The Basics of Planning for Retirement

By: Oxana Saunders

Photo courtesy of TheBalance.com

Photo courtesy of TheBalance.com


Younger people often think that retirement is too far in the future and see no reason to worry about it today. Others believe that a financially sound retirement seems impossible and therefore they will never be able to retire, or they can just count on Social Security.

While financial circumstances differ for people in different age and income groups, there is one thing in common – the sooner you start thinking about retirement planning, the better off you would be. This requires a comprehensive look at your situation and a well-prepared plan, which should be reviewed and modified regularly to adapt to developments in your life.

Below is a link to an article from TheBalance.com that can help you start your retirement plan. For more extensive analyses of your retirement goals and how they can be accomplished, please call us at 941.350.7904 for a free consultation.

the balance website logoThe Basics of Planning for Your Retirement

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Oxana Saunders Vice President Path FinancialOxana Saunders is the Vice President of Path Financial, LLC. She may be reached at 941.894.2571 or oxana@pathfinancial.net.

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Top 10 Reasons Why You Need a Financial Plan

By: Oxana Saunders

mazeMany people believe that a comprehensive financial plan only makes sense for the “super wealthy,” but this is a misconception. Financial planning can help people at all income levels and in all age groups.

A good plan shows how all aspects of personal finance affect one another, helps set up short, medium and long-term goals, and provides specific actions to achieve them. Whether you want to have a comfortable retirement, pay for college education, buy a house, or give to charity, a comprehensive financial plan makes it easier to achieve your goals.

Below is a link to a Forbes.com article that explores many reasons why it is so important to have a financial plan in place. Please contact us for a free consultation to help you plan your financial future.

Forbes.com: 10 Reasons Why Financial Plans Aren’t Just for the 1%.

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Oxana Saunders Vice President Path FinancialOxana Saunders is the Vice President of Path Financial, LLC. She may be reached at 941.894.2571 or oxana@pathfinancial.net.

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Best Strategy to Save for College: 529, UGMA, or UTMA?

By: Oxana Saunders

funding college Recently in our weekly blog post, we talked about 529 college saving plans. That blog prompted some of our readers to take a close look at what they were doing in preparation for college expenses. One of the questions that came up was how 529 plans differ from UGMA and UTMA accounts and which one is best for their particular situation.

Below is the comparison chart of these savings vehicles, but the short answer is if your primary goal is to help your children or grandchildren fund their college expenses and you want to control how that money is spent, then you may be better off with 529 plans.

Click on the image to view a savings comparison chart from SavingforCollege.com which summarizes and compares the features of 529 plans, ESAs, UTMAs, IRAs, and education savings bonds.

saving for college website image

For a detailed analysis of your financial situation and what ways of saving for college could be most appropriate for you, please contact us for a free consultation.

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Oxana Saunders Vice President Path FinancialOxana Saunders is the Vice President of Path Financial, LLC. She may be reached at 941.894.2571 or oxana@pathfinancial.net.

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Sarasota Financial Advisor Discusses Retirement, Planning, & Mistakes to Avoid

Oxana Saunders Vice President Path FinancialEarlier this year, Sarasota financial advisor Oxana Saunders, Path Financial’s new Vice President, was featured in the Sarasota Herald Tribune‘s monthly magazine, STYLE. Interviewed by writer Su Byron, Oxana answered questions on the qualities needed to be a successful financial advisor, what people in their 40s should be doing to prepare for retirement, and the top investing mistake people make when saving for retirement.

Click on the image below to read the story in full.
style magazine article

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Can the stock market triple by 2026?

damWe often hear these days that stocks are overpriced and due for a correction. Despite the fact that the S&P 500 is hitting all-time highs after climbing 250% in eight years, it’s clear that the rally has not quite captured the heart of investors. Analysts were never really convinced either and have issued similar warnings for years. Meanwhile, the bull market marches on.

Is it too late to join in? That is certainly a risk: it is a well-known fact that investors abandon caution at the worst possible times. But when the current rally is put in context with past performance, the case for extreme caution loses some of its potency. Stocks have been known to climb far more than the 250% registered since 2009, such as when they soared 1,000% between 1942-1966 and 1982-2000. Both rallies eventually died, of course, but false calls that the end was nigh were issued many times before the bull-slaying busts finally arrived.

Booms can be confoundingly persistent. The ten-fold rise from 1982 to 2000, for example, did not ebb gradually: instead, it sped up in the mid-1990s as investors became increasingly bullish and optimistic.

Conversely, busts come along with violence, often just after people stop recognizing that markets can do just that. In the late 1990s, for example, nobody could foresee the brutal 3-year bear market that started in March 2000.

Market crashes are a feature of how markets behave, and have always been around. The 2008-09 financial crisis or the 2000 dot-com crash, for example, were no more devastating than the Crash of 1929, or the long-forgotten Panic of 1873 that forced the first stock market closure.

