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Federal Employee Financial Planning: Investment Jargon Part Two (EP40)

Do you ever watch or read investment news, only to feel more confused and uncertain than you did before? In this episode, Michael, Tommy, and John team up with special guest Jeff Hybiak to delve deeper into the world of investment jargon. They begin by defining what the market truly is, stressing the crucial distinction between televised market discussions and the actual impact on individual portfolios. They also emphasize the significance of maintaining a diverse portfolio and caution against comparing personal investment performance to arbitrary indexes. 

Listen in to learn the importance of setting appropriate benchmarks for success, the role of a skilled financial planner in guiding individuals towards their financial goals, and why post-retirement planning is crucial. You'll hear the benefit of having a well-defined strategy for the future, the need for thorough due diligence, and why you should align investment strategies with overarching financial plans.

Listen to the full episode here:

What you will learn:

  • The importance of understanding what your financial advisor is talking about. (2:45)
  • Why someone may choose to work with a financial planner. (4:45)
  • What “the market” actually is. (6:30)
  • The benefit of having a diverse portfolio. (12:45)
  • Why everyone wants to be moderate. (18:00)
  • The importance of having a plan for after you retire. (23:00)
  • The benefit of doing your due diligence. (27:00)

Ideas worth sharing:

“We speak your language so that you don’t have to speak ours.” - Mason & Associates, LLC  

“If you compare your portfolio to these arbitrary indexes, you’re going to be unhappy more often than you’re happy.” - Mason & Associates, LLC  

“Set appropriate benchmarks for your own success.” - Mason & Associates, LLC  

Resources from this episode:

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Read the Transcript Below:

Congratulations for taking ownership of your financial plan by tuning into the Federal Employee Financial Planning Podcast, hosted by Mason & Associates, financial advisors with over three decades of experience serving you.

Michael Mason: Welcome to the Federal Employee Financial Planning Podcast, hosted by Michael Mason, certified financial planner; John Mason, certified financial planner; Tommy Blackburn, certified financial planner and CPA (certified public accountant).

Mason & Associates have over 30 years of experience helping federal employees in their financial planning.

This podcast, we had such a good time John, Tommy, doing Investment Jargon, and we had Jeff in — Jeff Hybiak from SEM Wealth Management, Chief Investment Officer. We wanted to do effectively another part of Investment Jargon.

John Mason: Jeff, we're excited to have you back for, this'll be the third recording that we've done at our office in Newport News. And thank you and SEM for making the time to be here and be a part of the show.

Jeff Hybiak: Glad to be here, and just a plug for you guys, I think for somebody who doesn't speak the jargon of federal employee retirements, your podcast is great because there's a lot of acronyms in there that I think most of us have no idea what they mean.

John Mason: Well, Jeff, thank you, and if you're listening to this episode, welcome back. This is going to be Investment Jargon Part Two. We'll probably fine tune that title a little bit as we get closer to releasing it.

If you missed part one, we'd encourage you to go back and listen to that one first, because this is going to be a building block as we move into this investment jargon episode.

And one of the things that we talked about last time, guys, in just bringing it back to our audience is, jargon's important for us as a professional to do a good job. But when we're meeting with clients, we don't want our audience thinking that this is how we have client meetings.

Like jargon is not a part of strategic planning meetings at Mason & Associates. And Tommy, I think you said it really well last time; one, the compliments that we receive and then the Mike Masonism.

Tommy Blackburn: So, when someone tells us you broke that down in a way that was easy to understand, very digestible, that's music to our ears. And the saying that Mike Mason coined is, we speak your language, so you don't have to speak ours.

And that is the goal, is to make it so it's understandable to you. You don't have to learn a new foreign language. But if you're curious about those foreign languages, we're going to try to shed some light on it today.

John Mason: That’s right. And a neat update as well as we launch into this episode for our audience is that the YouTube channel is live and active. I think we've been talking about launching that YouTube channel for the last few episodes now, but it's live.

We've got some episodes discussing federal employees group life insurance. We have the first two parts of our seminar, Avoid the Common Financial planning Mistakes Made by Federal Employees .

So, we plan on releasing those weekly or biweekly, similar coinciding with our podcast, similar content, but different. So, if you like what you hear on this type of medium, we really think you'll like those YouTube videos as well.

So, make sure you check that out, like, subscribe, hit the bell notification so that you get notified as we release new content.

