Author: Jeff Boettcher

Figuring Out Your Federal Retirement Annuity by Jeff Boettcher

Figuring Out Your Federal Retirement Annuity by Jeff Boettcher, AIF

Jeff BoettcherJeff Boettcher

Having a plan for retirement is a must. This is because simply saving for the future, without any knowledge of what you will have available in terms of income, can be a recipe for disaster. It is essential to have at least an approximation of how much money you will have coming in for you to meet your living expenses.

This is especially important because, if there is a “gap” between what you will need for expenses and what you will have coming in, you will need time to plan for some type of additional incoming cash flow that can help you make up for that difference.

For those who are federal employees, there are ways that you can determine approximately how much retirement income you will be able to generate from your FERS or CSRS plan, depending on when you are eligible to separate from service and the type of plan that you have.

FERS Employees

For FERS (Federal Employees’ Retirement System) employees, benefit amounts can be calculated as follows:

  • Immediate Unreduced Annuity – For those who will retire with an immediate, unreduced annuity, simply multiply 0.01 X your high-3 X all years and full months of service. However, if you have a minimum of 20 years of service and you will be retiring at the age of 62 or over, then you should substitute 0.011 for the 0.01 in the calculation.
  • MRA + 10 Annuity – If you will be retiring at your minimum retirement age (MRA) and you have between 10 and 30 years of service, then you will have a reduction of 5% for each year that you retired before the age of 62.
  • VERA (Voluntary Early Retirement Authority) – If an employee accepts a VERA, then he or she is able to retire at age 50 if they have at least 20 years of service, or at any age if they have at least 25 years of service. In this case, the annuity amount will be calculated by using the same FERS standard formula, yet without the 5% penalty for retiring at below age 62.
  • Special Category Employees – Certain individuals such as firefighters, law enforcement officers, and air traffic controllers are considered to be Special Category Employees. Provided that they have put in at least 20 years of service, then they are eligible to retire. In this case, the annuity amount would be calculated by taking 0.017 X the high-3 X 20 years of service plus 0.01 X the high-3 X all additional years and full months of service.

Some individuals may also be eligible for the SRS, or Special Retirement Supplement. This is because Social Security benefits do not begin until at least the age of 62. Therefore, this SRS income will be provided until that time. In order to calculate one’s SRS benefit amount, take the estimated amount of Social Security benefit at age 62 and divide it by 40, then multiply this figure by the total years of FERS service. (Round the service figure up to the nearest whole number). The total here will be the dollar amount of the SRS monthly benefit.

CSRS Employees

CSRS (Civil Service Retirement System) employees will calculate their retirement benefits in a somewhat different manner than those of the FERS retirement system. In this case, the way to determine the amount of the CSRS annuity for regular employees entails multiplying (0.015 X the high-3 X five years of service) + (0.0175 X the high-3 X five years of service) + (0.02 X the high-3 X all remaining years and full months of service).

All other CSRS retirement benefit amounts would be determined as follows:

  • VERA – If a CSRS employee accepts a Voluntary Early Retirement Authority, he or she may retire at age 50 if they have put in at least 20 years of service, or at any age if they have put in at least 25 years of service. If this is the case, then their annuity will be determined by using the standard formula for the CSRS annuity. If, however, the individual is under the age of 55 when they retire, then the amount of their benefit will be reduced by 2% for each year that they are under age 55. This equates to a reduction in benefits of approximately 1/6% per month.
  • Special Category Employees – Certain individuals such as firefighters, law enforcement officers, and air traffic controllers are considered to be Special Category Employees. Provided that they have put in at least 20 years of covered service, then their annuity would be determined by calculating (0.025 X the high-3 X 20 years of service) + (0.02 X the high-2 X all additional years and full months of service).

No matter which area of service a federal employee retires from, if the individual still has any remaining hours of service that are leftover, these will be combined with their unused sick leave in order to create more months. These will then be used in computing their annuity benefits – which can make a difference in the total amount that is received.

