When Should You Consider a SEP-IRA?

If you are a self-employed contract worker or sole-proprietor, there’s a retirement account you may not have heard about that’s worth considering: the Simplified Employee Pension IRA or SEP-IRA for short. The key advantage of the SEP-IRA is the high annual maximum contribution limit, which at $53,000, is much higher than the $5,500 cap associated with a traditional IRA ($6,500 if you’re over 50). What Is a SEP-IRA? The SEP-IRA was created in 1978 to provide a tax-advantaged retirement plan for small businesses. Contributions to the SEP-IRA are made by a small business into an account for the benefit of an individual, typically the sole employee. SEP-IRA accounts are available to small businesses ranging from sole proprietorships, partnerships, LLCs, S-Corporations […]

Choosing Asset Classes Is Another Form of Market Timing

Any reader of our blog will know that we are not fans of market timing. As our CIO Burt Malkiel is fond of pointing out, research consistently proves it’s almost impossible to outperform the market by attempting to time it. Burt has won great acclaim since he first wrote about this phenomenon 40 years ago in A Random Walk Down Wall Street. The lessons of 40 years ago are just as appropriate today, which is why the book is still a best seller and soon to be released in its 11th edition. We have written about many ways to time the market on this blog — choosing individual securities, investing in individual real estate properties, timing when to withdraw from […]

Never Rollover If You Can Transfer

You might have heard the IRS is limiting the frequency with which you can rollover IRA accounts in 2015. Starting January 1st the IRS will limit you to only one IRA rollover per calendar year. You will now face steep penalties if you attempt more than one rollover  per year. However most people don’t realize there exists a superior alternative called an ACATS or electronic transfer. You will still be allowed unlimited transfers per year, but not all investment firms will accept an electronic transfer. A Rollover is Very Different From a Transfer Most investors think a rollover is the only way to transfer an IRA to another brokerage firm. When you request a retirement account rollover, your account’s current […]

Happy Holidays from Wealthfront

At Wealthfront, we believe our clients are our one true north. And while we work to make our service better every day, it feels only right this time of year to take a moment to just say thank you. 2014 has been a momentous year for Wealthfront, and we know our success stems directly from the trust and support our clients place in us. When we launched Wealthfront just three years ago in December 2011, no one would have guessed how quickly our service would grow. After starting the year at an unprecedented $500M in client assets, we were humbled to have our thought leadership recognized by the industry when we were named ETF Strategist of the Year. In March […]

How New College Grads Should Approach Stock Compensation

Over the past two years we have written numerous posts to help you evaluate job offers that include stock options or Restricted Stock Units (RSUs). We assumed in all our posts that job seekers were evaluating offers from companies at a similar level of maturity. For many new graduates, however, the comparison gets more complex if you aren’t sure whether you want to join a very mature company like Google or an earlier stage company like one of our recommended mid-sized companies with momentum. The purpose of this post is to help make that task much simpler. The Mechanics of Stock Options Let’s start with the basics of stock compensation. A stock option gives you the right to buy common […]

Direct Indexing: The Next Generation of Index Investing

One year ago today, Wealthfront became the first and only automated investment service to offer direct indexing with the Wealthfront 500. Direct indexing allows you to own all the stocks that comprise a major index in your own brokerage account, which is far more tax efficient than owning the equivalent index fund. Our research indicated this could generate an incremental annual after-tax return of 2.46% over just owning the S&P 500®. Frankly, we were overwhelmed by the amount of positive feedback from both clients and industry experts. It has been only one year since the launch of the Wealthfront 500, and already over $500 million has been invested in Wealthfront 500 accounts. We thought we were launching a product, but it […]

The Right and Wrong Reasons to Change Your Risk Tolerance

Our clients sometimes ask us how often they should change their risk tolerance score. The answer is: Not often. You won’t be surprised to find that the question comes up most frequently when the markets are either up big or down big. Human nature leads us to want to increase our risk tolerance when we experience an up market and decrease our risk tolerance in down markets. Like most everything in investing, what feels right seldom is. There are a few good reasons to change your risk tolerance but there are also bad reasons that you should learn to recognize and avoid. Good Reasons: Significant Financial Changes There are several significant events that can change your risk tolerance: A major […]

Demystifying Venture Capital Economics, Part 3

The funding of almost every new and successful technology market can, to the uninitiated, have the appearance of a financial bubble. A tsunami of venture capital flows into hot new markets at what appear to be ridiculous prices. Amazingly, the capital invested in the market winners is almost always justified. A few other companies will drive small returns while the vast majority of new entrants will lose money. This dynamic benefits the premier venture capital firms and consistently hurts second-tier firms. Most successful new markets begin the same way. A market-sensitive technologist recognizes an inflection point in technology that enables a new kind of product. It’s not uncommon for more than one individual to recognize the potential of the new […]

Why You Shouldn’t Just Invest in the S&P 500

Diversification matters. Diversification is the key to long-term investment success because it can insulate you, to some extent, from losses. If you feel insulated, you are more likely to stay invested and keep investing through market volatility. Being properly diversified also enables the actions that help you during market corrections: rebalancing and tax-loss harvesting. Investors often think they have a diversified portfolio when, actually, they don’t. One of the common questions we get from investors who don’t use Wealthfront is: “Why shouldn’t I just invest in the S&P 500®?” They seem to believe investing in an index that gives them exposure to a broad selection of securities means they have a diversified portfolio. Having a broad selection of securities is […]

14 Things to Consider for Your Year-End Financial Checklist

The last few weeks of the year are always a mad rush to wrap up loose ends, often in a frantic fashion. In the spirit of the season, we thought it a good time to share a checklist of important items to consider before the calendar year ends, all related to your investments and finances. We also wanted to reiterate some key topics we’ve already discussed, but that are especially important to review by end-of-year. Here are some brief pieces of financial advice on several fronts that could benefit you and yours in multiple ways, and that could ultimately add to your long-term bottom line, not to mention peace of mind. 1. Establish or Tune Up Your Emergency Fund If you […]