How to Manage Your Money and Your Risk Exposure

Forgotten 401Ks

Zombies
They’ll eat you alive!

Failure to Rebalance – Zombie Sign #1

When was the last time you rebalanced your 401(k) or other retirement account? When you set it up, you took a fairly conservative approach and bought 60% stock mutual funds and 40% bond mutual funds. Over time, the values of those funds have changed, perhaps significantly. Right now, your stock funds might comprise 85% of your account. Great. Excellent gain. But . . . . you are now subjecting yourself to greater risk. You need to rebalance. Now. And at least every six months.

If you’re sitting on an out-of-balance retirement account—or several different retirement accounts—then you are sitting on a Zombie Account. That’s right. That’s what investment advisors call it: an account left for dead, an account that might just rise up (at night, of course) and devour your net worth.

Not a pretty sight, these Zombie accounts . . . .

iStock by Getty Images

Failure to Increase Contributions to Retirement Accounts – Zombie Sign #2

When was the last time you increased your contributions to your retirement account? You’re making more money now. Shouldn’t you be saving more? Yet many people set up retirement accounts in their youth and establish relatively small automatic contributions. But as your income increases, so should your retirement allocations. Under current federal tax law, you can contribute $19,500 to your 401(k) or similar workplace plan; that’s up from $19,000 in 2019. If you’re 50 or older, the catch-up contribution limit is $6,500, up from $6,000 in 2019. “If your employer allows after-tax contributions or you’re self-employed, you can save even more. The overall defined contribution plan limit moves up to $57,000 [in 2020], from $56,000 [in 2019].”[i]

Ask any rich person, “What’s your secret?” One answer they always give: “Save as much as you can. Compounding investment amounts in tax-free accounts can result in large returns when you reach your 60s.”

So any retirement account you have sitting around growing with contributions you made when you were young . . . . Well, that’s a Zombie Account.

Failure to Move Old Retirement Accounts – Zombie Sign #3

Oops, what about that account you set up when you worked for Acme Widgets? Great job, that was. But your current position pays a boatload more. Did you have a retirement account at Acme? The stats should make any working American sit up and take notice. Get this:

A 2013 survey by ING Direct USA showed half of American adults who participated in an employer-sponsored retirement plan, such as a 401(k), have left an account at a previous employer. These “orphaned” accounts represented more than $1 trillion in investment dollars in 2010.[ii] (emphasis added)

You need to launch a search for any Zombie accounts sitting around with previous employers. You can call the Human Resource people at those companies for assistance. You might also get in touch with the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation. Or you can check the National Registry of Unclaimed Retirement Benefits at unclaimedretirementbenefits.com. According to the website, “The National Registry is a nationwide, secure database listing of retirement plan account balances that have been left unclaimed by former participants of retirement plans.”

Once you locate these Zombie accounts, you need to roll them over into your current 401(k) or IRA. You should check with an investment advisor or your CPA to make sure you’re performing a tax-free rollover and not a taxable distribution.

Act Now

Anyone with Zombie accounts needs to take the steps we’ve outlined above.

Beating the Zombies

There is a better way. No Zombies can arise in the dark of night from funds we manage at Research Financial Advisors. Check us out here: rfsadvisors.com. When you establish an account with us, we ascertain your comfort level of risk. If you’re relatively young, you should probably use our Aggressive Growth Model where we automatically invest your funds in a variety of ETFs we think show the best chance of growth. Right now, as of August 14, 2020, our Aggressive portfolios are up 23.02% year-to-date, net-of-fees. Yes, you read that right. We’re up 23.02%.

Our more conservative portfolio, consisting of 100% bonds, is designed for those who want to reduce risk and increase income. But the market value of our Bond Model is up 1.62% year-to-date, net-of-fees. And that doesn’t count the income the Bond Model has produced.

Many of our clients choose a mix between the Aggressive Model and the Bond Model. The returns on those accounts are less than the Aggressive results but more than the Bond.

