What Is a Life Underwriter Training Council Fellow (LUTCF)?

Underwriters' meetingNew insurance agents can get a grounding in the basic skills, such as underwriting, needed to succeed in the field by becoming a Life Underwriter Training Council Fellow (LUTCF). After completing the required training, agents will have greater expertise in prospecting, selling, practice management as well as insight into practice specialties including life and health insurance, employee benefits and annuities. Having a LUTCF also can aid new agents in acquiring a job with an agency and in marketing themselves to prospective clients.

The LUTCF is overseen by the National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors (NAIFA). The training and testing are provided by education company Kaplan through its College for Financial Planning division.

LUTCF Certification Requirements

The core of the certification requirements for the LUTCF is a set of three courses. Each course consists of eight weeks of instruction followed by a week for review and testing.

The first course is an introduction to life insurance and managing a life insurance practice. It covers business planning, ethics, life insurance product basics, risk management, prospecting, selling skills and financial planning.

The second course goes deeper into life insurance as well as annuities, mutual funds and insurance for health, disability, long-term care, group coverage and property and casualty. Risk management, retirement and estate planning are among the subjects covered in the third course.

The third course deals with risk management applications. It covers retirement and estate planning as well as special situations.

The courses are available as self-paced prerecorded lectures. They are also taught live and via interactive online classes. After completing each of the three courses, students must pass a two-hour test. To pass, they must correctly answer 70% of the 50 questions on each test.

The training costs $950 per course for a total of $2,850. The only prerequisite for the LUTCF is to belong to NAIFA, which has a sliding membership fee scale. People in their first year in financial services pay $10 to belong to NAIFA. The fee increases annually until it reaches $56 a year after a member has five years of experience in the field.

After receiving the designation, LUTCF designees can renew it by paying a $50 renewal fee every two years. As part of the renewal process, they also have to demonstrate that they have completed three hours of ethics continuing education every two years. In addition, LUTCF holders must agree to follow standards of professional conduct and be subject to a disciplinary process.

LUTCF Holder Jobs

Insurance worksheetsLUTCF seekers are usually insurance agents at the start of their careers. They may be interested in obtaining the designation as a way to convince potential employers of their commitment and knowledge about the life insurance industry. Having the LUTCF initials on a business card is also seen as an aid in marketing to prospects. The LUTCF is an optional certification and does not confer any specific powers or privileges on holders.

The designation has been around since 1984 and approximately 70,000 people have earned an LUTCF during that time.

Comparable Certifications

There are only a few entry-level certificates available to life insurance agents. In addition to the LUTCF, new agents can choose from:

Financial Services Certified Professional (FSCP) is offered by the American College of Financial Services, which originally co-sponsored the LUTCF with NAIFA. In 2013 the organizations ended their association and the American College of Financial Service began offering the FSCP. It requires passing seven courses on financial services and ethics topics at a combined cost of $3,230.

Registered Financial Associate (RFA) is a designation from the International Association of Registered Financial Consultants. It is offered to agents and other financial professionals who have already received a life insurance license, Series 65 securities license, bachelor degree in a related field or any of a number of professional designations, including a LUTCF. RFAs also have to pay a $250 fee. The only requirement other than that is to pass an examination on the organization’s code of ethics for financial professionals.

Bottom Line

Business meeting

The Life Underwriter Training Council Fellow (LUTCF) certification is one of the first designations sought by beginning life insurance agents. To get one, students have to learn about life and other forms of insurance, mutual funds, annuities, employee benefits and financial advising, in addition to managing a life insurance business, prospecting and selling.

Tips on Insurance

  • A consumer considering purchasing life insurance can increase the chances of making a good decision by having a relationship with a trusted and experienced financial advisor. Finding the right financial advisor that fits your needs doesn’t have to be hard. SmartAsset’s free tool matches you with financial advisors in your area in five minutes. If you’re ready to be matched with local advisors that will help you achieve your financial goals, get started now.
  • Entry-level designations for financial services professionals like the LUTCF indicate that an advisor is interested in learning about the field and following best practices. More advanced certifications such as Chartered Life Underwriter and Certified Financial Planner are likely to indicate that a professional is a more experienced and well-informed source for financial advice.

