MONEY matters

Mark Zaifman's thoughts on money, global economic trends and politics
Financial Planning Matters More Than Ever Right Now
Mark Zaifman   |    Wed, Mar 25, 2020 @ 10:19 AM




“Pressure is what you feel when you are not prepared”


Lou Holtz


Beware of 'IRA Rollover Specialists' Masquerading as Financial Advisors
Mark Zaifman   |    Fri, May 15, 2015 @ 06:33 PM

False Promises, Dashed Dreams

A couple weeks ago, a client in Oakland emailed me an article from Money Magazine titled: 4 Disastrous Retirement Mistakes and How to Avoid Them.

The premise of this must read article for anyone getting close to retirement and wanting to rollover their IRA is to see past the hype being touting by many a financial salesperson masquerading as an advisor, but really only concerned with their commission payout and not your financial wellness and security.

The Five Financial Planning Mistakes to Avoid in 2013
Mark Zaifman   |    Fri, Dec 07, 2012 @ 09:55 AM

If you’re like the majority of people, come the New Year, you feel almost a primal urge to do something about your finances.

It may be something simple like checking to see how your investments performed last year or perhaps something more ambitious like developing a comprehensive financial plan.

What exactly you do is not the point, but definitely do something, anything, just get started. What you’re looking to do is get into the habit, at least once a year, of investing some time in not only how your relationship with money is going individually as well as with your partner, but also in assessing the previous year from a your money and your life holistic perspective. Call it the year in review.

Developing a Retirement Plan Built on a Foundation of Truth
Mark Zaifman   |    Fri, Nov 30, 2012 @ 11:00 AM

Facing reality when it comes to planning for a successful retirement is easier said than done. For many people, just effectively managing their day to day finances is already a daunting challenge. Add to that list of to-do’s developing a realistic retirement plan and you risk becoming overwhelmed by it all.

What often happens instead is a form of denial and fantasy. We tell ourselves that somehow, someway, our investments will reap double digit returns from now until retirement day. That our incomes will double and cash windfalls are right around the corner. That the 20,000 shares of that penny bio-tech stock we purchased will be worth a million or more dollars in ten years and our home will be worth much, much more than we ever anticipated down the road.

Retirement Planning, Who's Steering Your Ship?
Mark Zaifman   |    Thu, Oct 11, 2012 @ 01:27 PM

When was the last time you talked, and I mean really opened up and spent some quality time, with your significant other about your dreams and aspirations for the eventual next phase of your life - retirement or early semi-retirement?

Why Good Financial Advice is Hard to Find
Mark Zaifman   |    Wed, Sep 05, 2012 @ 09:26 PM

I wrote a blogpost a few months back titled 'Make Financial Integrity #1 When Choosing an Investment Advisor, where I attempted to clearly define the lay of the land in regards to the financial industry  - specifically the investment advisor role.  Today I came across a similar article written so well, I have to share it with you.

Rueters columnist Mark Miller, in his article 'Shakeup Complicates Finding a Good Financial Adviser, expresses how as a result of recent difficult financial markets and tougher regulations, it is becoming more challenging to find a financial adviser to match you and your needs. He navigates the reader through the process by explaining the differences between financial advisers from brokerage firms and (often independent) fee-only planners. He goes on to describes what an RIA is and what their responsibilities to their clients are. He discusses the future of financial advisers and explains what is going on in the industry. He talks about fraud and enforcement of rules and regulations and then ends his article with a few solid takeaways.

Making Another Case for Choosing a Fee-Only Financial Advisor
Mark Zaifman   |    Tue, Jun 05, 2012 @ 05:41 PM

Although not news to me – you might find it shocking and certainly disturbing to discover that some financial advisors will sometimes work against their clients best interests if – guess what? If the advisor can pocket more money in fees.

According to a new study, done by Cambridge Mass. based National Bureau of Economic Research, (NBER) many advisors will encourage chasing high returns and press clients toward funds with higher fees.  This was discovered after NBER sent out auditors, posing as clients, to almost 300 financial advisors in the Boston area.

When Retirement Planning, Don't Forget the Emotional Aspect
Mark Zaifman   |    Tue, May 22, 2012 @ 04:46 PM

What will it be for you? Ahhhhhhh retirement.... or AHHHHHHHH retirement!!!

You may be one of the lucky (but very few) who have no retirement worries as a result of a generous and secure pension. For the rest of us, there is some very careful and strategic planning to be done. But before crunching the numbers, it’s imperative to begin with the emotional side of retirement planning.

Having a Real Relationship With A Fee-Only Financial Planner
Mark Zaifman   |    Tue, Mar 06, 2012 @ 03:07 PM

 As a fee-only financial planner, I receive weekly industry publications which for years now, have been coaching us ‘financial types’ on how to really talk and connect with our clients.  These publications continue to warn us that the ‘trend’ is going toward a more personable client/financial planner relationship. It worries me to think that someone has to be trained to care about the people they are working with. Like doctors, we are not all cold and numbers obsessed, many of us have a great bedside manner – and for some, it comes naturally.

3 Tips to Tune Up Your Retirement Income Plan
Mark Zaifman   |    Thu, Jan 19, 2012 @ 10:05 AM

We’re only three weeks into the New Year and hands down, almost every potential client I’ve spoken with so far is concerned about one thing and one thing only - retirement planning. More specifically, they want to know, based on their current financial picture, if they’ll be able to maintain the lifestyle they desire when no longer working for money. That, ladies and gentlemen, pardon the cliché, is the $6 million dollar question on many a boomers mind these days.

Where most of us do really well is on understanding and executing on the accumulation phase, such as saving and investing X amount in your IRAs, 401ks, 403bs, each year. We get that concept. Where things become murky for many people is when you get to the income distribution phase of retirement planning. This is when you need a long-term strategy to fill the gap between your social security and possible pension payments and your lifestyle expenses. To do that, you ask the following questions:

  • How much can you safely withdraw each year from your investment portfolio?
  • What’s the rate of return you’re assuming with your portfolio? 
  • How should you develop your investment strategy?
  • Do you withdraw your cash monthly, quarterly or once a year?
  • Do you withdraw the same amount each year or will it depend on your investment returns?
  • What’s the defensive strategy to preserve your capital if inflation starts to increase rapidly?  
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