Category : 401k

John Oliver Hammers the 401(k) Industry - Why blooom Loves it

John Oliver Hammers the 401(k) Industry, and Here’s Why We Love It

By now you may have heard about or seen a Facebook or Twitter share of the recent segment on John Oliver’s “Last Week Tonight” show, which discussed our screwed up 401(k) industry. Not exactly something you’d expect to get a good laugh out of, but in typical fashion, Oliver was able to make a not-so-entertaining subject extremely entertaining with a heavy dose of sarcasm and dry humor. Our take? He nailed it.

At blooom, we’re what’s known as a fiduciary (more on this in a second), which Oliver points out is an important thing to look for when it comes to truly non-conflicted investment advice. We represent what we hope will become the new normal in the industry at some point, although we understand that a change of this magnitude will take time. But until then, there are certainly things you can do to help yourself, which Oliver did a great job highlighting. Here are our thoughts on the main takeaways and a few things we’d like to add.

1) The best time to start is now…or maybe yesterday.
This really just comes down to math, but the power of compounding really is pretty incredible. If you start early, you’ll need to invest far less to end up with far more in retirement. But as Oliver mentioned, not everyone is in the position to save for their retirement. So how do you know if you are?

First and foremost, if you have a 401(k) at work, do whatever you can to contribute up to the full amount your employer will match. From there, here are your priorities from our point of view:

• If you have credit card debt or student loans, don’t contribute a dime more than the full match amount until that is paid down.
• If you have no debt and have enough in an easily accessible savings account to cover at least three months of your living expenses, contribute as much as you can above your employer’s match and get in the habit of increasing contributions by 1% each year until you’ve reached the maximum the IRS allows ($18k if you’re under 50, $24k if you’re over 50).
• If you don’t have a 401(k) at work but have no debt (other than mortgage) and an emergency fund that can cover three months of expenses, look into an IRA and reach out to one of our advisors for some direction on how to open one if you need it.

2) Use low-cost index funds and don’t pay attention to the markets
Not surprisingly, the vast majority of financial institutions continue to market high cost, actively managed products like they somehow perform better and are therefore better investments for their clients. Yet all the evidence seems to prove otherwise. And the case for low-cost passively managed index funds only gets stronger every year.

Instead of trying to beat the market or paying a fund manager a hefty and largely hidden fee to try really really hard to beat the market for you, just ignore the stock market and use an index fund, when possible. Investing for retirement is about retirement, not what the market does in the next week, month, or year. Stick to a long-term disciplined approach, or as Oliver says, “If you stick around doing nothing, while everyone around you f*&%s up, you’re going to win big”. And we don’t have to just take his word for it. John Bogle, founder of Vanguard, along with dozens of other investing icons, famously makes the exact same argument, albeit usually without an f-bomb.

Read More

The Fiduciary Rule and Financial Technology

It didn’t take the DOL ruling (“Final Rule”) or a report by Cerulli Associates for blooom co-founders, Chris Costello and Kevin Conard, to understand that more than 70% of investors are missing out on access to much needed investment advice. According to reporting in WealthManagement.com the new Cerulli Associates report indicates that approximately 90 million households in the U.S. have less than $100,000 in investable assets (approximately 70% of investors), which is a threshold some advisors are using to judge applicable clients.

The robo-advisor space has been able to demonstrate that technology not only provides the ability to scale professional financial advice, but also the ability to do so at the fiduciary level. In a recent Time Op-Ed piece, The Retirement Risk We All Share, blooom’s president, Greg Smith, explained that presently, in a world where pensions are gone and the future of social security is an enigma, too much is riding on employer-sponsored accounts not to implement a fiduciary standard around their management. Pointedly, he states, “[i]n a world where we are left to fend for ourselves in retirement, the stakes are too high not to at least make sure that someone is legally obligated to tell you the right thing to do.” And robo-advisors are positioning themselves to be exactly that “someone”.

And yet, some in the industry continue to suggest that a “robo” cannot replace that “someone” and therefore, will ultimately fail. The key to success with the so-called robo provider is speaking in a language the average investor can understand and making available direct lines of communication with the client. Investors, at all asset levels, want to know their best interests are put first and that there is a trusted source taking care of their nest egg.