These booms and busts come in unpredictable cycles of different duration. Nobody has a way of forecasting market turns.

But about 90 years ago an intriguing pattern of market behavior developed, and it has held remarkably well to this day. It goes like this: weak stock market returns in a 17-year period follow 17 years of very high returns, and vice versa. This might be nothing else than a coincidence, and we do not know whether it will hold in the future. But the cycle is quite clear.

can the S&P 500 triple chart

In 1929, for example, stocks had returned a remarkable 13.4% average in the previous 17 years, the highest it had been up until that point, and investors were euphoric. But in the next 17 years stocks yielded a miserly 1.3% per year including dividends. Fast forward to 1942: stocks had returned less than 4% during the prior 17 years but went on to yield a stunning 18% annual average return during the next 17.

Since then, the market pendulum has swung between despair and euphoria, taking market returns from trough to peak. It seems that just when optimism reaches its highest point a new era begins, marked by low returns, and affirming the dictum that investor sentiment is best seen as a contrarian indicator.

Despite the market strength, conditions today can hardly be described as “euphoric”. Political dysfunction, global terrorism, rogue states and the rise of global protectionism are just some of the concerns discussed in today’s news. Sentiment is rather weak, illustrated by the prevalent idea that the stock market is too high and ripe for a fall. And the past 17-year average market return has been low by historical standards.

So, according to the despair-euphoria cycle we described, current conditions seem to be consistent with strong future returns. If so, what would it mean for market levels?

The most conservative way of measuring this is to start the calculation at the trough of 2009. To arrive thus to a 17-year average total return of, say, 15%, the S&P500 would have to be around 7000 sometime in 2026, assuming dividends of about 2% per year. A 16% average annual total return would take it closer to 8000, or well above three times its current level.

This may sound unreasonably high, but as observed earlier the stock market has gone up much more than that in the past, and tenfold twice. Going from 700 in 2009 to 7000 in 2026 would not lack precedent.

Looking elsewhere for clues we note that the last 8 years saw weak economic growth, a condition proven to be cyclical; if so, we may be on the threshold of a new period of environmentally sustainable expansion aided by new technologies (think renewable energy and artificial intelligence). This could be a shot in the arm for the global economy.

We insist: it is impossible to know whether this pendulum-like cycle will hold. The stock market moves in patterns that occasionally repeat themselves for a while and then vanish, a feature common to unpredictable systems.

Even if the pattern holds, there is nothing to prevent the market from tanking and then recover to produce a strong 17-year average return by 2026. The 20%-plus Crash of October 1987, for example, happened five years into the tenfold stock rise of 1982-2000.

So the cycle we described does not say anything about where the market may be this year or the next. But those who wonder about the long term may find the idea of being in the initial stages of a really long rally quite exhilarating.

What now?

We are a Registered Investment Advisor held to a fiduciary standard of care. We believe that our portfolio management process, focused on measuring and managing risk, can be very effective at creating a sensible balance between risk and return, partly by measuring financial and investment conditions often and adjusting portfolios through a well-defined process. We implement this process for our clients and we tailor it for their specific circumstances, and we always put their interests first. That means we do not profit from transactions or by selling any products. Our only compensation is based on the assets we manage, which goes a long way of aligning our interests with yours. We can also help you evaluate your current goals and establish an investment plan aiming at steady, long-term returns while managing downside risk. You can download our report describing our investment methods and goals, or contact us if you would like to know more about how Path Financial’s investment process can work for you. We’ll be happy to set up a confidential meeting to discuss your path to financial success. Contact Path Financial at 941.350.7904.

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Choosing the Right Financial Advisor

By: Oxana Saunders

choose the right financial advisor

As I spend more time talking to my friends, family and community members about the importance of financial planning, I realize that the thought of paying a financial advisor may seem unnecessary to some people. Sometimes they simply choose not to have their money professionally managed rather than going through what they fear might be a complicated process of finding the right person. One of the main concerns I hear is that they find it difficult to trust an advisor they don’t know.

Choosing the right financial advisor doesn’t have to be hard. This article from Forbes.com, does a great job spelling out the five key aspects to consider when selecting a financial advisor: 5 Things To Look For When Picking A Financial Advisor.

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Oxana Saunders Vice President Path FinancialOxana Saunders is the Vice President of Path Financial, LLC. She may be reached at 941.894.2571 or oxana@pathfinancial.net.

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Raul Elizalde Selected as Contributor for Forbes.com Investment Blog

Raul cropped for facebookRaul Elizalde, President and Chief Investment Officer at Sarasota-based Path Financial LLC, has been selected as a guest columnist for Forbes.com, where he will regularly contribute to financial writer Lawrence Light’s investment advice blog. Elizalde’s first Forbes’ contribution was published May 23, 2017, on the topic of “Private Debt Mounts: Why We Should Be Worried,” and may be viewed at https://www.forbes.com/sites/lawrencelight/2017/05/23/private-debt-mounts-why-we-should-be-worried/#11f50b453c56.

