How to Protect Against Cyber Attacks

Cyber security is of the utmost importance. At our firm, we work diligently to protect against cyber-attacks and prevent our client’s data from being stolen in the process. We recently had the pleasure of speaking to a cyber security professional named Jamie Ramirez, who walked us through the steps of reducing the risk of threats.

While he works primarily with businesses, his points are helpful for everyday folks. After all, everyone is using the Internet more now than even three years ago.

If you’re in the midst of retirement planning and trying to secure your retirement, the last thing you want is for someone to hack into your financial accounts or steal your identity. Diligence is critical here, and we’re excited to bring this interview to you today.

Securing Transactions to Secure Your Retirement

Jamie, the owner of Preventor, is a cyber security professional who created the next generation in ID verification and financial crime risk management. Lending his expertise to us, he offers many recommendations throughout our talk.

A Rise in Individual Threats and Risks

The pandemic has led many people to work from home and do more online than in the past. For example, remote workers don’t have the same level of security as they did in the workplace, which employers have more control over.

Jamie states that the pandemic has accelerated threats and a major demand in AI and security services.

The Internet opens opportunities for identity theft and cybersecurity risks.

Cloud computing companies, such as Google Cloud and Azure, have high-end security measures that help protect businesses and their customers. So from an individual standpoint, if you use a service that runs on these platforms, you can have some level of confidence that your data will be secure.

However, when you use a no-name service or something similar, you just don’t know who is on the other end looking to steal your data. As an individual, it’s crucial to ask the service providers you use about their:

  • Security measures
  • Internal security protocols

For example, at our firm, we have a strict rule never to follow a client’s instructions that are sent over email because it’s just too easy to fake an email or gain access to an account and request money transfers.

We perform security and identity checks to ensure the client truly made the request before proceeding.

How to Protect Clients from a Business Standpoint

In our business, it’s possible to perform a phone call verification because we don’t handle thousands of client calls per day. But unfortunately, large companies that have thousands of transactions per day cannot call to verify every person’s identity.

Even when calling a person to verify their information and requests, there’s still a risk that it’s someone close to the person who can answer all of these questions.

Additional methods to authenticate a person’s identity include:

  • Face recognition
  • Voice recognition
  • Requesting specific documents
  • Etc.

From a business standpoint, it can be complex to automate these processes. Technology can only automate some of these steps to protect a business while reducing customer abandonment. Many customers don’t like to go through extra security measures, so it’s crucial to find effective solutions that don’t cause customers to leave your business.

How Consumers Can Protect Themselves 

Consumers must take it upon themselves to protect their identities and ensure that their information hasn’t been exposed. First and foremost, it’s essential to look through account statements and balances to ensure there are no unwanted charges.

Additionally, credit reports can help you find accounts in your name that you may not have opened.

Hackers have become very creative.

For example, you can see this creativity in the way that certain transactions are made or even hidden. Hackers will try and make transactions look normal to the consumer, and when they realize the issue, it’s too late.

Banks may recognize the issue and send money back to the user – when and if the money can be recuperated.

What Preventor Does

Preventor is a risk and identity management platform. The company started by working with financial institutions, but now it has expanded to more industries. Preventor is based in Miami, Florida but works with financial solutions globally.

Wrapping Up

Staying as vigilant as possible as we adopt more Internet solutions requires you to take advantage of the technology that’s available. Don’t reuse your passwords, enable two-factor authentication, and be willing to take advantage of more complex security measures, such as facial or voice recognition.

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Retirement Before Medicare

Medicare begins at age 65 for people in the United States, so if you enter early retirement before this threshold, you’ll be retiring before Medicare. Most people that come to us will say that they want to work until 65, 66 or even 70.

Since we believe in retirement planning using concrete data, we’ll plug in the person’s figures and forecast what their retirement may look like.

For some people, they’ll find that they have significant money leftover at age 90, so they want to see what happens if they retire at 62. We can easily run these forecasts, but there are a few things that occur when you start thinking of retiring early.

Early Retirement and a Few Factors to Consider

If you can secure your retirement by 60, it’s a wonderful feeling. You’ve done everything properly, and now you’re able to enjoy your life a little more. However, if you do retire early, there are some factors you need to consider.

