Hi! I hope you had a great 4th and you’re having a great summer. It’s been a busy one at E&K as you’ll see from my closing note and a fun one for Deena and me as we recently returned from a cruise to Reykjavik, Iceland, a most charming city but a bit off-putting with over 20 hours of sunlight.
RETIREMENT IS GROWING CROWDED —
… and retirees are on the move. Retirement remains a major issue for Americans of all ages, especially as the baby-boom generation leaves the workforce in large numbers and changes the country’s economic landscape.
According to Pew Research, about 26 percent of the total U.S. population were baby boomers as of 2011. About 10,000 members of that group will be reaching age 65 every day, between today and 2030. Along with ongoing concerns another national study reports 57 percent expect to move out of their current homes.
DAVID vs. GOLIATH
Those of you who have been reading my NewsLetter for a bit know I’ve been active for the last few years trying to persuade Congress and regulators that anyone calling themselves “advisor,” “planner,” or a similar title should be held to a high fiduciary standard. So far our efforts have not met with resounding success. A recent article in InvestmentNews highlighting first-quarter interest group lobbying outlays helps explain our lack of success.
By organizations supporting advisors currently held to a fiduciary standard $ 80,000
By commission-based financial services firms $ 2,982,453
GOOD, SOLID ADVICE
Penny Wang is a Money reporter always worth reading. Her recent column “Give Your Portfolio a Midyear Checkup” is chock full of good, solid advice. In one page she summarizes the core of E&K’s approach to portfolio management.
Our friend and former associate, Linda Lubitz (The Lubitz Financial Group), decided it was time for our firms to get together and invited us to the First Annual South Florida Financial Planning Softball Game. What can i say? We had a “ball” (awful pun intended), especially as we took home the trophy. In fact we had so much fun we’re planning on inviting some of our other local planner friends to establish a league. Watch out majors!
When I told Deena that I was going to play she said, “What are you thinking?!” Ha!
DO YOU HAVE A MILLENNIAL IN YOUR FAMILY?
If so, a recent Investment News article I read made me think you might want to encourage them to do a little thoughtful planning. Here’s the heading of the article:
Millennials might be great at getting tattoos and building mountains of student loan debt, but when it comes to financial savvy, they are generally lousy. Calling them financial Neanderthals might be unkind to Neanderthals. Here’s the conclusion: … [it] seems that the millennials are still acting like we’re near the end of the world, the stock market was the problem in 2008, and sitting on cash is a smart thing to do even with interest rates near record lows. This is totally boneheaded, and lots of people are going to wake up in 20 years when they’re closer to retirement and regret it. Although I like to think I might be a tad more tactful in my commentary, I agree wholeheartedly with the author, Jeff Benjamin; hence my encouragement to counsel your millennial friends and family to do some basic financial planning.
THIS IS BIG!
The West Lake Restaurant in Changsha, the capital of Hunan province in central China, is the place to go if you need to accommodate a big party. It’s just under one million square feet, seats 5,000, and boasts a staff of more than 1,000 and 300 chefs.
SPEAKING OF BIG
According to Bloomberg, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport is impressive.
4,700 acres, serving 18 airlines,
213 gates and 33,000 parking spaces,
13 on-airport car rental agencies and 144 restaurants,
All for the 250,000 daily passangers.
I WONDER WHY THE PUBLIC DISTRUSTS WALL STREET?
Headline from Planadvisor The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) fined Merrill Lynch $8 million for failing to waive mutual fund sales charges for certain charities and retirement accounts. The article went on to report:
The agency also ordered Merrill Lynch to pay $24.4 million in restitution to affected customers, in addition to $64.8 million the firm has already repaid to harmed investors…
…FINRA finds that at various times since at least January 2006, Merrill Lynch did not waive the sales charges for affected customers when it offered Class A shares.
As a result, approximately 41,000 small business retirement plans, and approximately 6,800 charities and 403(b) retirement plan accounts available to ministers and employees of public schools, either paid sales charges when purchasing Class A shares, or purchased other share classes that unnecessarily subjected them to higher ongoing fees and expenses. According to FINRA, Merrill Lynch learned in 2006 that its small business retirement plan customers were overpaying, but continued to sell them more costly shares and failed to report the issue to FINRA for more than five years.
From Bloomberg via Financial Planning:
Kathleen Tarr says AT&T Inc. employees looked to her as “their de facto 401(k) expert.” Visiting their homes and offices, she advised them on their retirement plans as they called up balances on computer screens.
Actually, Tarr worked for Royal Alliance Associates, a brokerage firm owned by insurer American International Group Inc. She encouraged hundreds of departing AT&T employees to roll over their retirement money into the kind of risky high- commission investments that Wall Street’s self-regulatory agency warns against on its website.
Tarr and her business partner reaped hundreds of thousands of dollars a year in commissions and trips to the Bahamas and Florida resorts. Not all of her clients fared as well, and 37 of them have filed complaints against her, according to Financial Industry Regulatory Authority records reviewed by Bloomberg News. Tarr and Royal Alliance say the investment choices were appropriate.
“It’s scary,” said Maria Lew, a former AT&T administrative assistant and Tarr client whose account balance has fallen to $100,000 from $390,000. She fears she will lose her home, and her kitchen ceiling has a gaping hole because of a leak that will strain her budget to fix. “There are days when I go to sleep and I can’t stop thinking about it.”
It’s stories like these that have me trekking once again to D.C., along with my Committee for the Fiduciary Standard friends, to meet with regulators and politicians to encourage them to implement a true fiduciary standard for anyone purporting to offer personalized investment planning advice. Although it would seem to me to be a no-brainer concept, I fear the unfortunate reality is that we’re simply tilting at windmills. Oh well; hope springs eternal, but in the interim, remember
CAVEAT EMPTOR is the standard of today. If you’d like a copy of the Committee’s Fiduciary Oath, let me know.
