In today’s economy, effective retirement planning is more important than ever. Many retirees don’t realize their plan is inadequate until it is too late to change course and salvage an enjoyable financially stress free retirement. Unless all facets of the retirement plan are properly coordinated, many retirees will live their final days in poverty. We all know of senior citizens who are struggling and most of those did not plan to fail, but failed to plan with a knowledgeable advisor who specialized in retirement planning.
Greg Bowser, Chief Executive Officer of Safe Harbor Asset Management Services, a Registered Investment Advisor, works with clients to obtain a less financially stressful retirement. Bowser, a Certified Financial Planner® and investment advisor representative, has been in the business for 30 years. He explains that he uses a statistical approach to retirement income planning. By using available academic data and research, an efficient retirement plan can be achieved. Any plan must be continuously monitored and reviewed to adapt with a family’s needs and the changing economic environment.
Before any recommendations are made, Greg is deep in research, working to determine the best possible solutions for his clients. Because the firm operates independently, it has access to a plethora of information from a multitude of resources and specialists in the field. Greg is a follower of the Fama-French Three-Factor Model designed by Nobel Laureate Eugene Fama and renowned researcher Kenneth French. The model suggests that the markets are efficient and paying high fees to advisors and money managers to beat the market is a losing proposition designed to make Wall Street a lot of money. Greg is proud of his firm’s low fee structure since fees are the only statistical predictor of future returns and exert an even greater influence during retirement. According to Arthur Levitt, former SEC Chairman, “If you have more than $50,000 to invest, you should fire your broker and find an Investment Advisor.”
“Being fully independent not tied to any broker dealer allows the firm to explore many options when designing retirement plans,” Greg says. “We work diligently in the client’s best interest and we use what our research suggests is the best
4013 East Baker Ave
Abingdon, MD 21009
Gregory K. Bowser CFP®, CEO
Safe Harbor Asset Management Services
• Investment Advisor Representative
• Certified Financial Planner Practitioner®
• Graduated from Towson University
• Veteran U.S. Army Captain (Attack Helicopter Platoon Leader)
• Vice President Rt. 40 Business Association
• Member Financial Planning Association
• Member of Better Business Bureau
• Member of Maryland Golf and Country Clubs
• Member of Bush River Yacht Club
custodians and products available at that time. We never want to be out done by a competitor recommending a better solution.” Greg partners with his son, Eric Bowser, President of Safe Harbor Financial Group, who serves as the underwriter for insurance and annuity products that they deem best for clients. “We decided to use the Safe Harbor common business name since we believe our planning provides for the safest retirement solutions according to the available research. Plus, our office is located on the Bush River, hence ‘Safe Harbor.’ The lighthouse logo symbolizes us guiding our clients through retirement similar to a lighthouse guiding ships on their voyage.”
Eric began practicing just prior to 2008 during a time when the market was very turbulent and much wealth was lost. This served as a “real eye-opening experience,” he says. “I saw that it affected a large portion of investors’ assets. It also opened my eyes to Fixed Index Annuities. I saw how much they helped people especially those who were retired during that time period.” Those clients who had a portion of their money in the Fixed Index Annuities were very appreciative of the safety they offered and were less likely to panic sell their other funds during the down market. This was an extremely valuable lesson and has helped shape Eric’s focus on client centric solutions. Learning from his father’s long history in the field has worked well for Eric. “I consider myself extremely lucky,” he says. “He’s been able to point me in the right direction and taught me how to do the business the right way.”
Together, the partnering firms have provided full service retirement planning solutions for the past eight years. Acting in a fiduciary capacity, Greg designs the retirement plans, and when insurance or annuity products are needed to implement the plan, Eric, specializing in insurance, is called upon to find the best solutions available. This often includes fixed index annuities. The firms are not fans of variable annuities that carry large fees and are critical of many poorly designed fixed index annuities. The difference between the best and worst fixed indexed annuities is significant. They believe, because they offer both fee-based investment advice coordinated with insurance and annuity advice, their clients have an advantage over others who are working with advisors who only recommend investments or those who only recommend insurance based products. Greg and Eric believe that a strong understanding of how to coordinate the products is critical to the goal of achieving a financially stress free retirement.
Safe Harbor’s ability to help retirees thrive in retirement is due to their deep understanding of the risks to obtaining a sustainable retirement income. The standard four percent rule for determining a safe withdrawal rate used by many advisors is a recipe for failure, says Greg. Current research conducted by Wade Pfau, Ph.D, CFA indicates that in the current economic environment the four percent rule exposes retirees to a greater than 50 percent chance of failure, Greg adds. Safe Harbor’s research supports the use of fixed indexed annuities to reduce the risk of running out of money and provide greater security for retirees.
“Would you get on a plane if you had a 50 percent chance of crashing?” Greg asks. “Many retirees do not understand the risk they are taking. We like to stress test the retirement plan by assuming that we will have the same returns as those who retired at the end of 1999, one of the worst retirement dates in history.” Simple monte-carlo simulation using unrealistic historical assumptions not reflecting today’s highly valued stock market and extraordinarily low interest rates is not sufficient.