And then disclaimer, we're financial planners first and we do this second. So, we spend most of our time doing servicing our active clients. And that's really where our passion is.

Tommy, we had a meeting the other day, and this is a tangent alert, and we went around the table on an offsite and we talked about what is it that we do at Mason & Associates? And I think we got to a really good place because what we do is not comprehensive financial planning. What is it that we do at Mason & Associates?

Michael Mason: Well, from my perspective, and understand this is 36 years into a career is, we change lives. I mean, we want to understand your goals, we want to help you reach those goals, and then fulfill.

When you say you want to travel, we say to our clients, when you get on the plane, which way do you turn? You turn left. We want you to travel the right way. We want you to travel early in retirement. None of us are blessed to know when our last day on this planet's going to be.

So, we want to help you change your lives, reach those goals, help you maximize those pensions, but really meet all your life … you don't get any mulligans in this, guys. This is one time around-

Jeff Hybiak: Wouldn't the “mulligan” be another piece of jargon?

John Mason: Jeff, you're right. And if our listeners don't play golf, a mulligan is a do-over. It's like let's pretend that previous shot didn't happen. And to Mike, your point, there are some decisions that people make that are irreversible, irrevocable decisions.

Michael Mason: Absolutely. Survivor benefits is one of those.

John Mason: Survivor benefits is one of those, unless it's 2023 and there's a military survivor benefit open season, stay tuned for that-

Tommy Blackburn: Literal act of Congress.

John Mason: As we dive into this, I just want to say that comprehensive financial planning is such a silly grouping of words. It's not what we do, and it doesn't encompass what any good financial planning team actually does.

We empower, we educate, we motivate, we help people do things that they wouldn't have otherwise done. We give them confidence to retire. That's what we do at Mason & Associates. And we do that first and we do this content creation second.

So, thank you to our audience for being with us.

Guys, investment jargon, I think where we kick off this episode, if y'all are okay with it, is let's define what the market is first, because you should buy the market, or we're invested in the stock market-

Tommy Blackburn: Or the market went down a thousand points today, the world's ending. What are we talking about when we say these things?

Jeff Hybiak: Yeah, absolutely. It's literally my biggest pet peeve as somebody … I started investing before I joined the industry and decided this is what I wanted to do. Even back then, it was kind of a pet peeve when people would talk, “Oh, the market was up a hundred points. Well, what in the world did that mean?”

So, as I started looking into it, I said, “Are you kidding me?” Most people, when they talk about the market, they're programmed to think the Dow.” And if you look at the Dow, that's 30 stocks.

I think Standard and Poor’s ended up buying them or somebody else. But it used to be literally the editorial board of the Wall Street Journal would sit around and say, “What are the 30 stocks we think represents our economy?”

And then back then, because they didn't have sophisticated computers to calculate it, they did this very simple average of, “We're going to take the prices of all these stocks and we're going to add them up.”

But what they didn't realize is if a stock was worth $200 and another stock was worth 20, the one worth $200 had 10 times the impact on the Dow or the market as everything else.

So, when somebody comes up to me and says, “Oh, the market was up a thousand points,” I said, “Well what was the S&P 500 up?” Because that's transitioning. So, the Dow is 30 stocks based on the prices, so the highest price has the biggest impact.

To me, it means nothing because you'll see like Apple might skew the Dow higher one day and Goldman Sachs down the next. They also change it with hindsight. Up until 2001, there was no tech stocks in the Dow. And then almost at the peak of the market, they decided to add Microsoft and Intel.

Well, one would argue that Microsoft and Intel were probably the two biggest components to economic growth in the 1990s. Well, the editorial board did not add them until after that decade was over.

Tommy Blackburn: That's convenient, wonderful. We missed out. So, we were following the Dow. If that's what we were tracking, we missed out on the two largest parts of the economy.

Jeff Hybiak: Absolutely. So, it's fun to say, but if you want to see me angry, quote the Dow to me.

John Mason: Oh, it makes no sense. And even arguably, we talked on the last episode, Jeff, when you were here, that even buying the S&P 500 is not buying you diversification because you are overwhelmingly overweight tech stocks right now.

So, that used to be Apple, Amazon, Facebook, Google — these companies overwhelmingly make up the S&P 500 and account for a lot of its return.

So, just buying the S&P doesn't buy you diversification either. Maybe something more appropriate would be the total stock market index or maybe when you hear the market is down, we need to ask what market are we talking about?