More from Jeff Boettcher

Understanding the Federal Employees Retirement System by Jeff Boettcher

The Importance of Proper Retirement Account Funding Strategies by Jeff Boettcher

Jeff Boettcher Author Page

Sources:  http://www.psretirement.com/annuities/fers-annuity/

Proper Retirement Account Funding Strategies by Jeff Boettcher

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The Importance of Proper Retirement Account Funding Strategies by Jeff Boettcher

Jeff Boettcher
Jeff Boettcher is a financial planner in Scottsdale, Arizona

If you’re someone who may need to rely heavily on Social Security for your future retirement income, you may want to consider alternative saving methods.

Even if you are one of the lucky few, who are eligible for a Pension from your employer and regardless of how much you will receive from Social Security it is almost always advisable to have additional personal savings in place to secure a comfortable retirement. Although Social Security was created as a financial ‘safety-net,’ today’s reality is that most Americans see Social Security as one of their primary retirement vehicles and therefore have a substantial need to grow their own personal savings to fill in the future income “gaps” that are likely to exist.

One way to increase your future financial comfort and possibly take advantage of either tax-deferred or tax-free savings options is to open an Individual Retirement Account (IRA). By having an IRA, you may be able to defer your contributions from taxation. Any taxes owed on the growth that take place within of these types of accounts can also be put off until the future – or you may even be able to withdraw your funds tax-free depending on the type of IRA you choose.

Having a good overall understanding of the different types of IRA accounts that are available can make a big difference when choose the plan that is best for you, as well as when you make your contributions and you begin to make your withdrawals from the account.

Types of IRA Accounts

There are basically three different types of Individual Retirement Accounts. These include the deductible and the non-deductible Traditional IRAs, and the Roth IRA. While there are a number of similarities among these accounts, there are also several key differences, which may deem one or the other as more beneficial for various investors – depending on their situation, investment time frame, and goals.

Traditional IRA

The Traditional IRA has been in existence since 1974. For many years, this was the only type of IRA that was available. Today, the Traditional IRA can essentially be divided between a deductible and a non-deductible version.

In order to be eligible to contribute to a Traditional deductible IRA account you have to have at least some amount of earned income. If so, there are a number of nice advantages to taking part in this type of account, including:

  • Tax deductibility of plan contributions (in full or in part, depending on how much annual income you earn, and whether or not you participate in an employer-sponsored retirement plan);
  • Tax deferral of investment earnings.

For the years 2015 and 2016, those who are single tax filers are able to fully fund a deductible Traditional IRA account, provided that their income does not exceed $61,000 per year. If their income is between $61,000 and $71,000 per year, these individuals may partially fund this type of an IRA account. And, if they earn in excess of $71,000, then they will be unable to contribute at all.

If an individual is a married tax filer, and his or her spouse is also a participant in a retirement plan through their employer, then they are eligible to fully fund a deductible Traditional IRA account, provided that their annual income is under $98,000. This type of IRA can be partially funded if their income is between $98,000 and $118,000. However, if their income exceeds, the $118,000 threshold, then the deductible Traditional IRA cannot be funded.

For an individual who is a joint tax filer and whose spouse is not involved in an employer-sponsored retirement plan, a deductible Traditional IRA account can be fully funded if their annual income is below $183,000. This type of IRA can be partially funded if their income is between $183,000 and $194,000, but cannot be funded at all if their income is more than $194,000 per year.
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Non-Deductible IRAs

If an individual opts to go with a non-deductible IRA account (often called a Non-Deductible Traditional IRA), there are no income limitations when it comes to contribution to this type of account. There are, however, a few considerations to be mindful of in general when investing money into these types of accounts. Some of these considerations include the following:

  • Maximum IRA Contribution Limit^ – First, when contributing to an IRA, there will be an annual maximum contribution limit. In 2016, that amount is $5,500 if you are age 49 and younger, and $6,500 if you are age 50 or over.
  • Early Withdrawal Penalty^ – A Traditional IRA account will also subject investors to an early withdrawal penalty. This means that if you remove funds from your account prior to turning age 59 1/2, in addition to any taxes that you pay, you will also be subject to an additional 10% penalty from the IRS.

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About the Jeff Boettcher, AIF®

Helping clients grow and protect their wealth has been Jeff Boettcher’s passion since the 1990’s.   Mr. Boettcher is also the owner and Co-Chief Investment Officer for BWM Advisory, LLC / Bedrock Investment Advisors, as well as owns and manages the Insurance Brokerage firm (IMO) of Bedrock Financial Services, LLC.

