Your Insurance Company Just Went Under?

Oops. Now what? No more protection? What happened to all those premium payments? How could you have protected yourself?

Jim Lorenzen, CFP®, AIF®

You’ve been paying on an insurance policy for years.  Now, you’ve learned your insurance company – the one that top ratings from all the major ratings services –  just went bust – what do you do?  What could you have done to protect yourself?

There’s no counter for withdrawals and no ATM – and there’s no FDIC insurance.  So, how are you protected?

The insurance industry is regulated state-by-state.   Each state maintains its independence and operates its own system of regulation, and each is also a member of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC), which helps provide uniformity.

It’s important to understand that an insurer may be based in one state, operate in multiple states, and still be domiciled in another.  The domicile state is the lead state under normal circumstances for any regulatory actions.

While insurance companies don’t have any guaranties at the federal level, they do have state-backed insurance guaranty associations.  According to Gavin Magor, Senior Financial Analyst for Weiss Ratings and oversees their ratings process, the states have established these associations to help pay claims to policyholders of failed insurance companies. However, there are several cautions which you must be aware of with respect to this coverage:

  1. Most of the guaranty associations do not set aside funds in advance. Rather, states require contributions from other insurance companies after an insolvency occurs.

    2.There can be an unacceptably long delay before claims are paid.

  1. Each state has different levels and types of coverage, often governed by legislation. They’re unique to that state and can sometimes conflict with coverage of other states. Moreover, most state guaranty funds will not cover title, surety, credit, mortgage guarantee, or ocean marine insurance.

Bottom line: If an insurer fails, it may be awhile for you to get your claim processed and get your money to fix your home or pay bills. But just how often do insurers fail?

Since Weiss started rating insurance companies in 1989, 633 rated insurers failed. As you can see from the graph below, a majority of them were rated “D” or “E” by Weiss at the time of failure.

Image provided by Weiss

The bottom line is that you can still get your claims paid even after your insurer fails, but it might take a while. So, we recommend you check an insurer’s Weiss safety rating before you start doing business with them. With only a 0.02% chance of an insurer rated “A” or “B” failing in any one year, you can see why we favor those over insurers rated “D” or “E”. In addition to our ratings, be sure to learn more about your insurer’s state guaranty funds.

Never heard of Weiss?  I believe it.  Virtually all insurers love to tout the other better-known companies; however, there’s a problem:  Most, virtually all, of those touted rating services get paid by the insurers they rate!  Weiss’ revenue is derived from those companies that subscribe to their reporting –  it’s a business model similar to Consumer Reports which doesn’t accept advertising.  It should be no surprise that fewer companies receive Weiss’ top ratings.  It should also be no surprise that there are some ‘top rated’ companies that won’t allow Weiss to come through their doors.

I’ve encountered some insurance agents – I’ve even met some insurer’s representatives – who look at you with a blank stare when you ask about their Weiss rating.  Maybe it’s because some big household names didn’t make the cut.

Worth knowing?

Jim


Jim Lorenzen, CFP®, AIF®

 

 

Jim Lorenzen is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER® professional and an ACCREDITED INVESTMENT FIDUCIARY® serving private clients since 1991.   Jim is Founding Principal of The Independent Financial Group, a  registered investment advisor with clients located across the U.S.. He is also licensed for insurance as an independent agent under California license 0C00742. The Independent Financial Group does not provide legal or tax advice and nothing contained herein should be construed as securities or investment advice, nor an opinion regarding the appropriateness of any investment to the individual reader. The general information provided should not be acted upon without obtaining specific legal, tax, and investment advice from an appropriate licensed professional.

Ageing Issues Make Financial Planning More Important than Ever!

Jim Lorenzen, CFP®, AIF®

When I was a  kid, no one I knew had Alzheimer’s.  Heck, no one my parents knew had it.  In fact, I don’t think anyone even knew what it was!

There may have been a few special-needs children around, but I never saw one in either elementary or high school.   Attention deficit disorder (A.D.D.)?  Never heard the term.

What a difference a generation of changes make:  changes  in health care advances as well as in people’s lifestyles.  People are living longer – that’s a good thing; but new challenges face us all.

