Fiduciary Confusion: What’s A 401k Plan Sponsor To Do?

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By Robert C. Lawton, AIF, CRPS, President, Lawton Retirement Plan Consultants, LLC

On February 3, President Trump signed a memorandum asking the Department of Labor to review the new fiduciary rules that apply to retirement accounts. The next week, on February 9, the Department of Labor (DoL) filed documents that will likely result in a six-month delay of the scheduled April implementation of the rules. There have been a lot of comments circulated on the impact of a delay or any changes. And of course, debate has once again been revived on the value of these new rules. Most important, though, is what this means for your 401k plan and participants and what your 401k fiduciary responsibility is.

What should 401k plan sponsors do?

Regardless of whether the rules are implemented as written or completely discarded, the most important thing 401k plan sponsors should do is determine whether the investment advisor they are working with is signed on as a fiduciary to their 401k plan. Advisors who work for insurance companies and brokerage firms are not required to be fiduciaries when providing advice to clients. Investment advisers who work for Registered Investment Advisory (RIA) firms always have been legally required to be fiduciaries to the 401k plans they work with.

Plan sponsors should compel their investment advisors to respond in writing (don’t accept a verbal “yes”) to the question about whether they are a fiduciary. They also should ask what limitations are attached to any fiduciary representation.

401k fiduciary responsibility: Knowing whether your advisor is a fiduciary

Brokerage firm and insurance company advisors work for their firms first and their clients second. Investment advisers working for RIAs, because they act as fiduciaries, are required to put their client’s interests first. What this means is that brokerage firm and insurance company advisors are legally able to suggest investment options that pay them and their firms more money even when cheaper alternatives exist.

As reported recently by the Consumer Federation of America, most brokerage firms and insurance companies portray their employees as trusted advisors when marketing to the public but as salespeople when opposing the new fiduciary rules. So, are these firms lying to their clients or lying when they oppose the new rules? Are you meeting your 401k fiduciary responsibility requirements if you work with such an advisor? Maybe not!

Brokerage firms and insurance companies still fighting new rules

Money magazine recently published an article, titled “Inside Wall Street’s Secret War on American Investors”, that effectively outlines the conflict of interest advisors working for brokerage firms and insurance companies have and how much it costs the average investor. As a 401k plan sponsor, part of your 401k fiduciary responsibility is to source investment advice for your 401k plan from advisers who are objective and required to take into account your best interests first. These new fiduciary rules are a win for 401k plan sponsors because they force brokerage firm and insurance company advisors to act more like fiduciaries.

What if I am working with a brokerage firm or insurance company advisor?

Take your 401k investment advisory business out to bid and include advisers who work for RIAs. If the rules are implemented as written there will still be exceptions that allow advisors working for brokerage firms and insurance companies to provide conflicted advice (i.e.: advice that is not in the client’s best interest). If the new rules are completely discarded, the only way to obtain objective investment advice is to work with an adviser from a RIA.

Plan sponsors, you can ignore all of the chatter surrounding this issue and meet your 401k fiduciary responsibility by hiring an investment adviser who signs on as a fiduciary to your plan without exceptions.

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About the author

Robert C. Lawton, AIF, CRPS is the founder and President of Lawton Retirement Plan Consultants, LLC. Mr. Lawton is an award-winning 401(k) investment adviser with over 30 years of experience. He has consulted with many Fortune 500 companies, including: Aon Hewitt, Apple, AT&T, First Interstate Bank, Florida Power & Light, General Dynamics, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, IBM, John Deere, Mazda Motor Corporation, Northwestern Mutual, Northern Trust Company, Trek Bikes, Tribune Company, Underwriters Labs and many others. Mr. Lawton may be contacted at (414) 828-4015 or bob@lawtonrpc.com.

About Lawton Retirement Plan Consultants, LLC

Lawton Retirement Plan Consultants, LLC is a Milwaukee, Wisconsin-based independent, objective Registered Investment Adviser (RIA) providing investment advisory, fiduciary compliance, employee education, provider management and plan design services to 401(k) plan sponsors. The firm currently has contracts in place to provide consulting services on more than $400 million in plan assets. For more information, please contact Robert C. Lawton at (414) 828-4015 or bob@lawtonrpc.com or visit the firm’s website at: http://www.lawtonrpc.com. Lawton Retirement Plan Consultants, LLC is a Wisconsin Registered Investment Adviser.

