As noted in My Third Experience at a Direct Mail Retirement Seminar, my wife and I accepted an invitation to meet with Dustin (financial planner) and Gregg (Chief Investment Officer) from Accelerated Wealth.
They had done an impressive enough job at the presentation to convince us it was worth an hour, plus I had a few questions I wanted to run by them, so why not? In addition, my wife and I had each received a free 8-count nugget offer from Chick-fil-A and there was one near the Accelerated Wealth office, so it was cheap date night afterwards. 🙂
BTW, our neighbors four doors down (who we sat with at the event) made an appointment with them as well. It happened a couple hours before our appointment.
The next day I ran into the neighbor while he was headed out to his car (I was walking back from playing pickleball at the gym) and we chatted about our meetings. More on that at the end.
Arriving at Accelerated Wealth
Our meeting was on Wednesday, January 22 at 2:30 pm.
My wife was at church for meetings. Since the church is closer to the offices than our house, we agreed to meet there.
It was a 15-minute drive from our house and I arrived at 2:20 pm (I hate being late).
Their building is very swanky and in an affluent and growing area of town.
I walked in and was greeted by two nice ladies at the front desk. They offered me something to drink and I took coffee. Free coffee is a big plus IMO! Ha!
While I sat on the couch in their reception area waiting for my wife, one of the ladies brought over an information form and asked me to fill it out.
As she handed it to me I told her I would look it over, but if the information was more than I wanted to share, I might not fill it out.
Sure enough, they asked for all sorts of personal and financial information that I didn’t want to share in that format. I’m sure most people show up unprepared and the sheet/information gives the planners something to review.
But you know me — I was prepared. I had a detailed summary of our financial information assembled and ready to share.
I told her that at this point we were just getting to know them and would be deciding if we wanted to proceed or not. The information requested was for a later meeting if we wanted to proceed.
She said she understood and took the form back.
Soon after, Gregg came out and said hi to me. He said he’d be back out when my wife arrived. She arrived soon after that and we all headed to a back conference room.
Reviewing Our Information
The four of us got settled around a conference table and chitchatted a bit. I told them I had a handout that summarized our financial situation as well as had questions listed so we decided to begin there.
The handout contained information on it that I’ll soon publish here in my annual financial review, so I’ll just give you the highlights now so as not to spoil that post:
- Me – retired from marketing career in August 2016; now 55
- Wife – works part-time at church; now 58
- Income: $204,721
- Expenses: $119,475
- Income: $130,090
- Expenses: $91,310
- Not counting dividends in income since we reinvest those.
- Lower website (sold one site) and rental income (banner year last year).
- Expenses are lower since both kids are now out of the house.
- Expenses include $18k of vacation/travel costs.
Net Worth: $4,502k
I broke out the key parts of net worth as well to give them insight into where our assets are.
Then I listed my questions as follows:
- What is the best time/strategy to take Social Security?
- Any thoughts on planning for RMDs?
- What is your perspective on LTC insurance?
- Is there any simple/effective way to turning investments into income generators?
We discussed the numbers for 20 minutes or so. They were very complimentary of the job we’d done managing our money.
We also talked about our background in financial coaching, writing, etc., so they knew we had a pretty good understanding of our finances and how money works.
Discussing the Questions
The heart of the meeting was going over our questions. What follows is a general paraphrase/sense of what occurred. I did take notes and am writing this post two days after the meeting, but I could have missed or misunderstood some things.
In other words, this isn’t a verbatim transcript ready to be accepted as sworn testimony in a court. It’s my recollection and perception, so reality could be a bit different.
What is the best time/strategy to take Social Security?
At the presentation it was mentioned that Dustin is one of only two people in Colorado Springs that’s a certified Social Security advisor, so I had the chance to hear from someone who really knows what he’s talking about.
We explained our work situations: my wife had a decade or so of work and then nothing after that. I paid the maximum to Social Security for most of my career.
