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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

Tax Breaks for College Costs

March 2017

College is expensive, and the costs continue to rise. For the 2016–17 academic year, the average cost of in-state tuition, fees, and room and board at a public university is $20,090. At a private school, the average cost is more than double at $45,370.1 Fortunately, the federal government offers tax benefits that can help ease… Read more

HOT TOPIC: Automating the American Workforce

March 2017

A widely cited University of Oxford study concluded that 47% of U.S. jobs could be automated (i.e., performed by machines) within a decade or two. It may seem unthinkable that about 80 million jobs could be at risk, but this startling prediction isn’t just science fiction.1 As artificial intelligence is combined with robots, sensors, and… Read more

Six Steps to Launching a New Venture

February 2017

According to an annual report that tracks startup activity and trends over time, about 550,000 Americans launched new businesses each month in 2016.1 Better yet, today’s entrepreneurs are more likely to start a business because they spot an opportunity rather than do so out of necessity. Do you have an idea that you would like… Read more

Taxing Social Security Benefits

February 2017

A recent study by the Social Security Administration projected that an average of 56% of households receiving Social Security benefits will owe federal income tax on some or all of their benefits during the period from 2015 to 2050.1 This typically applies to taxpayers who have other substantial income, such as from a pension, investments,… Read more

A Roadmap for Your Family

February 2017

If you are among the 44% of Americans who have a legal will, you’ve taken an important step to help your family know your wishes and make appropriate decisions.1 But there’s another step you might take as well, and it’s easier than drafting a will. A letter of instruction has no formal legal status, and… Read more

Managing Risk with a Strong Foundation

February 2017

Asset allocation and diversification are so fundamental that you might consider them the foundation for constructing your portfolio. And just as the foundation of a building may seem to disappear under the finished building, it’s easy to lose sight of portfolio structure as you track the performance of specific securities or the dollar value of… Read more

How Much Should You Save for Retirement?

February 2017

Saving for retirement can be daunting, but as with any long-term project, it may help to have a plan. Yet less than half of current workers have tried to estimate how much savings they will need to live comfortably in retirement. Those who do try to estimate their needs tend to set higher savings goals… Read more

HOT TOPIC: Digital Deception: Current Trends in Cybercrime

February 2017

In December 2016, Yahoo announced that data associated with more than 1 billion user accounts had been stolen in 2013. The company believes this was a separate incident from a previously announced theft of data from 500,000 user accounts in 2014.1 Although the sheer number of compromised accounts is staggering, the Yahoo breaches are just… Read more

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