are sponsored by state governments and have residency requirements. College savings plans establish an account for a student that can be used to pay eligible college expenses, and allow contributors to choose among several investment options.
It is important to carefully consider how to invest in a 529 plan, since it can impact a student’s eligibility to participate in need-based financial aid programs. A financial planner can help balance assets held in college savings plans against financial aid requirements.
Some of the advantages of 529 Plans include:
- Depending on the state, the ability to deduct 529 contributions from state income tax returns
- Federal and state tax deferral of compounding income and growth, if contributions are used for eligible college expenses
- Matching grants in many states
- Some pre-paid 529 qualified tuition plans sponsored by a state government are guaranteed
- College savings plans allow the option to invest in a variety of investment products
- When money is withdrawn from a 529 plan, the student typically pays little tax, due to a low income tax rate
Working together, we can examine college investment options to build a customized portfolio that takes into consideration your financial goals, tolerance to risk and timeline.
Everyone looks forward to retirement, but not everyone looks forward to planning for it. A strong financial plan can take the hassle out of this process and secure a balance of investment products that may yield the retirement lifestyle everyone dreams of.
While most working Americans will receive Social Security benefits, in most cases, they will not be sufficient to provide a comfortable retirement income. Depending on personal circumstances, either a 401(k) retirement plan or an Individual Retirement Plan can help in accumulating a sizeable retirement account.
401(k) Retirement Plans
Employer-sponsored 401(k) retirement plans offer several benefits, including potential employer contributions. Enjoy tax savings by setting aside a portion of pre-tax salary in a tax-deferred investment account, which can also generate compound interest. Depending on the type of plan selected, 401(k) plans can also offer yields from a variety of investment options.
Working together with a financial planner, decide the amount and frequency of 401(k) contributions while taking into consideration contribution limits and employer requirements. Some advantages include:
- Employer contributions in most cases
- Contributions taken from pre-tax salary allow for a reduced tax rate
- Tax deferral of compounding income and growth
- The opportunity to select from a variety of investment products
- May allow a post-tax Roth option
Individual Retirement Plans
Another option for retirement planning is to contribute to an Individual Retirement Plan (IRA). IRAs allow a variety of investment options, including variable annuities, stocks, and government securities. There are several types of IRAs, including the Traditional IRA, Non-Deductible IRA, or Roth IRA.
A traditional IRA is funded through after-tax dollars, and can be contributed to even if a client holds another retirement plan, such as a 401(k). A traditional IRA has several tax advantages: all income tax is deferred until money is withdrawn, and the growth of contributions and earnings is generally tax-deferred. A traditional IRA may be tax deductible depending on income limits and whether or not the individual or spouse is covered by an employer-sponsored plan. The non-deductible IRA is similar to the traditional IRA except that contributions are made with after-tax dollars, and there is no income tax deduction allowed. In contrast to those two options, contributions to a Roth IRA are made with after-tax dollars so there is no income tax deduction allowed, but when money is withdrawn, it is distributed tax-free.
Business owners can use group retirement and savings plans to help attract and retain quality employees.
Both business owners and their dedicated employees are working towards a safe, secure future. Either provided independently or paired with group benefits, a group savings plan is a convenient, flexible and affordable way for employers to help employees reach their long-term financial goals.
Employees gain instant tax savings for their retirement plan contributions, since they are made using pre-tax payroll deductions. They also receive the peace of mind that comes from knowing every month they are building towards retirement.
A financial planner can help business owners and their valued employees choose group retirement and savings products. Choose from products like:
- 401(k) Plans
- Simplified Employee Pension Plans
- Qualified Retirement Plans
- Other retirement savings plans designed specifically for employee groups
Depending on the nature of your employment, you may be eligible for other kinds of retirement planning options. For example, 457 plans are designed for independent contractors or employees of a state or local government or a tax-exempt organization. These plans allow participants to exclude certain specified types of salary from their gross income. Other options may include Deferred Compensation Plans and 403(b) plans, which are designed for employees of non-profit corporations.