Julie Fletcher Featured in Denver Post: Why Americans are scared of financial advisors

Julie FletcherMeet_Julie, CFP® at Sharkey, Howes & Javer wrote an article that was featured in the Denver Post this week. Below is a small excerpt from her piece as well as a link to read the full article.

Why Americans are scared of financial advisors
We can blame the movies, and our “money taboo” society

Since the 1980’s, Hollywood has made millions of dollars creating a slew of movies depicting the greed and crime of the financial services industry. Which is your favorite? “Wall Street,” the “greed is good” movie from 1987? “Boiler Room,” “The Wolf of Wall Street” or “The Big Short”? Based on the media’s portrayal of “financial professionals,” it is no wonder that Americans are scared to death to trust anyone with their hard-earned money. Based on these movies, I would guess that a person who has never met with a financial advisor likely envisions it would go something like this:

As a frightened receptionist walks me through their chaotic cubicle hell, red-faced frenzied suits scream “SELL, SELL NOW!!” into their phones. When we finally reach the conference room, the theme song from “Jaws” runs through my mind as a cigar smoking man wearing a red bow tie slowly turns in his chair to face me. He puffs out smoke as his smile creeps into a wide Cheshire cat grin. “Welcome. Please have a seat. Did you bring all your account statements?” As I cautiously hand my private and personal information to a complete stranger, his grin turns into a frown. “Did you not read our website? I hardly think $150,000 meets our $50 million minimums.”

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Behind the Scenes: What the SH&J Team Has Been Reading


Did you know many members of our team are avid readers? Whether it is a good story or a book to help us improve as planners, you will often find our noses in a book during our downtime. Today we thought we would share our latest book reviews with you. We’d love to hear what you’ve been reading as well in the comments below!

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Meet Julie Fletcher

Meet_JulieName: Julie Fletcher

Title: Certified Financial Planner™

SH&J team member since: October, 2013


You have been a financial planner at Sharkey, Howes & Javer for over a year. What do you enjoy most about working here?

This firm truly acts in the best interest of our clients. There is no such thing as “sales” in this office, which minimizes the stress level and frees up time to spend on problem solving instead.

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How much should I save for retirement?

We are asked ‘how much I should save for retirement’ all the time. It’s an important question! While we’d love to have a canned answer for everyone who asks, it’s just not that simple. We’ve found that answering a few questions really helps our clients hone in on their retirement savings goals.

Ask Yourself…

  • What age would you like to retire?
  • What kind of lifestyle would you like to live?
  • Are you going to sell your home, stay put, buy a second home?
  • Will you be traveling more often?
  • Will you still work part time or start a new business?

Those questions are a great place to start when planning your retirement. As Julie says in the video, “Get down to the nitty gritty of your desired lifestyle,” when answering the questions about your retirement. Being specific helps you (and your planner) set realistic goals and expectations.

In general we find SH&J clients need to start retirement with 100% of their current living expenses. It is rare for expenses to go down after retirement.

Whether you are close to retirement or decades away, we’d be happy to help you answer some of the questions above and make a retirement plan that makes sense for you. Give us a call at 303.639.5100 to set up a time to come in and chat.

2015 Financial Check-Up

By Julie Fletcher, Certified Financial Planner™ at Sharkey, Howes & Javer

Piggy bank with stethoscope1. Even if you are “maxing out” your retirement plan contributions, is it enough?

The retirement plan contribution limits are set by IRS guidelines and reviewed each year. However, the IRS is not a personal financial advisor and does not know how much you need to be saving to meet your financial goals. Just because you are “maxing out” your plan does not necessarily mean you are saving enough. 

Many people choose to contribute to the company 401(k) plan, which will allow you to contribute up to $18,000 in 2015 (with an additional $6,000 catch-up for those over age 50). A 401(k) plan allows an employee to contribute a portion of his/her salary on a pre-tax basis to a retirement savings account. Taxes are not paid until money is withdrawn from the account.

Beyond the company retirement plan, another popular choice is contributing to a Traditional or Roth IRA, which will allow you to contribute up to $5,500 (with an additional $1,000 catch-up for those over age 50). When you contribute money to a Traditional IRA, you typically are making pre-tax contributions. Taxes are not paid until money is withdrawn from the account. However, a Roth IRA is opposite. The contributions are made after-tax and the money is withdrawn tax-free from the account (both the contributions AND the growth). Warning: Contributions for both Traditional and Roth IRA’s can be limited due to your adjusted gross income. Be sure to consult your tax advisor.

If you are a business owner with no employees, you could consider contributing to a Solo (“Solo” is slang or shorthand for one-participant) Traditional 401(k) with profit-sharing provisions. Total contributions in the participants account are limited in 2015 to $53,000 (with an additional $6,000 catch-up for those over age 50).

If retirement plan contributions aren’t enough to reach your goals, you could also create a brokerage account to begin after-tax investing for retirement. There are no limitations to contributions and you could receive preferential capital-gain tax treatment. Although a brokerage account can be “ear-marked” for retirement, the account can technically be used for any purpose and does not have early withdrawal penalties. Taxes are paid “as you go” each year as reported on a 1099. Capital gains could potentially be offset by capital losses. Also, investment expenses (fees/commissions) could be deductible on your tax return.

2. Are you paying too much in taxes?

Meet with your tax advisor throughout the year to take advantage of tax strategies. Your tax advisor will help ensure you are taking the appropriate deductions for your personal and/or business tax return. A few items to review with your tax advisor throughout the year:

  • Are you paying more into FICA than necessary? FICA is the payroll tax paid by both employees and employers to fund Social Security and Medicare (in 2015 the maximum amount of earnings subject to FICA is $118,500).
  • Have you properly explored a home refinance option? If you are paying more than 5% in interest on your mortgage, it could be beneficial to explore ways to reduce your monthly payment dependent upon the number of years remaining on the mortgage and how long you plan to remain in the home.
  • Would a year-end charitable tax deduction benefit you and/or your business? Your tax advisor will help you determine how a charitable contribution would affect your overall tax liability.
  • Is your small business receiving Affordable Care Act (“ACA”) tax credits for employer-paid health insurance premiums? You can learn more about ACA at the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services website (www.hhs.gov/heathcare).
  • Is there a need for new business equipment? Purchasing equipment for your business can have tax advantages if structured appropriately (Section 179 of the IRS regulations).

 3. Are your hard-earned business and personal assets protected?

You have worked extremely hard to build your personal and/or business net worth. Be sure not to leave any gaps in your insurance coverage that would leave you vulnerable. Potential gaps include premature death, disability, health, liability, business, car and homeowner’s insurance. Having the proper insurance in place is essential for your protection. During your insurance coverage review, revisit the Affordable Care Act and how it will affect your individual or group health insurance in 2015.

4. Where is your investment advice coming from?

Are your friends, family, or co-workers your main source of investment advice? Are you acting on “hot stock” tips or investing in your friend’s investment real estate? Have you thoroughly researched these investment ideas to ensure you are aware of all the pros and cons? Almost every investment has risks. Remember, just because investment advice is “free” does not mean it is appropriate for your personal situation.

Cheers to you and your financial health in 2015!

To schedule a complimentary consultation with one of the Certified Financial Planner™ professionals at Sharkey, Howes & Javer, please call 303-639-5100 or visit shwj.com.