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, Alzheimer’s is now the 6th leading  cause of death in the U.S.  Between 2000 and 2016, deaths from heart disease actually declined by 11%; but deaths from Alzheimer’s increased 123%!

5.7 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s today.  One in three seniors dies with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia.  16.1 million Americans are providing 18.4 billion hours of unpaid care for loved ones suffering from Alzheimer’s and dementia.  It’s not covered by Medicare, and all those politicians who want to “reform” health care are  amazingly silent about solving this problem.

Virtually every family I know has been touched by Alzheimer’s (including my own) or special needs issues affecting children or grandchildren (again, including my own).

Many ‘baby-boomer’s’ have become known as the ‘sandwich’ generation – taking care of both parents and children or even grandchildren, due to the combination of increased longevity coupled with these new medical challenges families are facing.

It’s never been more important to have a long-term multi-generational financial plan in-place.   Many parents, for example, don’t realize that may have created plans for their special-needs child’s financial security that will actually disqualify the child’s eligibility for government benefits in the future… and that their plan needs to preserve that eligibility while seeing that the child will be secure all the way through the child’s own retirement.  Who pays the rent and utilities when the child is older and the parents are gone?  Where  does the child  live?  Who pays the rent or mortgage.. or property and other taxes?   How about transportation – for life?

Indeed, the challenges today are greater than  ever before because the issues are different.  When should a person begin planning?  Now.  It doesn’t  matter your age.  Do it now.

It’s not about being an investment guru; it’s about having a strategy tied  to a plan – and arranging assets to accomplish long-term objectives.

Do it now.   Okay, I’ll shut up.

Jim


Jim Lorenzen, CFP®, AIF®

Jim Lorenzen is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER® professional and an ACCREDITED INVESTMENT FIDUCIARY® serving private clients since 1991.   Jim is Founding Principal of The Independent Financial Group, a  registered investment advisor with clients located across the U.S.. He is also licensed for insurance as an independent agent under California license 0C00742. The Independent Financial Group does not provide legal or tax advice and nothing contained herein should be construed as securities or investment advice, nor an opinion regarding the appropriateness of any investment to the individual reader. The general information provided should not be acted upon without obtaining specific legal, tax, and investment advice from an appropriate licensed professional.

Retirement Withdrawal Strategy May Need a New Twist!

Jim Lorenzen, CFP®, AIF®

The right retirement withdrawal strategy shouldn’t follow conventional wisdom blindly.  What’s right for you might be very different.

Conventional wisdom says retirees should withdraw funds from taxable accounts first, tax-deferred accounts (IRAs, 401(k)s, etc.) second, and tax-free money (Roth IRAs for example) last.

But, should you do it that way?

The current tax laws aren’t permanent.  These current low rates some taxpayers enjoy may not last forever.  Maybe it might make sense to withdraw money from tax-deferred accounts during years when you can take full advantage of these low marginal rates.

Another idea:  Convert funds from tax-deferred accounts to a Roth IRA to take full advantage of the 15% tax bracket (be sure to pay the taxes from other taxable money); or, you may want to reserve funds in a tax-deferred account to accommodate the possibility of large tax-deductible expenses, such as medical costs which can occur later in life.

These are  ideas only.  Your situation is unique.  Don’t do anything without talking to your team:  You financial, legal, and tax advisors can help you craft the strategy that’s right for you.

Jim


Jim Lorenzen, CFP®, AIF®

Jim Lorenzen is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER® professional and an ACCREDITED INVESTMENT FIDUCIARY® serving private clients since 1991.   Jim is Founding Principal of The Independent Financial Group, a  registered investment advisor with clients located across the U.S.. He is also licensed for insurance as an independent agent under California license 0C00742. The Independent Financial Group does not provide legal or tax advice and nothing contained herein should be construed as securities or investment advice, nor an opinion regarding the appropriateness of any investment to the individual reader. The general information provided should not be acted upon without obtaining specific legal, tax, and investment advice from an appropriate licensed professional.

Interesting Financial Statistics You May Not Know

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Jim Lorenzen, CFP®, AIF®

I came across some interesting stats in the most recent Journal of Financial Planning; I thought you might find a few of them interesting – I know I do.

