The Finn Blog

I Prefer The Revenant Bear

January 14, 2016 – If you haven’t yet seen The Revenant, I won’t spoil the movie for you by telling you all about it.

But surely you’ve seen the commercials advertising the film which earned Golden Globe Awards for Best Motion Picture, Drama and Best Actor in a Motion Picture, Drama for its star Leonardo DiCaprio and is poised to score big at the Academy Awards having just picked up 12 Oscar nominations.

So you probably know that a ferocious bear somehow figures into the plot.

Having seen the movie (twice) and the gruesome bear scene in all its gory, incredible special effect detail and then thinking about 2016’s stock market gyrations, I couldn’t help wondering if the film represents some kind of twisted cosmic foreshadowing of what investors can expect in the coming year.

If you put any stock (pun intended) into what Societe Generale uber-bear Albert Edwards thinks, the S&P 500 is heading into a period of escalated decline which could see the value of the famous index drop by 75%.

That was not a typo.

Given the choice between what he’s predicting and The Revenant, I think I’d rather face the same bear Leo did than go through an Even Greater Recession with my money exposed this time around.

ddpavumbaSafety First and Sleeping Well

You know who doesn’t have to worry about whether or not Edwards is right?

People who are locked into certain types of annuities: structured settlement annuities, single premium immediate annuities and fixed indexed annuities (FIA).

Their payments are guaranteed.

Our firm has clients in all three and they aren’t (and won’t) be calling us in a panic if the market bears emerge in full force.

That “ol’ bar” can sniff around their money all he wants and our clients’ guaranteed income checks will arrive in the mailbox (or via EFT deposit) on time as promised.

Temporary Scary Interlude

I remember one call I received in the fall of 2008 from a plaintiff attorney client who regularly structured his attorney fees (and still does).

A few of his structured attorney fees were placed with American General Life whose parent, American International Group (AIG), was among those companies on the brink of collapse.

AIG’s involvement in the credit default swap game (aka house of cards) was probably the most troubling of all the financial institutional failures during that time because a) it should have known better and b) it was a H-U-G-E company whose collapse would lead to ultimate decimation of the entire planet as we knew it.

85 billion Federal Reserve loan dollars and two year later, the AIG disaster was averted and the US taxpayers even made a tidy profit off of its bailout.

IMPORTANT NOTE: It bears (no pun intended) mentioning that American General Life was never at risk. AIG’s woes were caused by its holding company.

American General has been honoring its commitments for over 160 years and maintains a superlative balance sheet with over 90% of its portfolio in cash or fixed income assets of primarily investment grade bonds. The real kind. NO CREDIT DEFAULT SWAPS!

State insurance regulations prevent life companies from taking the kinds of risks that led to the Great Recession and we’re proud to represent this excellent life insurance company. Neither we nor our clients ever had reason to worry about its ability to pay.

I assured my client that his structured attorney fee was safe and that it would continue paying well into the future (which it has and will).

Back to Safety First and Sleeping Well

A Special Needs Trust (SNT) fiduciary told me not long ago that structured settlement payments flowing into the SNTs were the only thing that kept his clients’ accounts viable during the depths of the Great Recession.

This conversation was a timely reminder it’s almost ALWAYS smart for special needs clients settling personal injury claims to consider structuring a good portion of their recovery. SNTs and structured settlements work very well together.

Finally, clients of ours who chose fixed annuities and FIAs for some of their retirement allocations awhile back may have missed out on some of the market gains of recent years. But they’re locked in now and won’t lose anything if Mr. Edwards ends up being right.

(Remind me to talk about the fallacy of averages in a future post)

Don’t Panic But Be Safe

Just because one guy says “the sky is falling” doesn’t mean it’s actually going to happen today or any day soon.

Recessions are regularly occurring events, though, so whether it’s a correction or a catastrophe, the market will definitely drop.

Some day.

Then it will go up again.

Some day.

