Several years ago I trademarked the now popular Annuity Report Card. After spending a few decades meeting with thousands of individuals who already owned annuities who, when quizzed, couldn't tell me some of the most basic details of what they owned I felt if was time to do something about it.
The Annuity Report Card is simply an learning and evaluation tool that we provide of anyone who owns an existing annuity contract who seeks clarity and complete disclosure in a easy to read, consolidated format. This tool outlines all of the details that an owner of an annuity should know prior to purchasing, but in some cases either their memory has gotten the best of them, they didn't fully understand what was discussed or in some cases parts of the conversation they had with the salesperson was not as clear as it should have been. Whatever the reason, this tool will educate the investor completely on all of the details, positive and negative as well as the benefits and limitations of their existing contract. We then take this as step further and compare their annuity to what we feel is the best performing contract in their category, a comp if you will, to visually show the client how their annuity stacks up. After this complimentary evaluation, the annuity owner will at the very least leave my office having a complete understanding of what they own and either confident that their contract is the best available in today's market, or that they didn't fully understand what they owned and that they could probably have done better with a little more knowledge.
The Barnowski Financial Group is looking to bring a little more transparency and confidence to annuity holders nationwide.
There are so many confusing terms when it comes to these products and let's face it, most of our potential clients don't understand the terminology or the know the questions to ask. I understand that this ad was a "hook" to entice people to inquire, and I'm sure that the folks behind this ad as one twitter responder said are "Good agents will take the time to educate potential clients about the terminology and features"... but at the same time, some do not. I run across plenty of people who own annuity contract who think that their "income rider" "cap" or "death benefit roll-up" is their rate of return on their money.
So I'm using this as an opportunity to educate and inform consumers with regards to this terminology. Please also view my videos titled "Debunking the Myths of Annuities" and "How to avoid the Sales Pitch". These short videos were produced to arm you with the questions you should be asking any advisor you speak with and will make you a more confident consumer.
As always, the Barnowski Financial Group is here to help you Plan Smart, Retire Right, Sleep Well!
Carl Barnowski, CEO of the Barnowski FInancial Group has brought a whole new level of transparency, accuracy and truth to the financial services industry. About a year ago Carl was watching an football game and watched how the NFL deals with disputes on the field after a call to ensure accuracy... the referees went "under the hood" to watch video replay of the disputed call. This sparked an idea to bring a whole new level of transparency and clarity to our conversations with our clients and potential clients. There are so many client complaints about all financial products dealing with misrepresentation, misleading information and less than ethical sales practices. The Barnowski Financial Group is the only firm in the country that allows their clients and prospective client to go "under the hood" to review what was said, to ensure that information was not only complete but also 100% truthful. Is there anyone in the industry that is completely removing the question of ethics, truthfulness and accuracy of information being shared during the planning process? There is now... The Barnowski Financial Group.
Using a small GoPro camera, during interviews, every conversation is video taped and placed in a digital file that both the adviser and the client have access to for review or reference. Let's face it, forms and required paperwork is fantastic for gathering information, but does not ensure accuracy or suitability. Guidelines and laws with regards to what information MUST be discussed and disclosed are great, but clearly don't ensure that it's actually done. The Barnowski FInancial Group employ a series of printed forms and question sheets that are signed off on by the client outlining what will be discussed, asked, explained, or proposed the conversation gathering this information as well as the explanation and responses to questions are all video recorded to ensure accuracy. You can dispute forms not being filled out, things being left out of sales pitches, questions not being answered completely or accurately, but you can't dispute video proof of full disclosure and complete and accurate conversation. There is no substitute.
Welcome to the new standard of truth and accuracy in the financial services industry.
Hello everyone and thanks so much for listening. Today's topic is when emotion and greed turns investing into gambling. I can't tell you how many dozens of phone conversations I have had over the last few months during this period of extreme volatility where clients and potential clients have said to me "I can't handle a correction with my money right now and I'm looking for good returns with principal protection". The good news is that's exactly what we provide our clients with nothing less than the best rated companies in the industry. The bad news is that conversation typically turns into a tug of war with the one factor that usually costs people the most money and that's when to pull the trigger. I've been told that I want to wait until I get to a certain value in my account... I've been told I want to wait until the Dow get back up to +17,000 again. When you start having those thoughts and making decisions with your heart instead of your gut and your mind, you are headed for problems.
My advice in these situations is that if your gut has told you to take some money off the table, then you probably need to do that. Whether that decision is based on the amount that you have saved and you can't afford to lose any because of your needs, or if it's merely a fact of your age, need for income or you just are done with the volatility and want some more security. Just like when you were young and your mother said "we can either tear this band aid off slowly which is more painful, or just be done with it".... I know in my case, the second part of that question was half out of her mouth and it was removed in one quick motion. The other aspect of this decision process that I would suggest is that most investors that I speak with act as though this has to be an all or nothing proposition and it doesn't have to be that way. There is nothing wrong with taking some money off the table and leaving what you are comfortable having exposed.
