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2 years ago

Alabama financial guru: Do you have a plan to cover the necessities in life DURING your retirement?

Birmingham, Alabama-based financial guru Jeff Roberts, who was recently named one of the top private wealth advisors in the nation by Barron’s®, came on Yellowhammer Radio to lay out the facts so people can decide for themselves.

The full conversation with Mr. Roberts can be heard on the Yellowhammer Radio podcast or in the video above, and a lightly edited transcript of his interview with Yellowhammer’s Andrea Tice can be read below.

Subscribe to the Yellowhammer Radio Podcast on iTunes. Learn more about Jeff Roberts’ private wealth advisory practice at

Andrea Tice:

Welcome back to Yellowhammer Radio. On the show with us today is local financial guru, Jeff Roberts. Jeff is the founder of Jeff Roberts & Associates, and his team of seven advisors can help simplify your complex wealth management needs. They are exceptional financial advisors who have provided sophisticated financial planning and advice to high-net-worth clients for a combined number of years, 131 combined years. We’re going to have him on the show. The seven people, Jeff, are you there?

Jeff Roberts:

I am indeed.

Andrea Tice:

Yeah, hey, Jeff.

Jeff Roberts:


Andrea Tice:

I just noticed that the seven advisors you have on your staff matches up with the seventh award you received recently from Barron’s Top 1,200 Advisors for 2017, so that’s a nice matching there. I think so.

Jeff Roberts:

It is coincidental, but wonderful. Those are the very people that help us to serve clients extremely well and to be recognized by Barron’s, in addition to the tremendous team that we’ve got of client support staff. The new one we brought in today, his name is Courtney. I’ll give a shout out to for-

Andrea Tice:

Oh, okay. Her first day?

Jeff Roberts:

Being on our team and serving our clients well.

Andrea Tice:

That’s great. That’s great. Hi, Courtney. Glad to have you on board, too. Last week, you introduced the 3-Minute Confident Retirement check that was found on your website. Everybody has three minutes to spare, so it was good that you pointed that out for people who want to find out where they are in the future for retirement. I know you planned to drill down today on the Confident Retirement approach, so you want to start out with that?

Jeff Roberts:

Absolutely. Absolutely. The Confident Retirement approach is kind of an exclusive tool that we use when trying to help clients who are trying to get that word “confidence” and weave that into their life when they think about their future retirement plans, or even while in retirement. It gives us a straightforward framework to create a sound retirement plan, it provides an income for a lifetime, and it’s composed essentially of four components. If you think about the Confident Retirement approach, the easiest way to do it is, I want you to think of the four components, and in your head, I want you to picture a triangle. If you break the triangle into four horizontal layers, if you will.

The widest layer sits on the bottom of the triangle, and that’s the section that we call covering essentials. That is necessities in life that we simply have to cover. The next layer up is going to be ensuring lifestyle, and that’s lifestyle expenses that include the goals that you have for retirement like travel, and dining out, and hobbies, and that sort of thing. The next layer up is going to be the unexpected things that pop into retirement where we’re preparing for the unexpected. Those are the things like accidents or disability, and making sure that you’ve built into your sound retirement plan, the unexpected. The last tip of the iceberg, so to speak, the tip of the triangle is leaving a legacy. That is passing to survivors, families, charities, and causes that are important to you the wealth that you’ve been able to accumulate.

What we’ve found is if you break down those four basic areas of if can make sure that you can cover essentials, you assure that you have income to provide for your lifestyle, prepare for the unexpected, and leave a legacy, if you tackle those four things, then you simply will have confidence in planning toward retirement or in retirement. So it’s a framework.

Andrea Tice:

Yeah. I remember seeing that on your website when you directed us to that page where you start the 3-Minute Confident Retirement check. Let me ask you this. Let’s drill down a little bit more on just that first initial base, that foundational base of the triangle where it’s covering essentials. Can you give us examples for people who are listening to understand what is an essential expense.

Jeff Roberts:

Yeah. The first thing, and I figured over the next couple weeks, we would tackle each one of these layers of the triangle.

