Women in Business – How to Be Successful

Estimated reading time: 9 minutes

Have you ever wondered if your gender could affect how comfortable you are in retirement? This may not be a question on everyone’s mind, but it’s something women are facing every day. Recent studies have shown that the challenges women face during their working years can affect their lifetime earnings and retirement income. In order to feel comfortable and prepared for retirement, being able to overcome those obstacles is key. Today, I will interview Tracy Rewey, a successful note expert who will share her tips for creating success as a woman I the industry. 

Sarah: Thanks for joining me today, Tracy. This article is going to be about successful women in business. I’ve been doing a lot of research lately that shows women don’t feel like they’re prepared for retirement. They feel lost. I want to talk to you – a successful women – how you were able to build up your nest egg, and tips for how others can create success, whether it be now or for retirement. 

Tracy: I love it. I think that everybody struggles with it. This fits right in with what we do.

Sarah: Can you tell me a little bit about who you are and how you got started?

Tracy:  Absolutely. I was introduced to the world of seller financing in the 80s and worked with real estate attorneys, title companies, and servicers in a very small town. There was quite a bit of seller financing there, so I learned about seller financing, notes, and people investing in notes. Then, I went to work for a company where that was all they did. I worked there for 10 years, then I started my own company called Diversified Investment Services with my husband. We founded noteinvestor.com and now I get to work for myself. You have so much more freedom of time and location, and you get to reap the rewards of all your efforts. That’s how I got introduced to the whole business.

Sarah: That’s cool. When you find something you’re passionate about, you stick with it. In the midst of all of this, where did you learn about self-directed IRAs?

Tracy: While I was working for the investment company, we had a lot of people that would refer us deals. Some of them would also buy the notes, keeping some of it in the backend in their retirement account. That was my first exposure. Seeing other people do it and going to conventions showed me, but I didn’t get to do my first deal until I left and converted my 401k to a self-directed IRA. 


Sarah: When you were first getting started, did you have any business partners besides your husband or outside help besides learning from the company that you had been with?

Tracy: I was very fortunate when I worked for 10 years there. I learned from some of the best. Marcus was their main guy in charge, and he was always like a mentor to me. He said, “Look, I have two daughters. They are in the business finance world. I want to teach you and to treat you the way I would want somebody to treat my two daughters.” I think that was unusual back then.

Sarah: Wow. What a kind role model. It’s good that you had someone in your life that to help with those steppingstones. What challenges have you experienced throughout your time in this industry as a woman in business?

Tracy: I think there are benefits and I think there are challenges. Some of the challenges for me is not sounding assertive enough. I don’t have that deep voice to sound more assertive. I’ve found that saying less when I’m in certain situations usually helps instead of saying too much. I tend to be a talker. I also think being underestimated can be a challenge, but that can also work to your benefit.

Sarah: And what have some of those benefits been?

Tracy: I struggle with saying it’s a male or female trait, maybe it’s a personality trait, but I do believe that women tend to be natural listeners, natural fixers, and natural empathizers. In the business I’m in, people are often selling their notes, because they’re trying to solve a problem and they need the funds for something else. Maybe they had a health concern, the note’s not paying, they have to send their kid to college, or they’ve lost a job. It’s important to be a good listener and a good empathizer. I don’t use that as a strategy. It’s just something I do naturally, and I think that has been a benefit. I am also an analyzer and I’m very detail oriented. Sometimes women make up for not being sure by trying to be over sure, but in our business, that is also a benefit. I don’t mind going through the documents, taking the time, and making sure that I don’t take everything at face value. 

Sarah: I love that take on it. You don’t often hear those points you made. Has being a female ever stopped you from a successful investment? Have you ever experienced discrimination?

Tracy: Honestly, if it has, it might only be because I was still learning to trust myself. That’s one of the things I always say: wealth doesn’t know you’re a woman, right? This financial calculator doesn’t know I’m a woman, right? The title policy doesn’t know that when I look at a payment history. It doesn’t know the interest rates. I think it’s a good industry on the finance side. Now, I definitely experienced things that were expected, like really proving yourself before someone would move you up. I always joked that I had to do twice the work and make half the mistakes, but I eventually became a vice president at that company. Another female and I were the first vice presidents the company had. 

Sarah: Oh wow! What a big accomplishment!

Tracy: Thank you! I think you have to grow thick skin. I don’t mean that to discount what anybody has gone through, because I know there are people who’ve had serious discrimination and it’s been very wrong, but I’ve been fortunate. 

Sarah:  Well, that’s good! That’s good that you haven’t! That’s what we like to hear. I’m sure that there were probably some tough times that you had to go through still. How did you persevere through those?

