Question: How many personal finance websites do you think there are on the World Wide Web?
Answer: nearly 4,100, according to The Nielsen Company.
Question: How many good ones are there?
Answer: Far, far fewer according to one study.
Finance Websites That Work
In a study published this March, by the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College, Kimberly Blanton searches for the “finance websites that work.”
Blanton, a one-time Boston Globe reporter, now a writer for the Financial Security Project at BC splits the successful sites into three broad categories: financial data aggregators, financial decision tools, and personal finance communities. For each she selects a few of the most successful and searches for patterns behind their success. Continue reading →
According to a study by the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College , 401 (k) plans could seriously bring their costs down if they were to substitute Exchange Traded Funds for mutual funds in their retirement saving options for plan participants.
Their findings have interesting implications for investors in general, as they shed light on an area of mutual fund expenses not commonly discussed or easily quantified.
Generally when mutual fund fees are discussed, the figure used is the fund’s expense ratio. This is the cost of paying the fund manager, marketing and other fund overhead. For some actively managed funds it can be fairly high, and it’s generally lowest at passively managed index funds. Vanguard is especially well-known for its low fees (as it turns out, partly enabled by that firm’s particular ownership structure in which the funds own the firm.) As we have previously written up, according to Morningstar research, low fees are the single most reliable predictor of future fund performance, better than any other metric, including Morningstar’s own five star ranking system.
Expense ratios are fully disclosed and readily available in fund literature and at sites that follow the fund industry, including Morningstar.
The High Price of Fund Trading Fees
The study by the Center for Retirement Research focuses on a different cost, but one that is both difficult to track and quite significant: a fund’s trading costs. Continue reading →
Today many people expect to work past the traditional retirement age of 65. According to the 2010 Retirement Confidence Survey conducted by the Employee Benefits Research Institute (EBRI), today 33% of workers expect to retire after age 65, a dramatic increase. In 1991, only 11 percent felt that way. One reason may be that many of us won’t be eligible for full Social Security payments until age 67.
Working Longer, Not Saving Enough
Even more important, few of us feel highly confident that we’ll have enough saved for when retirement time comes: only 16% according to the EBRI survey. On this, the skeptics seem to be right. According to a study published last December by actuarial firm Nyhart, “most employees age 60-64 will likely need to work until the age of 75 to be able to afford to retire at their current levels of contribution to their 401(k).”
Extending retirement further out into the future is also frequently proposed as a solution for the funding problems facing Social Security. In her recent analysis of the the current US economic situation, USA, Inc., former Morgan Stanley Internet analyst, and current Silicon Valley venture capitalist, Mary Meeker outlines the impact of moving Social Security eligibility from 67 to 73.