Specializing in Federal Retirees and small business owner retirement planning strategies along with being an expert in retirement income generation, Jeff Boettcher’s knowledge has been incredibly important to both his clients and the hundred-plus independent financial professionals who rely upon Mr. Boettcher’s various companies for the services and advice they need to help their own clients.

To Contact Jeff Boettcher you can visit www.BedrockIA.com or call 800-779-4183.
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  • RMD Requirements^ – Based on the Required Minimum Distribution, or RMD, rules, those who own Traditional IRAs will be required to start withdrawing at least a certain amount from their accounts, beginning the years in which they turn age 70 1/2. If you do not comply with the RMD requirements, you could be penalized
  • No Additional Contributions^ – When you turn age 70 1/2, you will also no longer be allowed to make any further contributions into your Traditional IRA account.

In addition, with the deductible version of the Traditional IRA, because your contributions have not yet been taxed, and the earnings inside of the account are tax-deferred, all of the withdrawals will be considered to be taxable income. With that in mind, the actual amount of money that is netted out of each withdrawal will depend upon your tax bracket at the time.

Side Note^: Distributions from your Tax-Deductible IRAs can increase the tax rate you pay on your Social Security Income. Therefore, although IRAs can be a great way of saving for retirement they can also have drawbacks and paying higher tax rates on your Social Security could be one of them.

^Source: IRS.gov

Roth IRA

In 1997, investors were introduced to the Roth IRA. This plan, while it has some similarities to the Traditional IRA account, also has several key differences. First, with the Roth IRA, contributions enter the account after they’ve been taxed. Therefore, there is no tax deduction of deposits.

Another key difference with the Roth IRA is that the funds that are inside of the account grow tax-free^. The money can also, in most cases, be withdrawn on a tax-free basis. This can make a substantial difference in the amount of money that is netted out to the retiree / investor.

Unlike the Traditional IRA, there is also no RMD requirement. Therefore, the account holder will not be required to begin withdrawing funds from the account at age 70 1/2 – or at any age. Nor must they stop making deposits into the account at a certain age.

It is important to note that with a Roth IRA account, there is still a 10% IRS early withdrawal penalty by removing funds from the account prior to reaching age 59 1/2. However, if the funds that are withdrawn are the investor’s initial contributions, there will be no IRS penalty – regardless of the age of the investor as long as the deposits have met certain IRS limitations.

There are also income limits in terms of how much you can actually contribute to a Roth IRA. For example, the table below shows whether your Roth contribution will be impacted by the amount of your modified adjusted gross income:

If your filing status is: And your modified AGI is: You can contribute:
Married filing jointly or qualifying widow(er) < $184,000 Up to the limit
Married filing jointly or qualifying widow(er) >/= $184,000 but < $194,000 A reduced amount
Married filing jointly or qualifying widow(er) >/= $194,000 $0
Married filing separately and you lived with your spouse at any time during the year < $10,000 A reduced amount
Married filing separately and you lived with your spouse at any time during the year >/= $10,000 $0
Single, head of household, or married filing separately and you did not live with your spouse at any time during the year < $117,000 Up to the limit
Single, head of household, or married filing separately and you did not live with your spouse at any time during the year >/= $117,000 but < $132,000 A reduced amount
Single, head of household, or married filing separately and you did not live with your spouse at any time during the year >/= $132,000 $0

Source: IRS.gov (https://www.irs.gov/Retirement-Plans/Plan-Participant,-Employee/Amount-of-Roth-IRA-Contributions-That-You-Can-Make-for-2016)

In addition, just like with a Traditional IRA account, Roth IRAs have annual maximum contribution limits. In 2016, these are also $5,500 for investors who are age 49 and younger, and an additional $1,000 for those who are age 50 and over.

For those who own both a Traditional and a Roth IRA, this does not mean that they are allowed to contribute these dollar figures into each of the accounts, but rather the total dollar amount – regardless of how the figure is allocated between the two.

Things to Keep in Mind

When considering the investment into an IRA, it’s important to keep in mind that you can make your prior year’s contribution through April 15th of the following year. In other words, if you have not yet made your 2015 IRA deposit, you can still do so through April 15th of 2016. And, by combining your 2015 and 2016 contributions, means that you could essentially put as much as $11,000 ($5,500 for 2015 and $5,500 for 2016) to work if you are age 49 or younger, or up to $13,000 ($6,500 + $6,500) if you are age 50 or over.