Tracy: When I started out, my first job besides babysitting was in high school, I worked for an attorney’s office. I used to do all the routes, picking up and dropping off papers. There was this one real estate office with this one gentleman and I was young. I’d go to pick up papers and he actually swatted me on the backside as I was walking out the door one time. I was in tears. There was a lady who I worked with, the mother hen of the office, and she was not having any of that. Shortly after, that route was no longer on my route, and they had to bring their own documents to our office. I felt validated, which was nice. 

Sarah:  Wow. I’m glad that they took you off that route. That’s good.

Tracy: I know. I commend them. They didn’t pretend it didn’t happen. I’ve been surrounded by good people in my life that were supportive. I had a very strong mother too, so she learned to make me stand up for myself.

Sarah: Always so much to learn from our mothers! Now, you are quite successful. You have your own business, you’re hosting expos, and you’ve got a solid track record behind you. What would you say is your secret to success?

Tracy: I would say perseverance, being a good listener, being a good problem solver, and not trying to squeeze every last dollar. I know it’s cliche, but I really believe that there are ways to make everybody come out of a situation feeling good about it. I think being able to collaborate with other people is key. I’m so very fortunate I’m at a place in my life where I can support and help other people that are learning the business. I get a lot of enjoyment out of that.

Sarah: That’s great! So, what about self-directed IRA investing? Have you used your expertise to invest with a self-directed IRA? 

Tracy: I’ve done some partials in my IRA. Those have turned out well. I try not to mix income. If I’m putting a deal in my IRA, I keep those separate. If I buy all of it in the IRA, I sell all of it through the IRA and hold it for a certain amount of time.

Sarah: That’s smart to keep those two buckets separate.

Tracy: I’m probably more careful than most. I never want to co-mingle funds in any way.

Sarah: Very smart. It sounds like you’ve been able to balance that quite well. How do you handle your work/life balance? 

Tracy: The real answer is that I still struggle with that. I wish I had words of wisdom. I think we tend to put ourselves last because, and then we think we’re doing it because we love and support all the people around us. Really, what happens is that we end up not being the best form of ourselves when we run ourselves thin. Then, nobody really benefits. I have learned over the years that you have to take time for yourself. You have to have balance and understand that everything will not always get done. We have to make time for ourselves and to nurture ourselves, but sometimes we forget to do that. It’s good when you have somebody around you that you can trust. But I’m still working on that. 

Sarah: I think that’s true. I think a lot of people are continuously working towards finding the right balance. To round it here with some of my final questions, what would you like to achieve next? What are your goals? What’s on the horizon for you?

Tracy: I have a goal to help women become more comfortable and secure in investing, and I think there’s some beautiful trends happening where I’m seeing more of that. I’ve been trying to be part of that movement. Last year, we started the Wise Women Investors Group and the Wise Women Expo. It’s about building that community and supporting women to be confident, to invest with confidence, and to gain freedom so they can live more balanced and free lives. 

Sarah: That really is amazing! And I know there are other educational resources you’ve done. Care to mention that?

Tracy: I’ve written a 400-page manual, but it’s not a digestible book. It’s more of a “how-to”, so that’s on my horizon as well.

Sarah: That’s exciting. You’ve definitely done a lot in your career. My last question for is this: for the women looking to get more involved and grow their retirement accounts, what are your tips for growing a self-directed IRA?

Tracy: We actually did a wonderful webinar with Quest on that. It was about my top 10 tips for buy notes in an IRA. I would definitely refer people to that class. If I had to boil it down to a couple of things, I first would say to just do something and to start wherever you are. We are constantly underestimating ourselves or being frustrated by something we didn’t do. I encourage everyone, no matter where you are at in your time, to let that go and to start. If you don’t have an IRA account, then open one. If you have one and you haven’t fully contributed to it, then figure out how to do that. If you’ve done that and you still haven’t fully invested your money and it’s sitting there uninvested on the sidelines, then do something about that. I’ve certainly been guilty of all those things along the way, so I’m not preaching or judging. I’m just saying, take some action. Learn, invest, and make some mistakes because you learn from those. I have. Lastly, solving problems. They don’t go away by ignoring them.

Sarah: That’s great advice. Everything you mentioned is so true. Tracy, thank you again. I really appreciate the time you’ve set aside to participate in this article. Hearing you share how you’ve been successful as a woman in the industry was really inspiring. You’re a wealth of knowledge and have shared some great advice. 

If you would like more information about the Top 10 Tips for Buy Notes in an IRA, you can rewatch the class on our Youtube page! To learn more about how to get started investing with a self-directed IRA, schedule a 1-on-1 consultation with an IRA Specialist by clicking HERE.

Does Your Custodian No Longer Hold Private Investments?

