Martha Harris Myron, CPA, PFS, JSM, Master's of Law â€“ International Taxation and Financial Services, is a personal finance expert and offers cross-border financial planning for Bermuda residents with international connections through Bermuda, North America and Europe.
Sep 24, 2016 8:00 am
Readers, this is a current update on a previous article I wrote for Moneywise in The Royal Gazette more than nine years ago.
A few weeks ago, readers of The Royal Gazette read an incredibly sad story: “After the tragic loss of my daughter, I’m out of money, I cannot find a job, I am behind in my mortgage payments and am in serious danger of losing my home. Readers responded with sympathy and suggestions, among them obtaining a reverse...
Sep 17, 2016 8:00 am
This is the summary of my search for some answers on the underemployment / unemployment situation in Bermuda.
The changes in our economy continue to impact segments of society that were able to survive financially under our older employment model of tourism, conventional businesses, both international and retail / service-type sectors. A story in last Wednesday’s edition of <i>The Royal Gazette</i> illuminated another older...
Sep 10, 2016 8:00 am
This is part two of an article looking at questions associated with Bermuda jobs, availability, skills, and experience.
Last week’s article understandably received a great deal of attention. Our current employment environment is a very real concern to many <i>Royal Gazette</i> readers and others.
Anonymous comments last week were wide-ranging, but generally fell into two very separate different camps — a summary...
Sep 3, 2016 8:00 am
Questions on Bermuda jobs, including availability, skills and experience — Part One.
The annual Labour Day weekend is here, including a day when Bermudians reflect upon equality in trade and employment in Bermuda.
I’m still feeling distressed about the “Financial fears of a jobless granny”, an article in <i>The Royal Gazette</i> about ten days ago. The featured story was of an individual, age 60, who has not been able...
Aug 27, 2016 8:00 am
Last week, readers responded in great sympathy to the account of the grandmother who spent her lump sum retirement pension to care for her dying daughter.
To lose a child that you have born, cared for, loved with all your being since conception is simply unimaginable grief to those of us who have been lucky to sail through life — so far. Now, she has been unsuccessful in finding a job while her financial resources are almost fully...
Aug 20, 2016 8:00 am
This is part seven of the new retirement series for Bermuda and looks at finalising your retirement savings and the need to get back to basics.
In the professional retirement planning world, there are two ways to figure out what an individual will need in total assets in order to retire comfortably.
The first is an incredibly complex five or six step mathematical formula used by retirement planning professionals to...
Aug 13, 2016 8:00 am
This is the evolution of money market mutual funds, part two.
A little over two years ago, the US Securities and Exchange Commission adopted significant amendments to the rules that govern money market mutual funds under the US Investment Company Act of 1940. According to the SEC’s Money Market Reform, those amendments are designed to address money market funds’ susceptibility to:
• heavy redemptions in times of stress,...
Aug 6, 2016 8:00 am
This is chapter five of the New Bermuda Investment Series. This week we discuss the evolution of money market mutual funds. Please note, this information is general in nature. It is not intended as a detailed analysis of the US sub-prime mortgage market debacle, nor, can it be relied upon as personal financial planning advice.
Nine years ago, almost to the day, the international commercial paper market froze up — an event of...
Jul 30, 2016 8:00 am
Part 2 — the New Bermuda Investment Primer Series: the Concept Of Capital Equity, following a successful mom-and-pop pizza business.
Stocks constitute equity in a company. The shareholders of the company are owners of these shares, somewhat akin to a tiny slices of a very, very large pizza pie. We’ll get to whether the shares are sometimes nothing but a pie in the sky later on.
Simple enough, you say, but how does a stock...
Jul 23, 2016 8:00 am
Gambling: The sure way of getting nothing for something — Wilson Mizner.
Gambling is public, or often, privately conducted. It is confusing to us personally to understand the reasoning and motivation behind gambling itself. We will hold back our cash and fight endlessly to get the “very best price” on a refrigerator, for instance, but won’t blink an eye at the cash (or credit) we can feed into a slot machine in an hour, or throw...