Andrea Tice:


Jeff Roberts:

The first one being covering essentials, which, if you think about it, any foundation of retirement strategy, it starts with covering all the essential expenses that are considered predictable and recurring. These are the ongoing essential necessities in life. Because financial markets are uncertain, we believe that essential expenses should be covered by solutions that are guaranteed and provide stable income. Virtually everybody in retirement has already accumulated one or maybe multiple forms of a guaranteed income or stable income that they have in place, notably for example, social security. Some people might have a defined benefit plan sometimes called a pension. Those are components that provide a guaranteed income to cover the expenses that we know are going to be there no matter what every single month.

Andrea Tice:

Okay. You’re mentioning these stable income sources that you’re going to use to cover the essentials, and we could go down a long road for a long time on even just one, but you want to just quickly give us some of the complexities of just one that you have to deal with?

Jeff Roberts:

Yeah. Let me start with a couple just to breakdown the expenses themselves that are common. For example, we see expenses as things like mortgage payments that people might have for a period of time in retirement, if they still have a debt for a period of time. That’s going to be something that’s there every month. Home maintenance expenses, those are going to be there pretty much regularly. Food, you’re going to have a grocery bill regularly. Medical expenses, you’re going to have that systematically, too. Utility costs, real estate taxes, insurance premiums. Clothing expenses, probably not as much in retirement as essentials, but some. Taxes, regular federal and state taxes. Those are things that when you get up every single month, you’re going to have those expenses that have got to be covered. Those are examples of the expenses.

To your point on incomes, we believe that there should be certain sources of incomes that we set aside to tackle just the essentials. For example, we mentioned social security being one. That can be a fixed guaranteed income. Some people have a pension. It’s going to be fully covered or insured pension that will provide some income as well. If you don’t have that income source, you might consider things like an immediate annuity or a variable annuity that includes a Living Benefit Rider for life. You can have a certificate of deposit that’s FDIC guaranteed, or face-amount certificates where the principle’s guaranteed. U.S. Federal Securities. Those are all examples of vehicles that can provide a guarantee of income to where people in retirement can know no matter what I do, no matter how much I screw up myself financially, I have these guarantees that are going to cover those essential expenses.

Andrea Tice:

Wow, that’s great. You clearly have a lot of options in your portfolio to advise people about in getting that one level, that base level established and on its way, so that’s really-

Jeff Roberts:

And you make a good point when you ask that question a second ago. Well, if we pick one of those and drill down any one of those, what are some of the questions or things that we might need to be considering just for one of those different sources? I could pick one like, say, social security. Remember, there’s so much complexity to all of this, and we try and make it easy for folks, but just to give you an example.

If you’re just trying to focus on the easiest and most guaranteed of incomes in retirement social security, there’s a whole litany of questions that you’ve got to ask, like how old will you be when you retire? Because that significantly impacts how much your social security retirement check is. Will you take social security early, at full retirement age, or let it grow 8% per year after that all the way to age 70? Your health, how is your health? That is going to determine your social security or whether you might want to take it now or not. Your spouse’s health might have an impact on when you take social security. Will you work after age 62? That will determine some impact on your social security. Will you make more than the $16,920 earnings limit while being in retirement and having social security?

Those are, I don’t know, six or seven questions that dramatically impact just one decision of taking social security, and if you’re looking at multiple pieces all on this one level of covering essentials, you can realize there’s a lot to take into consideration.

Andrea Tice:

Wow, yeah. If anything, Jeff, you’re the man who provides the questions that need to be asked, and then the answers.

Jeff Roberts:

That’s the goal. That’s the goal.

Andrea Tice:

Yeah. If anyone has an interest in getting help or they want to be more confident towards their retirement, what should they do?

Jeff Roberts:

The easiest way is reach out to us at (205) 313-9150, and we’re happy to arrange a time to talk or get together. A couple tools, you can go on to, and if you’ll scroll down, you’ll find very easily a 3-Minute Confident Retirement check, which is a tool that will help you to figure out where you are in terms of your own level of confidence in planning for retirement. We’re happy to help any way we can with folks.