A recent survey revealed that 65% of respondents said they mistrust the financial services industry.  Only 2% said they trusted financial professionals “a lot”.  Yet, 58% of those with 401(k) plans said they wanted help choosing investments.

93% of Americans think that advisors who provide retirement advice should put their clients’ interests first.  53% mistakenly believe that all financial advisors are required to do so.  Only 21%, however, understand the difference between a planner who is a fiduciary and one who is not.  Maybe this is what leads to the gap in trust.   50% of investors who work with a financial planner say they know for certain their advisor is a fiduciary.

It appears both investor education and advisor trust need to be improved.

Jim


Jim Lorenzen, CFP®, AIF®

Jim Lorenzen is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER® professional and an ACCREDITED INVESTMENT FIDUCIARY® serving private clients since 1991.   Jim is Founding Principal of The Independent Financial Group, a  registered investment advisor with clients located across the U.S.. He is also licensed for insurance as an independent agent under California license 0C00742. The Independent Financial Group does not provide legal or tax advice and nothing contained herein should be construed as securities or investment advice, nor an opinion regarding the appropriateness of any investment to the individual reader. The general information provided should not be acted upon without obtaining specific legal, tax, and investment advice from an appropriate licensed professional.

Retirement Income Knowledge Less Than Believed

Jim Lorenzen, CFP®, AIF®

There’s seems to be a huge gap between perceived retirement income knowledge (how much people really know) and the knowledge people actually possess.

That appears to be the conclusion one can draw from the results of the American College’s National Retirement Income Survey.  The survey used questions commonly used to gauge financial literacy and the results of the quiz were pretty poor.  The mean retirement income literacy score was 47%… only 26% of older Americans passed the literacy quiz in 2017.

While only 12% of those with the lowest levels of wealth ($100,000 to $199,000) passed the quiz, the passing rate for those with $1.5 million or more in wealth was only 50%!

If  you would like to take the American College’s Retirement Income Literacy Survey for yourself and read the full report on the national survey results, you can do it here.

Enjoy!

Jim


Jim Lorenzen, CFP®, AIF®

Jim Lorenzen is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER® professional and an ACCREDITED INVESTMENT FIDUCIARY® serving private clients since 1991.   Jim is Founding Principal of The Independent Financial Group, a  registered investment advisor with clients located across the U.S.. He is also licensed for insurance as an independent agent under California license 0C00742. The Independent Financial Group does not provide legal or tax advice and nothing contained herein should be construed as securities or investment advice, nor an opinion regarding the appropriateness of any investment to the individual reader. The general information provided should not be acted upon without obtaining specific legal, tax, and investment advice from an appropriate licensed professional.

Don’t Make These IRA Mistakes!

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Jim Lorenzen, CFP®, AIF®

Have you reviewed your beneficiary forms lately?  You should.  IRA mistakes there can’t be fixed after the IRA or plan owner dies.

The two biggest problem areas most prone to beneficiary form:  Divorce and trusts.  Problems often arise when someone erroneously believes that a trust takes care of naming the beneficiary for IRAs.   It doesn’t.

When someone names a trust in a will as the IRA beneficiary, a problem can arise when a new will is prepared with no trust named.    Most new wills revoke the old ones – so the trust under the first will no longer exists as a beneficiary leaving no named beneficiary.

Other problems arise when a trust is created to inherit an IRA but never named on the IRA beneficiary form.  The trust must be named on the IRA beneficiary form; and if a new trust is created to inherit the IRA, the IRA beneficiary form must be updated again.

Make sure your IRA beneficiary forms name the correct beneficiary – and contingent beneficiaries.  And, if the trust is named, make sure it’s still accurate.

If you want to learn more about IRAs, I’m never hesitant to recommend Ed Slott’s books and DVDs.  He’s one of a very minute number of ‘gurus’ (you’ll often find him on PBS) who is actually the ‘real deal’ (he’s also a CPA) when it comes to dispensing well-researched retirement and taxation knowledge.

Hope you find this helpful!

