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PIMCO Interviews Somnath Basu PhD MBA on Retirement Planning

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A “Worried Sick” Encore Presentation

By Staff Reporters

Retirement is one of the most important life events many of us will ever experience; for doctor, nurse, FA, consultant or layman alike.

From both a personal and financial perspective, realizing a comfortable retirement is an incredibly extensive process that takes sensible planning and years of persistence. Even once reached, managing your retirement is an ongoing responsibility that carries well into one’s golden years.  While all of us would like to retire comfortably, the complexity and time required in building a successful retirement plan can make the whole process seem nothing short of daunting.

However, it can often be done with fewer headaches (and financial pain) than you might think – all it takes is a little homework, an attainable savings and investment plan, and a long-term commitment.

And so, in this encore presentation, Dr. Basu breaks down the process needed to plan, implement, execute and ultimately enjoy a comfortable retirement.

Assessment

During this DC Dialogue of late 2010, PIMCO talked with Dr. Somnath Basu, professor and Director of the California Institute of Finance at California Lutheran University,  and ME-P “thought leader”, on retirement planning issues of concern to us all

Link: http://www.agebander.com/pdf/DCD048-080310_SomnathBasu_FINAL-1.pdf

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Dr. Somnath Basu on Financial Planning Client Expectations [PodCast]

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On Client Attitudes in the New Economy

In this encore podcast, Somnath Basu PhD examines how the recent economic turmoil has changed financial planning clients’ attitudes and expectations.

Dr. Basu is a popular ME-P contributor and thought-leader.

Assessment: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jzAkB8h5v3Q

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Why Physicians Need to Deal with Debt

Understanding the Impending Retirement-Planning Crisis

[By Somnath Basu PhD, MBA]

A serious retirement-planning crisis is looming in the US with many Baby Boomer physicians, and others, having already spent a portion of their nest egg and undermining any hope for a comfortable lifestyle unless they continue to work. Notwithstanding medical professionals, look no further than an annual “retirement confidence” survey conducted by the Employee Benefit Research Institute and Mathew Greenwald & Associates in each of the past 17 years. Nearly two in five of working Americans responding to the latest survey indicated that they have taken no action in the face of reductions in their employer-provided retirement benefits.

Consumption Equals Happiness?

The population is constantly told that consumption equals happiness. At the same time they are not being asked to understand about the implications of borrowing to fund for such consumption. Before we can expect to effect a change in the ensuing pattern of a vicious cycle, the population mass must have a clear understanding of the difference between needs (e.g., retiring with peace of mind) and desires (e.g., cruises or living the high life).

Negative Savings Rate

When savings first dipped into negative territory during the Great Depression in 1932 and 1933, people didn’t have enough to eat, whereas there has been no such urgency to raid nest eggs since the repeat of this performance in 2005 when the rate fell to minus 0.5 percent. Our grandparents were shining stars in the way they worked hard to build this country’s infrastructure and manufacturing sector, saved every red cent they could get their hands on and created affluence on a mass scale. Today we’re able to enjoy the fruit of their labor. But, somehow their values were lost on future generations.

Changing American Culture

Many of the nation’s top engineers and scientists now hail from China, India and other Asian countries as American culture has undergone a dramatic change to the point where jocks and cheerleaders are more valued than computer geeks and science nerds in our schools. We inherited so much affluence that it made us lazy as a society. The seeds of our destruction have been sown, but it’s up to our politicians, educators and other leaders, including financial advisors, to help reverse this disturbing pattern before it’s too late.

Many people fall into the trap of rushing through dinner and unwinding in front of the TV where a big part of the problem lies in slick and subtle, and hard to resist, primetime advertising and marketing messages (prime time for subtle messages) that seduce viewers into purchasing luxury cars or flying to far-flung resorts where they can sip umbrella-clad cocktails alongside affluent vacationers.

