Fear Keeps Millennials on Investing Sidelines

Fear of Investing

Millennials are nervous about investing. Recent surveys have shown that 70% of millennials keep their savings in cash rather than invest it in the stock market.

But by not investing early on, these people in their 20s and early 30s miss out on the key advantage they have at a young age: time. Because your investment returns are compounded, the earlier you start investing the more — and longer — will the returns add up, ultimately leaving you with more money in the bank.

So what are millennials waiting for? Many of the concerns holding them back from the market boil down to a lack of information about investing. Some of the most common fears are:

‘I have no idea where to start’

Many potential young investors have no idea where to start even if they wanted to buy just one stock. And then they don’t know how to choose which stock or fund to invest in. Since most people don’t get personal finance education as part of their schooling, investing can seem enormously daunting and precarious.

A little online research can demystify many of the basic investing concepts, such as how compounded interest works, how patience can be beneficial, and how to not overreact to temporary dips in the market. Working with a financial advisor to develop a plan and ease into an investing strategy also can help reduce your stress and anxiety about entering the stock market.

‘I haven’t even paid off my loans — I can’t start saving’

Concern about debt, particularly student loans, is understandable and widespread among millennials. Student loan borrowers have an average debt of almost $30,000 for undergraduate loans. The question of whether to pay off student loan debt more aggressively or use the extra money to start saving is a tough one because people don’t have the same financial situations. Your debt, cash flow and spending circumstances are unique and will require a plan that’s customized to you.

Keep in mind, however, that your years as a young professional are your prime saving period. If you can stomach not using all your extra money to pay off loans, you could reap the long-term benefit of investing early. Paying down a high-interest loan is a priority. But if the interest is low enough, consider creating a financial plan that allots some of your savings to an IRA or 401(k). Over time, the return on that investment, with the help of compounded interest, can make the trade-off worthwhile.

If you don’t have high-interest loans, creating a long-term, comprehensive financial plan that includes saving and investing is the best way of making sure you’ll have the funds you’ll need in the future, whether it’s to pay down debt, buy or rent a house, or make any other important expenditure. If you live on a tight budget, controlling and mapping out your spending becomes even more important.

‘I don’t trust, or can’t afford, financial advisors’

Many advisors require high asset minimums that may be well out of reach for young investors. And even then, the advisor could put your money in inefficient investment products that could generate commissions and other hidden fees for the advisor and inflate your investing costs.

Many advisors are not legally obligated to act only in their clients’ best interest; they merely have to suggest “suitable” investments. In many cases this means investments for which they are paid a commission. But those who uphold the fiduciary standard are required to put their clients’ interests first. And fee-only advisors are paid solely for the advice they give you, and not through commissions on the products they recommend.

Millennials are right to be wary of the industry, but there are advisors who won’t put their profit goals ahead of yours. Look for a fee-only fiduciary advisor. You may also want to work initially with a fiduciary advisor who charges by the hour if advisors with asset-management minimums are out of reach.

You need a financial plan that’s customized for your own situation and goals. But that doesn’t mean you can afford a delayed start. The sooner you map out a financial plan and start saving and investing, the bigger the payoff will be down the road.

This article was originally published on Nerdwallet.com

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The views expressed in this blog post are as of the date of the posting, and are subject to change based on market and other conditions. This blog contains certain statements that may be deemed forward-looking statements. Please note that any such statements are not guarantees of any future performance and actual results or developments may differ materially from those projected.
Please note that nothing in this blog post should be construed as an offer to sell or the solicitation of an offer to purchase an interest in any security or separate account. Nothing is intended to be, and you should not consider anything to be, investment, accounting, tax or legal advice. If you would like investment, accounting, tax or legal advice, you should consult with your own financial advisors, accountants, or attorneys regarding your individual circumstances and needs. No advice may be rendered by Sherman Wealth unless a client service agreement is in place.
If you have any questions regarding this Blog Post, please Contact Us.

4 Healthy Financial Habits to Develop Now

4 Healthy Financial Habits

Our habits play a crucial role in our ability to meet our goals and become who we want to be. Bad habits — whether it’s biting our nails, overeating, smoking or something else — create roadblocks on the path to becoming our best selves.

And it’s no different when it comes to our finances. Bad money habits can have damaging, long-term consequences for our financial security. But developing healthy financial habits can do wonders for helping us achieve our long-term goals like saving enough for retirement or paying for a child’s college education.

The earlier you develop healthy financial habits, the better your chances of successfully meeting your goals. Here are four financial habits you should start working on today:

1. Separate spending on ‘needs’ and ‘wants’

This is the first step in developing healthy habits. You need to understand where your money is going and then figure out where you need to allocate it to make the best use of it.

Sticking to a spending plan and avoiding impulse buying is crucial for building a healthy savings plan. Create a simple budget that shows you how much money you are bringing in and helps you understand your monthly spending. Add up all of your expenses that you would consider a need — this includes your monthly savings amount, rent, car payment, cable and internet bill, food, etc. (By including your savings amount in your need category, you create an automatic savings plan for yourself — more on that below.) Subtract that total from your income, and what is left over is your free cash flow.

The remaining money is the amount you have at your disposal for your “want” expenses. At the very least, make sure you are not spending more than that. At the end of the month, if you still have money left over, stick it in your savings or investment account. This removes the temptation to spend it and lets you start the next month fresh again. If you consistently have money left over, increase your savings amount.