He asked me what we thought we should do and I said:
- Have my wife take her Social Security at her full retirement age (which is 67).
- When I turn 67, I take my Social Security and she claims half my benefits.
We had some discussion around this but it’s basically what he said he would recommend.
BTW, he also said he’s fairly bullish on Social Security and doesn’t think it’s going away any time soon, especially for those 55 and older. Yes, there could be changes but probably not massive for the older crowd.
Finally! There’s an advantage of being older. 🙂
Any thoughts on planning for RMDs?
This was a big part of their presentation, so I knew they had something to share.
BTW, we’re sitting on a mountain of RMDs.
If you look at this PDF from Fidelity, you’ll see that at 72 (when we’d be forced to take RMDs), our life expectancies are 25.6 years.
If you take $2.5 million in assets we have in IRAs and divide them by 25.6 years, that means our RMDs will be close to $100k per year.
This of course assumes there’s NO asset growth in the next decade and a half when we turn 72.
Dustin reiterated that he’s paying as much taxes as he can now with the intention of not having to pay them at all in the future.
He discussed something they called “super Roths”. From what I could understand, it’s permanent insurance with high cash value and a low death benefit (designed to maximize cash value so it’s more of an investment and less of insurance) that allowed you to grow your wealth tax free.
That’s a very simplistic explanation, but we only had about five minutes to cover it, so that’s my level of understanding currently.
Of course at the mention of permanent insurance the warning alarm on my checkbook started to go off big time.
Dustin says he has three of these policies and uses them to shelter money/investments from future taxes.
They said it was a great way to pay taxes now and avoid them later.
We had the discussion about no one knowing if tax rates will actually be lower in the future, but that didn’t go far because…no one knows.
We then moved on to the next question…
What is your perspective on LTC insurance?
I’m working on a post (it will probably be a two-parter) on long-term care (LTC) insurance so I was pretty up to speed on the topic. That said, I wanted to know what they thought of it.
Dustin said “you can’t afford not to have it.” This is the answer I expected. Didn’t someone once say “never ask an insurance agent if you need insurance?” Ha!
I asked him about the prevailing guideline of people with net worth in the middle ranges needing LTC insurance — that those at lower net worths don’t need it because eventually the government takes care of them and people at higher net worths ($2 million+) are self-insured.
He said “you insure your home and your car though you might be self-insured, why not your long-term care?”
This is a good point in some respect. We don’t see people advocating cutting home and auto insurance and self-insuring, why would we think we’d do it for LTC?
After I thought about it, I came to this conclusion: I don’t really insure my home and car for the replacement costs of either because I am certainly able to absorb the hits if either of those needed replaced. The main value is the liability coverage for each (especially the car) in case I’d need it. I also tack on umbrella insurance for just this reason.
In addition, the various factors might make home and auto insurance a “better deal.” You need to look at cost of each, the odds of needing them, and what they cover if you do need them. I’ll sort that out for LTC insurance in the posts I’m working on.
That said, they recommend using the same (I believe) super Roth/permanent insurance as a way to cover your LTC costs. It is a better way in their opinions to handle the cost. It may be as LTC insurance is both pricey and some companies are pulling back on coverage. But if you own an asset that pays for LTC, you control it.
That said, I already own assets that could pay for LTC, so why do I need a new one?
Obviously I don’t understand everything at this point since we covered it quickly and it’s pretty complex, so maybe I misunderstood.
To round out my questions, we did talk about the income question a bit, but since 1) there’s no great way to generate safe income these days at the 6%-8% level and 2) I was asking it more just for curiosity sake as I don’t really need the income, we didn’t waste much time on it.
Considering Another Investment Option
After we made it through my questions, Gregg wanted to talk about investing.
By this time they had a great feel for who I was — that I favored passive funds, low cost, etc.
