Is Women’s Wealth Growing Faster Than Men’s Wealth?

Is Women’s Wealth Growing Faster Than Men’s Wealth?

One study says yes. Two major factors may be influencing the trend.


Picture the women of the world growing wealthier. It’s happening right now. Research from the Boston Consulting Group affirms this development. BCG, a leading business strategy advisor, says that as the world grew 5.2% wealthier between 2015 and 2016, women’s wealth grew 6.6%. In total, women own about $39.6 trillion in assets worldwide, and possess a 5% greater share of global wealth in 2016 than they did in 2011.1

What are some of the reasons behind this shift? One reason is that more women are becoming successful business owners. Census Bureau data from 2012 (the most recently available year, at this writing) shows women owning 36% of U.S. businesses, a 30% leap from the levels of 2007. As the ranks of middle market companies rose 4% from 2008-2014, the number of women-owned or women-led middle market firms soared by 32%.2

This has all taken place even though female entrepreneurs typically start a business with 50% less money than their male peers, according to research from the National Women’s Business Council. Perhaps most impressive has been the growth of businesses owned by Latina and African-American women. American Express OPEN found that from 1997-2015, the number of U.S. firms owned by Latinas increased by 224%. Simultaneously, the number of businesses owned by black women rose by 322%. African-American women started up companies at six times the national average during those 18 years.2,3

Beyond the business world, there is a second major reason for the increased net worth of women. They are acquiring or inheriting significant wealth from parents, spouses, or relatives, some of whom are millionaire baby boomers or members of thriving business-class households in emerging economies.1

In reference to the latter phenomenon, the net worth of women who live in Asia-Pacific nations other than Japan has risen by an average of 13% a year since 2011. Globally, assets under management owned by female investors grew 8% per year in that time.1

The BCG white paper projects that women may grow even wealthier by 2020. It forecasts that by then, women will control $72.1 trillion of assets around the globe, thanks to their collective wealth increasing by about 7% a year.1

1 - [6/7/16]
2 – [1/6/16]
3 – [3/4/16]

Is the Fiduciary Standard a Plus for Investors?

Is the Fiduciary Standard a Plus for Investors?

2007 Stress out ladt look at computer 2007 pic


Will it make a difference in the quality of the advice they receive?


Next year, the Department of Labor is scheduled to introduce new rules regarding retirement planning. Under these rules, any financial services industry professional who makes investment recommendations to workplace retirement plan participants or IRA owners in exchange for compensation will be considered a fiduciary.1

What does that mean? It means that this person has an ethical and legal duty to provide advice that is in your best interest.1

Many investment and retirement planning professionals have reacted to the DoL’s move with “We already do that.” After all, the suitability standard – something very close to a fiduciary standard – has been in place in the financial services industry for decades, and numerous financial services professionals already serve their clients as fiduciaries.

Detractors think the new rules amount to overkill, and they argue that an-across-the-board fiduciary standard will not make a difference in the quality of retirement planning or investment advice that retirement savers receive. The legal implications of the new rules may send retirement planning fees higher, and another effect might be that fewer retirement savers have access to these services.2

So, what positive difference could a fiduciary standard make? It could lessen the potential for conflicts of interest creeping into an advisor-client relationship.

The suitability standard emerged in the brokerage industry decades ago. It guides a financial services professional to recommend only investments that are “suitable” for a particular client, given his or her age, income, goals, and net worth.

The DoL sees a shortcoming in the suitability standard. Suppose there are multiple “suitable” investments that a retirement planner could recommended to a retirement saver (a common occurrence). Under the suitability standard, what is to prevent a retirement planner from suggesting and recommending the investment that could result in the most compensation for him or her, over the others? What if the alternate investment options are never mentioned? If this sort of thing happens, is the investment recommendation being made truly one in the client’s best interest?

In theory, the installation of a wide-ranging fiduciary standard takes the potential for conflicts of interest out of retirement planning. It also encourages even more retirement planners to charge fees for services, rather than earning some or even all of their incomes from commissions.

