Two Quants and a Financial Planner

Bridging the Worlds of Investing and Financial Planning

Two Quants and a Financial Planner bridges the worlds of investing and financial planning to help investors achieve their long-term goals. Join Matt Zeigler, Jack Forehand and Justin Carbonneau as they cover a wide range of investing and financial planning topics that impact all of us and discuss how we can apply them in the real world to achieve the best outcomes in our financial lives.

If you enjoy the podcast, please follow us on YouTube or subscribe on your favorite audio platform. If you have any questions or feedback, you can email us at excessreturnspod@gmail.com.

2/26/2024

Episode 53: David Einhorn Says the Market is Broken | We Debate Whether He is Right

In a recent appearance on the Masters in Business podcast, David Einhorn claimed that the stock market is broken. He discussed how he has adjusted his strategy to reflect his belief that the market doesn't seem to care about fundamentals anymore. In this episode, we take an in depth look at this idea and the facts both supporting and refuting it. We discuss how the rise of passive investing has changed the market, how that impacts fundamental investing and some potential changes fundamental investors can make to deal with the changing market.

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2/19/2024

Episode 52: The Intentional Investor | Justin Castelli

In the first episode of The Intentional Investor, Matt Zeigler sits down with RLS Wealth founder Justin Castelli to discuss his personal mission and the tools he uses to achieve it. They discuss Justin's life planning mission, why he prefers visions over goals, the $1,000,000 check he wrote to his future self and a lot more.

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2/12/2024

Episode 51: The Two Sides of Risk | And How to Manage It

We all know risk in investing when we see it. But defining it can be a much bigger challenge. In this episode, we work through the concept of risk from both an investing and financial planning perspective. We discuss the ways to measure it, how active investors can think about it, the importance of considering it in a behavioral context and a lot more.

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2/5/2024

Episode 50: Private Investing for the Average Investor | The Pros and Cons of Evergreen and Interval Funds

Private equity, private credit and private real estate have traditionally been areas that are reserved for large investors and institutions. But new fund structures are beginning to change that. The question is whether that is a good thing or a bad thing for investors. In this episode, we are joined by Lee Boudouris to tackle that question. We take a detailed look at these asset classes in general, how the evergreen fund structures that have made them more accessible work and the things investors should keep in mind as they evaluate them.

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1/29/2024

Episode 49: Fact or Fiction: Limitations of the 60-40, Dave Ramsey's 8% Rule, Factor Investing, AI and More

In our first "Fact of Fiction" episode, we tackle some of the questions we have been asked or have seen out in the world recently. We discuss whether stocks and bonds are sufficient in a portfolio, retirement planning, factor investing, whether an AI driven bubble could be coming. why there wasn't a #1 rap song in 2023 and a lot more.

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1/22/2024

Episode 48: The Key Criteria to Look at When Evaluating Active ETFs

Active ETFs have grown exponentially in recent years, especially in the equity space. One of the big benefits of that for investors in more investment strategies to choose from. The challenge, though, is that is can be hard to filter through them all to find the right strategy for a specific need. In this episode, we try to help solve that problem. We walk through the key criteria we look at when evaluating active ETFs from both and investing and financial planning perspective. We also work through some examples to show how we do it in practice.

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1/15/2024

Episode 47: Lessons from Launching (and Shutting Down) a Small-Cap Value ETF

In this episode, we walk through our experience of launching a small-cap value ETF in 2014, running it for 6 years and then shutting it down in 2020. We look at what we learned from the experience and what investors can learn about how ETFs work behind the scenes from our experience.

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1/8/2024

Episode 46: Lessons from the Rise and Fall (And Rise Again?) of ARK

Technology booms can lead to massive change in our society. They can also lead to huge profits for investors who invest in them. But those huge gains can also be followed by major losses when they inevitably run their course. There is probably no better way to understand the lessons for investors from these periods than to look at the story of ARK Investments. ARK's flagship innovation ETF generated eye popping returns in the years leading up to 2021. Then it gave many of those returns back as investors questioned whether the prospects if the companies it owned justified their high valuations. And then it bounced back in a big way in 2023, although it still sits well below its highs. In this episode, we use the story of ARK to highlight some of the most important lessons we think investors can learn about investing in innovation and concentrated strategies.