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

New custodian requirements are causing headaches for some retirement investors and are causing them to look elsewhere. Investors that have their retirement accounts at some of the common publicly traded custodians are being told that they can no longer hold private investments under certain thresholds. 

The biggest challenge is that these custodians are no longer holding private investment opportunities for under $1M. For investors with smaller accounts that choose to remain with these certain custodians, they will no longer have the option to put their money into private investments. Assets such as real estate, notes, and private entities could all be eliminated from the list of possible investment options. 

How Can a Self-Directed IRA Help?

Self-directed IRAs could be the answer to the problem. With a self-directed IRA, you have the ability to diversify your investment portfolio by choosing from the broadest possible spectrum of investments, including those not traded on a stock exchange, and you’ll never have to worry about investment minimums or maximums. Self-direction means you get to make all the decisions about your financial future, and your custodian will provide account administration. Remember! Not all custodians are created equal!

You can build wealth faster with the freedom to purchase almost any type of investment. Common investment choices include all types of real estate, newly created and existing promissory notes, LLCs, limited partnerships, private stock, trusts, oil and gas, tax liens, and much more. All types of IRAs, including Traditional, Roth, SEP, and SIMPLE IRAs, as well as Coverdell Education Savings Accounts (CESAs) and Health Savings Accounts (HSAs), can be self-directed. 

Why Self-Directed at Quest?

Quest Trust Company is the nation’s premier self-directed IRA custodian, administering clients all across the U.S. Not only do we provide world famous account administration and customer service, we put a big focus on education and making sure our clients are equipped with all the knowledge and resources they may need. In our Education Center, you can experience live webinars, blogs, recorded videos, and more. In addition, we’re always adding the the latest online features, allowing you to fund investments online within 24-48 hours – one of the fastest funding times in the industry!

Benefits of Self-Directing Your IRA at Quest: 

  • Ability to view and manage accounts & investments online in the Client Portal
  • Submit investments and yearly Fair Market Valuations 100% online
  • Pay expenses with our team or online with the Expense Pay Feature
  • 24-48 hour processing times for almost all request involving accounts
  • Access to 35 Certified IRA Services Professionals and endless continued education

Here’s How We Can Help

For those that have a larger IRA and still want to participate in private assets, Quest can help. If you are looking for a qualified and knowledge custodian to place your private assets or start new private entity investments, call an IRA Specialists to see how we can make your move to Quest.

Schedule your free 1-on-1 call: Schedule A Consultation

How to Effectively Plan for the Future – Probate Discussion with Attorney Emily Bohls

Estimated reading time: 11 minutes

How soon is too soon to start planning for the future? Never! When it comes to making future plans and arrangements, most people seem to forget about potential probate scenarios that may arise. Although, your retirement account might have the potential to bypass probate, it’s important to understand how this process could affect your self-directed retirement plan.

Attorney, Emily Bohls, joins me in this article to help define and explain some of the basic Texas probate laws, which can be difficult to navigate for the common investor. 

Sarah: 

Thank you for joining me today. Can you give me a bit of your background? Tell us who you are, what you do, etc.

Emily:

I am an attorney, and I’ve been practicing for 14 years now. I went to law school in Houston – South Texas College of Law. My first seven years I was actually working for South Texas College of Law as a staff attorney at their legal aid clinic, primarily doing family law and probate. The model of the clinic was evolving, and I eventually became the manager of the clinic and an adjunct professor. In 2013, I decided that it was now or never to start my own practice, and that is what I’ve been focused on since then.

Sarah: 

So, that’s what you did next?

Emily:

I remained an adjunct, teaching the probate clinic. It was a practical course where the students got actual cases, and they were legal aid cases. I think I gave that up in about 2018, because I needed to concentrate fully on my practice. Now, I’ve been focusing on my practice and growing that. I’m primarily a probate practice. I also do guardianships, which is kind of under that umbrella. I’m working on merging/forming with another firm that offers family law, but that’s probably six months away from coming to fruition.

Sarah: 

You wear all the hats! Jack of all trades! What made you want to get in to this type of career? I feel like most people aren’t thinking, “let’s do probate”, so what was it that interested you?

Emily:

I always thought it was interesting. I’ve experienced death in my family, and we had to go through these processes. Some experiences were good, some were bad. When I was working at the legal clinic, since it was one of the things that we did, I gravitated towards it. I find it so fascinating because you have to know something about everything, since it really depends on what people die with. In some ways, it’s formulaic and very code driven. I appreciate how well organized the area of law is, especially in Harris County. The courts are great; they have a judge, associate judge, and a staff attorney that make sure everything’s perfect all the time.