Andrea Tice:

All right. Yes, I have been on the website. We did it last week. It was very simple, very nicely done, easy to access. For those who are interested in going through that checklist, you can do that. There’s no problems with that. They’re not necessarily going to get a call just by going on the website. They’re just going to go through-

Jeff Roberts:

No, no, no. That’s a great point. If you go to the website, it’s just an online tool. You have the ability when you complete the 3-Minute Retirement check, if you want to pass that on …

Andrea Tice:

Did I just lose him? I think I just lost him. Are you there, Jeff?

Steve West:

I think we’ve lost him.

Andrea Tice:

Uh oh. I’m still on the air, right?

Steve West:

Oh, yeah.

Andrea Tice:

Okay. All right. Jeff, I’m so sorry. We lost you, and we’re about to head into a break, so let me just wrap it up.

If you need to call Jeff, Jeff Roberts & Associates, (205) 313-9150 is the number. Then, like he said, you can go to the website, which I’m going blank on, jeffrobertsandassociates, that’s right. Look it up on the internet, and you can get to Jeff Roberts & Associates that way.

Also, we just covered the four parts of a Confident Retirement. We’re going to do the next three in the next three weeks. The first one he just covered was covering the essentials, and there’s a lot to consider there. He asked a lot of questions. It’s very thorough, and he drills down because it’s so important to cover the essentials and to have a stable income in your retirement that will cover the essentials. So if you need help with that, call Jeff Roberts.

16 mins ago

Mazda-Toyota site selection team tells the story of how they chose Huntsville

The world-class site selectors who handled the Mazda-Toyota project have told the inside story of how Huntsville was chosen, praising the city and Alabama’s long term prospects in the process.

In a podcast series, the site selection team from JLL Chicago recently discussed this tremendous accomplishment for the Yellowhammer State, which Made In Alabama called “one of the most coveted industrial prizes in years.”

Meredith O’Connor, a JLL international director, concluded, “As a state, they get it. They’re ready. I think we’re going to continue to see success in Alabama for these types of uses.”

Officially coined “Project New World,” the now-under-construction Mazda-Toyota venture in Huntsville stemmed from a rigorous, fast-paced site search. The team at JLL revealed the key factors that separated Alabama from other suitors for the sprawling assembly plant that will employ 4,000 workers producing 300,000 vehicles annually.


One of the most striking revelations from the site selectors is how elite a level the state’s economic development and business climate have reached.

“Huntsville was ultimately selected because they were ready, willing and able. The site shows years of thoughtful preparation, and the city has ample advanced manufacturing expertise,” JLL noted in a project profile, separate from the podcast.

They added, “It’s a place where two savvy automakers will collaborate, fortifying a shared competitive advantage as technology companies continue to focus on the industry as one ripe for disruption.”

Interestingly enough, this historic project, however, did not actually start out with that massive scale of two giants coming together.

Initially, its secret code name was “Project Mitt,” and the project involved only Toyota. The JLL team at first examined potential sites spanning 500 to 1,000 acres, but the game completely changed when Mazda joined as a partner in the venture.

“That scope became much larger. We covered a lot of ground in terms of states that could qualify, although once Mitt became Project New World, several states were eliminated due to the scope and size of the project itself,” O’Connor explained.

Wide disparity between Alabama and most of the nation

Throughout much of last year, O’Connor and her renowned site selection colleagues worked closely with both Toyota and Mazda on the search, narrowing down a list of possible sites that originally numbered 300.

There were many factors to analyze that separated real contenders from the rest, including “workforce, operating environment, site specifics, logistics, incentives, and quality of life, among others.”

The team faced an ambitious timeline for a project of such magnitude and had to move quickly, as Mazda-Toyota wanted their new plant to be up and running by 2021.

“Before our first flight was booked, we made sure we understood what was important to our clients – Toyota and Mazda – from site specifics to the softer requirements of cultural fit and others,” Christian Beaudoin, JLL’s director of research, outlined.

Their process was cutting edge and adds to the objective credibility of their praise of Huntsville and Alabama.

