Tag Archives: IRA


Retirement Planning: Roth IRA Basics

A Roth IRA, or individual retirement account, is one of the most beneficially retirement planning opportunities available. They offer tax-free growth and are an ideal way to become financially independent by retirement. They are available to people who are not eligible for a 401(k) employer matching contribution and people who are able to save more money for retirement than the amount that their employer matches.

People can open a Roth IRA at the majority of bank and brokerage offices in person and online. The forms are basic and assistance is generally available. Typically all that is needed is a social security number and the social security numbers of any potential beneficiaries that may be placed on the account.

When creating a financial plan, an individual must consider their earned income when it comes to their Roth IRA. The contribution amount permitted is limited by the earned income, which includes wages and self-employed earnings. This, however, does not include interest or dividends. For people who are married, the contribution is limited to the total of the combined earned income.

The contributions limits for Roth IRA retirement planning accounts can vary from year to year. This can also vary by age. Generally, if you are under 50 years of age, you can contribute up to $5,000. If you are over 50 years of age, you can put in up to $6,000. These are the combined contribution amount. An applicant should obtain financial guidance to find out specifics.

Via EPR Network
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Workers Beyond Retirement Age To Double In 10 Years

Prudential has revealed that UK businesses are bracing themselves for a surge in staff looking to delay retirement with around 1.8 million people expected to be working beyond traditional retirement ages in just 10 years.

The findings from new research commissioned by Prudential among finance directors at UK businesses found 24% of companies expect staff to work beyond retirement age in the next 10 years, with the proportion of people in the workforce who are past traditional retirement ages expected to more than double to 1.8 million people.

Larger companies expect to see an even greater proportion of their workforce working beyond retirement, with 39% of finance directors at larger firms expecting to have to accommodate requests from staff to work longer.

UK companies anticipate this will mean around 6.3% of their workforce (equivalent to 1.8 million people across the UK working population) will be made up of people working beyond statutory retirement ages in 10 years, more than double the current proportion of 2.6% of company workers (equivalent to around 752,700 people***) who currently work past retirement.

The study also found that in the past 12 months alone, 7% of finance directors have reported an increase in the number of employees asking to work past traditional retirement ages.

Martyn Bogira, Prudential’s Director of Defined Contribution Solutions, said: “As health and longevity continue to improve and people look to fund a longer life in retirement, it is inevitable that compromises have to be made.

“The statutory retirement age for men and women is due to rise to 68 by 2046, so working longer will be a fact of life for those entering the workforce today but these findings suggest that increasing numbers of pensioners will be forced to work later far sooner than this. Employers have told us that their staff costs could rise as their employees work for longer.

“Workers face the stark choice of either having to save more for their pension from an earlier age or having to work longer if they are to avoid taking a significant drop in their standard of living in retirement. Early pension saving is critical and we strongly encourage people not to delay starting a pension.”

The research also identified a clear North/South divide. Companies in the north of the country expect an average of 16.2% of their staff to work past the statutory retirement age compared with an average of 2.4% in Greater London and the South East.

Via EPR Network
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New Tax Law for Roth IRA May Be a Bad Deal for Taxpayers

In 2010 millions of Americans will be able to do something they have never done before—convert their IRA into a Roth IRA account. Current 2009 limitations do not allow anyone who makes more than $100,000 per year to convert their traditional retirement funds into a Roth IRA.

However, beginning in 2010, the Roth IRA conversion restrictions are being lifted. But is this really a good thing for taxpayers?

“Roth IRAs are a bad idea for taxpayers because they are paying taxes now in order to avoid paying taxes on distributions that are taken later,” said Jeff Nabers, CEO of Nabers Group. The problem is partly the economic crisis that we are in. “It makes sense if we were in a commodity-based monetary system, but we’re not. We have a fiat currency system that creates an inflationary environment in which Roth conversion is a good deal for the government and a bad deal for the taxpayer.”

Additionally, the Roth IRA conversion can be costly for the taxpayers. If they opt to convert their traditional IRAs to Roth IRAs, the IRS will view this as a taxable event. Accountholders will be taxed based on the entire conversion amount for their current tax bracket. The income taxes due on the 2010 conversion can be spread over two years. However, future conversions must be included in income reports to the IRS and will be taxed during the tax year in which the conversion is completed.

Nabers cautions his clients to carefully look at all their options when considering the Roth IRA conversion. He suggests, “Instead they should continue using their non-Roth Retirement accounts for the maximum tax benefit.”

Nabers, the author of Five Steps To Freedom: How to Cut Your Dependence on Institutions and Escape Financial Slavery, points out that the most important thing that taxpayers can do in these economic times is to find alternative investment solutions. “We’re likely heading into an era of significant inflation. I recommend that people seek alternatives to volatile Wall Street Securities and dollar-denominated assets in general.”

“The action that I recommend is to get more educated on the matter and look at both sides of the story before making a decision,” said Nabers. He says deciding to convert to a Roth IRA could cost you hundreds of thousands of dollars. “Before paying taxes using half of your savings, wealth, or retirement account, consult experts about all of your options. What you don’t know could hurt you—so seek knowledge and information so that you can make an informed decision that you won’t regret.”

Via EPR Network
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Jeff Nabers, CEO Of Nabers Group, Cautions Against The Use Of 401(k), IRA Rollovers As A Financing Strategy For A Business Start-up

One unforeseen consequence of the current recession has been the increasing number of Americans who have stumbled into entrepreneurship after losing their jobs to round after round of layoffs. Many of these people have taken one look at a job market where the unemployment rate is nearly 20% in some regions and decided to start their own businesses. It’s a bold move and certainly there is something very admirable about the idea, but also a risky one, with about half failing in the first few years; making financing a small business start-up something, which should be done with great care.

There are a lot of people who think of using 401(k) or IRA rollovers as a source of financing the start-up costs of a new business or to cover the purchase of an existing one. While you may see a lot of praise for these plans (called ROBS for Roll Over Business Start-up by the IRS), especially online where their proponents try to sell would-be entrepreneurs on the merits of this form of financing, many financial industry experts strongly recommend thinking again about using your IRA or 401(k) to fund your small business.

