Be a Better Self-Directed IRA Investor: Be Aware of Cognitive Biases and Emotional Traps

Are you as ‘squared away’ for retirement as you hope you are? Maybe not.  The Center for Retirement Security at Boston College has launched a new tool to help taxpayers determine whether they are on track for retirement – and to help Americans identify and address common psychological and behavioral traps that can short-circuit your retirement decision-making.  We recommend it for all Self-Directed IRA investors and conventional investors alike.

Curious Behaviors That Can Ruin Your Retirement is an interactive program on behavioral impediments to retirement planning. A host leads users through a series of exercises designed to create an “Aha!” moment as they relate to the behaviors. The host then explains how the behavior can hinder retirement planning and, coaches users through strategies that can help minimize the effects of these subconscious biases and help them develop a more rational decision-making process.

Users can then go to a “Learn More” page, which presents more information in multiple media formats. It is a terrific tool for all ages.

The tool is a fun and lighthearted look at a serious issue: Millions of Americans fall victim to irrational thought processes, emotionalism, wishful thinking, denial and a series of other misconceptions and cognitive weaknesses that cost real money.

A recent research report from Deloitte lists the following behavioral biases that can impact your ability to manage your Self-Directed IRAs:

  • Inertia: When you are used to doing things a certain way, the tendency is to take no action.
  • Present bias: The tendency to prioritize current wants over long-term needs
  • Passive decision making: The tendency to follow the path of least resistance, or to choose from the most obvious, readily-apparent options rather than investigate possible options more deeply.
  • Anchoring: The tendency to base decisions on a set value that may be irrelevant.
  • Partitioning: A tendency to make commitments piecemeal when you would be better served by bolder action. For example, the tendency to “dollar cost average” into a rising market when you may be better off investing a larger lump sum.
  • Peer pressure: Irrationally allowing other equally irrational actors to influence your decision-making.
  • Overconfidence: Excessive belief in your own abilities.
  • Effort aversion: The tendency to embrace the easy wrong option over the difficult right one.
  • Loss aversion: Allowing the fear of possible loss to prevent you from taking reasonable risks in the prospect of greater gains.
  • Endowment effect: The tendency to avoid giving up what one already has, even when a clearly better option is available.

As a group, Self-Directed IRA investors tend to be a rational bunch. Many of our clients are veteran investors and business people who have achieved significant success over the years. But all of us are human, and none of us are immune to any of these cognitive biases.

But forewarned is forearmed: Being aware of these biases and emotional traps can help you prevent falling victim to them. And that is going to make you a better Self-Directed IRA investor.

For more information about Self-Directed IRA investing, or to get started on your Self-Directed IRA investing journey, call us today at 866-7500-IRA (472). Or visit us at www.AmericanIRA.com.

We look forward to serving you.

Real Estate IRAs: Because You May Live Longer Than You Think!

The good news is longevity is way up! The bad news is longevity is way up!  Due to the increase in longevity, Real Estate IRAs are the way to go!

Well, as bad news goes, we have heard worse. It is great that people are living longer. However, longer lifespans present a problem when it comes to retirement planning: Any given nest egg must last a lot longer than it used to.  It must also generate a reliable stream of income the whole time, without fail.

People are underestimating the problem: A recent study of British senior citizens found that people in their 50s and 60s are grossly underestimating the likelihood that they will live to age 75, 85 and beyond.

The report, from the Institute for Fiscal Studies, found that people in their 50s and 60s tend to underestimate their chances of survival to age 75 by around 20 percentage points and to 85 by around five to 10 percentage points. Meanwhile, those who have reached their 80s become overly optimistic about the chances that they will see 95.

The result is a significant gap between the assets required to generate a retirement income for that long and the probable need itself.

“As individuals are given more responsibility for saving for their retirement, and more freedom over how they use those savings in their later years, it is a concern that many are systematically misjudging their longevity,” said IFS research economist David Sturrock. “When people underestimate their chances of surviving through their 50s, 60s and 70s, they may save less during working life, and spend more in the earlier years of retirement than is appropriate, given their actual survival chances.