Are we talking about Europe and Asia? Are we talking about the bond market? Are we talking about the crypto market? Are we talking about tech stocks? Like what market-

Tommy Blackburn: And before we extrapolate it to our own situation, because that's usually what we're doing, is we see, oh, the market moved this, that way, the other way. And then we think, “Well, what did that do to me and my investments and my portfolio?”

And the thing is, your portfolio is probably nothing like what is being quoted right now. Those things being quoted may be a component of your portfolio, but chances are if you're going into retirement, you've got some bonds in there, and you've got bonds that aren't just the aggregate bond.

You've got things that could be shorter in term. You may have, we'll talk about later, some high yield bonds. On the stock side, do we have small caps, mid-caps? Do we have international, as you said?

So, realize that just what's being put on TV doesn't really reflect what your individual customized portfolio situation is. That's kind of where we're getting on this soap box here and then saying, we got to put these things in context and understand what they mean, and then how do they translate to your situation?

Michael Mason: I've got some jargon that you guys wouldn't think is jargon. So, maybe it's a little bit of my humor, but plummets. What does plummets mean?

Jeff Hybiak:It might be half a percent.

Michael Mason:So, the media tells you like … I'm going to make Jeff mad and use the Dow. The Dow’s let's say 33,000 points right now. Well, right now, I looked it's down 500. If it makes a thousand down, the media's going to say it plummets.

But you know what? What was the word for it when it was down a thousand March, 1st of 2000 when it was 11,000 points? They still use plummet. So, I don't even know what plummets mean.

Tommy Blackburn: And your point is to maybe let's put it in percentage context. So, a thousand points today isn't worth a thousand points on the Dow as we go back to it, what it was 20 years ago because that number's grown so much.

So, looking at the marginal change of the index we're tracking is probably more important than just the raw points that are being quoted.

John Mason: That's like fearmongering, it's like what are we even talking about here? And we know that nasty sells, whether it be social media nasty, or the stock market plummets nasty, like that sells, and it's the worst thing our clients can do or the listeners of this podcast, is to listen to that.

And like we talked about on the last episode was, remember if you're invested for 40 or 50 years, you're in a bull market. You're in a good market for 40 or 50 years. There may be some hiccups in between, but let's not lose sight of the long-term picture just because we're in a shorter term relatively experience.

So, so much good stuff here, where do we go next, Tommy?

Tommy Blackburn: I wanted to maybe go a little bit further, which is, we mentioned the total stock market. And I'm just thinking, I know there's a couple of those even out there, because you have like the total U.S. stock market, then you could have the total world stock market. Jeff, I don't know if there's any flavor you want to add to that and then I think we move on.

Jeff Hybiak: I was just going to tag onto that along with the fearmongering of the headlines, or the upside headlines that people see. It can really taint somebody's view of how their portfolio is doing.

An easy example, in 2022, the Dow was the best performing index of the popular ones. Well, you look at it and that's because they had a heavier exposure to oil stocks.

And John, you mentioned how tech stocks has become such a big part of the S&P 500. Oil to start 2022 was only like 3%. Because of the tremendous returns of energy companies in 2022 relative to everybody else, I think it's now 7.5% going into 2023. So, that can taint your viewpoints on that.

And so same way, the way we look at it is if a true diversified portfolio, you can't own just large cap stocks, you have to have some medium company and some small companies.

And so, yeah, there's a few total stock market indices out there. Vanguard tends to be the most popular one. They have an index fund to track it. They also just show you the benchmark. To us, that's more important because that represents the U.S. economy is representative of more than just large companies.

Now, they're going to track close. I think that correlations of the way the small cap market moves is about 90% of what the large stock market moves. So, I tried to correct my jargon.

Michael Mason: I’m having a little fun. So, what's the large cap? Is that the stocks with the biggest hats?

Jeff Hybiak: Okay. Large capitalization are largest companies … I guess, it's funny we do use a lot more jargon than we think.

John Mason: It's almost impossible to avoid it. And Jeff, as you were speaking about the various components of a portfolio, it just made me think a good call to action here is, 2022 was not a fun year and 2023 isn't really shaping up to be a fun year either.

And we know investing is emotional. We know financial planning's emotional and for our audience and for our clients, if they're comparing themselves directly to the S&P 500 or comparing themself to the Dow, undoubtedly, they have some negative experiences and negative thought process.

And I thought that's where you were going to go, is that, if you compare yourself to these arbitrary indexes, you're going to be unhappy more often than you're happy.