2. Set up automatic savings

Creating a consistent savings mechanism will ensure you are saving a minimum amount each month or paycheck, making progress toward your longer-term goals. Whether you are saving into an investment account or your bank savings account, set up an automatic contribution from each of your paychecks so that the money is “out of sight, out of mind” and you won’t be tempted to spend it.

Why is this so important? Without having an automatic savings plan, you could be saving $500 one month and then $0 the next. Although this is better than not saving at all, it is not a good practice to adopt. And remember, you can start small. Even if it’s $100 a month, saving consistently will pay off immensely down the road. 

3. Participate in your employer-sponsored retirement plan

Saving for retirement is one of the most important financial habits you can build for yourself. The power of tax-deferred investment growth over your entire career can really add up. Another benefit with 401(k)s and other retirement plans is that the money you contribute is pretax, which effectively lowers your taxable income, reducing your tax liability today.

If your employer offers a matching contribution to your 401(k) based on your contribution level, it’s especially important to contribute enough to take advantage of this benefit. The employer is basically offering you free money that you would be turning down. For instance, an employer may offer a retirement savings plan to which you can contribute up to 5% of your salary and it will match up to 3% of that. If you don’t contribute at least 3%, you are in effect saying no to a 3% raise.

If your employer does not offer a retirement savings plan, look into opening a self-directed retirement account such as an IRA so you can benefit from tax-advantaged retirement saving.

4. Start investing now

Time is the greatest advantage investors have when it comes to saving and investing early and consistently. With the power of compound interest, even small amounts can really add up over the years. With compound interest, your interest amount is added to the principal, increasing the amount of interest you earn, even if the rate of return does not change. To take advantage of compound interest, the earlier you start saving, the better.

If you can boost your savings rate, you’ll be even better off in the event of a long period of low investment returns, according to Michael Batnick, director of research for investment firm Ritholtz Wealth Management. “Saving more money can offset lower returns because you’re compounding on top of compounding,” Batnick writes. He points to a comparison of two portfolios over a 20-year period, both starting with contributions of $5,000 a year. The portfolio earning an average of 4% annually, with contributions increased by 10% each year, will have $100,000 more in it compared with a portfolio earning 6% a year, with contributions raised by only 5% ($393,153 vs. $293,534).

Prioritize your goals

If you already have these good financial habits, that’s great. If not, the best time to start developing them is now. Everyone will have their own goals and needs, and, unfortunately, not all of those can be satisfied at the same time. You’ll have to prioritize your goals, but once you do, you can start building healthy habits that will allow you to reach them. Separating your needs from your wants, saving early and often, taking advantage of tax-favored retirement savings plans, and investing now can help you build a solid financial foundation and get you where you want to go.

This article was originally published on NerdWallet.com

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The views expressed in this blog post are as of the date of the posting, and are subject to change based on market and other conditions. This blog contains certain statements that may be deemed forward-looking statements. Please note that any such statements are not guarantees of any future performance and actual results or developments may differ materially from those projected.
Please note that nothing in this blog post should be construed as an offer to sell or the solicitation of an offer to purchase an interest in any security or separate account. Nothing is intended to be, and you should not consider anything to be, investment, accounting, tax or legal advice. If you would like investment, accounting, tax or legal advice, you should consult with your own financial advisors, accountants, or attorneys regarding your individual circumstances and needs. No advice may be rendered by Sherman Wealth unless a client service agreement is in place.
If you have any questions regarding this Blog Post, please Contact Us.

Why Investors Can Be Their Own Worst Enemy

Sherman Wealth Management | Fee Only Fiduciary

Investors often think they are doing better than they actually are. But the reality is that most investors are actually underperforming their benchmark. Two recent articles regarding behavioral finance — Which Investor Personality Best Describes You? and 8 Common Investor Biases That Impact Investment Decisions — detail a concept which is the thought that our own instinctive behaviors are the biggest challenge to us as investors. Another topic that we have written on is the issue with trying to “time” the market. What people often don’t realize is that these two concepts have more in common than you might think.

For over two decades, financial research firm Dalbar has been analyzing investor returns. It recently published its 22nd annual Quantitative Analysis of Investor Behavior study that compared these investor equity fund returns versus the market benchmark. The results showed significant underperformance from investors. Dalbar points out that “for the 30 years ended Dec. 31, 2015, the S&P 500 index produced an annual return of 10.35%, while the average equity mutual fund investor earned only 3.66%. The gap of 6.69 percentage points represents the diminished returns.”

So why is this the case?

As advisors, we have long preached the importance of cost and the large effects it can have on returns. While cost is a factor in investor underperformance, there are other factors that play even a larger role. The study showed that the biggest contributing factor to equity investors’ underperformance over the past 20 years is voluntary investor behavior. What does that mean? Let’s look at a couple of examples of investor behavior that contributes to underperformance.

1. Panic selling: The No. 1 rule in a market collapse is not to panic. Markets can be erratic with times of larger-than-normal volatility. Responding emotionally is never a good idea. Start by understanding what your risk tolerance is. At that point, make sure you understand your investments and what their purpose is in your portfolio. Finally, look at your portfolio as a whole and make sure it is aligned properly with your risk tolerance and goals.

2. Trend chasing/herd mentality/FOMO (Fear of Missing Out): As the phrase goes: what you see is what you believe. When investors see a stock continue to go up, or everyone around them is talking about buying that stock, it is easy to follow the crowd and jump in without thinking. History has shown us that past performance is no guarantee of future returns.

3. Overconfidence: Many investors feel they perform better than what is actually happening or real. This can cause investors to believe they can accurately time the markets.