Sarah: 

Having a good system always makes things a little bit easier. If you’re already having to deal with something that’s complicated, you don’t want to have a complicated system, as well!  I’ll jump right into my first question. For those here that are familiar with probate but are reading to get a better understanding, can you define probate for us and why it’s important to understand in relation to Self-Directed IRAs?

Emily:

Probate is the formal process of getting assets out of a deceased person’s name and into that of his/her heirs or beneficiaries’ names. So, as it relates to Self-Directed IRAs, if a deceased person had any asset that listed a designated a beneficiary, then the formal probate process is not necessary and the beneficiary can deal directly with the asset holder. Usually, I’m talking about financial assets, but you can have a piece of property that you’ve acquired in your SDIRA but that account has a beneficiary. If your loved one dies and leaves you as the beneficiary, then you would contact Quest and ask them information and what you need in order to change this account over into your name.

Sarah: 

How involved is the custodian when somebody passes away? 

Emily:

The custodian is mostly passive, waiting for notification and then receiving the notification. They’re not going to find it by looking through the death records or from the obituaries. They’re going to need to be notified by the beneficiary, and the beneficiary needs to contact that institution. Whether it’s a custodian of a Self-Directed IRA, if it’s an insurance company, if it’s a bank, an investment firm – all of those are different entities and the beneficiary needs to reach out to them. If you don’t know you’re a beneficiary, that’s where it gets kind of tricky. Nowadays, no one really has paper statements anymore. In the past, you could rely on looking through the loved ones’ mail, but now you have to look through their computer, passwords, and usernames.

Sarah: 

Oh man, I never thought about that. 

Emily:

Yes, so you can see how tricky that can get. And there’s no harm in digging around!  But, if you contacted Quest because a loved one died and you’re not the beneficiary, Quest is not going to tell you any of the asset holder’s information if you’re not the beneficiary. 

Sarah: 

Thanks for answering that. It’s so important that clients understand our role as the self-directed IRA custodian.  

Emily:

If you’re really lost and have no direction, then it’s possible to open probate and to get an executor/administrator with the authority to act on behalf of the estate and perform the necessary inquiries. Now, if I was an executor/administrator and I inquired, I have authorization. I could potentially find out who the beneficiary was or get them going. But, that would be a lot of work. For planning purposes, you should write your assets and accounts down or print out a statement of account and have a folder to keep everything in one place. Even if you have old stuff in your folder, like a closed account, there’s still no harm. Try to have all of your accounts in one place, so that [your beneficiary] knows who to contact.

Sarah: 

It definitely sounds like it could get complicated. Especially if you didn’t know you were a beneficiary! Is it possible to avoid this probate process all together?

Emily:

It is possible, but it requires planning. I think you need to sit down and write out everything you own as an asset. And don’t say cash! If you have life insurance policies, financial accounts, self-directed IRAs, IRAs, homes, boats, whatever – list it all out! Then go through your goals. If your goal is to avoid probate, then you need to make sure each asset is planned in such a way that that’s what would happen. The first step is listing out everything, so that you know what to do to plan for each asset.

Sarah: 

Let’s say a family has done poor planning, and they do have to go through the probate process. Can you explain that process for us? Is it long? Is it complicated? Does it differ for everybody? 

Emily:

It can be long and difficult, but sometimes it can be quick and straightforward. It really depends on the types of assets the decedent has and how well the heirs/beneficiaries/personal representative get along. An attorney will advise your executor/administrator or interested party as to the proper probate process for your estate, but, generally speaking, an application is filed, all interested parties are notified, a hearing is held and the executor/administrator gets court authority to officially commence his/her role as fiduciary. The executor/administrator then begins collecting assets, paying debts, taxes, etc. After everything is accounted for, debts/taxes paid, then the executor/administrator will distribute the assets according to the will or the laws of descent or distribution.

Sarah: 

Okay. Yes. It does sound like a lot of moving parts and a lot of steps there. It’s definitely important to have somebody who knows what they’re doing.

Emily:

Sometimes it’s not even because you have a complicated estate. It just depends on how long it is. And there are always things that can get jammed up.

Sarah: 

Speaking of those jams and things that could get complicated. How does the probate process differ from state to state? Can this hold things up? How do different laws in each state factor into this?

Emily:

They do differ and every state will have different requirements. It could also require ancillary probate. When I say ancillary probate, it means you’re going to have to do something in that other state to get that asset turned over. It’s the process of transferring property that is located in a state.  That’s why a lot of people who are residents will put their non-Texas assets in a trust. 

Sarah: 

Because you mentioned an executor, let’s touch on that. Who should I appoint as my executor?

