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Advisor News Insight

Formal Education



Industry News


Tax Planning


Americans Plan to Turn to Advisers for
Tax Reform Guidance


Asked who they will turn to for help navigating the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, Americans most commonly cited financial advisers (25%), followed by accountants (14%) and tax-preparation services (11%), TD Ameritrade learned in an online survey of 1,000 adults with at least $10,000 in investable assets, conducted in late January. A mere 25% said they understand the new law.


This article was written by Lee Barney, Managing Editor at


2018-10 IRB-392: Inflation Adjustments for 2018 – New Unified Credit is $11.18 Million


The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) released the 2018-10 IRB 392, providing new inflation adjusted numbers for 2018, taking into account the Chained Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers, pursuant to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. The new adjusted unified credit amount is $11.18 million.


2018 Forbes Tax Guide


All is definitely not quiet on the tax front. The start of this year’s tax filing season has been marked by ever more sophisticated ID and refund theft schemes and Congress’ surprise retroactive re-authorization--in 2018--of certain individual tax breaks for 2017. Meanwhile, taxpayers are just beginning to wrestle with what the sweeping tax overhaul President Trump signed into law last December means for them personally.


This article was written by Janet Novack, Washington D.C. bureau chief for Forbes.


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Annuity Planning


Ibbotson: Fixed Indexed Annuities Beat Out Bonds


In his latest research, economist Roger Ibbotson argues that fixed indexed annuities have the potential to outperform bonds in the near future and smooth the return pattern of a portfolio.


This article was written by Diana Britton, Managing Editor of


IRI State of the Insured Retirement Industry:
2017 Review and 2018 Outlook


In its sixth annual State of the Insured Retirement Industry, the Insured Retirement Institute (IRI) reviews and analyzes the market environment, product development, annuity sales and distribution, and legal and regulatory developments that impacted the retirement income industry in 2017, and discusses potential trends in the coming year.


The Insured Retirement Institute


IRI Insight Winter 2017-18 is now available! Annuities have had their share of detractors over the years. You may have seen disparaging advertising, but is such criticism warranted? The reality is annuities currently serve a critical purpose within millions of Americans’ retirement portfolios -- adding a level of security while helping alleviate some financial worry for the future. In fact, those receiving income from an annuity report the highest satisfaction level among all investment types.


This article was written by Brandon Buckingham, J.D., LL.M. is Vice President, National Director for Advanced Planning Group for Prudential Annuities.


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IRA Planning


Family Members as Investors in IRAs and Plans


Most of us want to help family members – especially with issues in our realm of experience. But helping family members with their IRAs creates a problem under the “prohibited transaction” rules of the Internal Revenue Code (the “Code”).


This article was written by Bruce Ashton, Partner and Joan M. Neri, Counsel both of Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP.


What Constitutes Termination of an IRA?


U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit clarifies the governing law.

A recent U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit decision, Cooper vs. D’Amore, No. 17-1442 (1st Cir. 2018), clarified what constitutes termination of an Individual Retirement Account.


This article was written by Anna Sulkin, Legal Editor for Trust & Estates Magazine.


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Retirement Planning


How to Extract Income from a Retirement Portfolio


Morningstar’s Christine Benz compares various strategies for drawing income from a retirement portfolio, analyzing the pros and cons of each of these strategies in this article.


This report was written by Christine Benz, Director of Personal Finance at Morningstar.


How to “Pensionize” Any IRA or 401(k) Plan


With the decline of traditional pension plans, 401k) plans and IRAs are now the dominant retirement vehicle in America. Many older workers are approaching their retirement years with no pensions, and they have a number of important questions that will influence their decision about how and when they can retire.


This report was written by Steve Vernon, F.S.A is a Consulting Research Scholar, Financial Security Division at the Stanford Center on Longevity.


Retirement offerings in the Fortune 500:
A retrospective


The last two decades have witnessed a sweeping shift in retirement offerings from large employers, most of whom now provide only defined contribution (DC) and other account-based plans to newly hired employees. The shift away from traditional defined benefit (DB) to account balance plans gives today’s increasingly mobile workforce more choices, flexibility and transparency, and helps employers manage the ongoing costs and risks/opportunities of providing retirement benefits.

This study takes a historical look at the primary retirement plans offered by current Fortune 500 companies between 1998 and 2017, thus showing how their retirement programs have evolved over the last 20 years.