One of these financial experts is Jeff Nabers, CEO of the Denver financial planning company Nabers Group. Nabers has written about how ROBS work and their risks on his blog, where he warns against using these financing vehicles.

“It’s entirely understandable that people are tempted by ROBS; the recession hasn’t made small business financing easy to come by and there are more Americans than ever trying to start their own businesses. However, there are a lot of risks associated with using IRA and 401(k) rollovers. Beyond the old diversification maxim of ‘don’t put all your eggs in one basket’ the legality of the ROBS strategy has been on shaky ground. There’s a basic rule that prohibits “self dealing” for any retirement account participant, but ROBS promoters have attempted to skirt this by creating a loophole that claims a special exemption. Unfortunately, a government ruling from 2006 closed that loophole. ROBS structures could face a stiff penalty, which amounts to approximately 115% of your retirement funds,” says Nabers.

“It’s a subject that is somewhat controversial in the financial services industry, but as I have been informed by government officials and my legal counsel, the 2006 ruling means ROBS no longer occupies a legal gray area even. I can’t recommend these to my clients in good conscience. I don’t see a bright future for this strategy of funding, to put it mildly,” added Nabers.

Jeff Nabers isn’t alone in sounding the alarm about ROBS and other rollover schemes – there has been a lot of concern expressed by financial experts in the last year. Previously, ROBS was considered high risk, but as Nabers’ put it, “My recent DOL meeting was the nail in the coffin of the ROBS loophole.”

Nabers unabashedly encourages entrepreneurship in spite of the government’s unfavorable stance on ROBS. His message to would-be ROBS users is: “Start and fund your venture anyway [without ROBS]. You can still raise money from others, including from their IRA and 401(k) accounts. Frankly, that is actually a surer path to success because raising money from others will cause you to be more thorough in your business planning.”

Via EPR Network
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Prudential Reports Strife Begins At 40 For Pensions Late Starters

Prudential has revealed that workers who don’t pay a penny into a pension until they reach the age of 40 may need to set aside upwards of 33 per cent of their salary until age 65 if they want to retire on the holy grail pension of two-thirds annual salary.

But for someone starting their pension at 30 the amount drops to 20.5 per cent of salary and at age 18 it falls to 12.9 per cent – just over a third of the amount a 40-year-old would be required to pay into a pension for the first time.

Based on the current average salary of £26,020 a 40-year-old worker starting their pension plan today and aiming to retire at 65 would need to put aside the equivalent of £728.06 a month, or £23.94 a day, from combined employee and employer contributions.

A 30-year-old worker’s pension savings would need to total £443.59 a month or£14.58 a day, while an 18-year-old starting work today would need to save an amount equivalent to £9.19 into a pension every day of their life until the age of 65 in order to achieve the optimum pension of two-thirds the current average annual salary of £26,020.

Martyn Bogira, Prudential’s Director of Defined Contribution Solutions, said: “The findings show very clearly that anyone earning an income should try to begin putting money into a pension fund as soon as possible as the cost of delay is considerable; for someone aged 40 who’s contributing to a pension for the first time, the optimum pension contributions are three times higher than for someone aged 18.

“Understandably, making payments into a pension at age 18 may be a struggle and seem insignificant but even the smallest of contributions has the potential to make a massive difference. Arguably, the simplest and most beneficial way to do this is to pay into an employer’s defined contribution scheme and take advantage of any contributions an employer will also make to help make up the optimum amount needed to retire on two-thirds salary.”

Via EPR Network
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One In Five Stock Market Investors Never Check Share Performance

Prudential has revealed that over one in five (22 per cent) of UK stock market investors never check the performance of their shares. Furthermore, it has been revealed that 65% of investors don’t seek any professional advice prior to investing.

The findings, f r o m new research conducted for Prudential, found that 36 per cent of UK adults aged 18+, equivalent to 17.23 million people, have invested in the stock market over the past 10 years. However, more than half (53 per cent) of these investors admit they only check share performance every six months or less frequently, with one in five (20 per cent) saying they only review their stock performance once a year and 22 per cent admitting they never do.

When it comes to gaining advice on where the best place is to invest their savings, UK adults appear to be equally apathetic with around two thirds of investors (65 per cent) saying they rely on internet searches or media reports when selecting which shares or investment fund to buy with just 16 per cent seeing an independent financial adviser, four per cent consulting a stockbroker and 10 per cent gained advice f r o m bank or building society staff.

However, while many stock market investors fail to adequately monitor share performance or gain financial advice on how to invest, they are at least exposing themselves to an asset class which has historically shown some of the strongest growth. This sits in stark contrast to the rest of the population with around 30 million UK adults (64 per cent) having made no stock market-based investments in the past ten years.

Trevor Cheal, Retirement Savings Business Director, Prudential said: “While not everyone is fortunate enough to have spare funds to save or invest, many people do and it is staggering how few are seeking financial advice or looking to capitalise on the growth potential that the stock market has historically offered.

“Those who invest in the stock market have taken the first important step towards benefiting f r o m the long-term growth of the economy, but they stand a greater chance of maximising its value if they re-evaluate their investment arrangements regularly. However, in volatile markets, investors may not want all their eggs in one basket and multi-asset funds which provide diversification can give them some degree of comfort while still having exposure to the stock market. Those who feel they lack the knowledge to manage a diversified portfolio should consider getting professional financial advice f r o m a stockbroker or an IFA.”

Via EPR Network
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According To The Prudential’s Equity Release Index, Homeowners In England And Wales Own £654 Billion Property Equity

According to the Prudential’s Equity Release Index, Homeowners in England and Wales aged 65 and over have retained £611billion of equity in their property – with a further £43bn held in Scotland – as the housing market begins to show signs of stabilising following two years of decline.

