How You Can Start Preparing for Retirement Now


If you’re trying to prep for retirement, Tom Zgainer, CEO of America’s Best 401(k), has some advice. 

If you’re looking to retire by the end of 2019, or sooner, here’s what Zgainer says you should be thinking about:

Well they gotta be thinking of, are they exiting out their work for good? Are they gonna transition to another type of employment? So they have some options, for example you could leave your existing 401(k) if your balance is greater than 5,000 dollars, you can keep it with your former employer. In theory might that be a good thing? I don’t know, because what if your employer changes providers? What if the fees goes up? What if you don’t have the proper access? You’re kind of out of control of your own money. As a general I would suggest that if you’re about to retire, and you’re at an age where you can start to take distributions, roll those moneys out perhaps to an individual retirement account where now you have complete visibility. We speak to a lot of folks that say I have 401(k) plans from four employers, I’m trying to track them all down. It’s your money, and you left it behind. So I suggest if you have got multiple accounts, as you’re getting towards retirement, thinking about consolidation.Two reasons, complete visibility, strategy that’s all consistent, and a fixed cost. So you don’t have this one has different expenses than this one, consolidate those points.

Ready for retirement? If so, sign up for Retirement Daily and be sure to follow Mr. Retirement, Bob Powell, on Twitter @RJPIII.

Want More From Robert Powell? Read Ask Bob.


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Great-West Sells Life and Annuity Business, Will Focus on Retirement and Investment Divisions


Great-West Life & Annuity Insurance Company (GWL&A) has reached an agreement to sell through reinsurance substantially all of its individual life …


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Great-West to Focus on Retirement and Investment Divisions After Selling Life and Annuity


Great-West Life & Annuity Insurance Company (GWL&A) has reached an agreement to sell through reinsurance substantially all of its individual life insurance and annuity business to Protective Life Insurance Company, the primary subsidiary of Protective Life Corporation (Protective).

The business to be transferred, which is marketed under the Great-West Financial brand, includes bank-owned and corporate-owned life insurance (BOLI and COLI), single premium life insurance, individual annuities and closed block life insurance and annuities. GWL&A will retain a small block of participating life insurance policies which will be administered by Protective following the close of the transaction.

GWL&A’s retirement and investment management divisions, Empower Retirement, Great-West Investments and Putnam, are not affected by this transaction. A Great-West representative told PLANADVISER there were numerous reasons for the decision, but the firm’s focus now is on the Empower Retirement business and Great-West Investments.

In 2014 GWL&A established Empower Retirement. Empower Retirement is the third largest recordkeeper based on total defined contribution assets, according to the PLANSPONSOR 2018 Recordkeeping Survey.

“Through Empower Retirement and Great-West Investments, we will have the opportunity to further our leadership position in the defined contribution retirement market and bolster our position in markets for investments and wealth management,” the spokesperson said. “As more Americans save for retirement through workplace savings plans, external market forces are simultaneously creating new opportunities for plan providers. These factors present significant near and long-term future opportunities to deliver a robust spectrum of retirement services to more plan sponsors, financial intermediaries and participants.”

Empower Retirement serves approximately 9 million retirement plan participants through 38,000 employer-sponsored retirement plans from all segments of the defined contribution retirement plan market, including government 457 plans, corporate 401(k) clients, non-profit 403(b) entities, private-label recordkeeping clients and individual retirement account (IRA) customers. Great-West Investments serves the market for retirement investments through its sub-advised investment platform and creates an array of value-added products for clients including mutual funds, managed accounts, capital preservation products and retirement income solutions.

“We will continue to focus on Empower Retirement and seize the opportunity to further advance our leadership position in the expansive retirement services market,” said Robert L. Reynolds, chief executive officer of GWL&A, in a press release. “Empower has demonstrated a commitment to its clients, distribution and investment partners as a means of ultimately helping more Americans create the financial security they deserve.”

