Welcome to our Blog! At Baron Silver Stevens, we feel it is important to empower our clients with information that can positively affect their lives.

Throughout our Blog, you will find interesting articles, updates on our firm, and practical financial planning tips.

7 Important Reasons to Set Financial Goals

7 Important Reasons to Set Financial Goals

No matter what stage of life you may currently be in, setting financial goals is imperative. A Harvard Business Study conducted in the late 1970s, revealed that only 3 percent of the students in its MBA program had put pen to paper to write down their goals and a concrete plan. Ten years later, that same small segment of students who wrote down their goals were earning ten times as much as the remaining 97 percent of their class. While there are debates regarding the legitimacy of this study, the outcome highlights an undisputable fact: setting well-defined, written goals is critical to accomplishing them.

Setting goals as they relate to your finances is the first step in achieving financial health and security. Identifying and thinking through both short-term and long-term financial goals will play a tremendous role in dictating your financial future. The following are some of the most important reasons to set financial goals:

  1. Developing a realistic plan. Taking action to define your financial goals will outline where you are now compared to where you would like to be. Having a monetary value aligned with a retirement goal will set the groundwork for how to get there.
  2. Forcing yourself to prioritize. Are you determined to be charitable in retirement? Has it always been your goal to put your grandchildren through college? Do you want to take multiple annual vacations in retirement? These are excellent goals, but most people cannot afford to do it all. Setting financial goals will force your hand in prioritizing what is most important to you.
  3. Quantifying your goals. Placing an estimated number on the goals you wish to accomplish is essential to understanding what you will need in savings and investments to realize them.
  4. Measuring your progress. Few better motivators exist than the feeling of reaching a goal. Creating strategic, specific financial goals and tracking progress on them will keep you disciplined to stay on course.
  5. Adjusting your strategy based on your financial goals. Once you have defined goals, you are better able to cultivate an exact plan to get there. Financial planning experts will be better equipped to look at investment plans based on those financial goals.
  6. Staying accountable. Specific goals allow for you to stay on track with attaining them. Vague goals like “try to save more for my retirement” are easy to evade, but specific financial goals will keep your eye on the prize.
  7. Celebrating financial milestones. Crafting a set of financial goals gives you the opportunity to celebrate once you achieve them. In doing so, you are continually pushing to achieve that next financial milestone.

There is no particular age or financial situation that is not suited for financial planning. The ability to set clear, specific financial goals will serve as a guiding light in your journey through retirement.

At Baron Silver Stevens Financial Advisors, our retirement planning, wealth management, and financial planning team is here to help you determine financial goals that make sense for you and your family. Contact our financial planning office in Boca Raton today to learn more about your financial future!

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Do It Yourself Retirement Planning- Consider this:

Do It Yourself Retirement Planning- Consider this:

Did you know that when Andrew Carnegie was drafted by the Army to fight in the U.S. Civil War, he paid another man $850 to report for duty in his place?

Granted, this was common at the time but this is a prime example of how this tycoon mastered the art of delegation.

In the early 1870s, Andrew Carnegie co-founded what would later be known as Carnegie Steel Company. By 1902, he was the richest man in the world.

According to Carnegie, “No person will make a great business who wants to do it all himself or get all the credit.” Undoubtedly, without Carnegie’s ability to delegate and outsource tasks, he would never have grown into the success that we think of him today.

So, let’s talk about delegating/outsourcing.

Throughout your career, you built a skillset that allowed you to complete jobs or projects better than anyone else. Once you got to a particular level of success, if a task came along that didn’t require your specific skillset, chances are you delegated that task to others (i.e. clerical staff, interns, entry level employees, outside firms, etc.) This makes perfect sense.

The reason why you did this was to maximize the utility of your time so you can spend it doing the most important thing that you could possibly be doing.

But now you’re retired. So what’s changed?

Your unique skillset is no longer the most important thing you can be doing with your time. Now that you’re retired, the most important thing you can be doing with your time is living your life. Your duty is to yourself.

So, do you really want to hire yourself as your own financial planner?

I don’t want to sound like a pessimist here, but life doesn’t last forever and to compare things to golf, in retirement you’re kind of on the back 9.

Why would you spend your extremely valuable time trying to do your own financial planning when you can easily outsource it to a qualified financial planner for a reasonable fee? 

Here are some reasons why you should consider hiring a financial planner:

1) “That’s MY MONEY!”

The “Do It Yourself” approach to financial and retirement planning can be tricky. The simple fact that it’s YOUR MONEY makes you extremely emotional about most decisions.

 How could you not be? You are human after all and this is your hard earned money that you’ve spent your entire career accumulating.

This is where it helps to have an objective, qualified financial planner steer you in the right direction and be the voice of reason when you get caught up in tough, important, and emotional decisions. 

 2) Peace of Mind

Have you ever bought something from a store that you have to build yourself at home? I have and I always question whether or not I built it well. (If my fiancé is asking, then OF COURSE I built it well.) But the fact is I would probably be more comfortable if the folks from the store came out and professionally installed it.

