Live rich or die rich? Educating the investing public

By Ted Williamson


A couple weeks ago, my wife turned to me and asked, "Did I just hear the market is up 117 percent since March of 2009?" to which I answered, "Yes, it is." I then turned to my beloved New York Times. On the front page stood an article speaking to how encouraged investors are and how they are now ready to move off of the sidelines and get into the stock market.

With the current headwinds of the Middle East conflict, a continued impasse in Washington between the White House and Congress, stagnant unemployment, Eurozone uncertainty and North Korean fireworks ( I could go on and on), you have to ask yourself why would you jump into the market now? By the way, did the ubiquitous fiscal cliff that was being trumpeted from the tongues of every media pundit just over a month ago suddenly disappear?

The article went on to describe how many of these investors were individuals who had lost a good percentage of their retirement savings during the last stock market downturn in 2008 and were waiting to get back in, especially in light of the rate of return on the investments they fled to for safety.

For those of us who have been at this for some time, it is apparent that this is a set up for failure. The easy money has, once again, already been made. This does not mean, however, that one's retirement plans must go awry.

We must do a better job of educating the investing public and help them understand how the new "income for life" programs that are available from no fewer than 20 formidable insurance companies can help them get on track, stay on track and do what pension plans and Social Security are designed to do: provide retirement income they can never outlive.

There is a real difference between living rich and dying rich. Which would your clients rather do?