“This transaction allows us to focus on the retirement market and asset management in the U.S.,” said Paul Mahon, president and chief executive officer, Great-West Lifeco. “We continually evaluate capital deployment opportunities at Great-West Lifeco. With the strengthened capital position resulting from this transaction, we will also consider other capital management activities, including potential share repurchases, to mitigate the earnings impact of the sale.”

Empower has previously announced a number of strategic initiatives. In February 2017, it introduced Dynamic Retirement Manager, which allows plan sponsors to direct their employees’ retirement deferrals first into target-date funds (TDFs) during the early portion of their working years. Later on, when a pre-determined set of criteria are triggered, the participant’s assets will automatically shift into a managed account.

In March 2017, Empower Retirement and health services provider Optum launched a health savings account (HSA) for retirement plan participants—The Empower Health Savings Account. In March 2018, Empower Retirement launched an end-to-end retirement management experience for plan participants designed to help an individual from the goal-setting stage at the start of the one’s career through a withdrawal strategy that’s implemented when their working years conclude, called My Total Retirement.


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Week’s Best: Early-Retirement Pipe Dreams


Week’s Best: Early-Retirement Pipe Dreams

Photograph by Miguel Pires da Rosa

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Retirement communities face growing demand for more space, luxury


One of the hotter deals in the Orlando real-estate market is open only to people age 62 and older and comes with the guarantee of a nursing home bed should you need it.

As baby boomers age and seniors continue to retire to Florida, the state’s strong housing market has led to heightened demand for high-end continuing-care retirement communities — where residents can move from independent living to assisted living to skilled-nursing care.

“Now they have dining options and spa services and golf courses and wine rooms,” said Bruce Rosenblatt, owner of Senior Housing Solutions, which helps older adults navigate the sea of residency options based on their needs and finances. “This is not an old folks’ home.”

Earlier this month, when Westminster Communities of Florida broke ground on a second apartment development in pricey Baldwin Park, the nonprofit senior housing provider already had contracts signed on all 75 units — despite requiring entry fees that start at nearly $250,000 and don’t give residents actual ownership of any property.

“I would say this proves that there’s a lot of demand,” said Wes Meltzer, director of communications for the organization, which has more than 7,000 residents in developments around the state. “We’ve had very successful expansion at Westminster Baldwin Park — and in other parts of the state over the past few years, too. We have a new apartment building we’re going to be constructing at Westminster Shores in St. Petersburg that is currently 90 percent reserved without breaking ground yet. And we just opened a new apartment building, Westminster Oaks, in Tallahassee. We sold all 40 apartments there in about six weeks.”

Though the specifics vary from one development to the next, in general the continuing-care communities’ main selling point is peace of mind, which doesn’t come cheaply. Rosenblatt said entrance fees range from $150,000 to $2 million, depending on the amenities, living options and whether any of your money is refundable should you pass away or want to move out. The upfront sum prepays for care and provides the facility operating capital. On top of that, monthly fees range from $2,000 to $9,000 for a single occupant.

When residents start out, they live independently in apartments or villas, with maintenance, housekeeping and often meals and social activities taken care of by the provider. Many offer fitness centers, clubhouses, pharmacy services and transportation assistance.

If residents become sick or struggle with mobility, they can move to assisted living facilities or nursing homes within the same community, typically at reduced rates.

And in some cases — such as Westminster’s — if residents outlive their savings, the community will still take care of them — covering their monthly fees and the cost of long-term care.

“If anything happens to me, my wife is all squared away here,” said Troy Fletcher, 77, who lives in Westminster’s Winter Park community. “And the same if anything happens to her, I’m squared away. And we would be here together. That was the main thing for us. At this stage in life, the worst thing that could happen is to be alone, and here you’re never alone unless you want to be.”

Troy and Barbara Fletcher moved into their two-bedroom, two-bath apartment five years ago, leaving their 2,200-square-foot home for a place about half the size. They’ve never regretted the decision.

“Initially I thought we might be too young, but now I think the timing was just right, because I’ve seen how much the prices have increased,” Troy Fletcher said. “The place where we are, there’s a waiting list of two years.”

