Reader’s Perspective: Question and Answer with Jeffrey S. Cohen, CIMA, AIF, Financial Advisor with Wells Fargo AdvisorsBy Paul Curley | email@example.com | March 29, 2017
What are the key trends in college financial planning going forward?
This article features an interview with Jeff Cohen, a financial advisor with Wells Fargo Advisors. Based in Lutherville, Maryland, Jeff focuses on wealth management and employee benefit plans. Prior to Wells Fargo Advisors, Jeff worked in the investment management industry for over ten years and earned his Certified Investment Management Analyst certification in 2012. Additionally, he holds the Accredited Investment Fiduciary (AIF) designation, earned a Bachelor’s degree in Marketing from Pennsylvania State University, and holds the Series 7, 63, 65, 3 & Life /Health Licenses. You can learn more about Jeff Cohen, at http://www.mirvisholmeswealthmanagementgroup.com/. Last but not least, I would like to thank Jeff for his time, insight and support in working with me on the article. I learned a lot through our call and discussion, and think you can too in the article below. Please read the question and answers to learn about his perspective on college planning, and hope that the article provides you with an opportunity to learn more from your peers.
Question 1 (Paul Curley, Editor of the 529 Dash): How do you approach college planning strategies with your clients?
Answer 1 (Jeffrey S. Cohen, CIMA, AIF, Financial Advisor with Wells Fargo Advisors): Our team focuses on investment planning using Wells Fargo Advisors’ Envision® process, which has the ability to calculate the probability of funding education goals in conjunction with all other goals reflected in the client’s overall investment plan. One strategy we use to help our clients reach their education planning goals is the use of a 529 plan. Where appropriate we will use the in-state plan, or search all of the available plans for what we believe is the best option for our clients based on their stated objectives. We believe that having the 529 option is one of the best tools that we have in our toolbox to help clients save for their children’s and grandchildren’s education needs.
Question 2: How do you integrate college planning into your discussions with a client?
Answer 2: As we go through the Envision process, we talk to our clients about their goals in life which include funding education for their children. We then include a college cost analysis in their plan and show them how much they would need to put away in a 529 to fund that expense.
Question 3: Are there any areas where product providers and states could better support those seeking a 529 savings plan?
Answer 3: Having a resource from the mutual fund companies as well as the states is extremely valuable when vetting different 529 plans. There are so many different options, plan providers, and investments to choose from, that you really need a dedicated resource to help navigate through all of it.
Question 4: What key trends do you see in college financial planning going forward?
Answer 4: One trend that we are hoping to see expanded is employers offering a 529 plan option plan as a benefit to their employees. With so many fund companies offering an employer sponsored option, it can be a great way for companies to add to their benefit roster and focus on the future for their employees.
Question 5: Are there any questions that I overlooked?
Answer 5: The biggest pushback we get is whether or not to use the state plan and get the tax deduction or to go through a broker sold plan or another state plan that may have different investment options. College savings plans offered by each state differ significantly in features and benefits. The optimal plan for each investor depends on his or her individual objectives and circumstances. In comparing plans, each investor should consider each plan’s investment options, fees and state tax implications. Client’s will sometimes only focus on one small benefit of the 529, being a state tax deduction, and overlook performance, fees, and overall cost of the plan when making a decision. Investors should be aware that 529 plans are subject to enrollment, maintenance, administrative and management fees and expenses and that the availability of such a tax or other benefits may be conditioned on meeting certain requirements. Also there are a large number of new parents that are simply not aware of the 529 plan and why it may make sense for them to utilize it. This is why I am making it a major focus of my business to educate parents, help them pick an appropriate plan for them, and get the process started as early on as possible.
Editor’s Final Note: Thank you Jeff Cohen for your time and insight for this article. Also, I would like to provide a special thank you to the readers for learning from your peers, for your support and your engagement.
Disclosure: Please consider the investment objectives, risks, charges and expenses carefully before investing in a 529 savings plan. The official statement, which contains this and other information, can be obtained by calling your financial advisor. Read it carefully before you invest. An investor should consider, before investing, whether the investor’s or designated beneficiary’s home state offers any state tax or other benefits that are only available for investments in such state’s 529 college savings plan. The availability of such tax or other benefits may be conditioned on meeting certain requirements 529 Plans are subject to enrollment, maintenance, administrative and management fees and expenses. Non-qualified withdrawals are subject to federal and state income tax and a 10% penalty. College savings plans offered by each state differ significantly in features and benefits. The optimal plan for each investor depends on his or her individual objectives and circumstances. In comparing plans, each investor should consider each plan’s investment options, fees and state tax implication. The investment return and principal value of the investment options are subject to market risk and will fluctuate, and when sold, may be worth more or less than the original cost.