Jim

 


Jim Lorenzen, CFP®, AIF®

Jim Lorenzen is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER® professional and an ACCREDITED INVESTMENT FIDUCIARY® serving private clients since 1991.   Jim is Founding Principal of The Independent Financial Group, a  registered investment advisor with clients located across the U.S.. He is also licensed for insurance as an independent agent under California license 0C00742. The Independent Financial Group does not provide legal or tax advice and nothing contained herein should be construed as securities or investment advice, nor an opinion regarding the appropriateness of any investment to the individual reader. The general information provided should not be acted upon without obtaining specific legal, tax, and investment advice from an appropriate licensed professional.

Three Quick Tips for Building Family Wealth

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Jim Lorenzen, CFP®, AIF®

Here are three quick tips you might find helpful:

Choose your beneficiaries wisely when allocating inheritance money.  Leave tax-deferred accounts (IRAs and non-qualified annuities, for example) to younger family members.  They’re likely in a lower tax bracket and have longer life expectancies for taking the required minimum distributions, which means the distributions will be smaller, as well.    Highly appreciated assets are best left to beneficiaries in higher tax brackets as long as the cost-basis can be stepped up to the current price levels.  This means wealthier recipients can sell the asset with little or no tax consequences.  The high-income beneficiaries would most benefit from the tax-free benefits from life insurance policies.  Talk with your advisors.

Don’t be too eager to drop older life insurance policies.  Some may wonder why keep the policy if they no longer need it.  Those older policies may be paying an attractive interest rate, which is accumulating tax-deferred.  Secondly, those small premiums may well be worth the much larger tax-free payoff down the road.   How to tell?  Start by dividing the premium into the death benefit.  Got the answer?  If you think you’ll pass away before that number (in years), you probably should keep paying.

Convert Grandpa’s IRA to a Roth IRA.    When grandpa passes away, his IRA assets will likely be passed down to children and grandchildren, which means they’ll have to begin taking taxable required minimum distributions (RMDs) – which means they’ll probably be taxed at a higher rate than grandpa would have paid on his own withdrawals.  If grandpa converted some or all of his traditional IRAs to Roth IRAs while alive, this problem wouldn’t happen.  Smart kids might want to encourage this and even offer to pay the tax bill on the conversion now!

Hope you find this helpful!

Jim

 


Jim Lorenzen, CFP®, AIF®

Jim Lorenzen is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER® professional and an ACCREDITED INVESTMENT FIDUCIARY® serving private clients since 1991.   Jim is Founding Principal of The Independent Financial Group, a  registered investment advisor with clients located across the U.S.. He is also licensed for insurance as an independent agent under California license 0C00742. The Independent Financial Group does not provide legal or tax advice and nothing contained herein should be construed as securities or investment advice, nor an opinion regarding the appropriateness of any investment to the individual reader. The general information provided should not be acted upon without obtaining specific legal, tax, and investment advice from an appropriate licensed professional.

Are You Managing Money? Maybe you should be managing risk.

Jim Lorenzen, CFP®, AIF®

Markets are sensitive to risk.  We know that.  According to analysts at Lockwood Advisors, only 8% of global economies are now growing above recent averages; but, the U.S. is still the best; the G10 countries are the worst.   Headwinds do include politics:  Many market insiders are worried about a reversal of tax cuts and the anti-business stance of many incoming members of Congress.

Just like back in 1950 (remember?) the U.S. economy has been growing above recent potential, propelled by the growth spurt from major corporate and personal tax cuts; however these cuts just might have staying power since they’re not based on wealth redistribution.  The real headwinds just may be coming from two economic realities:  Demographics and the large U.S. government debt.

The aging population, increasing the percentage of the population in the decumulation stage, may apply downward pressure on growth for decades.  The Administration on Aging estimates that the population age 60 or older will increase by 21% between 2010 and 2020 and by 39% between 2010 and 2050.

Most people, it’s safe to say, think of future market returns using a frame of reference based on the past.  Indeed, most advisors – I’m guilty too – continually put-up mountain charts to show clients what’s happened before even as we tell them it’s no guarantee it will happen again.  But, the baby-boomers who remember the 1950s and 1960s – and especially the go-go 1990s – should be reminded the current is no longer flowing in the same direction.   Defensive allocations just might be the best defense going forward.

Hope you find this helpful!

