Blog

At Plancorp, we don’t wait for you to ask the right questions.
We take the initiative to offer insights and guidance — real enlightenment for real life.

Interest Rate Implications for Home Buyers, Sellers

The Federal Reserve's announcement of a rate increase last Wednesday has big implications for prospective home buyers and sellers, but experts have four words for anyone who's feeling that they need to act immediately: Don't do anything rash! Read more…

The Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015

On November 2, 2015,  President Obama signed into law the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015, legislation that raises the federal debt limit and establishes the framework for a two-year budget deal. The legislation, needed to avoid an impending default on U.S. debt, also contains multiple unrelated Read more…

Fed Raises Interest Rates

Today the Federal Reserve­­­ announced that they will raise interest rates for the first time in nearly a decade.  The Fed’s decision to move rates higher signals that the economy is no longer in a state of emergency and healthy enough to continue growing with modestly tighter monetary policy. Read more…

When Should You Take Social Security?

Last week President Obama signed the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015, which raised the federal debt limit and avoided another debt ceiling issue.  Tucked within this new law is a provision labeled “closure of unintended loopholes,” which eliminates a couple strategies for maximizing Social Security Read more…

Give Back and Earn Income with a Strategic Financial Plan

With the end of the year and holiday season approaching, there is no better time to consider some end-of-year planning. Read more…

After a Daughter’s Death, Making a Plan for Unused College Savings

Plancorp’s Steven A. Frank was recently featured in a Wall Street Journal story discussing the complexities of 529 plans and how they can be utilized in special situations. For instance, after a long illness, a couple’s teenage daughter died after her senior year in high school. The couple needed Read more…

The Failure of Active Management

For the past 11 years, the S&P Indices Versus Active (SPIVA) Scorecard has been the de facto scorekeeper of the active versus passive debate, and last month they released their mid-year update. Below is a graphic of active funds that failed to beat their respective index.  As you can see, the Read more…

The Collective Knowledge of Markets

Meet Penelope the cow. NPR’s Planet Money asked the internet how much Penelope weighed and got 17,205 responses. The average of all the responses was 1,287 pounds and the actual weight was 1,355 pounds. The average was off by only five percent. This experiment, which was originally conducted in Read more…

Stock Market Correction

I wrote an article at the beginning of the summer titled Volatility is Not the Enemy. I remember thinking it would be the perfect article for whenever the market had a correction. Since it had been nearly four years since the last correction, I figured it should be published and referred back to Read more…

5 Estate Planning Documents You Need

Estate planning is a little different for everyone.  While you are alive, the estate planning process allows you to manage and preserve your assets.  At death, your estate plan allows you to conserve and control their distribution after your death according to your goals and objectives. Read more…

Bond Portfolio Basics

Individual investors never seem very interested in their bond portfolio. Maybe it’s because bonds lack the sense of identity that often comes with owning a stock. Think about it: nobody brags out about lending money to Apple, they brag about owning Apple. In addition, you can theoretically own a Read more…

China's Bear Market

China’s stock market has fallen over 30% in the past few weeks and wiped out roughly $3.5 trillion in wealth – or about 33% of China’s GDP. Our direct equity exposure to China is roughly 1.5%, so we don’t see reason for panic at this time. In fact, any related volatility could be good for long-term Read more…

5 Things to Know About Greece's Financial Situation

Stock volatility has picked up this week in response to the breakdown in Greek debt negotiations over the weekend. Because the situation is fluid, any written commentary in this environment can become outdated as quickly as it is published. Read more…

The Impact of Rising Rates on Your Bond Portfolio

Rising interest rates have been a concern among bond investors for many years.  The Federal Reserve is signaling that they remain on track to raise interest rates in 2015, which means that the wait may be finally over. While the Fed may raise short-term interest rates in 2015, longer-term rates are Read more…

Forbes Reaches out to Peter Lazaroff About Mutual Fund Advice

Forbes reached out to an array of investment advisers, including myself, to share their most beloved mutual funds. Read more…

Modern 401k Plans Explained

I recently contributed to a FiduciaryNews.com story examining how today’s 401k plans may be unrecognizable to the first ones created in the early 1980s. Five dramatic differences between modern 401k plans and their distant Reagan-era cousins: Read more…