This article was written by Brendan McFarland, Senior Research Associate at
Willis Towers Watson.


Stanford Center for Longevity Proposes New Strategy for Retirement Income


A new retirement study by the Stanford Center on Longevity, conducted in conjunction with the Society of Actuaries, “Optimizing Retirement Income by Integrating Retirement Plans, IRAs, and Home Equity,” presents a framework of analyses and methods that plan sponsors, financial advisers, and retirees can use to compare and assess strategies for developing lifetime retirement income.


This report was written by Wade Pfau, Ph.D., CFA and Director of Retirement Research at McLean Asset Management, Joseph A. Tomlinson, F.S.A & CFP© of Joseph A. Tomlinson, Inc. and Steve Vernon, F.S.A is a Consulting Research Scholar, Financial Security Division at the Stanford Center on Longevity.


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Social Security Planning


Is Social Security Benefit Planning Disappearing?


A focus on Social Security claiming strategies.

Many clients believe that taking Social Security as early as possible is the right choice. But advisors can help optimize their strategy and increase their retirement value by thousands of dollars, even up to $100,000 or more.


This article was written by Joe Elsasser, CFP©, RHU©, REBC© - President of Covisum™.


Many Americans Would Forego Social Security Payments for Student Loan Debt Forgiveness


The Student Security Act of 2017 would grant $550 in student loan forgiveness for each month a student debtor was willing to raise his or her full retirement age, or $6,600 per year.


This article was written by Mike Brown, Research Analyst at LendEDU.


Social Security Optimization Can Extend Retirement Portfolios by a Decade


In an exclusive interview with Bill Meyer, founder and managing principal of Social Security Solutions in Leawood, Kansas, PLANADVISER hears about some serious shortcomings in the conventional thinking on Social Security claiming strategies—and a failure to coordinate these effectively with the drawdown of DC plan assets.


This article was written by John Manganaro, Deputy Editor of


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Practice Management


CFP Board Adopts New Code of Ethics


During a special meeting last week, CFP Board’s Board of Directors unanimously approved a new Code of Ethics and Standards of Conduct (“Code and Standards”), which sets forth the ethical standards for CFP© professionals. The new Code and Standards replaces CFP Board’s current Code of Ethics, Rules of Conduct, Financial Planning Practice Standards and Terminology, effective October 1, 2019.


Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals Vacates DOL Fiduciary Rule


By a 2-1 vote, the appellate judges held that the agency exceeded its statutory authority under retirement law — the Employee Retirement Income Security Act — in promulgating the measure. The rule requires that brokers act in the best interests of their clients in retirement accounts.


This article was written by Mark Schoeff Jr., Senior Reporter for InvestmentNews.


What’s Next for the DOL Fiduciary Rule?


The Department of Labor fiduciary rule does not exist anymore after a late-Thursday court ruling. That court decision opens the door for the Securities and Exchange Commission and state insurance departments to take over rulemaking.


This article was written by John Hilton, Senior Editor for InsuranceNewsNet.


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Assumed Federal Rates (AFRs)


Section 7520 rate for April is 3.2%


AFRs Breakdown:


View a complete history of AFR 7520 rates, as well as information on NumberCruncher Software for Estate, Financial and Charitable Planning at:


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Financial Facts of the Month


Closing High


Since 1980 (i.e., the 38 years from 1980-2017), the closing high for the S&P 500 has occurred during the month of December 19 times. The closing high for the index has occurred during January just 4 times, most recently in 2008. The closing high for the index YTD was set on 1/26/18 (Source: BTN Research).


Historical Perspective


Since 1950, there have been 59 different 10-year periods (i.e., the 10-years from 1950-59, 1951-60, 1952-61, . . . 2008-2017). The S&P 500 index produced an average annual total return of less than +7% during 15 of the 59 decade-long periods (25% of the time). 19 of the 59 periods (32% of the time) resulted in an average annual total return of at least +14%. The S&P 500 consists of 500 stocks chosen for market size, liquidity and industry group representation. It is a market value weighted index with each stock’s weight in the index proportionate to its market value (Source: BTN Research).


Increased Volatility


The S&P 500 has had 11 trading days that have resulted in at least a 1% total return “gain or loss” in the last 20 trading days through Friday 2/23/18. Before that, the S&P 500 had 11 trading days that resulted in at least a 1% “gain or loss” in the preceding 305 trading days (source: BTN Research).


