Category: Annuities

Government Employees Can Choose Their NPS Fund Managers

pension plansThe National Pension System (NPS) is a defined contribution retirement plan offered by the government. The plan is regulated by the Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority (PFRDA).

Subscribers must avail their Tier 1 NPS accounts with one of the PFRDA-appointed Point of Presence (POP). The contributions may be invested in 3 asset classes’ viz. equities, government securities, and corporate bonds. These funds are managed by professional fund managers designated by the regulator.

NPS is compulsory for government employees except the armed forces. The plan is optional for the private sector personnel. An increasing number of private sector employees are choosing NPS to take advantage of the various tax benefits available under the Income Tax (IT) Act.

Here is how government employees may choose fund managers

Permanent Retirement Account Number (PRAN)

Applicants are updated about their PRAN application status through an email or SMS. This number is unique for each subscriber, which makes the NPS account completely portable. The applicants may check the status with the POP or the regulator’s website in case the PRAN card is not received.

Choosing the fund manager

Government employees did not have the liberty of choosing their fund manager as available under the All Citizen Model. The state or the central government had the responsibility of choosing the fund managers. However, recently, PFRDA announced that public sector employees will now be at par and may choose their preferred fund manager to handletheir NPS contributions.

Being able to choose their preferred fund manager provides the subscribers an opportunity to assume higher risks and enjoy better NPS interest rate. The returns on NPS contributions depend on the percentage that is invested in the different asset classes. Therefore, by investing the maximum permissible amount (50% of the total annual contribution) in equities offers investors the chance to earn higher returns.

Changing the fund manager

The private sector personnel also have the option of changing the fund manager in case they are unsatisfied with the services. The proposed modification by the regulator also makes the option of changing the fund manager available for the government employees.

Opportunity to earn higher returns

The public sector employer matches the annual contribution made by the employees to the NPS. Having the option to choose their preferred fund manager allows the subscribers to take advantage of investing more in equities, which may potentially increase their returns.

The NPS corpus may be withdrawn on maturity. Investors may withdraw 60% of this amount as a lump sum. The balance must be compulsorily converted to an annuity plan. Subscribers may use a pension plan calculator to estimate the potential returns on their investments.

The revised norms for government subscribers make NPS beneficial for the investors. They may now choose the fund manager and the investment breakdown to maximize their returns.However, the existing system of the government choosing the fund manager will also continue for those subscribers who do not want to make their own choice.

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Ways to Improve Your Chances of Winning a Lawsuit

financial legal mattersWinning a lawsuit is a huge challenge, but it can be done as long as you have a good plan of action in place. It’s all about making sure that you are prepared for the challenge ahead before you even get started. Here are some top ways that will improve your chances of success.

Consider the Costs

Fighting a lawsuit is certainly not cheap, no matter which side of the court you’re on. So, you need to consider the costs beforehand. If you don’t think that you can afford to go ahead, don’t quit just yet. There are many charitable organisations and governments that can help people on low incomes to get justice. No one should have to accept not getting justice just because they’re not rich. And if you’re pursuing a personal injury claim, you might be able to get pre-settlement funding. This helps you to stay on top of the costs while the court case is still ongoing. It can be a huge help.

Get the Best Lawyer

There is always a temptation to not hire a lawyer. Many people think that they can represent themselves and succeed. But this is not the movies where the little guy beats the big guy. The chances are the person with the better lawyer will win the case. This is not always how it plays out, but it’s a bigger factor than most people realise. The best lawyer will be able to give you the expertise, experience and skills they have. When you have those things behind your case pushing it forward, your chances of success increase greatly. So, hire a lawyer that has dealt with cases that are similar to yours in the past. Look at their success rate too.

Get Evidence

If your case relies on you having to prove that another person did something, you need to have evidence to back up what you’re claiming. This is how many civil disputes work. If you are pursuing a personal injury claim because someone was responsible for an injury you sustained, evidence is vital. You need to have independent witnesses who can back up your claims. And you also need the testimony of the doctor who treated your injuries. If you don’t have those things, then it is simply your word vs your opponent’s. And that is always a risky gamble when you’re in court.

Prepare for Court

There are many things that can be daunting about appearing in court. Having to speak in front of a judge and present your case is not always the easiest thing in the world. That’s why preparation is so vitally important. You can never prepare too much. But you can definitely prepare too little. If you walk into the court without knowing exactly what the plan is and how you’re going to present your case, you’ll be in trouble. You don’t want to do this because it could jeopardise your entire case, and that’s not what you want. So, remain calm, and listen to all the advice that your lawyer gives you.

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Guide to the Different Kinds of US Bonds Available Today

All about US bondsBorrowing money is something that’s hard to avoid, both for individuals and large organizations. Even if you have an ample budget, some investments require more. In a large scale, the government and companies issue bonds to aid in borrowing large sums of money. They receive these funds by issuing bonds, which investors purchase. Most bonds have a maturity date, which is when the issuer must pay the investors back. When this occurs, the investor is awarded additional compensation on top of whatever their initial investment was.