Worried about current market volatility? Afraid of another crash just around the corner? Not a problem here at RFS. We know how to play defense. Consider the recent crash. The all-time high of the S&P 500 Index was February 19th. By March 23, the S&P declined 33.92%. Just 8 days after the S&P all-time high, on February 27, 2020, just before the close at 3:56 p.m., we purchased SPXS for all our accounts (larger amounts in the aggressive funds, smaller amounts in the conservative ones). The SPXS ETF produces three times the inverse of drops in the S&P Index. If the S&P goes down 10%, this ETF goes up 30%.

Our purchase price for SPXS: $16.1189 per ETF.

It’s a risky ETF, and we watch it carefully. After all, when the S&P goes up 10%, this ETF drops 30%. But it performed beautifully in March of this year, and shielded our accounts from gut-wrenching market drops. At 1:06 p.m., on March 23, 2020, the exact date of the S&P 33.92% decline, we sold the SPXS positions, banking a significant profit.

Our selling price for SPXS: $26.28 per ETF.

Today, the SPXS is trading at $5.86 or so. The following chart of SPXS shows how we entered our positions at $16.1189 as the rise started to accelerate Notice that we exited our position on March 23 at $26.28, right near the very top of the spike in price.

Each day, we study charts like the one above. We stay alert, ready for the next market rise or the next market plunge. Will the market go down again? Yes. Absolutely. How much? No one knows. When? No one knows. But we’re ready. We’re nimble. We’ll act and play defense when our indicators tell us a drop is about to morph into a plunge.

So say good-bye to Zombies. At RFS, you’ll never experience a failure to rebalance (Zombie Sign #1), for we constantly review your account and make certain it continues to hold those ETFs best suited to your level of risk. Further, we’ll encourage you to increase your contributions to your account as your salary and other remuneration grow (Zombie Sign #2), making sure you comply with all applicable IRS regulations. And we sure as heck won’t let you forget us (Zombie Sign #3), because we stay in touch with you weekly . . . sometimes daily.

In fact, if you need to get in touch with us quickly, we give out our cell phone numbers: There’s no elevator music on our phone system.

Give Us a Call

So look around your financial world and see if some of your accounts qualify as Zombies. Look for the three signs: accounts not rebalanced, retirement accounts receiving low and out-of-date contributions, and accounts sitting at former employers. Or look at your nonretirement accounts. Do any of them qualify as Zombies?

You may call my cell number right now: (240) 401-2355. We can talk about your situation and look at your various accounts.

After all, doing it yourself can sometimes result in doing yourself in.

Best regards,

Jack Reutemann

 

[1] https://www.forbes.com/sites/ashleaebeling/2019/11/06/irs-announces-higher-2020-retirement-plan-contribution-limits-for-401ks-and-more/#7ecdb4e333bb
[1] https://finance.yahoo.com/news/zombie-401-k-131547647.html

How to Manage Your Money and Your Risk Exposure

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Technical analysis is an emotionless investment decision making process that does not allow for getting caught up in the company or industry story. Investments are made through a series of technical factors. The most notable factor is one called “relative strength.” When a security price shows a recognizable pattern of higher highs and higher lows it demonstrates that there is higher demand than supply for that security. This means that the “buyers” are in control and not the “sellers.” While we cannot guarantee investment performance, securities that demonstrate this technical behavior have a higher probably increasing in value.

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Best Mutual Funds?
Since the bull market run started 10 years ago, how many mutual funds would you guess outperformed the stock market?

If you are thinking 500, 200 or even 20, you are very wrong.  In fact, not one single mutual fund has beaten the market since 2009.  After pondering that fact, does that make you want to change what you invest in?   Remember all those expensive, slickly produced TV and magazine ads boasting market beating ratings and top quartiles?  You know, the ones that show an incredibly good looking, but aging couple walking hand in hand into the sunset on a deserted beach?  They all are just so much bunk. The funds mentioned rarely quote performance beyond one or two short years.

Not too long ago, the New York Times studied the performance of 2,862 actively managed domestic stock mutual funds since 2009. It carried out a simple quantitative analysis, looking at how many managers stayed in the top performance quartile every year.

ZERO was their final conclusion.   It gets worse…. It is very rare for a mutual fund manager to stay in the top quartile for more than one year. All too often, last year’s hero is this year’s goat, usually because they made some extreme one-sided bet that turned out to be a flash in the pan.  The harsh lesson here is that investing with your foot on the gas pedal going 100 miles per hour and your eyes on the rearview mirror is certain to get you into a fatal crash.