This encouragement will likely sit well with most investors, who naturally want less potential for conflict of interest. It is also sitting well with many retirement planners. While exemptions to the rules can be made and while the rules will not apply to existing investment assets, the implementation of a broad fiduciary standard for retirement planning is good news and reduces potential dissonance in the relationship between the retirement planner and the retirement saver.1

1 - [4/8/16]
2 – [4/7/16]

What to Do Financially When a Spouse Dies

What to Do Financially When a Spouse Dies
Steps to see that financial matters remain in good order.


When a spouse passes away, the emotion and magnitude of the loss can send our lives reeling. This profound change can also affect our finances. All at once, we have a to-do list before us, and the responsibility of it can make us feel pressured. With that in mind, this article is intended as a kind of checklist – a list of some of the key financial matters to address following the death of a spouse.

The first steps. These actions should come first. Some of these steps do require locating some documentation. Hopefully, your spouse kept these documents where you can easily find them – either at home, in a safe deposit box, or in an online vault.

*Contact family members, friends, and your spouse’s employer to tell them of your spouse’s passing. (As a courtesy, your spouse’s employer should put you in touch with the person overseeing its employee benefits plan or human resources department.)

*If your spouse owned a business, check to see what plans are in place for its short-term continuation. Will a partner or key employee take the reins for the time being (or for the long term) as a result of a defined succession plan?

*Arrange payment for funeral expenses.

*Gather/request as many records as you can find to document your spouse’s life and passing – birth and death certificates, a marriage certificate or divorce decree (if applicable), military service records, investment, insurance and tax records, and employee benefit information (if applicable).

The next steps. Subsequently, it is time to talk with the legal, tax, insurance, and financial professionals you trust.

*Consult your attorney. Assuming your spouse left a will and did not die intestate (i.e., without one), that will should be looked at as a prelude to the distribution of any assets and the settlement of the estate. His or her written wishes should be reviewed.

*Locate your spouse’s insurance policy and talk to the affiliated insurance agent. Notify that agent of your spouse’s passing; he or she will work with you to a) get the claims process going, b) help you reevaluate your own insurance needs, and c) review and, perhaps, alter beneficiary designations.

*Notify your spouse’s financial advisor and, by extension, the financial custodians (i.e., the banks or investment firms) through which your spouse opened his or her IRAs, money market funds, mutual funds, brokerage accounts, or qualified retirement plan. They must be notified, so that these funds may be properly distributed according to the beneficiary forms for these accounts. Please note that the beneficiary forms commonly take precedence over bequests made in a will. (This is why it is important to periodically review beneficiary designations for these accounts.) If there is no beneficiary form on file with the account custodian, the assets will be distributed according to the custodian’s default policy, which often directs assets either to a surviving spouse or the deceased spouse’s estate.1,2

Survivor/spousal benefits. These important benefits may help you to maintain your standard of living after a loss.

*Contact your local Social Security office regarding Social Security spousal and survivor benefits. Also, go online and visit

*If your spouse worked in a civil service job or was in the armed forces, contact the state or federal government branch or armed services branch about how to file for survivor benefits.

Your spouse’s estate. To settle an estate, several orderly steps should be taken.

*You and/or your attorney need to contact the executor, trustee(s), guardians, and heirs relevant to the estate, and access the appropriate estate planning documents.

*Your attorney can also let you know about the possibility of probate. A revocable living trust (or other estate planning mechanisms) may allow you to avoid this process. Joint tenancy and community property laws in many states also help.3

*The executor for the estate should obtain an Employer Identification Number (EIN) from the IRS. Visit:,,id=102767,00.html

*Any banks, credit unions, and financial firms that your spouse had a financial relationship with, should be notified of his or her death.

*Your spouse’s creditors will also need to be informed. Any debts will need to be addressed, and separate credit may need to be established for you.

Your own taxes & investments. How does all this affect your own financial life?