I truly hope that this video and guidance is helpful in your decision making process and know that I am always here to help you make great decisions with your money.
Carl Barnowski, founder of the Barnowski Financial Group asks... What's your level of discomfort and anxiety right now with regards to what's happening in the market? I can tell you based strictly on the number of phone calls that I receive on a daily basis, it's pretty high. People often ask me what my investment strategy is. My response is "you only need one" You need to be properly informed, knowledgeable and diversified. If I do my job the right way, you will own a pair of noise cancelling headphones and the noise that keeps people awake at night won't matter in the least to you. The best time to move money out of the market... is when you have too much there. Plain and simple. If you are subject to the noise of the market, chances are your not properly diversified and your "important bill paying dollars that you need to last forever" are at risk. This happens simply from investors buying products vs. relying on an advisor with great credentials and experience.
Do me a favor... promise me you won't do business with the best salesman that comes along. If your first conversation revolves around fending off sales pitches and products being slung at you, chances are you're going to end up buying a product, not a solution to your concerns. Potential clients that I meet with know that our first meeting always revolves around me interviewing them as much as they are me to identify a good fit. A good fit meaning that their pains and concerns can be dealt with using my expertise and experience.
It's time to have the talk!
If you're a retiree or someone planning on retirement, the questions and concerns that you have about personal finance this year will be many. Most will focus on issues of finances, healthcare and health. For the family members of those retirees or soon to be retirees, their concerns will more than likely become your concerns as well.
Those in the sandwich generation are not only dealing with their own needs and the needs of their children, but the needs of their parents as well. Questions and concerns about end of life care, social security, medical decisions, wills, trusts, and estate planning are hitting many adult children sooner than they planned because they have to play a role with their own parents to address these questions.
If you're in this situation, it's important to begin "The Talk" about these matters with your retired or retiring parents as part of your own planning process .
Although the foundation of this talk will be around the financial matters, it should not be limited to these points only. In future articles I will cover a concept called "Real Life Management" in which I discuss how and what to discuss around all aspects of the talk — financial, health, mental attitude and involvement.
A necessary beginning step of the talk is to work with your parents to gather all current financial information and identify all of the points of contact for their accounts such as any names of advisors, accountants, etc. Any work already done regarding estate planning considerations such as trusts, wills, etc. should also be included.
Five Questions that you need answers to...
In order to ensure that you get off on the right foot with these discussions, here are some of the questions that you should be asking of your parents at this early stage of the talk:
As always, The Barnowski Financial Group is always here to help you... and your parents,
Plan Smart... Retire Right... Sleep well
Recently I have run into numerous individuals who contact me with regards to learning more about and potentially purchasing an indexed annuity. The attraction... principal protection, fantastic potential returns and no downside risk. There has been huge dollars flowing into this type of product from the equity markets because of the recent volatility, political environment we are in as well as having two solid years of profits. There's always those few though that say they are going to try and time this move... and to that I say, good luck.
The idea of trying to "time" the market - of trying to get in before it goes up, and get out before it goes down - has a terrible reputation. The idea of trying to time buying an indexed annuity where your principal is protected and your starting point for calculating returns on the S&P value resets every year or two is an even worse idea. I had a recent conversation with a potential client who said "I'm going to wait until the market corrects before I make this purchase assuming I have the cash available to do it when it happens". I hung up the phone and scratched my head and thought, you are going to wait until you lose money to purchase a product that will offer you downside protection? Know one can successfully predict the direction of the market, not even the "experts", so what makes you think you can?
Timing "is a wicked idea - don't try it, ever," wrote Charles Ellis, one of the leading lights of indexing, many years ago. According to conventional wisdom, any attempt to time the market is fundamentally flawed. Stock markets follow a 'random walk', they say. No one can predict the market's next move, so trying to do so will end up costing you money. A lot of your long-term gains will come from a few big "up" days, and these are completely unpredictable - if you are out of the market when they happen you will miss out on a lot of profits.
Yes, most people who try to time the market end up screwing it up - they buy and sell at the wrong times because they quite frankly aren't equipped to make an non emotional decision with regards to the discipline. At the end of the day, the number one thing you must keep in mind is why are considering exiting the market for safer territory and in the case of the indexed product, you win either way. If the market continues to run... you win! If the market adjust downward... you win because you won't lose a dime and the good news is that you will actually make money on a rebound rather than waiting for your account value to just get back to where it was previously.
Bottom line.. know one can time the market on the upside or downside. You shouldn't attempt it in your equity portfolio and certainly should not be a factor in purchasing a product with principal protection.
Founder & CEO