Important Disclosures

This information was developed as a general guide to educate plan sponsors and is not intended as authoritative guidance, tax, legal or investment advice. Each plan has unique requirements and you should consult your attorney or tax adviser for guidance on your specific situation. In no way does Lawton Retirement Plan Consultants, LLC assure that, by using the information provided, plan sponsor will be in compliance with ERISA regulations. Investors should carefully consider investment objectives, risks, charges and expenses. The statements in this publication are the opinions and beliefs of the commentator expressed when the commentary was made and are not intended to represent that person’s opinions and beliefs at any other time. The commentary does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Lawton Retirement Plan Consultants, LLC and should not be construed as recommendations or investment advice. Lawton Retirement Plan Consultants, LLC offers no tax, legal or accounting advice, and any advice contained herein is not specific to any individual, entity or retirement plan, but rather general in nature and, therefore, should not be relied upon for specific investment situations. Lawton Retirement Plan Consultants, LLC is a Wisconsin Registered Investment Adviser and accepts clients outside of Wisconsin based upon applicable state registration regulations and the “de minimus” exception.

Copyright © 2017 by Lawton Retirement Plan Consultants, LLC. All rights reserved.

Top Five Money Habits Of Happy Couples

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I hope you had a wonderful weekend! It was in the 60’s this weekend — I think spring is on the way!

LRPC’s Monday Morning Minute for this week, “Top Five Money Habits Of Happy Couples” (presented below) comes to you courtesy of ThinkAdvisor. As an independent, objective Registered Investment Advisory firm, Lawton Retirement Plan Consultants, LLC has access to research from many sources. Be assured that I will share enlightening, useful information with you each week. This is a short piece I believe everyone can read in less than 60 seconds.

Ever wonder how some couples seem to navigate the money thing so easily? The article below reveals their secret money habits!

Have a wonderful week!

_______________________________

Top Five Money Habits Of Happy Couples

By Michael S. Fischer, Contributor, ThinkAdvisor

Most couples disagree about money from time to time, but the happiest ones know how to work through their differences, according to Ameriprise Financial.

Three-quarters of participants in a recent Ameriprise study on couples and money said they agreed on most financial matters, while more than a third also said there was room for improvement.

The study found that 88% of couples were happy with how they had divided up financial responsibilities in their relationship, and 68% said they communicated well about their financial situation. Both individuals in the pair rated themselves as engaged, responsible and confident in managing their money.

“Money doesn’t have to be a deal-breaker for couples,” Marcy Keckler, Ameriprise’s vice president of financial advice strategy, said in a statement. “Instead, it provides them with the opportunity to work as a team to create a strong financial foundation built on communication, planning and shared responsibilities.”

The Ameriprise study was conducted online by Artemis Strategy Group among 1,514 U.S. opposite and same-sex couples (married or living together for at least six months with shared financial responsibility), ages 25 to 70 with at least $25,000 in investable assets.

Getting Along

While 82% of couples said they work to quickly resolve differences in financial decisions, 31% said they argue about money at least once a month. The most common points of disagreement:

  • Major purchases: 34%
  • Decisions about finance and children: 24% of respondents with offspring
  • A partner’s spending habits: 23%
  • Important investment decisions: 14%

The study found a neutral party, such as a shared financial advisor, can help couples deal with disagreements about money. “Couples who see the same advisor report that it has helped them improve both their communication and their understanding about financial matters,” Keckler said. “It’s also helped many of them defuse potential conflicts. Approximately 40% of couples who describe themselves as not ‘on the same page’ financially say that advisors have helped them negotiate money issues that might otherwise have caused tension.”

Following are the top five money habits of happy couples in the Ameriprise study.

1. They make money a priority

Half of survey respondents believed that money was an important factor in their relationship, and only 15% said it was not important.

2. Most talk about and agree on financial goals and shared responsibilities

Sixty-eight percent of couples rated their communication on financial matters as good or perfect, and 82% said they had discussed retirement and had similar views on how to approach it.

3. They set spending limits

Any purchases over $400 on average need to be discussed.

4. The majority have joint banking accounts

If one partner keeps money separate from the joint account, the other is typically aware of it.

5. They share the responsibility for retirement planning and investment decisions

Ninety-two percent said they agreed on their target retirement savings goals.