Prudential’s Equity Release index tracks the amount of equity held in property by people over 65 years old in England and Wales. Figures are based on Prudential’s analysis of data from the ONS Family Spending Report (2006), the Land Registry House Price Index (August 2008) and GfK NOP (2007). Specifically, weighted number of households data is taken from the ONS Family Spending Report 2006. Home ownership data is taken from the NOP data. Average house price per region is taken from the Land Registry Index.

The Index also shows modest gains for homeowners aged over 65 in Wales, the West Midlands, London and the North West.

In Wales, the over-65s saw values rise by £3448, followed by London’s over-65s who gained £3296, while in the West Midlands retired homeowners gained £2789 and the North West saw increases of £818.

Homeowners in Scotland aged 65 and over have retained £43billion of property equity and saw modest gains in the second quarter of 2009, with an average increase in property values of £5235 since March, although the total value of property equity for the over-65s is still more than £3 billion lower than it was a year ago.

The Prudential Equity Release Index shows that, in the second quarter of 2009, Scottish over-65s saw the value of the equity in their homes increase by 3.7%. Over the same period, the equity in homes owned by over-65s in England and Wales remained almost level, decreasing by just 0.03%.

The picture across England and Wales as a whole is one of stabilisation, with property equity for the over-65s falling by less than £43 since February – the lowest fall recorded by the Prudential Equity release Index.

The recent fall of just £43 contrasts sharply with the period between October 2008 and February 2009 when property equity in England and Wales for homeowners aged 65 and above dropped by an average of £21,377.

Property equity can provide a valuable source of retirement funds, especially against a backdrop of low interest rates and equity price falls in the past two years which have hit pensioners’ non pension savings.

About Prudential
“Prudential” is a trading name of The Prudential Assurance Company Limited, which is registered in England and Wales. This name is also used by other companies within the Prudential Group, which between them provide a range of financial products including life assurance, equity release, annuities (including an income drawdown option), pension plan options and investment products like the unit trust and tools, such as the tax calculator. Registered Office at Laurence Pountney Hill, London EC4R 0HH. Registered number 15454.

Via EPR Network
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UK Workers In State Of Pension Inertia

New research f r o m Prudential shows that nearly a third (30%) of Britain’s 8.8 million active occupational pension scheme members pay no attention to how their retirement savings are invested and 29% – more than 2.5 million scheme members – have never reviewed how their chosen pension fund is performing.

The pension provider’s study also shows that 48% of workers aged 25+ have their money invested in the ‘default’ fund of their company pension scheme.

Pension savers are failing to take an active role in managing their assets to produce the best possible retirement income. Around 29% admit they have never reviewed the progress of their selected pension funds.

Prudential warns that workers who do not regularly review the progress of their pension fund to deliver asset growth, or simply select the default fund offered by their employer without studying any other options available to them or seeking advice, could then risk limiting the value of their pension pot at retirement.

Andy Brown, director of investment funds at Prudential, said: “It’s worrying that so many people who pay into a company pension scheme appear to be in this state of inertia and aren’t taking an active role in the management of their pension savings.

“You routinely check your savings, utilities, insurance cover, mobile phone contract and broadband arrangements to make sure you’re getting the best f r o m them, and checking the performance of your pension should be no different.”

Prudential urges workers who have not reviewed their pension investments, especially during the stock market turbulence of the past two years, to review them now as a priority to ensure they are correctly positioned to take advantage of any market upturn.

Many pension scheme members are doing virtually nothing to ensure their pension funds are invested in the best place to maximise growth and maintain the right balance to protect fund values in the last few years before retirement.

When it comes to paying more money into company pension schemes, Prudential’s research found that 37% of people with a defined contribution pension have either made Additional Voluntary Contributions to their pension fund or increased the amount they pay in.

Via EPR Network
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Equity Mix Remains Top Choice For Pension Investments

Prudential has reported that more than one in three people retiring within the next 10 years say they would prefer their pension to be invested partly in the stock market and the remainder in other types of investments, according to new research*.

Equity Mix

The nationwide study shows that consumer confidence in the stock market continues despite recent market and economic upheavals.

Prudential asked 1002 men aged 55 to 64 and women aged 50 to 59 who have a pension how they would want their pension fund invested if they could choose:

– 35% said partly in the stock market and the remainder in other investments (40% men, 29% women)
– 29% said only in cash or very low-risk investments (29% men, 30% women)
– 22% said they did not know (18% men, 28% women)

Since the FTSE 100 index of leading shares hit a five-year low of 3530 in the week of 2nd March this year, it has climbed back up. Currently the FTSE is at 4615 w/c 27 July 2009, compared to 4413 w/c 26 July 2008 so is 202 points higher than this time five years ago.**

Andy Brown, Prudential’s director of investment funds, said: “Despite immense volatility in the stock market over the past year or so, there is still evidence of consumer confidence in equities to deliver a promising return for pension investments over the long-term.

“What is certain as well is that many people have been spooked by the recent economic maelstrom and, unsurprisingly, would prefer their pension to be in cash or lower risk investments as they near retirement.

“We’ve seen a marked increase in the numbers of people looking for a home for their money which they can trust, knowing that it has a solid capital base and a long-standing history which will stand it in good stead for the future.

“I think investors can feel confident in stock market opportunities if they are given a decent choice in how they access real assets such as the equity market. Investors can really capitalise on the markets if they can access funds across a number of asset classes and sectors from a range of different investment managers allowing diversification across assets and manager styles.”

* Survey conducted by Research Plus among 1,002 UK males aged 55-64 and UK females aged 50-59 between 23 and 30 April 2009 using an online methodology
** Source: Yahoo finance FTSE 100 charts – correct as at date of issue: 27th July 2009

About Prudential:
“Prudential” is a trading name of The Prudential Assurance Company Limited, which is registered in England and Wales. This name is also used by other companies within the Prudential Group, which between them provide a range of financial products including life assurance, savings and investment products, such as a bond investment and pensions, including advice on company pensions.