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1/1/2024

Episode 45: Nine Investing and Life Lessons From 2023

2023 was a very interesting year in markets. The pessimism many investors had at the beginning of the year turned out to be unfounded as markets produced well above average returns. And the economy also remained more resilient than many thought, with inflation falling more than expectations throughout the year. Now that 2023 has come to a close, we wanted to take a look back and share the biggest lessons we learned from the year. We discuss what we learned in markets and what we learned in our lives and how that will inform our approach going forward.

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12/26/2023

Episode 44: Our 2024 Market Forecast | And Why You Shouldn't Listen to It

Forecast season is once again upon is. It is the time of year where many market strategists will tell us where the S&P 500 will end 2024 and do it with conviction. There is just one problem. Almost all of them will be wrong. But despite the fact that the evidence that forecasting the market is a losing game, many of us who follow markets still think we can do it. So we decided that the best way for us to overcome that bias is to try to do it ourselves. In our first annual forecast episode, all 3 of us offer our 2024 forecasts for the market, the economy and a bunch of other things we have no business forecasting. We hope you will enjoy rubbing it our faces next year when we are proven wrong.

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12/18/2023

Episode 43: Four Ways Value Investors Can Use Momentum

Many value investors may see momentum as the antithesis of their approach to investing. But the reality is that there are a variety of ways that value investors can use momentum to enhance their approach. In this episode, we discuss four of them.

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12/11/2023

Episode 42: Evaluating Alternatives to the 60-40 Portfolio

Stocks and bonds have their best returns in history over the past 40 years. But history tells us that the period is more the exception than the rule. With the outlook for stocks and bonds not looking as rosy as the past, many investors have questioned whether a portfolio consisting of just stocks and bonds is enough. In this episode, we tackle that question. We look at the future outlook for stocks and bonds and evaluate a variety of alternative strategies investors could consider.

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12/4/2023

Episode 41: The Characteristics of a Good Investment Process - And How to Know When to Change It

One of the most common pieces of advice given to investors is to have a process. But figuring out what that process should be is much more challenging. And determining when to change it is even harder. In this episode, we tackle both issues. We look at the characteristics of a good investment process. We also look at international diversification, the 60-40 portfolio and the struggles of value investing as examples of how to think about when to change it.

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11/27/2023

Episode 40: Year-End Investing and Planning Strategies

As we approach the end of 2023, there are many considerations for investors both on the investing and the financial planning side. In this episode, Ben Tuscai returns to help us work through them. We discuss tax loss harvesting, how we look at the process of evaluating investment strategy changes, RMD considerations and a lot more.

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11/20/2023

Episode 39: What Investors Need to Know About Momentum Investing

In this episode, we take a deep dive into momentum investing. We discuss the different types of momentum, why it works, how it is measured and how it is used to construct portfolios. We also cover trend following, the behavioral challenges of momentum and how to think about momentum in the context of a financial plan.

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11/13/2023

Episode 38: An Inside Look at the Quality and Low Volatility Factors

There is a tendency for investors to think that all value strategies are similar. But the reality is they can be very different. In this episode, we work through the major decisions that value managers make that lead to those differences and how they impact the strategies that result. We also take a deep dive into some popular value ETFs to see how the differences among value strategies can be measured and analyzed in the real world.

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11/6/2023

Episode 37: Breaking Down Popular Value ETFs | The Portfolio Construction Choices that Define Them

There is a tendency for investors to think that all value strategies are similar. But the reality is they can be very different. In this episode, we work through the major decisions that value managers make that lead to those differences and how they impact the strategies that result. We also take a deep dive into some popular value ETFs to see how the differences among value strategies can be measured and analyzed in the real world.

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10/30/2023

Episode 36: How Couples Can Have Better Conversations About Money with Heather and Doug Boneparth

In this episode, we are joined by Heather and Doug Boneparth, co-authors of the Joint Account blog. Heather and Doug share their own experience with respect to money in their marriage and what all of us can learn from it. We discuss how to better communicate about money at the different stages of relationships, having a CFO and a COO in a marriage, defining success and a lot more.