Americans in Debt

A recent wave of foreclosures has put Americans deeper in debt, with the sub-prime crisis exposing despicable predatory lending practices. But, research has shown the wreckage also could be found strewn across in the mid-prime and prime markets as middle-class borrowers struggled to pay adjustable rate mortgages. High hopes have been pinned on the stock market helping people crawl out from this crisis just like when the real estate market had softened the blow when the tech-bubble burst at the turn of this century. So far, this has happened, to an extent. But, if the stock market starts reeling again, then it will spell even bigger trouble. Add to this the international trade imbalance, which implies foreign governmental funding of our conspicuous consumption, and which comes with high interest rates that need to be paid to the lenders, again to such countries as China, India and other emerging economies, and a bigger, worse picture emerges.

Personal Bankruptcies

Personal bankruptcies have an even more devastating effect on an individual’s ability to plan for the future, particularly since the laws pertaining to this area were toughened to a point where reckless spenders will need to muster fiscal and financial discipline as never before. The doomsday scenario is that children now run the risk of inheriting debt instead of wealth, and it’s unconscionable to think future generations would have a standard of living that’s worse than their parents or grandparents.

Assessment

The true grit associated with being an American is to rise up in the face of adversity – a frontier spirit that drew me this remarkable country. We’ve weathered numerous storms and can do it again. But, it requires a serious commitment to stopping mindless consumption of goods and services, as well as understanding there’s a difference between basic needs and pie-in-the-sky desires.

NOTE: Dr. Somnath Basu is a Professor of Finance at California Lutheran University and the Director of its California Institute of Finance. He is also the creator of the innovative AgeBander technology www.agebander.com for planning retirement needs.

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To Save or To Spend?

Understanding the Decision

By Somnath Basu PhD, MBA

Should we save or spend? What’s good for me and my family? Is the time right for us to be buoyant and optimistic about the future? How do we decide what fraction of our income to spend and how much to save? Isn’t spending a good thing for the economy as we are constantly being reminded about? If we do not spend now, how are we going to feel about all these unfulfilled wants and needs that we have especially when we see others around us fulfilling? How much should I spend for gifts during this holiday season – is that not a good idea to bring cheer to my family? It is a very perplexing set of questions that constantly sway our mind as we try to grapple with what we feel should otherwise be moderately simple decisions. In arriving at these seemingly easy decisions, consumers are facing some of the toughest issues in their everyday lives. It may be useful to dig a bit deeper into the issues related to spending and saving decisions so that we may understand a bit of their complexities and make prudent choices whose outcomes will clearly validate our reasons for doing so.

The Save or Spend Decision

If the decision to save or spend is problematic, it is because it is neither simple nor anything new. We have coped with these same decisions through many generations, and more. The understanding we have collectively arrived at is, however, worth visiting. When we spend, we receive immediate gratification. This “feel good” feeling is so good that we are willing to sacrifice a lot in order to attain this feeling. Saving, on the other hand, is bereft of any such immediate good feeling. The only good feeling that can accrue to us is that we have this “felt’ promise to ourselves that a moment in the future will feel better than both the loss of satisfaction from immediate gratification of wants and the hurt of having unsatisfied wants. Alternately, we may want to save because we feel threatened that a future situation may arise that may lead to more misery tomorrow than the joy gained today. Thus, the main question in trying to answer whether to save or not is whether it is a promise or a foreboding about the future.

Attitudinal Sea Change

Over the last 25 years, our attitude towards spending has undergone a sea change. Even until the early 1980s we were saving in double digits as a nation. Since then, we have slowly moved away from this psyche and have adapted our lifestyles towards spending and consumption on a scale we have never experienced before, historically. By 2006, we were actually spending about one percent more than what we were earning. This change was stimulated by many factors including the plentiful inflow of cheap products from China, a steady rise in income, a considerable increase in the promotion of mass consumption through enticing advertisements in practically all media, the access to cheap credit sources, increasing house prices and the accompanying ability to borrow from the increase in its equity value, etc. Above all else, this shift from saving to spending was overwhelmingly reinforced by the feeling of empowerment in being able to command goods and services for consumption and the enjoyment from the increase in our standards of living that came from our new found affluence. Whereas every generation before us (baby boomers) had sought to leave more for their kids than what they themselves inherited, we reasoned with ourselves that educating our children was sufficient for them to look after themselves. This attitude allowed us also to spend and consume more not only without guilt, but also with pleasure. More so than ever, we got addicted to spending. Nothing felt better than spending.

