Never Going Back
I read your article [Will You Buy An Apple?] in the April Financial Advisor about using Mac‚s for financial planning and felt compelled to write you.
After a serious bout and ultimate crash with my Windows computer, I purchased the brand new G5 from Apple. This was back in October.
Granted, I was skeptical at first, and I haven‚t started practicing yet, but so far, all the Web sites I‚ve used have been user-friendly to the Mac.
Please note, I get virtually no pop-ups, and no virus alerts, etc. To make matters even better, I think this Mac is much faster than any Windows machine on the market. And finally, the support people have been very helpful, knowledgeable and pleasant to work with. You don‚t feel you‚re bothering them.
I would never go back.

Lynn Bartlett
Bartlett Financial Services Inc.
Davie, Fla.

Amen To Apple Computers
I read your article in the April issue [Will You Buy An Apple?]. What you may have experienced yourself or have heard from other Mac users is that there is something about the machine and its environment you can‚t quite explain. I‚m in no way a computer geek, and doing the same stuff on a Windows machine that I do on a Mac was always miserable. It goes far beyond the stability of the operating system and the lack of viruses, spyware, etc. Everything just works. Everything is easy. And its done in a, dare I say, elegant manner. It may have to do with the open source programming or the fact that Apple controls the customer experience by making all the hardware and some of the software (kind of like how we as planners, who are concerned about client experience, control the environment our clients interact with us in), but for me it has made switching great despite the occasional hassle from a Windows-controlled world and industry.
A few notes: One client relationship management tool I like, made just for Macs, is Daylite from Marketcircle. I can use one of our desktops as a server and don‚t need to own all this networking/server equipment I see others deal with. It‚s all connected in-office with wireless cards. I use MoneyGuidePro like you had mentioned, and it works flawlessly with a Mac. Since Pages (the word processing program) and Keynote (presentation software) have come out from Apple, I have used both almost exclusively instead of Word or Powerpoint; Keynote, especially, is far superior, in my opinion. Pages is, too, except for the inability to mail merge yet. Built in PDF printing is great too.
Virtual PC certainly does help, but I mostly use it for the occasional Web site that only works in IE6 on Windows. It is a little slower than a dedicated Windows machine, but does the job for what I need it for.
I even use iTunes in conjunction with an Airport Express station to stream music from our computers to speakers in the lobby area to play music. I could go on and on, but you are right about it being a great tool for marketing. With the built-in, free iLife software, someone could quite easily, with no training, make lots of neat promotional items.
Keep up the great work of covering the Internet-based apps and pushing for greater Internet compatibility with Firefox, Safari, Opera, etc.

Nathan Sorum, President,
Sorum Financial Services Inc.
Lebanon, Ohio

Flexibility Matters Most
While I enjoyed reading Jeff Schlegel‚s piece [Time & Money, March 2005], and generally agree with the targets outlined, a few other assumptions should weigh into this mix, I believe.
First of all, I totally believe in earned income after retirement and think we will see more people with nonaggressive forms of W-2 wages, and these will offset the need for straight-line withdrawals, particularly in the early years of retirement. My father, with an M.B.A. from Northwestern University, is into his fifth year of substitute teaching in Sedona, Ariz., roughly two days a week. I believe that a certain amount of work is just good mental and physical discipline, and more seniors are recognizing that.
Second, it‚s important to categorize assets, as the number of tools given to us by Congress has increased and is likely to continue to increase, given a Republican majority. Given a mix of nonqualified mutual funds, nonqualified annuities, IRAs and Roth IRAs, there may be reasons to consider withdrawals from some and not others. Is there good reason to take money from Roth IRAs or nonqualified annuities outside of need? Conversely, is there reason to take money from IRAs and 401(k)s ahead of required minimum distributions, and if the senior is working, does it make sense to re-invest in Roth accounts as long as that option is available?
Finally, are the general rates of expenditure likely to remain consistent through retirement, outside of inflation? Is the cruise at age 81 as much fun as it was at 66 (hopefully so, but not always), and do we maintain the same activity level following the loss of a spouse or a medical crisis?
All of us can design the upside-down charts that our clients want to assure that the last dollar spent is paid to the funeral home, provided our clients accurately project their own mortalities. But those roads paved with the best intentions are guaranteed to have some potholes along the way, as well as some new destinations which weren‚t on the original map. The plan is important. The flexibility to call an audible is more important yet.

Steve Dougan
Planned Member Securities
Holt, Mich.

A Broker Is A Broker
Of course it is confusing to investors when they try to decide who will help them with investments. They know when they sell or buy a house they use a real estate broker. They also use a broker when they buy or sell a business, and they call their insurance broker when coverage is needed. Why is it so difficult to call someone who sells stocks, bonds or mutual funds a broker?
Someone who puts together a buyer and a seller and earns a commission for doing so has always been known as a broker. Why identify them by any other name?
Investment advisors, financial planners, financial advisors and financial consultants do very different things, and are trained and licensed to do so. They are all fiduciaries and are responsible to their clients for acting in their clients‚ best interests at all times. That goes well beyond recommending an investment to hold, buy or sell.
Let‚s help the investor make an informed decision by telling the truth about who we are and what we do.

Milton G. Lefton, CFP
Asset Financial Services Inc.
Chicago, Ill.

Please send letters to editor Evan Simonoff, Financial Advisor magazine, 600 Broad St., 2nd Floor, Shrewsbury, NJ 07702, e-mail them to [email protected] or fax them to (732) 450-8877.