Source: BlackRock; Informa Investment Solutions

Telling investors about these issues is one thing. Actually seeing the fixes put into practice is another challenge. The key point to remember is that we are often our own worst enemies when it comes to managing our own investments. Having a great financial and investment plan is irrelevant if you don’t have the mindset to follow through and stick to it. Becoming self-aware of these issues is a great first step.

This article was originally published on investopedia.com

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The views expressed in this blog post are as of the date of the posting, and are subject to change based on market and other conditions. This blog contains certain statements that may be deemed forward-looking statements. Please note that any such statements are not guarantees of any future performance and actual results or developments may differ materially from those projected.
Please note that nothing in this blog post should be construed as an offer to sell or the solicitation of an offer to purchase an interest in any security or separate account. Nothing is intended to be, and you should not consider anything to be, investment, accounting, tax or legal advice. If you would like investment, accounting, tax or legal advice, you should consult with your own financial advisors, accountants, or attorneys regarding your individual circumstances and needs. No advice may be rendered by Sherman Wealth unless a client service agreement is in place.
If you have any questions regarding this Blog Post, please Contact Us.

Where Millennials Can Turn for Financial Advice

Sherman Wealth Management | Fee Only Fiduciary

We live in a fascinating time. The biggest wealth transfer in history is beginning, as Millennials will soon become the wealth bearing demographic in this county.  Not surprisingly, as we pointed out in a recent blog post, personal finance is a huge issue for many Millennials. But where can a Millennial turn for advice?

Goals, dreams, jobs, family plans, etc. are going to vary widely, but there a few common themes that seem relevant across the spectrum. We constantly write on many of these issues, so decided to summarize the topics for you and answer some of those nagging questions.

 

  • Getting started is often the hardest part. Beginning a savings plan early is key, which makes planning all the more important. We constantly preach the importance of determining your short, intermediate and long term goals and then focusing on creating a plan on how to achieve them. Having the “money conversation” is a great way to get started. Remember, it’s not how much you make, but how much you save. Read more here on getting started with the money conversation.

 

  • Student Loans/Debt – A common financial hurdle for many millennials is navigating student loans. So how do you determine if your focus should be on accelerating the payoff of that debt or maximizing saving instead? We wrote about that here.

 

 

  • Knowing Who to Trust – Even if you understand the advantages of investing in the stock market, it’s not always easy to find a professional you can trust. A recent facebook study shows that over 50% of millennials have no one to trust for financial guidance.

 

FB Study

Source: insights.fb.com

 

A few months back we wrote a piece titled “Why Go Where Your Money’s Not Wanted” that touches on the point of many financial institutions turning down Millennials as clients. Most of the corporate institutions prefer high-net worth clients because it creates “efficiencies of scale” and a higher profit margin on larger trades. As frustrating as the requirement for a high minimum balance is for first time investors, it’s actually one of the main reasons I created Sherman Wealth Management. It was important to me to make sure top notch financial advice was available to anyone and everyone,  particularly to those who are starting out on the path to wealth accumulation. We created this guide to make sure you are asking your potential financial advisors the right questions to determine if they are right for you. – 6 Questions to Ask Your Financial Advisor

 

  • Marriage – Getting married is more than just substituting the word “ours” for “yours” and “mine”. It’s combining your finances, histories, dreams, aspirations, possessions – even your music – and making all of that “ours” too. If you have started to think about marriage, or are married already, there are a few financial discussions you should be sure you have.  Since a significant part of those pre-marital dreams and aspirations involve money, having multiple financial conversations before marriage (or right after, if you’re newlyweds!) can help you start married life on a firmer footing, with regard to financial goals. Here are two blogs we wrote for those getting married or already married.

 

  • Buying a house – There are studies out there saying that Millennials are not buying houses. A prudent home purchase often can be one of the most stable and solid investments a young person can make. So why the hesitation? Some Millennials wonder if given the rate increase and current market turmoil – if this is really the right time to purchase a first home, or if renting makes more sense for you right now? We wrote about this exact topic here.

 

  • Kids – Babies change your life in many ways, including requiring large amounts of time and money. While you may already be thinking about childcare costs and options, or about paying the medical bills that accompanied your new child, there are several other – important – financial considerations you should be thinking about even before the new baby arrives – 5 Planning Tips for New Parents

 

If this all seems overwhelming, don’t be discouraged. Personal finance is a journey and everyone is going to take a slightly different path. Taking the initiative to educate yourself on these topics is a great 1st step.

We are passionate about improving financial literacy in our society which is why we try to write blogs like these that will be useful to those trying to navigate the rocky waters on personal finance. If there are additional topics you would like us to write about, we would love to hear your thoughts! Email us at info@shermanwealth.com.

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The views expressed in this blog post are as of the date of the posting, and are subject to change based on market and other conditions. This blog contains certain statements that may be deemed forward-looking statements. Please note that any such statements are not guarantees of any future performance and actual results or developments may differ materially from those projected.
Please note that nothing in this blog post should be construed as an offer to sell or the solicitation of an offer to purchase an interest in any security or separate account. Nothing is intended to be, and you should not consider anything to be, investment, accounting, tax or legal advice. If you would like investment, accounting, tax or legal advice, you should consult with your own financial advisors, accountants, or attorneys regarding your individual circumstances and needs. No advice may be rendered by Sherman Wealth unless a client service agreement is in place.
If you have any questions regarding this Blog Post, please Contact Us.

Personal Finance – Why Didn’t I Learn That?