The Flash Crash of 2008-09

Then came the great recession of 2008-09! The economy plunged, companies laid off workers by the thousands, people who had bought homes even if they could not afford it, on the promise that house prices would never go down, lost their homes. Moreover, the cheap Chinese goods we got used to were being produced by our own national companies so that the economic rebound was now being hailed as a jobless recovery. We had outsourced away all we had for some corporate bottom line and had impoverished ourselves in the process. Only now, we had no savings for the rainy day that had befallen us.

Americans Saving Again

Perhaps one of the more pleasant surprises from this recession is that we turned the clock around on saving and in the short span of two or three years we have our savings level back at five percent. Why did it happen this way in spite of our government encouraging us to spend our way out of this recession? Primarily, this change has come about from the possibility of losing our jobs or enduring deep cuts in our incomes. This fear today is more real than ever before and it seems to have taught us a “savings” lesson that we have all learned. When deciding on whether and how much to spend, we should take absolutely no chances in first putting away a small nest egg for a rainy day or “emergency” fund, in more technical terms. It is imperative that we defend our families in the event of losses in job and income so that we can bear out whatever future storms come by our way. It is only after we have done so should we consider spending. A six-month contingency fund [even more for medical professionals, according to ME-P Editor Dr. David E. Marcinko] should be perhaps the most staple item in our household budget. It is heartening to see the resiliency that runs through our nation’s citizens as we collectively undo our habit of reckless spending.

Assessment

Once we have our emergency nest egg in place, we should consider our spending pleasure. Going “cold turkey” on spending is not advisable either; maybe a gradual weaning away from this compelling habit. Ask yourselves before you spend whether it is a “need” or a “want”. Healthy food and holiday cheer for the family, basic transportation expenses and healthcare are needs. Starbucks coffee is a want. As we prudently spend on needs and wean away from wants we also save. And saving is not only for our future “feel good” consumption. It is also for the immensely gratifying feeling that we will leave something for our children, through whom we will live in the future.

NOTE: Dr. Somnath Basu is a Professor of Finance at California Lutheran University and the Director of its California Institute of Finance. He is also the creator of the innovative AgeBander technology www.agebander.com for planning retirement needs.

Conclusion

And so, your thoughts and comments on this ME-P are appreciated. Is this portrayal accurate or even applicable to medical professionals?  Feel free to review our top-left column, and top-right sidebar materials, links, URLs and related websites, too. Then, subscribe to the ME-P. It is fast, free and secure.

Speaker: If you need a moderator or speaker for an upcoming event, Dr. David E. Marcinko; MBA – Publisher-in-Chief of the Medical Executive-Post – is available for seminar or speaking engagements. Contact: MarcinkoAdvisors@msn.com

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Practice Management: http://www.springerpub.com/prod.aspx?prod_id=23759

Physician Financial Planning: http://www.jbpub.com/catalog/0763745790

Medical Risk Management: http://www.jbpub.com/catalog/9780763733421

Healthcare Organizations: www.HealthcareFinancials.com

Physician Advisors: www.CertifiedMedicalPlanner.com

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Congratulations Somnath Basu PhD

ME-P Thought-Leader and 2010 USDLA Award Winner

[Excellence in Distance Learning Teaching Award]

By Ann Miller RN, MHA [Executive-Director]

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The United States Distance Learning Association, the nation’s premier distance learning association since 1987 recently presented its 2010 International Distance Learning Awards, the premier awards for the distance learning industry. And, ME-P thought-leader Somnath Basu PhD, MBA was a category winner. 

These prestigious awards are presented annually to organizations and individuals, and recognize four categories of excellence: 1) 21st Century Best Practice Award; 2) Best Practice Awards for Distance Learning Programming; 3) Excellence in Distance Learning Teaching Awards; and 4) Outstanding Leadership by an Individual Award.

United States Distance Learning Association

The USDLA International Distance Learning Awards are created to acknowledge major accomplishments in distance learning and to highlight those distance learning instructors, programs, and professionals who have achieved and demonstrated extraordinary achievements through the use of online, videoconferencing, and satellite/video delivery technologies globally.

The USDLA Awards

USDLA International Distance Learning Awards honors organizations with its 21 Century Best Practice Awards. This award category recognizes outstanding leadership in the field of distance learning for an agency, institution, or company incorporating blended or individual distance learning technologies.

