Of elephants, blind men & financial planning —Part 1 in a 6 part series

The endless bickering over the regulation of financial planners is wearisome at best. It seems that every organization and entity is on this bandwagon: the Government Accountability Office, the Security and Exchange Commission, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, the Federal Trade Commission and the Financial Planning Coalition. And the sum total of all their time, talent and treasure are the following findings: No single law governs providers of financial planning services. Therefore,

• Almost anyone can call themselves a financial planner.
• Financial planners may have an inherent conflict of interest in selling products from which they receive a commission or managing assets from which they will receive asset management fees
• Consumers are confused by the numerous titles and designations that financial planners may use.
These results are not new and are the same conclusions, which were made over 30 years ago! [Read more…]

The Gift That Keeps on Giving

Without fail, every December for the past 27 years, I have received requests at the last minute for a tax deduction to help offset income for the current year.  I follow up the request with two questions: how much would you like to contribute and to what would you like to make the contribution?  My questions are usually followed by a deafening silence and a true deer in the headlight look.

Charitable gifts are best not rushed, and I encourage clients to direct their charitable giving to causes in which they understand and have an interest.  Last minute charitable gifts and tax deductions often conflict with deliberate and purposeful giving.  Is there a solution?  Indeed there is a solution; the answer is a Donor-Advised Fund. [Read more…]