In Longwood, Village on the Green, another continuing-care retirement community, is also expanding. Before summer, workers will break ground on a $60 million health center with 48 skilled-nursing beds, 36 assisted-living apartments and 18 “memory-support” apartments that come with therapy for those with Alzheimer’s or other age-related cognitive disorders.

“It’ll have a state-of-the-art rehabilitation center and all of the modern amenities,” said Gail Wattley, the community’s administrator. “It’s not going to look like an institution. It will look very residential.”

In addition, the community is remodeling its clubhouse and hoping to add 2,500-square-foot villas to its development — a response to demand for more spacious and luxurious housing options. There is already a waiting list, though the plans haven’t been completed and the prices haven’t been set.

“Since the economy recovered, the villas are the hot ticket,” Wattley said.

Although the overall number of continuing-care retirement communities in the state is holding steady at about 70, many of the existing ones have expansion plans, Meltzer said.

Still, not everyone will get in. The most expensive of all long-term-care options, the communities cater to wealthier couples and individuals, and they carefully screen applicants for both their physical and financial health, rejecting those whose bank accounts are likely to be drained just as they need expensive round-the-clock nursing care.

And both the AARP and Rosenblatt strongly suggest consumers do some screening of their own — including reading financial reports, licensing and inspection reports and any complaint investigations, available through the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation and the state Agency for Health Care Administration.

“Check out the [skilled nursing] center. Talk to the staff. Talk to the families. Make sure that company is on solid financial footing,” he said. “For the right person, it usually works out very well. But it’s a big decision, and it requires a lot of money. So it’s critical to know what you’re getting into.”, 407-420-5503, @katesantich. Please consider supporting local journalism by purchasing a digital subscription to the Orlando Sentinel.


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What Almost Everyone Does Wrong That’s Costing Them Money


“To improve is to change; to be perfect is to change often.” — Winston Churchill

Ah, retirement. The “Golden Years.” Once we’ve earned our fortunes, we can sit back, relax and not think too hard about what we’re doing with our money—after all, the hard part of earning it is over…

If only it were that simple.

As Churchill so eloquently illustrates for us, change is not only good, it’s necessary if we want to stay one step ahead of life’s pitfalls—including the financial ones. That’s a lesson I’ve felt increasingly compelled to impart to my clients lately as they head into retirement. So many of us believe that once we’ve earned our nest egg, we can leave it largely undisturbed throughout our decades of retirement, and everything will work out as planned.

But that’s a huge mistake. The ideal investment approach and financial needs of retirees change significantly as they move from their 60 into their 70s, 80s and beyond. In other words, change is the only constant in every stage of our financial lives.

Before we dive into exactly how you should be differentiating your investments in retirement, it’s important to understand the three stages of life through which every member of the earning public moves: accumulation, protection and transfer. These stages are the same for everyone, regardless of how much money you make or what your life goals are.

The accumulation stage is—as the name implies—your time to earn and accumulate as much money as you can. You work for your dollars, you gain equity in your home, and you contribute to your retirement accounts, all with your next stage of life in mind. And, ideally, you’ll be thinking of that next stage as financial independence, not retirement. After all, we aren’t aging machines to be decommissioned off the assembly line due to lack of usefulness. Rather, we’re vibrant human beings seeking to be financially independent because we desire more freedom to explore and enjoy new adventures in our lives.

Once you transition to the protection stage, you’ll no longer be working for your dollars—they’ll be working for you. In this stage, the most important ingredient is investing wisely, and not losing what you spent your whole life accumulating. Investors at this stage would be wise to look into building a recession-proof portfolio (which absolutely can be done) and always steering clear of emotional temptation to make sudden moves in the markets.