Less Than Three


If the 1/26/18 estimate of +2.3% growth in the size of the US economy for 2017 is not revised upward to at least +3%, it will be our 12th consecutive year of “sub +3%” growth, i.e., 2006-2017. The next longest streak of “sub +3%” growth was the 4 years from 1930-1933 (source: Department of Commerce).


More to Come


The median forecast of Federal Open Market Committee members is that the Federal Reserve will implement 3 separate 0.25% rate hikes in 2018. Over the last dozen years, the Fed implemented 4 rate hikes in 2006, 1 in 2015, 1 in 2016 and finally 3 more rate hikes in 2017 (source: U.S. Federal Reserve System).


Same Income, Different Years


To rank in the top 1% of taxpayers in 1980 took $80,580 of adjusted gross income (AGI). To rank in the top 25% of taxpayers in 2015 took $79,655 of AGI
(source: Internal Revenue Service (IRS)).




51% of pre-retirees say that their efforts to save for retirement are “behind schedule” while only 15% of pre-retirees are “ahead of schedule” (source: Society of Actuaries’ 2017 Risks and Process of Retirement Survey).


Start Right Away


A child born in February 1996 (22 years ago) who started college in the fall of 2014 is scheduled to graduate from an average 4-year public in-state college in May 2018. If the child’s parents had invested $135 per month beginning at the child’s 1996 birth and had earned an annualized +8% on all invested dollars, the parents would have been able to pay for their child’s 4-year college expenses of tuition, fees, room and board (the 4-year cost was $79,421). This calculation ignores the ultimate impact of taxes on the investment account which are due upon withdrawal, is for illustrative purposes only and is not intended to reflect any specific investment or performance. Actual results will fluctuate with market conditions and will vary (source: College Board).


Thirty Trillion


The White House released on Monday 2/12/18 a 10-year projection for our nation’s outstanding debt. Our national debt, $20.7 trillion as of 2/12/18, is forecasted to reach $29.97 trillion in 2028. Our national debt hit $10 trillion on 9/30/08 (source: The White House).


Very Rich Plan


Defined benefit pension plans can be funded to produce an annual benefit at retirement as high as $220,000 in 2018, up from $185,000 in 2008
(source: IRS).


What If?


The average interest rate paid by the government on its interest bearing debt was 2.309% as of 12/31/17, less than half of the 4.838% paid as of 12/31/07, i.e., 10 years ago (source: U.S. Department of Treasury).


Will End Someday


If the expansion of the US economy (i.e., no recession), now in its 104th month, continues into May 2018, it will rank as the 2nd longest expansionary period for the country in our history. Contraction and expansions for the United States have been tracked since 1854, i.e., the last 163 years (source: National Bureau of Economic Research).


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Useful Financial Website(s)


Retirement Researcher


Academic retirement research with practical application presented by Wade Pfau, Ph.D., CFA® & the Retirement and Financial Planning teams at McLean Asset Management.


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Advisor Survey


Value-added Continuing Education Programs


We are totally committed to providing you with the best possible service. Our value-added continuing education survey needs your input please. As a thank you for completing the survey, you will receive a 10% discount off your next correspondence CE course order. The survey should only take about 3 minutes. Many thanks in advance for your time and input!


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Advisor Tools


2018 Tax Guide


2018 Reference Guide to Social Security & Medicare

Our Tax Guide contains tax information such as:   Our Reference Guide contains information such as:
  • Individual income tax rates

  • Estates and trusts tax rates

  • Roth IRA contribution limits and much more

  • Social Security income limits

  • Medicare Parts A-D deductibles and premiums

  • Medicare surtaxes and much more

Download the Tax Guide below:   Download the Reference Guide below:

Please note that we do not provide printed copies. Feel free to make as many of your own copies as you need.


Financial / Insurance
Calculators & Websites


An extensive list of online calculators and informational websites.


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Requirement Updates


Several states have updated their insurance CE requirements. (View updates, CE requirements and more by clicking on the link below.)