Jul 16, 2016 8:00 am
Marriage and estate planning for a multinational couple with multijurisdictional assets in three countries.
A reader writes (Note: this is a composite case, all personal information has been changed or omitted), “I’m a Bermudian resident who is five years into a second marriage (with a wonderful man, I might add). He is from the United Kingdom, originally, who came to Bermuda (a few years before I met him) after an acrimonious divorce...
Jul 9, 2016 8:00 am
Overview to the New Bermuda Investment Primer Series — Part 1
With the ongoing upheaval of the UK political scene, the still unknown final effects (devastating or euphoric depending upon the viewpoints of who voted Bremain or Brexit) on the home economy as well as the ripple layers outward to the European Union crowd and the rest of the globe, it may seem somewhat crazy to even consider a series on investing.
In my opinion, it is...
Jul 2, 2016 8:00 am
Part 6 of the New Bermuda Retirement series. The Next Step: Setting up projections to calculate future retirement savings and expenses
On May 21, <i>Moneywise</i> launched the first of two simplified retirement projection calculators. Calc-One portrays the fifteen years of projections prior to retirement at age 65. Calc-Two will emphasise the drawdown retirement phase after age 65 and it will be featured at a later...
Jun 25, 2016 8:00 am
Of course, but far too often we are so wrapped up in our own political and financial infighting that we not only don’t understand or assess the impact, but we don’t even realise our financial world is changing rapidly, both for good and bad reasons.
Here is just some of what was happening on the international financial side in the last few weeks:
• The latest United States Treasury Auction where US government securities are sold...
Jun 18, 2016 8:00 am
There is a detective series called Foyle’s War set in late 1930s as Great Britain is called to war yet again, with barely a recovery from the First World War. The pastoral scenery, the English countryside, those quaint rural villages and towns steeped in 1,000 year-old stone-built forts, are monuments to history so ancient and yet still so vital.
The lives of the ordinary and the privileged are viewed in a careful prism of wartime...
Jun 11, 2016 8:00 am
Bermuda has one of highest per capita gross domestic product* numbers in the world. It is a laudable achievement of Bermuda’s international financial reputation.
There is a downside to that statistic, however. We all know what it is — the cost of living in Bermuda.
In May 2016, the Bermuda Department of Statistics reported that while consumers paid 1 per cent more for the CPI basket of goods and services than they did a year...
Jun 4, 2016 8:00 am
A reader asks: “Is it possible to get a 10 per cent return in a balanced fund [see last week’s article] in this environment? I once read that using the Rule of 72, with a 10 per cent return, my retirement portfolio would double in value in a little over seven years. Since my retirement rainbow is ten to 15 years away that would be triply, simply perfect.”
Answer: of course, one can invest for a 10 per cent return, but there are risks...
May 28, 2016 8:00 am
Here are two questions that we will cover today.
“I’m relatively conservative and have stuck to the balanced fund concept for the last ten years. Balanced fund meaning 60 per cent stocks / 40 per cent bonds. I don’t have the expertise or the time to select hundreds of appropriate (for me) individual stocks and bonds, so I’ve always tried to buy low-cost (if I can) balanced mutual funds. My choices don’t seem to have done that well in...
May 21, 2016 8:00 am
This is part five of the New Bermuda Retirement series
WHAT IS YOUR TIMELINE?
There are three serious phases in retirement planning:
1. Fifteen to five years away from the accepted community retirement age (this varies by employer, government mandates and countries, eg various countries have gradually been raising retirement age).
2. Five years to exit.
3. Already retired adjusting to...
May 14, 2016 8:00 am
This is part 4 of the New Bermuda Retirement series.
Retirement impacts you in three major ways. You are affected, personally. Your family is affected. Your environment affects you.
You, individually are affected: you must plan to manage your finances for maximum impact over a long number of years, a task that is not so easy to do. There will be sidesteps, setbacks, career fluctuations, possibly contentious medical...
