10 Tips for Successful Investing

Advisers talk about strategies for people to make the best of their investments

 By Deborah Jeanne Sergeant

Investing strategies for people over age 55 have to be different from when they were beginning their careers. Three area experts weighed in on how you should best invest your money if you’re over 55.


From Justin Stevens, vice president financial adviser at Sage Rutty & Co., Inc., Rochester.

1. “Be mindful of what you’re investing for. Short-term expenses should be invested in short-term, low-volatility asset classes, like CDs, money markets and treasuries. It shouldn’t be in things that are volatile. Doing that appropriately lets you take a longer-term approach with long-term expenses. Cash flow planning is incredibly important when you’re over 55 and you need your money to provide you with an income stream.

2. “For people around 55, you should be approaching your investments with a 30-year timeframe. Many shift towards fixed income investments, but they need your assets to grow for the rest of their lives, which could be 30 or 40 years. Retirement planning boils down to ‘Is your money going to outlast you, or will you outlast your money?’ You need to invest in away where your money will continue to grow for the rest of your life.

3. “Be mindful of costs when you’re investing, what it costs you to invest, and budgeting. People who budget are much more successful than those who don’t when it comes to retirement.”


From Jeff Feldman, certified financial planner and owner of Rochester Financial Services, Pittsford.

4. “I tell clients, don’t take more risk than you have to. If you have successful retirement earning 4 percent a year, go for the allocation that achieves a 4 percent return. You could have as much as 75 percent in bond funds. Most need 6 to 7 percent rate of return to have a net 4 percent rate after inflation. Some need 7 to 8 percent, so they may need 40 to 45 percent in bond funds.

5. “When someone comes to you with a great business idea and want you to invest, that should raise red flags. If a bank isn’t willing to lend someone money, why would you take that risk? If you don’t understand investment, you probably don’t want to get involved. Always ask what can go wrong.

6. “A Wall Street Journal article recently said trusting your gut can be the worst investment advice out there. When you read headlines and the stock market isn’t doing well, your gut tells you to sell and get out, but that’s when you need to stay in there. When things look great, and the headlines look optimistic, that’s when you need to be careful. Stay the course with your investment allocation.

7. “If the market is upsetting you, you don’t have to resign yourself to volatility. You can dial back the risk of your portfolio to a point so you can stand the volatility.

8. “If you have trouble in deciding what allocation is good for you, make one that makes you indifferent to what the market does. You have enough stocks and bonds so it doesn’t affect you much. You reach an equilibrium.”


From Joe Votava, financial adviser and CEO, Seneca Financial Advisors LLC Rochester.

9. “If you have saved a lot and live modestly, you don’t need to take as much risk. If you don’t have much saved and you spend at a good clip, your portfolio may need to be more aggressive to make more before you retire. As you approach retirement, keep three to five years of spending in the safe part of your portfolio.

10. “A balanced portfolio might include an allocation to annuities. They’re not attractive in this environment because we have low interest rates and higher fees, higher than stocks and bonds. They’re not liquid. But it can provide a better income you can’t outlive, which is important if you have a long life expectancy. I’d say 25 percent to a third should be in an annuity.”

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