What do you do with all that money when you win the lottery?
Financial advisers provide information beneficial to those who come into money and to those just trying to maximize returns in this recession.
RALEIGH, N.C. — Almost everybody dreams of winning the lottery.
And after Jeff Wilson, 27, of Kings Mountain, N.C., won the $88.1 million Powerball drawing last month — he walked away with about a $29 million lump-sum payment — we started wondering what a person would do with all that money.
Not all the houses, cars or vacations it would buy, but rather how a winner would manage the millions, especially in this economy, to ensure a lifelong cushion.
Most people aren't going to win the lottery. Wilson's odds were 1 in 195.2 million.
Over a lifetime, though, we have a decent shot at coming into a financial windfall through inheritance, real estate, business or other dealings.
"That happens regularly," said Patty Carter, a financial adviser with Edward Jones in Raleigh.
So for advice we turned to Carter and others who help wealthy and average investors alike manage their assets. It's information beneficial to those who come into money and to those just trying to maximize returns in this recession. Here's what they had to say.
• Get help. "I think you have to hire four people" after a big financial windfall, Carter said. First, hire "somebody to screen calls from all your long-lost friends and relatives. People will pour out of the woodwork."
Then find a certified financial planner, estate-planning attorney and a certified-public accountant, she said. The financial planner will help figure out how to allocate investments to make the money grow; the estate lawyer will help think through trust, inheritance and other issues; and the accountant will make sure the books stay clean and Uncle Sam stays happy.
"When I'm dealing with high-net-worth clients, I'm working in tandem with all those other people," said Carter, a certified-financial planner. "All of those people need to be on the same page."
Big money brings complex challenges. Wilson, for example, is in a tax bracket another stratosphere from when he was just a regular guy planning to begin graduate school. Having several professionals involved helps ensure that missteps and malfeasance are avoided.
It's a good idea, too, to stick with one financial planner at a time. It might seem prudent to divide tranches of money among several, but that means nobody has an eye on the big picture. All your assets could end up in similar investments, increasing risk.
• Keep cash handy. This one applies to just about everybody.
"One of the first things we recommend has nothing to do with investing at all," said Dan Keady, director of financial planning for TIAA-CREF, which helps teachers, professors and doctors manage their money. "It is creating an emergency fund of six to 12 months."
Once you have an investment strategy, you don't want to disrupt it by constantly pulling funds to cover out-of-the-ordinary expenses. An emergency fund, usually with cash in money markets and other conservative, easily accessed accounts, helps investors navigate the unexpected.
Keady said he also talks to clients about existing debt before investing. It's often better to kill a credit-card balance accruing 20 percent interest, for instance, before diverting extra funds into stocks or mutual funds with annual returns in single digits or low teens.
• Make your bets. Investing is an individual exercise. Everybody has different goals, time horizons and tolerance for risk. About the only thing that is constant is the need for diversification, putting money into several kinds of investments to hedge against losses in any one.
All that said, it is helpful to see what the professionals are doing. Many see opportunities with stocks these days.
In a balanced portfolio, Mike Ryan, head of UBS Wealth Management Research in New York, has about 55 percent of assets allocated to stocks, about 44 percent in fixed-income investments such as bonds and the remainder in cash.
That's more weighted to stocks than usual. In particular, he sees opportunity with stocks of companies in energy, technology and other industries that attract consumers' discretionary income. He's less bullish on companies in the health-care sector and remains cautious on financial stocks.
He was quick to point out that there's still risk in the markets. They're going through a repair process amid the recession.
"It's not like the world has returned to normal," he said. "It will be a while."
Same goes for real estate. That's another option for investors looking to diversify, but treading into that market requires caution as it works through supply, demand and credit issues that got it out of whack in the first place.
Copyright © 2009 The Seattle Times Company
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