In addition, the Awards for Best Practice in Distance Learning Programming are presented to outstanding organizations, which have designed and delivered outstanding and comprehensive Best Practices for individual programs or a series of programs through online, videoconferencing, and satellite delivery technologies.

www.CertifiedMedicalPlanner.com

Award levels include Platinum, Gold, Silver and Bronze categories. The Excellence in Distance Learning Teaching Awards  honors outstanding instructors whose programs demonstrate extraordinary achievements in a distance learning environment for teachers or trainers. Award levels include Platinum, Gold, Silver and Bronze categories.

Finally, the Outstanding Leadership by an Individual awards recognize those who have demonstrated strong, innovative skills for the development and/or administration of programs or who are recognized scholars in the field of distance learning globally.

About Dr. Basu

http://www.callutheran.edu/schools/business/graduate/cif/

Somnath Basu PhD is program director of the California Institute of Finance in the School of Business at California Lutheran University where he’s also a professor of finance. He can be reached at (805) 493 3980 or basu@callutheran.edu See his agebander at work at www.agebander.com

 Assessment

The 2010 USDLA International Distance Learning Awards were presented to five major sectors of distance education and training and include the Pre-K – 12, Higher Education, Corporate, Government and Telehealth markets. The 2010 USDLA International Awards were presented at the USDLA International Awards Ceremony, on Tuesday, May 4, 2010 during the USDLA National Conference in St. Louis, Missouri, USA.

Conclusion

Feel free to congratulate Somnath directly by sending him an email: basu@callutheran.edu

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Medical Risk Management: http://www.jbpub.com/catalog/9780763733421

Healthcare Organizations: www.HealthcareFinancials.com

Health Administration Terms: www.HealthDictionarySeries.com

Physician Advisors: www.CertifiedMedicalPlanner.com

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A New Model for Planing Physician Retirement Needs

Understanding Age Banding

By Ann Miller RN, MHA

[Executive Director]

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From time to time, our readers send in e-books, files or e-chapters, pamphlets or other material they have created for client, educational or marketing use. Some of it may be worthwhile; some not so. Nevertheless, these publications are often a good place to start the conversation, or thought-process on related topics.

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  • Age Banding [author]
  • Somnath Basu PhD, MBA  [www.clunet.edu/cif]
  • [Director California Institute of Finance]

Link: AgeBander

 

 

Disclaimer

No advice offered. We make no copyright claim to these works. Veracity and information should be considered time sensitive. Always consult a professional for your situation.

Assessment

Feel free to send in your own material for the benefit of all Medical Executive-Post readers and subscribers.

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Current Retirement Investment Options for Physicians

Understanding Build America Bonds

By Somnath Basu PhD, MBA [www.clunet.edu/cif]

[Director California Institute of Finance]

There is heartening news for those of us in retirement or approaching it. There’s a new type of bond called the Build America Bond or BAB. The BAB, along with an older and often ignored retirement investment, is viewed as positive developments for those saving for retirement. But, before a doctor, or any investor, jumps into these investments, some background information is required.

The Accumulation Phase

When people in their early careers save, their primary objective should be that their money grows healthily. They generally should invest in stocks which provides for longer run growth. This phase of our financial life can be called the “Accumulation Phase.”

The Preservation Phase

However, people in their mid- to end-careers (roughly between the ages of 40 – 65) start switching their objectives towards a more conservative future growth in their current savings, especially those associated with emergencies and retirement. This phase is usually identified as the “Preservation Phase” where individuals should begin switching their investments towards more fixed-income securities, such as bonds and bond funds. This idea of how reasonable people “should” behave is commonly known as the life-cycle hypothesis of investments.

The Decumulation Phase

Finally, people in retirement, those who are in the phase termed as the “Decumulation Phase,” should have a healthy dose of bond-type investments in their retirement portfolios.

Strange as it may be to some, this opinion about the investment life-cycle actually contains a lot of truth. If most people followed this basic rule, we would be better off this way than by any other method and especially in times like the recent financial tsunami that hit us. Those hit especially hard were people between the ages of 55 and older who held unhealthy amounts of stocks in their portfolios. Following this simplified version of retirement investments is both easy and effective.