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Complimentary Live Webinar


1-hour CE Credit for CFP®, CIMA® and CPWA®*


Retirement Income Planning


Presented by: Edward J. Barrett


Tuesday, April 17, 2018 | 3:45pm - 4:45pm EST


Join Ed Barrett, BEST’s Founder, President and CEO on Tuesday, April 17, 2018. He will be hosting a live webinar that will allow advisors to:

  1. Relate to the importance of developing a retirement income plan for their clients
  2. Compare the different methods used to determine how much income is needed in retirement: The Income Replacement Ratio; Actual Expense Method; and Age Banding method
  3. Discuss the most common sources of retirement income: Social Security; Pension Plans; Earnings; and other income
  4. Review the benefits of a Reverse Mortgage as a tax-free source of retirement income
  5. Analyze the various risk to retirement income: Longevity; Inflation, Market Trends; Taxes; Declining Cognitive Ability and withdrawal (spending risks)
  6. Identify the role and the use of annuities in providing guaranteed lifetime income: SPIAs; DIAs and QLACs
  7. Understand the importance of planning for health care and long-term care expenses in retirement
  8. Explain the various funding methods for LTC expenses

Don’t wait, click the Register button below to register now!**



LIVE WEBINAR ONLY: This webinar has been approved for one (1) CE credit hour for CFP®/CIMA®/CPWA®. If you provided your CFP®/CIMA®/CPWA® information at registration, BEST will report the completed credit on your behalf within 5 business days of this live webinar. Please be aware that you must view the event for a minimum of 50 minutes in order to be granted credit. For more information, please contact (Credit is for the advanced designations listed above only. It does NOT include state insurance credit.)


Subscribe to our webinar email notification list by clicking on the Subscribe button below.


**Please note that registration will be open until 30 minutes PRIOR to webinar start time. Registration will NOT be available until the next event is open for registration. Last minute registrations will NOT be allowed access due to CE credit time requirement. (See CE Credit Information above.) Also advisors must be logged into and viewing the video/presentation NOT just listening to the audio.


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BEST’s Advisor Insight
Audio Podcast


Hosted by: Edward J. Barrett

BEST’s Founder, President and CEO

We are excited to announce that our new Advisor Insight Audio Podcast is officially live and accessible online.

  • Episode 1: Roth IRA Recharacterizations After the Tax Cuts and
    Jobs Act of 2017
  • Episode 2: Financial Exploitation of Seniors

Click on the Podcast button below to listen now!




Subscribe to our podcast email notification list by clicking on the Subscribe button below.


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Featured Self-Study CE Course


Retirement Income Strategies

By Wade D. Pfau, Ph.D., CFA®


Retirement Income Strategies is an exhaustive examination of the various retirement income strategies that can be used to assist clients in meeting their goal of maintaining their lifestyles in a retirement that may exceed 30-40 years. This course will analyze the various retirement income tools, various retirement income strategies: Systematic withdrawal plans (SWP); and bucket (time segmentation) strategies, the role of Social Security, as well as the benefits of using income annuities and life insurance. In addition, the course will also examine the importance of planning for Long Term Care (LTC) using either LTC insurance and/or hybrid LTC policies. Visit Dr. Pfau's website by clicking on the button below:


Self-Study CE Course Catalogs


As a top-notch continuing education provider we:

  • Deliver CE to financial and insurance advisors
  • Offer up-to-date and industry pertinent CE courses that maximize credits
  • Provide ClearCert certified long-term care and annuity training CE courses
  • Supply CE courses that are approved in all 50 states and the
    District of Columbia


Order CE courses toll free: 1-800-345-5669 or local: 727-853-0575
OR send an email to


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  Super CE Programs
  1. Classroom course: 1-hour (instructor-led)
  2. Correspondence/self-study course: Provides up to 21 hours of state insurance CE and 5 or 10 hours of professional designation CE
  3. Increase meeting attendance and leverage your time
  4. Assist advisors in meeting their mandatory CE requirements
  5. Position your company’s strategy and product solutions

What Advisors Say...


“Thanks! This was the most enjoyable CE I’ve completed in my over 14+ years as an advisor. I’ll be back.”  ~ Raymond James Advisor

“I didn’t even need the CE, but took the class to expand my knowledge and understanding. Thank you BEST.”  ~ Merrill Lynch Advisor

“BEST has perfected the Super CE program!”  ~ Morgan Stanley Advisor

“Productive & effective use of time in meeting Continuing Education requirements.”  ~ Wells Fargo Advisor

“Excellent program, well worth the time!” ~ UBS Advisor


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