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Are Your Investment Goals Unrealistic? Goldstone Financial Group Weighs In

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How much should American retirees temper their investment expectations against market fluctuations? 

If you had posed the question this time last year, you probably would have received a flurry of cautiously optimistic responses as investors looked forward to what they had every reason to believe would be another bull market year. Optimism was rampant — and exciting for investors and retirees, who saw the climbing Dow as a sign that they would be able to live out their sunset years with comfortably-padded retirement accounts

“Nobody in the financial sector wanted to bring people down with dire predictions when the market appeared to be doing so well,” Anthony Pellegrino, the owner and co-founder at Goldstone Financial Group, noted of the mentality at the time. “Investors get fired up when they see reports of record highs.”

“I remember in 2015, there was major pushback from financial professionals when experts at Research Affiliates analyzed financial data from the preceding century and reported that it would be ‘optimistic’ to plan for even a five percent long-term return on a traditional portfolio. People were shocked — and a lot of them rejected those projections as being overly cautionary when the market remained strong.”  

And at the close of 2019, the market’s strength appeared to be on-track to persist. But within the first few weeks of the new year, the Covid-19 pandemic upended the global economy and caused the Dow to plummet. Ten months have since passed, and both have begun to recover.

“It’s not so much about good vs. bad news,” Ryan Detrick, senior market strategist at LPL Financial, recently told USA Today. “The economy is still nowhere near its output prior to the pandemic. But things are getting better.”

However, amid that improvement, those saving for retirement have been forced to question whether the need to revise their expectations for their accounts. The pandemic has demonstrated the dangers of assuming that good times will continue indefinitely — but how pessimistic should investors be about the future?

“This conversation always reminds me of the letter that Warren Buffett sent to his shareholders in early 2008,” Goldstone Financial Group’s Anthony Pellegrino says of expectation-setting. “Back then, he told people to check their perceptions of Dow growth and warned about the dangers of taking those increases out of context. That advice remains just as relevant — if not more so — today.” 

For context, here’s the passage that Pellegrino references from Buffet’s 2008 letter:

“During the 20th Century, the Dow advanced from 66 to 11,497. This gain, though it appears huge, shrinks to 5.3% when compounded annually […] For investors to merely match that 5.3% market-value gain, the Dow — recently below 13,000 — would need to close at about 2,000,000 on December 31, 2099 […] I should mention that people who expect to earn 10% annually from equities during this century — envisioning that 2% of that will come from dividends and 8% from price appreciation — are implicitly forecasting a level of about 24,000,000 on the Dow by 2100.”

“If your adviser talks to you about double-digit returns from equities,” Buffett concluded, “Explain this math to him.”

When taken into consideration alongside the uncertainty posed by Covid-19, Buffett’s math provides investors with ample reason to be careful. But what measures can aspiring retirees take to protect themselves and their accounts? 

Goldstone Financial Group’s Anthony Pellegrino points to three main strategies — consulting a fiduciary advisor, exploring IRA opportunities, and moving away from a buy-and-hold norm. 

Consulting a Fiduciary

Are you intimidated by market fluctuations and want a professional’s help in navigating them? A fiduciary advisor can help. 

“I cannot stress the importance of finding a fiduciary advisor enough,” Pellegrino emphasizes. “If you opt for a non-fiduciary professional, well, I’ll borrow another Buffett quote — ‘beware the glib helper who fills your head with fantasies while he fills his pockets with fees.’”

A fiduciary advisor is a financial professional who is legally obligated to act in their client’s best interests. They can only purchase and sell investments that they believe are well-suited to their clients’ needs and goals, and they cannot base their decisions on whether their suggested investments would provide the best kickbacks. 

As writers for NerdWallet summarize: “Fiduciaries are held to a significant level of trust with their clients and must avoid conflicts of interest. If your financial advisor does not have a fiduciary duty to you, they may be able to recommend investments or products that pay them a bigger commission over ones that would be the best fit for you, which could cost you more.”

Every single investment advisor employed at Goldstone Financial Group is a certified fiduciary advisor. The logic behind this policy is simple. 

“We want our clients to get the best possible advice,” Anthony Pellegrino says. “Having advisors who are held to a fiduciary standard ensures that they receive exactly that.” 

Explore IRA Opportunities

Think you can’t touch the money in your 401(k) until you retire? Think again! Pellegrino and the fiduciary advisors at Goldstone Financial Group often suggest that their clients withdraw a portion of their account balance and roll it over into an IRA account. The benefits of this tactic, Pellegrino says, include increased flexibility with investments.

“A nontaxable rollover to an IRA would give you more freedom to work with your financial advisor in choosing investments,” Pellegrino explains. “That said, you should always consult with your tax professional about potential tax implications before embarking on this strategy.”

