Why Did You Launch Your Retirement Services?

Grace Tripathy

“Why did you launch your retirement services?” is the key question for Bob Carlson, the leader of the Retirement Watch investment newsletter and webinars.


Important topics he addresses focus on investments, estate planning, annuities, social security, long-term care and Medicare. The main ways he communicates with his subscribers each month occur through his 16-page Retirement Watch newsletter and his Spotlight Series of online webinars.

Roughly half the people who subscribe to his newsletter and Spotlight Series of online webinars are already retired, while the other half are planning retirement, Carlson said.

“Most of the readers who are not retired are within 10 years of retirement, [with the exception of] a few younger readers who are thinking long term and trying to really get ahead of things,” Carlson said.


Why Did You Launch Your Retirement Services? Offer Guidance

When a financial issue arises for a retiree or one who is planning for retirement, Carlson covers it. As an independent, objective expert, Carlson utilizes many resources to reach the best solutions for people in different financial situations.

“I do independent, objective research, so I come up with what I think are the best solutions for people in different situations,” Carlson said. “I’m not biased towards or against anything. So, we try to cover all the financial aspects of retirement and do it in an objective, independent way.”

Why Did You Launch Your Retirement Services? Provide More Than Tax Tips

Over 31 years ago, after receiving questions about IRAs and topics aside from tax, Carlson released a written report called “Retirement Taxes,” where he covered important topics regarding taxes during the retirement process and how to prepare. Upon receiving positive feedback, he decided to launch a monthly newsletter covering all of retirement finance.

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“There weren’t too many people really getting into the retirement finance issues,” Carlson said. “When they talked about retirement, it really was about how to save and invest for retirement. I saw there was an unserved need where there were Baby Boomers   [nearing] retirement age.”

The first issue of Carlson’s Retirement Watch newsletter was released in November 1991, and has been a helpful asset to people for the last 31 years. Carlson’s Spotlight Series webinars, however, came about four years ago.

Why Did You Launch Your Retirement Services? Driven By Growing Need

The Retirement Watch Spotlight Series webinars are an addition to the monthly Retirement Watch newsletter where Carlson chooses a topic or multiple related topics from a newsletter to cover in depth.

“Readers from Retirement Watch… wanted more detail than we could cover in a newsletter. We looked around and decided the best thing I could do is come up with these online seminars where I go from 30 to 60 minutes… and I go into more detail than I can in a newsletter,” Carlson said.

Carlson’s Retirement Watch Spotlight Series is a great source of additional information stemming from his monthly Retirement Watch newsletters. It also serves as a convenient form of content as viewers can listen to it wherever they have internet access.

Why Did You Launch Your Retirement Services? Investments and Much More

While Retirement Watch covers all the financial aspects of retirement, it’s divided into two sections. The first section covers the non-investment topics: estate planning, taxes, annuities, Medicare and more. Meanwhile, the other section covers investments.

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“I have several model portfolios for different types of investors with different risk appetites and different return goals,” Carlson said. “So instead of just having one model portfolio, I try to have something for the different types of people rather than trying to force people into one kind of investment strategy.”

Carlson’s portfolios are separated to match viewers’ preferences. For example, “Retirement Paycheck” portfolio is for people who want income from their investments, however there are other portfolios tailored to people who are more growth oriented but have different levels of risk within their investments. The “Sector” is known to be the riskiest one; there are also “Balanced” and “Income Growth” portfolios, as well as a buy-and-hold portfolio called “True Diversification.”

“Most people think they have a diversified portfolio, but when you look at it, it’s really mostly just stocks and bonds,” Carlson said. “And the returns and the volatility for it are really just tied to the stock market.”

Why Did You Launch Your Retirement Services? Provide Portfolios

Various studies have shown that with your standard portfolio that’s 60% stocks and 40% bonds, 90% or more of your returns and volatility depend on what’s going on with the stock index.

“With the True Diversification portfolio, we have a larger group of assets that we look at, so you’re not as heavily tied to the stock market,” Carlson said.

“That means we lag behind when stocks are doing well as they did the previous few years.” But with the “True Diversification” portfolio, Carlson provides a larger group of assets so that viewers are not as heavily tied to the stock market. But this means that the portfolio returns don’t depend on how the stock market is doing.

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“When stocks are doing poorly or mediocre, we do better, Carlson said. “Over the full market cycle, we’ve shown that we have a very similar return, with about half the volatility [which is] good for retirees because they don’t like to see their portfolios going down once they’ve stopped earning a paycheck.”

Why Did You Launch Your Retirement Services? Positive Feedback

Since Carlson has launched his Retirement Watch newsletter and more recently, his Retirement Watch Spotlight Series webinars, he has received high levels of positive feedback from his viewers, including emails and interactions at conferences.

“I keep in touch with my readers… I look at their questions, what issues they have, and really, some of the best ideas I’ve gotten for newsletter articles have been from readers telling me what their real problems are, and how they can’t find a solution to it. My findings published in Retirement Watch aim to provide solutions for all financial retirement issues,” Carlson said.

So that’s all for this week. But Bob, thank you so much for joining me today and I look forward to interviewing you again next week. Thank you. Have a great one.

Grace Tripathy is an editorial intern who writes for www.stockinvestor.com.

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