All we do as we age is reduce our stock investments and increase our bond investments. While such a strategy reduces the growth of our wealth it also protects us from large to calamitous losses.

Unfortunately, the last 10 years or so have not been good for bond investments because bond prices have been at or near all-time highs and their returns near all-time lows. The following picture shows the rates one would earn by investing in the government’s (highest safety) 10-Year Treasury Note. Many bonds and mortgages (and subsequently the respective funds) use the 10-Year rate as the benchmark rate.

Graph: 10 T Year Note

As can easily be seen, these rates have come down steadily. A result has been the difficulty, of late, to find (the safer type) bond funds because they have been so expensive. However, one recent development in this field is worth mentioning: that is the emergence of a class of (stimulus-related) bonds known as the “Build America Bonds” or BABs, which for the first time in many years offers investors a very suitable entry to convert stocks into bonds. BABs, which were introduced in April 2009, are an innovative new tool for municipal financing created by the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act of 2009. BABs are taxable bonds for which the U.S. Treasury Department pays a maximum of 35 percent direct subsidy to the issuer to offset borrowing costs.

The second issue of note is that at this point, it is quite expensive to hold cash in money market type funds because of the dismal rates offered on very short-term products. An alternative that physicians and all investors should contemplate purchasing instead of CDs, and money market deposits, is a class of bonds, issued by the Government and known as Treasury Inflation Protected Securities, or TIPS. These investments sold directly by the government to you (at http://www.TreasuryDirect.gov) are excellent vehicles for holding funds as they guarantee that your money will hold its buying power over time and a bit more. TIPS are a great way to hold the capital you will need in the short term. The following picture shows the stability of the TIPS rate; a much safer and more stable investment opportunity than short term Bank CDs, recent money market funds, etc.

Graph: TIPS Rate

Build America Bonds [BAB]

The Build America Bonds program, created by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, allows state and local governments to obtain much-needed financing at lower borrowing costs for new capital projects such as construction of schools and hospitals, development of transportation infrastructure, and water and sewer upgrades, according to a recent U.S. Treasury Department press release. Under the Build America Bonds program, the Treasury Department makes a direct payment to the state or local governmental issuer in an amount equal to 35 percent of the interest payment on the bonds.

Here’s how BABs work according to the Treasury Department:

“The bonds, which allow a new direct federal payment subsidy, are taxable bonds issued by state and local governments that will give them access to the conventional corporate debt markets. At the election of the state and local governments, the Treasury Department will make a direct payment to the state or local governmental issuer in an amount equal to 35 percent of the interest payment on the Build America Bonds. As a result of this federal subsidy payment, state and local governments will have lower net borrowing costs and be able to reach more sources of borrowing than with more traditional tax-exempt or tax credit bonds. For example, if a state or local government were to issue Build America Bonds at a 10 percent taxable interest rate, the Treasury Department would make a payment directly to the government of 3.5 percent of that interest, and the government’s net borrowing cost would thus be only 6.5 percent on a bond that actually pays 10 percent interest.”

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Assessment

According to the Treasury Department, Build America Bonds have had a very strong reception from both issuers and investors.  From the inception of the program in April 2009 to March 31, 2010, there have been 1,066 separate Build America Bonds issuances in 48 states for a total of more than $90 billion. Read more about BABs at this site

http://www.treas.gov/press/releases/docs/BuildAmericaandSchoolConstructionBondsFactsheetFinal.pdf

Now, until the general level of interest rates go back to their normal states, it will be difficult to find another opportunity such as this one. This is especially true of investments that are made to local governments through their taxable investments. Municipal bonds are typically considered less risky. Add to this the partial guarantee of the Govt. and you have the makings of a very safe Bond fund providing an average yield of nearly 6% for medium-term duration. There has been a dearth of such fixed income investments in the Bond markets for quite a while. Thus, for doctors and all of us at or nearing retirement age, an exploration and investigation of BABs is an absolute must.

 

Editor’s Note: Somnath Basu PhD is program director of the California Institute of Finance in the School of Business at California Lutheran University where he’s also a professor of finance. He can be reached at (805) 493 3980 or basu@callutheran.edu. See the agebander at work at www.agebander.com

 

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