12 Tips for Successful Investing

Advisers talk about strategies for people to make the best of their investments

By Deborah Jeanne Sergeant

Investing at 55-plus requires different strategies than when you were beginning your career. Area experts weighed in on how you should best invest your money.


Cynthia Scott, president, chartered financial planner and founder of OMC Financial Services, Ltd., DeWitt.

1 “Don’t do it alone. Retirement is a very complicated issue. Tax laws are changing. The investment world is quite global now. There are estate and spousal issues to consider.

2 “Just because you’re in retirement, don’t become overly conservative in your investment strategy. Longevity has been extended. You don’t want to outlive your income, so you need a well constructed investment strategy.

3 “Previously there was an investment philosophy, when life expectancy was much less, that you should invest a percentage of your money in bonds based upon your age and the rest in stocks and cash. Today, with client’s life expectancy longer, that strategy has become outdated.

4 “It’s very important to review your portfolio on an annual basis.


Randy Zeigler, financial adviser with Ameriprise Financial Services, in Oswego.

5 “If you have qualified retirement plans available through your employer, you should consider how best to use those because they’re payroll deductions. Most offer pre-tax options. You’re in your peak earning years. Some 401k plans also have Roth 401k features. You should consider those for future tax planning. Use these to the maximum advantage.

6 “Everything comes back to financial planning. Sit down and talk about financial goals to figure out the plan. I talk with clients to make sure they have good control of their cash flow and budget to maximize their pre-retirement savings, while still enjoying life. If they’ve paid off loans, they should have a good sizeable amount of cash flow to work with.

7 “Investing depends upon individual goals and circumstances and where they stand with savings.

8 “With stocks vs. bonds, there’s no rule of thumb. It comes down to a financial planning strategy and when you want money available. If you’re not already invested in variable investment that have potential rate for growth, you should look at those. Distribute them across multiple market sectors.


From Michael Cook, financial planner and owner of Michael J. Cook Financial Services, Syracuse.

9 ”You have to understand your personal economics. What are your required or discretionary costs? We build a portfolio to meet the required costs and another for the discretionary costs. Once we meet required costs, we look at a portfolio for discretionary costs. You need a two-part process.

10 “Taking out school loans for your kids is a booby trap. Send them to a school you can afford.

11 “When talking with a financial adviser, they have to be honest with how they’re paid and what they’re paid. The more commission-based, the less interested they are in the success of the portfolio. What holds the adviser accountable to what’s happening in your life?

12 “Only wealthy people need an annuity. Not everyone needs one. You need to speak with an adviser who can address your needs. An annuity is an income program, not a growth program. An adviser needs to educate you before you invest your money. They should choose the best thing for you, not just what doesn’t hurt you.

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