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Increasing Your Savings on a Low-Income Salary

A low-income salary can create challenges when it comes to reaching your financial goals. You may want to take a vacation, buy a new car, or just put some cash away for a rainy day, but how can you do that with a limited income? Although you may struggle to add to your savings, there […]

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A Guide to Qualified Retirement Plans

woman on computer with notebook

Saving for retirement is an important financial goal and there are different options when it comes to where to invest. A qualified retirement plan can make it easier to build wealth for the long term, while enjoying some significant tax benefits.

Qualified retirement plans must meet Internal Revenue Code standards for form and operation under Section 401(a). If you have a retirement plan at work, it’s most likely qualified. But not every retirement account falls under this umbrella and those that don’t are deemed “non-qualified.”

So just what is a qualified retirement plan and how is it different from a non-qualified retirement plan?
Understanding the nuances of these terms can help you better shape your retirement plan for growing wealth.

What Is a Qualified Retirement Plan?

Qualified retirement plans allow you to save money for retirement from your income on a tax-deferred basis. These plans are managed according to Employment Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) standards.

The IRS has specific rules for what constitutes a qualified retirement plan and what doesn’t. Public employers can set up a qualified retirement plan as long as these conditions are met:

•  Employer contributions are deferred from income tax until they’re distributed and are exempt from social security and Medicare tax
•  Employer contributions are subject to FICA tax
•  Employee contributions are subject to both income and FICA tax

Following those guidelines, qualified retirement plans can include:

•  Defined benefit plans (such as traditional pension plans)
•  Defined contribution plans (such as 401(k) plans)
•  Employee stock ownership plans (ESOP)
•  Keogh plans

Section 403(b) plans, which you might have access to if you’re a public school or tax-exempt organization employee, mimic some of the characteristics of qualified retirement plans. But because of the way employer contributions to these plans are taxed the IRS doesn’t count them as qualified plans. The same is true for section 457(b) plans, which are available to public employees.

Defined Benefit vs. Defined Contribution Plans

When talking about qualified retirement plans and how to use them to invest for the future, it’s important to understand the distinction between defined benefit and defined contribution plans.

ERISA recognizes both types of plans, though they work very differently. A defined benefit plan pays out a specific benefit at retirement. This can either be a set dollar amount or payments based on a percentage of what you earned during your working career.

This type of defined benefit plan is most commonly known as a pension. If you have a pension from a current (or former) employer, you may be able to receive monthly payments from it once you retire, or withdraw the benefits you’ve accumulated in one lump sum. Pension plans can be protected by federal insurance coverage through the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC).

Defined contribution plans, on the other hand, pay out benefits based on how much you (and your employer, if you’re eligible for a company match) contribute to the plan during your working years. The amount of money you can defer from your salary depends on the plan itself, as does the percentage of those contributions your employer will match.

Defined contribution plans include 401(k) plans, 403(b) plans, ESOPs and profit-sharing plans. With 401(k)s, that includes options like SIMPLE and solo 401(k) plans. But it’s important to note that while these are all defined contribution plans, they’re not all qualified retirement plans. Of those examples, 403(b) plans wouldn’t enjoy qualified retirement plan tax benefits.

What Is a Non-Qualified Retirement Plan?

Non-qualified retirement plans are retirement plans that aren’t governed by ERISA rules or IRC Section 401(a) standards. These are plans that you can use to invest for retirement outside of your workplace.

Examples of non-qualified retirement plans include:

•  Traditional IRAs
•  Roth IRAs
•  403(b) plans
•  457 plans
•  Deferred compensation plans
•  Self-directed IRAs
•  Executive bonus plans

While these plans can still offer tax benefits, they don’t meet the guidelines to be considered qualified. But they can be useful in saving for retirement, in addition to a qualified plan.

Traditional and Roth Individual Retirement Accounts

Traditional and Roth IRAs allow you to invest for retirement, with annual contribution limits. For 2020 and 2021, the maximum amount you can contribute to either IRA is $6,000, or $7,000 if you’re over 50.

Traditional IRAs allow for tax-deductible contributions. These accounts are funded using pre-tax dollars. When you make qualified withdrawals in retirement, they’re taxed at your ordinary income tax rate. IRAs do have required minimum distributions (RMD) starting at age 72.

