08/23/15: Safety, Privacy and Yield with Private Banking

Safety, privacy and yield are important concerns for anyone with large amounts of cash…most of which is stored in bank accounts.

As your real estate portfolio grows, so do your deposits, maintenance reserves and float. And if you’re waiting for that next great opportunity, you may have a chunk of cash on hand for that too!

How to keep cash safe and private is a major concern for investorsBut in a world of insolvent banks, debt-ridden governments, financial predators, high tech snooping and identity theft, and painfully low yields

How can you best protect your cash reserves?

Wouldn’t it be great if you could get insurance against all these risks…and get paid to own it?

You can.

In studio to explain how many savvy investors and mega-corporations mitigate the risks of holding large and growing piles of cash:

  • Your high-yield host, Robert Helms
  • His very private co-host, Russell Gray
  • Special guest and private banking expert, Patrick Donohoe

No matter where you are in your investing career, we’re guessing you have or hope to have LOTS of cash.  It’s just like hoping you pay a lot in taxes.Growing cash reserves is one more important thing for real estate investors to manage

Really.

While you do your best to keep the percentage of tax you pay down, in terms of absolute dollars, you should be hoping it’s a HUGE number.  It means you’re making a lot of money.  Think about it.

So even though we like to keep our cash deployed and working, as our portfolio grows so does the amount of money sitting in and flowing through our bank accounts.

This means in addition to managing debt, equity and cash flow… a VERY important part of successful investing is managing liquidity.

In an interview with Donald Trump, the Donald told us it’s important it is to always have some cash on hand.  It’s what you use to put out fires, act quickly when opportunity knocks, and to meet what you you hope is a growing amount of profitable expenses.

But in today’s economy, there are some real concerns about holding cash:

Counter Party Risk

Counter party risk is what you’re exposed to when your asset is simultaneously someone else’s liability.  This is the relationship your tenants have to you when they trust you with their rental deposits.

Counter party risk is present when your asset is simultaneously someone else's assetAnd it’s the same relationship you have with the bank when you place your tenants’ deposit in your bank account.

You owe the tenants and the bank owes you.  Your bank account is the bank’s liability.

The danger is that many banks are financially weak.  Thanks to FDIC insurance, most depositors never worry about this.  But that’s not smart.

The bank is like your tenant in that you’re giving them use of your property.  In this case, the property is cash.

You wouldn’t rent your property out without checking the tenant’s credit and financials, right?  And if they turn out to be weak, you either reject them or ask for a co-signer.

In this case, the co-signer is the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC).  But what if the co-signer also has bad financials?

Right now, the billions in assets the FDIC has relative to the TRILLIONS it insures means the FDIC reserves are completely inadequate if there’s a major financial crisis.The FDIC insurance fund is woefully inadequate to insure depositors if there is a major bank failure

And there are some SERIOUS tremors reverberating through the global financial markets as we speak. (Actually, we’re typing and you’re reading…but you get the idea…)

So if the co-signer is weak, you either reject them or ask for yet another co-signer.  In this case, the FDIC co-signer is the U.S. government.

But according to the U.S. government’s very own publicly reported financial statements, the U.S. government has a negative net worth and negative cash flow.

The United State government is essentially insolventIn other words, the U.S. government is essentially insolvent.  All they have is a virtually unlimited credit line…until they don’t.

Would you rent to someone who’s broke…who’s co-signed by someone who’s broke…who’s backed by someone who’s broke and only able to pay their bills using their credit card?

No wonder the U.S. government buried a bail-in provision in the Dodd-Frank legislation which took effect in January 2014.

Why would the U.S. government give the banks the power to take your deposits if they fail…unless they think there was a chance they would need it?

So “money in the bank” doesn’t have the same level of safety as it once did.

Most people are sadly ignorant of the risk.  And even if you are aware, what do you do about it?

We went looking for an answer…and found a concept called private banking.