Hiring a financial planner is similar. It gives you peace of mind knowing that one of the top five most important things in your life (your finances) is being handled professionally. This means that you know your estate planning has been done properly, your assets are titled properly, your investment portfolio is efficient and not taking unnecessary risk, and all of the other things a financial planner can assist in.

3) Time

 Ask yourself this simple question: “What’s more important in life, time or money?”

(Time being the time that’s freed up when you outsource this work to a financial planner and money being the fee you pay to do so.)

Outsourcing your financial planning gives you your time back. Plain and simple.

Time is your most valuable resource because it has a finite value. You could attempt to handle your portfolio and planning, sure, but why would you?  You should be making the most out of your time every day!

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Is It Smart for Retirees To Pay Off Their Mortgage?

Is It Smart for Retirees To Pay Off Their Mortgage?

Reaching retirement and relishing in a ceremonial mortgage-burning party was a twentieth-century custom recognized by many Americans. At that time, there was no better reason to celebrate than rejoicing in the liberty that comes with paying off your mortgage. Fast-forward to 2018, where mortgage-burning parties rarely, if ever, occur. Why? Well for starters, etiquette experts strongly disagree with the custom. But beyond that, financial advisors are now pushing baby boomers to reevaluate whether or not paying off mortgage debt makes sense.

A recent survey from American Financing, a national mortgage banker, revealed that 44 percent of Americans ages 60-70 still have a mortgage upon retirement. Baby boomers seem to be much less debt-averse than the previous generation of Depression-affected retirees, pushing them to reconsider the benefits of paying off their mortgages. As such, retirees will look to a financial advisor to conduct a strategic analysis of an individual’s financial situation, revealing the pros and cons of carrying mortgage debt into retirement. Most notably, financial planners will evaluate the following:

  1. Mortgage terms
  2. Amount of savings
  3. Expected retirement income

Crunching the numbers is imperative, as each individual case likely requires a different proposed retirement plan. So, measuring a variety of factors will determine what makes the most financial sense. For instance, people who intend to stay in their home forever and have the means to pay off their mortgage while retaining the retirement assets they need for a comfortable life may want to go ahead and do so. Particularly in scenarios where the interest rate exceeds the return on investment. Plus, increased cash flow and an equity cushion for emergency situations is both wise and comforting for retirees.

Conversely, people who lack adequate savings and have not completely funded their retirement plan find themselves in a different scenario. In this situation, keeping the money liquid can be important from a cash flow perspective. The home mortgage interest deduction should also be considered. Retirees must evaluate if the after-tax returns are greater than the after-tax mortgage rate.

As stated above, the right financial path to take hinges on factors specific to the individual retiree. Therefore, speaking with a financial planner is essential to living a comfortable, stress-free retirement. Retirement and financial planning means creating a written strategy to satisfy your personal goals and objectives. In doing so, you are safeguarding your future and minimizing risk.

At Baron, Silver, Stevens Financial Advisors, our financial planning and wealth management team is here to help our clients do the planning necessary so they can have a happy and fulfilling retirement. Running out of money is one of the biggest fears among retirees. Take a look at our Retirement Shortfall Calculator for insight into your personal retirement savings status and determine your projected shortfall or surplus at retirement. Contact our Boca Raton financial planning office today to learn more!

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Let’s Think About Investment Risk Differently, Here’s How:

Let’s Think About Investment Risk Differently, Here’s How:


Most of us know that there are risks when it comes to investing in the public markets and that we should build our investment portfolios within a general level of risk. We take risk questionnaires and use prior life experience to classify ourselves as a conservative, moderate, or aggressive investor (or somewhere in between.)

But what does “risk” really mean?

Traditionally, most asset managers and financial advisors use the term “volatility” or “standard deviation” to define risk. Both of these terms refer to the amount of short term price fluctuation an investment is expected to experience.

The more the price of an investment goes up and/or down, the higher the volatility/ standard deviation, therefore the “more risky” the investment is.  

Although this is all statistically accurate, we think the biggest risk for most investors is a bit simpler- not achieving your financial goals.

Think about it like this: in your retirement portfolio, is the biggest risk:

  1. short term price fluctuation or
  2. in one way, shape, or form, for whatever reason, you won’t have enough money to retire comfortably

Now, hopefully, we are starting to focus on what really matters.

The next step is to ask yourself the following question:

“On a scale from 1-10, 1 being the expected risk and return of cash and CD’s, and a 10 being the expected risk and return of the S&P500, where would you say you are? Knowing if you say a 10, you will get all the ups and all of the downs of the S&P500.”

This is one of the questions we ask our clients that allows us to look at risk differently. We are essentially finding out how much the boat can rock before you want to call it quits.  

We take this number and we pair it with a term called Beta.

In our assessment, Beta shows how closely an investment moves up and down with the S&P500. An investment with a beta of 1 will move identically with the S&P500.

Going back to the 1-10 questions, if you say you are a 6, we build your portfolio to have a Beta of 0.60. This allows us to define risk more precisely and track it over time so we both know where you sit in terms of risk. (A little better than “moderately something”, right?)

But remember, the biggest risk is that you don’t achieve your financial goal. So this conversation about risk is useless without a financial plan.

We need to know where you are and where you want to be. By looking at it this way, we can identify how much money you need to earn on your investments to get you from A to B. We call this your target rate of return.

Based on your target rate of return and how you feel about moving with the ups and downs of the market, we can now determine:

  1. whether or not your goals are realistic and
  2. how to go about investing your money in a way that’s designed to help you reach your goals and keep you invested along the way.
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Why Are We Still Talking About Active vs. Passive?

Why Are We Still Talking About Active vs. Passive?

For the past few years, a big debate in the investment world has been active investing vs. passive investing and which style is better. 

Active investing involves picking stocks with the hopes of outperforming the market or achieving a higher rate of return with lower risk than a particular benchmark. Most commonly, active investing is practiced in the form of purchasing an actively managed mutual fund. Active investing is also commonly associated with higher fees than passive investing.

Passive investing, on the other hand, most frequently involves purchasing an index mutual fund or an ETF that seeks to mirror an index. Instead of trying to beat the market, the passive investment seeks to earn market returns minus fees, and the fees are generally lower than that of actively managed funds. 

But everyone is focused on the wrong things here.

The conversation shouldn’t be about active vs. passive, as if one style of investing is the best for every asset class in every market for every investor. It’s silly to think any style of investment would be good for everyone in every situation. 

The conversation should be about where an active manager can add value, and where they cannot. 

Over a 15-year period, 92.33% of large-cap managers, 94.81% of mid-cap managers, and 95.73% of small-cap managers failed to outperform on a relative basis1. The argument can be made that this is because most markets are efficient and there is so much talent competing in these spaces that most of the alpha is squeezed out.

But active investments can have a place in your portfolio. 

The Wharton Wealth Management Initiative says active managers can add value in the follow ways: 

  • “Flexibility  –  because active managers, unlike passive ones, are not required to hold specific stocks or bonds
  • Hedging  –  the ability to use short sales, put options, and other strategies to insure against losses
  • Risk management  –  the ability to get out of specific holdings or market sectors when risks get too large 
  • Tax management – including strategies tailored to the individual investor, like selling money-losing investments to offset taxes on winners.” 2

Active management can also help psychologically in times of uncertainty. When the market is declining, it feels good to know a person is watching your investments and making active decisions. Knowing a portion of your money is being carefully analyzed by a trained professional is comforting.

Without this type of attention, most people feel like they have to do something themselves to alleviate the pain they are feeling from market declines. This often leads investors to sell depreciated assets resulting in a permanent loss of capital. 

In a nutshell here: the effects on your behavior that an active manager can have is very powerful for long term results. At the end of the day, the only thing that matters is making sure you get from A to B and accomplish your financial goals. So it’s not about active vs. passive. Be more open minded than that. It’s about using both active and passive strategies to help you accomplish your financial goals.


1Soe, A. M., CFA, & Poirier, R., FRM. (2017). SPIVA® U.S. Scorecard. RESEARCH SPIVA, 1-33. Retrieved July 17, 2018.

2Active vs. Passive Investing: Which Approach Offers Better Returns? (n.d.). Retrieved July 17, 2018, from

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Barron's Top 1200 Financial Advisors

Barron's Top 1200 Financial Advisors

We are proud to have been recognized for a second year in a row by Barron's Magazine as one of their Top 1200 Financial Advisors in the country.

The rankings are based on assets under management, revenue generated by advisors for their firms, and the quality of the advisors’ practices.

Here is a picture of Michael Silver accepting this award at a Barron's Conference held in Miami in April.

In addition to being recognized by Barron's at the conference, Michael was also one of three financial advisors asked to speak to dozens of the top advisors in Florida about how advisory firms can continue to make a difference in the lives of their clients.

Here is a link to the Barron's rankings:

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Who does your Financial Advisor work for?


Who does your Financial Advisor work for?

Chances are you are thinking that the answer to this question is easy. You're probably thinking that your financial advisor work for a bank, insurance company, or they might even own their own firm, but at the end of the day you are the client and the client always comes first so they work for you, right? Not always the case.

The article linked below explains how at various Wall Street firms, the employer of your financial advisor, can influence the advisor's recommendations by making changes to the way the financial advisor is paid. This is the oldest trick in the book. Want your salesforce to sell more of something? Move the carrot to that product and the sales follow. This gives advisors an economic incentive to make recommendations to you based on whether or not they will get a pay raise, not because of what they think is best for your financial situation.

We hate this type of business. It's not how financial planning and wealth management should be.

At Baron Silver Stevens, we do things differently. We work for you and you only. Our firm is independent, so you can be assured that our recommendations come from what we truly believe is best for you. Additionally, as a Registered Investment Advisor, we have a fiduciary duty to our clients.

Here is a link to the article published in the Wall Street Journal:

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