Retirement Planning

Today’s Best Retirement Strategies

A large percentage of Americans today struggle with understanding the financial ramifications of retirement.

That’s why Joseph D. Wirbick, founder, president and co-owner of Sequinox based in Lancaster, Pa., wrote his book, “Everything They Never Told You About Retirement.”“There is a lack of basic understanding of financial planning principles in America today,” Wirbick said. “The average American does not truly understand what their 401(k) is; they don’t really grasp what an IRA or a Roth IRA is. They don’t grasp the implications that taxes have on their retirement account. Most don’t even know what tax bracket they are in currently.”

The most common fallacy is the notion that once retired, a person will be in a lower tax bracket. People sock money away via delayed tax strategies, mistakenly believing that when it is time to pay those taxes, they will fall in a bracket where the government takes a smaller chunk.

“Not true. Not most of the time anyway,” Wirbick said.

“Putting money away pre-tax is a bad idea probably for most people,” he said. “It is a bad idea that was put upon us in the 1970s and ‘80s when taxes were much higher. Today, taxes are lower. Unfortunately, planning strategies for retirement savings haven’t changed to reflect that. People should have switched away from pre-tax savings – but most have not.”

He describes his new book as a “good beginner piece” that most can sit down to read, easily getting through it in three to four hours and finishing it with “a really good understanding” of the basics of today’s financial planning realities.

“There is something for everyone – and everyone can get something substantial out of this book,” Wirbick noted.

Wirbick explained how he seeks clients who are willing to listen to investment and savings ideas and strategies that may be “outside the box.”

He looks for clients who do not come to him with preconceived notions about the different types of investment strategies available in today’s financial marketplace.

“Some investments have gotten bad reputations because the advisor used them in the wrong situation,” Wirbick said. “But in reality, for the right situation and for the right client, that investment strategy could work.”

Fixed annuities are one example.

Wirbick is a member of the National Association for Fixed Annuities and big proponent of their use in securing a client’s retirement future.

Depending on the needs of each individual, Wirbick often recommends putting 20 to even 40 percent of a client’s assets into fixed annuities.

“So many of the average new clients coming in to my office have 98 percent of their money sitting in the market at risk,” Wirbick observed. “People just do not understand that they don’t need to take that level of risk to accomplish their goals.”

His approach to Social Security planning is different from that of much of the financial planning industry, which views Social Security as a behemoth whose usefulness is past.

“I love Social Security. It should be a huge part of your planning,” Wirbick said. “If you are sitting down with an advisor and they are not helping you with Social Security, then you need to find a new advisor.”

Of course, the idea of waiting to take Social Security benefits until age 70 isn’t new, but Wirbick’s approach to facilitating it is a bit unique.
He promotes taxing income out of an IRA first.

“That IRA is a ticking time bomb,” Wirbick said. “People often make the mistake of taking their Social Security early in those first few years of retirement and live a few years of great bliss in which they don’t pay taxes. But once they start taking the money out of their IRA as well, their taxes go up 800 to 900 percent.”

Wirbick would rather clients spend down some of their IRA, paying the taxes necessary there first – and then tap into Social Security at age 70, when its value has compounded at eight percent per year since age 66.

“It is one of the only planning techniques we have that actually has built-in cost of living adjustments meaning that every year in which we have true inflation in our economy, Social Security goes up as well,” Wirbick said. “Just don’t take Social Security at age 62. That is a terrible idea; a horrible idea. Don’t do it.”

Another move Wirbick warns against is allowing world events to sway one’s investment choices and style.

Wirbick’s previous career as a translator in the Intelligence Department of the US Army left him with an informed opinion regarding the impact of world events back stateside.

“Without a doubt, the time I spent in the Army definitely helps guide everything I do in my life now going forward, including the advice I give to my clients,” Wirbick said. “When I hear the rhetoric on the news, I can break that down and talk to my clients and let them fully understand what it means for them personally and for their investment security.”

Wirbick knows that the stock market will “blow up” temporarily whenever black swan events such as Brexit occur.

“But those are short-term events that don’t warrant a complete pull from the market,” he said.

“I believe that I am there as the voice of reason to assure them that, ‘we can make it through this, we can take care of this,’” Wirbick said. “And to keep them from making costly mistakes.”

Learn more about Joseph D. Wirbick and his firm, Sequinox, at and

Securities offered through J.W. Cole Financial, Inc. (JWC), Member FINRA/SIPC. Advisory Services offered through J.W. Cole Advisors, Inc (JWCA). Sequinox and JWC/JWCA are unaffiliated entities.

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