How can investors pick the right 529 savings plan for their children’s education? Most simply don’t. The options are too many and too confusing.
Here’s where you can enter the picture to clarify things for them.
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You can start by looking at the criteria you used for picking the plans you are using for your own children.
The Wall Street Journal did a survey of financial advisors to find out just such criteria. The common denominator were that fees had to be low.
Five other criteria were:
1. Top notch customer service: The top two criteria here were a user-friendly website and knowledgeable reps.
2. Rewards programs: Most rewards programs consist of applying percentages of anywhere from 1% to 25% of purchases to your child’s 529 plan.
3. Tax breaks: Many states offer state income tax deductions for investing in a 529. Most often, the 529 has to be within that state. The tax advantages of investing in a state 529 plan may outweigh the low cost aspects of other plans.
4. Asset classes for investment: The plan should offer a wide selection of investment options including small- to mid-cap equity options two international equity options, and a few fixed-income options.
5. Age-based options: 529 plans don’t automatically rebalance and many investors set up the plans and then forget about them. Age-based investment plans that grow more conservative as the child gets closer to college age provide a more automated approach.
These are great opportunities for meeting with your clients and setting up educational events that double as networking events where clients can bring their friends.