But since nobody truly knows when either will materialize, if you want to protect yourself from the drops that will inevitably occur, take the time to learn about annuities. They work!

Don’t panic. Just take time to consider where you are, where you want to end up and most important:

Don’t risk money you cannot afford to lose.

Image courtesy of ddpavumba@FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

“You Saved My Life”

January 13, 2016 – As a structured settlement expert for nearly twenty-five years, I’ve always been grateful I chose a career path that allows me to help people. Not everyone has that honor or special responsibility.

Icooldesignt’s a privilege assisting those who need your help.

People whose lives have been turned upside down because of an automobile accident, workplace injury or assorted other types of losses lend themselves to a need for qualified structured settlement financial expertise.

Meeting clients at a time when they are most vulnerable, many still struggling to adjust to life following disabling injuries, always humbles me since I realize that any day the same fate could befall me or anybody else.

Because of the nature of the business, however, clients rarely have the need or desire to stay connected with the very individuals – attorneys, structured settlement professionals and other experts alike – who helped them through their claims resolution process.

Moving on to a new life by shedding all reminders of an unhappy past event becomes paramount.

But since structured settlements represent long-term financial obligations that stretch out for many years, often over a lifetime, we occasionally field calls from those we’ve helped. Sometimes clients need to notify the life companies of a change of marriage or residency status, change a beneficiary or sometimes they just misplace their structured settlement contract and need to secure a replacement copy.

I like when those calls come in because it gives me a chance to talk with the client about how they may have benefited from the help I provided years earlier. It’s a great opportunity to learn.

One such call came in today.

“Ryan” called because he needed to change bank accounts for one of the structured settlement streams he was receiving via direct deposit. While I looked up the details of his contract, we had a chance to catch up a bit.

NOTE: I’m overly protective of all my clients and NEVER provide their real names or details of their settlement for obvious privacy reasons.

I asked Ryan some open ended questions about how things had been going since I helped him settle his Workers’ Compensation claim six years earlier.

Well, he didn’t need much prodding. He sounded very happy. As he talked, I listened and jotted down some of the comments he made:

(Choosing a structured settlement) was the greatest decision of my life.”

“If I’d have taken that lump sum (instead of the structured settlement) it would have been long gone by now.”

“YOU SAVED MY LIFE!”

This last one really got me.

He actually said I saved his life!

The structured settlements industry came into existence based on a belief that we can make an essential difference in people’s lives.

The universal support they enjoy – from disability advocacy groups, the insurance industry and the plaintiff and defense bars to members of Congress on both sides of the aisle – is strong testament to the high value society places on structured settlements.

We help people. That’s what we do.

And sometimes we even save lives it appears!

Oh, I realize Ryan was speaking figuratively about me saving his life since I didn’t perform emergency room surgery, pull him from a burning building or extract him from hostile territory in a war zone with enemies closing in.

All I did was to do my job by helping him design a structured settlement payout plan tailored to meet his anticipated future needs when he was in the midst of settling his workers’ compensation claim.

But if he feels that saved his life, who am I to argue with him?

Image courtesy of cooldesign at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Ziggy’s Wall Street Oddity

Self-PortraiJanuary 12, 2016 – With tributes to the late rock icon David Bowie continuing to pour in across the globe, the debate about which David Bowie song was the greatest will likely rage on for a few weeks at least.

Whether you liked his music or didn’t, one irrefutable truth follows his legend:

David Bowie was a trendsetter.

Not content to follow the musical path of most of his predecessors, he expanded the notion of rock music by combining theatrical elements to his shows and developing concept albums at a time when the industry brass were still universally focused on hit singles.

He foresaw many social changes taking shape long before most as evidenced by his early creation of androgynous characters which bridged the gap between what society considered acceptable then and what it would accommodate years later.

The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars changed the trajectory of rock music and arguably society as well. In addition to making my personal Top Ten list, “Ziggy Stardust” is generally regarded as one of the best albums of all time by rock critics.

