Thursday, January 19, 2012

Will you self-direct your retirement?

Today on the Financial Impact Factor Radio with Paul Petillo, Dave Kittredge and Dave Ng we continue the discussion we began yesterday about self-directed IRAs. While having control over your retirement is important, how much risk is too much and who can handle the increased potential of loss or gain.

To listen to yesterday's show, click here.

Here are some outtakes from this conversation:

Yesterday we discussed a different corner of the retirement investment world when we talked about self-directed IRA. I suggested that “If there is one thing we all seem to be seeking and at the same time, remains as elusive it is control. Our investments often seem to want us to master its fate, as if simply involving yourself is enough.” T.S.Eliot seemed to agree although we all know he wasn’t talking about your retirement plans when he wrote: "Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far it is possible to go."

Jim Hitt of to discuss the IRA that you control. There is a lot left to be discussed it seems and little clarification is needed in advance. Jim is a third party administrator or TPA. We have had a few professionals who ply their trade as a go-between, somewhat detached from the other two parties but necessary in the legal and tax compliant execution of a retirement plan. Sometimes we need to be reminded that all retirement investments, 401(k)s, 403(b)s, IRAs in all their incarnations are essentially parts of the tax code. And I’d be willing to wager that when taxes are mentioned, there is a certain fear, perhaps caution that moves to the forefront. Self-directed IRAs are no different.

On numerous occasions, we have, in advance of a guest appearing on the show prepped the listening audience, discussed what we knew about the next day’s topic and did so in almost every instance, without the guest’s knowledge. Today, we’re going to look back.

Most of us have had out retirement plans nestled safely – and I’ll describe what I mean by safely in a moment – inside a 401(k). The way these plans are constructed give us a sense that someone else is watching over us. They choose the investments. They made the match. They suggested that they had a fiduciary responsibility to us. I asked Jim if he had just such a responsibility and he simply replied: no.

So we began the discussion there as I asked Dave and Dave if they would like to tell us what fiduciary responsibility is?

Now we all know that risk is something we need and knowing how much of a risk you can take is key in the way you execute your goals. But this is no easy task when it comes to this type of IRA. "Trust your own instinct, “ as Billy Wilder once said: “Your mistakes might as well be your own, instead of someone else's."

As Baby Boomers begin this massive wave of retirement, many are for the first time going to get their life’s retirement account to control. I was caught by one thing Mr. Hitt suggested as to the people who come to him: they come in good times and bad.

The risk of self-directing your IRA is there. Jim discussed using this money for real estate investment purposes, business opportunities and other investments such as gold, commodities, etc. And it all boils down to coordination.

Listen to Financial Impact Factor Radio with your hosts: Paul Petillo of and Dave Kittredge and Dave Ng of The show is broadcast daily, online at 6amPST/9amEST.

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