Overcoming Planning Procrastination

By Steve Rhatigan, Principal & Founder, Archer Consulting Group

Overcoming Planning Procrastination “Planning without action is futile, action without planning is fatal.”

This simple statement exposes the obstacles to effective planning when a person with special needs is involved. The reality of the lives of those charged with the care of a child or sibling with a disabling condition is best described as a “daily marathon”, essentially head down and running flat out forward. It allows little time for anything but the tasks at hand and no time for reflection or preparation.

This is not a favorable environment for planning for the future. But plan they must, for the other reality of life is that we all face a future that has a beginning and, most assuredly, an end. And that’s where our journey begins; at the end. [Read more…]

What Goes Up, Must Come Down

By Allan Jaster and Jona Husbands, Principals, Archer Consulting Group

With the DOW, the S&P, and many of the other financial indices above their all-time high, the wise investor now turns to discussions of taking some risk off the table.  It’s only logical and prudent to start toning down a portfolio after it’s ripped off four straight years of positive returns (and working toward a fifth year).  We all know that the streak can’t possibly go on much longer.  You’re not alone in your thoughts.  I typed “2013 market crash” into Google and in 0.31 seconds had 281,000,000 results.   If what you just read is resonating with you, chances are you made an A+ in Physics and at this very moment you’re being tempted to lower your G.P.A. with poor scores in Economics and History. [Read more…]

A Well-Built Special Needs Plan Starts With a Skilled Architect

By Steve Rhatigan, Principal, Archer Consulting Group  

“Success in Life comes not from holding a good hand, but playing a poor hand well.” Warren G. Lester

“What will become of my special needs child when I am no longer there to take care of them?”  The answer depends on the quality of the estate and financial plan created to address that reality; and, the quality of the plan depends greatly on the planner and their experience in this very complex specialty.  [Read more…]

Mistakes and Life

By Steve Rhatigan, Principal, The Archer Consulting Group

You may think I’m getting lazy since this will be the second newsletter that reproduces an article from another source.  Possible, but not likely. I’m sending this one because I think it’s significant and enlightening, plus being relevant to several current issues we are dealing with at Archer on behalf of clients’.

As Mr. Norton indicates, mistakes will occur and usually at the worst possible time.  It’s one thing to make a wrong turn on the way to an appointment and quite another to underestimate the importance of some type of formal communication from a disability related governmental agency. You can probably see where I’m going with this but I’ll spell it out for you; every time an agency decides to write you a letter – pay close attention to its contents.  Most of the following 10 types of mistakes are relevant to my advice and we repeatedly deal with the fallout from one or more of them, and usually in full panic mode. [Read more…]

Four Most Dangerous Words in Investing

By Allan Jaster and Jona Husbands

As always, we keep a sharp eye to the horizon… scanning for trouble.  Though we’re currently in a lull – we’ve got ourselves a storm brewing.   The Democrats and the Republicans are both gearing up for a huge showdown.  Get ready for some serious mudslinging over the Debt Ceiling and U.S. credit downgrades, and government shutdowns, etc.

So (from the title) the Four Most Dangerous Words in Investing are “This time is Different!”   Framing any economic/political scenario with “this time is different” automatically puts you in a fearful mindset.   And fear leads to a poor investment experience and poor decision making. [Read more…]

Be Still and be Extraordinary

By Allan Jaster, Principal, The Archer Consulting Group

IMG_0642One of my favorite sayings is “if you want to be extraordinary – you have to do extraordinary things.”    I’ve no idea where or when I heard it but it’s now a saying that gets me up early and keeps me purposefully ambitious day in and day out.   Along those lines, for a person to be a successful investor they must do extraordinary things… and they have to do them day-in and day-out for decades.

Did you know that our brains process negative investment returns in the same place that we process mortal danger?   Mortal danger!  Talk about the odds being stacked against us!  We are all genetically hard-wired to make poor, emotion-based financial decisions and fail as investors.  [Read more…]

Taking Care of the Money

By Steve Rhatigan, Principal, The Archer Consulting Group

Steve_RhatiganFor many years, Archer Consulting has strongly advocated the use of Professional Trust Management in coordination with the naming of a Trust Advisor as the optimal financial management model for a Special Needs Trust. Fortunately, we have about an 85% success rate.

The following article, from one of the top legal firms in the nation, should give that 85% a better sense of safety; and, the other 15%, something to chew on. [Read more…]

The Folly of Active Management

By Allan Jaster, Principal, Archer Consulting Group

Allan CropOne of the longest standing debates around the office coffee pot is “which is a better investment strategy – Active Management or Passive Management?” Though much debated, when you sit down and look at the facts, it’s not even close! When it comes to risk adjusted returns and cost effectiveness Active Management is inferior to Passive Management. I’m consistently amazed at how skilled the financial media is at shaping this debate and subsequently swaying investor activity. Why? Active Management is a much easier sell to investors and it’s more profitable to the financial industry. [Read more…]

What is in a Name?

By Steve Rhatigan, Principal, The Archer Consulting Group

SteveYou can call me peculiar but I’m weary of the term “Special Needs” being used to define everything we do.  Then why continue to use this unfortunate name; simple… business.  If our trade were footwear, how many units might we sell in this day and time if the name we used was “Cobbler”?

The process of developing a name for a brand, product or service is often heavily influenced by marketing research so as to be appealing and marketable.  The brand name is often a buzzword or pseudo word, such as Kodak or Xerox.  However, that is not the genesis of “Special Needs”.  Its origins are to be found in the legal profession with many negative consequences as the outcome.   [Read more…]

Investor Response to the Fiscal Cliff

By Allan Jaster, Principal, The Archer Consulting Group

Allan CropThere is a ton of attention these days on the so-called “Fiscal Cliff”.  As an investor you’re probably asking yourself “what should I do about it?”  And, that is a fair question.  If you can suspend your reality for a minute or two and read through the below nautically themed scenario, I think it might provide a little insight as to how our financial markets work… and, subsequently, what you should (and shouldn’t) do about it.

Imagine you’re the captain of a boat and you’re sailing across the ocean (feel free to give a throaty “Arrrrrr” right here.)  Your mission is to cross the ocean as quickly as possible[Read more…]