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10/23/2023

Episode 35: Is Value Investing Dead? A Quant and a Financial Planner Discuss

With value investing now having struggled for over a decade, many are questioning whether the strategy has become permanently broken. In this episode we examine the arguments against value investing both from the perspective of a quant investor who builds value strategies and a financial planner who uses them. We look at the different types of value strategies and why value isn't just buying the cheapest stocks. We then get into the arguments against value and discuss whether value's popularity has destroyed its outperformance, if the Fed and market cycles have broken value and if technology's dominance can explain the struggles of the past decade.

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10/16/2023

Episode 34: Understanding the Business of Franchising with Ben Terrill

In this episode, we look at the basics of franchising with FranNet's Ben Terrill. We discuss the types of businesses that can be setup via franchising, the pros and cons of the model vs. setting up a traditional business and how the economics work. We also talk about how starting a franchise can fit into a traditional financial plan.

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10/9/2023

Episode 33: Investor Q&A | Going to Cash, Laddering Bonds, International Diversification, Narrow Leadership

In this episode, we tackle some of the questions we have been hearing from investors in recent weeks. We discuss the desire to move into short-term bonds, whether a laddered bond portfolio can sustain a 4% withdrawal rate, the potential opportunity in international stocks, residential real estate and a lot more.

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10/2/2023

Episode 32: Roth Conversions | What Investors Need to Know

In this episode, we are joined by Sunpointe's Ben Tuscai to take a deep dive into Roth conversions. We discuss the criteria that investors can use to determine when the make sense and why they aren't used in the real world as often as you might think. We also discuss back door Roth conversions, mega back door Roth conversions, conversions inside employer plans and a lot more.

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9/25/2023

Episode 31: The Many Sides of Diversification | Spreading Your Bets Across Stocks, Factors and Asset Classes

The idea of diversification is simple. Most investors understand that spreading your bets and avoiding overconcentration is a good idea. But the details behind how to do that can be much more complicated. In this episode, we take a deep dive into diversification. We look at the number of stocks a portfolio needs to be diversified, the importance of factor diversification, whether a portfolio with only stocks and bonds can be considered properly diversified and why rebalancing is an essential part of diversification.

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9/18/2023

Episode 30: Direct Indexing | How it Works and Whether It Is Worth It for Investors - Featuring Lee Boudouris

Many believe that direct indexing will be the next big trend in investing. While it used to be reserved for high-net-worth individuals, zero commissions and the ability to trade partial shares has now brought it to the masses. But does it make sense for investors to utilize the strategy? As is usually the case with all investing tools, the answer is "it depends". In this episode, Lee Boudouris of Sunpointe Investment joins us to look at how direct indexing strategies work and the pros and the cons of the approach.

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9/5/2023

Episode 29: Two Quants and a Financial Planner Talk Inflation

The inflation experience of the last few years has been unlike anything many investors have ever seen before. And it has impacted all of our lives in many different ways. In this episode we try to put all of it in context. We discuss the causes of inflation, the challenges of measuring and predicting it, how different asset classes perform during high inflation and how we look at high inflation from both a portfolio construction and financial planning perspective.

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9/5/2023

Episode 28: Breaking Down the Greatness of Warren Buffett

Warren Buffett just celebrated his 93rd birthday. And for most of his life, he has been demonstrating the power of disciplined investing and compounding to all of us. In this episode, we look at some of the most important lessons investors can learn from Buffett. We discuss his long-term focus, the simplicity of his communications approach, his optimism and flexibility and a lot more.

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8/28/2023

Episode 27: Behind the Curtain of 401K Plans with Law Professors Ian Ayres and Quinn Curtis

Many Americans rely on 401k plans as the primary source to fund their retirements. But many also don't understand the behind-the-scenes details that play a significant role in the outcomes they generate with these retirement plans. In this episode, we speak with Yale law professor Ian Ayres and UVA law professor Quinn Curtis to help us fill in these gaps and discuss how retirement plans can produce better outcomes for their participants. We look at the history of retirement plans and how they have evolved, why choice can be a double-edged sword, how guardrails can improve outcomes and a lot more.

