Asset Allocation

Which Insurance Carriers Failed since the 2008 Meltdown?

These are the companies that have gone into insolvency since 2008 according to the National Organization of Life and Health Guarantee Associations.  Property and Casualty companies are not included in this list.  Some, such as Exec Life of New York, and Penn Treaty had their origin long before the crisis.  As you can see, no very large companies are on the list.  Overall, life insurers came through the crisis in remarkable shape.  For more, you can google NOLHGA.

2008 Lincoln Memorial Life Insurance Company
2009 American Network Insurance Company *
2009 Medical Savings Insurance Company
2009 Old Standard Life Insurance Company
2009 Penn Treaty Network America Insurance Company *
2010 Booker T Washington Insurance Company, Inc.
2010 Imerica Life and Health Insurance Company
2010 National States Insurance Company
2010 Universal Life Insurance Company
2011 Golden State Mutual Life Insurance Company
2012 Standard Life Insurance Company of Indiana
2013 Executive Life Insurance Company of New York
2013 Lumbermens Mutual Casualty Company
2013 Universal Health Care Insurance Company, Inc.


Asset Allocation

May 2019 ETF Cash Outflows Biggest in History

Investors dumped $20 billion in assets during May, 2019 due apparently to concerns about the global economic outlook amidst Trump’s ramped up trade war with China and other tariff threats. Meanwhile, the Fed’s indication that it may cut interest rates further fueled concerns about the slowdown in global economic growth. Said macro analyst Tavi Costa of Crescat Capital, ” “Rate-cuts when late in the business cycle have never been a bullish sign. It reaffirms the many bearish macro signals we have been pointing out. Economic conditions are weakening in the face of asset bubbles everywhere.” Investors are flocking to safe-havens like Treasuries, corporate bonds, and, as data shows the trend continuing from 2018, bond-alternatives like fixed indexed annuities and indexed universal life insurance policies.

Contact me now to discuss review of your current allocations and planning. Nothing is sure but change in this new age.

Asset Allocation

The Death Knell for Stretch IRAs Has Tolled:

On May 23, 2019, the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 1994, also known as the SECURE Act. The Senate is expected to pass a similar bill known as the Retirement Enhancement Savings Act, aka RESA.
Key provisions of the SECURE Act include:
-Increasing the beginning date for required minimum distributions (RMDs) from 70 ½ to 72;
-Repealing the maximum age for contributions to traditional IRAs;
-Adding exceptions for penalty-free withdrawals by an account owner; and
-Requiring certain beneficiaries to withdraw inherited account balances within 10 years of the account owner’s death.

The requirements of this last bullet point has estate planning attorneys concerned. Currently, “life expectancy” rules effective when an account owner dies allow non-spouse beneficiaries to “stretch” required minimum distributions (RMDs) over their individual life expectancies. So, many estate planners include “conduit” provisions in their clients’ trusts to ensure the trust will qualify as a designated beneficiary of a retirement account, even though the RMDs are still passed through to the trust’s primary beneficiary using their life expectancy and taxed as income to that beneficiary. The new law will make conduit trusts ineffective after 10 years.

Asset Allocation

Ten Years Post-Lehman Brothers Bankruptcy

Florence could influence data for months to come

Last week, the East Coast prepared for Hurricane Florence, which roared through the Carolinas and Georgia. As investors kept their eyes on the weather and its potential for destruction, estimates emerged of up to $27 billion in hurricane damage. This potential for damage contributed to insurance companies in the S&P 500 declining last week.[i] While the hurricane likely won’t have a large effect on our economy, its destruction could influence data for months to come.

Meanwhile, last week brought another milestone in our economy: the 10th anniversary of Lehman Brothers’ bankruptcy. For 158 years, the Wall Street firm weathered the markets’ changes. By 2008, however, various challenges, including excessive risk taking, led to its demise. The firm’s unexpected bankruptcy announcement shocked investors and triggered market panic, leading what was a simmering financial crisis to become the Great Recession. A decade later, the markets are on more solid ground, and banks hold more capital and have stronger regulation. While some professionals or analysts warn of a potential looming recession, current market performance and economic data indicate just how far we’ve come.

Let’s examine last week’s data to understand examples of where we are today: Domestic indexes rebounded to post healthy gains for the week, with the S&P 500 adding 1.16%, the Dow gaining 0.92%, and the NASDAQ increasing 1.36%.[i] International stocks in the MSCI EAFE were also up, gaining 1.76%.

