Some People Think Dividends Are Confusing

April 11, 2016 — Leave a comment

Back in January, I received a small book from a financial advisor who uses an indexed universal insurance policy as the backbone for his financial plan. His strategy is very similar to the Bank on Yourself scheme, but with a different underlying product.

I wasn’t satisfied with some of his charts and graphs because he (like every other insurance person I know) left out dividends when discussing the performance of the S&P 500 Index. I emailed him and asked him about his methods. After a few exchanges over several weeks, he finally told me this:

“The reason I did not use dividends (and as you point out I do say this in the book) is just to not complicate the analysis. If I wanted to include dividends I would also include taxes and management fees in the S&P account and then I would want to include the cost of insurance in the life insurance policy.”

Wow.

Folks, financial planning isn’t all that complicated. It gets complicated when people invent all these different “strategies” to help sell commission-based products. Don’t misunderstand, I am not putting all the blame on the insurance industry. I worked for PaineWebber for awhile and saw just as much underhanded behavior as I see in the insurance business. Call it the flipside of a poopcicle.

This author says he didn’t include S&P 500 dividends because it would complicate the analysis, but I think he didn’t include them because it would make his strategy not look as good by comparison. I mean, who wants to write a book about your financial planning strategy and have the strategy look bad?

Bottom line: KNOW what you’re getting. If you read it and don’t understand it, TALK to someone else. Ask questions. And yes, I’m biased but I think it can’t hurt to talk to a fee-only financial planner before making any major decisions. There are times and circumstances when an insurance-based strategy might make sense, but the vast majority of people would be better off using index funds for investing and insurance for protection.

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