I recently returned from a reunion weekend with some of my college buddies. We caught up on wives, kids, work and all the other important parts of our lives. One thing struck me about the conversations, no matter whether I was speaking with liberal arts majors or those who studied corporate finance: While we all know that E=MC2 and maybe even know a fair amount about Einstein’s theory, most of them graduated without having a real clue about personal finance.

In other words, the financial skills we learn in school are not necessarily the ones we need in the real world — at least when it comes to our personal lives.

Personal finance is not typically part of a college curriculum. And while some of us have parents or family members who can guide us along the way, those individuals may not be financial experts, and there is a limit to the help they can provide.

From my experience, most people are interested in financial literacy but don’t know where to go to get started. We all face similar issues, and the less familiar we are with the mechanics of approaching them, the more anxiety-provoking they become.

The younger you learn, the better off you are. When I was in the first grade, I wanted to be Alex P. Keaton, the money-savvy teenager played by Michael J. Fox on the television sitcom “Family Ties.” It was clear early on that I had an affinity for sound saving, investing and growing money. When I was 7, my grandmother gave me a dollar; I turned it into $5, then $50. I am thrilled by the challenge of helping people reach their financial goals at all stages of their lives.

For example, take buying that first home. Your career is on track, and becoming a homeowner seems like an appropriate goal. So with some excitement and anticipation, you decide to start looking.

Then the questions begin flooding in. How much home can I afford? How much should I be saving? When is the ideal time to buy? How does a mortgage work? Will I qualify? What’s my credit score? Do I need insurance? How do property taxes work?

Imagine if there were a course in college (let’s not get crazy and imagine they would teach this in high school) called Personal Finance 101. In addition to the homebuying lessons above, the curriculum could look something like this:

Cash flow and budgeting

Topics covered: What is a budget? How do I create one? How do I know what I can afford?

Building credit and understanding credit cards

Topics covered: What are the advantages and disadvantages of owning a credit card? How should I decide which one to get?

Intro to the stock market and investing

Topics covered: What are the differences in the various investment vehicles — exchange-traded funds, mutual funds, stocks, bonds, certificates of deposit?

Taxes

Topics covered: How do I pay taxes? What do I need to pay attention to in my tax planning?

Future workplace retirement plan options

Topics covered: What is a 401(k), IRA, Roth IRA? When should I start saving? How much should I save?

My guess is that a course like this would be incredibly valuable to many. It’s complicated stuff. It’s important stuff. It’s the kind of stuff that you actually need to know.

This is the main reason I chose to get in this line of work. Younger people have no idea where or how to start, and they have no idea where to find help. Traditional financial management institutions have investment minimums that most of us won’t be able to meet for over a decade, if ever. These minimums can range from $250,000 to $500,000, and sometimes are higher. Even if you were fortunate enough to be accepted by a big institutional investment manager, you’re kidding yourself if you think a large institution is going to take the time to explain to you the difference between a traditional IRA and a Roth IRA.

That’s why I chose to create a wealth management model where we would provide the same customized service to all of our clients, without consideration of a minimum initial investment and irrespective of the size of their accounts. We hope that by investing in you early, you’ll see our value for the long term.

If you are reading this and can relate to some of these thoughts, know that it’s not just you. It doesn’t matter whether you majored in art or corporate finance, you almost certainly did not take a class in Personal Finance 101. The good news is, you don’t have to go at it alone. Seek the help that is out there, and learn what you may have missed in college.

This article was originally published on NerdWallet.com

This article also appears on Nasdaq.

 

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The views expressed in this blog post are as of the date of the posting, and are subject to change based on market and other conditions. This blog contains certain statements that may be deemed forward-looking statements. Please note that any such statements are not guarantees of any future performance and actual results or developments may differ materially from those projected.
Please note that nothing in this blog post should be construed as an offer to sell or the solicitation of an offer to purchase an interest in any security or separate account. Nothing is intended to be, and you should not consider anything to be, investment, accounting, tax or legal advice. If you would like investment, accounting, tax or legal advice, you should consult with your own financial advisors, accountants, or attorneys regarding your individual circumstances and needs. No advice may be rendered by Sherman Wealth unless a client service agreement is in place.
If you have any questions regarding this Blog Post, please Contact Us.

6 Questions to Ask A Financial Advisor

6 Questions for Financial Advisor

Finding a financial advisor who is right for you is an important process. A good financial advisor is there to prevent you from making decisions that would have a negative, unintended impact on you. Who wouldn’t love to have a financial coach to keep you on track to achieve your financial goals?

Just like with any working relationship, it’s a good idea to interview advisors until you find the one who is the best fit for you, your life, and your financial goals. Since you are entrusting your financial well-being to someone, you should get to know them and their financial planning and investing philosophy before committing to a long-term relationship.

As you may have heard the Department of Labor (DOL) has just released its new fiduciary rule in its final form. We previously wrote about the reasons why someone would oppose this rule considering it was created to improve financial transparency and eliminate conflicted advice from advisors. While this rule would still allow advisors to keep their “conflicted” commissions in some instances, it would require advisors to act as fiduciaries (a.k.a. “best interests contract”) when handling client’s retirement accounts.

We have long been proponents of more transparency and conflict-free advice and feel this is a step in the right direction.

So how does this affect your search for the right financial advisor? Here are 6 questions to ask to help with finding a financial advisor.

