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Consolidation is the Key in Retirement

By Todd J. Geller As we get older, we accumulate assets as often as we accumulate grey hairs. It becomes more important than ever to properly keep track of and simplify our financial lives, as ...

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By Todd J. Geller

As we get older, we accumulate assets as often as we accumulate grey hairs. It becomes more important than ever to properly keep track of and simplify our financial lives, as we reach the milestone called retirement.

Why Bother? For one thing it becomes quite costly

to have multiple accounts spread across a wide variety of banks, brokerages, mutual funds and other institutions. Small account balances and inactive accounts can make one subject to various types of fees. Many financial services firms will offer lower fees and incentives if you consolidate with them. These can be as simple as reduced or eliminated IRA fees, checking fees, and asset management fees. You may even be able to get a better rate if you hold a larger balance with a given firm. In addition if you own annuities, account fees may be waived as well for large balances.

No one likes to be a bookkeeper.

Too many accounts often lead to an unrelenting oversupply of paperwork that can be an insurmountable task to manage. Many of my clients enjoy spending time with family and friends, playing tennis, golfing, going on vacations and not having to manage an endless supply of paperwork that keeps us away from the things we enjoy most.

I am often reminded of clients who at tax time have to go through upwards of 30-40 different statements or 1099's just to do their taxes and often miss one or two and run into problems. One common problem happens when investors who have to satisfy their RMD's (Required Minimum Distribution) and takes an incorrect amount from their IRA's and qualified accounts because of confusion with multiple accounts. This can be costly and can lead to IRS fees and penalties. I often tell clients control your paperwork don't let it control you. Common occurrence for many is lost or misplaced stock certificates which can also be quite expensive to replace. Stock certificates should be held by financial institutions were they are safeguarded and cannot be misplaced.

Many retirees are often surprised to hear that their portfolios are not properly allocated or diversified which often happens when they have multiple accounts and loose track of investment types and direction. It becomes very difficult to rebalance and gauge one's allocation as well as returns when assets are spread throughout multiple institutions.

While many investors have a very inadequate method of evaluating returns and performance, multiple accounts make it even more challenging. In retirement it is more important than ever to keep a close eye on your investments. If you are working with an advisor or by yourself it is imperative that you have a method for easily evaluating your returns and allocation regularly. If you have an inordinate amount of accounts and or holdings, this becomes almost impossible to accomplish. Accounts held at various locales can make it even harder to figure things out logically, especially when ones evaluating 10, 20, or even 30 statements. If you follow a more organized approach including consolidating and implementing an effective plan, it will make managing a portfolio as easy as pie! Remember homemade spreadsheets and handwritten notes are helpful, but not always the answer.

Performance is Paramount

in retirement. An additional 1% return on a 1 million dollar portfolio can provide an additional $10,000 a year in return or income. Even the slightest variation in return can be substantial to any retiree. I often ask retirees how their portfolios are doing or what holdings they have and how the returns have been. They tell me they have many accounts and are not sure what holdings they have and find it difficult to gauge returns and haven't spent the time to figure it out. Often issues that may cloud the picture and impact performance are again fees that will certainly hinder performance if not managed properly. And all this mainly happens because they have multiple brokerages, mutual funds, stocks and various savings/checking accounts and can't figure how or what they are doing.

Make sure your Estate Heirs don't run

the other way. I am often running into children of deceased clients where locating and tracking assets have become a full time job because assets were never consolidated. Remember when you pass on, paperwork must be completed for all accounts and possible securities you own. If you have 20 different accounts, 20 different sets of paperwork may have to be completed.

It is not uncommon that many retirees overabundance of accounts can lead to additional costs and unnecessary delays in processing of an estate. If you have also been spending time and money putting together different types of trusts please remember that if assets are not in the trust they may not be covered by the provisions of the trust. This is a common mistake of many who put together expensive trusts that are not being utilized because there is too much of a burden with all the various accounts.

Where do we go from here? Organize, organize, organize and try to consolidate where possible if you have a clear direction and strategy you can help achieve financial success.

Todd J. Geller, A.W.M.A.SM
Senior Vice-President, Investments
Legacy Wealth Management
Janney Montgomery Scott LLC

Todd J. Geller is a locally well-known Financial Consultant. For over fifteen years, Todd has helped retirees and pre-retirees plan for the future through his frequent educational presentations and public speaking engagements. Todd especially enjoys helping people plan their retirement years and has often helped people avoid some of the most costly financial mistakes. Mistakes such as paying too much in taxes, not getting enough income, and taking too much risk in their investments to name a few.

Education is a key ingredient to any investor's success, which is why Todd has created the Senior Resource Center. The Senior Resource Center is a free web-site created with the intention of educating and enlightening retirees, and people planning their retirement, about all aspects of financial planning. The Senior Resource Center has many articles written about issues affecting retirees, as well as upcoming seminar dates, and free information. At the Senior Resource Center you will also find a collection of articles either written by or about Todd from such publications as Newsday, the 50+ Senior News, the Long Island Herald, and other publications. Visit the Legacy Wealth Management Senior Resource Center at

Todd Geller is a life-long resident of Long Island. Born and raised in Atlantic Beach, Todd currently resides in lovely Dix Hills with his wife of over ten years Caryn. When Todd isn't in the office he is kept busy by his two beautiful children, Jake and Rachel.