HE SAID, SHE SAID
According to a Money Magazine survey, although four out of five spouses say they’re on the same page about money, this just isn’t the case. Here are some of the results:
BEWARE OF DATA MINING Also from Money Magazine: Want an investment strategy that has clobbered market returns for 20 years? Buy stocks that have ticker symbols beginning with WARREN (for Buffet). Here are the annualized gains from 1994-2003:
So, next time some guru tells you he or she has a secret sauce that has been successful for decades, take it for what it’s worth – not much.
Warning from the NY Times via Readers Digest: When you decide on a new password, don’t use any of the five most common: 123456; 12345; 123456789; password; iloveyou. Guess I have a lot of passwords to replace.
“I was feeling pretty creaky after hearing the TV reporter say: ‘To connect me, go to my Facebook page, follow me on Twitter, or try me the old-fashioned way- email.’”
I’m always pleased to be recognized along with Deena, my bashert, but I am a bit jealous as she’s been on the Investment Advisor 25 list a bunch more times than me (eight to five).
Five Most Honored 2014 IA 25 Honorees
Taken together, Evensky and his wife, Deena Katz, have been on the IA 25 13 times, but their influence separately can’t be ignored. Both were on the inaugural IA 25 back in 2003. We said of Evensky then, “Harold Evensky is one of the most well recognized people in financial planning, and it's not just for his bow tie.” Little has changed—even the bow tie—and Evensky is still generous with his time and expertise when reporters call. Katz, also a professor at Texas Tech, gave us some early advice that applies as much to clients as it does to students. “Ninety-five percent of planning is the ability to explain complex things in an easily understandable way,” she said in 2003.
I guess I’d better send them a new picture in case we’re lucky enough to be recognized again in the future.
SUPER BIG NEWS
After a long and thoughtful process we’ve completed an agreement to merge firms with a long-time friend and associate, Steve Foldes. For those of y’all who have not read about this, I’ll close with our press release.
Evensky & Katz Merges with Foldes Financial Management to Form the Largest Independent RIA in South Florida with Almost $1.5 Billion Assets under Management
Coral Gables, FL (PRWEB) June 09, 2014
Evensky & Katz Wealth Management (www.evensky.com) is pleased to announce its merger with Foldes Financial Management (www.foldesfinancial.com). Called the “Father of Financial Planning,” Harold Evensky founded Evensky & Katz in 1985 and with the addition of Foldes Financial will become the largest independent Registered Investment Advisory Firm in South Florida with a staff of 25, including 13 experienced CFP practitioners and responsibility for the fiduciary management of assets approaching $1.5 billion.
Matt McGrath, Managing Partner of Evensky & Katz, said, “This is such a great outcome for all clients and staff of both organizations. The combined intellectual capital is a direct benefit to our respective clients and the collective resources of the two firms will allow us to provide even better service.” Mr. McGrath went on to add, “Both firms take pride in our academic and institutional approach to wealth management as well as our fiduciary duty to our clients.”
Foldes Financial Management manages approximately $600 million for approximately 400 clients and works with professionals, small business owners, corporate executives, and inherited wealth. The firm is led by its founder and CEO, Steve Foldes, who is also a lawyer and a CFP®, and who gained business notoriety in the early 1980s in popularizing “jellies,” the all-plastic injection model sandals which became a fashion sensation. As President he led his company, Fun Footwear Company, from $1 million in sales and 50 employees in 1978 to $20 million and 750 employees in 1984. In 1985 he sold the company and moved from Hazleton, Penn. to Miami.
Remembering that time, Mr. Foldes says, “With my family’s security and future on the line I did my due diligence to find the very best advisory firm I could. That extensive search led me to Harold Evensky and until 1991 his firm managed my portfolio—quite well, I must say!” In 1991 with a young family and traveling far too much for his liking in a footwear consulting business he had established, Foldes recounts, “Harold made me an offer that literally changed my life. He knew that I really loved investments and that as a young man with a JD and an extensive background in business, why not make a career change and join his firm – recognizing that I needed to raise my personal educational bar by becoming a Certified Financial Planner. Well I did, of course, and after five years of learning from the master and being an entrepreneur I decided it was time to strike out on my own.” This began a period of phenomenal growth from $25 million under management in 1996 to nearly $600 million today.
Mr. Evensky echoed Mr. Foldes and said, “We are immensely proud to once again have Steve back in the fold and we look forward to an exciting future for our clients and our firm.”
Mr. Evensky will continue to be the Chairman of the firm and Mr. Foldes will serve as Vice-Chairman. In addition Mr. Foldes will join the firm’s Investment and Management Committees. According to Mr. Foldes, “It really was a perfect fit. We both are fee-only and embrace the fiduciary standard of putting our clients’ interests first. We both manage our clients’ assets at Schwab and TD Ameritrade and use traditional as well as alternative asset classes. I will now be able to work with a team approach with talented Evensky & Katz CFP practitioners to be able to provide the best advice and service and ensure continuity for clients for decades into the future. After 18 years the profession has grown immeasurably and the investment universe has become infinitely more complex and sophisticated, so to continue to serve my clients as I too would want to be served, scale and resources are critical. So, after months of intensive due diligence and being courted by a number of firms, I am returning to my roots and the people I know very well to create the very best financial planning and portfolio management firm I can imagine. Interestingly, not only is Harold still there, but so are the Chief Financial Officer and the Chief Investment Officer I worked so closely with 18 years ago.”
Hope you enjoyed this issue of my NewsLetter. “See” you next issue.
Harold Evensky, CFP®, AIF®
President, Evensky & Katz