Podcast of the Month: The Longest Vacation of Your Life

Robin Weingast Retirement

How much time and effort did you spend on planning your last big vacation – days, weeks, months? What about your 30+ year vacation (retirement), how much time have you spent planning that? Tune in to our Podcast of the Month as Financial Professional Eszylfie Taylor shares some great tips on how to pinpoint your retirement goals, and what and who you might need to get there.

Podcast of the Month: Don’t Worry, Retire Happy!

Are you worried about running out of money in retirement? What tools and strategies are available to help protect your retirement income despite all the risks?

Who better to talk about those options than Tom Hegna, best-selling Author of “Paychecks and Playchecks” and “Don’t Worry, Retire Happy!” Tune in for some great tips you can discuss with your own financial professional!

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Resource of the Month: Planning for Women

Cheerful businesswoman sitting at the table and holding money

As Women’s History Month winds to a close, we want to present a resource that we hope all women will find helpful 365 days a year. Increasingly, women are facing the impact of poor financial planning, so whether you are 22 or 62, this resource will give you some valuable tools to help you face your future with more financial security.

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Image source: https://www.graphicstock.com/stock-image/cheerful-businesswoman-sitting-at-the-table-and-holding-money

TPAs: Making Retirement Plans Better

Retirement On Calculator Shows Pensioner Retired DecisionThe German chemical company, BASF, once advertised its value as the ability to improve upon the products created by others.

“At BASF, we don’t make the cooler, we make it cooler. We don’t make the jeans, we make them bluer,” one of the company’s TV commercials famously stated. “At BASF, we don’t make a lot of the products you buy. We make a lot of the products you buy better.”

The retirement plans marketplace has its own BASF that improves upon the work of others: Third Party Administrators or TPAs – like Robin S. Weingast & Associates. Increasingly, financial advisors are partnering with local TPA firms to help sell, design, administer and support defined contribution retirement plans. Some believe it’s a marriage made in heaven.

As a TPA, the Robin S. Weingast & Associates team works with financial advisors deliver a more comprehensive package of services to retirement plan sponsors. These services are becoming increasingly essential in an environment where the designs for retirement plans and the regulations that govern them are becoming ever more complex.

So just how can a TPA make a retirement plan better? TPAs can help guide plan sponsors on regulatory and administrative issues and consult on retirement plan designs, services, and features. Financial advisors may deliver such complementary services as objectively evaluating plan needs, providing information about investment choices, helping educate plan participants, assisting with plan design, and helping select the plan provider.

The relationship often starts with assistance from a TPA in analyzing the plan sponsor’s needs. One of the most important aspects of a successful retirement plan is its design, which can be created to achieve any number of goals. The right retirement plan design may help employees prepare to retire on time, help the business owner save more, reward key employees, give a boost to older employees or achieve a combination of goals.

Understanding what options are available and how they work can be complex and, admittedly, more than a little esoteric. That’s where an assist from a TPA may be especially valuable.

A TPA may help advisors and plan sponsors view how a specific retirement plan design is intended to work, provide options and a cost-value analysis, and provide a hypothetical projection on performance. The insights and analysis may help advisors and their clients make the right choice based on goals, budget and regulatory requirements.

For instance, if the owner of a small business is deferring $18,000 (the maximum) to a salary deferral 401(k) plan but wants to significantly boost her retirement savings, a TPA might recommend adding a Cross-Tested design. This design may allow the client’s business to enhance contributions on her behalf, minimize contributions for non-owner employees, and allow for the maximum total contribution of $54,000 for her. In addition, if the business owner is age 50 or older, she can also contribute an additional $6,000, bringing the total amount of contributions by the owner and the business to $60,000.

But what happens after the plan is in place? Many small, and even medium-sized, employers lack a dedicated, in-house specialist to administer retirement plans. Working with a local TPA may fill the need to have a retirement expert on hand, adding value to your client relationship.

Then there is the ever-changing regulatory environment. As we’ve seen in the past year, government rules and regulations often shift like the sand on a wind-swept beach. What is an advisor to do when those sands create a new dune to climb or maneuver around?

An effective TPA may help an advisor stay up to speed on regulatory changes. More important, a TPA may help advisors understand the implications of new rules and regulations and, in turn, what they mean to sponsors and participants.

That’s critical as 84 percent of sponsors say they value advisors who are proactive, MassMutual’s 2015 Winning Combination study shows*. The study also reports that it’s far better if an advisor informs a client about a new regulations and what it means than if the client has to reach out to the advisor about something that has just been introduced.

Advisors who are newer to the retirement plans marketplace may also learn more about marketing from TPAs, who often partner for prospecting and finals presentations. Working with a local TPA potentially extends an advisor’s contact network for referrals and presents opportunities to jointly market services and host local seminars.

In the past year, the percentage of retirement plans in the small-business market that engage TPAs increase to 85 percent. TPA firms are becoming an important pillar of support, especially for smaller businesses that lack the specialized resources or expertise to successfully administer a retirement plan.

At the end of the day, a The Robin S. Weingast & Associates TPA firm has the potential to help make your retirement plan service and support better.