____________________________

About LRPC’s Monday Morning Minute

Lawton Retirement Plan Consultants, LLC (LRPC) Monday Morning Minute is crafted to provide decision-makers with important information about the economy, investments and corporate retirement plans in a format that allows a reader to consume the information in less than 60 seconds. As an independent, objective investment adviser, LRPC has access to many sources of research and shares the best and most relevant information with its readers each week.

About Lawton Retirement Plan Consultants, LLC

Lawton Retirement Plan Consultants, LLC is a Milwaukee, Wisconsin-based independent, objective Registered Investment Adviser (RIA) providing investment advisory, fiduciary compliance, employee education, provider management and plan design services to retirement plan sponsors. The firm currently has contracts in place to provide consulting services on more than $400 million in plan assets. For more information, please contact Robert C. Lawton at (414) 828-4015 or bob@lawtonrpc.com or visit the firm’s website at http://www.lawtonrpc.com. Lawton Retirement Plan Consultants, LLC is a Wisconsin Registered Investment Adviser.

Important Disclosures

This information was developed as a general guide to educate plan sponsors and is not intended as authoritative guidance, tax, legal or investment advice. Each plan has unique requirements and you should consult your attorney or tax adviser for guidance on your specific situation. In no way does Lawton Retirement Plan Consultants, LLC assure that, by using the information provided, plan sponsor will be in compliance with ERISA regulations. Investors should carefully consider investment objectives, risks, charges and expenses. The statements in this publication are the opinions and beliefs of the commentator expressed when the commentary was made and are not intended to represent that person’s opinions and beliefs at any other time. The commentary does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Lawton Retirement Plan Consultants, LLC and should not be construed as recommendations or investment advice. Lawton Retirement Plan Consultants, LLC offers no tax, legal or accounting advice and any advice contained herein is not specific to any individual, entity or retirement plan, but rather general in nature and, therefore, should not be relied upon for specific investment situations. Lawton Retirement Plan Consultants, LLC is a Wisconsin Registered Investment Adviser and accepts clients outside of Wisconsin based upon applicable state registration regulations and the “de minimus” exception.

Six Keys To Investment Success: T. Rowe’s Brian Rogers Reflects

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I hope you had a wonderful weekend! Remember Valentine’s Day is tomorrow!

LRPC’s Monday Morning Minute for this week, “Six Keys To Investment Success: T. Rowe’s Brian Rogers Reflects” (presented below) comes to you courtesy of ThinkAdvisor. As an independent, objective Registered Investment Advisory firm, Lawton Retirement Plan Consultants, LLC has access to research from many sources. Be assured that I will share enlightening, useful information with you each week. This is a short piece I believe everyone can read in less than 60 seconds.

As his retirement approaches, Brian Rogers, Chairman and CIO at T. Rowe Price, shares his knowledge gained from 35 years working with investments.

Have a wonderful week!

_______________________________

Six Keys To Investment Success: T. Rowe’s Brian Rogers Reflects

By Emily Zulz, Staff Reporter, ThinkAdvisor

On Brian Rogers’ desk at T. Rowe Price is an engraved cube displaying the reminder, “Doubt everything. Believe nothing.” “And I think those are good things for investors to do,” as well, Rogers said

As the time nears for him to step down from his current roles as chairman and CIO at T. Rowe, Rogers is taking time to reflect on his career. “One thing that really struck me” in 1982 when he joined T. Rowe, he recalled at the event, is how “passive was making increasing inroads into our business.” In addition, he said, “fees were under cyclical pressure in 1982. Fast forward to 2016 and it feels like the same two trends are in place, and will continue.”

Recently, T. Rowe Price announced that Rogers will retire as chairman and CIO on March 31, 2017, after nearly 35 years at the firm. While he will stay on as a non-executive chair, his role as CIO will be taken on by six senior investment executives. Recently, Rogers shared six keys to investment success he’s learned over his career.

1. Be an optimist

“When I think back over the course of my career I think back to Warren Buffett’s description of the 20th century,” in which Buffett suggested that ‘If you had $1,000 to invest in 1901 but you knew about everything that was going to happen in the 20th century, you never would have invested the money.’”

However, despite two world wars, depressions, financial crises, oil embargos, global tension and the Cold War, it actually was a good century in which to invest. Rogers suspects this century will be similar to the last. “So be an optimist despite how bad things seem and despite how volatile markets may be,” Rogers said. “Being optimistic, I think, is something that really makes sense for the individual and the institutional investor.”

