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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.

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.

Tapping the brakes when the market runs wild
Feb. 25, 2017

News outlets, namely The New York Times, recently revealed the existence of a lonely recluse rarely seen in public who manages $30 billion for a select group of clients — clients who have enjoyed results that rival those of Warren Buffett. The “spotlight,” as it were, illuminated Seth Klarman thanks to the leak of a letter discussing his thoughts about a Trump presidency and its effects on financial markets.

Since when is protecting workers’ retirement savings a bad thing?
Feb. 17, 2017

The current administration has pledged to overturn the Labor Department’s fiduciary duty rule — a new rule forcing financial services providers to offer retirement account investment products chosen in “the sole interest of the beneficiary of the plan.”

In other words, it mandates the behavior that defines a “professional.” To me, the word “professional” has always meant a person who recommends for clients what they would purchase for themselves knowing what they know about the possible alternatives and prices.

What goes in vs. what comes out
Feb. 11, 2017

Back in 2004, I wrote about a new book at the time titled “What if Boomers Can’t Retire?” by Thornton Parker. It offered a shot across the bow for those saving for retirement by offering a warning regarding the ephemeral nature of stock market values.

Thought the tax code was confusing before? Just wait
Feb. 4, 2017

The head-scratching miasma presented by a new tax reform proposal in the House of Representatives leaves no doubt as to whom the benefits will flow.

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