*2016 Winning Combination Study, What retirement plan sponsors value most from financial advisors, January 2016, https://www.massmutual.com/~/media/files/rs7153_brochure.pdf

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Need to Know: Women and Retirement

Weingast_startupSince March is Women’s History Month, we’re bringing you a special Need To Know post on women and retirement. The gender pay gap in the US and globally is well-documented and a frequent topic of conversation and advocacy. While there is work to be done to achieve compensation equality, women can —and should — take some key steps to ensure financial stable retirements for themselves.

The most important thing for women to do when it comes to retirement is to get informed. The Robin S. Weingast team believes when it comes to retirement planning, knowledge is more than just power — it’s peace of mind. The Women’s Institute for a Secure Retirement (WISER) has a helpful checklist that outlines what women need to know, what women should ask their employers, and what women should discuss with their spouses. Click here to look at their checklist.

Something important to note is that while retirement benefits are offered to more and more full-time employees, women are more likely than men to be working part-time, and so there may be fewer benefits available. The TransAmerican Center for Retirement Studies advises women to consider retirement benefits as part of overall compensation and to advocate for benefits if none are provided.

Once you’re informed about your benefits, it’s time to think big picture and come up with a long-term strategy. A 2015 survey by the TransAmerica Center for Retirement Studies found that almost 60% of all female respondents felt that they were “guessing” when they estimated their retirement needs. That same study found that women estimated their retirement financial needs to be much lower than men’s — even though women live longer than men. Guessing and incorrect estimations can have drastic consequences when it comes to retirement planning. This can mean the difference between being free to enjoy retirement or having to work longer than expected.

Women should make it a point to sit down and articulate their financial goals — including a realistic picture of how much money is needed for retirement — and then determine a savings plan to help achieve those goals. The plan should include your knowledge of your benefits, and should also take into consideration that women are more likely to take time away from the workforce to act as caregivers to children or elder relatives. This will have an impact on your retirement savings and may necessitate some catch-up retirement planning. Revisit our post on making up for lost time with retirement planning to see how you can offset any delays in planning.

Something else women should consider doing when it comes to retirement? Asking for help from a professional. Only 36% of all women polled in the TransAmerica study used a financial advisor, and of that 36%, 77% talked retirement planning with their advisors. A financial advisor is well-versed in the many avenues available when it comes to retirement planning and can help get you up-to-speed on how to maximize your benefits and other savings opportunities available to you.

If you’re ready to have a discussion about your retirement, it’s time to contact the Robin S. Weingast & Associates team. We’ve worked with clients for over 30 years to craft customized retirement and financial plans that will help you do more than just save money, they’ll help give you peace of mind. Contact us today to learn how we can help.

Need to Know: Three Tips to Keep Calm During Market Volatility

Robin Weingast Market FluctuationThe end of the summer certainly wasn’t dull, as overseas market fluctuations impacted US markets and had people panicking. Beyond worrying about short-term investments, you may be one of the many people who is wondering if you need to dramatically overhaul your retirement plans. We understand, and we’re here to help. Here are three things to keep in mind during market volatility:

1) Stay Calm

This may seem counterintuitive, and maybe even impossible, but resist the temptation to panic and start moving your retirement money around during volatile times. In fact, sometimes the smartest move is to sit back, watch, and see what develops.

Remember that changes in the market don’t impact regulations and rules about retirement plan distributions and remember that changing the age at which you begin withdrawing your retirement savings will have long-term consequences. A moment of panic might not just impact your short-term future, it might impact your long-term goals. Staying calm will help you asses what steps you need to take based upon what’s actually happening.

2) Avoid change for the sake of change but don’t be afraid to change if you need to.

We know, this is really two tips, but they go hand-in-hand. A common next step after panic is to take action — and it’s usually sudden and non-strategic. Another temptation is to “stay the course” and not act at all, because you fear more change. Don’t be tempted to make a change in your retirement plans just because the market is changing or because you’re worried about what volatility means for your future. In the same vein, if the reality is that fluctuations really are impacting your long-term goals, you need to be prepared to take the necessary steps to correct your course.

The first step is to assess where you are relative to your goals. This piece offers a really simple way to assess if you actually need to change or if you will be ok to proceed as you have been. The answer will be different based upon your age, your goals, and what you have done to save for retirement so far. We also like this piece because it makes recommendations about what to do if you’ve not even begun retirement planning. 

Whatever situation you find yourself in, there will be steps you can take if you need to — and reassurances that not doing anything may be exactly in line with your long-term goals.

3) Use your Resources

Let’s face it — you’re busy running your business and don’t have time to suddenly become a financial or retirement planning expert. And that’s ok. You have a team of people who are here to help you navigate uncertainty and volatility, and Robin S. Weingast & Associates is part of that equation. We know it can be overwhelming to figure out how to balance your business goals with your retirement planning, and that market fluctuations only add to the challenge. Our number one goal is to make sure that you have retirement peace of mind, and we’re here to do whatever we can to help you achieve that. 

If recent events have you concerned, now is the time to contact us. We’re here to make sure you feel confident and satisfied with your plans for the future. Contact us today to see how we can help.