Putting all of the pieces of the retirement planning puzzle together can be difficult. That’s why it is important to work with someone who is not only knowledgeable about retirement, but also someone who is well versed in your specific retirement circumstances. For Federal Employees that means someone who has a background in your very complex retirement package and for small business owners it means someone who knows how IRS rules apply, not just IRAs but to other small business related retirement accounts as well. That way, you can be more assured that the options that you choose will work together in moving you towards your ultimate retirement goals.

Understanding Federal Employees Retirement System – by Jeff Boettcher

Jeff Boettcher Author Page
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About Jeff Boettcher, AIF®

Helping clients grow and protect their wealth has been Jeff Boettcher’s passion since the 1990’s.   Mr. Boettcher is also the owner and Co-Chief Investment Officer for BWM Advisory, LLC / Bedrock Investment Advisors, as well as owns and manages the Insurance Brokerage firm (IMO) of Bedrock Financial Services, LLC.

Specializing in Federal Retirees and small business owner retirement planning strategies along with being an expert in retirement income generation, Jeff Boettcher’s knowledge has been incredibly important to both his clients and the hundred-plus independent financial professionals who rely upon Mr. Boettcher’s various companies for the services and advice they need to help their own clients.

To Contact Jeff Boettcher you can visit www.BedrockIA.com or call 800-779-4183.

Disclosure: For informational purposes only. Investment advisory services offered through BWM Advisory, LLC (BWM). *Due to various registration requirements concerning the dissemination of investment and insurance product and service information, we are currently required to limit access of the following pages to individuals residing in states where BWM is currently registered. Investment and advisory services available only to residents where BWM is registered or where State determined registration thresholds have not been met. Please contact BWM Advisory for a copy of their most recent ADV for Registration and additional disclosure information. Investing involves risk. Always contact your own investment advisor before making any investment decision.
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Understanding the Federal Employees Retirement System by Jeff Boettcher

Federal Employees Retirement System information by Jeff Boettcher

Jeff BoettcherJeff Boettcher

FERS, or the Federal Employees Retirement System, is the retirement program that is set up specifically for those who work within the United States civil service. This system has been in place since 1987, when it replaced CSRS, or Civil Service Retirement System.

The FERS retirement system actually provides benefits from three primary sources. These include the:

  • Basic Benefit Plan – The Basic Benefit Plan is typically referred to as the FERS (Federal Employee Retirement System) plan, or simply as a FERS annuity. This pension, or “defined benefit” plan, will provide a set amount of retirement income to the employee upon his or her retirement, no matter how much the employee contributes into the plan. The employee will receive this income benefit for the remainder of their life. A Minimum Retirement Age, or MRA, must often be met in order to start receiving this income.
  • Social Security – Just as with civilian employees, federal employees contribute a percentage of their pay to the Social Security program, and may begin receiving retirement benefits as early as age 62. The amount that is received in retirement benefits from Social Security will ultimately be dependent upon how much the employee has earned throughout the years, as well as how long he or she was employed in a job that made contributions into the Social Security system.
  • Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) – TSP accounts are automatically set up for federal civilian employees by their particular agencies. Every pay period, the agency deposits an amount that is equal to 1% of the employee’s basic pay. Employees may also make additional contributions on their own. In addition, the employee’s agency may make a matching contribution amount. The TSP plan provides six different investment funds in which participants may choose to place their contributions. These include the following:
  • G Fund – The G Fund is managed by the Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board. This fund provides a conservative option as it purchases U.S. Treasury securities that are guaranteed by the U.S. government.
  • F, C, S, and I Funds – The F, C, S, and I Funds are different types of index funds. Each of these are invested with the intent of taking on the various risk and return characteristics of the specific underlying indexes that they are benchmarking.
  • L Funds – The L funds, also referred to as lifecycle funds, will automatically shift investors’ money from a mix of more risk options to a mix of more conservative options as they become older and closer to retirement.