1. Are You a Fiduciary? (Are You ALWAYS a Fiduciary?)

As we mentioned earlier, this new rule will only require financial advisors to act as a fiduciary for client’s retirement accounts. A fiduciary is regulated by federal law and must adhere to strict standards. They must act in the client’s best interest, in good faith, and they must provide full disclosure regarding fees, compensation, and any current or potential conflicts of interest.

Until now, broker-dealers, insurance salesman, bank and financial company representatives, and others were only required to follow a Suitability Standard. That means they only had to provide recommendations that are “suitable” for a client – based on age or aversion to risk for example – but this may or may not be in that client’s best interest.

The brokerage industry, as you can probably imagine, and all those who earn their compensation from commissions are strongly against these new rules.

Even with this new law passed, we feel it is important to make sure your advisor is acting as a fiduciary when dealing with ANY of your finances, not just retirement accounts.

 

2. What is Your Fee Structure? (Difference Between Fee-Only, Fee-Based and Commission)

Advisors throw out terms like “fee-based” and consumers assume that is the same as
“fee-only.” That is not the case. At Sherman Wealth Management, we are fee-only which means that we are paid exclusively by our clients, so we are completely conflict-free. We do not get commissions from the investments or products we recommend. We do not get bonuses based on how many clients we get to invest in company products. We are paid an hourly or quarterly fee by our clients who retain us because we are making their money work for them with only their best interest in mind.

Think of it this way: would you want to work with an accountant who also gets commissions from the IRS? Of course not. You want your accountant to represent your best interests. Would you go to a doctor who makes money each time he prescribes penicillin? No, you want your doctor to prescribe what is right for you.

Do not assume that an advisor is following a fiduciary standard with their compensation now. The new rules will not be enforced until 2018. Ask your financial advisor to clearly specify their fees. With many layers of diversification that can be applied to your portfolio, you want to be aware of whether you are exposed to up-front charges, back-end fees, expense ratios, and/or whether a percentage of your returns will be deducted.

 

3. Why Are They Right for YOU?

A financial advisor should be able to tell you their strengths and what sets them apart. Some advisors will advise on investments while others specialize in comprehensive financial planning. While you may think all advisors are the same, and it certainly may seem like that on the surface, by now you should be seeing that is not the case.

Ask how involved they are with their client’s portfolios. Are they hands-on in their approach? How available are they for their clients’ needs?

For us, we enjoy serving a wide-range of clients, from young first-timers who are just getting started with investing and financial planning, to experienced savers, to high-net-worth investors who are well on their way to financial independence.

We strive to understand our clients wants and needs. We help our clients plan for the long term while simultaneously working to avoid short-term roadblocks. We do so by making it a point to SHOW you that you are not alone. We’re just like you, we’ve been there, and we know that financial planning can be an anxiety provoking activity for many. We use a fluid process to help set clear, realistic goals with an easy to understand roadmap of what you need to do to get there. We are right there with you every step of the way.

In today’s world you don’t just want a trusted advisor, you want instant access to your accounts and the progress you are making. That is why we offer some of the best in new financial services technology tools.

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The relationship with your financial advisor is an important one. You need to feel comfortable with whom you are working with.

 

4. What is Your Investment Philosophy?

Every financial advisor has a specific approach to planning and investing. Some advisors prefer trying to time the market and actively manage funds versus passive investments. Others may seek to gain high returns and make riskier investments. Your goals and risk tolerance need to align with the advisor’s philosophy.

When anyone invests money, they are doing so with the hopes of growing it faster than inflation. While some traditional investment managers not only want to generate a profitable return, they aim to beat the market by taking advantage of pricing discrepancies and attempting to time the market and predict the future. Some investment companies offer “one-size-fits-all” investment management solutions that only take into account your age and income.

We have a different approach. We believe an individuals best chance at building wealth through the capital markets is to avoid common behavioral biases in the beginning and utilize a well thought out, disciplined, and long-term approach to investing. We create a well diversified, customized portfolio that focuses on tax efficiency, cost effectiveness, and risk management. Read more about how we do this.

Make it a top priority to understand the strategy your advisor uses and that you are comfortable with it.

 

5. How Personalized Are Your Recommendations for Your Clients?

It is important that your financial advisor tailors your financial plan to your specific goals. Your retirement plan and investment strategy should be customized to take into account your risk tolerance, age, income, net-worth, and other factors specific to your situation. There should not be a one-size-fits-all approach to managing your money.

Some traditional brokers and insurance companies are so big that it becomes impossible for them to give you a truly individualized experience. They have a corporate agenda that they must follow and it can restrict the service they provide to you.

As frustrating as the requirement for a high minimum balance is for first-time investors, it has also inspired a new breed of smaller independent Registered Investment Advisors (RIAs), like Sherman Wealth Management. What our clients all have in common is that they appreciate the focus on their own individual goals and best interests that we guarantee as a boutique, independent, fee-only fiduciary.

We know that each client is unique.  We don’t look for “market efficiencies” or work for sales commissions on the products we recommend. Our focus is different. We strive to help investors build a strong foundation and grow with them, not by profiting off good or bad trades. This gives us the opportunity to create individual strategies and plans that are uniquely suited to each client, not just a cookie-cutter plan based on age, income, or broadly assessed risk tolerance.

 

6. Do You Have Any Asset or Revenue Minimums?

Some have argued that the proposed DOL rule will end up hurting the small investor because larger institutions will not be willing to serve small accounts. This logic is fundamentally backward and flawed, as those clients were never on their radar to begin with. In fact, the ability for these large institutions to generate commissions and thus charge more to these small investor clients have driven that business, without regard to the best interests of the individual investor.

