Thursday, July 30, 2009

Schwab Beneficiary Confirmations

Pathways Advisory Group, Inc.
Tiffany Domenici, Client Services Manager

Throughout the past year, we have added custodial attachments to many of your beneficiary designations. Following the addition of a custodial attachment to your accounts, Schwab mails a confirmation of the changes to you. Unfortunately, these confirmation letters are often confusing and erroneous.

Schwab tells me that an automatic system, over which they have little control, generates their confirmation letters. Due to the complex nature of the custodial attachments, Schwab’s database requires their representatives to give each attachment a “job ID.” Many times, the confirmation letter you receive will list this complex job ID as the primary or contingent beneficiary. Unless your beneficiaries happen to be named “Job ID,” you might be a tad confused!

Schwab is currently working to correct this issue; however, the representatives have assured me that when beneficiary changes are received, the originals are scanned into the computer database. Should the time come in which your designations are acted upon, Schwab will always refer to the original signed document and not their hand-typed record. If you receive a confirmation letter following your beneficiary changes, no matter how confusing it may be, it should bring peace of mind that Schwab has received your original signed document and has it stored in your file should the time come to act on it. The good news is that you need not rename all your children “Job ID.”

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Compound Interest

Pathways Advisory Group, Inc.
Dustin Smith, CFP®

Insurance, Investments, Estate Planning, Retirement Planning and Income Taxation - I found each course interesting. However, sitting in Eugene LaHanier’s course (Financial Planning) at Fresno State 9 years ago, it was the power of investment compounding that first caught my attention.

He started with a fact pattern and then asked us to guess the results - nobody came close. The example used was something similar to our “Ben and Jerry” spreadsheet on the website. Beginning at the age of 22, investing $2,000 a year (compounding at 10%) until the age of 65 ($88,000 invested) results in what amount of wealth? The answer: 1.4 million dollars. I could not believe it. $2000 per year is only about $165/mo – just about anyone can do that. I was amazed by the concept.

Years later, I realize how much I did not know. I have learned how difficult it can be to spare that money each month. I have learned there are some things you cannot control. I have learned that spending money only begins with the purchase of a house. But the compounding concept remains powerful. Most importantly, I have learned how to apply it.

I enjoy the opportunity to meet with young people about these concepts. Often all that separates them from action is knowledge. Since it is not always feasible to meet with them, I created a link on our webpage dedicated to these issues. If you want to share some of these concepts with your children or grandchildren, click on the “young investors” link on the left hand margin of our webpage. There is some explanation, a roadmap to get started, and a few spreadsheets to help tell the story of investment compounding. Please provide us with any feedback you may have.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Young People

Pathways Advisory Group, Inc.
David L. Williamson, CFP®

Whoa, baby!! A few days back, Dustin met with one of our younger clients. We’ll call her Erica. She is 21 and the daughter of a couple who have been clients of the firm for over 20 years. I barged into the meeting to say hello. Hadn’t seen Erica in a few years.

We chatted a bit. As I left the room – it hit me! This young lady, a client, had not been born when I entered this business. Wow! I staggered back towards my office. I’m starting to feel older now. Around the corner pops Tiffany – our youngest employee. She was not born when I entered this business! Wow! I’m aging by the second now… Using the wall for support, I hobbled into my office, plopped into my chair and sat stunned. On the top of my head, exactly 489 hairs instantly turned gray.

Perhaps I exaggerate a bit. Only 241 hairs turned gray. But 72 fell out.

I began this career in 1984, at a fairly young age. Over these 25 years, I’ve seen a lot. During the first 15 years or so, I was intimately involved in all aspects of the business. I knew it all. And now I am part of a firm that has a life of its own. It is greater than any individual. So much happens that is independent of me. We hum along. They handle this. They attend to that.

And, boy, am I proud of them. These young folks learn so fast. They master their work. They care deeply about their work. Wow! I need to stay out of their way.

They are polite (to their elder). “David, perhaps I should take care of that, rather than you.” Translation: “Hey, Old Fart, you don’t have a clue. Out of my way, before you really gum it up.” (Lest you think they are totally in charge, I do dispense a pearl of wisdom now and then.)

What am I trying to say…..? We are in good hands. There is hope. They are an awesome generation. These young people take care of me. Most importantly, they take care of you.

I am so proud.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Independence Day

Pathways Advisory Group, Inc.
David L. Williamson, CFP®

Ah, yes. The 4th of July.

“Nothing important happened today.”

----Diary entry by King George III on July 4, 1776

Little did he know… Here we are just 233 years later. A very short time, indeed. Only three lifetimes. Those rebels risked it all for freedom. It seems it may be a never-ending battle for our freedoms. If we, in this great country, lose our freedom, olde King George will have been proven right after all.

On another front, we fight the battle of financial independence. We fight for our individual financial freedom. The grand enemies on the battlefield are: recession, negativity, crazy borrowing, market volatility, CNN, nationalization, inflation, frivolous spending. But our gallant defenders include: saving, diversification, patience, frugality, prudence, investing, self-reliance, the 200-year bull market.

We all want to declare “This is the day of my individual financial independence. This is the day work becomes optional.”

Keep up the good fight. On the battlefield, we stand shoulder to shoulder with you.

One day (if you have not already done so) you will make a diary entry something like this:

“Something vastly important happened today. I am now financially independent. The field is ours. The battle is won. Life is good.”

Happy 4th.