Gregg said he wanted to point something out and drew this picture…
He said that over the past decade our portfolio of all equities (U.S. and international) was tailor-made for what happened in the market (because life has been lived on the right side of the graph). It was almost the perfect set up for the rapid growth we’ve seen.
That said, while no one knows what the future will bring, it’s highly likely that the go-go days won’t last and the economy will move to the left side of the graph.
As such we might want to consider a managed fund that “pays for itself in spades” (I had told him I wasn’t excited about active management or their associated fees) to invest our money in a way that the market calls for.
He didn’t tell me what the fund was, but the idea is that the manager moves your money to the proper market sector based on the economy. This supposedly protects you in case of a downturn and still gets you most of the gains in good times. In other words he moves the asset allocation based on the market we’re in to cut losses and manage upside.
It’s a simple concept and sounds compelling, but can anyone really pull this off consistently?
Gregg’s suggestion was for us to carve off at least some of the $2.9 million we have in stock index funds (including taxable accounts) and put it into this fund for protection in case the market turns south. His words were something close to “a prudent move would be to diversify the investments you have.”
He said the guy’s methodology was “super impressive” and that he (Gregg) had “50% of his assets in this strategy.”
I got zero details other than that — not the name of the fund, the manager, anything on costs, etc. We didn’t have time for it.
As you might imagine, I have a gazillion thoughts on this. I’ll lay out the key ones and let you chime in with your take:
- It is true that my portfolio has been “the right thing at the right time.” So far, I’ve ridden a pretty good wave the last several years. Of course I had to bite my fingernails and hold fast in 2008 and 2009 when most others were jumping ship, so those gains came after a lot of second guessing myself but still holding the course.
- It is likely (though no one knows) that the market is in for some rough times in the next several years. This could be sped along by our upcoming presidential elections depending on who gets elected.
- I still have a long-term outlook. At the rate we are going now, I will NEVER need the funds we’re talking about. So why not let them sit and ride the market out for the next 20 or 30 years? Even if it tanks, it’s likely to come back up again.
- As I discussed with the guys, I’ve won the game so do I really need to keep playing? In some respects what they are recommending keeps me playing the game. But in other respects it’s basically holding with what I have and not playing (just trying for protection).
- Gregg said something like “these are the moves wealthy people make.” This could be true and it could be something we need to do as well. Perhaps this is an option above my current level of expertise because I’ve never been wealthy before. 🙂
- I’m guessing that the fund they use has very high expenses which isn’t my style at all. Liquidity might be an issue as well, but I don’t know.
- Can I do what they recommend myself? Do I want to?
We’ll get to your thoughts on all this in a moment.
As the meeting started to wind down, they suggested a follow up meeting where we could get into details of the super Roth and the investment option.
I told them I’d consider it and get back to them.
I asked about any costs for the follow up and they said there would be none, so I’m leaning toward going. But I’ll let you help me decide that…
They then gave me a copy of a book titled “Retirement Confidence” written by Chris Abeyta, one of the company’s owners, as promised at the presentation. Gregg said he thought I probably wouldn’t get much out of it as it’s written for someone with a lower level of financial understanding. But you know how much I love to read, so I took it! 🙂
So what do you think — about the super Roth idea, what we should do (and why) with our investments, where the market is going, paying taxes now versus later, and, the big question, should we take another meeting with them (I’m thinking why not, but maybe there are reasons not to)?
A Few Follow-ups
Here are a couple things related to the topic that I wanted to be sure and cover:
- I asked them why they didn’t turn their radio show into a podcast. The short answer: it’s not a priority for them. They have more than enough business and don’t really need extra marketing. Of course they are still doing seminars so…
- My neighbor told me he has four additional meetings set up with them (all free). He doesn’t have as much leeway with his finances as we do and can’t afford to lose 50% of his investment value because he’s in the retirement red zone. My guess is that they pitched him the same fund they shared with me, but I’m not sure. We’ll probably compare notes if we proceed.