2. View crises as opportunities

“When you look back over history, a lot of the crises we’ve lived through now just look like little blips on a price chart,” Rogers said. “If you think back to the crash of ’87, the downturn in 1990-91, even the Dot Com crash…when you look at a long-term price chart, they look like little blips. So you have to view those things as opportunities. Everything is cyclical.”

3. Price determines success

“Think of your own lives: If you pay too much for a house, it may not be a good investment for you. If you pay too much for a stock or bond, it may not be a good investment for you,” Rogers said. “Ultimately price and value converge, but it can happen from different directions. You can have price and value, and price drops. Or you can have value and price, and price rises. “Not surprisingly, it’s tougher to make money when prices are high.”

4. Be humble

“One of the things I think I’m known for within our organization is — -very gently — -from time to time telling people that they don’t know as much as they think they know,” Rogers said. “Over-confidence as an investor is a great challenge.” To support his point, Rogers quoted Confucius: Real knowledge is to know the extent of one’s ignorance. “One of the things we preach within the investment organization is ‘Know what you know. Know what you don’t know. And don’t be overconfident about it all,’” he added.

5. Avoid complexity

“Simplicity is a virtue. I have seen so many investors get into so much trouble over the years with what I call ‘fancy products,’” Rogers said. Today one of Rogers’ favorite investment products to “really go after” is leveraged ETFs. “Does anyone really think that betting the 3x Brazil [will go] up is a good bet for the individual investor?”  though he acknowledges “it would have been this year, but it’s a very difficult thing to do and I think the financial services industry from time to time should be criticized for offering products that are so complicated, so complex that investors can’t really understand the risk and return framework of them.”

6. Avoid investment cults

“I remember Bethany McLean when she wrote the book The Smartest Guys in the Room [about the Enron scandal], she talked about steering clear of companies that are so popular, so much in the press — think Valeant, think Theranos, think companies like that. Over the years it’s been companies like Enron and Tyco.”

For example, Rogers pointed out that the leaders of the equity markets in the ‘80s — like Digital Equipment Corporation, Data General and Intergraph — are barely remembered today. “Beware the ‘It’ stock,” he said. “And beware of companies always on the front page. Beware of hot sectors and companies with very low entries into their businesses.”

____________________________

About LRPC’s Monday Morning Minute

Lawton Retirement Plan Consultants, LLC (LRPC) Monday Morning Minute is crafted to provide decision-makers with important information about the economy, investments and corporate retirement plans in a format that allows a reader to consume the information in less than 60 seconds. As an independent, objective investment adviser, LRPC has access to many sources of research and shares the best and most relevant information with its readers each week.

About Lawton Retirement Plan Consultants, LLC

Lawton Retirement Plan Consultants, LLC is a Milwaukee, Wisconsin-based independent, objective Registered Investment Adviser (RIA) providing investment advisory, fiduciary compliance, employee education, provider management and plan design services to retirement plan sponsors. The firm currently has contracts in place to provide consulting services on more than $400 million in plan assets. For more information, please contact Robert C. Lawton at (414) 828-4015 or bob@lawtonrpc.com or visit the firm’s website at http://www.lawtonrpc.com. Lawton Retirement Plan Consultants, LLC is a Wisconsin Registered Investment Adviser.

Important Disclosures

This information was developed as a general guide to educate plan sponsors and is not intended as authoritative guidance, tax, legal or investment advice. Each plan has unique requirements and you should consult your attorney or tax adviser for guidance on your specific situation. In no way does Lawton Retirement Plan Consultants, LLC assure that, by using the information provided, plan sponsor will be in compliance with ERISA regulations. Investors should carefully consider investment objectives, risks, charges and expenses. The statements in this publication are the opinions and beliefs of the commentator expressed when the commentary was made and are not intended to represent that person’s opinions and beliefs at any other time. The commentary does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Lawton Retirement Plan Consultants, LLC and should not be construed as recommendations or investment advice. Lawton Retirement Plan Consultants, LLC offers no tax, legal or accounting advice and any advice contained herein is not specific to any individual, entity or retirement plan, but rather general in nature and, therefore, should not be relied upon for specific investment situations. Lawton Retirement Plan Consultants, LLC is a Wisconsin Registered Investment Adviser and accepts clients outside of Wisconsin based upon applicable state registration regulations and the “de minimus” exception.