Volatility as the New Normal

If, as many investment experts are saying today, volatility is the new normal in equity markets, it makes even more sense than ever to structure a portfolio that can help isolate you to some extent from these major market swings. Read more…

Volatility Is Not the Enemy

A few months ago we discussed keeping return expectations in check as higher valuations increase the probability of lower returns.  We have no idea what the future holds and whether lower stock returns will come to fruition, but we do expect stocks to provide you with the best chance of outpacing Read more…

Risk Tolerance

Today we continue a discussion that began with defining risk and then focused on measuring the risk/return tradeoff. To briefly summarize those articles, we learned: Read more…

Do It Yourself or Hire an Advisor?

A common dilemma that everyone faces at one time or another is the choice of whether to manage your own investment portfolio or hire the help of a financial professional. As an investment professional myself, I am biased towards seeking out help, but I’d like to share a story to help frame this Read more…

Measuring the Risk and Return Tradeoff

In an earlier post, we started the process of defining risk by introducing three key ideas: Read more…

Asset Location Strategies

Everyone is thrilled that tax season is behind us. Now it’s time to focus on future tax bills. Read more…

Chris Kerckhoff, President, Discusses Advanced Estate Planning Techniques

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Jeff Buckner, Founder, Explains the Plancorp Philosophy

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Defining Risk

We frequently say that risk and return are related, but many people don’t understand exactly what we mean by the word “risk.” Read more…

Evaluating Cash

“Today people who hold cash equivalents feel comfortable. They shouldn’t. They have opted for a terrible long-term asset, one that pays virtually nothing and is certain to depreciate in value.” Read more…

Valuations and Return Expectations

Valuation – the price you pay for earnings, assets minus liabilities, cash flow, etc – is one of the best indicators of future returns.  In general, we experience lower returns when valuations are high (i.e. stocks are more expensive), and higher returns when valuations are low (stocks are cheaper). Read more…

Evidence-based Investing vs. Stock Picking

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Charitable Giving: A Win-Win for Everyone Involved

Donating appreciated securities to charity makes much more sense than first selling the security, paying the taxes and then donating the remaining proceeds to the charity. As the donor, you save money on taxes and receive the full benefit of the tax deduction—and the charity receives the full value Read more…

What Is a Registered Investment Advisor?

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Avoid Hidden Investment Costs

We never cease to be amazed at what little time is spent by the typical investor trying to get a handle on what his or her investing costs are. It’s amazing because, aside from the fact that costs can have a major impact on portfolio returns, they are still the only thing that we, as investors, Read more…

Growth and Value Styles

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Growth of $1.00

The data below, which shows the growth of $1.00 in various asset classes (listed from least risky to most risky), reinforces rather dramatically the fact that the best returns in the stock market do indeed come from owning the riskier parts of the market. Using this type of data to determine the Read more…

Bond Funds or Individual Bonds

From Plancorp’s perspective, the answer for most investors is bond funds. Bond funds, especially in the municipal (tax-exempt) market, can offer many advantages over a portfolio made up of individual bonds… Read more…

Alternative Investments

Listed below are some of the risks and considerations associated with hedge fund investing: Read more…

The Ten Deadly Investment Sins

The stock market can be a difficult enough place to make money as it is, but to suggest that you can make certain investing mistakes that are so profound as to be classified as “sins” could be taking it a bit too far. Read more…

The Active Vs. Passive Debate

Eventually, there comes a time when every investor must make a choice: Whether to invest to achieve future economic objectives or to invest for entertainment. Unfortunately, they usually don’t go hand in hand. If investing for pleasure and entertainment is your purpose, then you have a legitimate Read more…

Time-Weighted vs. Internal Rates of Return

Time-Weighted Rate of Return Read more…

Top Ten Reasons…

Why You Shouldn't Do Your Own Investing Studies consistently show that investors who use financial advisors (not to be confused with stockbrokers) do better on average than those who do not Financial advisors bring discipline to the investment process – a steady hand at the tiller, especially Read more…

U.S. News: 4 Ways to Grow a College Savings Account Quickly

Among families that are actively saving for their children's college education, did you know that only 27% are using 529 plans and other similar accounts that can provide considerable tax advantages? Read more…

Plancorp describes Zero Alpha Group

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