The Value of Real Estate IRAs

At American IRA, we believe Real Estate IRAs should be part of any significant retirement portfolio: real estate is a proven long-term income generator, which also provides the potential for capital gains, and the prospect of increasing rental income as a hedge against inflation.

Leverage and Real Estate IRAs

Real Estate IRAs also have the advantage of ready access to leverage.  This greatly increases the cash-on-cash return for Real Estate IRA investors as compared to more Traditional IRA asset classes, which are typically unleveraged.

Lenders know that real estate is a relatively stable source of wealth and makes excellent collateral for loans. It is therefore much easier to get financing for real estate than for other forms of investment. While you cannot sign a personal guarantee or pledge non-real estate assets as collateral for a loan to buy property within your Real Estate IRA, there are several lenders eager to help you finance Real Estate IRA properties. You just have to do your borrowing on a non-recourse basis.

This means the loan must be secured entirely by the property in your Real Estate IRA. The lender can have no claim or recourse against you, personally, nor any assets held both inside and outside the Self-Directed IRA.

We often see lenders willing to finance about 65 percent of the purchase price of the real estate investment, though they frequently have tighter requirements for condominiums or properties in historically volatile real estate markets, such as Florida.

You should be aware of the impact of unrelated debt-financed income tax, however, which may result in a current tax liability for gains attributable to borrowed money, rather than your own contributions to your retirement fund.

Real estate is also frequently a much better asset to pass on to heirs than a closely-held small business or other more esoteric investment; as homes are usually easier to sell than businesses.  Real estate investments could also be managed easier than a small business held within a Real Estate IRA, for example.

Real Estate IRAs and Diversification

Real Estate IRAs can also help protect owners against stock market risk: The more different asset classes you have making up your retirement portfolio, the less affected you could be by unexpected declines in any one asset class. We believe Self-Directed IRAs, including Real Estate IRAs, can help investors achieve meaningful diversification across a variety of asset classes that are difficult to access using conventional off-the-shelf retirement products available from Wall Street investment firms.

The combination of steady rental income streams, access to financing and leverage, potential capital gains and the possibility of keeping up with inflation make Real Estate IRAs an excellent addition to many of our clients’ retirement portfolios.

To learn more about Self-Directed IRAs and Real Estate IRAs, call American IRA at 866-7500-IRA (472), or visit www.AmericanIRA.com.

Self-Directed IRA Administrators vs. Custodians

More and more people are coming to understand the power behind Self-Directed IRA strategies.  Further, they are embracing the wisdom of diverse and unconventional asset classes while liberating their retirement portfolios from the narrow outlooks frequently characterizing the big Wall Street investment firms.

As such, with that knowledge comes the increased openings of Self-Directed IRA accounts.  Many of these new investors are not yet clear on the role of custodians and third-party administrators in the Self-Directed IRA industry – and the important distinctions between the two.

Let’s take a closer look.

IRA rules prohibit investors from taking personal, direct possession of assets within their Self-Directed IRAs. Yes, you can own the house down the block within your Self-Directed IRA, but you cannot personally reside there. What is more, you cannot keep the gold coins your IRA owns in a safe in your living room.  To use a more traditional example, it is no different than not being able to personally hold your stock certificates residing in a Schwab IRA account.

Custodians hold your Self-Directed IRA assets on your behalf.  Administrators process the paperwork on behalf of the custodian.  American IRA is an administrator and New Vision Trust Company, a South Dakota chartered Trust Company, holds the assets.  New Vision Trust Company and American IRA, LLC are an integrated financial company providing both custodial and administrative oversight for your Self-Directed IRA transactions.

A custodian handles transactions and holds Self-Directed IRAs and other retirement assets on your IRA’s behalf. The IRS has stringent requirements for Self-Directed IRA custodians. These businesses are subject to regular inspections and audits by federal regulators. They can hold titles, cash, investments and other types of property on investors’ IRAs’ behalf, and handle a lot of transactions.

If you own gold or other precious metals, or physical assets within an Self-Directed IRA, chances are there will be a custodian in the mix, holding the gold or other assets in a secure, insured facility somewhere – or at least physically holding certificates.