How To Avoid A DoL 401k Audit

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By Robert C. Lawton, AIF, CRPS, President, Lawton Retirement Plan Consultants, LLC

There are many reasons for plan sponsors to do everything possible to avoid a Department of Labor (DoL) 401k audit. They can be costly, time-consuming and generally unpleasant.

The DoL in its Fact Sheet for fiscal year 2016 indicates that the Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA) closed 2,002 civil investigations with 1,356 of those cases (67.7%) resulting in monetary penalties/additional contributions. The total amount EBSA recovered for Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) plan participants last year was $777.5 million.

In my experience, if you receive notification from the DoL that it has an interest in looking over your 401k plan, you need to be concerned. Not only do the statistics above support the fact that DoL auditors do a good job of uncovering problems but in my opinion, they are not an easy group to negotiate with to fix deficiencies.

As a result, I believe the best policy to follow to ensure you don’t receive a visit from a DoL representative is to do everything possible to avoid encouraging such a visit. Here are some suggestions that may help you avoid a DoL 401k audit:

1. Always respond to employee inquiries in a timely way

The most frequent trigger for a DoL 401k audit is a complaint received from a current or former employee. These complaints can originate from employees you have terminated who feel poorly treated or existing employees who feel ignored. Make sure you are sensitive to employee concerns and respond in a timely way to all questions. Keep copies of any correspondence. Be very professional in how you treat those individuals who are terminated – even though in certain instances that may be difficult. Terminated employees who feel they have been mistreated often call the DoL to “get back” at an employer.

2. Improve employee communication

Often employee frustrations come from not understanding a benefit program – or worse, misunderstanding it. If you are aware that employees are frustrated with a plan or there is a lot of behind the scenes discussion about it, schedule an education meeting as soon as possible to explain plan provisions.

3. Fix your plan – now

If the DoL decides to audit your 401k plan, as shown above, it frequently finds something wrong. Many times plan sponsors are aware that a certain provision in the plan is a friction point for employees. Or worse, they know the plan is broken and no one has taken the time to fix it. Contact your benefits consultant, recordkeeper or benefits attorney to address these trouble spots before they cause an employee to call the DoL.

4. Conduct a “mock” DoL 401k audit

Many plan sponsors have found it helpful to conduct a mock DoL 401k audit or hire a consulting firm to do one for them. If management hasn’t been responsive to your concerns about addressing a plan issue, having evidence to share with them that shows an audit failure can be very convincing.

5. Make sure your 5500 is filed correctly

The second most frequent cause of a DoL 401k audit relates to the annual Form 5500 filing. The most common 5500 errors include failing to file on time, not including all required schedules and failing to answer multiple-part questions. Ensure that your 5500 is filed by a competent provider and that it is filed on time. Most plan sponsors either use their recordkeeper or accountant to file their plan’s 5500. Don’t do it yourself. The fees a provider will charge to do the work for you are very reasonable.

6. Don’t be late with contribution submissions

Surprisingly, many employers still don’t view participant 401k contributions as participant money. They are, and the DoL is very interested in ensuring that participant 401k contributions are submitted promptly to the trustee. Be very consistent and timely with your deposits to the trust. Participants will track how long it takes for their payroll deductions to hit the trust. If they aren’t happy with how quickly that happens, they may call the DoL. If you have forgotten to submit a payroll to the trustee, or think you may have been late, call your benefits attorney. There are procedures to follow for late contribution submissions.

A DoL 401k audit is generally not pleasant. It wouldn’t be too strong to say that they are often adversarial. Because a DoL 401k audit is typically generated by employee complaints or Form 5500 errors, auditors have a pretty good idea that something is wrong. Consequently, I recommend that plan sponsors do everything they can to avoid a DoL 401k audit.

________________

About the Author

Robert C. Lawton, AIF, CRPS is the founder and President of Lawton Retirement Plan Consultants, LLC. Mr. Lawton is an award-winning 401(k) investment adviser with over 30 years of experience. He has consulted with many Fortune 500 companies, including: Aon Hewitt, Apple, AT&T, First Interstate Bank, Florida Power & Light, General Dynamics, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, IBM, John Deere, Mazda Motor Corporation, Northwestern Mutual, Northern Trust Company, Trek Bikes, Tribune Company, Underwriters Labs and many others. Mr. Lawton may be contacted at (414) 828-4015 or bob@lawtonrpc.com.