In addition, we received the following updates, which support a picture of a more robust economy:

  • Consumer sentiment jumped: The September reading was at its 2nd-highest point since 2004. The data reveals that consumers expect the economy to grow and create more jobs.[i]
  • Retail sales stalled but are primed for growth: Spending barely increased in August, after months of strong growth. However, analysts believe this data is “a blip” rather than an emerging trend, as tax cuts and a healthy labor market leave Americans with money in their pockets.[ii]
  • Industrial production rose for the 3rd-straight month: Auto manufacturing contributed to higher than expected industrial production in August. For now, trade tensions have not yet hurt this sector.[iii] 

These data reports may not show blockbuster growth, but together they indicate our economy is doing well. In fact, they were strong enough to lead many economists and analysts to increase their projections of how fast the economy expanded during the 3rd quarter.[iv]

Looking back, the markets have come far from where they were 10 years ago. But risks will always remain, as Hurricane Florence and Lehman Brothers remind us. Today and in the future, we are here to help you understand where you are and plan for whatever may lie ahead.

Also, for those affected by the hurricane, we’re ready to support your recovery and provide the financial guidance you seek.


Tuesday: Housing Market Index

Wednesday: Housing Starts

Thursday: Existing Home Sales, Jobless Claims

DATA AS OF 9/14/2018 1 WEEK SINCE 1/1/18 1 YEAR 5 YEAR 10 YEAR
STANDARD & POOR’S 500 1.16% 8.65% 16.40% 11.47% 8.78%
DOW 0.92% 5.81% 17.80% 11.21% 8.64%
NASDAQ 1.36% 16.03% 24.59% 16.56% 13.48%
INTERNATIONAL 1.76% -5.45% -1.02% 1.65% 1.29%
DATA AS OF 9/14/2018 1  MONTH 6  MONTHS 1  YEAR 5  YEAR 10  YEAR
TREASURY YIELDS (CMT) 2.02% 2.33% 2.56% 2.90% 2.99%

Notes: All index returns (except S&P 500) exclude reinvested dividends, and the 5-year and 10-year returns are annualized. The total returns for the S&P 500 assume reinvestment of dividends on the last day of the month. This may account for differences between the index returns published on and the index returns published elsewhere. International performance is represented by the MSCI EAFE Index. Past performance is no guarantee of future results. Indices are unmanaged and cannot be invested into directly.







[vii] [1]

Asset Allocation

Markets Up Again

Trade continued to dominate the news last week and cause market volatility as investors monitored discussions of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and tension with China. While Mexico and the U.S. reached a new trade deal early in the week, talks with Canada stalled on Friday, August 31. Reports also came out that President Trump may be adding tariffs on another $200 billion in Chinese goods.[i]

Domestic markets increased for the week and ended August in positive territory. The S&P 500 and Dow each had their best August since 2014—while the NASDAQ’s 5.7% growth was its best performance for the month since 2000.[ii] On Wednesday, the S&P 500 reached a new record high.[iii] For the week, the S&P 500 gained 0.93%, the Dow added 0.68%, and the NASDAQ increased 2.06%.[iv] International stocks in the MSCI EAFE joined the growth, adding 0.26%.[v]

Key Data From Last Week

Although trade might have dominated headlines, last week provided a number of informative economic updates, including:

  • Personal incomes grew in July.

The 0.3% increase fell slightly short of the projected growth but is still up 4.7% since this time last year. Combined with growth in personal consumption, this data indicates that consumers had a solid start to the 3rd quarter of 2018.[vi]

  • Gross Domestic Product (GDP) was higher than initially thought.

The 2nd reading of GDP expansion between April and June was 4.2%, higher than the initial reading and still the fastest economic expansion since 2014. Economists don’t believe this pace is sustainable, however, as rising interest rates, ongoing trade tension, and fading tax-cut benefits could slow growth later in the year.[vii]

  • Consumer confidence soared in August.

The latest consumer confidence data came in higher than it has since October 2000. This strong reading may indicate that consumer spending will remain healthy for now.[viii] Since consumer spending is more than ⅔ of the U.S. economy, its growth is a critical factor to track.[ix]

This week’s performance and reports once again underscore a message we have frequently shared with you: Instead of focusing on the headlines, pay attention to the fundamentals for a clearer understanding of the economy. If you have questions about how this data affects your financial life, we’re here to talk.


Monday: U.S. Markets Closed for Labor Day Holiday Tuesday: PMI Manufacturing Index, ISM Mfg Index, Construction Spending










Asset Allocation

There are New Developments in Healthcare Coverage!

Hello, Trumpcare!