Roth IRAs don’t offer the benefit of a tax deduction on contributions. But they do allow you to withdraw money tax-free in retirement. Unlike traditional IRAs, Roth IRAs do not have RMDs, meaning you don’t have to withdraw money until you want to.

A self-directed IRA is another type of IRA you might consider if you want to invest in stock or mutual fund alternatives, such as real estate. These IRAs require you to follow specific rules for how the money is used to invest, and engaging in any prohibited transactions could result in the loss of IRA tax benefits.

Advantages of Qualified Retirement Plans

Qualified retirement plans can benefit both employers and employees who are interested in saving for retirement.
On the employer side, the benefits include:

•  Being able to claim a tax deduction for matching contributions made on behalf of employees
•  Tax credits and other tax incentives for starting and maintaining a qualified retirement plan
•  Tax-free growth of assets in the plan

Additionally, offering a qualified retirement plan, such as a 401(k), can also be a useful tool for attracting and retaining talent. Employees may be more motivated to accept a position and stay with the company if their benefits package includes a generous 401(k) match.

Employees also enjoy some important benefits by saving money in a qualified plan. Specifically, those benefits include:

•  Tax-deferred growth of contributions
•  Ability to build a diversified portfolio
•  Automatic contributions through payroll deductions
•  Contributions made from taxable income each year
•  Matching contributions from your employer (aka “free money”)
•  ERISA protections against creditor lawsuits

Qualified retirement plans can also feature higher contribution limits than non-qualified plans, such as an IRA. If you have a 401(k), for example, you can contribute up to $19,500 for the 2020 and 2021 tax years, with an additional catch-up contribution of $6,500 for individuals 50 and older.

If you’re able to max out your annual contribution each year, that could allow you to save a substantial amount of money on a tax-deferred basis for retirement. Depending on your income and filing status, you may also be able to make additional contributions to a traditional or Roth IRA.

Making Other Investments Besides a Qualified or Non-Qualified Retirement Plan

Saving money in a qualified retirement plan or a non-qualified retirement plan doesn’t prevent you from investing money in a taxable account. With a brokerage account, you can continue to build your portfolio with no annual contribution limits. The trade-off is that selling assets in your brokerage account could trigger capital gains tax at the time of the sale, whereas qualified accounts allow you to defer paying income tax until retirement.

But an online brokerage account could help with increasing diversification in your portfolio. Qualified plans offered through an employer may limit you to mutual funds, index funds, or target-date funds as investment options. With a brokerage account, on the other hand, you may be able to trade individual stocks or fractional shares, exchange-traded funds, futures, options, or even cryptocurrency. Increasing diversification can help you better manage investment risk during periods of market volatility.

The Takeaway

While a qualified retirement plan allows investors to put away pre-tax money for retirement, a non-qualified plan doesn’t offer tax-deferred benefits. But both can be important parts of a retirement saving strategy.

Regardless of whether you use a qualified retirement plan or a non-qualified plan to grow wealth, the most important thing is getting started. Your workplace plan might be an obvious choice, but if your employer doesn’t offer a qualified plan, you do have other options.

Opening a traditional or Roth IRA online with SoFi Invest®, for example, can help you get a jump on retirement saving. Members can choose from a wide range of investment options or take advantage of a custom-build portfolio to invest.

Find out how an online IRA with SoFi might fit in to your financial plan.


SoFi Invest®
The information provided is not meant to provide investment or financial advice. Investment decisions should be based on an individual’s specific financial needs, goals and risk profile. SoFi can’t guarantee future financial performance. Advisory services offered through SoFi Wealth, LLC. SoFi Securities, LLC, member FINRA / SIPC . The umbrella term “SoFi Invest” refers to the three investment and trading platforms operated by Social Finance, Inc. and its affiliates (described below). Individual customer accounts may be subject to the terms applicable to one or more of the platforms below.
1) Automated Investing—The Automated Investing platform is owned by SoFi Wealth LLC, an SEC Registered Investment Advisor (“Sofi Wealth“). Brokerage services are provided to SoFi Wealth LLC by SoFi Securities LLC, an affiliated SEC registered broker dealer and member FINRA/SIPC, (“Sofi Securities).
2) Active Investing—The Active Investing platform is owned by SoFi Securities LLC. Clearing and custody of all securities are provided by APEX Clearing Corporation.
3) Digital Assets—The Digital Assets platform is owned by SoFi Digital Assets, LLC, a FinCEN registered Money Service Business.
For additional disclosures related to the SoFi Invest platforms described above, including state licensure of Sofi Digital Assets, LLC, http://www.sofi.com/legal.

Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.
Investment Risk: Diversification can help reduce some investment risk. It cannot guarantee profit, or fully protect in a down market.
External Websites: The information and analysis provided through hyperlinks to third party websites, while believed to be accurate, cannot be guaranteed by SoFi. Links are provided for informational purposes and should not be viewed as an endorsement.
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10 Things to Know About Living in Salt Lake City

When you think of big cities, Los Angeles, Chicago or New York likely come to mind. Salt Lake City — the capital of Utah — isn’t the most frequently talked about “big city” in the country. That being said, it is up and coming and has a lot to offer those who are considering making the move.

While Utah is a predominantly conservative state with a strong religious culture, it offers a wide mix of neighborhoods. The charming neighborhoods scattered throughout the city are full of boutiques, small businesses and appealing restaurants that will make you want to eat out every meal.

Salt Lake City also has many schools — elementary through college and university — for people who are looking for a great education for their children or themselves. The city is also becoming more popular thanks to Silicon Slopes, the tech hub just south of the city center. The cost of living in Salt Lake City is relatively inexpensive when compared to larger cities, too.

There are always pros and cons when moving to a new city. Here are 10 things to know about living in Salt Lake City before you make your decision about moving to the Beehive State.

1. The weather can change quickly

Salt Lake City experiences all four seasons. People who live here often joke that the weather changes every 20 minutes. It can be freezing and snowing in the morning and then hot by noon. Some of the ski resorts have even been open on the Fourth of July! People can ski in the morning and spend the afternoon soaking by the pool.

Each season offers something truly fantastic for residents of Salt Lake. The winters are filled with crisp, white snow and brisk air. Fall is perfect for light jacket weather, and the changing leaves are spectacular in every canyon. Spring welcomes a much-needed break from the cold with perfect temperatures and beautiful blooming flowers. The summer comes all at once, hot and blistering making you long for the cold winter days. But no matter the season, S.L.C. is always beautiful.

salt lake city

2. It’s cheaper than other big cities

Compared to large, metro cities across the nation, the cost of living in Salt Lake is relatively inexpensive. The average rate for rent of a one-bedroom apartment dropped 11 percent between 2019 and 2020. Here’s a quick look at 2020 apartment costs in S.L.C.:

  • Studio apartment: $1,129
  • One-bedroom apartment: $1,245
  • Two-bedroom apartment: $1,565

Other utilities and expenses, such as food, gas and groceries, are all reasonably priced in Salt Lake City, too.

3. It’s not all Mormon (but there is a lot)

To understand the culture of Salt Lake City and Utah, you have to know a little about its history. In the year 1847, a group of Mormon pioneers trekked to Utah pulling wagons and handcarts and settled in the valley. For the next several decades, many more wagons full of Mormons followed as they escaped religious persecution back East. Because of this, the majority of residents in Utah are Mormon or have a family history rooted to the LDS church.

That being said, there are still plenty of other religions in the state. Salt Lake City is an ever-changing place with hip, up-and-coming liberal areas, such as Sugar House and nearby resorts like Park City. The city has also recently been named one of the best places for millennials in the country.

Conservative or not, there’s a spot for you in Salt Lake City.

4. There’s a real food scene

Green Jell-O may be the first thing that comes to mind when you think about the food in Salt Lake City. However, Salt Lake City boasts a diverse restaurant scene. You can find anything from Mexican food to French bakeries to authentic Japanese food within a block from each other.

Restaurants like Sapa in downtown Salt Lake put a modern twist on Japanese favorites. If you’re in the mood for a café where you can sit down, drink coffee and pretend you’re in Paris, try Eva’s Bakery located on Main Street in the heart of the city. Their pastries never disappoint. Or, try the nationally acclaimed Mexican restaurant Red Iguana.

Utah also has food that can’t be found anywhere else, such as fry sauce. The delicious blend of ketchup and mayo is the perfect fry accessory and will leave you wondering why you can’t find it elsewhere.

