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BlackRock puts the brakes on market-moving analyst sentiment reports

January 9, 2014

BlackRock pulls the plug on analyst surveys, settles with N.Y. attorney general. No more market-moving sentiment U.S. stock futures are rising ahead of the U.K. interest rate decision. Signs of a positive start for the markets Activist hedge...

Married couples can split Social Security-claiming strategies

January 8, 2014

The New Year is a great time to review some basic Social Security-claiming rules. And based on the many questions I have received from financial advisers over the past few weeks, it seems there is some confusion about what married couples can...

Fate of tax extenders will be clear only after long wait

January 7, 2014

As Congress goes back to work this week, broad tax reform appears to be dead, and the fate of tax extenders may not be resolved until late in the year. It is shaping up to be another wait-and-see exercise on tax policy, which will once again...

The ticking time bomb of forced drawdowns on variable annuities

January 7, 2014

Advisers' elderly clients who hold older variable annuities have a ticking time bomb on their hands: potential forced annuitization that will deactivate their accrued death benefits. Buried within the fine print of variable annuity prospectuses,...

FICA takes bigger bite out of high earners' paychecks in 2014

January 6, 2014

If you're among the estimated 10 million Americans who earn more than $100,000 per year, you'll fork over a bigger slice of your paycheck to Social Security and Medicare taxes in 2014. The maximum amount of a worker's pay subject to Social Security...

Check out resources to become a Social Security expert

January 5, 2014

InvestmentNews readers often ask me for recommendations on books and other resources to help them get up to speed on Social Security-claiming strategies. It is a great way to start the new year if one of your resolutions is to become a Social...

IRA conversions surge ahead of tax break end

January 4, 2014

Tax Break for IRA Conversion Lured 10% of Millionaires Congress dangled an incentive for high-income Americans to convert their tax-deferred individual retirement accounts into post-tax plans. Their response was overwhelming. Conversions from...

File-and-suspend strategy prompts more questions

January 3, 2014

Even for those who plan to delay collecting Social Security retirement benefits until 70, when they are worth the maximum amount, in some cases, it may make sense to file and suspend benefits at full retirement age as an insurance policy. Once...

What new scrutiny of life insurance captives means for advisers

January 2, 2014

As regulators scrutinize life insurers' use of “captive” entities — subsidiaries that reinsure blocks of existing business — advisers may need to rethink the way they evaluate the carriers they work with. Life insurance companies set...

Americans vow to shed debt in 2014 but few commit to financial planning

January 2, 2014

On this first business day of 2014, I couldn’t resist pulling together some New Year’s resolution polls to give financial advisers a hint of what their current and prospective clients may be thinking. It seems nothing erases a bad memory...

Getting a jumpstart on 2014 tax planning

December 31, 2013

It's probably too late to do any significant planning for the 2013 tax year, but right now is the perfect time to get a jumpstart on 2014. Tax gurus note that the top earners — singles with taxable income over $400,000 and married joint filers...

Helping advisers connect the dots about retirement planning

December 30, 2013

I spent the final week of 2013 cleaning my office, discarding several trash bags full of old notes and research papers to give me a fresh start in the new year. Along the way, I unearthed some gems buried in the detritus, including the 15th...

I passed the CFP exam (but you can't call me a certified financial planner)

December 26, 2013

I received a wonderful early Christmas gift this year: I was notified Dec. 20 that I passed the CFP Board's certification exam. As the national pass rate for the November 2013 CFP exam was a mere 63%, I felt it was an enormous accomplishment...

New year could bring a boon for annuities

December 23, 2013

Next year could be a big one for variable and indexed annuities, both in terms of sales and product development, as new tax and interest rate realities sink in. This year set what appeared to be a perfect backdrop for annuity sales and development,...

Field testing the retroactive Social Security file-and-suspend strategy

December 23, 2013

I love when readers with whom I consult about tricky Social Security claiming strategies report back to me with results. In a Dec. 9 blog, I wrote about the Social Security provision that allows retirees who are older than their full retirement...

LPL names president of retirement division

December 19, 2013

LPL Financial will give a new title to the leader of its retirement division next year, the largest U.S. independent broker-dealer said in a statement Thursday. Bill Chetney will become president of LPL Retirement Partners on Jan. 1. He currently...

Small can be big in 401(k) plans

December 18, 2013

Companies that are flush with cash have the wherewithal to provide the best in 401(k) savings to their workers, but that doesn't mean smaller retirement plans can't be generous. BrightScope Inc., a financial data firm, this week released its...

MetLIfe: Doubling-down annuity sellers lack clarity, risk

December 17, 2013

MetLife Inc., the insurer reducing variable annuity sales by more than half, said rivals that are expanding are probably retaining less funds to back the retirement products. “The companies that hold the lowest amount of capital against their...

Lockheed Martin 401(k) case to proceed as class action

December 17, 2013

A years-long case against Lockheed Martin Corp., alleging a breach of fiduciary duty with respect to its 401(k) plan, is being permitted to proceed as a class action. On Monday, the Supreme Court let stand a decision in the 7th U.S. Circuit...

Social Security begins paying survivor benefits to same-sex married couples

December 16, 2013

The Social Security Administration announced Monday that it has begun processing claims for surviving members of same-sex marriages and paying benefits where they are due. To be eligible for a survivor benefit, which is worth 100% of what the...

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