*Review the beneficiary designations on the IRAs, workplace retirement plans, and insurance policies that are in your name. With the death of a spouse, beneficiary designations will likely have to be revised.

*Consider your state and federal tax filing status. A change in status may significantly alter your tax picture.

*Speaking of taxes, there may be tax implications surrounding any charitable gifts you and your spouse recently arranged or planned to make. (If a deceased spouse leaves property to a surviving spouse or a tax-exempt charity, that property is exempt from federal estate tax. Any property gifted by your late spouse prior to his or her death is not subject to probate.)3,4

*Presuming you jointly owned some assets, it is time to retitle them. In addition to real estate, you may have jointly owned bank accounts, investments, and vehicles.

Things to think about when you are ready to move forward. With the passage of time, you may give thought to the short-term and long-term financial and lifestyle consequences of your spouse’s passing.

*Some widowed spouses ponder selling a home or moving to be closer to adult children in such circumstances, but this is not always the clearest moment to make such decisions.

*Your own retirement planning needs. Certainly, you had an idea of what your retirement would be like together; to what degree does this life event change that idea? Will potential sources of retirement income need to be replaced?

*If you have minor children to take care of, will you be able to sustain the family lifestyle on a single income? How do your income sources compare to your fixed and variable expenses?

*Do you need to address college funding in a new way?

*If your spouse owned a business or professional practice, to what extent do you want (or need) to be involved in it in the future?

This article is intended as a checklist – a list of the important financial considerations to address in the event of a tragedy. If you find yourself referring to this article now, or you decide to keep it in a drawer or on your computer for some unforeseen time in the future, please know that I am here to help you and assist you as you seek answers to your questions as well as a measure of financial equilibrium. Simply call or email me.

GREG OLIVER 513 860 7934

1 – [1/14/16]
2 – [5/14/16]
3 – [10/12/16]
4 – [10/12/16]

Social Security: Myths vs. Facts Dispelling some misperceptions about the program

Social Security: Myths vs. Facts
Dispelling some misperceptions about the program.


Some myths & misperceptions keep circulating about Social Security. These are worth dispelling, as more and more baby boomers are becoming eligible for their retirement benefits.

Myth #1: Social Security will go away before you do. The federal government has announced that Social Security may become insolvent between 2033 and 2037 if no action is taken – but it is practically a given that Congress will act on the program’s behalf. Social Security provides 40% of the total income of the 40 million Americans receiving retirement benefits.1

Did you know that Social Security has had a surplus each year since 1984? That situation is about to change. By about 2020, the program is projected to face a deficit, which it will tap incoming interest payments to offset. It will only be able to use that tactic until the mid-2030s. The program will not “run dry” or go bankrupt at that point, but by some estimates, its payments to retirees could become about 25% smaller.1

Myth #2: Your Social Security benefits are “your” money. It would be a fitting reward if your Social Security income represented the return of all the payroll taxes you had paid through the years. Unfortunately, that is not the case. The payroll taxes you paid decades ago funded the Social Security benefits that went to retirees at that time. Your Social Security benefits will be funded by the payroll taxes that a younger generation pays.2

Myth #3: Social Security income is tax-free. In reality, up to 85% of your Social Security income may be taxed. Social Security uses a formula to determine the taxable amount, which is as follows: adjusted gross income + nontaxable interest + one-half of your Social Security benefit = your combined income. Single filers with combined incomes between $25,000-$34,000, and joint filers with combined incomes between $32,000-$44,000, may have as much as 50% of their benefits taxed. Single filers with combined incomes above $34,000, and joint filers with combined incomes above $44,000, may have up to 85% of their benefits subject to taxation.2

Myth #4: If you have never worked, you will never get Social Security benefits. This is not necessarily true.