“Our research team turned those requirements into an algorithm using data analytics to define labor and site requirements, and then we started a cross-country search,” Beaudoin added.

Beaudoin said the site selection team’s “high-level screening model” aggregated over 100 data points involving individual sites and then provided a ranking.

After the data work, the team members physically embarked on site visits that took them to 20 states over an intense six-week span.

Engineers from the two automakers joined them on “operational tours.” They viewed sites from helicopters, talked to human resources managers in cities to get a true sense of the respective labor markets, explored whether there was a Japanese school nearby and even sampled dishes at local Japanese restaurants.

After the data screening process and this round of visits, the list of potential sites dropped rapidly, as economic development agencies struggled to meet requirements that seemed off the charts. Most places around the nation are simply not on Alabama’s level when it comes to meeting the needs of modern industry.

One quote from O’Connor in the podcast was especially revealing, as it pertains to this state-by-state economic development gap.

“I think we all got the same types of calls from individuals saying, ‘Are there too many zeros in this column?’ If you just removed one zero, it made sense to them, but in some cases, there were two extra zeros. It was just things they had never seen in their career,” O’Connor advised.

Alabama is working again

As 2017 wrapped up, only two sites remained – Huntsville and a competitor in North Carolina.

The site selection team at JLL recognized that Huntsville offered many advantages. For one, the site was already assembled, and it also offered a large buffer zone so the plant could fit like a glove with the community.

Plus, the economic development specialists working the project in Huntsville and across the state were responsive at all times.

“There were days where we worked 18, 19 hours when we got down to the end of this. They never wavered. They were with us. They didn’t care what time of the day it was,” O’Connor shared.

Then, there is a huge advantage that the Yellowhammer State has built over time – Alabama’s booming auto industry has a network of suppliers that few states can even fathom. This includes original equipment manufacturers.

“There are reasons there are multiple OEM’s in their state,” O’Connor emphasized. “As a state, they get it. They’re ready. I think we’re going to continue to see success in Alabama for these types of uses.”

Combine all of this with the nation’s best business climate and overall manufacturing sector, the Port of Mobile, an ambitious workforce development plan and the work of the University of Alabama System, and Mazda-Toyota came to call Alabama its sweet new home.

If these site selectors are correct, these types of successes could begin to snowball.

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

1 hour ago

Mo Brooks questions Trump administration’s reaction to lawsuit about counting illegal aliens in the census

Republican Congressman Mo Brooks (AL-5) and Attorney General Steve Marshall have filed a suit against the federal government and their plans to count illegal immigrants in the 2020 census and use those numbers for congressional reapportionment, as well as the allocation of federal funding.

An adverse decision for Brooks, Marshall and Alabama would most likely cost the state a congressional seat, untold federal dollars and an Electoral College vote. States that have welcomed illegal immigrants are poised to benefit from their inclusion, and if this is allowed, it would incentivize policies that bring more illegal immigrants to those states.

Brooks appeared on WVNN’s “The Dale Jackson Show” Tuesday and said counting illegal immigrants on the census would result in American citizens losing out on representation while illegal immigrants gain power and influence.


He added that members of Congress would become more inclined to pander to those who advocate for more illegal immigration.

“These large non-citizen populations in the state of California have an adverse effect on all the rest of us because they’re taking congressional seats from the rest of us,” Brooks explained. “[T]hat is the equivalent of about 25 or 30 congressional seats that are being taken from law-abiding states and given to those states that, by in large, are sanctuaries for illegal conduct.”

The Department of Justice helmed by Trump appointee and acting-Attorney General Matt Whitacker has asked federal courts to dismiss the lawsuit on a procedural basis for lack of standing. This move leads one to believe they will fight this lawsuit in court, a decision that has Brooks “baffled.”

“I am baffled that the Trump Department of Justice, at least in this instance, would side with sanctuary cities,” he said. “I would hope that they would do what you’re supposed to do as an attorney representing the United States of America, analyze it, and do what I have done. And that concludes that the 14th Amendment for the United States Constitution and Equal Protection Clause guarantees that no one citizen’s vote will be worth any more or less than another citizens vote.”