So if you’re a mid-size real estate mogul with more than $250,000 in cash sitting in the bank at any one time, you’ve got a risk you should think about mitigating….because if you’re holding your tenants’ deposits in a bank that fails beyond the FDIC’s ability to cover you, YOU still owe the money to the tenants.

In other words, YOU have effectively co-signed for the bank.  Make sense?

But don’t panic.

Private banking allows you to store cash where it’s backed by much stronger balance sheets.

But what about another major concern about keeping a lot of cash in the bank, which is…

Low Yield

While low interest rates are fun as a borrower, low interest rates are terrible if you have a lot of cash on hand.Low yields on cash deposits is a real challenge for savers

It takes time and effort to manage the cash, and today you can’t even count on the interest income to help offset the expenses.

Worse, you’re taking risks as we previously described, but not getting paid any compensation for it.

Plus, someone else (the bank) is getting the use of your money, on which they profit, and you don’t get compensated for that either.

It’s a racket.  And you’re on the wrong end of it.

That’s why we always try to keep our cash invested and moving.  But when you MUST hold cash, it can be frustrating.

BUT…

What if there were a way to put your cash in a place outside the banking system, where it is guaranteed by much stronger balance sheets than the banks…AND you could get a credit line to access it whenever you wanted?

And what if that “account” pays you interest at DOUBLE the rate of the banks when you aren’t using it, but charges you a net effective rate of ZERO to borrow whenever you need it?  And you don’t have to qualify!

And what if the loan doesn’t show up on any of your credit reports or affect your credit in any way…even if you decide not to pay it back?

That’s the way private banking with properly structured insurance contracts work.  It’s amazing.

But it gets better…

Privacy

Privacy, or lack thereof, is a growing concern for many investors…real estate and otherwise.

Financial privacy is a growing concern for many investorsBetween the government, treasure hunting lawyers, creditors and identity thieves, there are lots of people out there looking for piles of cash to get their hands on.  And banks are the obvious place to look.

What many folks don’t realize, is that because banks are all part of a system that is computerized, centrally managed and carefully indexed, it’s pretty easy for people to find everything you have…in that system.

The obvious answer is to find a way OUT of the system.  And if you can do it, while IMPROVING your safety and yield, all the better!

Insurance contracts are private agreements between private parties.

They aren’t part of the banking system.  So insurance equity doesn’t show up in asset searches…unless you lose a lawsuit and are compelled by the court to disclose it.

But even then, the asset itself is very difficult for a creditor or government agency to seize.

So not only are the contracts private, but the equity is extremely hard to reach for anyone…except you.

Of course, we’re just real estate guys.  We’re not insurance, legal or tax advisors.  So you should check with your own advisors before doing anything.

We just get excited when we see something that can solve so many problems in just one product.

So listen in to this episode as we talk with our good friend Patrick Donohoe about the amazing concept of private banking.

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12/4/11: Infinite Banking – The Broken Banking System and What You Can Do About It

Today’s banking system is a far cry from George Bailey’s Bailey Building and Loan in the classic film It’s a Wonderful Life.

Back then, savers put money in local institutions where local bankers lent it out to local borrowers.  It was very community focused.

Today, everything funnels through Wall Street and the Federal Reserve, and the last few years have shown that when deals get made too far away from Main Street, weird stuff happens –  like meltdowns and bailouts.

But where can you store your cash, if not banks?  Do you have any choice?

Well, “Yes!”  according to the authors of How Privatized Banking Really Works (a book that we read, enjoyed and recommend).

Privatized banking is a concept we’ve explored in previous episodes, so when the opportunity came along to sit down face to face with the authors, we happily grabbed it.

Behind the old fashioned microphones for yet another informative episode you can bank on:

  • Your host with a wonderful life, Robert Helms
  • Your co-host who needs to  get a life, Russell Gray
  • Special guest, economist and author, Robert Murphy
  • Special guest, management consultant and author, Carlos Lara

It seems like everyone from Occupy Wall Street to Congress to the GOP presidential hopefuls (not to mention the millions of people without jobs or in foreclosure) have figured out that the banking system is broken – or at least not working very well.  “Duh” as they say.