In the transfer stage of life, many folks will shift their energies to creating a lasting legacy, and exploring how they can transfer wealth to family, friends, or a charity of their choice. It sounds easy enough, but this stage can actually be the trickiest. A recent BlackRock study uncovered that nearly 20 years into retirement, most retirees are still hanging on to 80% of their pre-retirement savings. Simply put, many of us are afraid to spend—we get nervous that we’re going to outlive our money, and we stop living life.

But failing to regularly draw down on our savings—and banking the resulting liquid assets—could be a huge mistake. Unfortunately, we might not fully realize that mistake until we’re in our 90s and we’re in need of a large deposit to move into a retirement home. If we don’t have that money liquid, it’s going to result in an enormous tax hit, that many of us may not be able to bear. The solution is easy enough you can do wonderful things with a whole life insurance policy—but retirees have to prepare early, in the transfer stage.

In order to make it successfully through all the stages, retirees have to plan ahead, and be ready to make changes in every decade to ensure their money is positioned where it needs to be, and that it’s working for them. Here’s a look at some of the things you should be thinking about as you move through each decade.

In your 60s…

Devote some time to thinking about Social Security. It’s going to take a while to navigate the maze of more than 800 rules and claiming options that are part of the system, so starting your research early is the way to go. Many people assume Social Security is a simple, guaranteed benefit, which is why so many of us claim as early as we’re eligible, at 62. But that can be a costly mistake. For every year you delay taking Social Security–from age 62 to age 70—benefits increase by 6%-8%. Try beating that guaranteed rate of return anywhere else in the market!

In addition to social security, folks in their 60s should look at establishing portfolios that will support their income needs. (For more, check out my article on how to arrange a secure set of portfolios that can ensure your finances will weather any economic storm.)

In your 70s…

Now it’s time to start thinking about those required minimum distributions (RMDs). This is the stage where many retirees realize that to some extent the government now controls their wealth, which is why you should focus on minimizing taxes, including the Medicare surtax called the “income related Medicare surtax” (IRMA), which in a single year can shift your income tax bracket from 22% to above 40%. This is why it’s so important to have both taxable and non-taxable accounts in retirement so that we can adjust our withdrawals to ensure we’re as protected as possible from Uncle Sam. While it’s true that most of us will be earning less in retirement than we did during our accumulation stage, it’s oh-so-easy to underestimate how much we’ll owe in taxes as we take our RMDs. And, through all of this, you must make doubly sure you’re setting aside enough liquidity for your next stage of life.

In your 80s…

Now’s the time when you begin to realize that the only thing that matters is liquidity, and having a safe place to shelter your money that’s not going to result in your getting hit with more taxes. For example, as much as you might like to give your IRA away, you can’t do it without paying taxes unless you give it all to charity… And you also can’t protect it from creditors unless you pay taxes. Think about it this way: moving into that nice retirement community with your friends will be twice as expensive if you have to pay the lump sum entrance fee with IRA money. No, these equations aren’t fun to run, but imagine how much worse you’ll feel if you put off doing the math until it’s too late, and you don’t have enough cash set aside.

As you move into the next stage of your life—whatever it may be—remember that Wall Street’s retirement goals are not necessarily yours. Wall Street will always be singing its siren song, luring you in to focus only on growth and accumulating more assets for the future. But who cares about beating the S&P 500 when it’s time to focus on your family and legacy? No matter what stage of retirement you’re in, make sure you give yourself permission to enjoy your money… It really is true what they say — you can’t take it with you.


 John E. Girouard is the author of Take Back Your Money and The Ten Truths of Wealth Creation, a registered principal of Cambridge Investment Research and an Investment Advisor representative of Capital Investment Advisors.


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Rob Gronkowski’s brother claims Patriots TE is undecided on retirement


Rob Gronkowski‘s brother claims Patriots TE is undecided on retirement originally appeared on

There’s no use speculating about Rob Gronkowski’s retirement plans, because the New England Patriots tight end still has no idea what he’ll do.

That’s according to Gronkowski’s brother, Chris, who addressed the retirement rumors surrounding Rob in an interview with TMZ Sports.