Employee contributions are withheld for both the Basic Benefit Plan and for Social Security. These amounts are automatically taken from the individual’s paycheck via the agency that he or she works through as payroll deductions. If an employee leaves their federal employment, they are eligible to take with them their Social Security and TSP to their next employer, if they choose to do so.

About the Jeff Boettcher, AIF®: Helping clients grow and protect their wealth has been Jeff Boettcher’s passion since the 1990’s.   Mr. Boettcher is also the owner and Co-Chief Investment Officer for BWM Advisory, LLC / Bedrock Investment Advisors, as well as owns and manages the Insurance Brokerage firm (IMO) of Bedrock Financial Services, LLC.

Specializing in Federal Retirees and small business owner retirement planning strategies along with being an expert in retirement income generation, Jeff Boettcher’s knowledge has been incredibly important to both his clients and the hundred-plus independent financial professionals who rely upon Mr. Boettcher’s various companies for the services and advice they need to help their own clients.

To Contact Jeff Boettcher you can visit www.BedrockIA.com or call 800-779-4183.

Who is Eligible for the TSP Retirement Plan?

Most people who are employees of the U.S. Government are eligible to participate in the TSP. For example, you would be considered an eligible participant if you are a:

  • Federal Employees’ Retirement System (FERS) employee – typically if you were hired either on or after January 1st, 1984, or
  • Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) employee – generally if you were hired before January 1st, 1984, and you did not convert over to FERS, or
  • Member of the uniformed services (regardless of whether you are an active duty or a ready reserve), or
  • Civilian who works in various other qualified categories of the government service.1

In addition, you must also be actively working either on a full- or a part-time basis, as well as be able to contribute to the plan.2

In some cases, an employee may have left their employment at a government agency or in the armed services and then returned to a position within government employment at a later date in the future.

If you have had a break in your federal service, then your participation in the Thrift Savings Plan will be based on two key factors. These will include the length of your break in service, as well as whether or not you were a participant in the TSP prior to your break.

How Retirement Benefits are Determined

When the time comes to retire, the amount of benefit that you will receive will depend upon a number of different factors. These will include your age, as well as the amount of salary that you were earning throughout your time of employment. It will also include how many years of service that you put in.

As a FERS retiree, the amount of your benefit, based on the type of annuity that you receive, can be determined as follows:

Immediate Unreduced Annuity

If you are retiring with an immediate, unreduced annuity, then you can multiply 0.01 X your high-3 X all years and full months of your service. If, however, you have put in a minimum of 20 years of service and you will be retiring at age 62 or older, then you should substitute a 0.011 for the 0.01 in your equation.

MRA + 10 Annuity

If you are retiring at MRA (Minimum Retirement Age), and you have more than 10 years of service, but less than 30, then you will have a reduction of 5% per year for each year that you are retiring before you turn age 62.

Voluntary Early Retirement Authority (VERA)

If you have accepted a Voluntary Early Retirement Authority, or VERA, then you will be able to retire at age 50, provided that you have a minimum of 20 years of service. Or, you can retire at any age if you have a minimum of 25 years of service. In this situation, the amount of your retirement benefit would be determined by using the same FERS standard formula. However, in this case, you would not be penalized by the 5% reduction per year for each year under age 62.

Special Category Employees

There are some employees such as law enforcement officers, firefighters, and air traffic controllers, who are considered as Special Category Employees. If you fall into this particular category and you have a minimum of 20 years of service, then you would be eligible to retire. In this case, then your benefit amount would be determined by taking (0.017 X the high-3 X 20 years of service) + (0.01 X the high-3) X all additional years and full months of service.

When a FERS Employee Can Retire

Retirement eligibility for FERS employees is determined by an employee’s age, as well as the number of years of creditable service that they have put in with their agency. In certain instances, an employee may need to have reached a Minimum Requirement Age, or MRA, in order to receive their annuity benefits.

For the FERS Basic Benefit Plan, there are four different categories of benefits that an employee may qualify for. These include the following:

  • Immediate Retirement Benefits – If an employee retires at his or her MRA (Minimum Retirement Age) and he or she has between 10 and 30 years of service, then their benefit will be reduced by 5% for each year that they are younger than age 62. The employee can also qualify for immediate benefits if they are age 60 or over and they have at least 20 years of service.
  • Early Retirement Benefits – A FERS employee may qualify for early retirement benefits in certain situations of involuntary separation, as well as in cases of voluntary separation from service such as during a RIF (reduction in force) or a major reorganization.