Generally speaking, you have to work at least ten years to become eligible for Social Security income. That is, you have to spend ten or more years at jobs in which you pay Social Security taxes; you have to pay into the system to get something back from the system. Unfortunately, caregiving and child-rearing do not qualify you for Social Security.1

To get technical about it, you must accumulate 40 “credits” to become eligible for benefits. When you receive $1,260 in earned income, you get one credit. Another $1,260 in earned income brings you another credit, and so forth. You can receive up to four credits per year. Most people will collect their 40 credits in a decade; though others will take longer.1

If you have never worked, or worked for less than 10 years, you could still qualify for Social Security on the earnings record of your spouse, your ex-spouse, or your late spouse. A widow can choose to collect up to 100% of a deceased spouse’s monthly benefit; a married spouse can collect up to 50% of the other spouse’s monthly benefit. If you have divorced, you may still file for Social Security benefits based on your ex-spouse’s earnings record – provided that the marriage lasted ten years or longer and you have not married again.1

GREG OLIVER 09723e09[237r923[0r8`230
1 - [7/18/16]
2 – [4/3/16]

Inflation was not yet a pressing concern on Main Street



“A problem is a chance for you to do your best.”

– Duke Ellington


Over time, putting an extra $100 a month toward retirement could make a real difference in your savings effort. So think about saying goodbye to premium cable channels, seldom-used memberships, and pricey coffee and meals, and using that savings in retirement planning.

I weigh nothing, but you can see me. Put me in a bowl, and I’ll make it lighter. What am I?

Last month’s riddle:
It is always less than a day away, but it never arrives. What is it?

Last month’s answer:
July 2016
In June, an overseas referendum affected American stocks more than any domestic event. The United Kingdom unexpectedly voted to leave the European Union, and news of the Brexit rocked financial markets worldwide. Even so, the S&P 500 began to recover quickly – it actually gained 0.09% for the month. Fresh economic reports made the U.S. look like the proverbial best house in a bad neighborhood – even if the economy was underperforming compared to past decades, America was at least faring better than some other nations and regions. While the latest jobs report was mystifying, personal spending, retail sales, and consumer confidence were bright spots.1

Stateside, most of the key economic indicators pointed up rather than down. You could even say that about the most retrospective of all of them: the quarterly growth estimate from the Bureau of Economic Analysis. In June, the BEA upgraded Q1 GDP from its second estimate of 0.8% to a final mark of 1.1% (its initial appraisal was just 0.5%).2

According to the Department of Commerce, consumer spending rose another 0.4% in May, with household incomes rising 0.2%. Households were also buying plenty of goods and services in May: retail sales were up 0.5% in that month; core retail purchases, 0.4%.3,4

How about consumer confidence? The most respected of all the monthly polls, that of the Conference Board, showed major improvement in June. The CB’s consumer confidence index jumped from a May mark of 92.4 to 98.0 (admittedly, the CB’s surveys were compiled before news of the Brexit). The other important consumer barometer, the University of Michigan’s consumer sentiment index, declined 1.2 points in June to 93.5.3

Inflation was not yet a pressing concern on Main Street, but the Federal Reserve and economists were keeping their eyes on it. Consumer prices advanced 0.2% in May. The core Consumer Price Index also rose 0.2%, taking its 12-month gain to 2.2%.4

On the factory front, the Institute for Supply Management’s manufacturing purchasing manager index showed another month of mild industry growth in May with a reading of 50.7, improved from 50.5. ISM’s services PMI showed a mark of 52.9, a concerning falloff from the prior 55.7 reading. Still, both sectors had expanded. Hard goods orders were down 2.2% in May, 0.7% minus transportation orders; U.S. industrial output was down 0.4%.4

The May jobs report was one of the strangest in the past few years, and also one of the weakest. Joblessness fell to 4.7%, the lowest level since November 2007 – but that happened largely because of a dip in the labor force participation rate. The U-6 rate, which measures both underemployment and unemployment, held at 9.7%. Just 38,000 net new jobs appeared in May; economists surveyed by Dow Jones Newswires had forecast a gain of 155,000. Either productivity had improved to the point where fewer new workers were needed, or certain industries were less healthy than believed.5