I think that’s a question that I don’t think anybody actually knows the answer to at this point. There’s so many emotions going throughout a season, throughout an offseason, throughout a game.

… I couldn’t tell you. I don’t even think at this point that he knows what he’s going to do after the season.

Rob Gronkowski insisted near the end of the regular season he’s “all-in” for this year, yet declined to address his future beyond that. Considering he left the door open for retirement after last year’s Super Bowl loss, however, many expect the 29-year-old to at least ponder hanging them up again once the dust settles on Super Bowl LIII.

Even when (or if) Gronkowski makes up his mind, his brothers likely won’t be the ones to share it. The Patriots tight end indirectly admonished Chris back in September for claiming he was “frustrated” with New England’s offense by insisting his brother “doesn’t speak for myself.”

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Celtics easily on your device.


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Honey, What’s Our Retirement Plan?


Developing the Ugalde

Retirement planning is a complex problem we can simplify by first focusing on what matters most. The key is getting the big decisions right.

The “big picture” retirement finance problem definition is straightforward. How can we work for perhaps 40 years to pay our household’s living expenses and simultaneously save enough that, when combined with Social Security benefits and pensions, we can maintain our desired standard of living for one to perhaps 35 more years?


Straightforward, but daunting, right?

The most important step, often given too little consideration, is defining the goals and challenges for your unique household. Identifying and agreeing your retirement financial goals with your spouse and planner is a critical first step before the financial strategy even comes into play.

Sometimes, one spouse wants a total return investment plan and the other just wants a guaranteed monthly check for life. On occasion, I even find a client who has self-conflicting goals of his or her own, like wanting to maximize retirement spending and leave a large bequest (a perfect example of wanting to have your cake and eat it, too, by the way). It’s difficult to solve a problem when no one agrees what the problem is.

Once the goals are resolved, we can attempt to meet them financially. There are many factors we might consider but some are far more important than others.

The most important factor in determining retirement outcomes is how long we will be retired. Nearly anyone can maintain their standard of living throughout a retirement that lasts a year or two but far fewer households could fund one that lasts 40 years.

We can’t predict how long a healthy retiree or retired couple will live, what we call “longevity risk,” so the safest bet is to plan for a long, expensive retirement. But, you may not want the safest strategy. Perhaps you’re willing to take a little more risk hoping to spend more. This should be clearly evident from your agreed goals. If it isn’t, your goals need more work.

If you’re with me so far, then the most important decision of retirement planning is how to deal with longevity risk and that is largely determined by the funding strategy we choose.

Many funding strategies have been proposed in the research literature so even this first step can seem intimidating. Wade Pfau and Jeremy Cooper identified eight proposed strategies ranging from safety-first (expensive but safe) to probability-based (less expensive but riskier). If you haven’t heard of most of them, there are good reasons. Some are too complicated for retirees and advisors to grasp, some are challenging to implement, and some are not broadly palatable, like using a triple-leveraged risky portfolio for the Floor-leverage rule.

How should we choose from this extensive menu? Actually, I suggest that you don’t.

I’m going to make a claim that may sound a bit outrageous: there is only one grand retirement-funding strategy. That strategy is to allocate some amount of retirement plan resources to generate a floor of safe lifetime income, to invest the remaining assets, if any, in a risky aspirational portfolio, and then to decide how to spend the risky assets throughout retirement. The correct balance will depend on how willing you are to risk losing your standard of living for the chance of having an even higher one.


Allocate retirement resources to safe income and risky portfolios.Created by author.

This may simply sound like the strategy we call “floor-and-upside.” But, choose to allocate nothing to the safe income floor portfolio and to spend 4% of the initial value of the risky portfolio and we have a “sustainable withdrawal rate” strategy. Change the “4% of initial portfolio value” spending rule to “4% of remaining portfolio value” or RMD-spending, for example, and we have one of Pfau and Cooper’s variable-spending strategies. They’re different takes on the single grand strategy.

Retirees who fund part of their spending needs from a risky portfolio will also need a spending strategy. For them, this will be important decision number 1(b).