He argued the decision by the DOJ harms Americans and empowers pro-illegal immigration states.

“[W]hen you count illegal aliens in the census count, that redistributes Electoral College votes, and that redistributes congressional seats, those jurisdictions – particularly those who are sanctuary cities or sanctuary states – their citizens get more power per vote because there are fewer citizens in each of those Congressional Seats and the difference is the illegal alien headcount,” Brooks stated.

You would think Brooks would find a common ally in the current administration with a president who has made his campaign and administration about protecting Americans first and reigning in our out of control immigration policy but it does not appear to be heading that way on this issue and Alabama could lose out big time.

Listen here:

@TheDaleJackson is a contributing writer to Yellowhammer News and hosts a conservative talk show from 7-11 am weekdays on WVNN

3 hours ago

Marshall confirms: Clark Morris to replace Hart in leading Special Prosecutions Division

On Tuesday, Attorney General Steve Marshall officially confirmed Yellowhammer News’ reporting that Anna “Clark” Morris will lead the office’s Special Prosecutions Division.

Morris is a longtime federal prosecutor who currently serves as first assistant U.S. attorney for the Middle District of Alabama. She will officially take over the AG’s Special Prosecutions Division, which investigates public corruption and white-collar crime, on January 7.

“I am delighted that Clark Morris has agreed to lead my public corruption unit,” Marshall said in a press release. “She is universally respected throughout the law enforcement community and is the kind of hard-nosed prosecutor you want on your team. Her work ethic, professionalism, and integrity are visible to those with whom she interacts on both sides of her cases.”

Marshall continued, “Public corruption continues to be a scourge on our great state, and I am confident that the people of Alabama will be well served by Clark in this role.”


Marshall also highlighted that the move will boost the crucial working relationship between federal and state law enforcement and prosecutors in Alabama.

“Clark is not only highly experienced, but she also commands a strong working relationship with the U.S. Justice Department. Her addition to our office will make the Attorney General’s Special Prosecutions Division more effective in partnering with federal law enforcement to target public corruption – a goal I have sought since I first took office in 2017,” Marshall explained.

U.S. Attorney Louis Franklin also noted that Morris’ appointment will enhance combined Federal/State efforts to combat crime in the Yellowhammer State.

“Mrs. Morris has been an incredible asset to the U.S. Attorney’s Office and her absence will be a huge loss. However, her new position at the Attorney General’s Office creates an opportunity for a partnership that we have not seen in years. Her leadership and judgment will serve the State of Alabama well, they are lucky to have her,” Franklin said.

Morris is a 20-year veteran of the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ). She has served as an assistant United States attorney in both the Middle and Northern Districts of Alabama. In 2013, she was named first assistant U.S. attorney for the Middle District and has served two presidential administrations in that role. Her vast prosecutorial experience includes work in the White-Collar Crime Unit of the Middle District’s Criminal Division. Morris also served as acting U.S. attorney for the Middle District from March 2017 to November 2017.

A native of Alexander City, she is a graduate of the University of Alabama School of Law (JD).

The role leading the Special Prosecutions Division became vacant when controversial Deputy Attorney General Matt Hart resigned on Monday morning.

Marshall has named James Houts as the interim chief for the Special Prosecutions Division. Houts is the former chief of Criminal Appeals for the Attorney General’s Office.

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

4 hours ago

Solar farm proposed in Wiregrass would be Alabama’s largest

An energy project proposed for southeast Alabama could become the state’s largest solar farm.

The Dothan Eagle reports that Houston County commissioners have approved a 10-year property tax abatement for about 1,000 acres of land selected for a huge solar array.


Matt Parker of the Dothan Area Chamber of Commerce says the move allows NextEra Energy to project its potential costs and could help land the $75 million project for the area.

Parker says solar panels would cover about 600 acres of land, with additional acreage for buffers and other facilities.

He says the solar project could begin producing power in about three years.

NextEra Energy is based in Juno Beach, Florida.

