Steve Casto administers his own brand of “CPR”
By Jonathan Widran
Trying to figure out the perfect career niche after graduating with a degree in business/finance from the University of Nebraska, Steve Casto began thinking about growing up in a community where he constantly heard about the fears people had about health, taxes and long term care. What struck him most was observing just how few adults felt fully secure when it came to their retirement.
Casto attributes his success to his talent for bringing together complex issues and solid, down to earth values that make sense to people. Another key has been implementing his revolutionary Compass Planning Review (CPR), which transcends what most people think of as typical financial planning. CPR is geared around the concept of “laddering” of assets, taking income over sequential periods of time based on an integration of advanced mathematics. Casto tailors his system to personally fit each client’s unique financial situation. In typically humble fashion, he says, “I was doing a lot of research, and discovered that Investment Banks invest very differently that we do. As well as some key research out of the University of San Francisco.
He warns caution that a lot of the ideas he will expose people to will likely dismantle almost everything you’ve been taught about investing and retirement planning. If it is correct that “You shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free,” then is it possible that if you don’t know the truth, its absence can place you in bondage?
Remember what Einstein said about insanity? It’s doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. Using Einstein’s definition of insanity, one can conclude that it’s totally insane to invest the same way and expect different results. In fact steve said, “I believe your investment tools and retirement strategies should change and evolve over time based on innovation and your stage in life.”
“Many people feel that they have achieved the majority of their goals, but unfortunately have lingering doubts about the future,” he adds. “Their biggest concern is whether their money will last throughout retirement and they begin to feel overwhelmed by all the conflicting information they receive, thus they are never at peace. Most people are concerned about their current tax situation and the likelihood of future tax increases. Another big concern is about health care costs and wonder what will happen to the family if they become ill. That’s why I created the Compass Planning Review process. Our CPR process is a step-by-step plan designed to help people with their pursuit of achieving their financial goals.”
From the beginning, Casto has been savvy about becoming the “go-to” guy for these problems and has been called the Retirement Income Specialist, seeing himself as the financial equivalent to the specialist doctors people go to see when they are seniors after spending most of their lives visiting general practitioners. People sometimes forget that financial advisers are small businessmen themselves. Casto found a great way to get the word out after he launched Retirement Matters doing classes throughout Nebraska for years on such topics as taxes, income and “How To Make Sure Your Health Doesn’t Impoverish Your Spouse.” He found he had an easy rapport with people, who liked the fact that he didn’t talk over their heads or try to impress them with insider jargon.
Those attributes have driven Casto’s multi-media branding ambitions, which have included hosting the weekly Saturday afternoon live call in finance show “Well Preserved” on Omaha’s talk radio station KKAR for two and a half years. The show discussed everything from strategies on outliving your money to taxes, fees in the markets, Wall Street scandals and financial related health issues. While he recently left it to spend more weekend time with his daughter, it proved to be a great boon for his business.
Casto has been quoted in CNBC, Fox Business, CNN, USA Today, Fox News, Kiplingers, Newsday and Forbes in addition to the local Nebraska newspapers, the Omaha World Herald and Lincoln Journal Star. He also published a book a few years ago entitled “Is Your Retirement Heading in the Right Direction?” that hit the Top 100 on Barnes & Noble’s sales chart. Casto is currently redoing and revising the book.
In October he is launching “The Retirement Matters Show,” a educational TV show about finances which will air on KMTV (Channel 3) at 7:30 a.m. Sunday Mornings.
“I enjoyed doing the radio show,” he says, “and while I’m anxious about certain aspects of the new venture, particularly being on camera, I’m also excited to be on TV, where I have the opportunity to reach and help more people than ever before.”
Casto’s process will show them how they are paying considerably way too much in taxes and how to lower them. CPR helps tackle those worries about “outliving their money” by showing clients how to get an increasing tax favored income for life and still leave money to their heirs if they want to. Other huge questions Retirement Matters can solve are, What happens to my spouse if my health changes and we have to spend our assets on health issues? And what about the loss of my pension or Social Security after I’m gone?
Even for laypeople, the math involved in the Compass Planning Review is pretty easy to follow. Say a couple has $555,000 in a portfolio with an allocation as follows: CDs, mutual funds, corporate and muni bonds. Their adjusted gross income is 61,031. Their tax liability is $5,564 and their after tax income is $69,228.
After going thru CPR (which metaphorically speaking, is somewhat similar to what the acronym usually stands for), their after tax income is now $79,972. This is $10,743 more annually. Casto said he could also set up their income to possibly stay ahead of inflation—all while lowering their tax liability to $2,549 from $5,564 a year. So their tax rate has dropped significantly. In addition, he has substantially reduced their taxes on excess income above the Social Security threshold; 85% of their Social Security income was considered taxable until he helped drop it to only 32%.
Casto believes most people who take out IRAs when they are young don’t think about the big picture of the taxes they will pay from it over their lifetime. His strategies are designed to significantly minimize the taxes they owe. “We also work with their money that is not in IRAs,” he says. “Our aim in both cases is to increase their income while at the same time reducing their taxes, ‘laddering’ it out so the the income will go up despite inflation. In addition, we help clients focus on the rights of their spouses and heirs and make sure the language attached to their accounts ensures that their wishes are carried out. In the event of a major health crisis, if the words don’t specifically give the spouse the power of attorney, that spouse might only have what we call the ‘powerless power of attorney.’ If you have a brokerage account and would like some of the money dispersed to your grandchildren upon your death, that needs to be specified—because the default law will disperse the funds equally among your children only.
I’m sure you’ve been told to invest the same old way expecting to achieve retirement security. This old approach provides only a limited degree of benefit and certainly lacks a way to preserve wealth in both good and bad time, not to mention the assurance that you won’t outlive your savings. He asks, “Are you investing the same old way and expecting different results?”
He said you may have the “Forrest Gump financial plan.” What does he mean? Remember what Forrest’s mama said, “Life is like a box of chocolates…you never know what you’re gonna get.” His big question for you, ”Is your retirement plan like a box of chocolates?”
One of Casto’s favorite sayings is: “Don’t let your money run your retirement. Your retirement should run your money.”