For example, In a company statement quoted by Janet Levaux in Think Advisor, Wells Fargo, the most valuable financial institution in the world according to the Wall Street Journal, said that in 2016, “bonuses will be awarded to FAs with 75% of their client households at $250,000.”

Wells Fargo isn’t the only large institution effectively ignoring Millennials and other smaller and entry-level clients. Most of the corporate institutions prefer high-net-worth clients because it creates “efficiencies of scale” and a higher profit margin on larger trades.

The complaints against the new DOL rule have nothing to do with protecting the little guy. Rather, the complaints are driven by the desire of commission-based large institutions, insurance companies, and broker-dealers who are trying to protect their ability to generate commissions and charge clients unnecessary fees.

Make sure you understand your advisor’s motivations. If they don’t want you, why should you want them?

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The views expressed in this blog post are as of the date of the posting, and are subject to change based on market and other conditions. This blog contains certain statements that may be deemed forward-looking statements. Please note that any such statements are not guarantees of any future performance and actual results or developments may differ materially from those projected.
Please note that nothing in this blog post should be construed as an offer to sell or the solicitation of an offer to purchase an interest in any security or separate account. Nothing is intended to be, and you should not consider anything to be, investment, accounting, tax or legal advice. If you would like investment, accounting, tax or legal advice, you should consult with your own financial advisors, accountants, or attorneys regarding your individual circumstances and needs. No advice may be rendered by Sherman Wealth unless a client service agreement is in place.
If you have any questions regarding this Blog Post, please Contact Us.

March Madness and Investing: Surprising Similarities (And How to Avoid Common Mistakes)

March Madness (1)

What a great time of the year. Cherry blossoms are out, baseball opening day is right around the corner, and the best single elimination tournament in sports is on its way. That’s right, it’s March Madness time.

For those of you unfamiliar, March Madness, as it’s commonly called, is a 64-team college basketball single elimination tournament. There are four regions that each have 16 teams seeded 1 though 16. The winners of each region meet in the “final four” to determine who will emerge as the champion.

Offices around the country are buzzing with brackets, upset picks and friendly wagers. In other words, it’s chaos both on and off the court and it’s glorious!

In case you couldn’t tell, I love sports. As a financial advisor, I am constantly looking at seemingly unrelated topics, and comparing them to the world of finance. What may come as a surprise to you is that investing and March Madness have more in common than you think.

So what does the tournament have to do with investing? Let’s have some fun and take a look.

You Can’t Predict the Future

Every year people get excited about their bracket. We watch the “experts” on TV and eagerly listen to their reasons for picking one team over another. We all go into the season thinking that this is “our year.” We’ve done the research and we’ve studied history. What could possibly go wrong?

In the first round of this year’s tournament, a record 10 double-digit seeds advanced to the second round! Do you think a lot of people predicted that? Not a chance.

March Madness BracketsHave you ever heard the saying on Wall Street that past performance does not guarantee future performance? There’s a reason the saying exists. Just like last year’s successful mutual fund managers aren’t any more likely to pick this year’s best accounts, the winner of last year’s bracket pool is no more likely than you to pick this year’s winning March Madness team.

When it comes to investing, “experts” love to tell us what is going to happen in the future. People brag about their best stock picks and conveniently leave out their poor ones. The truth is, no one knows what is coming. Once you accept that, you can create a financial plan that takes into account your risk tolerance, and current life situation to make the best investment decisions for you.

Diversification and Risk vs. Reward

No one picks a perfect bracket. The odds of filling out a perfect bracket are 1 in 9.2 quintillion (source: USA Today). According to that number, if everyone in the US filled out one bracket each year, we would see a perfect bracket once every 400 years. You’d be better off gambling with the lottery based on those odds.

However, straying from the standard “favorites” isn’t always the answer either. People love to pick the underdog or “dark horse,” but if you do this consistently year after year, you aren’t likely to have much success. That doesn’t mean you can’t pick an underdog here or there, but the risky picks should be a subset of your overall picks, not the full strategy.

The truth is, no one wins a bracket pool by picking all favorites or all upsets. As the point above taught us, everyone is just guessing. By diversifying your picks with some favorites and some upsets, you give yourself the best chance at success.

The same principal applies with investing. If your portfolio is composed of stocks from one sector or all growth stocks, you are exposing yourself to huge amounts of risk. Sure, the reward may be great if you end up being right, but as we’ve seen time and time again, that is a strategy that can set you up for disaster.

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The views expressed in this blog post are as of the date of the posting, and are subject to change based on market and other conditions. This blog contains certain statements that may be deemed forward-looking statements. Please note that any such statements are not guarantees of any future performance and actual results or developments may differ materially from those projected.
Please note that nothing in this blog post should be construed as an offer to sell or the solicitation of an offer to purchase an interest in any security or separate account. Nothing is intended to be, and you should not consider anything to be, investment, accounting, tax or legal advice. If you would like investment, accounting, tax or legal advice, you should consult with your own financial advisors, accountants, or attorneys regarding your individual circumstances and needs. No advice may be rendered by Sherman Wealth unless a client service agreement is in place.
If you have any questions regarding this Blog Post, please Contact Us.

Not Investing Yet? Here Are 4 Simple Steps To Get You Started

lemonade

Close your eyes for a moment and envision where you’d like to be in 30 or 40 years… Are you sailing to Tahiti? Writing that book? Running your vineyard? Building a new company?