Bowie Bonds

But Wall Street pioneer?  Who knew?

Bowie’s trendsetting ways didn’t stop with the world of art and fashion. He was a financial innovator as well.

In 1997, David Bowie became the first to create securities backed by future music royalties. Other artists followed suit all meeting with varying degrees of success.

This WSJ YouTube Video gives a great summary of the story.

So, Rest in Peace Tall Thin Duke. Thank you for ALL your innovations.

Especially your music which lives on.

Image courtesy of David Schrock, an artist and personal friend living in Ft. Lauderdale. The painting is for sale.

The Next Big Short

January 11, 2016 – I watched the Screen Actors Guild and Golden Globe Awards nominated film The Big Short over the weekend.

The movie made me feel anxious all over again.

Prior to the Great Recession, investors were accustomed to seeing their account values rise and fall with some degree of regularity when exposed to the stock market whether doing so directly or through mutual funds.

Ups and downs notwithstanding, the trend line was always upward.

winnond“Markets will always have ebbs and flows,” financial professionals reminded us.

But The Big Short only reminded me it was all ebbs back then.

The film brought back all those feelings of dread that I remember feeling when I saw my own 401(k) balance reduced by more than 60%.

Those kinds of wholesale losses were Armageddon-like. And it hurt!

As the movie and this 60 Minutes episode from April, 2009 remind us, this market crash affected EVERYBODY. Even if you didn’t invest in the market yourself, you were affected.

Could It Happen Again?

According to Michael Burry, the protagonist of The Big Short portrayed by Christian Bale and the first to see the housing debacle coming, “we are right back at it.”

That’s right. As unimaginable as it seems, another financial catastrophe could be on the horizon according to this prescient economic trend seer.

Nobody can accurately predict the future, or course. But are you willing to bet against this guy after what he saw coming?

So, go watch The Big Short if you haven’t already to remind yourself how close the financial world came to irreversibly imploding.

(Suggestion: Bring a handful of Tums along with you. You might need them!)

Then, think about your own future and think about how much money you can afford to lose.

Safety First

You know who didn’t lose money during the Great Recession?

People with money in guaranteed accounts or any of the clients I’ve worked with over the past twenty-five years who were receiving or were promised guaranteed income from structured settlements and fixed indexed annuities (FIAs) didn’t lose money.

Market risk is inherent in the stock market.

Market risk is absent in a properly designed structured settlement or FIA retirement annuity.

This doesn’t mean you should never invest in the stock market or you should always choose annuities. As a practical matter, a combination of annuities plus traditional investing often results in the optimal outcome for most people.

But it’s shocking how many people often lose site of one of the cardinal rules of financial decision making:

Don’t risk money you cannot afford to lose

Despite what some who make broad, unflattering statements about them say, life annuities are proven to be the “most cost effective and least risky asset class for generating retirement income for life” and I have met very few people who couldn’t benefit from having guaranteed lifetime income.

Cost effective. Least risky. Sounds like a recipe for happiness to me.

So if you’re ready to settle a personal injury claim, keep whatever cash you think you’ll need in the next few years and whatever you’d be comfortable losing.

Invest that money.

Take the rest and set up a structured settlement to help meet your basic living needs.

If you’re focusing on your retirement assets, try this simple math assuming a typical working life:

W/R, where,

W = Number of years since you started working

R = Number of years until you plan to retire

If the resulting number is less than 1.0, you’ve probably got enough time to weather any storms even if we do enter into an Even Greater Recession.

If the number is 1.0 or greater, watch out! You should give serious consideration to limiting your exposure to the market. The larger the number, the less time you’ll have to make up what you lose if the market tanks again.

BONUS: Paradoxically, by annuitizing a portion of your retirement assets to meet your known cash flow needs, you’ll be able to invest some of your portfolio in the market with less worry.

Everyone needs guaranteed income. Don’t wait until it’s too late to get yours.

