[0:35] Tell us about TheRetirementGuys.org
[1:22] What is true diversification?
[2:25] How is fee structure different at TheRetirementGuys.org?
[4:13] What else helps TheRetirementGuys.org to stand out?
[5:15] Why you advise clients to stay away from variable annuities?
[8:58] Who should attend your workshops
[11:19] Integrating retirement and estate plans
[12:27] Medicaid planning and crisis planning
[15:43] Medicaid planning process
[20:09] How to contact TheRetirementGuys.org
BB: Give us a little overview or TheRetirementGuys.org.
MG: We help people make smart decisions about retirement and money. We also try to make sure that they have true diversification so that they don’t put all their eggs in one basket. We want to make sure we have low fees or low fees in retirement planning because the hidden fees cost people. Overall, we just want to make sure people are situated for all the things that could come at them in retirement.
BB: When you say true diversification, what do you mean by that? If I have a number of mutual funds, is that considered true diversification?
MG: Often, a broker or advisor puts someone’s money in ten or twelve different mutual funds. The thinking is, “Well, hey, I got ten of something. That means I’m diversified.” But many times, all ten funds are tied to the market. If the market goes down, every single one of those funds is going to go down. What we want is alternatives that are insured and protected. Some people say, “You know what, Mark? I want to have all my money in totally safe places.” That’s fine, too. We want to at least have part of our money in a place that isn’t going to be affected by another 2008- or 2001-type financial situation. That is especially true for those of us close to retirement.
BB: Let’s talk about the fees a little bit. You’re a register investment advisor. Touch on that a little bit versus other options and then on your fee structure and what makes it new and different.
MG: The big difference is that we are an independent investment advisor company. We don’t have a mothership that we have to pay. What that really means for the client is that technology has allowed us to slash the advisor fees in our platform. Typically, most advisors are charging 1% or 1.25%. We only charge 0.25%. The reason we could do that is, number one, our headquarters isn’t on Wall Street where the rent is high. Also, just because of technology innovations, these costs should be going down. But actually, for most people who work with advisors those fees have been going up. We think it should go the other way.
I grew up in Omaha and Fremont, and I’m familiar with Mrs. B from Nebraska Furniture Mart. When I was in ninth grade, I had a chance to meet Mrs. B when our basement flooded and we were getting some carpet. It really made an impression on me because she did very well by always giving people the best price. She came over from Russia making a dollar a day, and by always giving somebody the best price, she had built something remarkable. That’s what we’re doing with The Retirement Guys.
BB: You use a lot of online technology or platforms. Does that allow the client to have some extra interface with their accounts?
MG: That’s another good point. I think a lot of times brokers use antiquated technology. We are able to give clients a great interface. Earlier I was showing you some of the things we can do online to view your accounts and check how your assets are allocated. We think that’s pretty exciting, and our clients agree. In fact, one of my clients that we recently switched over to this new platform just sent me a text message saying that he loved the new technology.
BB: Are you handling advice on annuities and insurance as well as the sale of those products?
MG: Yes, we do. We really believe in a comprehensive look at the situation and comprehensive use of tools. There’s not just “one size fits all”. If you want guarantees, no risk, you want basically sleep insurance, and that’s where many annuities, if they’re structured right, can be very beneficial.
With anything, there’s the good, the bad, and the ugly. That’s the same for annuities. There are some annuities that I wouldn’t touch with a ten-foot pole. A lot of annuities have many hidden fees. The annuities that I urge people to stay away from are variable annuities because they are associated with the market risk and high fees. That’s a bad combination.
Many times, people don’t even know what those fees are. A prime example, a couple weeks ago some new folks came in to visit with me, and they thought they were just paying a $50 annual fee for their annuity. We called the annuity company, and when we added up all the fees, they were right at 4% a year in fees. Such a staggering amount makes if hard for the annuity to perform.
Variable annuities are the ones that we don’t like. What we focus on are some guaranteed annuities that don’t have fees so that that money can go to work and that you don’t have to worry about losing money in the market or through excessive fees.
BB: Could you talk a little bit about how people find you or where they can get more information? I know you do seminars. Touch on that a little bit, please.
MG: We do workshops periodically. We announce our upcoming workshops on our website, TheRetirementGuys.org. These workshops focus on retirement and how to make your 401k money safe and also cover alternative retirement ideas. You can learn about those on the website.
Also, we help people with Medicaid planning on the asset side. Information on that can be found on our website NebraskaMedicaidPlanning.com. A couple other topics that we talk about are taxes, that is, doing things in a tax-smart way, and protecting the assets. Of course, we want to make sure things are coordinated with a good estate planning attorney. I think that’s really important because you worked hard for your assets. That’s where someone like you, Brad, comes in and helps to coordinate that part of the process. We think that’s really important to have an integrated plan from start to finish.
BB: Let’s talk a little bit more about Medicaid planning and your business with NebraskaMedicaidPlanning.com. That’s a very confusing area. Describe a typical person who comes to you to get help with that.
MG: Unfortunately, many people call me too late, when they’ve already spent everything. If somebody has assets and writes a $7,000–$9,000 check every month, it is called crisis planning. These people didn’t go talk to a specialist soon enough to get some of the documents in place, and now they come to us and say, “Hey, I’m paying $7,000 or $8,000 a month. What do I do?” Well, depending on whether they’re married or live with a partner, there’re certain things that we can do.
For a married couple, typically it’s a lot easier because the rules are set up to protect the spouse at home. We can rearrange some things. Sometimes it’s as simple as paying off a home equity loan, and then being down below the threshold, because our houses are protected for the spouse. As long as the spouse is living there, that property can’t be taken away from you.
If you haven’t already done this and you’re concerned about protecting your house, you need to talk to Brad because there’s one document that you can get in advance, a life estate deed. This document needs to be in place for five years prior to you needing care, and then they can’t take the property at all. That’s even if you’re a single person.
That’s something that we’ve seen Brad prepare for clients. We know that he knows how to do that properly. You want to work with somebody like Brad or with our organization, someone who has helped people do this many, many times. We’ve seen the different scenarios. We know what works. We know what fails. We know what’s going to get you a denial letter. We know what’s going to get you in trouble. Everything we do meets the legal requirements.
BB: Walk us through the Medicaid planning process, starting with a client coming in. What do you help them with? Do you help them with the actual application?
MG: We typically take the client through the whole process. We establish where they’re at as far as income and assets and the level of cost of care that they have. We try to understand their situation because everybody is different. Once we establish that, then, depending on what we need to do, we’ll put those things in motion. We actually help people with the Medicaid application. We fill it out. We send it. Someone who used to work at Health and Human Services now administers that whole process in our office. The way I look at it is if you retain us, I really become another son or nephew or grandson that happens to know a lot about that. That’s the way that I look at it.
BB: How do people who need help with their retirement planning get a hold of you?
MG: They can give us a call. Our number is 402-727-4845 in Fremont and 402-317-7147 in Omaha. If they want to attend one of our workshops, they could sign up online or they can just give us a call. The next one coming up is in mid-January in Council Bluffs, and then the next week is in Fremont. Then in the beginning of February we’re having another one at Anthony’s on 72nd and the interstate.
Thank you for reading and listening. We hope you enjoyed this interview. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to reach out to us:
To contact Mark Guilliatt, call 402-727-4845 in Fremont or 402-317-7147 in Omaha.
Visit the websites mark mentioned in the interview: Nebraska Medicaid Planning and TheRetirementGuys.org.
To contact Brad Boyum, call 402-991-5410 or click here