Did the Brexit vote wipe out any chance of the Federal Reserve raising interest rates this year? From Wall Street’s point of view, yes. By late June, traders were putting the chances of a 2016 rate hike at 8%. In fact, they saw a 10% chance of a rate cut in July, and more than a 20% chance of a cut by early 2017.6

The Brexit took investors worldwide by surprise, especially since polls of the U.K. electorate indicated it would not happen just a day before it did. Benchmarks were thrown for a loop: June 23 saw Japan’s Nikkei 225 drop 7.9%; France’s CAC 40 fall 8.0%; and Germany’s DAX drop 6.8%. While the FTSE 100 only gave back 3.1% in London, the pound touched a 31-year low. The S&P 500 lost 3.6%. Both Fitch and Standard & Poor’s downgraded the U.K.’s credit rating after the vote.7,8

Just how abruptly will the United Kingdom leave the European Union? Entering July, this was the big question institutional investors wanted answered. No ready answer exists.

A Brexit could take as little as two years if the U.K. invokes Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union. Once the U.K. does that, the Brexit proceeds and cannot be undone. The Brexit vote is not legally binding, however; if the U.K. never invokes Article 50, there will be no Brexit (admittedly, this is improbable). Once Article 50 is brought into play, the E.U. and U.K. must hammer out a deal within two years to let the U.K. sustain trade preferences and other benefits it gained from E.U. membership. Otherwise, there is the risk of the E.U. simply cutting the U.K. loose with little mercy. Some analysts wonder if Scotland or Northern Ireland might try to block the Brexit, or if a second, “do-over” referendum might be arranged for U.K. voters awakening to the possibility of a recession and years of economic uncertainty.9

As June ended, fallout from the Brexit in the Asia Pacific region was aiding the yen, but hurting emerging market currencies, and casting doubts about China’s ability to negotiate free trade with the E.U. Would it dent growth? As BBC News commented, that seemed unlikely. Economic expansion of around 5% in 2016 was still projected for many Asia Pacific nations.8

How large were the losses suffered by European indices in June? Well, very large: the CAC 40 slipped 5.95%; the DAX, 5.68%; the Euro Stoxx 50, 6.54%; the IBEX 35, 9.64%; and the FTSE MIB, 10.14%. Bucking the trend, the United Kingdom’s FTSE 100 index rose 4.39%, while Russia’s RTSI advanced 2.92%.1

Elsewhere, Canada’s TSX Composite was even flatter than the S&P 500 was for June (-0.01%). Mexico’s IPC All-Share rose 1.12%; Brazil’s Bovespa, an impressive 6.30%. India’s Sensex pulled off a 1.24% June gain, and Taiwan’s TAIEX improved 1.53%; Indonesia’s IDX Composite jumped 4.58%. Other Asia Pacific benchmarks were hit with losses. The Nikkei 225 dropped 9.63%; the S&P/ASX 200, 2.70%; the KOSPI, 0.66%; the Hang Seng, 0.10%; and the Dow Jones Shanghai, 0.09%. June also brought retreats of 1.28% for the MSCI World index and 3.30% for the MSCI Emerging Markets index.1,10

Natural gas was the standout energy commodity in June, soaring 28.28% on the NYMEX. WTI crude settled at $48.44 on June 30, losing 0.76% in June even with inventories shrinking for the summer travel season. Unleaded gas futures lost 6.07% for the month, but heating oil futures gained 0.19%.11

Metals had a very good June; in part, thanks to the news of the impending Brexit. Gold closed at 1,325.30 on the COMEX June 30, rising 8.98% on the month – but that paled next to silver’s 17.80% climb to $18.83. Platinum rose 4.33% for June; copper, 5.36%. The U.S. Dollar Index ended June little changed from the end of May, rising but 0.02 points to 95.82.11,12

Coffee and sugar ruled the ag sector in June. Coffee futures rose 17.65%; sugar futures, 19.04%. Soybeans did well, gaining 9.09%. Corn futures slid 11.11%; wheat futures, 7.51%. In between those extremes, cotton futures advanced 3.57%; cocoa futures, 0.26%.11