Rethink Buy-and-Hold

Making investments and holding onto them indefinitely isn’t always the best strategy for long-term growth. 

“You may want to opt for tactical managed asset accounts that will allow you to capture and participate in the stock market’s upside and then, when the market declines, shift your assets to cash,” Goldstone Financial Group’s Anthony Pellegrino suggests. “Sure, you may still experience a loss — but typically, you’ll lose less than you would with a buy-and hold-strategy.” 

At the end of the day, Pellegrino offers one piece of advice that supersedes all others. 

“Don’t go through this alone. Your situation is unique, and the solutions you need will be equally so. Consult with a fiduciary advisor to see how your expectations and plans stack up against market conditions.” 

The idea of Bigtime Daily landed this engineer cum journalist from a multi-national company to the digital avenue. Matthew brought life to this idea and rendered all that was necessary to create an interactive and attractive platform for the readers. Apart from managing the platform, he also contributes his expertise in business niche.

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Business

VPNRanks Report Uncovers User Discontent with Majority of VPN Services

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A groundbreaking report by VPNRanks reveals significant user dissatisfaction with the majority of VPN services, showing that 89% of VPNs globally fail to meet user satisfaction standards. This revelation comes at a critical time when digital security is paramount, and the demand for reliable VPN services continues to rise.

The Importance of User Satisfaction in the VPN industry

According to industry statistics from Global Market Insights, the global VPN market size was valued at USD 45 billion in 2022 and is estimated to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of around 20% from 2023 to 2032. Driven by the growing instances of cybercrimes and data thefts, coupled with the increasing proliferation of wireless devices and digital infrastructures across industries, user satisfaction remains a critical challenge for many providers. High user satisfaction is essential for customer retention, brand reputation, and long-term success in the competitive VPN market.

“User satisfaction is the cornerstone of success in the VPN industry. In a market flooded with options, it’s the real user experiences that set the leading providers apart. VPNScore helps users navigate this complex landscape by highlighting services that excel in meeting user expectations,” said Muhammad Saleem Ahrar, COO of webAffinity, the team behind VPNRanks.

VPNRanks is a leading VPN review platform that leverages sentiment analysis to provide comprehensive and unbiased reviews of VPN services. Its VPNScore is based on an AI-driven analysis of publicly available user reviews. The platform aims to simplify the process of identifying the best VPN provider tailored to each user’s unique needs.

VPNRanks Untangles Complex Findings on Key Features

VPNRanks evaluated four key features — ease of use, ease of setup, ability to meet user requirements, and quality of support — to identify the VPN companies that excel at customer satisfaction. To determine a final rank for each metric, VPNRanks combined a popularity score, which contributed 20 percent of the total, with a satisfaction score, which contributed 80 percent.

The study sifted through reviews on 93 paid VPN companies to determine the top providers. The VPNRanks report, issued in June 2024, provides rankings for each key feature and overall customer satisfaction. ExpressVPN achieved the top VPNScore — 6.29 out of 10 — for overall satisfaction globally. The next four top companies in that category, listed in descending order, are PureVPN, NordVPN, PrivateVPN, and Surfshark.

By assessing a variety of categories, the VPNRanks study reveals the challenges users face when trying to identify the best option to meet their needs. For example, NordVPN received a nearly perfect popularity score of 9.46 out of 10 but only a 4.7 satisfaction score. PrivateVPN received a satisfaction score of 6.69 out of 10, which rivaled ExpressVPN’s score in that category, but received a popularity score of only 1.23 out of 10.

The global rankings for ease of use illustrate how challenging identifying a quality provider can be. VeePN received a very high satisfaction score of 7.18 out of 10 while receiving a popularity score of less than 1 out of 10. The findings reveal a gap between user experience and market penetration that can effectively keep the best option hidden from the consumer.

The VPNRanks report gives users insight into satisfaction and popularity while providing a balanced assessment via its VPNScore. “Users should choose based on their priorities, whether it’s user satisfaction, market presence, or a balanced option,” the report states.

VPNRanks Shows Providers How to Become More Competitive

In addition to serving as a guide for consumers, VPNRanks also maps out a pathway for VPN providers seeking greater market share. The VPN providers that consistently appear in the top spots on the VPNRanks charts are those that have achieved a balance between popularity and user satisfaction. Those who neglect one or the other cannot keep pace with market leaders.

The report explains that those with high satisfaction scores but low popularity “might be well-loved by their users but need to increase their market visibility to compete more effectively.” Achieving overall success in the VPN market requires balancing user satisfaction with market presence, it advises.

Conclusion

As the need for VPN services continues to grow, businesses can expect to see more providers enter the market, making the task of identifying the best option more difficult. The insights VPNRanks provides stand as a timely beacon, guiding users to providers who can satisfy their needs and support their operations.

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