Resource of the Month: Do You Have Retirement Peace of Mind?

Robin Weingast retirement planning peace of mindPlanning for retirement isn’t just about having money, it’s about having peace of mind. Just a few years ago, a landmark study was conducted with more than 6,000 Americans over the age of 45. The study aimed to get a large-scale understanding of our retirement concerns and questions and to find out what factors made it more likely for people to have “retirement peace of mind.” Our latest Resource of the Month compiles the results and explores what they mean for YOUR retirement. From asking pointed questions about your goals to giving you tangible tips to increase your peace of mind, this is a resource that will truly help everyone.

Download our April 2015 Resource of the Month.

One interesting note from the study is that people who worked with advisers were significantly more likely to have retirement peace of mind. The Robin S. Weingast & Associates team provides more than just valuable retirement planning advice and administration – we provide all of our clients with the peace of mind they need to both prepare for and enjoy their retirement. Contact us today to find out how we can help you.

Need to Know: Making up for Lost Time With Retirement Planning

Robin Weingast retirement planning Congratulations on making it through April and the ever-busy tax season! It’s hard to believe that 2015 is almost half over, but in a few months we’ll be talking year-end wrap ups and 2016 planning. Before the year gets away from us, the Robin Weingast & Associates team wants to focus on an important, time-sensitive topic that impacts everyone: timely retirement planning.

The general rule of thumb is that earlier is better when it comes to retirement planning. But that’s not always an easy rule to follow. Just last month, expert testimony to the US Senate’s Special Committee on Aging revealed that “nearly half (45%) of Americans have no retirement savings…[and] the median retirement-account balance is only $3,000 for working-age households and only $12,000 for households approaching retirement. In two-thirds of working households with earners between ages 55 and 64 years, at least one earner has saved less than one year’s income for retirement.”

If you suspect that you – or your employees – are unprepared for retirement, there are things you can take to get on track. Before you can properly plan, you need to understand where you actually stand. This is the most important step you can take, because it will determine what comes next for your retirement planning. Use this tool from the AARP; it compiles information about you, your spouse, and your current savings and projects what you will need for retirement and if you’re prepared.

Based on what you find out, it’s time to make some potentially tough decisions. Think about where you can trim expenses and how you can cut down on more significant costs – are you at the stage in life where you can downsize your home or apartment? If you need to make significant decreases to your monthly expenses, try using a tool like this, which walks through standard monthly expenses and gives you tips on how to cut costs. Also consider if you’re maximizing your earning potential. Are there part-time or freelance opportunities that can help you close the gap?

A key part of catching up is making sure you understand your current retirement plan and making sure you’re taking full advantage of what’s available to you. Whether you’re an employee who isn’t fully aware of what retirement benefits your company offers, or a manager who wants to make sure your team understands the full details of a retirement plan, it’s wise to keep the lines of communication open. Schedule regular meetings with HR to make sure that you’re making the most beneficial choices.

Having a team always helps. You can count on the Robin S. Weingast & Associates team for the most effective retirement planning strategies at any stage. Contact us today to see how we can help achieve your goals.

Need to Know: When Should I Start Receiving Retirement Benefits?

Many Robin Weingast & Associates, Inc. clients want to know the best time to start receiving retirement benefits.  Not only do our clients have to make this decision for themselves, their employees often ask for advice on how to maximize the benefits of their retirement plans.  In fact, this is such a common question that the Social Security Administration has prepared a short publication as a guideline.

Some highlights from their recommendations:

1) This decision is personal and involves a careful consideration of many factors:

– Do you want a smaller amount of money each month, sooner or a larger monthly payment for a shorter duration?
– What are your current cash needs (both personally and for your family)?
– Do you have additional income sources?
– What is your current state of health?
-Do you plan to keep working? This will impact your monthly benefits if you elect to receive them before your full retirement age.

2) Life expectancy is longer than it used to be. This is great news that also means your retirement may be much longer than you think.  Approximately one-third of all people who are 65-years-old today will live to be 90. It’s important to consider this when determining a timeline for receiving benefits.

3) Your decision may impact your family—both your spouse and your children who may be eligible to receive benefits.

4) While your total overall benefit distributions will not change, your monthly payments will differ significantly based on when you opt to receive benefits.

Robin Weingast Retirement planning

Credit: www.socialsecurity.gov

This chart is from the Social Security Administration’s article and gives you a breakdown on how your benefits differ based on the age at which you opt to begin receiving benefits. It assumes a benefit of $1,000 at a full retirement age of 66. Notice that receiving benefits at 70 versus 62 results in a 32% monthly increase.

The article explores each of these points in depth. If you would like to read more, you can download the full article here.

Have questions?
The Social Security Administration offers several resources on their site, most notably an online benefits planner and an online Retirement Estimator.

Need to talk?
Online resources are great, but as always, the Robin Weingast & Associates, Inc. team would be happy to discuss a plan that works for you. We would also be happy to help you provide your employees with resources to help them make the best decision about when to receive retirement benefits. Contact us today to ensure that your retirement is personally and financially fulfilling.