If you had trouble envisioning where you’d like to be, you’re not alone. But unless you can visualize it, unless you’ve got your destination planned, it can be hard to get there. That’s why it’s so important to start thinking about what your goals currently are – whether it’s for yourself, your career, your startup, your art, and/or your family – and take the first – or the next – steps to invest in your future.

What does investing mean? Very simply, it means putting your money somewhere you expect it to grow. It can be traditional stocks, bonds and mutual funds, or real estate, collectibles, annuities, and other things that are expected to gain value over time.

When you’re just starting out, thinking about – and setting aside money for – your future can feel like a challenge; when you’ve just set up your first lemonade stand and barely breaking even, it’s hard to think about re-investing part of your profits in lemon groves that will someday produce income for you.

The trick is to overcome inertia, get started, and make a commitment, even if it’s just a tiny first step.

Inertia is not your friend

Inertia is one of the biggest reasons people waste opportunities to started investing when they’re young.

Objects at rest tend to stay at rest:

If you’re not investing yet, or if your money is sitting in a non-income producing bank account it can be hard to get started or get moving.

Objects in motion tend to stay in motion:

If your money is constantly in motion, if you’re spending everything you make, or if your money is following the crowd to the next big glamour stock, it can be hard to slow down and take stock with a Financial Planner to build a solid foundation.

A study by Hewitt Associates found, for instance, that only 31% of employees in their 20s invest in their company’s 401K plan¹. That means almost 70% of young employees who could be investing in a matching 401k plan haven’t started taking advantage of what is essentially free money. Whether inertia is keeping them from getting started, or inertia is keeping their money in motion so that there’s none left over to invest, they are not only leaving free money on the table, they’re not letting that money grow through compounding.

According to an article in US News and World Report, if you start investing just $100 a month in your 20s, increase contributions as your income increases, and make good financial decisions along the way, you are on your way to potentially retiring with over 1 million dollars.²

How Do You Get Started?

Here are four simple steps to get you past inertia and get you started.

  • Find your motivation

We are all passionate about certain things. The more you care, the more focused you are about achieving your goals. Make a list of the things that are important to you and the things you want to achieve.

  • Find extra money

There are only two ways to “find” money – spending less or making more. While it may seem daunting – inertia again! – you’d be surprised by how easy it is to discover places you can cut back a little or spend a little less. And, while you have a lot more control over your spending than your earnings, you can also look for ways to find extra sources of income, work more hours, or even get a better paying job.

  • Move financial goals up

If you plan to save “whatever you have left” or “whatever you’ve saved” at the end of each month, don’t be surprised by how little that actually is. We all have a tendency to spend what we have, and spend more as our income goes up. You can avoid that pitfall by paying yourself first. When you prioritize saving in your budget and take that money “out of circulation,” your spending will fall in line.

  • Get advice from an adviser you trust

The world of finance and investing can be complicated and confusing. Don’t let fear of the unknown keep you from getting started. You don’t need a large amount of savings to meet with an adviser who can answer a lot of your questions. Getting a roadmap from someone who knows the territory will help you get started and may allow for a smoother journey.

Investing in your future is an investment in yourself. If you take these four simple steps, even with limited assets, you’ll be laying the foundation for a lifetime of investing in your own plans and goals, and your own vision of financial freedom.

 

All investing involves risk, including the possible loss of principal. There can be no assurance that any investing strategy will be successful. Investments offering higher potential rates of return also involve a higher level of risk.

Learn more about our Investment Management services.

Related Reading:

What is Dollar Cost Averaging?

5 Things Investors Get Wrong

5 Big Picture Things Many Investors Don’t Do

Behavioral Investing: Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus!

¹http://www.bankrate.com/finance/financial-literacy/retirement-planning-for-20-somethings-1.aspx#ixzz3JfVGNIYk
²http://money.usnews.com/money/retirement/articles/2012/07/30/7-ways-to-retire-with-1-million

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Are You Making These Two Critical Investment Mistakes?

Are You Making These 2 Mistakes

It’s no secret: getting an early start on saving and investing is one of the most important things you can do for your future! Putting money into the market when you’re young – even small amounts – gives your investments time to grow and compound over time.

Unfortunately, too many millennials haven’t gotten started yet. A recent survey by Bankrate found that only 26% of Americans under 30 were invested in the stock market, compared to 58% between the ages of 58 and 64. (1)

While the stock market has historically seen positive returns over the long run, it’s not hard to understand why many millennials are wary of it. Millennials under 30 have seen two major market crashes: the tech bubble of the late 1990’s as well as the 2008 economic crisis. Many saw how family members and friends lost years worth of savings and were often financially devastated by what happened.

The result: a deep distrust of Wall Street and a desire to avoid the market altogether.

While it is understandable that millennials are wary about putting their earnings into the market, it’s also unfortunate.

In spite of the two crises of 1990 and 2008, if you had invested in the S&P 500 at the beginning of 1985, and kept that money in until the end of 2014, you would have earned over 25 times what you had initially invested. (2) (3)

Even saving just a small amount each week or month would have made a tremendous difference in your retirement savings.

The Second Mistake

While many millennials make the mistake of investing too little in the market, others make another critical mistake. While they may be making regular contributions, they may not be invested in a wide enough variety of securities.

The youngest generations have grown up with access to the internet, social media, online financial media, and the tools to invest in any publicly traded security that they choose and they feel empowered to make investment decisions on their own, without consulting a professional. They’re also able to trade information with friends and make changes to their portfolio in a matter of seconds using their smartphone or computer.