Postscript

I plan to vote for Christian Bale when I fill out my Screen Actors Guild Awards ballot in a few weeks. He was that good in his supporting role.

(Disclosure: As you can see from my IMDb profile, it’s been a little while since my network television debut and I remain, quite possibly the most under-exposed professional actor member of the Screen Actors Guild)

But I’m not voting for The Big Short although it was deserving of its SAG Award nomination.

And even if I were a Hollywood Foreign Press Association member, I still wouldn’t have used my Golden Globe Best Comedy or Musical vote on it.

Call me old-fashioned, but I just don’t think there’s anything all that funny about seeing people lose their life’s savings.

Photo courtesy of winnond at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Our Year In Review: 2015

December 31, 2015 – As 2015 draws to a close, we thought we’d take a moment to give you an inside look at what kind of year it’s been here at Finn Financial Group.

2015 Success

Finn Financial Group: 2014 Versus 2015

2014 was a very good year.

But 2015 was a SENSATIONAL year!

By every possible measure, 2015 was our firm’s most successful year since its inception almost six years ago.

Just compare the stack of successfully concluded files on the left (2014) to the one on the right (2015) in the photo above to get a sense of how many more people we were able to help this year.

By The Numbers

Requests for New Quotes – 144 calls/emails for assistance with new case referrals this year versus 111 last  year (30% increase)

Of these, 61 were successfully concluded with annuities, 32 were closed without an annuity (in some cases because our evaluation determined the client would be better off with cash) and 51 remain open pending further consideration as the case develops.

Individual Annuities Placed – 93 successfully concluded annuities this year versus 70 last year (33% increase)

Not counting the pending client referrals we will be finalizing in 2016, we were busy helping someone finalize their claim or lawsuit nearly every other day of the work week.

By The Immeasureables

The most gratifying part about having a boutique structured settlement and specialty annuity income planning firm is knowing that we are small enough to remain personally engaged in helping people put their financial lives in order every time they reach out to us.

And we just love rising to the occasion to help people when they need us.

Whether we’re helping somebody whose life has been turned upside down due to a catastrophic injury or the death of a loved one or whether someone is reaching that point in their life when they need to make that difficult, emotional transition from life in the workforce to life in retirement, we are extremely honored they continue to seek us out for our professional guidance and expertise.

What’s Next?

As we trade one calendar for another, looking ahead to 2016 we’re eager to continue making good on our pledge to always serve as a reliable advocate to you for all your structured settlement and specialty annuity needs.

Sometime in 2016, our firm will cross the lofty $100,000,000 threshold of total annuity dollars placed. Because we understand that clients would never place those kinds of dollars with companies they don’t trust, we never lose sight of the fact that it is YOUR trust in us that enables us to continue our mission of helping secure people’s futures. Thank you for your ongoing vote of confidence.

So here’s to YOU!

And here’s to Us being able to help YOU in 2016 and beyond.

Thank you again for the continued opportunity to be of service to you and best wishes for good health, much happiness and unending success however you choose to measure it in 2016 and beyond.

Happy New Year!

Anoop Krishnan

Image courtesy of Anoop Krishnan at FreeDigitalPhoto.net

Thinking of Thanking

December 17, 2015 – As children, our sense of holiday cheer is often limited due to a preoccupation with how we can personally and materially benefit from the season of goodwill.

Case in point: I never once sat on Santa’s lap to talk about what my brothers wanted for Christmas.

But sometimes children witness such simple expressions of thoughtfulness that so perfectly embody the spirit of the season that their lessons linger years after the wrapping paper is tossed into the fireplace and Glass Wax stencils become passe.

One cold, wintry morning when I was in elementary school, I remember eating breakfast in our kitchen that my mom always complained was too small for our family. Despite its small size, none of us ever woke up when breakfast wasn’t already underway and she wasn’t helping everyone get their day off to a good start.