Jim

 


Jim Lorenzen, CFP®, AIF®

Jim Lorenzen is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER® professional and an ACCREDITED INVESTMENT FIDUCIARY® serving private clients since 1991.   Jim is Founding Principal of The Independent Financial Group, a  registered investment advisor with clients located across the U.S.. He is also licensed for insurance as an independent agent under California license 0C00742. The Independent Financial Group does not provide legal or tax advice and nothing contained herein should be construed as securities or investment advice, nor an opinion regarding the appropriateness of any investment to the individual reader. The general information provided should not be acted upon without obtaining specific legal, tax, and investment advice from an appropriate licensed professional.

Here’s Your 10-Point Financial Discussion Checklist!

Jim Lorenzen, CFP®, AIF®

How does your financial future look?  Your chances for financial freedom will depend on how well you’ve covered your bases!

Here’s a checklist for your kitchen table discussions:

  1. When do you plan to retire?  Your retirement age will impact how many years of spending your retirement assets will have to cover.  It will also likely affect just how much you may spend each year.
  2. What are your retirement goals?  Get them down in writing and sort them by needs, wants, and wishes – the prioritize each goal and put a dollar amount on each of them.  For those that are recurring, you’ll not only need to put a dollar amount on each event, but you’ll need to adjust for inflation, as well (car purchases are an example).
  3. When do you plan to file for and start Social Security payments?  How will this affect your tax picture when combined with other sources of income from retirement plans, etc.
  4. How will you design your investment portfolio to provide both income and inflation protection while mitigating downside risk?
  5. Will you need to reduce living expenses?  If so, where can you cut?  Not everyone will need to, but running out of money in your old age wouldn’t be a happy picture either.
  6. Should you get a reverse mortgage?  Does it really provide the security the commercials talk about or is it just a band-aid?
  7. Have you provided for the possible need for long-term care?  Long-term care policies are available, however many are concerned about not using the benefits after paying out high premiums for years.  Some policies also have many restrictions.  It’s worth reviewing the fine print.
  8. How will you protect yourself against financial fraud?  This can take many forms, from cyber threats to the Bernie Madoffs of the world.
  9. How can your spouse and children be protected when the main breadwinner is gone?
  10. Is creating a financial legacy important to you?   This can be accomplished for children and grandchildren, but they’re not the only ones.  Some people think giving is only for the rich; but affluent people often wish to do it, too.

Hope you find this helpful!

Jim

 


Jim Lorenzen, CFP®, AIF®

Jim Lorenzen is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER® professional and an ACCREDITED INVESTMENT FIDUCIARY® serving private clients since 1991.   Jim is Founding Principal of The Independent Financial Group, a  registered investment advisor with clients located across the U.S.. He is also licensed for insurance as an independent agent under California license 0C00742. The Independent Financial Group does not provide legal or tax advice and nothing contained herein should be construed as securities or investment advice, nor an opinion regarding the appropriateness of any investment to the individual reader. The general information provided should not be acted upon without obtaining specific legal, tax, and investment advice from an appropriate licensed professional.

Should You Graduate From Mutual Funds?

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Jim Lorenzen, CFP®, AIF®

It’s probably a safe assumption that most individual investors began their investment programs with mutual funds and have built their 401(k)s, IRAs, and/or taxable accounts with mutual funds ever since.

While those mutual funds may have been appropriate for them in those early days, are they appropriate today?

If you’re one of those who’s built your retirement portfolio with mutual funds over the years and now have more than $500,000 invested in your long-term nest-egg, you may want to consider how much you may be losing to factors that have little to do with “the market”.   It begins with the Four Pillars of Investment Success.

 

For this post, we’ll talk about the bottom-left pillar, particularly as it relates to cost.

By now, most people are aware of the difference between ‘load’ and ‘no-load’ mutual funds.  Loads are basically sales charges that pay compensation to the selling registered representative of a broker -dealer.   They’re not necessarily bad.  A small investor can seldom be economically serviced by a fee-based registered investment advisor and this economic model provides that investor access to help that otherwise may not be available.   Either way, those charges aren’t hidden; they’re disclosed.   Here are some additional charges worth discussing:

Annual expense ratio

This is also disclosed in a mutual fund’s prospectus.  For example, assume a growth mutual fund has an expense ratio of 1.40%.   You’ll find it disclosed; but here’s what that 1.4% doesn’t include:

Turnover.  Turnover is an important factor in determining a fund’s true costs.  You see, turnover impacts other costs, as you’ll soon see.

