Go With the Pros
 
Now, More Than Ever, You Need a “Checkup” With Your Financial Doctor
 
By Gretchen Keen

Rebuilding wealth in the current economy can be difficult, but it is possible with the right help. Financial planners can assist clients in acquiring new wealth while protecting existing funds. Financial experts are trained to help clients make financial plans, which can be beneficial to anyone considering retirement.

No Time Like the Present

In order to gain wealth, people need to have “checkups,” just like a doctor visit, but instead with a financial professional.

If people have a financial plan in place, now is the time to use it. People with a plan will be in a better position than those who don’t. When the market nose-dived, people with no financial plans were hurt the most. Of course, the current economy creates complications for people considering retirement. Some may continue to work to make money, and many who are already retired may return to employment.

So, how can people cope with economic pressure? The situation now is comparable to the recession from 1974 to 1982. Dividend stocks, in which companies make payments to their shareholders, did better than non-dividend stocks during that recession. Some financial professionals believe our current situation will be comparable.

However, economic recovery could take longer than people might expect — it’s not like hitting a reset button. With the right financial advice, it’s possible to atone for economic sins of the past.

By Matt McCormick, Vice President and Portfolio Manager, Bahl & Gaynor Investment Counsel


Understanding the Risks

Annuities can help decrease financial risks, but they are often misunderstood. There are three different types of annuities: immediate, fixed and variable.

Immediate annuities are most beneficial to individuals who are concerned about maintaining wealth over a long period of time. Money is put in one time, and the income stream lasts for a lifetime. Fixed annuities can be cashed out to receive money back, and are not affected by the stock market. If an individual wants market exposure, variable annuities are a better option.

People should also consider putting money into mutual funds. They are a simple way to buy securities with professional oversight. It is important to diversify mutual funds, and not put everything in one area.

By Mark Caner, President, W&S Financial Group Distributors Inc.


Guarding Your Wealth

As important as it is to earn wealth, it’s equally important to protect it. Estate planning is a vital way to make sure money stays or goes where it needs to be. Wealth transfer, wills, charitable giving, and protection from gift, estate and death taxes are a few areas that estate planning can address.

When assets are earned, estate planners can help clients retain as much as possible. Unfortunately, many people are hesitant to transfer money when the economy is poor. People thinking of passing assets to children or charities are now reconsidering if they should give, in favor of protecting their own assets.

These people used to feel financially secure, but psychologically, a lot of damage has been done. They have changed their thinking on how much money they need.

The reality is that most people in this situation are financially sound due to prolonged savings and investments. Just to be safe, cutting back on spending is always a good measure for those concerned about retaining wealth. Because of low interest rates and asset values, this is actually a good time for people to transfer wealth.

It’s true that between investments, retirement, savings, taxes and the economy, figuring out a good financial strategy can be daunting. With professional help, the burden can be alleviated.

Above all, save, invest as you go, and have reasonable expectations.

By Bill Montague, Estate Planning Attorney, Greenebaum Doll & McDonald PLLC


 

The Outcome of Our Financial Choices

Financial experts understand how emotionally challenging the past few years have been. If past financial decisions did not turn out the way you expected, perhaps your opportunity is to apply what you know now to the choices you will make for the future. The following are actions that will help lead you closer to your financial target.

First, determine your financial goals and objectives for the near and long-term. Then, evaluate how well your current financial choices hold up under differing economic scenarios. Figure out where there are areas to minimize uncertainty, and implement solutions to address weaknesses.

The work of a financial professional may be prudent if you remain unsure of your financial situation. Much like a medical professional treats your physical well-being, the role of a financial professional is to guide and treat your financial well-being. It is crucial to be proactive with the choices you make that will eventually determine your financial success.

By Joe T. Clark, General Agent; Joseph Stiles, Assistant General Agent, Ohio National Financial Services