My mom was a prototypical, vastly under-appreciated, mid-1960’s stay-at-home mom who took care of her family so well we didn’t even realize just how good our lives were. She made everything seem effortless. Worried about us incessantly but always made sure all her kids were well fed, groomed and properly clothed before each school day began.

Winters could be especially numbing in Canton, Ohio and on days when the gas forced air furnace didn’t seem to put out quite enough BTUs, an open oven door made the otherwise periodically drafty house more comfortable. My flannel pajamas helped but couldn’t fend off all the wintry chill that managed to make its way through the single pane windows of a solid brick house built long before the era of advanced energy efficiency.

On this particular December morning as I shivered my way through my bacon and eggs or oatmeal or whatever hot breakfast she thoughtfully made that morning, my mom suddenly looked out the back window having heard something that startled her.

“Oh no,” she gasped half to herself and half out loud. “Oh no!”

Something was wrong. I didn’t know what it was but it must have been something serious to cause her such distress. I knew that much.

Without warning, she made a mad dash to the closet, deftly grabbing her coat and her plaid scarf which she loosely tied around her head as fast as she could. She kicked off her slippers and plopped her bare feet into her faux fur-trimmed rubber boots and, grabbing something off the draining board as she left, bolted out of the back door with such abandon I thought maybe the garage was on fire.

As she ran down the driveway through snow that must have been a foot deep, arms flailing about and frantically shouting as if hailing a cab during a New York City rush hour and late for an appointment, I did my best to follow her movements to see if I could find out what was causing her such consternation. Making my way around to the dining room toward the front of the house, as I watched through the bay window, I sensed her anxiety abating once it became clear to me what all the commotion had been about.

She almost missed the garbage man.

She smiled and waved as she just barely managed to grab the attention of the bundled-up guy riding on the back of the truck before it moved on to the next house.

But she wasn’t trying to flag them down so desperately because she needed to pass along another bag of egg shells and coffee grounds.

She was afraid she’d miss giving the workers their Christmas gift, a personalized card into which she had placed a few dollars as a token of her appreciation for the dedicated work they performed all year long.

The garbage man.

Sadly, it never occurred to me that someone whose job it was to haul our garbage every week deserved a present. After all, Christmas was supposed to be about me getting presents.

I don’t know that I’ve ever seen a more genuine smile than the one that grew on that man’s face once he realized why my mom was waving so desperately to stop the truck. I couldn’t tell if he teared up or not but it was obvious this unexpected gift warmed his heart greatly as he joyfully waved back on behalf of the crew in reciprocal appreciation of her thoughtfulness.

When our lives get busy we often forget to thank those who matter and who make our lives so much better.

At our firm, we ALWAYS focus on our mission of helping those who need our help, ALWAYS pledge to do what’s right for the client and strive to ALWAYS express our appreciation for the opportunities they give us to be of service.

So to all the friends, claimants, attorneys, claims professionals, retirees-to-be, industry peers and business partners who continue to place their confidence in us and make our existence possible:

ornament

THANK YOU

for the Opportunity to Be of Service

and

MERRY CHRISTMAS

to You and Yours

We are humbled by your trust and forever grateful to you for reminding us why we’re here.

Have a terrific holiday and all best wishes for a prosperous 2016.

PS Even though I now live in Southern California where it doesn’t snow and garbage men are now called sanitation workers who pick up trash without leaving their vehicles, I always remember to pass along a token of appreciation to these and the other dedicated professionals who service our home in honor of my late mom and the lesson she didn’t even realize she taught me so many years ago.

Fixed-Indexed Annuity Popularity Grows

December 8, 2015 – In both the Retirement and Structured Settlements sections of The Finn Blog, we strive to keep our clients updated on current research and statistics relevant to their retirement and post-injury settlement decision making.

Because we believe people like to make their own decisions about their own lives based on facts, not conjecture, we’re partial to citing verifiable statistics in our posts while steering them away from those with an axe to grind or who otherwise have their own agenda.