Registered Office at Laurence Pountney Hill, London EC4R 0HH. Registered number 15454. Authorised and regulated by the Financial Services Authority.

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Sunwest Trust Is Now Offering Their Latest Product – The Individual 401k, Aka I401k

Sunwest Trust, Inc. announces the launch of the Individual 401k or i401k. “The i401k gives self-employed business owners the same tax benefits that large corporations have enjoyed for years,” says Terry White, CEO of Sunwest Trust, Inc. as well as White adds, “a number of additional benefits not offered by the traditional self directed IRA.”

Individual 401k

With an i401k, business owners may be eligible to contribute far greater amounts to their 401ks than they could with any other type of retirement plan. In addition, the i401k is much simpler to administer than a typical 401k plan.

Another advantage to the i401k is the Roth contributions that you are eligible to make. You can designate some or all of your deferrals as Roth contributions. Roth contributions are after-tax dollars, so those contributions will grow tax-free.

Unlike self directed IRA, you may take loans from your i401k.

Also, the i401k has lower administrative costs than most retirement options for a small business owner. Unlike a self directed IRA, with the i401k you do not need to have a self directed IRA custodian for your i401k. You may act as trustee for your own plan.

White does note, “that the i401k is not for every small business owner and that there are restrictions and guidelines someone must follow in order to be eligible.” White recommends, those who seek to invest using the i401k, “consult a tax professional to make sure that they are making their contributions correctly and to help them fill out the form 5500-EZ when their i401k accumulates over $250,000.00.”

To be eligible to have an i401k, you must be a self-employed business owner with no full-time employees other than your spouse. Whites also states, “investors need to make sure to check with their tax professional to find out the limitations and amounts that can be borrowed from the i401k plan.”

White adds, “The timing of the i401k could not be better for business owners as well as the company. Despite the tough economy, Sunwest Trust continues to grow. By adding new products and providing the same great customer service their clients have come to expect, Sunwest Trust is well on their way to another record setting year. The company has already seen 16 percent growth from this time last year and there are no signs of slowing down anytime in the near future.”

One explanation for the sudden growth over the last two years has been the volatility of the stock market. When the stock market hits uncertain times, many investors would rather not gamble their future on Wall Street and investors look for more stable investment opportunities. Self-directed IRAs and 401ks allow savvy investors the opportunity to find the investment that best fits their investment needs, risk tolerance and retirement goals, whatever it may be.

White adds, “not all investments are ideal and whenever you make an investment there is always inherent risk involved. Each investor should acquire competent legal counsel and commit to completing the proper due diligence prior to shifting their retirement dollars into an alternative investment.” He adds, “just as it is not your local bank’s responsibility to validate the veracity of an investment, neither is it the IRA custodian’s job to validate the authenticity of the investments you make with your IRA/401k dollars. The last thing you want to do is gamble away your hard earned retirement savings blindly without verifying the genuineness of the investments your are making.”

About Sunwest Trust, Inc.

Sunwest Trust is an independently owned private company that offers self directed IRA custodian, escrow and now Individual 401k services. The company offers a huge range of financial services providing post retirement benefits, private mortgages, real estate contacts and other related fields for its clients. FDIC insured banks back the self directed IRA funds of their clients. For more information on the activities of the company, please visit http://www.SunwestTrust.com.

Via EPR Network
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Divorce Survival Kit Released as Ultimate Divorce Resource

The Divorce Survival Kit has just been released as the ultimate comprehensive resource for people experiencing divorce. The Divorce Survival Kit was developed by Carol Ann Wilson, one of the nation’s foremost experts on divorce and finances. The Divorce Survival Kit consists of a four (4) CD audio set and complete workbook filled with examples, forms and checklists. The product took over a year to complete, and it represents a great wealth of Carol Ann’s vast knowledge and experience. The Kit contains everything you need to know if you are going through a divorce and are concerned with how to survive financially.

The topics covered in the Divorce Survival Kit include:

  • Marital vs. Separate Property: Learn the truth about marital and separate property and how to keep what is yours. Don’t surrender it if you don’t have to!
  • Alimony/Maintenance: Find out if you are likely to receive alimony and how much. If you have to pay alimony, understand how to best protect yourself and minimize your losses.
  • Health Insurance: Did you know you could become uninsurable after your divorce? Protect yourself and your children.
  • Child Support: Learn what you need to know about the Child Contingency Rule that could save you from owing the IRS thousands of dollars.
  • Asset Division: Don’t ruin your financial future by failing to consider hidden assets and tax consequences. Discover the best ways to divide all your assets.
  • Dividing Retirement Accounts: This is often the biggest asset in the marriage. Avoid some common mistakes and make the most of this valuable asset.
  • Settlement Alternatives: Courtroom battles can be costly and expensive, but there are alternatives. Mediation, arbitration and collaborative divorce are explained.

Carol Ann Wilson, a Certified Financial Divorce Practitioner, is the founder of the profession of divorce financial planning. She has been working with divorcing clients and their attorneys for over 20 years.

Carol Ann’s dedication to helping couples financially survive their divorce has driven her to continuously develop more ways to help them. In addition to the Divorce Survival Kit, Wilson has authored many books and articles on divorce, has served as an expert witness in court for over 120 divorce cases, has developed software for professionals used in determining financial results in divorce settlements, and has trained thousands of divorce financial planners around the country how to work with divorcing clients to achieve fair and equitable divorce settlements.

Currently, Wilson is the president of the Financial Divorce Association, located in Longmont, Colorado, and an owner of the Academy of Financial Divorce Practitioners in Chicago. Her expertise, as the founder of the profession, is highly sought-after, and Wilson continues to consult with divorcing clients today.

“The Divorce Survival Kit is going to help a lot of people,” Carol Ann says. “I am excited to be able to offer all of my knowledge and experience in one complete package, that is affordable to anyone. I like to say that you get my 24 years of experience for less than the cost of 30 minutes with an attorney.”