Elizalde is also a contributing blogger under his own byline for Investopedia.com, and his economic and investment analyses have been published online by some of the most respected financial media in the country, including Morningstar, Motley Fool, the Street and Yahoo! Finance. He shares his insights monthly through Path Financial’s subscriber-based, electronic newsletter, Straight Talk (http://www.pathfinancial.net/contact.html).

Light is an award-winning journalist with a distinguished career that includes editorial and contributing writer positions with The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Business Week, Money Magazine, and AdviceIQ.com website. His work has also appeared in Barrons, Fortune, Investopedia, Huffington Post, Yahoo Finance and more. In addition to his Forbes.com blog he covers the financial aspects of the Trump White House for CBS MoneyWatch.

Path Financial is a Florida-registered investment firm, partnered with preferred account custodians Charles Schwab & Company and TD Ameritrade. Path is rated “A+” by the Better Business Bureau, and is located at 1990 Main St., in Sarasota, Florida. For more information, call 941.350.7904 or connect at http://www.Facebook.com/PathFinancial.

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Top 7 Benefits of 529 College Savings

By: Oxana Saunders

saint stephens exterior

Last week my son’s school, Saint Stephen’s Episcopal School in the Sarasota-Bradenton area, held its own graduating ceremony at Harvest United Methodist Church in Lakewood Ranch. Young graduates walked across the stage, turning their tassels to the right and posing for photos. Dr. Janet Pullen, Head of Saint Stephen’s, gave a wonderful speech along with featured graduation speaker and Saint Stephen’s alumnus Michael Schick.

Click here to read the Bradenton Herald's coverage and watch video.  Photography courtesy of Bradenton.com reporter Sara Nealeigh.

Click here to read the Bradenton Herald’s coverage and watch video. Photography courtesy of Bradenton.com reporter Sara Nealeigh.

saintstephens gradThe church was filled with joy, pride and a sense of accomplishment. Feeling tremendously happy for all the 78 young men and women graduating that day, I could not help but think that in about eight years my son will be one of those young people and I will be one of those parents. While this was a happy and exciting thought, it brought me back to the realities of what happens next.

The aspiration of many parents, including myself, is to send their children to college after they graduate from high school. With that comes a strenuous college selection and touring process, and even more difficult financial decisions on how to pay for it. College funding can be quite complicated and involves multiple areas of personal finance such as investments, assets, taxes, loans and financial aid. It can all be quite overwhelming.

One of the easiest and simple steps we can take today to make a big difference in our child’s college funding is to open a 529 college savings account. The article below, from SavingforCollege.com describes the top seven benefits of 529 accounts.

Click here to learn about the top 7 benefits of 529 plans.

Click here to learn about the top 7 benefits of 529 plans.

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Oxana Saunders Vice President Path FinancialOxana Saunders is the Vice President of Path Financial, LLC. She may be reached at 941.894.2571 or oxana@pathfinancial.net.

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Free monthly newsletter covering economic and investing trends

Raul newsletterWhat are you reading to stay on point for your financial future?

Cut through the noise and subscribe to Straight Talk, a free, monthly e-newsletter written by Path Financial founder, president, and chief investment officer Raul Elizalde. Straight Talk provides sharp analysis on economic and investing trends that affect investors’ bottom line. Click here to learn more and sign up.

Raul Elizalde’s commentary is frequently published on major financial and investment news sites such as Investopedia, and his insights have appeared on The Motley Fool, the opinion pages of the Sarasota Herald Tribune, Morningstar, and Yahoo! Finance.

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IMF Financial Stability Report Says Debt Binge Leaves US Corporate Assets Exposed

IMF says debt binge leaves US corporate assets exposed (ft.com)

IMF says debt binge leaves US corporate assets exposed (ft.com)

A debt binge has left a quarter of US corporate assets vulnerable to a sudden increase in interest rates. This is an issue Path Financial has been watching and writing about since 2015 (read our most recent analyses on this topic here (“Beware the Mountain of Debt” and here (“This is Where the Next Debt Crisis Will Come From“).

In its twice-a-year Global Financial Stability Report released earlier this week (April 19, 2017), the International Monetary Fund warns that the ability of companies to cover interest payments, by one measure, is at its weakest since the 2008 financial crisis. Historically, the scenario of large debt accumulations, combined with rising interest rates, rarely ends up well. Investors should be paying close attention to these red flags.

At Path Financial, our portfolio management process is focused on measuring and managing risk — a strategic and effective approach in creating a sensible balance between risk and return. Contact us to learn how we can help safeguard your investments: 941.350.7904.

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