Medicare

Medicare is going to be unavailable until you’re 65, and if you’re no longer working for a company that offers health insurance, you’re now on your own. Health insurance expenses will be a major factor, especially with rising insurance costs.

Lost Income Potential

If you retire before 65, you’re no longer paying into Social Security, nor are you able to allow your investments to accumulate as much money as you would if you stayed in the workforce. Of course, this is a tradeoff of early retirement, but it’s something to consider based on your current financials.

Potential retirees that are trying to make all the calculations on their own may miss crucial factors that help shape their retirement plans. We use special software that can easily be adjusted to add in:

  • Special expenses
  • Fun funds
  • Additional expenses or income

Running what-if scenarios, such as retiring before Medicare or if rates rise for Medicare, can help you better understand your retirement potential.

While you may be a master of Excel, it’s far too easy to miscalculate your funds or miss a calculation that throws off your retirement figures in both directions.

Real-time output and reports are crucial to outline whether you have enough money to secure your retirement and what can happen if you do retire before you’re eligible for Medicare.

Social Security

Another thing to consider if you’re retiring early is that you will pay less into Social Security. You can start Social Security as early as 62, and your contributions stop at 70. For some people, they plan on retiring at 65. If you’re working and have ample income, it doesn’t make sense to take Social Security.

Instead, in the scenario above, it makes the most sense to let your Social Security build so that it’s higher when you do retire.

Some people will retire at 65 and not take Social Security until they’re 70 to maximize their benefits. We like to run figures until a person is 90 to have a good idea of what it means to take Social Security.

Ideally, we run figures for taking Social Security at:

  • 65
  • 67
  • 70

It may seem like a no-brainer to take Social Security at 70 because that’s when your benefits will be their highest. However, if you must take money out of your retirement account because you stopped working at 65 and don’t take benefits until you’re 70, this will impact your retirement, too.

For example, if you still have $500,000 in retirement funds at 90, why would you wait to retire?

You’re unlikely to use all your retirement before your demise at that point. If you’re holding out on Social Security and continue working to maximize these benefits, will they really matter in the whole spectrum of things?

There’s a lot to think about if you plan to retire early, and it’s a very individualized thing.

You might want to help pay for a person’s wedding, renovate your house, and make other big purchases. If you’re retiring before Medicare, these expenses may be fine, or they may leave you taking money out of your retirement accounts earlier than expected.

If you do plan to retire a little earlier, we recommend running the figures to have a clear picture of:

  • What your health insurance costs will be.
  • What happens to your retirement accounts because you’re paying for insurance out of your investment accounts?
  • Etc.

Ideally, you’ll work with someone, like us, who can run the numbers for you to plug in all these variables and what-if scenarios. We can even forecast what happens if you plan to retire at 55, so you can have a clear picture of how realistic retirement is for your situation.

If you need help running these reports and want to know what your retirement before Medicare may look like, schedule an introductory call with us.

Can You Retire Early? The Key Things You Need to Consider

Wanting to retire early is relatively common. Even if your goal was to stick it out until 67, your circumstances may have changed, or you might feel different about work than you did a couple of years ago.

And that’s OK. We speak to lots of people who are in the same scenario – looking for a viable way out that won’t jeopardize their quality of life in retirement.

In this guide, we’ll take you through the process of early retirement, including how it works, what to consider, and whether it’s the best option for you.

You can watch the video on this topic above, or to listen to the podcast episode, hit play below. Or you can read on for more…

Why do some people want to retire early?

There are lots of reasons why you might be considering early retirement. You may be feeling stressed and exhausted at work or have a new boss that you don’t get along with.

A wish to retire early isn’t always based on negative aspects of work, either. You may want to spend more time with your grandkids or start that round-the-world trip a few years earlier than you planned.

The question is: can you make it happen without endangering your financial freedom in retirement?

Retiring early – what it looks like and how it works

Retiring early may be something you can think about, but it does all depend on your finances and assets.

To show you how retiring early works, we’ve put together a detailed example which covers our process and all the things you’ll need to consider. But before we get on to that, allow us to introduce our character for this particular scenario, Cindy.

Cindy is 62 and looking to retire. She had planned to work until social security starts at 67, but she’s no longer happy in her job and wants to call it a day.