Read More

3 Lessons Your Ruined March Madness Bracket Can Teach You About Investing

And so it begins…the one month of the year where a single college basketball tournament costs employers a collective $1.2 Billion for every hour of lost productivity. And it’s fantastic!

At blooom, we’re big believers that we can find investing lessons in nearly every aspect of our lives, which brings me to my point in writing this. Regardless of what your tournament bracket looks like right now, as the surviving teams march on toward the Final Four, there are several lessons on investing that we can take away from all the madness.

1. Analysts are as Clueless as Everyone Else

No one can possibly have enough time to watch every regular season college basketball game. Unless they get paid to. Expert forecasts are a trusted source for anyone filling out a bracket. But if the pros are always getting it wrong, how can the casual fan have any hope? That’s the point.

The financial media has made millions on the ancient art of fortune telling. No matter how many times they get it wrong, market analysts have made careers out of making random predictions that are usually very wrong. It seems like it takes just one correct guess to achieve the prestigious “guru” title on CNBC. A great example of this is the rise of Marc Faber, aka “Dr. Doom”. He’s a regular on CNBC that is best known for his ability to accurately forecast major market downturns. However, the funny thing is that he has been wrong far more often than he’s been right. If you repeat the same gloomy predictions over and over again, of course you’re going to get it right and cash in big at some point. Does that make him a prophet? No. It makes him a great salesman.

Read More

You Can Catch-Up to Get Back on the Retirement Track

This article from 2016 has been updated with information for 2018

The more you can save in your 401k while you’re working the better off you’ll be building your retirement nest egg. I believe I can take off my Captain Obvious cape now. You need more than empty words to help you get on track to retirement and there are tangible actions you can take if you need a 401k catch up.

Although a recent study in InvestmentNews points out 45% of Americans indicate they are on track to reach retirement goals, which is an increase from 38% from the 2013 study, that still leaves many workers coming up short when running the projections for their future retirement account balance. There could be a number of factors that contribute to the shortfall: starting too late, not taking full advantage of a match if offered, taking money out of the account for non-retirement purposes or using investment options that were too conservative or, most likely, some combination of all. But you’re in luck, whether you are just starting out or you can see the retirement horizon from your office chair, there are things you can do to ramp up your retirement savings and catch-up.

If you’re young, you have time to make changes to the way you’re approaching retirement savings without much damage to your end result. You can increase your contribution rate, even just a percent or two, and set up automatic increases annually to get back on track. In 2018 the limit on 401k contributions is $18,500. If you need a calculator to help you determine what percentage to set your contribution rate (also called deferral rate) to reach the maximum, there are plenty out there; I like bankrate.com retirement calculators. Keep in mind, depending on your status in your company, or the plan’s stated rules, you may have limits on actually reaching this maximum amount. For instance, you could be limited if you’re considered a Highly Compensated Employee (HCE) or if your employer’s plan has a limit on the contribution percent you can set up. You can check out your employer’s plan documents to determine the specifics that matter to you.

Read More

Flu Shots to 401(k)s

Flu Shots to 401(k)s: It’s Time to Bridge the Gap Between Health and Wealth in the Workplace
It’s no secret that your local pharmacy loves this time of the year. As temperatures cool and the year begins to wind down, over-the-counter drugs start flying off the shelves. It’s the start of flu season, and for employers, that means more employee absences, poor productivity, and higher healthcare costs.

Although the flu is a highly contagious virus that nearly every workplace will be exposed to in the next few months, there are ways to limit the flu’s impact – like the flu shot. Encouraging employees to get flu shots is one basic example of a way to improve employee wellness. Offering incentives that encourage healthy living can also limit the flu’s impact. This is not news. In fact, most companies fully understand the value of promoting healthy lifestyles for employees and have therefore introduced wellness programs. Better employee health means lower healthcare costs, better morale, and better productivity. It all makes sense. But as wellness programs focusing on physical wellness have been around for a while now, it’s the financial wellness programs that have often been neglected. But that could be changing…

Read More
1 4 5 6 7 8 12