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Profits Eclipse Heritage at TIAA

Recently, I came across an article in the New York Times in which I learned some behind the scenes practices of the financial firm TIAA and I must say, I was disappointed. TIAA (Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association) has long been seen by educators, medical professionals, administrators and researchers as different than many other financial institutions in their commitment to putting their clients’ interests first. Although that may have been the heritage of TIAA, it appears that their current practices might be calling that commitment into question. “According to interviews with 10 former employees, TIAA management assigned outsize sales quotas to its representatives and directed them to meet the quotas by playing up customers’ fears of not having enough money in retirement and other “pain points.” In addition to this, whistle-blowers have alleged that the company willingly placed investors into products that did not offer additional benefit, were unsuitable and deliberately charged more in fees than other products.

We are not usually ones to bad mouth other financial institutions. Consider this simply passing along a public service announcement. The statement, truth is stranger than fiction, applies here. I could have never made up the depth and breadth of the behavior for TIAA.  They are just one of many larger institutions who act in a less than favorable way towards their clients for their own gain.

For years we have helped professors navigate TIAA's labyrinth of options. We never understood how certain products would always be in the portfolio of a client when it may not be in their best interest. This exposure has helped answer some of those questions. TIAA is not wholesome financial institution that was a part of their original charter.

We encourage you to read the full article and don’t forget, we have been a fiduciary will always be a fiduciary. Without a doubt, our clients interest always come first.

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Family Estate Planning Discussions

family silhouette sunsetMy family, like many other families, is very busy; between children, work and home, there are many chores and activities that must be fulfilled every day. To conquer all these responsibilities, we divide many of them up. We trust each other to ensure that they are responsibly managing their duty. This works well because we have limited time and different skill sets. One of my responsibilities is managing the family finances.

Recently, my wife, Stephanie and I had a conversation revolving around our personal planning. It went something like this:

Stephanie: What happens if you die?

Bob: Don’t worry, everything is in order.

Stephanie: What does that mean?

Bob: We have our estate planning documents, there is more than enough insurance and everything for the business succession has been planned.

Stephanie: What do I need to know or do?

Bob: Ugh, well that is complicated.

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Emotional Investing and the Consequences of Behavioral Biases

Holding money and plant

We all experience distractions in the media, uncertainty in the markets, or pressure to buy and sell from friends, colleagues, and so-called financial gurus. All these factors can directly challenge an investor’s ability to make consistent, rational and logical investment decisions. This barrage of information coupled with inherent behavioral biases can make investing a challenge for most people. How you behave and react to the information available will play an important role in your financial success.

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Retired? What to do with all of that time

TimeWhen you are planning for retirement you may have all your ducks in a row. Many of the financial obligations of your life have been paid off; home and college. You have a nest egg to pay for living expenses and medical costs, an estate plan to ensure your family is protected when you pass, insurance so you are not a burden to your loved ones in your most elder years. You are free to live the life you desire.

Having a strong plan is critical to living a financially secure retirement, but have you considered and planned for your time when you retire? It can be a crucial yet often overlooked part of the planning process. For those who have not considered what their days, weeks and months will look like, it can make for a strained transition to your next phase of life.

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What do Investing and Wine Have In Common?

vineyard grapes CopyAs the seasons change and the weather gets warmer, I’m reminded once again of some of my favorite outdoor activities. One of my favorite things to do when I was younger was grab a bottle of wine and take my wife on a picnic at the Princeton battlefield park. As I sit in my office today contemplating different ways to explain our approach to investing, I find that making wine and investing money have much in common.

Enjoying vintage wine is a fine experience. How often, though, do we consider the long journey from grape to glass? This journey requires so many steps and the slightest factor might be the difference between a mediocre wine and a great one. When it comes to investing, similar levels of care must be taken to achieve a successful outcome.

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