Transaction/trading costs:  When a fund manager makes a trade on an exchange, that trade incurs a commission – just like your own trade would – and the fund manager receives a `confirm’ reflecting the net proceeds of the trade AFTER commissions have been taken… the same kind of ‘confirm’ you would receive.   They report the NET proceeds after the cost of the trade.

Look on your most recent mutual fund statement – any fund.  Do you see trading costs or any other fees or expenses disclosed on the statement… anywhere?  You might think it’s all in the annual expense ratio; but think again.  Transaction costs are NOT included in the fund’s annual expense ratio!

In the book, Bogle on Mutual Funds, the former Vanguard Fund chairman estimated trading costs generally average 0.6%  I don’t know the real number, so for illustration, I’ll use his.    If hypothetically a fund’s turnover is 120% – check the prospectus for your fund’s turnover – here’s what it means in calculating expenses:Trading Costs (use a low-end figure) x Turnover = Total trading costs.  So, 0.6% x 2.2  = 1.32%.

Why use the 2.2 factor for a 120% turnover?  Simple:  You have to establish a position in a security before you can turn it over; and, that’s true for each security in the portfolio.  The entire portfolio is established, then 120% is `turned over’ in a year.   If you used 1.2, you’d be computing only a 20% turnover, far from what’s really happening.  So, trading cost  times turnover gives us 1.32% in trading costs, to add to the fund’s annual expense ratio to get combined annual expenses plus trading costs.

According to Morningstar, the typical equity fund has annual expenses of 1.4% annually.   If we use that figure for illustration – remember to look at your own funds’ prospectuses to see what applies to you – 1.32% + 1.40% = 2.72% in annual costs.

Market impact costs:   When you or I sell 100 shares of a security, it doesn’t really impact the price.  But, when an institution buys or sells huge blocks of a security, the price can be affected.  How much?   Market impact costs can range between 0.15-0.25%.   And, of course, you would apply that figure to turnover, too.   We’ll use the lower number for our hypothetical illustration.0.15% x 2.2 = 0.33%.  So our hypothetical fund with a 1.4% annual expense ratio that experiences a 120% annual turnover could actually be costing the shareholder 3.03% annually.

Annual Expense Ratio                            1.40%
Turnover 2.2 x 0.6%                              1.32%
Market Impact Costs 2.2 x 0.15%          0.33%
Total                                                   3.05%

This means, according to this calculation of our fictitious fund – the one we assumed had an annual expense ratio of 1.40% –  the total real annual expenses to the shareholder are actually 3.05%, more than twice the annual expense ratio reflected in the prospectus; and those additional costs are nowhere to be found on the statement.

Okay, you now know what to look for.  Pull out your statements and prospectuses and do your own math.  You may have to make a guess for market impact and trading costs, or you can use Mr. Bogle’s – you probably won’t be far off.

Here’s another point worth remembering.   Using our hypothetical fund example, if you’re paying 3% all-in for a $100,000 investment, you’re paying about $3,000 per year; but, the percentages don’t drop as your assets increase!  If you have a $1 million dollar portfolio, you’re now paying $30,000 per year – and, that’s just for the fund!

As I said at the outset, if your portfolio is over $500,000, there’s probably a better way to get responsible management, a good investment allocation, and even professional guidance – all for less than you may be paying simply to be in mutual funds now.

You may want to check into it.   Naturally, I’d be happy to help.

Jim

 

If you have $500,000 or more and are looking for an independent fiduciary advisor, you can get started here.


Jim Lorenzen, CFP®, AIF®

Jim Lorenzen is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER® professional and an ACCREDITED INVESTMENT FIDUCIARY® serving private clients since 1991.   Jim is Founding Principal of The Independent Financial Group, a  registered investment advisor with clients located across the U.S.. He is also licensed for insurance as an independent agent under California license 0C00742. The Independent Financial Group does not provide legal or tax advice and nothing contained herein should be construed as securities or investment advice, nor an opinion regarding the appropriateness of any investment to the individual reader. The general information provided should not be acted upon without obtaining specific legal, tax, and investment advice from an appropriate licensed professional.