About Lawton Retirement Plan Consultants, LLC

Lawton Retirement Plan Consultants, LLC is a Milwaukee, Wisconsin-based independent, objective Registered Investment Adviser (RIA) providing investment advisory, fiduciary compliance, employee education, provider management and plan design services to 401(k) plan sponsors. The firm currently has contracts in place to provide consulting services on more than $400 million in plan assets. For more information, please contact Robert C. Lawton at (414) 828-4015 or bob@lawtonrpc.com or visit the firm’s website at: http://www.lawtonrpc.com. Lawton Retirement Plan Consultants, LLC is a Wisconsin Registered Investment Adviser.

Important Disclosures

This information was developed as a general guide to educate plan sponsors and is not intended as authoritative guidance, tax, legal or investment advice. Each plan has unique requirements and you should consult your attorney or tax adviser for guidance on your specific situation. In no way does Lawton Retirement Plan Consultants, LLC assure that, by using the information provided, plan sponsor will be in compliance with ERISA regulations. Investors should carefully consider investment objectives, risks, charges and expenses. The statements in this publication are the opinions and beliefs of the commentator expressed when the commentary was made and are not intended to represent that person’s opinions and beliefs at any other time. The commentary does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Lawton Retirement Plan Consultants, LLC and should not be construed as recommendations or investment advice. Lawton Retirement Plan Consultants, LLC offers no tax, legal or accounting advice, and any advice contained herein is not specific to any individual, entity or retirement plan, but rather general in nature and, therefore, should not be relied upon for specific investment situations. Lawton Retirement Plan Consultants, LLC is a Wisconsin Registered Investment Adviser and accepts clients outside of Wisconsin based upon applicable state registration regulations and the “de minimus” exception. Copyright © 2017 by Lawton Retirement Plan Consultants, LLC. All rights reserved.

Five Tax-Filing Mistakes And How To Avoid Them

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I hope you had a wonderful weekend! How about that Superbowl?

LRPC’s Monday Morning Minute for this week, “Five Tax-Filing Mistakes And How To Avoid Them” (presented below) comes to you courtesy of Schwab. As an independent, objective Registered Investment Advisory firm, Lawton Retirement Plan Consultants, LLC has access to research from many sources. Be assured that I will share enlightening, useful information with you each week. This is a short piece I believe everyone can read in less than 60 seconds.

It’s time to start thinking about filing your taxes. If you are an early filer — which is smart since early filing reduces the likelihood of becoming a victim of tax filing fraud — or someone who files at the last minute, you will find these tax-filing tips helpful.

Have a wonderful week!

_______________________________

Five Tax-Filing Mistakes And How To Avoid Them

From Charles Schwab & Co., Inc.

When the IRS is reviewing your tax return, it doesn’t care whether a filing mistake is intentional or inadvertent. Any error can trigger a notice, says Rande Spiegelman, vice president of financial planning at the Schwab Center for Financial Research.

While a mistake won’t necessarily lead to an audit, you want to avoid as many red flags as possible — particularly if you’re a high-income taxpayer since they tend to be audited more frequently.

Understating income and overstating deductions are two potential problem areas for filers, Rande warns. But those aren’t the only places where returns can go off the rails. Here are five frequent mistakes people make, and ways to prevent them. [Read more…]

Six Keys To Being Excellent At Anything

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I hope you had a wonderful weekend! Welcome to tax season!

LRPC’s Monday Morning Minute for this week, “Six Keys To Being Excellent At Anything” (presented below) comes to you courtesy of Tony Schwartz. As an independent, objective Registered Investment Advisory firm, Lawton Retirement Plan Consultants, LLC has access to research from many sources. Be assured that I will share enlightening, useful information with you each week. This is a short piece I believe everyone can read in less than 60 seconds.

We all need inspiration every now and then. Each month I like to share some words that I feel are uplifting. This month’s article talks about how you can excel at anything. Really. Give it a look.

Have a wonderful week!

_______________________________

Six Keys To Being Excellent At Anything

By Tony Schwartz

I’ve been playing tennis for nearly five decades. I love the game and I hit the ball well, but I’m far from the player I wish I were.

I’ve been thinking about this a lot the past couple of weeks, because I’ve taken the opportunity, for the first time in many years, to play tennis nearly every day. My game has gotten progressively stronger. I’ve had a number of rapturous moments during which I’ve played like the player I long to be.