Existing home sales improved by another 1.8% in May. The National Association of Realtors estimated the annualized sales pace at 5.53 million. NAR’s pending home sales index, however, slipped 3.7% in May, giving back nearly all of its 3.9% April advance. New home buying tailed off 6.0% in the fifth month of the year, the Census Bureau reported.3,4

As for the key housing indicators that didn’t involve sales, the April edition of the S&P/Case-Shiller 20-city composite home price index showed a 5.4% overall gain (as opposed to 5.5% in March). Census Bureau data showed a 0.7% May rise for building permits but 0.3% less groundbreaking.3,4

June ended with mortgage rates even lower than they had been near the end of May. The reduction was dramatic. In Freddie Mac’s June 30 Primary Mortgage Market Survey, average interest rates stood as follows: 30-year FRM, 3.48%; 15-year FRM, 2.78%; 5/1-year ARM, 2.70%. Compare that with data from the May 26 edition of the PMMS: 30-year FRM, 3.64%; 15-year FRM, 2.89%; 5/1-year ARM, 2.87%.13

Wall Street took the news of the Brexit hard, but then rallied. At the close on June 30, the Dow was at 17,929.99 (+0.80% for the month), and the S&P 500, at 2,098.86 (+0.09% on the month). The Nasdaq had a negative June, going -2.13% for the month to 4,842.67. Small caps lost a little ground – the Russell 2000 ended the month 0.19% lower at 1,152.43. Concluding June at 15.63, the CBOE VIX gained 10.15% for the month.1

DJIA +2.90 +0.97 +8.89 +6.08
NASDAQ -3.29 -3.40 +14.92 +12.29
S&P 500 +2.69 +1.03 +11.79 +6.52
10 YR TIPS 0.09% 0.48% 0.75% 2.54%

Sources:,, – 6/30/161,14,15,16
Indices are unmanaged, do not incur fees or expenses, and cannot be invested into directly. These returns do not include dividends. 10-year TIPS real yield = projected return at maturity given expected inflation.

Wall Street has made many comebacks through the years from market disruptions. June witnessed another. While stocks plummeted on June 24 after the referendum, the month ended with the S&P 500 gaining nearly 100 points in three trading sessions. On June 30, the index settled only 14.46 points below where it had closed on June 23. July will certainly not be absent of turbulence, but this is an illustration of why investors want to remain in the market, despite the occasional jolts. Bank of England governor Mark Carney’s June 30 comment that the central bank will probably soon opt for a new round of quantitative easing provides investors with a little encouragement as July starts, and few economists see the Fed tinkering with rates until 2017 (who knows, a cut may even be in store if conditions demand one). These are volatile times and this is not shaping up to be a great year for the market – but just as stocks surged at the end of the month and quarter, they could also rally past expectations in the second half of the year.17

UPCOMING ECONOMIC RELEASES: Across the rest of July, the important stateside indicators roll out in this order: the June ISM service sector PMI (7/6), the June ADP employment change and Challenger job-cut reports (7/7), the Department of Labor’s June employment report (7/8), the latest Federal Reserve Beige Book (7/13), the June PPI (7/14), the preliminary July University of Michigan consumer sentiment index, June retail sales and industrial production and the June CPI (7/15), June groundbreaking and building permits (7/19), June existing home sales (7/21), June new home sales, the May S&P/Case-Shiller home price index and July’s Conference Board consumer confidence index (7/26), the next FOMC rate decision, June hard goods orders and June pending home sales (7/27), and, finally, the University of Michigan’s final July consumer sentiment index and the federal government’s initial estimate of Q2 growth (7/29). June’s PCE inflation gauge and June consumer spending figures will be released on August 2.

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GREG OLIVER //// Citations.
1 – [6/30/16]
2 – [6/28/16]
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Oliver 097[797[97[097[097[097[0970978098