Take fixed-indexed annuities (FIAs) for instance, the pros and cons of which are often hotly debated.

Despite attempts by many in the financial planning community-at-large to discredit them completely as unsuitable retirement options “pushed” by licensed agents, FIAs just seem to keep sustaining their popularity according to a recent article appearing in InvestmentNews.

For the statistically oriented among you, you might appreciate knowing FIAs are up 7 percent YTD according to LIMRA Secure Retirement Institute. Here’s a quote from the article:

“Indexed annuity [sic] reached record-breaking levels. Total sales were $14.3 billion, up 22 percent and 10 percent higher than the previous best quarterly results. This growth was driven by many companies, rather than just the top players as we have seen in the past.”

With 179.3 billion dollars worth of annuities changing hands in nine months so far this year, you’d think someone other than those losing market share would be complaining.

What makes these things so popular?

While the intricacies of FIAs can admittedly seem challenging to wrap your arms around, at the end of the day we find a few irrefutable truths about people and retirement which help explain their continued popularity.

Generally

Study after study assures us people generally like the idea of guaranteed income they can never outlive.

Annuities are the only way to contractually guarantee income for life.

People who own annuities tend to live longer on average.

People who own annuities in retirement are happier and show fewer symptoms of depression.

Running out of money, which can’t happen with life annuities, is one of the greatest fears expressed by baby boomers.

Add to all that this truth:

When we compare FIA payout projections to their traditional fixed annuity cousins, we often find the minimum (worst case scenario) guaranteed lifetime benefits from the FIAs are not much different than guaranteed benefits (best-and-only case scenario) of the fixed, non-indexed annuities.

Meaning . . .

Specifically

For about the same amount of money, a FIA offers the potential (emphasis added) for higher payouts than a traditional fixed annuity.

Money in Your FutureSo if you’re looking into the future and want to guarantee your hard earned money will still be there for as long as you will, look into allocating some of your retirement dollars toward the purchase of a life annuity.

If you want the same thing but want to benefit from market increases when they occur, consider a fixed-indexed annuity with a guaranteed lifetime withdrawal benefit rider.

Either way, you’ll be assured that you’ll have cash flow to meet ongoing expenses and won’t have to worry about running out of money.

Let us know if you’d like a Retirement Income Certified Professional® to help you with your retirement analysis.

Image courtesy of bplanet at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

Structured Settlements for Employment Disputes

New Brochure Added

Liberty Life Assurance Company of Boston’s

Structured Settlements for Employment Disputes

November 4, 2015 – An article published in the National Law Review a little more than a year ago couldn’t be more straightforward:

“Employment Related Lawsuits Are on the Rise. Are You Covered?”

Expendable Employee

While we strongly encourage all businesses with employees to review their Employment Practices Liability Insurance (EPLI) coverage as advocated in the article to ensure they are properly protected should an employment-based lawsuit arise, our firm’s focus lies elsewhere.

We exist to help clients during the claims resolution process when a lawsuit is filed.

That’s when we can help!

While traditional structured settlements are vital in helping resolve a wide variety of claims involving personal, physical injury, the vast majority of employment disputes stem from alleged wrongs that are non-physical in nature.

As such, most employment settlement proceeds are taxable to the litigant.

Fortunately, a structured settlement can still be part of the solution. It’s just a slightly different type of structured settlement. One we’ve worked hard to educate the claims and legal communities on for years:

A Non-Physical Injury Structured Settlement

We believe so strongly in the value of this settlement option, we’ve created a companion Website, MyTaxableSettlement.com, dedicated to helping clients understand how and why this option works so well.

At the time of this writing, Liberty Life Assurance Company of Boston is the only life insurance company offering a non-qualified assignment to parties seeking to resolve their employment-based lawsuits. The brochure we’ve included on our Website highlights the tax advantages, its applications and describes the mechanics of the process.