What we see coming out in the next few weeks as the plans  available on the public exchange continue their meltdowns is this: a new “Short-Term Limited Duration” coverage plan that will span 36 months. The newest insurance regulations released have extended short-term limited duration plans out to 3-year terms in many states. These plans are alternatives to the ACA plans available on the public exchanges for those with pre-existing conditions. But, they promise to be more affordable, as the ACA plans aren’t realistic for the majority of Americans.We expect Georgia to soon approve this product line in the next few weeks. Stay-tuned to this space for updates.

Meanwhile, our Employer Select Group Plans* Have Doubled Their First-Dollar** Benefits!

*Available to groups of 10 or more. Groups of 5-9 enjoy 1/2 the total maximums with some exceptions. **First Dollar means the plan pays a defined benefit, as agreed, without you paying a single penny of deductible–$0 Deductible! Individual plans are available also. Contact us for details.

Don't Go Without Insurance!
Surgery is Expensive! Don’t Go Without Insurance!

Max Benefits are $5 million lifetime/$250,000 per Covered Person Per Year. Critical event coverage for Groups of 10+ start at $10,000 and range to a max of $40,000. That means you get a check in the mail for up to $40,000 if you are unfortunate enough to suffer a critical event! Individual plans allow critical-event coverage up to $50,000 in a lump sum payable to you.

This insurance actually pays as agreed, and you don’t pay a deductible. You pay any excess charges over the defined benefit. But, through Karis360, an additional service at no extra charge, your total bill is negotiated down from stated “retail” rates. 


MultiPlan allows PHCS network provider discounts, which average, all in-network charges are discounted 43% from stated “retail” rates. PHCS is the largest primary PPO network in the nation–available at no extra cost with over 900,000 providers. To check if your favorite providers are “in-network,” click the button:

You count on your employees, make employee healthcare a priority for your business!

Attract & Retain Quality Employees

Decrease Absences & Illnesses at Work

Increase overall quality of life

Underwritten by Philadelphia American Life insurance company

Longevity Costs & Long-Term Care Technology

“Open the Pod Doors, HAL!…” Part IV–High Tech, Disabilities, & Monitoring

Bluetooth is the best thing that’s happened to remote controls since the advent of infra-red technology made them easier than radio. For those with disabilities, connectivity to smart devices is making vast improvements in not only functionality, but in performance of daily routines.

Two examples are: hearing aids and assistance for the cognitively impaired. Companies are making available hearing aids that connect to smart phone apps via Bluetooth technology that allow volume control, TV program switching, phone calls, streaming music, as well as enhancing the audible sounds in a room/place. Management of daily routines is likewise available for those residents in assisted living facilities (“ALFs”)and the like with cognitive impairment. One app displays colored buttons in the person’s residence that flash until the task, for which the customizable button was designed as a reminder, has been completed and the button pushed. The next button in the sequence is then activated. Examples of such activities are the morning rituals of brushing the teeth, combing the hair, eating, taking medications, etc.

ALFs and Skilled Nursing Facilities (“SNFs”) are finding such new technology is enabling them to provide better care services. As we’ve previously discussed, residents’ particular vital statistics can be monitored, analyzed, and diagnosed, from a distance. If patients get out of bed, have fallen, are wandering, or needs a change of linens or clothing, is depressed, has developed an infection, or a variety of other abnormal change in daily routine, alerts are triggered and information can be sent such that providers are able to manage the situation appropriately and timely. When an alert is sent that a resident is anxious or is experiencing a rise in heart rate or blood pressure, calming soundtracks may be played to help alleviate the temporal situation. Similarly, wireless oxygen and heart rate monitors can also set off alerts that cause comforting sounds to help adjust breathing.

Motion sensors placed about the homes are something we all are beginning to use for security purposes. But, such sensors can also track a cognitively impaired person’s movements and routines about a home. Even simply for aging persons who aren’t exhibiting signs of dementia, data can be gathered and analyzed to learn the person’s routines, track behaviors, activity patterns such as sleeping/rising and eating. Deviations from the norm can then be spotted and appropriate action taken by those responsible for monitoring such behavior–or simply by a concerned family caregiver “watching” mom or dad from a distance. Smart sensors can even identify differences in a person’s gait and other early indicators of dementia or depression, enabling assistance and early intervention measures to be implemented “ahead of the curve.”

This series is just another showing of how my group stays on top of the “Four Ts of Retirement Income & Longevity Planning.” Stay tuned to this space for the next discussion on Robotic developments in this arena. Meanwhile, contact me via the scheduling robot, email, or phone if you need help with your family’s situation.

Asset Allocation

“Open the Pod Doors, Hal!” continued…Space Aging in a Hi-Tech Universe

Medication Reminders

New tools are already available to remind folks to take their medications. These of course avoid problems such as mixing doses, which can make an existing problem worse or even lead to an otherwise unnecessary hospitalization. Taking meds on time every time and no more times than appropriate will lead to lower costs for everyone–including the healthcare industry.