May 7, 2016 8:00 am
On the eve of Mothering Sunday here is a look at, and a celebration of, what motherhood means today and in the past, beginning with the poignant discovery of a 4,800-year-old fossilised mother and child found by archeologists in Taiwan last month.
The discovery epitomised motherhood in a poignant way. Here was a mother in the her last moments on Earth focused on a tiny baby wrapped in her arms.
Who was she? Where did she...
Apr 30, 2016 8:00 am
Bravo! The Premier of Bermuda last Thursday sent an aggressive, masterly detailed, but polite letter to Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of the British Labour Party, defending Bermuda’s international reputation.
After years of infuriating off-handed jabs about Bermuda as a “secretive tax haven”, we are fighting back. Michael Dunkley, the Premier, has once again stepped up in defence of our international reputation and our way of life.
Apr 23, 2016 8:00 am
This is an introduction and overview to a new retirement series. The series will be extensive. It has to be.
Retirement readiness is not just about “how much do I need” or “five tips to a complete retirement,” rather, individuals will experience entire life changes, gradually, or radically if redundancy eliminates your long-held job, or your health is threatened.
We will be covering the entire spectrum of successful retirement,...
Apr 16, 2016 8:00 am
This the third part in the New Retirement series.
Should you pay off your mortgage before you retire? This is probably the most common question posed to me (along with “will we run out of money”) in the many years of my retirement counselling profession.
My answer is (and has been) a resounding “yes”! You should pay off your mortgage.
Why should you do this? Oh, there are many reasons, here are a few.
Let’s just have...
Apr 9, 2016 8:00 am
The latest data dump leaks, the largest in history, were released this week by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists.
The Panama Papers, so called as the leaks came from a Panamanian law firm, implicated 140 very high-level politicians and officials connected to leadership positions by revealing their names, countries, and most salaciously linking them to millions to billions of dollars placed into offshore shell...
Apr 2, 2016 8:00 am
Already we have passed the first day of spring, April Fools’ Day and are headed into an early summer.
Last week’s article was a story about an island, the Acqua Isle, a small island with a small population trying to stay afloat in the sea of global competition. Some thought it sounded like Bermuda — just change the name. Another thought it was Iceland, and probably, there were a few readers who labelled the whole thing as fictitious...
Mar 26, 2016 8:00 am
This is the story of an island, the Acqua Isle. Idyllic in nature, hardy in purpose, the remote island has survived global forces of nature. It has existed as a comforting habitat for many hundreds of years.
Its people are a hardy, serious lot devoted to life surrounded by the sea from which they draw their sustenance, transportation, commerce, and emotional fortitude. Semi-autonomously governed, Acqua islanders have always felt...
Mar 19, 2016 8:00 am
The Bermuda Retirement Primer — part 2A: managing for a comfortable retirement
The number one documented concern for retirees the world over is outliving retirement savings. The reason: the income from jobs they have relied upon all of their working lives will cease to exist.
Their lives will progress from opportunities to save some of every monthly paycheque each year, to now managing their fixed financial...
Mar 12, 2016 8:00 am
Welcome to the New Bermuda Resident Retirement Primer, a series of articles to be featured in The Royal Gazette every month, or more often, on demand.
We will cover the gamut of retirement planning issues: retirement cost of living, inflation, longevity, to work or not in the jobs market, pension investments, contributions/distributions, health costs, an easy way to figure out what you need to save, family support complications,...
Mar 5, 2016 8:00 am
Part two of lowlights in the 2016-2017 Bermuda Government Budget, a 54-page, meticulously prepared document containing shrewd observations on our local environment: finances, investments, government infrastructure and assets, impact on population, serious concerns relative to full employment, challenges Bermuda faces and an important economics lesson.
Readers, budgets are actually easy to set up, contrary to what is thought.