Emily:

I would say first and foremost, it should be someone that is trustworthy, somewhat business savvy, resourceful, diligent, and dedicated, because it’s a job. It’s a job, no matter how simple it is. For example, everyone’s going to die with some bills. You’re going to have a Verizon account or a Comcast account, and you’ve got to shut all that down! It may be just trying to get it transferred over to your name, but you know what it’s like to even get on the phone with someone if you have an issue. It may take two hours. And that’s just the preliminary phone call! First, you’re going to call to find out what they need, then there’s a follow-up where you have to send them a death certificate or whatever. Then you maybe pay the final bill, and finally, actually follow up to make sure they did it. You can see, every little thing is going to take time, and it’s a lot of work. So, you could appoint your spouse or child, just as long as they have those attributes.  At the very minimum, your executor needs to have the ability to understand that this is going to be a process and that they could hire a good attorney to guide them through it. 

Sarah: 

What would happen if your loved one died without a will? What happens then?

Emily:

This is called dying intestate. If there is no will, someone needs to step forward to choose a process of getting the loved one’s assets out of their name and into the name(s) of the heir(s). The method of doing this will depend on the assets your loved one leaves behind. The loved one’s heirs are defined under the laws of descent and distribution.

Sarah: 

What actually constitutes a valid will?

Emily:

With this, it’s such a specific question, and you can’t generalize. It’s the law. It’s as follows:

  • Testator was at least 18 years old (or has been married or a member of the armed forces) at the time of execution
  • In writing
  • Signed by the testator or another person on the testator’s behalf in the testator’s presence and at the testator’s direction
  • Attested by 2 or more credible witnesses who are at least 14 years old and who subscribe their names to the will in their own handwriting in the testator’s presence
  • Credible cannot be a beneficiary
  • For holographic will: wholly in the testator’s handwriting

Sarah:

And does that have to be official? Typed up or notarized?

Emily:

No! It could be on a napkin. As long as it’s all in your handwriting. Just have something that works in a pinch. It could be better than having nothing at all.

Sarah:

Thank you for clarifying! One of my last questions relates to potential complications with large families. If somebody is in a mixed family, how can somebody protect themselves in those types of situations, i.e. stepchildren, new spouses, etc?

Emily:

First, make sure you know what you have by writing it down and when you acquired it (before or after marriage). Familiarize yourself with the laws of intestacy and where real property vs. separate property goes if you die without a will. Once you do that, picture how you would want your estate to pass once you die. Make sure you have a will. A lot of times people choose to utilize trusts to take care of a surviving spouse while they are alive, but leave the trust assets to their children once their spouse dies. There can be unintended consequences of not doing anything. 

Sarah:

I think there’s a lot about the trusts that people just like. Plus, it’s a good shelter for things. 

Emily:

I think so, too. 

Sarah:

Well, Emily, I really appreciate you taking the time to dive deep and answer all these questions for me! Before we wrap up, what’s one piece of advice that you would give somebody who is planning and preparing for the future?

Emily:

I definitely think they need to write lists for what they have. That is a preliminary for figuring it out on your own. If you’re going to go see an attorney, a lot of times they’ll send out a preliminary questionnaire and that’s exactly what the goal of that questionnaire is – to see what you have. Also know, you are never responsible for a deceased person’s debts. Never. If you’re going to pay any expenses of administration or debts of a loved one, just make sure you keep all the receipts and then you can get reimbursed. 

Sarah:

That’s really helpful to know! I’m glad you threw that in! I think I’ve asked all of my questions, and I’ve loved getting to hear your answers and learn a bit more about the probate process. Thank you, again. I’ll include your contact information at the bottom for those that would like to learn more!

When preparing for the future, being proactive ahead of time is the best thing you can do. By following these practices, you can do everything you need in order to set yourself up later in life. To learn more about the probate process in Texas, you can contact Emily Bohls at emily@bohlslaw.com.

If you have questions regarding your benefices or any other Self-Directed account need, we would love to help. You can speak to an IRA Specialist by scheduling a free consultation HERE.

Sarah Bio

How To Maximize Your Investments Funds With Partnering

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

It’s no secret that people choose self-directed IRAs because of the many benefits they offer, like reducing taxes and providing options for alternative investments. They are also very powerful accounts for real estate investors, as they allow the possibility for utilizing creative investment strategies. 

What is Partnering? 

One of the great features of self-directed IRAs is that they don’t have to be used only on their own. Self-directed IRAs can work together by using a beneficial strategy called “partnering”. This term is used when one entity (or more) and an IRA come together to put up the funds for an investment. 

In this strategy, all parties have a vested percentage of ownership in the deal. When doing this, the percentage of ownership is decided at the beginning of the investment and must remain the same throughout the life of the investment. This means that any profit the investment receives is returned based on this percentage of ownership. Additionally, the IRA would be responsible for its percentage of any expense associated with the investment, too. 

Who does Partnering work for?

Partnering is a great strategy for a variety of people. For investors who are just getting started, partnering allows the chance to participate. Even having only a small percentage of a total investment allows a small dollar IRA to gradually grow. Oftentimes, Coverdell Education Savings Accounts (ESAs) and other small dollar accounts will partner together to purchase an investment. 

There are also many occasions when a good deal is available, but an investor doesn’t have enough money in their IRA to make up the total cost of the purchase. Being able to partner with another IRA account they may have or another money partner provides the ability to purchase the investment after all. 

It is also beneficial for account holders that have multiple IRAs. For those who want to utilize all of their accounts at once, this is a great way to have all accounts involved in one deal. Over all, partnering provides more possibilities for accounts to be involved in deals when they may not have been able to before.  

Who can your IRA Partner with?

Not only can one or multiple accounts be partnered together on investments, self-directed IRAs can also partner with personal funds. When partnering with personal funds, your IRA has a percentage of ownership and you do, too. This is not to be confused with doing a transaction with yourself. Keep in mind that when partnering with a disqualified person, the percentage of ownership is decided at the time of purchase and must remain the same throughout the life of the investment.

Knowing what you can do is great, but it’s even more important to know what you and your IRA can and cannot do. If you haven’t heard about disqualified people and prohibited transactions, it’s important to know these terms to better understand how partnering is different. Disqualified people are certain people or entities that your IRA is not allowed to transact business with, and it’s important to understand who they are before entering into any deals to avoid doing a prohibited transaction. 

Being able to combine funds with other investors and IRAs opens a door to a whole new world of possibilities, and understanding how to partner accounts will allow more investors to grow their accounts faster. For more information on partnering or how to maximize all of your self-directed IRAs, give an IRA Specialist a call at 855-FUN-IRAs (855.386.4727). To learn more about how to get started investing with a self-directed IRA, schedule a 1-on-1 consultation with an IRA Specialist by clicking HERE.

The Best Alternative Investments That You’ve Never Heard Of

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

After years of diminishing returns on the stock market, more and more financially savvy people are looking towards alternative investments. But what are alternative investments?

Strictly speaking, these are any investment assets which fall outside of the scope of “traditional” investments such as stocks and bonds. They benefit from being less restricted, allowing investors to choose what, when, and how they invest.

By 2023, it is estimated that the alternative investments market will hit a whopping $14 trillion in size, as more and more people seek to avoid the restraints and disappointing returns of conventional investments.

If you’re looking to invest outside the box, here is a list of alternative investments that you absolutely need to consider in 2020. 

1. Venture Capital 

One of the most popular options for alternative investment funds in 2020 is venture capital or VC. This is essentially when you use your money to invest in a growing company that has long-term potential.

By providing venture capital to a company, you stand to profit from the future growth of that company. This is why Silicon Valley is the world’s epicenter for VC funding, owing to the high number of “unicorn” startups that are based there. 

2. Real Estate

By some measures, real estate is the most popular asset class in the world. In times of market turmoil, real estate has historically proven to be a sound investment. With the right knowledge of high-growth real estate markets, you could yield considerable returns by investing in real estate.

To do so, you could switch out your traditional IRA with a Self-Directed IRA, which removes the restrictions placed on traditional IRAs to allow you to invest in real estate for your retirement. Alternative real estate investment comes in all shapes and sizes, so do your research before committing. 

3. Commodities 

The commodities market is vast and incredibly diverse. This means that you should always consult commodities experts before you consider dipping your toe into this oftentimes volatile market.

Popular commodities include oil, gold, coffee, and steel, and are usually traded on futures markets. If you play your cards right and open a commodities contract at the right time, you could make a substantial profit. 

4. Private Equity 

Private equity is a cornerstone of alternative investment management. In a nutshell, this involves investing in companies that are not publicly traded. This is usually about playing the long game, as you will have to wait for the private equity fund you have invested in to sell your holdings, either as part of an IPO or as a merger or takeover. This can easily take several years, but the returns can be substantial. 

Self-Directed IRA: A Vehicle for Alternative Investments 

No matter what kind of alternative investments appeal to you, it is important to have access to the funding vehicles that actually allow you to make those investments. One effective way to do this is with a self-directed IRA.

Traditional IRAs have strict limitations on how the money in it can be invested. However, a self-directed IRA gives you the power to control how you invest in your future. To learn more about how to get started investing with a self-directed IRA, schedule a 1-on-1 consultation with an IRA Specialist by clicking HERE.

How the CARES Act Relates to Retirement Accounts

Estimated reading time: 2 minutes

The COVID-19 crisis fundamentally changed society in many ways and spread through the world like a wildfire. While much of the United States stayed home in isolation, the federal government passed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act to help relieve the burden on families, businesses, and local governments.