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8/21/2023

Episode 26: Inherited IRAs - What Investors Need To Know

Inherited IRAs can be very challenging for investors to understand. Not only are there a series of different rules that govern how money must be withdrawn from them in each unique situation, but those rules also changed substantially with the recent passage of the Secure Act. In this episode, we provide an overview of Inherited IRAs and what investors need to know about them.

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8/14/2023

Episode 25: A Quant and a Financial Planner Discuss Factor Investing

In this episode Matt and Jack look at factor investing from both the perspective of someone who builds quantitative strategies and someone who utilizes them. They discuss what factors are, why they work, the different ways to combine them into multi-factor portfolios, the importance of matching an investment strategy with the end user's goals and risk tolerance, the important of human capital in portfolio construction and a lot more.

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8/7/2023

Episode 24: The Truth About Market Forecasts (And Dollar Cost Averaging)

In this episode we tackle two topics that can impact investors as they seek to build long-term wealth. We first look at the idea of annual stock market forecasts. We talk about the challenges of predicting the market over the short-term, the importance of understanding base rates and how long-term investors should view forecasts. We also cover dollar cost averaging and the ways it can be both used and misused. We discuss why one use of dollar cost averaging is much more useful than the other and the ways investors with a lump sum of money to invest in the market can think about deploying it.

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7/31/2023

Episode 23: A Young Financial Planner Shares His Most Important Insights for Early Career Investors

In this episode, Ben Tuscai helps us work through many of the issues that young investors deal with navigating early in their careers. He has a unique perspective to offer given that he has recently dealt with the many similar challenges in his own life. We discuss planning for having children, the basics of insurance, general rules for emergency funds, why investing early is so important, emergency fund rules of thumb and a lot more.

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7/24/2023

Episode 22: The Many Facets of Discipline in Investing

Discipline is a word that everyone uses in investing. But saying it is much easier than living it. In this episode, Matt and Justin talk about the practical application of discipline in the real world. They revisit many of the topics from our previous episodes and discuss how discipline is a common thread among them.

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7/17/2023

Episode 21: A Financial Planner's View of Factor Investing

Asset managers who build factor investing strategies can sometimes have a difficult time seeing how those strategies are used by financial planners who build portfolios with them. In this episode, we look at that issue from both sides as we ask Matt how he thinks about using factor portfolios for clients and we have an opportunity to answer some of his questions about how we think about building them.

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7/10/2023

Episode 20: The Basics of Estate Planning

In this episode, we take a high-level look at estate planning. We discuss why it is important, the major areas that are important to focus on and the tools available to use. We cover wills, living wills, powers of attorney and the other most important documents should be put in place, the importance of trusts, the estate tax, intergenerational planning and a lot more.

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7/3/2023

Episode 19: Six Lessons from the Epsilon Connect Conference

In early June, Matt attended the Epsilon Connect conference. The conference brought together a diverse group of people with a common goal of understanding how narratives and media bias affect our world and overcoming them to try to identify the truth and become better citizens and investors. In this episode, we discuss the biggest lessons from the conference and what they mean for all of us in the real world.

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6/26/2023

Episode 18: Five Major Issues on Investors' Minds: Inflation, Recession, Valuations, AI Stocks, Geopolitics

In this episode, we begin a new quarterly series where we will discuss some of the biggest issues that investors are thinking about in the current market and try to put them in a long-term context. We discuss how investors should think about inflation and the potential for a future recession, how to interpret market valuations, the impact of AI stocks on the market and whether political and geopolitical events should play a role in an investment strategy.

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6/19/2023

Episode 17: Aligning Your Assets with Your Purpose: Lessons from Peter Mladina

In this episode, we discuss the major lessons from our recent interview on our separate podcast Excess Returns with Northern Trust's Peter Mladina. Peter's work on goals-based planning, aligning goals with purposes, the importance of time and in many other areas has wide reaching implications for investors. But it also can be very complex. So we wanted to break it down in simpler terms than we were able to in the initial interview and discuss the most important lessons investors can take from it.

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6/12/2023

Episode 16: Annuities: Useful Financial Planning Tool or Just a Bunch of Shady Steak Dinners?

Annuities have a bad reputation. From steak dinners to high fees to questionable salespeople, many investors are wary of using them. In this episode we look at how much of that reputation is earned and look at the facts about annuities. We cover the different types of annuities, both the good and bad uses of them and things investors should be on the lookout for when evaluating annuity products.