Feb 27, 2016 8:00 am
Meticulously prepared, the Budget is 54 pages long, replete with charts, statistics, analogies, historical data, and some very cautious optimism. It contains shrewd observations on our Bermuda financial environment: investments, government infrastructure and assets, impact on population, serious concerns relative to full employment, challenges Bermuda faces and important economics lessons.
If you really want to be better informed about...
Feb 20, 2016 8:00 am
Romance is a spontaneous, glorious happening, but as a foreign national, immigration into, and taxation within another country (in our composite case, the United States) requires pre-border crossing planning, too. The two thought processes are diametrically opposed to each other — with the euphoria of the first overwhelming the practicality of the second.
Our two prior romance articles generated numerous inquiries from readers, and...
Feb 13, 2016 8:00 am
Last week we wrote about our happy Valentine fellow blissfully leaving the Rock and heading to America to be with the perfect lady in the land of opportunity with its fabled streets of gold and bluer skies.
Destiny is so full of promise, but it is also leading him across the pond to a tax regime country of confusion, complexity and unexpected financial consequences.
In the euphoria of true love the optimistic thought is: “We can...
Feb 6, 2016 8:00 am
Author’s note: This composite case is purely hypothetical in nature and is not intended to resemble any actual persons’ individual circumstances.
Love in the air. The perfect Valentine romance! They met on a flight to Australia. Lots of conversation, laughs, follow-up connections on social media, phone calls, and family relatives’ comparisons (they thought they might even be very distant cousins)! The long-distance courtship...
Jan 30, 2016 8:00 am
A review by a former auditor of the Bermuda Auditor-General’s Report on the Consolidated Funds of the Government of Bermuda for the years 2010, 2011, 2012. This is the fourth and final part of the series.
Reviewing a financial statement can be completely intimidating. But remember this, numbers are numbers. They tell a story that really just requires common sense to interpret.
Open the report, go to page 49 and start down...
Jan 23, 2016 8:00 am
This is the third part of a review of the Bermuda consolidated fund audit report for the years 2010, 2011, 2012 by a former auditor. The first two parts were published on December 19 and January 16.>In part 3, we focus on some of the serious reasons why the Auditor-General (AG) of Bermuda did not give the Bermuda Government Consolidated Fund results for 2010, 2011, 2012 a clean bill of health. Readers, since space does not allow for...
Jan 16, 2016 8:00 am
<b>This is part two of a commentary by a former auditor on the Bermuda Auditor-General’s report on the Consolidated Fund of the Government of Bermuda for 2010, 2011, 2012 released to Parliament in December 2014.</b>
Have you ever tried to wade through an auditor report? Or been curious about how a publicly traded company, or a government manages their financial affairs?
If you own shares in a company, perhaps...
Jan 2, 2016 8:00 am
Today is the start of the new year. That means new beginnings and a new outlook on the first day of the rest of your life.
It is a time for great inspiration and great learning.
The inspiration holidays are over. Everyone had a great time, but are now surfeited from the partying, presents, purchases, relatives, work, and other Christmas festivities.
In the aftermath the bills come in, the recriminations, and thoughts such...
Dec 28, 2015 8:00 am
The Christmas holidays are trailing right into this week. After the crazy crush to satisfy every person’s wish list in the family, there is plenty of time to think about yourself, your future direction in life, or just comfortable easy things — just the simple pleasure of being — where you are.
Here is an assortment of thoughts to reflect upon, act upon if you like, find amusing or not, and share with those you love. If you’ve reached...
Dec 19, 2015 8:00 am
This is part one of an analysis of the Audit of the Consolidated Fund of the Government of Bermuda for financial years 2010, 2011, 2012 by a former auditor.
This holiday season has arrived at the end of another year of a (hopefully) decreasing recessionary environment. While there is economic pickup, anecdotally, numerous cash-strapped Bermuda families are still challenged to celebrate Christmas. In spite of these financial...
Dec 12, 2015 8:00 am
Introducing Bitcoin, the new, newest thing in the global medium of exchange. We know our current mediums as variously, cash in hand, stock values on a piece of paper, gold bars in a vault, sterling silver on our wrists, real property immovable on the ground, in the ground (oil, coal, diamonds), and under the sea.
