Recent articles in which our perspective has been cited
Difficult Choices for Some Long Term Care Policyholders (NY Times, December, 15, 2023)
John Robinson, a financial planner based in Honolulu, urged consumers to read their policies to see what their alternatives were, regardless of the settlement offer. Policies may allow holders to adjust benefits anyway.
He said he recently advised a 75-year-old California client with an unlimited lifetime benefit policy — meaning his pool of benefits never runs out — to ignore the settlement offer because his policy allowed a better way to manage costs. Mr. Robinson recommended that the client switch to a six-year benefit period and to cut his daily benefit amount to $300 from $546. His premium will be $2,340 a year instead of the $16,400 he is now paying, and he’ll still have a benefit limit of about $660,000. He can also invest his $14,000 annual savings to help cover future care. Even if Genworth wins approval for significant rate increases, Mr. Robinson said, the client would be afford to pay them, based on his lower rate.
“People have no idea they may have options,” Mr. Robinson said.
Will details of dirty deeds deter bad behavior? CFP Board hopes so, (Financial Planning, Nov. 10, 2023)
Despite many reforms the CFP has made to its conduct standards and sanctions policies in recent years, some don't see it as enough. John Robinson, the founder of Honolulu-based Financial Planning Hawaii and a frequent critic of the board, said there are still too many advisors with lengthy complaint records who continue to bear the certification...Robinson worked with Wall Street Journal reporters on an article in 2019 calling attention to the fact that 6,300 CFP holders had a history of customer grievances, criminal complaints, bankruptcies and other matters...Robinson said he thinks there are still a lot of "bad apples" who could be tossed out.
Move from Ameritrade a long and bumpy road for RIAs and Schwab (Financial Planning, Nov 3, 2023)
Bettinger and other executives speaking at last week’s Schwab IMPACT admitted that the conversion was “imperfect” and asked for the opportunity to solve any problems. “Give us first chance to talk to you before you spin out into another place and think about things differently," said Head of Advisor Services Bernie Clark, according to industry publication Financial Advisor IQ. “It is so, so important that we have that trust.”
The words likely provide little solace to advisors such as John “JR” Robinson of Honolulu-based Financial Planning Hawaii. Two months after the transition from Ameritrade to Schwab, Robinson has “succeeded in cleaning up some of the messes that Schwab has created” but “the dumpster fire is still burning,” he said in an email.
Restoring access and viewing of all family members’ holdings in their households’ accounts on the new platform for every customer has been “a needlessly laborious process that is ongoing,” getting the right withholding instructions back in place is “a time-suck,” and Robinson’s team keeps getting “blindsided on an almost daily basis by the discovery of banking instructions and automated distribution instructions that failed to map as well as by client profile information that was randomly changed by Schwab during the transfer process,” he said in an email.
Charles Schwab Has Had a Terrible Year. The Surprising Reason the Brokerage King Won't Be Dethroned. For some advisors, the move from TD Ameritrade ddion't go smoothly. Chances are, they'll stick around anyway. (Barron's, October 17, 2023)
"Financial advisor John Robinson was scheduled to move his clients’ funds to Charles Schwab from TD Ameritrade over Labor Day weekend as part of the brokerage industry’s largest account migration ever. He expected a snoozefest; instead he says he experienced a “dumpster fire.” "
8 Best Utility Stocks to Buy For Dividends (US. News & World Report, May 10, 2023)
Why You May Want to Avoid this Guaranteed Product in Retirement (Smart Asset, May 9, 2023)
National Get Smart About Credit Day (KHON 2's Brigitte Namata interviews JR for tips on establishing responsible credit habits, October 20, 2022).
Should You Cancel Your CFP Designation? (Panel Discussion on Sara Grillo's Podcast, September 12, 2022)
Common sense DIY movest to navigate the current financial environment: Interview with J.R. Robinson (Honolulu Star Advertiser, August 16, 2022)
Parents getting schooled on 529 plans as kids return to campus (Investment News, 8/3/2022)
Interview with JR Robinson of Financial Planning Hawaii (Wealth Made Simple Podcast, 5/3/2022)
Tech View: Local Finance Guru Says Retirement Calculators Are Too Optimistic, Honolulu Star Advertiser, 7/20/2021
'Worst-case scenario' warning for retirees and the 4% rule, MarketWatch, 5/12/2021
How Not to Screw Up Your Retirement Once You're There GoBankingRates.com, 11/13/2020
Kupuna Wiki Radio Show Interview 9/10/2020
Isle businesses pivot to web to adjust to new coronavirus Honolulu Start Advertiser, 4/28/2020
Television Interview with program "Inspire You and Me" KWE14 Television Station, 8/17/2020
CFP Board Tech Privisions Sow Confusion Wealth Management.com, 6/17/2020
“With respect to technology solutions, the CFP Board is so ambiguous in its wording that its purpose seems to be to give lip service to the issue and to shift liability from the CFP Board to the individual members,” said John Robinson, a financial advisor at Honolulu-based Financial Planning Hawaii.
Robinson is a financial planner but does not hold the CFP designation and his detailed critiques of the CFP Board were cited in The Journal's scathing feature on lax Board oversight of member CFPs. “The provision is unenforceable and there are no specific guidelines restricting technology use or defining what tools may be unacceptable.”
Why I quit the FPA, and you should too Financial Planning Magazine, 6/16/2020
Looking for a Financial Planner? The Go-To Website Often Omits Red Flags Wall Street Journal 7/30/2019
“John Robinson, a financial planner in Honolulu who has written detailed critiques of the Board’s disclosure policies, said, when told of the Journal’s findings, that they suggest “there is no vetting.” Mr. Robinson, who is not a CFP, said, “The CFP Board is setting people up to be deceived.”
9 Best Low-Cost Index Funds U.S. News 6/20/2019
How to Mix it up with Top-Notch Bonds U.S. News 6/18/2019
"The prevailing rule of thumb has been that he ideal asset allocation for maximizing portfolio sustainability is around 60% stocks and 40% bonds," says John H. Robinson, co-founder at Nest Egg Guru and based in Honolulu. But given the current low-interest environment – so long as it lasts – "this classic allocation is more vulnerable to portfolio depletion and lower remaining balances for heirs."
Thus, a better formulation to balance major stock market declines in early retirement with longevity risk, Robinson says, "is more like 70-30 to 80-20."
Investor Patience is key When Bad News Happens U.S. News 4/16/2019
"The notion that I or any financial advisor can give meaningful advice about how Boeing will emerge from this is a myth," says J.R. Robinson, owner and founder at Financial Planning Hawaii in Honolulu. "Per the Efficient Market Hypothesis, all known information and future expectations about Boeing's outlook are already factored into the market price. It is impossible for anyone – even active portfolio managers – to outguess the market."
Should I contribute to a Roth IRA or a 529 Plan? Forbes 4-11-2019
… “This is a tricky question,” says J.R. Robinson, owner/founder of Financial Planning Hawaii and co-founder/CEO of Nest Egg Guru in Honolulu, Hawaii. “The best answer is that the two should often be used in concert with the Roth IRA funded first (subject to eligibility).”
How to Fast-Track our Wealth Through Automation U.S. News 4/5/2019
“Participants who enroll in employer plans quickly become accustomed to the deferral contributions and find it an effortless way to save for retirement,” says J.R. Robinson, a financial planner at Financial Planning Hawaii.
Plus, the pretax contributions are a great way to save on your tax bill now. The hardest part may be getting started, but many employers now automatically enroll employees, who have the right to opt out.
Some 529 plan sponsors offer credit cards that automatically pay cash back into a 529 plan, Robinson explains, such as the Fidelity Rewards Signature card, which offers 2% cash back on all purchases to a Fidelity-managed 529 plan.
Just be sure to maintain realistic expectations for this strategy: “While it is not realistic to expect that credit card cash back or round-up apps will necessarily accrue to huge sums, in a world where consumers struggle to find the discipline to save on their own ... every little bit helps,” he says.
8 Key Investment Ratios for Stock Picking Success U.S. News 3/6/2019
Companies with rising dividend payments are favored by John Robinson, owner of Financial Planning Hawaii. The dividend-payout ratio is the percentage of net income paid to investors in the form of dividends. The higher the percentage, the less money remains to reinvest back into growing the company. “Companies that pay out less than 60 percent of their earnings as dividends tend to have room for further dividend increases and the ability to withstand temporary earnings downturns without having to reduce or eliminate dividend payments,” he says.
Be Careful When Chasing Dividends U.S. News & World Report 2/13/2019
"Companies, like people, have life cycles," says John H. Robinson, owner of Financial Planning Hawaii in Honolulu. "In fact, their lifecycles tend to be similar to people. Few companies last 100 years. For companies to not only pay dividends for 30-plus years, but also raise them for that period or longer, is a remarkable feat of longevity," Robinson says. "It requires companies to continue to grow their earnings over time. Mathematically, it is nearly impossible to ask a company to grow its earnings at double-digit rates indefinitely."
Today’s Personal Finance Advice Doesn’t Actually Help Those Who Need It Most Huffington Post 2/14/2019
Why You Shouldn’t Coast with 529 Investments U.S. News & World Report 2/8/2019
But keep in mind that target-date retirement funds are different from target-date 529 funds, which tend to result in no equities at the time of matriculation, says J.R. Robinson, founder of Financial Planning Hawaii.
Conversely target-date retirement funds are usually designed to be 50 percent equities at the time of retirement. And if your child is nearing matriculation now, keep an eye on the target-date funds that may be heavily weighted to bonds, which may "decline in value as interest rates rise from historic lows," he says.
Parents with multiple children may wish to use a combination of plans. Robinson notes he has four children and three 529 plans, including the Private College 529 plan that allows parents to prepay tuition at nearly 300 private colleges. Since his oldest is attending one of the schools on the list, Robinson is using savings from Private 529 plan toward this objective and changed the beneficiary designation on another 529 plan earmarked for his oldest to his middle son.
Parents who send their children to private school should also be aware of the rule change brought by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act that allows parents to use up to $10,000 per year from a 529 plan to pay for private school tuition. "This isn't a big benefit for younger children, but for parents with kids in their junior or senior years of high school with some college planning clarity, it may make sense to use 529 money for this expense," he says.
5 best Cash-Equivalent Investments Amid Rate Hikes U.S. News & World Report 1/30/2019.
J.R. Robinson, founder of Financial Planning Hawaii and Nest Egg Guru in Honolulu says, “As a financial planner, making clients cash work harder is an easy way to add value. I often meet with investors who have tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars in low- or no-interest bearing accounts. If I can help them earn an additional 1 to 2 percent or more on this cash, this simple exercise alone often more than covers my fee.”
Sometimes Passive is Good – Why index funds should be a part of your portfolio. Chicago Tribune - Retire Ahead, January 2019
How not to screw up your retirement once you’re there GoBankingRates.com, January 11, 2019
Private Lending Presents Opportunities for Investors U.S. News & World Report, June 20, 2018
With interest rates at historic lows, investors are very definitely looking at private lending as a potentially higher yielding alternative to traditional bonds and CDs," says J.R. Robinson, owner of Financial Planning Hawaii in Honolulu. In addition, services like Lending Karma and LoanBack help lenders formalize agreements with individuals, Robinson says.
Why the 4% Withdrawal Rate is Obsolete U.S. News & World Report, June 6, 2018
Yet, the 4 percent rule is a flawed concept based on questionable research and overly optimistic bond returns, says John Robinson, owner of Financial Planning Hawaii in Honolulu.
"Most researchers today find that retirees' interests are better served by setting a higher initial withdrawal rate and making dynamic adjustments along the way as needed in response to severe economic conditions," adds Robinson.
Why Dividends are Important for Investors U.S. News & World Report, May 22, 2018
"When a company cuts its dividend, it is often a sign that the company is unhealthy, which may cause the stock price to drop," says John H. Robinson, owner of Financial Planning Hawaii in Honolulu.
"Additionally, some mutual funds are bound by prospectus to only invest in dividend-paying companies," Robinson adds. "So when a dividend is eliminated the price may take a hit as the shares are sold from these fund portfolios."
Robinson – a self-described disciple of random walk theory and efficient market hypothesis – advises clients, "We do not invest in individual stocks for the purpose of outperforming the broader stock market. Instead, the rising dividend stocks we purchase fill a unique objective: providing an income stream that rises at rate that is consistently higher than inflation over time."
He adds: "Hopefully, we get some capital appreciation over time, too. If we happen to outperform the broader large cap markets in some years, it is pure luck."
Sometimes, Rebalancing Does More Harm Than Good U.S. News & World Report, May 8, 2018
John H. Robinson, founder of Financial Planning Hawaii, has an unusual strategy that flies in the face of this advice so that retirees don't run the risk of outliving their savings. He suggests withdrawing savings from bonds first in retirement, which has the effect of tilting a retired investor's portfolio toward stocks over time. That strategy, he says, "is most apt to leave a larger remaining balance at the end of 30 years, while rebalancing [to a more conservative allocation] leaves the smallest amount."
Can You Be Too Passive with Passive Funds? U.S. News & World Report, May 1, 2018
"Although published academic research overwhelmingly supports passive management and finds that trading frequency is inversely correlated with performance, there are indeed instances where at least some degree of intervention may be warranted," says John H. Robinson, founder of Financial Planning Hawaii in Honolulu. To counteract potential losses, Robinson encourages clients to replace medium- and long-term bond funds with short- to intermediate-term bond funds, laddered portfolios of individual bonds, or CDs.
How to Use the 100-minus-your-age rule of thumb when investing in your 401(k) USA Today, February 16, 2018
“A 55% equity allocation for plan participants who are in their 60s seems much too low, particularly in a low interest rate environment or a rising interest rate environment,” says John Robinson, owner and founder of Financial Planning Hawaii. According to Robinson, plan participants in their 60s should understand that high allocations to bond funds in a low-yield environment are harmful to long-term returns and to portfolio sustainability in retirement. “Such an allocation might have been justifiable when intermediate bonds were yielding 5-6%, but with yields closer to zero today, such high bond allocations can actually reduce portfolio sustainability,” says Robinson.
Slew of apps gives consumers far more power over finances Honolulu Star Advertiser, November 14, 2017
Asset-Based Fee Model is Here to Stay Financial Advisor IQ, May 25, 2017
JR Robinson talks Personal Investment Trends – Part 2 Hawaii Reporter, December 16, 2016
JR Robinson talks Personal – Part 1 Hawaii Reporter, December 9, 2016
The Best Bet for Retirement Income: Bonds or Bond Funds? Investopedia, October 21, 2016
John H. Robinson, financial advisor with Financial Planning Hawaii in Honolulu advises: “With interest rates hovering near historic lows, I generally eschew bond mutual funds. Assuming the bonds are highly rated corporate or municipal bonds (or certificates of deposit) and maturities are in the short-intermediate range (10 years or less), the individual securities offer less volatility and some assurance that the investor will receive all interest and principal if held to maturity. Bond mutual funds offer no such assurances.”
Rethinking Conventional Wisdom on Retirement Withdrawals Wall Street Journal, July 19, 2016
Robo-Advisor’s Brexit Trading Freeze Backfires American Banker, June 29, 2016
"I was disappointed," says J.R. Robinson, a Betterment Institutional client and owner of Financial Planning Hawaii. "I thought it was a sign of immaturity on the part of Betterment. The notion they would halt trading on a 2% market drop; I was very surprised," he adds, echoing the opinion of other advisers. "I couldn't imagine if Vanguard would ever do the same thing."
Private Lending Presents Opportunities for Investors U.S. News & World Report, June 20, 2016
"With interest rates at historic lows, investors are very definitely looking at private lending as a potentially higher yielding alternative to traditional bonds and CDs," says J.R. Robinson, owner of Financial Planning Hawaii in Honolulu.
Lending sites play a role. He believes most deals are conducted through peer-to-peer lending sites such as Prosper and Lending Club rather than between individuals who don't know each other. Such sites pool investors' money to enable larger loans and spread risk. Prosper advertises an annual investment return of 6.8 percent, while Lending Club says returns range from 5.25 to 8.57 percent, depending on risk.
Top 5 Money Mistakes People Make Quicken, June 2, 2016
All Work and No Job Hawaii Business, February 2, 2016
Hiring a W-2 is a big risk, says John “JR” Robinson, owner of Financial Planning Hawaii and a co-founder of Nest Egg Guru, one of Blue Startups’ current cohort of companies. Says Robinson: “The best way to increase your chances of success (in a business startup) is to keep your own expenses, fixed and variable, as low as possible. Any time you take on a (W-2) employee, you’ve got a larger cost plus benefits.”
Robinson outsourced Nest Egg Guru’s social-media marketing and its software development, but he didn’t find the right fit on the first try with either of them. “I’ve gone through two development teams. I’ve gone through four social-media platform providers, and now I’ve got one that’s really good. He’ll be my first (W-2) hire. It helps you build your team, and gives you the flexibility to pivot or to change as you need to.”
Robinson emphasizes that the right employees – those who share your vision and will go the extra mile to see your business succeed – are worth their weight in gold. But that’s not always what you, or your project, need. Echoing a widely shared sentiment among startup founders, he says, “Why would I want to pay someone constantly if I don’t need them constantly?”
Understanding the annuity: Complicated financial product should get investors’ scrutiny Chicago Tribune, Leslie Mann, May 30, 2014
"Much of the criticism is legitimate," said John Robinson, of Financial Planning Hawaii in Honolulu. "Annuities have a lot of warts and keep changing. Even professionals have a hard time keeping track."
Why, then, does Morningstar say annuities are a multitrillion-dollar market? "Because, for some people, in some circumstances, they're beneficial," Robinson said.
"Take your time to compare annuity contracts before you choose one that works for you," Robinson said. "But if you don't completely understand it, don't buy it."
Minding the small Details of a Financial Review Wall Street Journal, December 13, 2013
Emergency Planning Can Complement Financial Advice, Wall Street Journal, October 31, 2012