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79% of Americans agree they would benefit from having basic financial education and information.

Source: The 2018 Consumer Financial Literacy Survey, The National Foundation for Credit Counseling

Welcome to our research center! We've put together a library of information on important financial topics that we believe you'll find helpful.

Simply click on one of the general financial topics below and you'll find a selection of easy-to-understand information sheets about related financial concepts and strategies. This information is updated regularly to reflect the latest facts, figures, legislation, and economic trends.

Estates & Trusts

  • Estate Planning

    Wills and trusts allow you to spell out how you would like your property distributed, but they also go beyond that.

  • Living Trusts

    A living trust can help control the distribution of your estate upon death.

  • Avoiding Probate

    The probate process can be lengthy and complex. There are strategies you can use to help avoid the probate process.

  • Charitable Remainder Trusts

    A designated income beneficiary could receive payment of a specified amount from a charitable remainder trust.

  • History of the Federal Estate Tax

    Careful estate planning is still one of the most important ways to manage and protect your assets for your heirs.

Retirement

  • SEP IRAs

    A SEP IRA is a type of plan under which the employer contributes (up to a certain limit) to an employee’s IRA.

  • SIMPLE IRAs

    The SIMPLE plan may appeal to small business owners as it is easy to set up, administer, and allows for a tax deduction.

  • Stretch IRAs

    A “stretch” or “multigenerational” IRA may be a useful approach to extend tax-deferred savings that can benefit your heirs for generations.

  • Roth 401(k)

    A Roth 401(k) is funded with after-tax money, and allows for tax- and penalty-free withdrawal of earnings if requirements are met.

  • Profit-Sharing Plans

    Profit-sharing plans give employees a share in the profits of a company and can help to fund their retirements.

  • Money Purchase Pension Plans

    A money purchase plan is a retirement plan where employer contributions are based on a fixed percentage of compensation.

  • 403(b) Plans

    A 403(b) plan is a tax-deferred retirement savings plan that can only be offered by a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt entity.

  • Why Purchase Annuities

    Annuities, an insurance-based financial vehicle, can provide many benefits that retirement investors might want.

  • Split-Annuity Strategy

    A split-annuity strategy can generate immediate income while potentially stretching some retirement savings.

  • Annuity Living Benefits

    Living benefits can help protect variable annuity owners from running out of money in retirement.

  • How Much Do I Need to Save?

    Many realize it’s important to save for retirement, but knowing exactly how much to save is another issue altogether.

  • A New Chapter for Retirement

    With the changing pension landscape, it is important to take charge of your own retirement security.

  • 1035 Exchanges

    A Section 1035 exchange is a tax-free exchange of an existing annuity contract or life insurance policy for a new one.

  • Unforgettable Birthdays

    There are key dates after you turn 59 that can impact your taxes, Medicare eligibility, and retirement benefits.

  • Your Business and Retirement

    Allocating too much of your retirement investments to one company, even your own, can be a risky proposition.

  • Future of Social Security

    Greater demand is being placed on the Social Security system as the baby boom generation has begun to retire.

  • Retirement Plan Distributions

    When receiving money accumulated in your employer-sponsored retirement plan, you have two options: lump sum or annuity.

  • Traditional IRAs

    If you do not participate in an employer-sponsored retirement plan, you might consider a traditional IRA.

  • Save Now or Save Later

    If you start saving for retirement sooner, the more money you are likely to accumulate and possibly retire sooner.

  • Roth IRAs

    Qualified Roth IRA distributions in retirement are free of federal income tax and aren’t included in gross income.

Tax Planning

  • Capital Gain Tax

    Capital gains are profits realized from the sale of assets; a tax is triggered only when an asset is sold, not held.

  • Estate Tax

    Everything you own, whatever the form of ownership, is subject to federal, and possibly state, estate taxes.

  • Gift Tax

    The federal gift tax applies to gifts of property or money while the donor is living.

  • Retirement Plan Limits

    IRAs and employer-sponsored retirement plans are subject to annual contribution limits set by the federal government.