Safe Harbor AMS employs what Greg calls a “holistic approach” to planning, considering all aspects of the client’s lifestyle,
Eric M. Bowser, CHFEBC, President
Safe Harbor Financial Group
• Insurance and Annuity Brokerage Company
• Graduated from University of
• Top 5 percent Insurance and Annuity Producer in Country
• Member Harford County Chamber of Commerce
• Member of Fallston Pool Club
• Member of Better Business Bureau
• Member of Rt. 40 Business AssociationSafe Harbor also provides the following financial advice:
• Henry Godfrey, an investment advisor representative, of Safe Harbor Asset Management Services, works with successful business owners to help them reduce taxes and build wealth by setting up captive insurance plans (self-insured property and casualty) or implementing split-dollar insurance plans. He also helps those sets up cost effective 401K plans.
• Greg Bowser, Eric Bowser, and John DiBattista work together to help Federal and State Employees understand their benefits and prepare for retirement.
• Gary McCammon Jr. helps clients with college planning strategies to help reduce college costs while obtaining the best education for the money.
• Sarasimone Borchers handles the firms marketing and client communications.
• Sandy Fitzgerald manages the office and handles the portfolio reporting systems.
• Susie Bowser over sees the accounting, bookkeeping, and payroll duties.
wants, needs and goals. This holistic approach includes helping the client understand all aspects of the process and the plan that is recommended. This involves regular meetings and communications such as newsletters to clients. “We believe a more educated client will be better suited to successfully navigate the risks and challenges they will face during retirement,” Greg explains, citing a recent survey by Greenwald & Associates for the American College that concluded that literacy levels of those ages 65 to 75 with respect to retirement income is very low. The study emphasized that those with a better understanding tend to make better financial decisions. Because there are many risks to maintaining a lifelong retirement income, Greg believes that retirees should understand these risks and be involved in the development of a plan that will provide the most efficient sustainable lifetime income on a risk-adjusted basis.
“I like helping people,” Greg continues. “I love when a client begins to understand the value of a coordinated retirement income plan. This is the most rewarding aspect of our profession. I get most frustrated when we are not able to fully communicate this value to prospective clients who may be swayed by the allure of the Wall Street jargon.”
Safe Harbor utilizes state-of-the-art software packages to monitor and measure clients’ diversification and portfolio returns. They use sophisticated software that also helps to maximize social security benefits. Clients are able to monitor their assets according to their goals and objectives. The firms work together as well as with many other professionals, both among their staff of seven and outside the firm, to coordinate the total financial plan.
Safe Harbor Financial Group operates under the tag line “Stress Free Retirement,” and its goal is just that – to implement the most efficient retirement plan usually utilizing fixed index annuities to help increase predictable income and reduce stress and ultimately risk. Reduced risk, Eric says, helps to reduce stress during retirement, and that is our ultimate goal. Nobody wants to be forced to make critical decisions during their golden years. I95
Using low cost index funds significantly reduces fees and increases the probability of higher returns over a 10-year period. (Richard A. Ferri, CFA and Alex C. Benke, CFP®)
Incorporating an efficient financial planning strategy that includes incorporating annuities into a retirement plan can generate up to 22 percent more certainty-equivalent income. (David Blanchett, CFA, CFP and Paul Kaplan, Ph.D, CFA)
When taking an income, compared to a 60 percent equity/40 percent bond allocation, a 48 percent equity/12 percent bond/40 percent indexed annuity allocation reduces risk by 52 percent and the residual wealth left to heirs is improved by 28 percent on average. (Ibbotson Associates). (For a 60-year-old starting income at age 65.)
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This article is not meant as a general guide to investing, or as a source of any specific investment recommendations, and makes no implied or express recommendations concerning the manner in which any client’s accounts should or would be handled, as appropriate investment decisions depend upon the client’s investment objectives. This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute a complete description of our investment services or performance. Calculations that appear throughout this article are for demonstration purposes only. In addition, different assumptions may lead to different results. Nothing in this article should be interpreted to state or imply that past results are an indication of future performance.
Safe Harbor Asset Management Services (Safe Harbor AMS) and Safe Harbor Financial Group (SHFG) are affiliates. Safe Harbor AMS is an investment registered advisor in the State of Maryland. SHFG is an insurance agency licensed by the State of Maryland. Insurance (SHFG) and investment advisor services (Safe Harbor AMS) are two different financial products. Safe Harbor AMS develops comprehensive financial plans for its clients and that is the services we are offering. Safe Harbor AMS believes that insurance may be (and usually is) an important part of such plans. Where Safe Harbor AMS recommends to clients that they purchase insurance products (or enhance or supplement products they are already own) the client may purchase such products through SHFG. although it is not mandatory they do so.