Worth mentioning is the value of this tool for both the plaintiff and defense. Since income spread out over time generally will result in fewer total taxes being paid by the plaintiff, a case whose resolution may otherwise stall during mediation or post-verdict discussions because of adverse tax consequences can more easily resolve to the satisfaction of both sides.

I hope you find this brochure helpful and invite you to call anytime you have questions regarding structured settlements for employment-based litigation.

Image courtesy of iosphere at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Market-Linked Structured Settlement News

From Our Newsletter:

New Brochure Added

Pacific Life’s Index-Linked Annuity Payment Adjustment Rider

Blending Traditional and Market-Linked
Structured Settlements for the Best of Both Worlds

October 20, 2015 – We’ll keep this newsletter short since we hope you’ll spend most of your time reading the latest brochure we just received from one of our structured settlement life company partners.

Stock MarketYou may recall our April, 2014 newsletter telling you about the then-newest entrant into the structured settlement marketplace – a structured settlement featuring a rider that allows the recipient to benefit from some of the market upswings when they occur but, unlike being invested directly in the market itself, guarantees no loss of value when the market falls.

Then, in one of our September, 2014 blog posts, we told you the IRS had weighed in on the subject when it issued a favorable Private Letter Ruling on the idea.

Now, in an effort to advance understanding and appreciation of the concept, the current brochure we’re sharing today takes a look back over the past 30 years to see what might have been in a hypothetical situation. While past performance of the stock market is never a guarantee of future performance, such an exercise is common and can be quite helpful when making decisions today about tomorrow.

Isaac Newton surely would be confused by Pacific Life’s structured settlement offering since, unlike his “what goes up must come down” adage, structured settlements with an ILAPA Rider can only go up.

We’re pretty bullish on this option for our clients, especially those who suffer from FOMO (“Fear Of Missing Out” on market potential) and might otherwise pass on the opportunity to structure their settlement altogether.

So next time you’re in the market for a structured settlement, don’t forget to ask about the one with stock market potential.

BONUS OPPORTUNITY:

This option works great for Structured Attorney Fees also!

I look forward to answering any questions you have on this or any related subject and hope you find the brochure helpful.

Stock market image courtesy of cooldesign at FreeDigitalPhotos.net 

2015 Interest Rates Survey

September 28, 2015 – If you’ve been sitting around waiting for interest rates to rise in a meaningful way sometime soon, a recent report from the Executive Office of the President of the United States might give you an unhappy pause.

Not that a reading of “Long-Term Interest Rates: A Survey,” published July, 2015, predicts anything catastrophic. It simply lays bare a few realities that many people have spent a lot of time trying hard not to accept.

Briefly summarized, the survey reveals:

Rates have been on a long, steady decline for more than a generation.

Nobody really saw this coming.

It’s happening everywhere, not just the United States.

This could be permanent (or close to it).

Experts were wrong before and they’re probably going to be wrong again.

Rates probably aren’t heading too far north anytime soon.

Since a projection of long term interest rates is an important component in developing any Administration’s Presidential budget, this sobering news underscores the importance of setting realistic expectations.

Speaking of Realistic Expectations

HistoricalLongTermInterestRatesIf you’ve been resisting making long term financial commitments with your money out of fear you’d end up with some kind of buyer’s remorse if rates improve dramatically, maybe this survey will reduce your anxiety.

True, it’s not an ultra-rosy projection; however, maybe by tempering your expectations, you can move forward with confidence that you’ll be locking into something that is as good as you can get in the near term.

Structured settlements, with the added benefit of paying cash flows that are income tax-free (physical injury) or tax-deferred (non-physical injury, including attorney fees), remain a preferred settlement alternative despite the persistent “low” interest rate cautions.

Same with retirement annuities. Once you accept that security backed instruments are likely to remain close to status quo for much of the next generation, your incentive to hoard cash lessens.

Nobody wants to buy a TV set the day before it goes on sale. Maybe knowing there won’t be any “sale” on interest rates in the foreseeable future will allow you to move forward more confidently to secure your own future.