3 Lessons from a Stock Market ‘Freak Out’

Just about two months ago, on Oct. 15, the headlines read “Market Freak Out” as the Dow Jones Industrial Average “plunged.” Headlines warned “Why the selling is just getting started.” Fear had returned to the market. My editor asked me to chime in and I posted “Why the Stock Market Plunge Is Not World’s End.” As it happened, not only did the world survive, the stock market quickly recovered. Now is the perfect time to review three investment lessons that …

Is Your 401(k) a Winner? Check This Ranking

ConocoPhillips Co. has the best 401(k) plan for workers, while Facebook Inc., Amazon.com Inc. and Whole Foods Market Inc. offer some of the worst, according to a Bloomberg News survey of the 250 largest public companies in the country. In fact, ConocoPhillips’ plan is so generous – contributing 9 percent of workers’ pay if workers kick in 1 percent – that after 35 years an employee can end up a multimillionaire, Bloomberg said. According to the Houston-based oil and gas producer’s own …

ESOP Administrators Have Duty to Employees, Supreme Court Says

The Supreme Court is looking out for Americans with employee stock ownership plans (ESOPs), a form of retirement plan. That’s what the justices essentially said in their unanimous June 25 decision in Fifth Third v. Dudenhoeffer, in which employees sued because their ESOP administrators invested in a way that caused them to lose money. In this case, the administrators, or “fiduciaries,” had invested the employees’ money in the employer’s own stock even though they knew (according to the plaintiffs) that …

MyRA – Thumbs Up or Thumbs Down?

A day after President Barack Obama gave the go-ahead for the Treasury Department to create a “starter” savings account, experts are weighing whether it will be worthwhile or just another ignored investment tool. Critics note, for instance, that the so-called myRA will do little to overcome the huge shortfall in retirement savings among so many workers. The conservatively invested accounts, though they won’t lose money, won’t make much of a return, either. And the myRA is voluntary, so it’s unclear …

Timing of Fiduciary Rule for Retirement Plans Questioned

If you have a 401(k) or other retirement plan, you may be waiting even longer before new government standards are imposed that require your financial adviser to act in your best interest. The U.S. Department of Labor was in the final stages of preparing a proposal that would establish a so-called fiduciary standard for retirement plan advisers, which means they’d be required to put their clients’ financial interests ahead of their own when offering investment advice. A number of consumer groups …

Want Returns of 50% or More? Don’t We All.

Even in this rock-bottom interest-rate climate, three of four Americans over the age of 65 rely on investments to help maintain their fixed income. So the appeal by hucksters who promise higher-than-average returns (think Bernie Madoff) may even be more enticing. Financial fraudsters know this. They also know that older adults have a lifetime of earnings to pluck from. That’s why they’re more likely to target adults 65 and older than younger people, using direct mail solicitations and the old-fashioned …