Retirement Planning Advice and Financial Related Education by Barry Unterbrink, Chartered Retirement Planning Counselor

Friday, July 30, 2010

Of markets, strategies and risk + new web site

Well, the financial markets appear to confuse most by moving up and down with no clear trend of this year. As we almost have July on the books later today, the popular stock market averages are a couple percent on either side of even for the year! While July is shaping up fine, June and the entire 2nd quarter were a real downer. The second quarter shaved about 12% off stock prices, while June carried the brunt of that at minus 5% on the S&P 500 Index.

Our "sell in May" blog post at April's end has been on target. Since May 1st, the markets are lower by 5% to 8.5% (Dow, S&P500 and Nasdaq Composite). We don't religiously follow the strategy to a tee, as opportunities arise between May-October to capture some coin, but if you did, congrats.

One area shining of late is the bond market. It had a bang-up quarter led by lower interest rates and a flight to quality USA bonds. Gains of between 3% and 10% came in among various segments of the market - government, mortgage, and treasury. Junk bonds and emerging market bonds were about even. We've been using the low expense exchange-traded bond funds to juice up income when not invested in stocks. Most pay monthly interest and can be sold anytime during the trading day. By the way, when interest rates rise, watch out - bond prices will FALL. It won't happen overnight, but it will happen - someday.

RISK. We preach a good portion of text here on that topic. Our thesis: mitigate the risks and your money and happiness will increase. Control the risks you can, plan for those less manageable. Pay too much in fees, increase your risk of less money. You also need an action plan, whether it's "sell in May", or an asset allocation strategy, a loss-reduction strategy, technical timing system, or what have you. Just have some rules to follow. BY doing that, your results will be measurable. Systems are measurable and tell a story once they have been implemented. If you don't know where you're going, you'll probably end up  there! True in life and in the financial markets.

I've noted a quote from a prospective client last month in her e-mail to me after we had met earlier in the year with the couple to offer options to plan their retirement "We are not doing ANYTHING right now. We're just hanging on to see what happens with this volatile market. Things were looking up for a while. Now I'm not so sure." Hmmm. Sounds like they have no plan here at all; faith, hope and prayer better work for them. I encourage another meeting. Money
management is a tough business - get help, devise a plan! Call me for a free review of your situation.

Retirement Planning Web site launched -

I have launched a retirement planning web site with the help of The Retirement Pros, to serve you as a client, friend or both. I hope you can spend a few minutes there often to review and listen in on topics and advice that may help you plan your finances better. At the site, you can view newsletters and videos on topics such as IRA conversions, CD's, when to take social security, 401k plans, understanding annuities, etc. Downloads are there also to print. Ask me a question - and I will answer you. Just provide your name and e-mail address, and you will have access to all the helpful info.

Thanks for reading. Have a safe weekend.

~Barry Unterbrink, CRPC
(954) 719-1151

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