Because if you have a 50% stock and 50% bond portfolio and you compare yourself to the S&P 500, you're going to be very unhappy 7 out of 10 years because the market goes up 7 out of 10 times and you're not going to beat the market.

So, it's important. And I think we do a good job and I know you do at SEM, of setting appropriate benchmarks to evaluate your success. You know how we evaluate success? Making sure you don't run out of money before you die. That's really the only thing we care about.

Tommy Blackburn: That's almost like the table stakes to the plan, is that we never run out of money. But then Mike had mentioned earlier on the intro is taking those vacations, turning left when we get on the plane.

And I'm just thinking about a recent experience with a client here to hopefully further your point, is they're getting ready to retire and you just said, “We went through 2022, it wasn't the funnest year from a portfolio standpoint, 2023 doesn't feel like it's really fun at this point, either from an investment standpoint.”

But giving them the confidence that they could retire, I think is what it was all about. And it was pretty fun to me and neat. They said when we first met with you, you said, “Hey, we can take trips of $10,000 per year in retirement. We're getting ready to retire, you still think that's possible?”

And it just is almost, you willing to chuckle as you're looking at their plan and how great the plans are we build for our clients here because, undoubtedly, yes, you can still do that. And if you want, you could double the number, was the message I sent to them.

If you want to do 20,000 trips a year, I'm going to have a hard time convincing you to spend that money. But that is how great your plan is, the shape it's in, even after everything you went through. So, that again, is people are seeing things on TV and trying to translate it to their situation, and the reality is their plan didn't change.

John Mason: Well, it's a great story and then you probably followed that up and I don't mean to take away anything from your great story because that's what we do: empower, educate, motivate, encourage and then did you finish that and say, “Your moderate portfolio should do this over time?”

So, maybe we dive into some of those terms, Tommy, like moderate; Mike, conservative; Jeff, aggressive — like what are we talking about when we just throw out these names for things?

Jeff Hybiak: Yeah, that's a really good point. I think Mike and I, we have almost the same number of years’ experience, he might have a few more on me. But those terms have meant different things throughout our careers, right Mike? I mean, moderate 20 years ago is different than moderate today.

Michael Mason: Absolutely. And asset preservation pre-2008, asset preservation, what did you think was going to happen in a down market if that's the fund you bought? You thought your assets were going to be preserved.

And they were down 20 to 25% because they had a bunch of mortgage backed securities, they could never go wrong, could they?

Jeff Hybiak: Yeah. And I saw one that literally had the name low risk lose 90%.

John Mason: Unbelievable.

Tommy Blackburn: It feels like low risk then.

Jeff Hybiak: And then comes down to John, you mentioned it on part one of you got to dig into what they actually own. And to Mike's point, this fund, they thought they were low risk because … I won't even throw the jargon out there. They were playing in the derivatives market, which is a very risky thing to deal. And that's all you need to know about that.

John Mason: So, as we think about moderate, like we meet with clients all the time, been doing this for decades, everybody wants to be moderate.

Do you know why everybody wants to be moderate? This goes back to probably some life insurance training that Mike had back in the late eighties, early nineties. But it's like “Mr. And Mrs. Jones, we have three options for a life insurance policy. You can have a 500,000, a million or a 1.5.”

Which one do you think they're going to pick? They're going to pick the one in the middle because they don't want to be too high, and they don't want to be too low. So, we know that people want to be moderate because it seems like it's in the middle, it seems logical.

Did you know (I'm asking our audience now, because I know we all know this) audience that in a moderate portfolio, we should expect to lose 20, 25, maybe even as much as 30%? Is that moderate for you?

Because if that's not your moderate, maybe that's your aggressive or conversely, maybe that's your conservative, but what is moderate and is that your moderate I guess, is the point?

Tommy Blackburn: Well, and I think it's great to, one, let's define what do we mean by that? But then also, why do we care? Well, we care because of the financial plan. So, maybe you are moderate, maybe you can be down 30% because we've got a long-term plan cashflow plan here.

So, that's to me, like one, let's understand when we're talking like what do we mean when we say conservative or moderate, but then why do we care? Well, we care really that this investment strategy matches the financial plan, not by what namesake is assigned to the portfolio strategy.

Michael Mason: Yeah, and we're spending a good amount of time and we should on this. If you have a good financial planner, they're going to help your portfolio get where it needs to get.

