Paying for college? What’s your plan?

Helping your children pay for college is one of the biggest and most important challenges that you will face. Currently, a four-year education (tuition, fees, room and board, supplies and personal expenses) can range from almost $100,000 at a public college to over $230,000 at some of the most expensive private institutions such as Boston University and The University of Chicago. With expenses expected to continue to rise at the current rate of 5% per year, the costs could skyrocket to $150,000 for a public college and over $360,000 for a private institution for a student matriculating in 2019. Making matters worse, planning for college gets more complicated each year because of the ever-changing rules, regulations and tax laws. Feeling overwhelmed and confused, many parents fail to develop an effective plan, leading to burdensome debt affecting both parents and students for years to come. Read more

Sales pitch or sound advice – Part Two

In my previous blog post, I talked about the basic differences between brokers and Registered Investment Advisor (RIAs) including how they are governed, their compensation arrangements and their legal obligations to clients.  In this article, I’ll explain the affect that suitability and fiduciary standards can have on an investor’s financial security.

Objective industry experts have long argued that while in theory both suitability and fiduciary standards limit self-serving behavior, in practice the suitability standard provides such wide latitude for brokers’ recommendations that it is meaningless in protecting the consumer. Read more

Sales pitch or sound advice – Part One

Individuals trying to plan, save and invest for their futures are increasingly seeking out professional advice. Unfortunately, many are forced to search through over 200 financial services designations with wide-ranging educational standards, legal obligations to clients, and compensation arrangements just to find the right help.

A 2008 landmark study conducted by the RAND Corporation concluded that although retail investors felt they understood the difference in services offered by various financial industry representatives, in fact, most had no idea. Angela Hung, the study’s lead author, a RAND economist with a Ph.D. from Caltech, remarked that even she found it difficult to disentangle the titles, services and business relationships of most of the industry participants. It is no surprise, then, that the typical consumer finds it nearly impossible. Read more