Because of this, millennials are often invested in individual hot stocks, companies they believe in, or companies that sell products they use and like. This can (and will) work for some investors sometimes as a result of sheer luck and the law of large numbers, but it is not a consistent – or wise – strategy to rely on.

Buying What’s in the News

In 2007 researchers at UC Berkeley and UC Davis published a paper where they showed that individual investors have a tendency to buy stocks that had recently been in the news, or that had share prices that had recently gone up (4). By buying these “hot” stocks, new investors were forced to bid up the price to a higher level than they were before the news story came out. The study showed that, because these investors were buying at an artificially higher price, their portfolios ended up performing poorly as a result of having bought these ‘hot stocks’.

Additionally many millennials choose to engage in “socially responsible” investing, avoiding stocks in companies that sell products they don’t believe in, or that engage in business practices they feel are undesirable, and putting their money in companies that they believe in and feel good about.

Unfortunately, this too can have a negative impact on their returns over the long run. By focusing so narrowly, their portfolios are missing a major piece of the market, which limits their diversification. Additionally social responsible investments can have higher fees than their non-SRI counterparts, because they have the added cost of screening out stocks based on certain criteria.

Along with the added costs, and the decrease in diversification that result in focusing only on SRIs, researchers from Princeton and New York University published a paper in 2009 that showed that ‘sin stocks’ have historically outperformed their non-sin counterparts. (5)

Whether you are choosing to invest your money in a single stock, or several stocks, or you choose to invest in a SRI investment, you are limiting your investment choices, which in turn limits your level of diversification and possibly your returns over the long run.

Bottom line: if you avoid these two critical mistakes by starting to save – and invest – early, and by making sure your portfolio is diversified, you’ll be setting yourself up to watch your money grow over time.

 

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Broad-based investment vehicles with low fees and high levels of diversification, if appropriate to their specific circumstances, is one strategy to help clients toward their goals.

 

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5 Important Planning Tips for New Parents

7parentingtips

Expecting a visit from the stork soon or has it already dropped off a new bundle of joy? If so, you know the full range of emotions that come with a growing family. Along with the love and excitement you feel with a new baby boy or girl, comes the pressure of new responsibilities and additional financial obligations.

Babies change your life in many ways, including requiring large amounts of time and money. While you may already be thinking about childcare costs and options, or about paying the medical bills that accompanied your new child, there are several other – important – financial considerations you should be thinking about even before the new baby arrives.

Evaluate Financial Priorities. It’s important to consider both short-term and long-term expenses that come with the addition of a new family member. It is a natural impulse, for instance, to want to put your child first and redirect retirement savings into college savings. But remember, you can borrow for college but you cannot borrow your way through retirement. It’s also important to balance long-term goals, like retirement and college expenses, with current financial needs, to help you allocate resources in an appropriate way.

Update Insurance Needs and Your Will. With the expansion of your family, insurance needs can change significantly. Having enough insurance is important in feeling confident about your family’s financial future. Adding your child to your health insurance policy can usually be done with a phone call. Making sure you have enough life insurance for both parents can help ensure you have the funds to raise your child if the unthinkable happens. Short-term disability insurance provides benefits if you have an accident that takes you out of work temporarily. Long-term disability insurance is critical in case a major accident has a permanent impact on your ability to work and earn. While some companies offer disability insurance, it can also be purchased independently.

Updating your will or creating a trust can provide care instructions for your child and allocate resources for their upbringing. Without a will or trust, if you and your spouse die, the state will decide who will raise your children. A will establishes your wishes for who will care for your child. A trust can direct funds specifically earmarked for raising your children and can be an effective way to cover financial expenses and provide for college expenses.

Start Planning For College Early. The sooner you start the better. While it is impossible to know exactly how much you’ll need to save – given that you don’t know what kind of college your child will choose – consider that in 2013-2014 the cost of a moderate in-state public university was $22,826 per academic year and the cost of a “moderate” private university averaged $44,750, according to a College Board survey. ¹

For new parents this means that college could cost over $100,000 for a public college and more than double that number for private school. Instead of trying to fund the entire cost of their education, determine how much you want to contribute. Having children be responsible for a part of their education is often a good lesson in work ethic, even if you can afford to pay for everything, and a critical life lesson if you can’t.

Keep Spending and Debt under Control. When you have an adorable child it’s very easy to overspend. You want them to have the best of everything. Setting a budget and sticking with that can help you keep your spending in line with your established budget. This can also help you maintain the discipline needed to continue contributions to long-term financial goals like retirement and their college education. And remember, the best gift you can give your children – your time and attention – is free.

Another important consideration is debt. When you carry debt, you are paying today for yesterday’s bills. Investing potentially allows you to pay today for tomorrow’s bills. By keeping yesterday’s bills settled and debt to a minimum, you lay the foundations for having enough to enjoy today with your children and plan for tomorrow.

Teach Children About Finances At An Early Age. Finances are a part of our daily lives. When you involve children early on they gain an appreciation for what things cost and how to choose what we want and what we can live without. As soon as your child old enough, start helping save their pennies for something they really want, and teach them that work is part of the process of earning money. These skills, if taught early, can lead to a lifetime of responsible money management.

Parenting is an amazing adventure that changes the way you see yourself and the world. Keeping an eye on finances can provide you with the confidence you need to not only enjoy your growing family but help lay the foundations for a stronger future.

 

¹ http://www.collegedata.com/cs/content/content_payarticle_tmpl.jhtml?articleId=10064

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