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Cash Balance Plans Can Help Supercharge Retirement Savings

April 2017

Cash balance plans are technically defined benefit plans that share some characteristics with defined contribution plans. IRS regulations finalized in 2010 and 2014 clarified some legal issues and made these hybrid plans more flexible and appealing to employers. Nationwide, there was a 189% increase in new cash balance plans between 2008 and 2014.1 Cash balance… Read more

Real Estate Markets on the Mend

April 2017

With a stable housing market, low interest rates, and a more positive employment picture, more Americans may be in a position to buy or sell properties in 2017. Moreover, the U.S. tax code favors real estate ownership, allowing for tax savings that might help families enhance their everyday lives and build wealth over the long… Read more

Factor-Based Investing

April 2017

Traditional indexes such as the S&P 500 are weighted based on market capitalization, the value of a company’s total outstanding stock. This means the largest companies in the index may have a much greater influence on index performance than smaller companies. For example, the 10 largest companies in the S&P 500 account for more than… Read more

Is It Wise to Trade Your Pension for a Lump Sum?

April 2017

Most employers have already replaced traditional pensions, which promise lifetime income payments in retirement, with defined contribution plans such as 401(k)s. Even so, 35% of workers say they (and/or their spouse) have pension benefits with a current or former employer. Pension payments are a major or minor source of steady income for about 47% of… Read more

Are UITs for You?

April 2017

When you invest in mutual funds, you are actually buying shares in an investment company. A unit investment trust (UIT) is also an investment company, but it is structured differently than a mutual fund company and offers unique features that may appeal to some investors. A Fixed, Time-Limited Portfolio A UIT purchases a portfolio of… Read more

HOT TOPIC: Debt Ceiling: A Stop Sign for Federal Borrowing

April 2017

The Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015 suspended the federal government’s statutory debt limit — commonly called the debt ceiling — through March 15, 2017. That deadline came and went with little fanfare as Congress focused on other matters, but the debt ceiling cannot be ignored for long, and it’s likely to become a focal point… Read more

LLCs: Hybrid Structure May Offer Best of Both Worlds

March 2017

A limited liability company (LLC) provides many of the legal advantages of a corporation but can choose to be taxed as a partnership or a sole proprietorship. An LLC establishes a separate entity to help shield the business owners’ personal assets from lawsuits brought against the firm by its customers or employees. In theory, the… Read more

Tax Tips on Capital Gains

March 2017

Tax season can be stressful, but it also offers an opportunity to look at the tax implications of your investment strategies and plan for the year ahead. You may want to take time to consider the tax treatment of capital gains. When you sell a capital asset such as an investment or property, the capital… Read more

Chasing Performance vs. Diversification

March 2017

In 2013, the S&P 500 index, generally considered representative of the U.S. stock market as a whole, produced total returns of 32.39% — the highest return for the index since 1997. But the S&P 600, which represents the stocks of smaller companies, returned 41.31%.1–2 Consider a hypothetical investor named Jim, who looked at those returns… Read more

What Is the Roth IRA Five-Year Rule?

March 2017

Information on Roth IRAs often refers to the “five-year rule,” but in fact there are two separate five-year holding requirements that may affect the tax treatment of Roth distributions. The first determines whether a withdrawal of earnings will be tax-free, and the second determines whether a withdrawal of converted principal will be penalty-free. Withdrawal of… Read more

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