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6/5/2023

Episode 15: Will ChatGPT Replace Financial Planners?

There is no doubt that ChatGPT and AI technology will change the world. Many think it will be an innovation that will be on par with the development of the internet in terms of its importance. But how it will do that and which areas of our lives it will impact the most is still up for debate. In this episode, we discuss how ChatGPT might impact the worlds of financial planning and asset management. We talk about the areas it might have the most impact and others where it might have a more difficult time causing significant changes.

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5/30/2023

Episode 14: The Challenge of Understanding Your True Risk Tolerance

Figuring out an investor's true risk tolerance can be a very difficult process. There are certainly standard tools and processes that can be used to try to find the answer, but as Mike Tyson said "Everyone a plan until they get punched in the face." In this episode, we talk through the different types of risks investors face in markets and discuss some of the approaches we have used to better assess investors' true ability to handle them.

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5/22/2023

Episode 13: Interpreting the Key Lessons from Great Investors

On our Excess Returns podcast, we have had the privilege to talk to many great investors. At the end of each of those interviews, we ask all of them one standard closing question: If you could teach one lesson to the average investor, what would that be? We recently published a compilation where we brought on all those insights together into one episode. In this episode, we discuss our favorite lessons from all of those we highlighted and discuss what they mean for investors.

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5/15/2023

Episode 12: How Regular Investors Should Think About Alternatives to Stocks and Bonds

With inflation on the rise and the 60-40 stock and bond portfolio coming off one of its worst years ever, many investors are looking for alternatives. In our Show Us Your Portfolio series, we have looked at many strategies that go beyond stocks and bonds and the investors who manage their personal portfolios with them have made a compelling case for why they make sense. But they can also be complex and challenging to understand for many investors. In this episode, we asked Matt to give us a financial planning perspective on alternative strategies from the perspective of the clients who utilize them. We discuss the pros and cons of these strategies, how to analyze them and the importance of knowing yourself when considering them.

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5/8/2023

Episode 11: Key Lessons for Investors in Their Later Retirement Years

In this episode, we take a look at the major considerations for investors in their later retirement years. We discuss how to think about spending in your later years, the rules for required minimum distributions, inherited IRAs, Roth conversions later in life, charitable giving, estate planning and a lot more.

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5/1/2023

Episode 10: Using Variable Withdrawal Rate Strategies in Retirement Planning

Many investors are familiar with the 4% rule and fixed withdrawal rate retirement strategies. But in the real world, maintaining a fixed withdrawal rate is rarely the way things actually work out in retirement since the future is impossible to predict. In this episode, we look at the advantages of variable withdrawal strategies and look at the major approaches they utilize.

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4/24/2023

Episode 9: Using Monte Carlo Simulation in Retirement Planning

In this episode of the Education of a Financial Planner, we take a detailed look at Monte Carlo simulation and how it is used in retirement planning. The look at the inputs that are used, how the simulation works and how to interpret the results. We also discuss some of the limitations of the process, how to calculate expected market returns to use in the simulation, the importance of properly framing the results and a lot more.

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4/17/2023

Episode 8: The Importance of Asset Location

Most investors pay close attention to their asset allocation. And that makes sense since research has shown that the asset classes a portfolio is allocated to drive the majority of its return over time. But asset allocation isn't the whole story. It turns out that where those assets are located among taxable, IRA and Roth accounts can also have a big impact on an investor's after-tax return. In this episode, we take a deep dive into asset location and the key concepts investors need to understand.

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4/10/2023

Episode 7: Understanding the 4% Rule and Safe Withdrawal Rates

The 4% rule has become a standard used by many investors to determine the amount they can safely withdrawal in retirement. But most don't know where it came from, the assumptions used for it and how safe withdrawal rates can be impacted by the many factors we deal with as investors. In this episode we take a deep dive into the 4% rule and the concept of safe withdrawal rates and look at the answers to those questions.