So, John, your point is if you're doing this on your own or you don't have a good financial planning team and you look for moderate mutual funds with five stars, you're going to have to dig a little deeper to know what your downside is.

Jeff Hybiak: And just looking at that, you're going to own anywhere from 70% of your portfolio in the stock market all the way down to 30 or 35% is what I've seen.

So, moderate means different things at every fund company or every ETF. So, yeah, if you're on your own, you got to be very careful because moderate A is not going to be the same as moderate B.

John Mason: And I guess maybe that takes us into the final segment, is we bring in target date mutual funds. And as we bring up the target date mutual funds, we're specifically talking TSP lifecycle funds or if you're private sector listening to this, the Vanguard 2035 or the Fidelity Freedom 2040.

So, what are we talking about in these funds? Well, guys, the target date funds are set to adjust every year. And if you're going to retire in 2040, you should be in the 2040 fund hypothetically, and that's going to guide you with the appropriate set of stocks and bonds.

Jeff will pose this question to you: do all target date funds look the same? And then what do you think individual investors perceive their allocation to be when they actually reach 2040?

Jeff Hybiak: I think two things is, each target date fund is set by a committee of that fund provider. And the other thing that I know Mike and I have picked up on, the target date funds from even 10 years ago, had a lot more bonds in them for every year than they did at the start of last year. And that's because they felt like bonds were a drag on their portfolio because interest rates were so low.

So, not only do they look different from provider to provider, but what you own has shifted over the years inside of those funds. And if you talk to most people, if they're in the target for 2040, they truly believe when they get to 2040, they're going to have basically no exposure to the stock market.

John Mason: And we know that that's not true because that terminal allocation is probably what, still 30 to 40% equity.

Jeff Hybiak: I've seen lately again, because bond yields were so low, now maybe they'll shift it now after bond yields are back higher again. But they weren’t looking at 30 to 35% on average in a retirement portfolio.

John Mason: And people just don't think that that's happening. They think if I'm in this 2040, by the time I get there, some magic is going to happen. Somebody's going to preserve my losses. And if you pull back the curtain on this, you may still be in a moderate portfolio and you thought you were in some retirement stable value fund.

Michael Mason: And because this is the Federal Employee Financial Planning Podcast, and we all know what happens to the 2040 fund in 2040.

John Mason: Comes the income fund.

Michael Mason: And that's going to be a 20% equity, 80% bond portfolio. I think you ought to mix in, if you've got target date TD over here, well, you need another TD on the right and that's target death.

So, if you're going to retire in 2040, but you're not going to die until 2080, shouldn't we be somewhere between 2040 and 2080?

John Mason: And well, to your point, Mike, I mean, we've had this conversation with folks for decades now. It's like, what's the plan after you retire? And if you're a federal employee retiring at 57-years-old, do you really want to be 30% stocks for the next 40 years? Probably not.

So, the L income or the Vanguard retirement fund — these allocations are nothing more than a guideline. It's better than sitting in cash. It's better than, let's face it, most individual investors trying to change their funds every year, they're better off on autopilot to be frank. But the allocation is arbitrary.

Tommy Blackburn: It's not customized to you and your situation.

John Mason: It's not solving for anything. It's just arbitrary. And I can't say even more than if you're 57-years-old and you're in the L income fund, that's a long time to only have 20% exposure or 30% exposure to the U.S. and international stock markets.

Jeff Hybiak: Like you said, especially for government employees, if there's anybody who has a 403(b) or 401(k), it depends on what the money's used for. They might not ever touch that money, so why would you want to be all bonds or fixed income?

What we always tell people is work with a planner and create your own target date fund because everybody's different. You can't just use a one-size-fits-all. And then I'll let you guys finish, but John, you had a name for these portfolios and we still are supposed to do a research report on it. What did you call them?

John Mason: The stupid portfolios.

Jeff Hybiak: And why is that?

John Mason: Because in a declining market, they're rebalancing all the time. So, for example what's happening is we're selling stocks in a declining market because why? Well, my 2040 fund needed to get more conservative the following year.

So, even those stocks were down last year, guess what happened to all those target date funds? Or those stupid funds or those not smart funds? What they did is they sold stocks and bought more bonds when the stocks were down. Maybe last year, that wasn't too bad because stocks and bonds were both down.

But again, it's just arbitrary selling and arbitrary buying that doesn't align with the financial plan.