And almost certainly could be, even though I’m 58 years old. Until recently, I never believed that was possible. For most of my adult life, I’ve accepted the incredibly durable myth that some people are born with special talents and gifts and that the potential to truly excel in any given pursuit is largely determined by our genetic inheritance. [Read more…]

What’s The Right 401k Contribution Rate?

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By Robert C. Lawton, AIF, CRPS, President, Lawton Retirement Plan Consultants, LLC

The most frequent question I receive from 401k participants is, “How much should I contribute?” My answer is always the same, “As much as you possibly can.” That never seems to satisfy anyone, so I typically go on to explain the following.

The correct 401k contribution rate

[Read more…]

How To Raise Your Financial IQ In 2017

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I hope you had a wonderful weekend! Welcome to the Donald Trump presidency. Hang on!

LRPC’s Monday Morning Minute for this week, “How To Raise Your Financial IQ In 2017” (presented below) comes to you courtesy of Schwab. As an independent, objective Registered Investment Advisory firm, Lawton Retirement Plan Consultants, LLC has access to research from many sources. Be assured that I will share enlightening, useful information with you each week. This is a short piece I believe everyone can read in less than 60 seconds.

You can make better financial decisions if you know what information is important and use the right financial knowledge base. This piece from Schwab can help you focus on the essential financial knowledge you need to make better financial decisions.

Have a wonderful week!

_______________________________

How To Raise Your Financial IQ In 2017

By Carrie Schwab-Pomerantz, Charles Schwab & Co., Inc.

Key points

  • Want to make smarter financial decisions in 2017? Start by focusing on the key elements that should comprise your financial knowledge base.
  • Help raise your personal financial IQ by zeroing in on just 10 important details of your own financial situation.
  • Instead of making resolutions you might not keep, set up a support system that can help sustain you throughout the year.

It’s that time again. And while you may have promised yourself to be smarter about your finances in 2017, we all know that New Year’s resolutions are notoriously ineffective. Despite our best intentions, the vast majority of us simply don’t follow through. So this year, instead of making an overwhelming list of things to do, I’m suggesting that you focus on a few concrete things you need to know. In other words, if you educate yourself about your finances, you’ll be laying the foundation for success by building the right financial knowledge base.

Improve your financial knowledge base by raising your financial IQ

The financial world is filled with numbers and details, many of which you don’t really need to think about. I believe you can improve your financial knowledge base in 2017 by just zeroing in on the following 10 things — all practical information that only require simple math: [Read more…]

Taxes: What’s New For 2017?

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I hope you had a wonderful weekend! Looks like we might reach the low 50’s in Wisconsin this week!

LRPC’s Monday Morning Minute for this week, “Taxes: What’s New For 2017?” (presented below) comes to you courtesy of Schwab. As an independent, objective Registered Investment Advisory firm, Lawton Retirement Plan Consultants, LLC has access to research from many sources. Be assured that I will share enlightening, useful information with you each week. If you are short on time, make sure you take a look at each of the headings below.

As you work on your tax return for 2016, it may be wise to look at what is changing in the world of taxes for 2017. Understanding right now what is different this year ensures that you have ample time to reduce what you pay in 2017 taxes.

Have a wonderful week!

_______________________________

Taxes: What’s New For 2017?

By Rande Spiegelman, Charles Schwab & Co., Inc.

Key points

  • Tax changes in recent years included an additional Medicare surtax for high-income earners, a new top rate for dividends and long-term capital gains, and the phase-out of itemized deductions for high earners.
  • If you’re subject to higher taxes, it’s even more important to take advantage of whatever tax breaks apply to you.
  • Learn more about this year’s inflation adjustments and common tax breaks, including retirement plan contributions and charitable giving.

Although there are no major tax law changes this year, there are still inflation adjustments and other routine changes to consider. Remember, it’s important to take advantage of the tax break you’re entitled to — it’s not what you make but what you keep that counts. Here are a number of items to consider as you plan for the year ahead. [Read more…]

Six New Year’s Resolutions 401k Plan Sponsors Should Make

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By Robert C. Lawton, AIF, CRPS, President, Lawton Retirement Plan Consultants, LLC

I hope that 2016 was a great year for you and that 2017 will be even better!

A few changes can make your good 401k plan into a great one. To help your 401k plan achieve greatness, consider making the following 401k plan improvements by year-end: [Read more…]