 

“It is possible that any one of these mutual funds will beat the market over the long term,” … “Some of them will do that. But the problem is that we don’t know which of them will do that in advance.” And that, in a nutshell, is the kernel of the argument for buying index funds.
  -New York Times

In their investigation, The NY Times did come across two mutual funds which did beat the S&P500 for five years.  These small cap energy funds more than average amounts of risk to achieve these numbers and have since lost most of their money.
The underlying causes for the pitiful underperformance are many and they highlight the reasons ETFs are coming on strong.  Mutual fund management fees are high and more buried costs are hidden in the fine print of the prospectus. The managemnt fees that are quoted are just the tip of the iceberg.

Any proven,  real talent soon flees the mutual fund industry, with all the real brains leaving to start their own hedge funds and investment advisory services. The inside joke among hedge fund managers is that employment at a mutual fund is proof positive that you are a lousy manager.

Let’s revisit those high dollar mutual fund TV ads. They cost tons of money to make.  All the production costs of the commercials are rolled up into those 12B-1 hidden fees you never really see unless you hunt through the prospectus.  These commercials and print ads are made at the expense of the fund investors thus yielding you a lower return on investment on your money. And those sexy performance numbers? They benefit from a huge survivor bias. If a mutual funds performance is substandard, it is at risk of being closed. As there is a impending desire to protect the other funds in the family. Trying to find mutual funds with standout records spanning 2 decades is near impossible. Like finding the proverbial needle in a haystack.

But since we are on a roll, its hard to imagine that the mutual fund industry as a a whole woefully underperforms the basic S&P500 averages. How could this be? Random picks from the stock pages of your local paper would probably create a better investment return than the majority of the mutual fund industry.

Two years ago, when he signed the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, President Barack Obama bragged that he’d dealt a crushing blow to the extravagant financial corruption that had caused the global economic crash in 2008. “These reforms represent the strongest consumer financial protections in history,” the president told an adoring crowd in downtown D.C. on July 21st, 2010. “In history.”

Financial Advisor, Financial Advisor Maryland, Investment Advisor, Retirement Planner, Retirement Planning, TSP Transfer, TSP Rollover, 401K Rollover, Best, Adviser, Advisor

This was supposed to be the big one. At 2,300 pages, the new law ostensibly rewrote the rules for Wall Street. It was going to put an end to predatory lending in the mortgage markets, crack down on hidden fees and penalties in credit contracts, and create a powerful new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to safeguard ordinary consumers. Big banks would be banned from gambling with taxpayer money, and a new set of rules would limit speculators from making the kind of crazy-ass bets that cause wild spikes in the price of food and energy. There would be no more AIGs, and the world would never again face a financial apocalypse when a bank like Lehman Brothers went bankrupt.

Two years later, Dodd-Frank is groaning on its deathbed. From the moment it was signed into law, lobbyists and lawyers have fought regulators over every line in the rulemaking process. Congressmen and presidents may be able to get a law passed once in a while – but they can no longer make sure it stays passed.

With millions of dollars being spent on high paid Washington lobbyists, the mutual fund industry continues to complain about overregulation. Plus, don’t forget, that the costs of the lobbyists also come out of your fund performance as well.

This is why the overwhelming bulk of investors are better off investing in the lower cost ETFs that have become so popular with investors, diversifying holdings among a small number of major asset classes, and then rebalancing as needed to keep the winners in play.

Research Financial Strategies does not charge you with any of our overhead. I am not jacking up what you pay me based on what I spend. I don’t even sell your email address to another online marketer. Being an independent operation of a dozen or so people, I’ll tell you what I don’t have. I lack an investment banking department telling me I have to recommend a stock so we can get the management of their next stock and we don’t have any in-house mutual funds from which we profit more and are required to push.
You just need to pay me a low, flat fee. I don’t need any more.

 

For over 25 years, Research Financial Strategies has been serving families and businesses as their investment advisor. Let us put our money management expertise to work for you. Set up a consultation by either filing out our contact form or by calling us at 301-294-7500. We are here for you!

 

 

Source: NYTimes.com

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