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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.


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Not for the faint-hearted: Wild, potentially lucrative stock market ‘snap-backs’
Nov. 7, 2017

One of my favorite New Yorker cartoons depicted a fortune teller looking into a crystal ball. To her customer, beside whom a Labrador retriever sat with a baleful look, the woman predicted, “I see a 10-foot retractable leash in your future.” Similarly, it calls to mind a mental image of our stock market, which could be approaching the end of its leash.

How could the feds slashing your tax-free 401(k) contribution cap affect you?
Oct. 30, 2017

To view the entire article on The Mercury News (a Bay Area News Group newspaper), click here.


As Republicans on Capitol Hill hammer out a tax reform bill, one controversial proposal would slash the annual amount Americans can sock away into 401(k) plans without being taxed until they retire. Do you have such a plan? Let’s look at how it would be affected.

Transfer of retirement savings to beneficiaries is a tricky business, but worth mastering
Oct. 24, 2017

National Retirement Security Week came and went last week without making much of a peep. The objective was to raise awareness of retirement issues and call attention to financial education and preparation. Organizers pointed out that polls show 61 percent of Americans to be concerned about their ability to meet their financial needs in retirement. This implies, however, that 39 percent are convinced that they will have enough to retire and that they will not run out of money.

How a Bay Area man’s trade signaled an end to the ’87 crash; ETFs vs. mutual funds
Oct. 17, 2017

Thirty years ago this month, the stock market experienced a single-day plunge equivalent to a 5,100-point drop in today’s Dow Jones Industrial Average. It amounted to a 22 percent drop in value, the worst since 1914.

In general, we know today that computerized trading models, creating what was known then as “programmed trading,” essentially faked each other out. Consider something like “Hal,” the computer in the movie “2001,” bidding against several electronic “brains” in a race toward the bottom, which only ended when markets were shut down.

Gridlocked in D.C.? ACA repeal shot down, tax reform looking shaky
Oct. 10, 2017

The PBS documentary on the war in Vietnam offers a compelling look at how American policymakers, by their own admission, struggled to extricate themselves and America from what they conceded was a mistake. The ability of the film producers to include recorded phone calls in Washington interspersed with graphic film clips of pitched air and ground battles offers something far more real than any make-believe war movie.

Hedging your bets through diversified investments
Oct. 3, 2017

When I’m not reading magazines in the supermarket checkout line, I tend toward trade journals like “Pensions & Investments” — a font of juicy industry gossip of interest to people in my business. I enjoy sharing what I’m able to glean from these scandal sheets, so here goes…

Why are investors complacent with stock prices so high compared to earnings?
Sep. 26, 2017

While Bay Area traffic congestion is up 60 percent over the past four years, it is the price we pay for floating on the rising tide of this vibrant economy.

Thanks to the performance of major local companies, we have dodged the bullet known as “the summer doldrums” — a term describing the usual stock market downdraft occurring more often than not in the summer months. For the past 30 years, the market has typically experienced an average 14 percent drop at some point during the year, but the most we have endured this year was a 2.6 percent decline back in April.

Visualize your future self when planning for retirement
Sep. 18, 2017

A concept called “self-continuity” can have an impact on personal financial decisions. What is it, exactly? It’s a measure of how our lives in the future may change from the lives we lead today. High self-continuity means not much difference between today and tomorrow. Low means a future life as a departure from today’s status quo.

Investments: Income disparity highlighted by CEO pay
Sep. 11, 2017

With tax reform looming as a major priority, it remains to be seen how the nation’s leaders see a way to resolving the county’s income disparity. David Leonhardt, writing in the New York Times, told the story of George Romney, Mitt’s father, who limited his income to $225,000 per year at American Motors at a time when top executives generally felt it

Investments: Getting the right mix for your diversified portfolio
Sep. 5, 2017

As my summer vacation dragged into its last week I had run out of beach-time reading, but fortunately I had packed a copy of “Asset Allocation” by Roger Gibson. The fifth edition of the 27-year-old book is just riveting. I can’t put it down.

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