5. “The best snow on earth”

When driving through S.L.C., you’ll probably stumble upon a license plate that reads “The Best Snow on Earth.” That’s because, among other things, Utah is known for its incredible mountains and ski resorts. Every year, the mountains get an abundance of powdery snow. According to Ski Utah, the Utah Cottonwood Canyons are one of the snowiest places on earth. The weather and climate in Utah create the perfect powder that makes your skis glide down the mountain flawlessly.

One of the best things about skiing in Utah is that the resorts are all relatively close to Salt Lake City, and there are a lot to choose from. Places like Deer Valley Ski Resort bring in people from all over the world — this was one of the ski resorts that hosted the 2002 Winter Olympics.

Although this particular resort doesn’t allow snowboarders, there are plenty of other resorts that do, like Brighton. Ski season can last anywhere from November to late April and sometimes even longer. If you like outdoor activities in the winter, you’ll love living in Salt Lake City.

utah skiing

6. The mountains are also great in the summer

When people aren’t skiing the mountains, they’re hiking them as Salt Lake City is close to a lot of trails — give or take 30 minutes from the city center to the top of the canyon and trailheads. There are moderate trails, such as Neffs Canyon, that are dog friendly to more difficult trails like Mount Olympus. These trails make for a great way to spend your spring afternoon. Hike in the morning and watch the sunrise — or midday and take a second to enjoy the view.

7. The sports scene is underrated

Utah’s sports scene includes some professional teams, several minor league outfits and colleges to support. In the heart of downtown Salt Lake City is the Jazz — the state’s NBA team. Catch a game during the season and watch stars like Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert in action.

If basketball isn’t your thing, check out a soccer match and cheer on Real Salt Lake. Other sports teams native to Utah are the baseball team, The Bees, and the hockey team, The Grizzlies. You can also check out a rivalry game between BYU and Utah during college football season. No matter your sport of choice, you can enjoy a hot dog and churro and cheer on your sports team.

8. Transportation and traffic isn’t that bad … usually

Traffic in Salt Lake is moderate. There are, of course, areas that see heavier traffic, especially if you’re heading southbound out of S.L.C., but on the whole, it’s not that bad. The streets in Salt Lake feel massive compared to other cities around the world. When Salt Lake was built, the roads had to be big enough that a wagon being pulled by ox could make a full U-turn. The city’s grid-like roads enable drivers to get around the city without confusion.

9. The air quality is surprisingly not great

One of the major cons of living in Salt Lake City is air quality. According to IQAir, S.L.C. has some of the worst air quality in the country. Part of the reason is its location in a valley that traps the pollution, making it difficult to cycle in new, clean air. Winter is the worst season for air pollution in the city, but the pollution fluctuates year-round.

salt lake city tourist attractions

10. The city is full of must-see places

Living in Salt Lake City gives you the advantage to see all that the state has to offer. In the winter, no matter your religious or spiritual beliefs, the Temple Square Christmas lights are a must-see. They bring to life the twinkle and magic that is the holiday season.

Park City is also a beautiful place to escape from the city during the winter. During the Sundance Film Festival, you might even spot a celebrity or 10. Southern Utah is also a must-visit. Utah has five national parks within a three- to four-hour drive from the city center — places like Zion, Bryce Canyon and Moab offer breathtaking views and scenery that just can’t be duplicated.

Living in Salt Lake City

There are so many pros to picking Salt Lake City as your place of residence. From all the outdoor activities to the diverse food scene, there’s something for everyone in Salt Lake City. You’ll enjoy the four seasons, the people and the opportunities that are present for everyone here.

Rent prices are based on a rolling weighted average from Apartment Guide and Rent.com’s multifamily rental property inventory of one-bedroom apartments. Data was pulled in November 2020 and goes back for one year. We use a weighted average formula that more accurately represents price availability for each individual unit type and reduces the influence of seasonality on rent prices in specific markets.
The rent information included in this article is used for illustrative purposes only. The data contained herein do not constitute financial advice or a pricing guarantee for any apartment.

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Tips for Paying off Holiday Debt Before it Hurts Your Credit

Now that the festive season is behind you, what remains with you are the beautiful memories and of course, the huge holiday debt that you accumulated. As the new year kicks off, two factors can greatly impact your credit; how you pay (or not pay) your debt and how much of your available credit you […]

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