The CARES Act is expansive and contains many provisions, but what does that mean for the financial wellbeing of your family? We’ll examine some aspects of the Act that impact your family finances and the pros and cons of taking advantage of these temporary measures.

You’ll be able to make educated decisions and determine which are best for you.

CARES Act and Individual Retirement Accounts

With the country in isolation, many people were left with jobs temporarily suspended or laid off from work. The CARES Act allows people having a hardship to remove up to $100,000 from their IRA without the usual 10 percent penalty.

The money is considered taxable for that year. You can pay the amount back into the account over the next three years. If you have a 401(k), then you can take an increased loan amount of $100,000 or all your 401(k) if the amount is less than that. Before the legislation, the maximum loan amount was $50,000.

Federal Tax Deadline Extended

Coronavirus hit the country in the prime of tax season, leaving many people either unable to have their taxes done or without the income to pay off their tax debts. Many of the accountants and tax preparation companies shut down because of the coronavirus.

The government understood that this would be a problem and extended the tax filing deadline from April 15 to July 15, 2020. It allows an extension of an IRA holder to contribute for the 2019 tax year.

Take Advantage if You Can

If your family is financially disrupted because of the COVID-19 epidemic, then take advantage of the CARES Act stipulations. You don’t need to take the full amount from your 401(k) or IRA unless it is needed.

These are still designed for your retirement, so if you do take money out try to have it repaid so it doesn’t negatively impact your portfolio or your retirement plans. You’ve spent years building it up, so keep your future safe.If you want more information on the CARES Act or IRAs, then contact a Quest IRA specialist.

3 tips for reducing taxes on your retirement income

Estimated reading time: 2 minutes

Minimizing taxes for future retirement income is not always easy, but it is very important for putting together an effective retirement plan. For example, although many retirees expect to pay lower tax rates on their IRA or Individual 401k after they have left the workforce, their tax rates may still go up due to social security taxes and medicare taxes. 

Follow these three steps to reduce taxes on your retirement income and get the most out of retirement savings:

1. Learn about income tax advantages

Despite what many people think, certain types of income are taxed differently from others. A few examples include:

  • Capital gains
  • Real Estate investments
  • Earned income
  • Unearned income

If you buy a physical asset such as gold or an investment property, your tax rates for capital gains will be much lower than it would be for an ordinary earned income. 

Also, if you sell a home you’ve lived in for the past five years, you may qualify to have a large portion of your capital gains excluded from your taxes (double the amount if you are filing jointly as a married couple) by completing a 1031 exchange.

2. Create a budget to keep your expenses low

In order to reduce your taxes, you will want to stay in low tax brackets as much as you possibly can. One of the best ways to do this is to keep your expenses low so you won’t have to withdraw much from your retirement accounts. 

Create a budget to manage your annual spending and withdrawal habits, and if possible, move to a region with lower taxes and a lower cost of living.

3. Convert your traditional IRA or 401k into a Roth IRA

Another strategy is to convert your current retirement account into a Roth IRA. By doing this and paying taxes up-front when your marginal tax bracket is still low, you will reduce the amount of tax you will eventually pay in the future and you will be eligible for tax-free distributions after retirement.

Contact a Quest IRA Specialist today to learn more ways you can reduce taxes on your retirement or register for one of our events.

How Real Estate Syndication Works

Estimated reading time: 2 minutes

Real estate syndication is a strategy that investors can use to pool their resources and invest in large real estate projects. 

If you’re looking to invest in large real estate projects but don’t have the funds to get a project started on your own, syndication is a great strategy that you can use to get your foot in the door. 

Here’s what you need to know about real estate syndication:

What is real estate syndication?

Syndication is the process of pooling resources with other investors to invest in a large property or real estate project, such as an apartment complex or a commercial retail development. 

Syndication is not only the process of pooling financial resources, but also intellectual resources in order to make smart decisions about the properties you invest in. In a syndicated relationship, one party invests the money, while another party invests time and labor to find the property and run the day to day operations. 

The party investing the labor in the property is called the sponsor. Sponsors still invest some money, but the amount is much lower than what the investors put in. However, they still get a fair share of the profit. Syndicated partnerships are usually structured as an LLC.

Why get involved in real estate syndication?

Syndication has become much easier in recent years, as investors and sponsors can easily connect online. Crowdfunding has made real estate syndication much more accessible for the average person, because you can contribute relatively small amounts of money to a real estate project that is interesting to you, and reap the benefits accordingly. 

If you have a property that you are interested in, syndication is one of the best ways to get the project off the ground quickly. 