Jeff Hybiak: Versus, and I'll let Tommy or Mike do this one, and we'll use our own jargon; if we had clients in the Mason moderate portfolio because that made sense with their plan, what would happen if the stock market was down 20% and the bond market was up next year?

Tommy Blackburn: Well, we're going to sell high and buy low. So, what we're going to do is we're going to rebalance back to that target allocation. We're going to reduce the bonds that had appreciated and increase the stock side of the portfolio again. So, rebalancing can be a very nice part of a strategy that I guess makes sense as to why that strategy is in place.

Jeff Hybiak: So, copyright pending, but not stupid portfolio.

John Mason: But not stupid portfolios.

Michael Mason: Well, John, remember just to add a little bit to this, you named the stupid portfolios.

John Mason: So, again, to be clear, the not stupid portfolios basically mean target date funds are going to arbitrarily sell stocks and buy more bonds every year as you get closer to that terminal date, 2030, 2040. That means if the stock market goes down, that doesn't matter, they're going to sell stocks.

Conversely, the not stupid portfolio would be thinking my bonds are up, my stocks are down, I should rebalance to a risk objective that is actually solving for something; me not running out of money before I die. Not an arbitrary allocation developed by XYZ board of directors.

So, there's a big difference between target date and customized. Guys, I think we transition to action items as we close out this episode. What are the big things that we think our audience should take away from Investment Jargon Part Two?

Tommy Blackburn: I think the biggest thing is don't just take things at the kind of the cover of the book, so to speak. Realize that they can call these funds and these strategies, whatever they want to. If you're doing this on your own, understand what's happening under it and does that actually make sense for you?

I'll just piggyback and say, I kind of hinted, we all hinted at it earlier is, your investment strategy needs to be coordinated with your financial plan. And maybe going it alone isn't the best way to do this. So, having a qualifier professional help you connect all the pieces.

Jeff Hybiak: And my main thing is the market, whatever they define it on the social media, is not your portfolio.

Michael Mason: I would say, know when it's your prices, these are not your prices in 2022. Most of you that's listening to this are federal employees with great pensions that have had effectively a 15% pay raise over the last two years on your largest asset.

Uncle Sam has just increased for a big part of the investing world your RMD to age 75. So, John, if you retired at 60 as a federal employee and you thought you had a 10-year horizon before your money was forced out, now you have a 15-year horizon before it's forced out.

And if you are in that L income portfolio and you only have 20% exposure to stock, now, you've got it for the next 15 years before Uncle Sam is going to make you use your money.

So, I would just say understand your prices, understand your plan, and if the people you're working with are using jargon that you don't understand and they tell you that your plan is based on a thousand Monte Carlo theories — many people are thinking that you're at a table in France playing cards.

John Mason: Well, I love that. You should be working with a financial planning team that you're leaving that experience feeling educated and empowered and motivated to take some sort of action, whatever it may be.

And if you're leaving appointments confused, and I'm not going to say our clients have never left an appointment confused because they have.

But generally speaking; empowered, motivated, educated to do something valuable, to take an action to do something. I think if people are not receiving that from the folks they're working with, we hope they know that there's other alternatives out there and it doesn't have to be us.

I love what you said, maybe calling back to some other episodes. If you're a federal employee and your plan is to retire and not do anything for 15 years as it relates to your tax plan, that's a bad plan. We should be looking at Roth conversions or something in that 15-year gap.

My closing thoughts on this are, it is ridiculous to think that investing and retirement planning is unemotional. It is. We try to take as much emotion out of it as we can, but, in fact it is emotional, it's hard to watch your funds go up and down.

Remember these short-term bull markets, these short-term bear markets, really what we're looking at, we believe over the next 40 or 50 years of your retirement journey, you're in a bull market.

Don't compare as Jeff you said, your portfolio to the S&P 500. Find the appropriate benchmark because we don't want you to be disappointed when you're actually winning.

Folks, this is the Mason & Associates Federal Employee Financial Planning Podcast. Thank you for being here. Thank you for being a part of our community. If you have any questions, you can send those to .

And if you'd like to become a client, we encourage you to check out the YouTube channel to learn more about us, or our podcast episode on the Mason & Associates client experience. You can find all of that at .

The topics discussed on this podcast represent our best understanding of federal benefits and are for informational and educational purposes only, and should not be construed as investment, financial planning, or other professional advice.

We encourage you to consult with the office of personnel management and one or more professional advisors before taking any action based on the information presented.