 

  • Deferred Retirement Benefits – If an employee is age 60 or over and they have at least 20 years of service, they will be eligible for deferred retirement benefits. An employee may also be eligible for deferred benefits if they reach their MRA and they have between 10 and 30 years of service. However, the amount of the benefit will be reduced by 5% per year for every year that they are under the age of 62.
  • Disability Benefits – If an individual has not yet reached retirement age, but they have become disabled, then they may be eligible for disability income benefits. In this case, the employee must have become disabled while they were actively employed in a FERS position. In addition, the disability that they sustained must be anticipated to last for at least a period of one year or longer. The employee must also be unable to perform the work that is required in his or her present position – as certified by their agency – and their agency must also have considered the employee for any other vacant position within that same agency (at the same grade / pay level) in which the individual is qualified to perform.

How is MRA Determined?

Meeting an employee’s Minimum Retirement Age, or MRA, can be based upon the year that an employee was born. The following chart outlines what your MRA would be, based upon your year of birth:

If you were born: Your MRA is:
Before 1948 55
In 1948 55 and 2 months
In 1949 55 and 4 months
In 1950 55 and 6 months
In 1951 55 and 8 months
In 1952 55 and 10 months
In 1953 – 1964 56
In 1965 56 and 2 months
In 1966 56 and 4 months
In 1967 56 and 6 months
In 1968 56 and 8 months
In 1969 56 and 10 months
In 1970 and after 57

Source: OPM.gov

FERS Survivor Benefits

In addition to retirement benefits for the individual FERS employee / retiree, there are other benefits of participating in this program. For example, should a former federal employee pass away prior to collecting his or her deferred annuity income, then their surviving spouse will be eligible to receive 50% of the annuity payout, beginning on the date that the employee attained the age and service requirements for that annuity.3

If, however, the surviving spouse chooses to collect their benefits from the annuity at an even earlier time, then they will be allowed to do so. The amount of the income benefit will simply be less.

The Bottom Line on the FERS Retirement System

The FERS retirement system can provide federal employees with an income that they can count on in the future. Yet, this particular source may or may not be ample enough to provide what is necessary for covering all of their living expenses in the future.

With that in mind, it will still be important to get an accurate assessment of just how much it may take to live in retirement, and then to plan for any potential income “gaps” that you may have. These may be filled in with personal savings and other investment options.

About the Jeff Boettcher, AIF®: Helping clients grow and protect their wealth has been Jeff Boettcher’s passion since the 1990’s.   Mr. Boettcher is also the owner of Bedrock Financial Services, LLC an Insurance Brokerage and Marketing company and also the Owner and Co-Chief Investment Officer for BWM Advisory, LLC / Bedrock Investment Advisors.

Specializing in Federal Retirees and being an expert in retirement income generation, Mr. Boettcher has helped hundreds of Federal employees grow and protect their wealth through a consistent commitment to educating the Federal Employee about their benefits. Jeff Boettcher has also demonstrated a phenomenal expertise in the retirement planning strategies necessary to maximize federal retirement benefits and has served as a trainer to some of the most successful Federal Employee Retirement Experts in the Country. Jeff Boettcher is also a consistent contributor to GovLoop.com, PSRetirement.com and RetirementPlanningNews.com.

To Contact Jeff Boettcher you can visit www.BedrockIA.com or call 800-779-4183.

Sources

  1. TSP.gov (https://www.tsp.gov/PlanParticipation/EligibilityAndContributions/index.html)
  2. TSP.gov (https://www.tsp.gov/PlanParticipation/EligibilityAndContributions/index.html)
  3. Federal Retirement Planning (http://www.psretirement.com/fers-retirement/fers-eligibility/)

Disclosure: This article is for informational purposes only and cannot be used as investment advice. Always contact your personal financial advisor for information regarding your retirement benefits. Jeff Boettcher, AIF® offers Investment Advisory Services through BWM Advisory, LLC (BWM). Due to various State and Federal Regulations BWM can only provide investment advice in the States and jurisdictions where we are registered. Please review the most recent copy BWM’s ADV for up to date information.