The thing about Bitcoin is that as ordinary individuals, we may only have a vague idea of what Bitcoin is — gathered say...
Dec 5, 2015 8:00 am
My first thought after reading a warning earlier in The Royal Gazette about yet another pyramid scheme in Bermuda was “oh, no, not again — I am so vexed”. Another set of hucksters scamming honest, decent people of their hard — earned money — right before the holidays.
These fraudsters are truly the lowest of the lowest form of criminals. They aggressively market on the internet, or come into a community touted as outside “experts”...
Nov 28, 2015 8:00 am
Today’s column is a reminder of the resilience of people and economies when confronted with catastrophic events.
Traditionally, November is a time for remembrance of those gone before us, particularly those brave men and women in the world wars who fought the good fight to preserve our democratic way of life. We are so grateful for their sacrifices.
Back then, severe danger was quite clearly defined by enemies whose evil intent...
Nov 21, 2015 8:00 am
Taking action after your 14-week financial review, part 2. Know your financial environment and your representative.
You’ve organised your financial matters, now you want to move forward — to fill in the gaps in your financial plan.
Where do you start?
First, understand yourself within the Bermuda financial environment. The financial industry, even in Bermuda, is broad and complicated, so if you are determined to become a...
Nov 14, 2015 8:00 am
Your Bermuda financial review summary is over. You are now moving forward to taking control of your finances, in our unique Bermuda financial environment.
You’ve realised you have some gaps, say in life or property coverage; you saved a bit and now would like to start a small investment fund, or you know that you seriously need to update your estate plan and will.
Where do you start?
You will be challenged because you must...
Nov 7, 2015 8:00 am
You’ve reached the summit. The final step of an exhausting 14-week long review of all of your Bermuda financial resources in order to improve your financial lifestyle.
Did you do it? Congratulations. You’ve run the course — gone through frustration, boredom, and lack of confidence, now you are just about at the end.
What was your outcome? Were you happy, was it fun, frustrating, or just plain depressing? Do you feel more in...
Oct 31, 2015 8:00 am
This is week 13 of the 14-week Bermuda financial review to dramatically improve your finances
The risk of living
If you asked anyone, your friends, your family, the person on the street “what did they fear or worry about the most” besides Halloween ghosts, the most common answers would probably fall into just a few categories: fear of losing a job, losing money and a relationship, losing good health, and losing one’s life.
Oct 24, 2015 8:00 am
Week 12 of your 14-week Bermuda Plan** to Improve Your Financial Lifestyle
Readers, your review plan is almost finished — just two weeks to go — don’t give up now. This week’s column focuses on final review of your pension, while translating that knowledge into setting up an individual investing plan outside of your pension planning for the future.
What average returns should you be looking for in long-term...
Oct 17, 2015 8:00 am
This is week 11 of the 14-week Bermuda action plan to improve your financial lifestyle.
Your action plan is now knee-deep in the review of investing and pensions. In the next two weeks, we will:
• review the performance of a balanced pension selection,
• provide a very simple calculator to track (on average) how your pension is performing,
• another calculator to project some possible estimated amounts to expect for...
Oct 10, 2015 8:00 am
Week 10 of the 14-week Bermuda plan to improve your financial lifestyle.
Review of pension and investments — part 2 (part 1 was published last week)
Readers who have been courageous in attempting this “long” review of their finances — you are more than half way through. This is the hardest bit, though — thinking about investments and what they mean to your successful financial future.
Here is a little factoid.
Oct 3, 2015 8:00 am
This is the pension and investment review phase of the Bermuda 14-week financial review to improve your financial lifestyle.
As this phase of the review may be more difficult and complex for many, so we will cover it over next three weeks.
Why? Because pensions are investments.
Simply suggesting a brief review of investments assumes an understanding that many individuals simply do not have. Over the years, I still...
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