The concept of bonds is fairly straightforward, but identifying the different kinds of bonds available today in the US can be daunting to someone with little bond and investment experience. Yet it’s certainly something to look into, with two primary advantages: purchasing bonds can strengthen one’s financial portfolio, and help them stay knowledgeable about market trends. Substantial income can be earned through investing in the right bonds. In general, the types of bonds are grouped by the type of organization or individual that issues them. There are four primary types of bonds that one can purchase in the US:

Municipal bonds are issued by local government, often to provide funding for local projects like improving school districts, sewage systems, publicly owned airports, and rehabilitation centers. Any capital gain from a municipal bond is taxable, and may be counted as income if sold at a profit prior to maturity. Still, many municipal bonds are exempt from interest via state and/or federal income tax, though this tax advantage does result in lower interest rates.

Your tax bracket is important to keep in mind when deciding to purchase municipal bonds. Use the Taxable Equivalent Yield – which is Tax-exempt yield divided by (1 – your marginal tax rate) – to help identify the yield on a taxable municipal bond. There are tools that calculate Taxable Equivalent Yield, as well. In general, tax-free municipal bonds are not useful for low income brackets, as the taxes they are saving may not compensate for the lower interest rates.

Corporate bonds are issued by corporations in order to expand their business. Its maturity date is often after a year from its issue date, with the occasional “commercial paper” corporate bonds having a shorter maturity span. Standard & Poor’s, Moody’s, and other rating services provide an estimate on whether a corporate bond issuer will be able to meet scheduled payments, with the ‘AAA’ rating having the lowest risk and ‘D’ having the highest risk. Using these ratings can help investors avoid high-risk investments.

Mortgage Backed Securities is a security that involves mortgages, often many mortgages. The multitude of mortgages involved makes it perhaps the most high-risk form of bond investment, but it can also result in some of the highest yields. This is how it works: mortgages are sold to either an investment bank or government agent that combines these loans into a tidy security, which investors can purchase. Unlike other bonds, which have a maturity date, mortgage-backed securities are paid off periodically.Ginnie Mae and Freddie Mac are the most common entities that issue mortgage-backed securities.

U.S. Government Securities present some of the most diverse types of bonds. They are issued by the US Department of Treasury, and exist in periodic additional payments to the bondholder, in addition to the principal amount being reimbursed at the maturity date. The government is the largest issuer of debt securities, and as a result these are considered some of the safest fixed-income investment opportunities. Different types of U.S. government securities include a T-Bill, U.S. Treasury Note, U.S. Treasury Bond, Savings bonds, and zero-coupon bond, the latter of which pays no interest but is issued at a discount that depends on the maturity length. You can purchase U.S. government securities directly though the US Department of Treasury.

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Financial Advisor Tips: The Risks Of Variable Annuities

Retirement AnnuitiesNot all annuities are the same

One of the safe retirement investment options currently on the market are annuities. It might surprise you as these have a reputation as unsafe financial products. Anyway, the truth is that there is very much confusion about annuities.

Such investment vehicles are not all the same. Except variable annuities, there are other similar options which are much safer, like fixed annuities. However, as some condemn all annuities, others tend to present the variable type as the one which can generate the higher gains.

Misleading information and an improper knowledge about these products is what leads people to choose variable annuities for their retirement plans. One the one hand, it is true that this option allows you to get high returns, but this opportunity is to set against some factors that can compromise your retirement income.

What are variable annuities?

Variable annuities are a security and consist in a mutual fund subaccount which includes fees that can reach 7%. These include extra fees that not every investment option has and can be therefore avoided. Variable annuities, in fact, are insured by an insurance company that normally charges management expenses along with other fees.

As the name suggests, the gains generated by this type of financial product can considerably vary as they are highly influenced by the market performance. It means that if you invest an amount of money today, an economical downturn can produce a negative return causing you to lose part or all of your money. That considered, variable annuities are definitely not the best way to ensure a fruitful retirement.

What makes variable annuities risky?

The worst thing about annuities are the many fees you’ll need to pay and that not every financial advisor will tell you about. When planning your retirement you most probably consider important to ensure a safe, steady income. One of the most important things to avoid is unnecessary fees.

In the case of variable annuities, up to 2% of the fees consist in management fees, which are due to the peculiar way this investment option is managed. To these, you have to add up expense fees that, like management costs, you will need to pay to the insurance company that manage your account even in case it crashes.

From this point of view, variable annuities differ considerably from other accounts that only include fees related to your contributions payment or money withdrawals. As experts say, the many fees included in a variable annuity can seriously compromise your gains as you might end up losing money even if your investments do well.

Federica writes for First Senior Financial Group, providing investment education to people at or near retirement with a team of Philadelphia retirement financial advisors. 

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