An IRA third party administrator, such as American IRA, LLC, has a more tapered scope of engagement. Administrators are the account record-keepers responsible for generating statements and documents. We do not hold assets directly, but work with New Vision Trust Company, a South Dakota chartered Trust Company on your behalf.  New Vision Trust Company and American IRA, LLC are an integrated financial company providing custodial and administrative oversight for your IRA transactions.  We simplify the process, document your transactions, generate statements and 1099s, and work with your advisors to help you stay in compliance with IRS rules and regulations.

We do not advise on the suitability or non-suitability of any particular investment for your individual portfolio. That is up to you and your own financial advisors. We focus on quickly and accurately executing and recording the transaction on your behalf, in accordance with IRS regulations.

Moving down the Self-Directed IRA industry hierarchy, there are other professionals and salespeople known in the industry as “promoters” and “facilitators.”

These individuals do not handle transactions and do not hold assets on your behalf, but they support the Self-Directed IRA process in other ways.

One type of promoter might be a real estate agent who focuses on helping investors find properties for their Real Estate IRAs, and who becomes very knowledgeable in that niche. Others are financial advisors, RIAs, IARs, accountants and attorneys who also promote the Self-Directed IRA approach and help facilitate your Self-Directed IRA strategy.

For example, an attorney may help create entities within your Self-Directed IRA such as C corporations and LLCs which may help insulate other properties and IRA assets against the claims of creditors.

Every Self-Directed IRA investor needs a custodian or administrator affiliated with one or more custodians to create and maintain a functional Self-Directed IRA account. Few are totally go-it-alone beyond that. Most investors require a knowledgeable and experienced, multi-disciplinary team of professionals to get the most out of their self-directed retirement accounts.

Fortunately, getting started in Self-Directed IRA investing is very easy, and our team of professionals at American IRA, LLC is available to help you throughout the process.

To learn more about our services as one of the leading Self-Directed IRA administrators in the country, or to set up an account and get started investing, call us today at 866-7500-IRA (472), or visit us at www.AmericanIRA.com.

You can also read more on this subject at our blog, here.

Do not delay! Give us a call today! We look forward to working with you!

Global Markets Sink

Invest your IRA in almost anything you want today!

Real Estate in your IRA
What’s your reaction to the market sink? Don’t let anyone else tell you where or how to invest! With a self-directed IRA from American IRA, LLC, you can invest in almost anything you want — real estate, precious metals including gold, silver, platinum and palladium, private stock, LLCs, and more!

Getting started is easy. Please contact our office for additional information.

U.S. Stocks Plunge Again

Invest your IRA in almost anything!

Precious metals in your IRA
Tired of investing in stocks and watching it NOT pay off? Want to try something a little more stable? With a self-directed IRA from American IRA, LLC, you can invest in almost anything you want — real estate, precious metals including gold, silver, platinum and palladium, private stock, LLCs, and more!

Getting started is easy. Please contact our office for additional information.

Copper Prices Continue to Fall

Invest your IRA in precious metals or almost anything else with American IRA, LLC!

Precious metals in your IRA
Not sure what to invest your IRA in? Want to keep all your options available? With a self-directed IRA from American IRA, LLC, you can invest in almost anything you want — real estate, precious metals including gold, silver, platinum and palladium, private stock, LLCs, and more!

Getting started is easy. Please contact our office for additional information.

Stocks Fall as Greece Worries Increase

Invest your IRA in almost anything!

Get unmatched freedom with a self-directed IRA!
Worried about stocks and wanting to invest in something else, or just hoping to find better stocks? With a self-directed IRA from American IRA, LLC, you can invest in almost anything you want — real estate, precious metals including gold, silver, platinum and palladium, private stock, LLCs, and more!

Getting started is easy. Please contact our office for additional information.

U.S. Dollar, Euro continue to fall

Invest in precious metals like gold and silver, or almost anything else you want with a self-directed IRA from American IRA, LLC

Precious metals in your IRA
Want some security and growth in your savings? With a self-directed IRA from American IRA, LLC, you can invest in almost anything you want — real estate, precious metals including gold, silver, platinum and palladium, private stock, LLCs, and more!

Getting started is easy. Please contact our office for additional information.