Portable Diagnostic Devices

As we alluded to in a previous post, many hi-tech diagnostic devices are now portable, alleviating the need for the patient to report to a lab for testing. As we age, more frequent tests are required so that providers can monitor existing conditions , diagnose new ones, or simply maintain status on a person’s overall health. These new devices perform blood and urine tests, store, process, and instantly transmit data to providers for analysis. Such real-time reporting allows earlier diagnosis of problem areas thereby allowing earlier treatment–again resulting in lower healthcare costs all-around.

Emergency Responder Systems

These individualized systems have been around a while. Updates during the new “Internet of Things” era have added to their utility such that they can detect a fall, alert family or care providers if a dementia patient has wandered outside a protected area, and even help guide a person back home safely through GPS technology. These smarter devices enable caregivers to multi-task such as buying groceries, running errands, or just working. Airbags are being built into belts (see ActiveProtective smart belts) to prevent fall-related injuries. Meanwhile, the belt signals providers that the wearer has fallen and will need assistance.

We’ll go into a few other areas next post. Meanwhile, if you or a family member needs to look into a matter–contact us either by phone, through email, or use the scheduling robot to set an appointment. We offer comprehensive analysis and solutions to address all aspects of Retirement Income Planning.

Asset Allocation

Today’s One-Time Testing Labs Will Morph Into Real-Time Monitoring and Evaluation Services

Roles for Tech in Long-Term Care (1):
We anticipate that today’s discrete element testing services such as the LabCorp and Quest Diagnostic types, will morph into real-time data gathering models using wearable or implantable devices. Implants like pacemakers have been around for decades. So we’d expect little push-back on those such devices. If we compare that experience with the new implantable glucometers, which can be implanted directly into the senior’s body to track vitals, then perhaps we will get a more welcoming atmosphere for hi-tech monitoring devices. The key to understanding the monitoring is to understand that the information gathered upon which the care team makes decisions is always accurate. Because they are connected, data from these personal devices will be sent to cloud servers by such firms where it will be analyzed and crunched to determine individual patient trends and insights for the patient themselves, and their doctors and family. Ongoing reports will show important discoveries such as a decline in sleeping or exercise, or that insulin levels rise or drop at certain points in the day. Medical intervention can also occur immediately when required. So this type of real-time monitoring will occur not only in hospitals, where we have grown accustomed to IV monitors and such constantly clicking off data observations, but also in the home and about town–for off-site physicians as well as the patient themselves or family members.
For those persons suffering from cardiac, diabetes, or hypertension, hi-tech solutions come as biometric sensors, and smart glucometers. These wearable devices track vital signs and send emergency emails or texts in real time to care providers if current reading are outside expected parameters. They can also detect low levels of movement and “abnormal sleeping habits.” Such constant data gathering and monitoring to state individual norms and tracking against those provides necessary information needed by care teams so they can track behavior patterns and check on patients as required.
Before we go into the privacy concerns that should be clicking off alarm bells in your minds, we’ll go through several other areas where tech will be constantly monitoring us. “I always feel like somebody’s watching me….”
Healthcare & Health Insurance Longevity Costs & Long-Term Care

“Open the Pod Doors, HAL”–Today’s 50-Year-Olds Will Live the Space Odyssey

The Squeeze:

Recent estimates predict that the population of adults 85 and older in the U.S. will almost triple over the next 40 years. Simultaneously, the working-age population is expected to decline. This means the people requiring support–the elderly–will outnumber the ones able to provide such support, financially and otherwise. AARP calls this the “caregiver cliff.”

Meanwhile, costs to provide health care are expected to grow by over 200% for those between the ages of 70 and 90. We already see that governments, payers, and manufacturers, aren’t really producing reductions in healthcare costs. So, seniors need care solutions in order to be prepared for this impending rise in costs.

Enter Technology:

The new developments in robot and AI technology is expected to employ virtual home assistants and portable diagnostic devices that will be able to help provide better elder care, help control medical costs—and allow more seniors to stay in their homes longer.

The question is how receptive seniors will be to this technological intrusion into their lives. Those in their 50s now will probably be more open to relying on technolgoy, while those 20 years older may feel very uncomfortable accepting these changes. Consequently, there will be a growing interest and market for already available and maturing technologies to support physical, emotional, social and mental health.

Stay tuned with this space as my new book comes out soon that addresses these realities: The 4Ts of Retirement Income Planning (the name is subject to publisher approval). I’m staying on the cutting edge of planning–make sure you’re there with me!