It has a large solar array in Lauderdale County that provides power to the Tennessee Valley Authority.
(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

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5 hours ago

Alabama’s First Class Pre-K program ranked nation’s best once again

Alabama is ranked number one in the nation in something besides football, and under Governor Kay Ivey’s leadership, this type of success appears to be becoming a strong trend.

A recently released report named Alabama’s First Class Pre-K program as America’s best once again, lauding the state-funded program as the “only pre-kindergarten program in the country that comes close to having all the elements of a strong pre-k program.”

In its “Implementing 15 Essential Elements for High-Quality Pre-K: An Updated Scan of State Polices” report, the National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) found that Alabama’s First Class Pre-K program fully met 14 of the report’s 15 “essential elements” characterizing high-quality programs, and it partially met the 15th element, too.

Included among these benchmarks were measurements assessing a program’s leadership, early learning policies and program practices. Alabama’s performance in meeting the essential elements exceeded the national average by more than 233 percent.


Advocates from the Alabama School Readiness Alliance (ASRA) lauded NIEER’s latest study, pointing out that the Yellowhammer State’s adherence to high quality is one reason why ongoing research by the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) and the Public Affairs Research Council of Alabama (PARCA) shows that students who attend First Class Pre-K perform better than their peers on state reading and math assessments.

“The National Institute for Early Education Research is the foremost leader on pre-kindergarten quality and for this organization to continually find Alabama’s program among the nation’s best is a testament to state leaders,” Allison Muhlendorf, ASRA executive director, said in a press release.

She continued, “The Essential Elements report confirms that the long-term effectiveness of a pre-k program is dependent on its commitment to quality, and we are proud that Alabama continues to differentiate itself as the nation’s standard-bearer in this effort.”

Alabama also received strong marks from NIEER in May when the organization released its annual State of Preschool Yearbook. That report ranked Alabama’s First Class Pre-K program as the nation’s highest quality program for the 12th consecutive year.

The Office of School Readiness, housed within the Alabama Department of Early Childhood Education, administers First Class Pre-K.

“First Class Pre-K is a nationally-recognized program of excellence,” Jeana Ross, Secretary of Early Childhood Education, said in a statement after the release of the NIEER Yearbook earlier this year. “The program framework encompasses all aspects of the highest quality early learning experiences that ensure school readiness for children, and this emphasis on quality impacts student outcomes far beyond kindergarten.”

While the NIEER Yearbook examines state policies that support state-funded pre-k, the Essential Elements report reviews the environment needed for states to execute a high-quality pre-kindergarten program, as well as the degree to which states implement their policies.

There are currently 1,045 Alabama First Class Pre-K classrooms located in various public and private schools, child care centers, faith-based centers, Head Start programs and other community-based preschool settings. However, that is only enough classrooms to enroll 32 percent of four-year-olds across the state, and ASRA and state leaders want to continue increasing access to the tremendously successful program.

This spring, the Alabama Legislature approved Ivey’s request for the program’s largest-ever single-year budget increase – an extra $18.5 million for First Class Pre-K in the 2019 program budget, bringing its annual total to $96 million.

“Having a strong start to one’s educational journey is critical to having a strong finish when it comes time to enter the workforce,” Ivey said in a release at the time. “Alabama’s voluntary First Class Pre-K program is, without question, the best in the nation. I am proud that we can increase the reach of this important educational opportunity, and I look forward to continuing to work with the Legislature to further expand the availability of voluntary Pre-K.”

In 2012, ASRA’s business-led Pre-K Task Force launched a ten-year campaign to advocate for full funding for the First Class Pre-K program through incremental state funding increases. ASRA has estimated that the state would need to appropriate a total level of funding of $144 million to give every Alabama family the opportunity to enroll their four-year-old in a First Class Pre-K program voluntarily.

Ivey hosted a packed Early Childhood Education Leadership Forum last week, where the governor stressed that she wanted to see continued progress moving forward in the early stage of education, including Pre-K.

The Ivey administration has also overseen Alabama being ranked as the nation’s best for its engaged workforce, business climate and manufacturing, along with other top economic development rankings.

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn