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Our CEO and Founder, Stephen Butler, writes columns and articles on the subject of retirement planning and investing.  His columns are syndicated in most of the San Francisco Bay Area newspapers.  Subject matter includes basic investment concepts and how they should be applied in the context of current financial and world events.  Over the past 16 years, more than 800 of his weekly columns have generated a loyal following among Northern California readers who benefit from his objective, insightful advice --- a counterpoint to the flood of self-serving advertising from the financial services industry.

Swimming with sharks in the market’s margins
Apr. 8, 2017

Short selling and stocks purchased on margin can offer what some consider a forward indicator as to what to expect in future stock market returns.

Both terms describe ways that stock investors use OPM (other people’s money) to magnify the value of their winning bets (buying on margin) or to actually make money when the market falls in value (selling short.)

10 Rules for the Retirement Road
Apr. 5, 2017

Financial advisors recommend various strategies for investors to follow as you plan for your retirement. Here are 10 strategies that can help steer you in the right direction for retirement planning.

Consolidating Retirement Plan Assets
Apr. 5, 2017

You may find that you have accumulated a number of workplace retirement accounts over the years. Consider the option of consolidating these assets to help simplify your life. Read more to familiarize yourself with the options available to help you make your decision.

Choosing Beneficiaries for Your Retirement Accounts
Apr. 5, 2017

Selecting beneficiaries as part of your retirement planning process can help contribute to your financial well-being. It can have significant impact on the income tax consequences on whom you designate. Read more to familiarize yourself with the rules for different accounts and type of beneficiaries, as well as options available to you.

401k Plan Choices for Job Changers
Apr. 5, 2017

When you change jobs, for whatever reason, this is the perfect opportunity to reevaluate your long-term financial plan including your retirement. Reviewing your situation at this transitional time can not only help you feel better about your new job, it can also get you refocused on your long-term savings plan. Read more to familiarize yourself with the options that are available to you. As always, consult with your financial planner and tax expert.

A common-sense approach to tax reform
Apr. 1, 2017

How tax reform affects retirement savings is of special interest to me, so I’m reviewing some of the proposals that have been put forth by various legislators since last summer.

What we know from previous tax reform efforts is that the deductibility and favorable treatment of retirement plans was successively undermined by the four tax reform bills enacted during the 1980s. To refresh your memory, they were TEFRA, DEFRA, REA and, finally, TRA in 1986. Sort of like Huey, Louie and Dewey — plus Donald.

Investing for retirement with a DIY mindset can keep fees low
Mar. 24, 2017

My copy of Organic Gardening magazine years ago suggested that the best way to get the outer shells off walnuts was to “spread them out over your driveway and drive your Volvo over them repeatedly.” The idea that subscribers all drove Volvos was just axiomatic. In the same vein, investors inclined to be “do-it-yourselfers,” or DIYs, find themselves beating a path to organizations like Vanguard, TIAA CREF, USAA — the shockingly small number of mutual fund companies whose business models are effectively nonprofit.

The wisdom of Warren Buffett
Mar. 18, 2017

It is never a waste of time to read Warren Buffett’s letter to stockholders in the Berkshire Hathaway annual report. Published last month, the report suggests to me that the “Oracle of Omaha” should probably be added to Mount Rushmore when the time comes.

The letter coincides with the release of the HBO documentary “Becoming Warren Buffett,” which traces the life of this extraordinary man from his days as a child who had a paper route with 500 customers.

Learning to be content with 2 percent growth
Mar. 11, 2017

In January, I discussed something called “policy risk,” which continues as probably the least predictable component foreshadowing what has been a historic rise in stock market values over the past eight years.

How historic? Well, it’s the greatest sustained increase since 1928.

Health care systems are worlds apart
Mar. 4, 2017

When traveling overseas to countries that have national health programs, I make it a point to satisfy my idle curiosity by asking people what they think of their health care.

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