World Investor Week: Learn more and protect yourself
The global campaign promoted by the International Organization of Securities Commissions aims to raise awareness about the importance of investor education and protection.
Did you know that Oct. 2 to 8 is World Investor Week? The global campaign promoted by the International Organization of Securities Commissions aims to raise awareness about the importance of investor education and protection, and highlight the various initiatives of securities regulators in these two critical areas.
This year, the WIW campaign will focus on three main themes: Investor Resilience, Crypto Assets, and Sustainable Finance, and the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority posted an Investor Bulletin to explain them.
Here are some things to consider that may be relevant to your retirement planning.
Plan for unexpected investment challenges by having strategies for budgeting to reduce the impact of inflation, avoiding high-interest debt, and managing risk. It is important to diversify and spread your money between different types of investments.
In the Thrift Savings Plan, the federal government’s 401(k)-style retirement savings program, you may diversify between the core C, F, G, S, and I funds by allocating a specific percentage of your contributions, and rebalancing your current investment between these five options.
If you don’t feel comfortable or knowledgeable enough to do this yourself, you may consider one of the Lifecycle Funds or L Funds. You can choose from L2025 through L2065 based on when you plan to start using the money to supplement your other retirement income.
According to the TSP website, each of the 10 L Funds is a diversified mix of the five individual funds (G, F, C, S, and I). They were designed to let you invest your entire portfolio in a single L Fund and get the best expected return for the amount of expected risk that is appropriate for you. Every three months, the target allocations of all the L Funds except L Income are automatically adjusted, gradually shifting them from higher risk and reward to lower risk and reward as they get closer to their target dates. When an L Fund reaches its target date, it goes out of existence and any money in it becomes part of the L Income Fund, which generally keeps the same target allocation. For example, in 2025, the L 2025 Fund will be rolled into the L Income Fund.
It is also important to pay off high-interest debt such as credit cards or other loans, and build up emergency savings. The recent threat of a government shutdown clearly highlights the need to have money quickly available for unexpected expenses or a sudden drop in income. Use gift money, tax returns or other “surprise” income to start saving three to six months of living expenses. Continue to save by setting up a direct deposit to your savings account every pay period.
The third way to improve your investor resilience is to be aware that there are investment scams all around. They could be messages on social platforms or in the mainstream media. Before investing money, take steps to protect yourself from losing your money to a scam, for example, check that anyone offering or selling you an investment is licensed or registered.
The TSP core funds do not include crypto assets such as bitcoin. Separated employees and employees eligible for an age-based in-service withdrawal may transfer TSP funds to an IRA to make these types of investments, which can be speculative, risky, and volatile.
If you are considering an investment opportunity involving crypto assets, you may be wondering if it is legal, if it is right for you, or even whether it might be a scam. Be cautious if you spot “guaranteed” high returns, unlicensed or unregistered sellers, skyrocketing account values, anything that sounds too good to be true, including testimonials on social media, even if they are from someone well-known who may have been paid to tout the investment.
Check out the Securities and Exchange Commission’s “HoweyTrade” video for information on spotting fraudulent investment promotions.
Sustainable investing, socially responsible investing and impact investing generally refer to environmental, social and governance investing or, choosing companies to invest in based on one or more ESG factors. TSP’s mutual fund window became available in the summer of 2022 and opened up the TSP to around 5,000 mutual funds, some of which offered ESG funds.
Although this is one of the themes for World Investor Week, not everyone is in support. Earlier this year, Sens. Mike Lee, R-Utah, and Rick Scott, R-Fla., introduced the No ESG at TSP Act, crucial legislation to safeguard taxpayer dollars from ideologically driven investment funds. Rep. Chip Roy, R-Texas, introduced a companion bill in the House of Representatives. The bill addresses the growing concerns surrounding Environmental, Social, and Governance initiatives, which pose risks to our domestic energy supply and promotes divisive ideological agendas.
TSP Learning Opportunity
The Securities and Exchange Commission and Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board developed Your TSP Account – What to Think About When Nearing Retirement or Considering Leaving the Government, a program open to all federal employees and members of the uniformed services, that is designed for those who may be considering retiring or leaving federal service. The program covers the TSP’s post-service distribution options, tax withholding information, IRS required minimum distribution rules and the IRS early withdrawal penalty. Discussion also covers investment risk and fees, the common red flags of investment fraud, how to check out a financial professional and questions to ask when thinking about moving funds from the TSP.
You can attend this program by viewing the video any time after Oct. 3. There is no need to register for the webcast.
- For questions about your TSP retirement, please go to the TSP website or call the TSP’s ThriftLine at 877-968-3778 to speak to a TSP expert.
- For investment-related questions, go to Investor.gov, call the SEC’s investor assistance line at 800-732-0330 or email Help@SEC.gov.
- For more information on World Investor Week, see the SEC’s World Investor Week page.