Does that sound familiar? Many of our clients are in a similar situation, so we thought it would be useful to look at whether Cindy could take early retirement.

Finances and spending

First, we need to get a picture of Cindy’s finances, assets, and spending. We want to find out:

  • Does she have any savings?
  • Does she have a pension?
  • Does she have any other forms of income?
  • What is her spending plan, and how much money will she need in retirement?

In Cindy’s case, it turns out she doesn’t have a pension or any other forms of income. But she does have a healthy savings pot, with about $1.1 million in a 401k.

She’s also projected to receive $3,000 a month in social security at 67, so that’s a good source of income to include in her retirement plan.

But what about her spending? Well, Cindy needs around $5,000 a month to cover both her essential needs and her “wants”. That could be money to spend on her grandchildren or to put towards regular vacations.

From here, we can create Cindy’s retirement income plan. This is a detailed document that sets out how she’ll use her money and how far it will stretch in retirement.

Creating a retirement income plan

Until you know what your finances will look like in retirement, it can be difficult to plan ahead and look forward to finishing work. That’s where a retirement income plan comes in.

After talking through Cindy’s finances, we’re now in a position to create her bespoke retirement income plan. To do this, we use specialist software that allows us to input all her information and make quick changes – like her chosen retirement age.

Let’s say Cindy already had an income plan which was set up for a retirement age of 67. By changing it to 62, this will affect the numbers and how much money Cindy has in leftover assets.

When creating a retirement income plan, it’s important to account for a person’s entire life – regardless of existing medical conditions or other factors. That’s why we calculate retirement assets up to age 90.

Based on Cindy’s circumstances and projected spending ($5,000 a month), this would leave her with only $100,000 at 90 if she were to retire at 62. For us, that’s not a reasonable enough buffer to say, “yes, you can retire right now”.

The problem with Cindy’s situation is that she’s too reliant on her savings assets. Even with $3,000 a month in social security (which doesn’t start for another five years), she’s drawing a lot from her savings pot each month to get by.

It’s impossible to predict what unexpected costs our retirement years will bring. That’s why Cindy’s $100,000 isn’t adequate for us to confidently say that now is the right time to retire.

And there are other things to consider too, like the cost of inflation. The inflation rate may be low at the moment, but history tells us that the average is around 3% – so that’s the figure we use when projecting retirement income and expenditure.

Consider that Cindy’s average monthly spending is around $5,000. Taking the 3% inflation rate into account, that rises to $6,800 by the time she turns 72, and over $9,000 when she’s in her 80s – meaning she be could be using more and more of her savings in later life.

What are the options?

This might sound like bad news for Cindy, but there are a few things we’d recommend.

First, she could wait it out for a couple more years. This would reduce her reliance on savings in the years before receiving social security, but it wouldn’t solve the problem of feeling dissatisfied at work.

Second, Cindy could look to reduce her spending. Again, this would reduce the draw on her assets, but it’s not ideal if she’s been looking forward to a retirement free from financial worries.

The third option, and one we’d recommend, is for Cindy to look at alternate income streams. Is there anything she’s always wanted to do that would pay an income, even if it means taking a significant pay cut compared to her current job?

Whether it’s selling artwork or becoming a part-time gardener, Cindy could quit her job and still earn income elsewhere. This would protect her savings and give her a greater safety net in later life.

Say, for example, she started a new part-time position which brought her $3,000 a month in regular income. This would be of huge benefit to her retirement income plan, even if she only did it for a few years until social security kicks in.

A final word on early retirement

Taking early retirement can feel like the only way out when you’re through with work and ready to put your feet up. But often, having the security of knowing what your finances will look like in retirement is enough to get you through those final years.

Having seen their retirement income plan, many of our clients reconsider early retirement. It changes their mentality towards work, showing them that there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

That’s not to say you shouldn’t retire early if your finances allow. But if you’re concerned that doing so might jeopardize your financial freedom, we would encourage you to get a retirement income plan and find out how you’re set for the future.

If you’re ready to take control of your finances, we can help you create a bespoke retirement income plan that puts your money into perspective. Remember, if you need any advice or expertise, our financial specialists are here to help. Book a complimentary 15-minute call with a member of our team to discuss your retirement goals today.