Via EPR Network
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Prudential Reveals That Advisers Pin RDR Hopes Online

Prudential has released research demonstrating the need for providers to constantly adapt their services to help advisers in both the online and offline environment, with more than half of the advisers surveyed (58%) ranking better quality or more online information and service options as the most important element of the product provider/distributor relationship surrounding preparations for Retail Distribution Review (RDR).

While improving online servicing is seen as a must do by advisers, they also believe that solid account management relationships must go hand-in-hand with technology. This sentiment was highlighted by 40% of advisers citing more or better dialogue with an account manager as the next most important service element surrounding their preparations for RDR. With a combination of expert face-to-face and telephone account management teams readily available to guide advisers through obtaining and completing sales, this is a service Prudential is already supports.

Ian McKenna, Director of the Finance and Technology Research Centre (FTRC) said: “RDR will make it essential for advisers to focus on the cost of doing business in ways they have never needed to previously. It is not giving the advice that takes excessive time but the preparation. Collating information manually is hugely time consuming, electronic services can deliver in seconds what might otherwise take hours. Historically the cost of those hours has been subsidised by commission, when it is the client potentially paying for the time racking up hours in this way will no longer be acceptable. Automated delivery of information to advisers will be a hygiene factor in a Post RDR environment.”

57% of advisers claimed that their volume of client enquiries regarding retirement planning remains unchanged. This is encouraging news in the current economic climate, proving that it is vital for providers to arm advisers with all the necessary tools to deal with their continuous day-to-day business.

Jon Cross, Head of eBusiness at Prudential said: “Our research shows that advisers are becoming increasingly dependent on online services to help guide them through the changes that RDR will bring. Prudential works very closely with advisers to develop its online services, we constantly review our content and navigational functionality, and will of course continue to evolve our systems to help advisers as they change their business models ready for RDR. We are committed to providing a high level of service to advisers to ensure that they spend as little time on administration as possible. Taking their business online frees up time that would have traditionally been spent processing paperwork.”

The benefits of online servicing are clear for advisers, allowing easy access to brochures, illustrations and valuations outside normal office hours. Prudential’s adviser website houses a wealth of useful material including product guides, support literature, real-time valuations and market analysis from industry experts. Advisers can also find a variety of interactive tools covering pension planning, drawing an income and annuitisation. The ‘Support for you’ section provides advisers with updates and news regarding regulatory issues such as TCF and RDR. Also under this section advisers can hear what Prudential experts have to say as they explore various opportunities and considerations advisers face in helping their clients save for and provide an income in their retirement.

Prudential surveyed 123 independent financial advisers during April 2008.

About Prudential:
“Prudential” is a trading name of The Prudential Assurance Company Limited, which is registered in England and Wales. This name is also used by other companies within the Prudential Group, which between them provide a range of financial products including life assurance, annuity products – including retirement annuity, pensions, savings and investment products. Registered Office at Laurence Pountney Hill, London EC4R 0HH. Registered number 15454. Authorised and regulated by the Financial Services Authority.

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Historic Losses For 401K Plan Participants

Retirement savings have dwindled significantly over the past 18 months. The median rate of return on 401k balances was negative 28.3% in 2008 according to a study by human-resources consulting firm Hewitt Associates. The average 401k balance dropped from $79,600 at year-end 2007 to $57,200 at the close of 2008.


In the 12 months following the stock market’s peak in October 2007, more that $1 trillion worth of stock value held in 401ks and other “defined-contribution” plans was wiped out, according to the Boston College research center.

Alan Weir, who turns 60 this month, showed 60 Minutes his latest 401(k) statement, which he hadn’t had the courage to open up. “I’m afraid,” he told correspondent Steve Kroft. There’s good reason for his trepidation: nearly half of his life savings have vanished in a matter of months. “It went down again,” Weir told Kroft after opening the statement. Overall, he said he was down about $140,000.

Another woman in a similar situation told Kroft her 401(k) was worth less now than it was in 2005. “And another one went down almost $40,000. One was 80 – 88,000. And then, and then it went down to 50(k),” she told Kroft, crying. The saddest part of this story is that it is being repeated all over the country.

In eastern Pennsylvania, 59-year-old Iris Hontz lost her accounting job and half of her 401(k) investments.

“Unlike Wall Street executives, American families don’t have a golden parachute to fall back on,” said U.S. Rep. George Miller (D-CA).

www.401kinvesthelp.com is a site designed to assist the Individual in their noble attempt to save for retirement. How does it guide investors? The number one problem investors have while saving for retirement is the potential of suffering devastating losses of 30% or more in stock mutual funds. The ideology of just “buy and hold,” “invest for the long term” only work a small percentage of the time. In addition to the latter problem, 80%-90% of the mutual funds offered within these retirement vehicles are more risky than the benchmark or index they follow. It’s about time someone stepped in to assist Americans with their retirement accounts rather than leaving them helpless and alone. The indicators used within the site are designed to give individuals a sneak peek into the economy and the financial markets. Is it safe to be invested fully? Should I take some off the table and be only partially invested? These are questions everyone has and generally know the answers to, but need someone to help reinforce that decision. The indicators are updated every 1st business day of each week and an email is sent to each subscriber alerting them of any changes, as well as a brief commentary on the financial markets. Investing smart bodes well for those who understand, “It’s just best to sit on the sidelines and watch the fireworks at times.”

If you would like more information about this topic, or to schedule an interview with Leonard M. Rhoades, please call Andrea Rhoades at 616-581-5696 or email support@401kinvesthelp.com.

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According To The Latest Survey From Prudential, Financial Advisers Are Not Convinced That Their Clients’ Retirement Planning Is On Course

The new Prudential survey found that over two-fifths of advisers (43 per cent) said they are either not that confident or not at all confident, that their clients’ retirement planning is on course, compared to just a third (34 per cent) who said they are either reasonably confident or very confident.

However despite their doubts about how well their clients are prepared for retirement, a third of advisers (33 per cent) actually reported an increase in the number of enquiries from clients about pensions and retirement planning over the past three months. Additionally, half of the advisers surveyed said they had seen an increase in the number of clients using the open market option when shopping around for their annuity in the past three months.

Andy Curran, Director of Intermediated Sales at Prudential, said: “Advisers and providers have taken a fair amount of flak over the years for apparently not informing people that they have the freedom to shop around for the retirement products which best suit their needs.

“It’s good to see that half of advisers say they’ve seen an increase in the number of people using the open market option but it seems to me that it’s taken a financial crisis for people to start their financial planning.

“What is worrying is the feedback from advisers that their clients’ retirement planning is not on course, especially in these unprecedented times when personal financial security should be top of the agenda for everyone.”

Prudential surveyed 123 independent financial advisers during April 2008.

About Prudential:
“Prudential” is a trading name of The Prudential Assurance Company Limited and Prudential Unit Trusts Limited. This name is also used by other companies within the Prudential Group, which between them provide a range of financial products including life assurance, pensions, savings and investment products. The Prudential Assurance Company and Prudential Unit Trusts Limited are registered in England and Wales under number 15454 and 1796126. Registered Office at Laurence Pountney Hill, London EC4R 0HH. Authorised and regulated by the Financial Services Authority.

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Prudential UK Is Set To Improve The Service Delivery Offered To Advisers In The Defined Contribution (DC) Pension Market With The Roll-Out Of A Newly Enhanced Systems Platform

Prudential UK is set to improve the service delivery offered to advisers in the Defined Contribution (DC) pension market with the roll-out of a newly enhanced systems platform. The platform will introduce improved delivery capability and functionality for both new and existing clients and is a clear sign of Prudential’s further investment in the DC market. It also signals a serious commitment to clients and their members through the delivery of enhanced levels of service.

The new platform introduces a step change in the online services provided by giving clients greater branding options and easy access to key data. Recently enhanced retirement planning and investment comparison tools are also available to assist members in making more informed choices to help achieve their retirement goals.

The enhanced platform is designed to sit alongside Prudential’s dedicated account management programme and will produce continued improvements in both quality and member response times.

Martyn Bogira, Director DC Pensions, Prudential said, “Not only have we improved functionality for our clients, we also now have the flexibility to further tailor our service to the specific client and their members. We believe that the new platform in conjunction with our innovative investment solutions, and our communications capability will enable consultants to design bespoke solutions for our shared clients.”

Prudential’s proposition is powered by Capita Hartshead’s HartLink technology and brings together the systems expertise of the Capita Hartshead team and Prudential’s extensive experience in the DC market.

HartLink is one of the largest pension administration databases in the UK and is currently used to administer the records of over 3.4 million members. HartLink has proven to be highly scalable and the underlying architecture is effectively limitless in terms of database storage capacity.

About Prudential:
Prudential is a trading name of The Prudential Assurance Company Limited, registered in England and Wales. This name is also used by other companies within the Prudential Group. Registered Office at Laurence Pountney Hill, London EC4R 0HH. Registered number 15454. Authorised and regulated by the Financial Services Authority.

Prudential has been in the corporate pensions and group pension schemes market since 1929 and now provide DC pensions for over 5,700 schemes. Prudential employs an experienced team of individual’s to support the DC proposition. The DC area spanning servicing, marketing, account management and investment supports over 660,000 scheme members.

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Recession Woes Grow For Pensioners

New Prudential Class of 2009 retirement survey reveals the UK’s deepening economic crisis will mean the 3.25 million UK adults who plan to retire in 2009 can expect to receive £2.87 billion* less in their pensions than those who planned to retire in 2008.

The survey found UK workers planning to draw their pension in 2009 expect to get an average income of£17,779 a year, £884 less than those retiring in 2008 who anticipated an average annual income of £18,663. Retirement will mean taking a £7,129 cut in income compared with the national average salary of £24,908** but some believe they will be considerably worse off.

The Prudential survey showed that 11% of people retiring in 2009 expect to receive an income of less than £10,000 a year from their pensions and investments, with 12% of women expecting to manage on this level of income compared to 9% of men.

While 39% said their pension and savings would give them a decent retirement income, 61% were doubtful that they would have enough money to enjoy a comfortable life in retirement. When asked if they thought they were financially well prepared for retirement, only 47% responded positively.

Keith Haggart, Director of Lifetime Mortgages at Prudential said: “The global economic recession is relentless and indiscriminate in its impact and it was only a matter of time before we began to see British pensioners bear the brunt.”

He continued, “Although the results of our survey make unsettling reading, there are ways for pensioners to maximise their incomes during these difficult times. Drawing on some or all of the assets saved throughout their working lives, including releasing value from property through equity release schemes, can boost annual incomes without having a detrimental impact on quality of life or forcing pensioners to downsize or embark on a fire sale of their possessions and assets.”

Keith urged anyone approaching retirement or who has recently retired to talk to a financial adviser to help them review all their assets and savings to see how they could be used to maximise income.

Prudential’s retirement planning website helps consumers and employers tackle retirement issues. The website features a Retirement Planner which has been designed to help determine how much income a customer’s current arrangements might give them in retirement, factoring in current pensions, property, savings and investments. The Planner also shows customers how they might be able to boost retirement income, if there is a gap between what their current arrangements will provide at the point of retirement and what they anticipate they may need.

* Office of National Statistics 2007 show 24,990,500 adults aged 45+ in the UK. Prudential research shows that 13% of UK adults aged 45+ (youngest age stated by individuals planning to retire in 2009) said they planned to retire in 2009 = 3,251,854 people. Multiplied by £884 individual shortfall = £2.87 billion.

** 2008 ASHE survey results show median weekly pay for full-time employees in UK grew by 4.6% in the year to April 2008 to reach £479 (multiplied by 52 weeks =£24,908).

Survey conducted online by Research Plus among 1,000 UK adults aged 45+, during 10–18 November 2008.

About Prudential
“Prudential” is a trading name of The Prudential Assurance Company Limited, which is registered in England and Wales. This name is also used by other companies within the Prudential Group, which between them provide a range of financial products including life assurance, pensions, savings and investment products. Registered Office at Laurence Pountney Hill, London EC4R 0HH. Registered number 15454. Authorised and regulated by the Financial Services Authority.

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New Book Reveals Safe And Lucrative Investment Alternatives

“Unlimited Investing with a Self-Directed IRA LLC or Solo 401(k): Break Free F r o m Wall Street to Build Real Wealth with Alternative Investments” teaches investors safe and effective ways to build and protect their wealth.

With investors fed up with corporate greed, corrupt financial institutions and risk-laden Wall Street investments, now more than ever investors are looking for strategic ways to accumulate, grow and preserve their wealth outside of Wall Street. “Unlimited Investing with a Self-Directed IRA LLC or Solo 401(k): Break Free F r o m Wall Street to Build Real Wealth with Alternative Investments,” enables average investors to start learning how to identify safe, alternative places for their money so they can achieve financial freedom and financial security. The book is co-authored by the world’s leading self-directed investing expert, Jeff Nabers, and real estate and financial author, Phoebe Chongchua. Download the first chapter at UnlimitedInvesting.com

Nabers says that unlimited retirement accounts have been used to invest in alternative assets for decades, but few investors take advantage of these opportunities because of a lack of awareness. “Until recently, everyone thought the road to riches was paved with stocks and bonds. But today we know this isn’t true. Investors can no longer depend on untrustworthy financial institutions and greedy Wall Street executives to secure their financial future for them,” says Nabers.

“Instead, this book will teach investors how to convert their shrinking mutual fund portfolios into solid portfolios of real assets.”

Unlimited Investing includes everything an investor needs to know about protecting and growing wealth in today’s uncertain terrain, including:

• How to profit f r o m the decline of the dollar
• How to recession-proof your investments
• How to get your assets in your hands and stop risking them with untrustworthy financial institutions
• Understanding your Self-Directed IRA or 401(k) investment structures’ options
• How to avoid large or unnecessary fees and expenses

“Anyone who has ever wanted to invest in real estate, gold and silver, private equities, private debt instruments and international investments will benefit f r o m the practical advice and rare information available in this book,” says Chongchua.“It’s time for investors to wake up and explore the investment opportunities that await them outside of Wall Street. They’ll be glad they did.”

Nabers says he believes average and sophisticated investors alike can benefit f r o m his years of knowledge. “I’ve dedicated six years of my life to learning everything possible about self-directed investing and am making all this information available for public consumption for the first time ever with the release of Unlimited Investing,” says Nabers.

“Unlimited Investing” can be pre-ordered directly at http://www.UnlimitedInvesting.com

Jeff Nabers is a nationally recognized educator, speaker, and consultant specializing in the topic of investing with Self-Directed IRA & 401(k) plans. He is the founding member and chairman of IRA Association of America, the industry’s only non-profit trade association. Jeff is also CEO of Nabers Group, a full-service self-directed retirement plan provider. Years ago, as a real estate investor and owner of a mortgage lending company, Jeff set out to learn the ins and outs of using a Self-Directed IRA. It turned out to be a long and strenuous process. Jeff found himself traveling all over the country to pick up bits and pieces of useful information f r o m dozens of sources. Unlimited Investing is a compilation of the fruit of Jeff’s research combined with the experienced perspective f r o m Jeff’s participation in thousands of transactions involving both alternative assets and retirement plan funds.

Phoebe Chongchua has a 20-year background in journalism, marketing, and customer service. She specializes in real estate writing and her work is featured in Donald Trump’s book “The Best Real Estate Advice I Ever Received,” and “The Complete Idiot’s Guide To Buying Foreclosures.” She is the author of “If the Trash Stinks: TAKE IT OUT! 14 Worriless Principles For Your Success.” Phoebe began her career in TV as an anchor and news reporter for ABC News in San Diego, California. She holds a real estate license in California and continues to write and educate consumers on real estate and financial issues in various columns and publications online and in print. She is a columnist for Realty Times, Bizymoms Expert on Real Estate, and the publisher of Live Fit Magazine. After writing several articles on the topic of alternative asset investment vehicles, she realized how little the average consumer understands this highly powerful method of investing. Catalyzed to improve awareness, Phoebe’s research dug deeper, and the helpful findings are presented in this book.

Via EPR Network
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Sunwest Trust, Inc., Self Directed IRA Custodian Announces 19% Growth in 2008

Self Directed IRA Custodian, Sunwest Trust, Inc., which is located in Albuquerque, New Mexico, defies economic odds by growing by 19% in 2008 despite the recessive economy. Sunwest Trust has diverse business interests and services self directed IRA and 401k clients nationwide.

Despite the grim economic climate and the receding value of the DOW, “Sunwest Trust continues to thrive and grow,” says Terry White, Chief Executive Officer for Sunwest Trust, Inc. In 2008, Sunwest Trust experienced their most profitable year in the company’s history and has grown by nearly 19% during the recession. White attributes much of their 2008 growth to the recent exodus from Wall Street, resulting from the daily fluctuations in the stock market. He adds, “Investors are pouring out of the stock market because they are fed up with the downward market free fall.” With the DOW down as much as 7000 points since last June, many IRA and 401k accounts have seen negative growth and have fallen by as much as 50%. As IRA holders see their retirement accounts deteriorating, “they are eager to look for investment alternatives,” says White.

Indeed, Sunwest Trust is positioned to meet this need; Sunwest allows their clients to invest in anything that is not specifically prohibited by the IRS code. Basically, this includes anything other than life insurance and collectibles. Although Sunwest allows clients to invest alternatively, White adds, “We strongly encourage our clients to exercise thorough due diligence and speak with a tax professional before making any alternative investments.”