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4/3/2023

Episode 6: Lessons For Investors Approaching Retirement

In this episode, we talk about the most important things people need to know as they approach and enter into retirement. We discuss the importance of maintaining a purpose in retirement, managing sequence risk, how to think about home equity and Social Security in a retirement plan, how to avoid the most common mistakes retirees make and a lot more.

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3/27/2023

Episode 5: Retirement Planning in Your Prime Earning Years

Regardless of when you start saving for retirement, the most important period to save is probably the period when your income is at its peak. In this episode, we discuss how to think about retirement saving during your prime earning years. We discuss the Roth vs. traditional IRA debate, the importance of avoiding lifestyle creep, how to think about how much you need for retirement, the benefits of Monte Carlo simulation and a lot more.

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3/21/2023

Episode 4: A Detailed Look at FDIC and SIPC Insurance and the Protections Available for Investors

With the failure of Silicon Valley Bank, many investors have been worried about if their money is protected. In this episode, we take a detailed look at the protections provided by FDIC and SIPC insurance and how they work in the real world. We also look at protections available for depositors at credit unions, cash value in life insurance policies and a lot more.

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3/13/2023

Episode 3: What You Need to Know About Retirement Planning Early in Your Career

There are so many things to think about early in your career. Starting a new career, potentially paying off student loans and managing other expenses is usually the focus of young workers. Retirement is often not a major consideration since it is so far in the future. But saving early can start the process of compounding and can make a big difference down the road. In this episode, we discuss the things that young investors should keep in mind as they balance their present needs with their future retirement goals and get into the details of some of the vehicles available for retirement saving.

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3/6/2023

Episode 2: A Primer on College Planning and Saving

In this episode, we take a detailed look at the options available to save and invest for college. We discuss 529 plans, UTMAs and UGMAs and non-traditional approaches. We also discuss financial aid, grandparent 529s and a lot more.

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2/27/2023

Episode 1: The Basics of Goals-Based Planning

In this episode, we talk about the basics of goals-based planning. We discuss how to define goals, how to balance multiple goals, how to think about future return assumptions and where goals-based planning can go wrong.

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Performance Disclaimer: Returns presented on Validea.com are model returns and do not represent actual trading. As a result, they do not incorporate any commissions or other trading costs or fees. Model portfolios with inception dates on or after 12/30/2005 include a combination of back tested and live model returns. The back-tested performance results shown are hypothetical and are not the result of real-time management of actual accounts. The back-testing of performance differs from actual account performance because the investment strategy may be adjusted at any time, for any reason and can continue to be changed until desired or better performance results are achieved. Back-tested returns are presented to provide general information regarding how the underlying strategy behind the portfolio performed in our historical testing. A back-tested strategy has the benefit of hindsight and the results do not reflect the impact that material economic or market factors may have had on advisor's decision-making if actual client assets were being managed using this approach. The model portfolios offered on Validea are concentrated and as a result they will exhibit high levels of volatility and their performance can be substantially impacted by the performance of individual positions.

Optimal portfolios presented on Validea.com represent the rebalancing period that has led to the best historical performance for each of our equity models. Each optimal portfolio was determined after the fact with performance information that was not available at portfolio inception. As a result, an investor could not have invested in the optimal portfolio since its inception. Optimal portfolios are presented to allow investors to quickly determine the portfolio size and rebalancing period that has performed best for each of our models in our historical testing.

Both the model portfolio and benchmark returns presented for all equity portfolios on Validea.com are not inclusive of dividends. Returns for our ETF portfolios and trend following system, and the benchmarks they are compared to, are inclusive of dividends. The S&P 500 is presented as a benchmark because it is the most widely followed benchmark of the overall US market and is most often used by investors for return comparison purposes. As with any investment strategy, there is potential for profit as well as the possibility of loss and investors may incur a loss despite a past history of gains. Past performance does not guarantee future results. Results will vary with economic and market conditions.

Validea.com is a research provider that is owned and operated by The Reese Group, LLC. Validea.com offers model portfolios, screening and stock analysis that is not customized to any individual. No information on Validea.com should be construed as investment advice. Validea Capital Management is a separate investment advisory firm registered with the state of Connecticut. Validea Capital offers investment management services directly to clients and is a separate entity from The Reese Group, LLC. The Reese Group and Validea Capital are affiliated entities and share partial common ownership.