Skip to main content
Home Working together to build your tomorrow

Our CEO and Founder, Stephen Butler, writes columns and articles on the subject of retirement planning and investing.  His columns are syndicated in most of the San Francisco Bay Area newspapers.  Subject matter includes basic investment concepts and how they should be applied in the context of current financial and world events.  Over the past 16 years, more than 800 of his weekly columns have generated a loyal following among Northern California readers who benefit from his objective, insightful advice --- a counterpoint to the flood of self-serving advertising from the financial services industry.

Why the cost of running our government is worth every penny
Dec. 7, 2017

French citizen Alexis de Tocqueville wrote the book “Democracy in America” back in 1835. To this day, it is still considered the best book describing the American political system and its social structure. The advantage de Tocqueville had was that he visited America and viewed our country as an outsider. Unlike us, he managed to see the forest in spite of the trees.

GOP tax plan could hurt homeowners, banks, real estate sector
Nov. 27, 2017

With all the discussion about the Republican tax reform efforts, I have yet to hear any concerns about how the increased tax on mortgage interest and property taxes might affect current property values.

The real estate industry is on board with its army of lobbyists trying to minimize the possible damage, but the emphasis seems to be the effect on homebuyers.

“Where are all the customers’ yachts?” The trouble with TIAA investment products
Nov. 20, 2017

The investment business is offering yet another example prompting us to ask, “Where are the customers’ yachts?” This is a reference to the famous question asked by a brokerage firm customer when he was shown the collection of yachts owned by brokerage firm founders.

This time around, the customers who should be asking the question are those in TIAA funds which command 40 percent of the retirement plan market for teachers, nonprofit employees and other participants in various 403(b) plans. These plans for nonprofits are comparable to 401(k)s.

Hornets’ nest: How the Republican tax-reform bill could affect middle-class Americans
Nov. 14, 2017

When I was about 8 years old, I thought it would be interesting to throw rocks at a hornets’ nest to see what would happen. The result was a wall of hornets that hit me in the face. My head swelled up like a basketball within a few hours, and with eyes swollen shut, I was sightless for about a week.

Not for the faint-hearted: Wild, potentially lucrative stock market ‘snap-backs’
Nov. 7, 2017

One of my favorite New Yorker cartoons depicted a fortune teller looking into a crystal ball. To her customer, beside whom a Labrador retriever sat with a baleful look, the woman predicted, “I see a 10-foot retractable leash in your future.” Similarly, it calls to mind a mental image of our stock market, which could be approaching the end of its leash.

How could the feds slashing your tax-free 401(k) contribution cap affect you?
Oct. 30, 2017

To view the entire article on The Mercury News (a Bay Area News Group newspaper), click here.

 

As Republicans on Capitol Hill hammer out a tax reform bill, one controversial proposal would slash the annual amount Americans can sock away into 401(k) plans without being taxed until they retire. Do you have such a plan? Let’s look at how it would be affected.

Transfer of retirement savings to beneficiaries is a tricky business, but worth mastering
Oct. 24, 2017

National Retirement Security Week came and went last week without making much of a peep. The objective was to raise awareness of retirement issues and call attention to financial education and preparation. Organizers pointed out that polls show 61 percent of Americans to be concerned about their ability to meet their financial needs in retirement. This implies, however, that 39 percent are convinced that they will have enough to retire and that they will not run out of money.

How a Bay Area man’s trade signaled an end to the ’87 crash; ETFs vs. mutual funds
Oct. 17, 2017

Thirty years ago this month, the stock market experienced a single-day plunge equivalent to a 5,100-point drop in today’s Dow Jones Industrial Average. It amounted to a 22 percent drop in value, the worst since 1914.

In general, we know today that computerized trading models, creating what was known then as “programmed trading,” essentially faked each other out. Consider something like “Hal,” the computer in the movie “2001,” bidding against several electronic “brains” in a race toward the bottom, which only ended when markets were shut down.

Gridlocked in D.C.? ACA repeal shot down, tax reform looking shaky
Oct. 10, 2017

The PBS documentary on the war in Vietnam offers a compelling look at how American policymakers, by their own admission, struggled to extricate themselves and America from what they conceded was a mistake. The ability of the film producers to include recorded phone calls in Washington interspersed with graphic film clips of pitched air and ground battles offers something far more real than any make-believe war movie.

Hedging your bets through diversified investments
Oct. 3, 2017

When I’m not reading magazines in the supermarket checkout line, I tend toward trade journals like “Pensions & Investments” — a font of juicy industry gossip of interest to people in my business. I enjoy sharing what I’m able to glean from these scandal sheets, so here goes…

Get Steve's articles delivered to your inbox!

* indicates required