Miscellaneous Nuggets from a Professional Conference (FPA-NJ)

Yesterday, I attended the Spring conference of the Financial Planning Association of New Jersey. Below are some ideas that I gleaned from this meeting:
  • More financial planners are shifting from lifestyle practices (i.e., firms with 1 or 2 principals and no formal succession plan) to enduring businesses that ensure services for clients after they retire or pass away.
     
  • Client service is important in financial planning and ANY transaction with consumers. The best experience you had anywhere should be the experience you have everywhere.
     
  • Approximately 63 million Americans receive $1 trillion in annual Social Security benefits.  Social Security spending topped $1 trillion for the first time in 2017.
     
  • People who froze their credit (e.g., after the Equifax hack) and want to set up an online Social Security account need to unfreeze their credit with Equifax.  Another option is to go to a Social Security office (appointments were recommended) to get a special code. The reason given is that certain questions (to set up an online account) are based on credit report data and a freeze needs to be lifted to access this data.
     
  • If people do not sign up for Medicare during the 7 month window around their 65th birthday and wait until age 75, premiums will be doubled (10 years x 10% penalty for each year they should have Medicare but didn’t). If you are still working and not receiving Social Security at age 65, you must enroll yourself.
     
  • Retirement is a major life transition and “the longest vacation people will have.”
     
  • The estate tax exemption will be cut in half after 2025 under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA). Affluent households who will be affected by this need to plan now. Also, as a result of the TCJA, only 5 million taxpayers are expected to be able to itemize tax deductions vs. about 30 million who itemized last year.