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

Live long and prosper – Part Two

In Part 1, we talked about how the increase in life expectancy presents a significant financial challenge for most retirees. In simple terms, the longer we expect to live, the more money it will cost to fund our retirement. The evidence suggests that most Americans are not are prepared to meet this challenge. Read more

Live long and prosper – Part One

A long, healthy life is a blessing. The good news: Americans are living longer than ever before. Life expectancy has increased dramatically in the last few decades as a result of major advances in science, technology, and medicine. An individual’s life expectancy is his or her median lifespan. In the United States, the life expectancy of a 65-year-old male non-smoker is 20 years. This means that 50% of men are expected to live beyond age 85, and 50% are expected to die before 85. A 65-year-old non-smoking woman on average is expected to live until age 88. When combined with the life expectancy of a spouse, the odds are 50% percent that at least one spouse will live to age 92 and 20% of living to 98. Read more