  • Required Minimum Distributions

    Required minimum distribution is the annual amount that must be withdrawn from a qualified retirement plan/account.

  • Charitable Trust Tax Benefits

    For the grantor, there are a few potential tax benefits that can come with setting up a charitable trust.

  • Retirement Plan Taxes

    With traditional IRAs and most employer-sponsored retirement plans, taxes are not payable until funds are withdrawn.

  • Withdrawing Before Age 59.5

    Tax-deferred retirement account withdrawals before age 59½ generally triggers a 10% federal income tax penalty.

  • United States Tax History

    American tax law is a constantly changing landscape. The latest major piece of tax legislation is the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017.

Investing

  • Dividends

    It is important to understand how dividends (taxable payments to shareholders) fit with your long-term goals.

  • Exchange-Traded Funds

    ETFs have unique attributes and attempt to track all types of indexes, industries, or commodities.

  • Growth Stocks vs. Value Stocks

    The labels “growth” and “value” reflect different approaches that can be used when making investment decisions.

  • Mutual Fund Taxes

    Mutual fund taxes can be cumbersome, but there are ways to help mitigate the amount of taxes you may owe.

  • Stock

    Before investing in stocks, it is important to understand some of the basics and the risks involved in owning stocks.

  • Zero-Coupon Bonds

    Zero-coupon bonds represent a type of bond that does not pay interest during the life of the bond.

  • Mutual Funds

    A mutual fund is a collection of stocks, bonds, and other securities with certain benefits and risks.

  • Mutual Fund Loads

    It’s important to understand mutual fund loads, or sales charges, and exactly what they entail so you can make informed investing decisions.

  • Fixed vs. Variable Annuities

    Both fixed and variable annuities could be appropriate options for an individual interested in purchasing an annuity.

  • Asset Classes

    There are five broad asset classes that you should take into consideration when constructing your investment portfolio.

  • Dollar-Cost Averaging

    Dollar-cost averaging involves investing a set amount of money on a regular basis, regardless of market conditions.

  • 529 Plans

    529 plans are tax-advantaged college savings plans that generally allow people of any income level to contribute.

Cash Management

  • Money Market Funds

    Money market funds can be a highly liquid and effective cash management tool.

  • Biweekly Mortgages

    Biweekly mortgage payments can have a dramatic effect on the amount of interest homeowners have to pay.

  • College Financial Aid

    It's important to understand the options, such as financial aid grant programs, when having to pay for college.

Risk Management

  • Why Purchase Life Insurance

    If you have a family who relies on your income, it is important to have life insurance protection.

  • Annuities as an Insurance Product

    An annuity is a contract between you and an insurance company to pay you future income in exchange for premiums you pay.

  • Property and Casualty Insurance

    Property and casualty insurance can help protect a variety of assets. Find out what it does and doesn’t cover.

  • Business Owner Policies

    A business owner policy is an insurance package that assembles the basic coverages required by a business owner in one bundle.

  • Life Insurance for Business Owners

    Company-owned life insurance is one way to help protect a business from financial problems caused by the death of a key employee.

  • Split-Dollar Life Insurance

    Split-dollar life insurance is an arrangement to purchase and fund life insurance between two parties.

  • Last-Survivor Life Insurance

    Couples who want to help protect their legacy from estate taxes could consider last-survivor life insurance.

  • Disability Income Insurance for Business Owners

    As a business owner, a disability can create an economic hardship putting both your personal finances and business at risk.

  • Term Life Insurance

    Term life insurance differs from permanent forms of life insurance in that it offers temporary protection.

  • Long-Term Care Costs

    The odds of needing long-term care increase as you age. Prior planning can help protect you from financial ruin.

  • Long-Term-Care Needs

    If you were to suffer an illness or disability that required long-term nursing care, would you be covered?

  • Types of Life Insurance

    When selecting a life insurance policy, examine all your options, as well as the positives and negatives of each type.

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