Dustin White, Business Development/ IRA Specialist, suggests, “Our reasonable fee structure and customer service have also had a hand in our success in 2008.” Sunwest Trust IRA account fees have remained unchanged over the past seven years, and according to Dustin, “we do not plan on raising our fees in the foreseeable future, especially in this economic climate.”

Sunwest continues to provide outstanding service by managing their growth one client at a time. “We strive to personalize our clients’ experience. For example, when you call Sunwest Trust, you’re not going to get an automated voice answering system; you’re going to talk to a real person,” adds Dustin.

“February 2009 was another record-breaking month for Sunwest, in terms of new accounts received. All indications point to another great year for the company. We grew 19 % last year, and I see no reason why we can’t top that again this year,” says White.

About Sunwest Trust:
Sunwest Trust is an independently owned private company that offers self-directed IRA custodian and escrow services. The company offers a huge range of financial services providing post retirement benefits, private mortgages, real estate contacts and other related fields for its clients. FDIC insured banks back the self directed IRA funds of their clients. For more information on the activities of the company, please visit

Also, you can learn more about Sunwest Trust by watching their self directed IRA videos on Youtube.


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UK Adults Delaying Retirement Due To Economy Reveals Prudential

According to the new Prudential ‘Class of 2009’ retirement survey, around 2.2 million* UK adults aged 45 and above** are delaying their retirement in 2009 due to the state of the economy and the falling value of their investments.

The Prudential survey also highlights that their concerns are so severe that those delaying retirement do not expect to be able to get their plans back on track for years to come.

Only one in four (25 per cent) of those delaying drawing their pension in 2009 expect they will be able to retire before 2012, with an even higher number – two in five (42 per cent) – expecting it will be 2012 or beyond before they can retire and one in four (23 per cent) believing they won’t ever be able to afford to retire.

But, despite many adults delaying retirement, nearly one in three (30 per cent) of those actually able to retire in 2009 are public sector workers, even though they make up just one in five people in the UK workforce***.

The remaining 2009 retirees will be split 35 per cent from private sector jobs and 15 per cent from self employed roles, with the remainder coming from those who are unemployed or in other sectors.

“It is a reflection of the difficult economic situation that so many workers, and particularly those in private sector roles who do not benefit from public sector final salary pension schemes, are trying to delay retirement but there are other options available,” said Martyn Bogira, Director of DC Solutions at Prudential.

Martyn pointed out that even with the economy in its current depressed state, many annuity rates have performed better than many feared and there are a number of other pension income options available, like income drawdown, which can let workers delay buying an annuity until such time as the economy has started to recover.

Martyn continued, “Now more than ever it pays to seek early retirement advice from an independent financial adviser and we would suggest that people start planning for their retirement early, ideally at least 15 years from retirement. It is vital that those saving for retirement continually monitor their investment mix to ensure they have the right risk profile to help minimise the impact of economic fluctuations and falling stock markets.”

The information contained in Prudential UK’s press releases is intended solely for journalists and should not be used by consumers to make financial decisions. Full consumer product information can be found at www.pru.co.uk.

Survey conducted by Research Plus among 1,000 UK adults aged 45+ between 10 – 18 November 2008 using an online methodology

* Office of National Statistics 2007 population estimates, 2.2 million adults aged 45 and above.
** Of the survey group, the youngest age given for individuals planning to retire in 2009 was 45
*** ONS Labour Market Study, public sector staff account for 20.4 per cent of employed population in June 2005

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Nabers Group to Give Away Self-Directed Solo 401k

Nabers Group, the world’s first and only full-service self-directed plan provider, has launched a contest to give away (i.e., set up) a Self-Directed Solo 401k plan at no cost to the person who offers the best insight(s) into what he or she thinks are the most powerful business or investment opportunities given today’s recessionary economic environment.

The Self-Directed Solo 401k is a qualified retirement plan that helps business owners grow and preserve their retirement wealth by enabling them to legally invest their retirement savings in alternative investments such as real estate, mortgage notes, private businesses, precious metals, and other qualified assets. The Solo 401k has already helped thousands of serious investors diversify their retirement portfolios beyond stocks, bonds and mutual funds while still enabling them to receive the much desired tax advantages the traditional IRA and 401k offers.

Eligibility: To be eligible to enter to win a free Solo 401k account, the entrant must be self- employed or have self-employment activity (such as Schedule C income on entrant’s 1040 or own a business). The entrant cannot have any employees at any businesses in which the entrant or the entrant’s spouse has significant ownership.

How to Enter: To participate, entrants must do two things:

1) Add Jeff Nabers, the founder of the Nabers Group, as a “Friend” on Facebook. This will enable entrants to stay apprised of events, news and u p d a t e s f r o m Nabers Group. The winner will be posted on Facebook and at JeffNabers.com.

2) Write a brief explanation of what they think are the most powerful business or investment opportunities today given that the country is in a recession. Entrants should submit their comments on the (www.Solo401k.com) blog or post to the “Wall” at the bottom of the Facebook Solo 401k Contest page.

Selection: Each entry will be reviewed by officials at Nabers Group. The person deemed to have the best idea(s) will get a Solo 401k set-up for them at no cost by Nabers Group.

Prize Value: Valued at $210,585, a Solo 401k f r o m Nabers Group can be the investment vehicle to lead to your financial freedom. See the math at FreeSolo401k.com.

Deadline: Entrants must submit on or before March 15, 2009.


About Nabers Group
Founded in 2005, Nabers Group is the world’s first and only full-service self-directed plan provider that helps investors and self-employed business owners establish and set up Self-Directed IRA LLC accounts and Solo 401k plans. Nabers Group was the first company to offer the Self-Directed Solo 401k and regularly educates the public about unrestricted investment options that would enable use of retirement dollars to invest in alternative investments including real estate, mortgage notes, private stock, debt instruments, foreign assets, margin brokerage accounts, precious metals, among other assets. For more information on self-directed investing or the Solo 401k, please visit Nabers Group at Nabers.com.

Official Free Solo 401k Facebook contest page:

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