Real estate is a great investment, as it can serve as an excellent source of passive income for a very long time, and doesn’t fluctuate financially the same way that many other types of investments do.

Interested in real estate investing? Talk to the expert team at Quest Trust Company. Quest offers flexible investment account options designed to meet the needs of modern investors.

Questions you should ask before opening multiple IRA accounts

Estimated reading time: 2 minutes

Image Credit: 401kcalculator.org

Many people wonder if you can open multiple IRA accounts, and the short answer is yes, it is something that is legally allowed. However, just because it is legal doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s something you should do.

There are many important things to take into consideration when opening multiple IRA accounts. Here are the key questions you should ask yourself before setting up multiple IRAs.

Do you need the tax benefits of both a traditional and Roth IRA account?

  • This is the main reason why people opt to open multiple IRA accounts. Traditional IRA accounts give you tax breaks for deposits during the year, but Roth IRAs give you tax breaks in the year that you withdraw them. 
  • There are advantages and disadvantages to using both types of IRAs. You might opt to use a traditional IRA for a personal benefit today (such as a tax deduction). 
  • On the other hand, use a Roth IRA for a long-term investments to capture the benefit when you truly retire and withdraw tax free money. 

Are you willing to manage the paperwork for two IRAs?

  • While multiple IRAs can come with tax benefits, they can also come with a lot of extra paperwork. 
  • This means higher chances of making mistakes with your paperwork or taxes, or missing important deadlines that could negatively affect your account’s growth. 
  • Before you get set up with multiple IRAs, be realistic with yourself and decide if you are willing to spend the extra time and energy to manage two accounts.

Do you have a good financial institution on your side?

When opening any financial account, it’s important to work with providers who are going to meet your needs.

Is their staff friendly, knowledgeable, and available to help when you have problems? Do they offer the investment options that you need? Doing your research before choosing an account provider is crucial.

After pondering all the pros and cons of opening multiple IRA accounts vs. one IRA account, you will be ready to make the best choice for you and your financial future. 

If you are interested in opening an IRA account, contact Quest Trust Company today! QTC offers completely self-directed IRAs with flexible investment options and fast processing times. This gives you more control over the way you manage your money and plan for the future.

Avoiding the Conflicts of Interest of 401(k)s with a Self-Directed IRA

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes401(k)s with a Self-Directed IRAIn recent weeks there has been new talk about introducing stronger investor protections and providing increased opportunities within the area of retirement savings. One of the biggest areas of concern has been a new focus on how individual investors fare in their employer-sponsored 401(k) plans.

Surprisingly, under current law there is no legal obligation for a 401(k) plan provider to put the interests of plan participants before their own. This type of duty is known as a “fiduciary” duty, and without this protection retirement savers may be fighting an uphill battle in trying to build their nest eggs.

Perhaps the biggest conflict is the limited choices that you are provided with a 401(k). For example, you might assume that the 401(k) provider selects the available investments based on their quality or suitability for the 401(k) plan participants. But in fact, in most cases, the fund company provides a fee to the 401(k) provider in order to be listed. And in many cases, the fund company can charge additional fees to the plan participants (often in the form of so-called “12b‑1” fees).

These types of fees, which relate to marketing and preferential treatment within the fund, do not benefit the 401(k) plan participants in any way, and essentially represent an extra charge that lowers their overall return. This is permitted under current law because 401(k) plan providers do not owe a legal “fiduciary” duty to the plan participants.

In contrast, a self-directed IRA custodian such as Quest Trust Company cannot market any specific investment funds or opportunities to the account holders. Self-directed IRA account owners make all the investment choices, and have the widest possible range of investment opportunities available to them. Rather than being limited to a handful of mutual fund choices (with the potentially inflated fees we discussed above), a self-directed IRA account holder can choose whatever fund or other investment asset is legally permitted under the IRS regulations.

You’re only given one choice when it comes to 401(k) plans – the one that your employer offers, or none at all.

Within the plan that your employer chooses to provide, you’re likely to note a significant limitation in your investment choices. For example, you may only have a single choice when it comes to a particular type of neutral fund or investment philosophy. And forget about being able to select individual stocks yourself; that won’t be available in an employer-provided 401(k).

A self-directed IRA is better because you have the maximum freedom in choosing where you want your retirement funds to be invested.

Finally, with a 401(k) plan, you are essentially locked into the choices and account custodian that your employer provides. There’s no incentive for your plan provider to offer the best service or even to offer a range of fee options, because they know you can’t take your 401(k) business elsewhere. The plan they provide is your only 401(k) option, and you generally can’t move your funds to a different retirement investment vehicle.

But when you do change jobs, you’ll certainly want to use that as an opportunity to roll any 401(k) account you have into a new self-directed IRA.