By making the important decisions first instead of selecting from a list of strategies, you can simplify the planning process. Decide how much risk you are willing to take with your standard of living in exchange for the possibility of improving it and allocate retirement resources to your floor and risky portfolios accordingly. If you decide to fund a risky portfolio, then also decide on a spending strategy that equally fits your risk tolerance.

These decisions will have a far greater impact on your outcome than say, tweaking your equity allocation 5% or worrying about whether equities get safer the longer you hold them. You may find that this process provides a better high-level understanding of your retirement plan. You may even be able to describe the important parts of your plan in a couple of sentences.


“Honey, what’s our retirement plan?”

“Glad you asked! Here’s the big picture in two sentences. . .”

How sweet would that be?

Identify your goals, get the big decisions right, and your plan will be 80% to 90% of the way home.


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St. Augustine’s president announces retirement, reflects on tenure



St. Augustine University’s 11th president is retiring. Dr. Everett Ward announced that he is moving on after five years on the job.

On Friday, he sat down with ABC11 to reflect on his tenure at one of the state’s oldest Historically Black Universities.

History is the hallmark of all HBCU’s, but very few can say they witnessed the evolution of a black university from birth like Dr. Everett Ward.

“I was literally born on this campus. Born at St. Agnes hospital, built by students,” said Ward.

Since then, Dr. Ward has continued to build a legacy. He started as a student, became a donor, and then transitioned to trustee where then-president Dr. James Boyer asked him this question.

“He said, ‘Everett, if the college ever asked you to do something you would say yes?’ I thought he was talking about a donation,” said Ward.

It finally made sense in 2014 when the board asked Dr. Ward to take over as the University’s 11th president.

“I could hear Dr. Boyer saying, ‘When the college asks you to do something, say yes.’ So now I live in his home that he and Ms. Boyer built and so my guardian angels are with me and have been for five years,” said Ward.

A successful five years if you ask Dr. Ward. His proudest accomplishments include leading the campaign to restore the Jim Crow Era St. Agnes Hospital and saving the university from losing its accreditation.

“December of this past year when we received the news that St. Augustine’s probationary status had been lifted that was extremely a moment u will never forget, because when I came to the university, that was the challenge,” said Ward.

But with every challenge comes a reward. For Dr. Ward, that reward has been seeing students thrive. However, Ward admits there’s still more work to be done.

“I think that president will continue to have to look at enrollment. We have an infrastructure issue,” said Ward.

Ward plans to stick around to ensure a smooth transition but even then he said he’s confident in the university’s resilience.

“We got past first base, we still have second and third and then home, but I am encouraged by what I’ve witnessed here as president,” said Ward.

(Copyright ©2019 WTVD-TV. All Rights Reserved.)


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Wyoming Game and Fish director announces retirement | Open Spaces


Wyoming Game and Fish Director Scott Talbott announced his retirement Thursday night, according to Gov. Mark Gordon’s office.

The Game and Fish Commission will present three candidates for the vacancy to Gordon, who will then appoint a replacement, said Rachel Girt, Gordon’s communications director.

“It has been an honor and privilege working with the people of Wyoming for the last 34 years,” Talbott said in a written statement to the Star-Tribune. “The work has been both incredibly challenging and immensely rewarding. My colleagues that work for this agency are unbelievable stewards of Wyoming’s world-class wildlife and it was a joy working shoulder-to-shoulder with them throughout my career.”

Talbott was appointed to director in 2011, according to the Game and Fish Department’s website. He began working with the department in 1985 and has worked as an elk feeder, game warden, wildlife investigator, regional wildlife supervisor and deputy chief of the wildlife division.

He has received numerous distinctions, including the Wyoming Game Warden’s Association Wildlife Law Enforcement Officer of the Year (1990), the Shikar-Safari Wildlife Law Enforcement Officer of the Year for Wyoming (1991) and the Wyoming Game and Fish Department Director’s Award (2008).


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