And with all the rhetoric and finger pointing, it’s easy to just throw up…your hands, that is…and say, “What can I really do about it?”

However, this episode isn’t about overthrowing the Fed, prosecuting bankers, or protesting foreclosures.  There are lots of people busily debating what needs to happen to fix the system.

Rather, the privatized, or “infinite” banking concept is really about “opting out” of conventional banking – or at least, de-funding it to a large degree – not through legislation or litigation, but simply by personally using a little known alternative to banks for holding your cash.

Sound radical?  It really isn’t.  It’s more about getting back to a “closer to home way” of managing your savings.  Plus, we hear there are some real tangible financial benefits that come with doing it.

We’ll let our guests describe the details, but as real estate investors,  we should have an ever growing pile of cash that we’re managing.  These funds  include profits from operations and transactions that is waiting to be re-deployed, and cash and contingency reserves.  The more properties you have, the bigger you stash of cash gets.  So cash management is part of your responsibility as a real estate investor.

But before you just park all that cash in a broken banking system, listen to Robert Murphy and Carlos Lara explain an alternative which provides direct current benefits to you, while circumventing the fractional reserve system that they say contributes to the problems the current system causes.  VERY interesting stuff!

LISTEN:

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8/22/10: What is Your Risk Paradigm? A Life or Debt Decision

Protecting your money in today’s highly uncertain economy is surely very challenging. Remember when real estate equity and bank accounts were considered among the SAFEST places to keep your savings?  Today, real estate equity has disappeared – and for many people even getting access to whatever equity they still have is next to impossible.  Boy, do we miss those equity lines of credit with their checkbooks and debit cards!

And even though you can still write checks on your cash deposits at a bank, with record bank failures even that old saying “sure as money in the bank” seems a little outdated.  Add horribly low interest rates and, to compound the injury, taxes on your meager interest earnings, it’s enough to make you wonder what this financial world is coming to.

Well, we have good news. There’s a new way to look at an old product – one that is time tested and has survived its fair share of economic turmoil.  And we got such a positive response to our first foray into this topic, we decided to re-visit it with a new guest.

In the radio lifeboat for another voyage into broadcasting brilliance:

  • Host and head lifeguard, Robert Helms
  • Co-host and lifeboat inflater, Russell Gray
  • Seasoned sailer of stormy economic seas, the Godfather of Real Estate, Bob Helms
  • Special guest, “infinite banking” expert, Patrick Donohoe

Right out of the gate we need to set the table, which is no small task with the lifeboat bobbing on the waves:  what does life insurance have to do with real estate investing?

Think about what a bank account has to do with real estate investing and you’re on the right track.  But unlike a bank account, our guest explains that certain types of life insurance – thought greatly misunderstood – offer far greater flexibility than bank accounts.  And though they aren’t FDIC insured, insurance companies are arguably more stable and conservatively run.  Unlike banks right now, you don’t hear a lot about record number of life insurance companies failing.

We also address why so many CONSUMER financial gurus are down on cash value life insurance, yet corporations like Wells Fargo and Wal-Mart buy tons of it.  Could it be there are BUSINESS purposes that make it very useful for BUSINESS people?  We say all the time that real estate investing is a business, so it makes good sense to see how businesses are using this financial tool.

For example, how’d you like you to take a tax deduction for making a deposit in your bank account?  Hmmm….that’s an interesting concept!  What about getting a loan against your equity without having to qualify?  Try doing that with a property!  And unlike property, the value isn’t determined by market forces, so your equity doesn’t disappear in a market downturn.

The point of this episode is that insurance can do a lot more than manage risk and pay a benefit. Our job is to expose you to some of the possibilities.  Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to explore those possibilities, learn how to use this powerful tool, and decide when and where to use it to advance your real estate investing program.  It seems the economic storm isn’t over yet, so it might be a good idea to know how to operate the lifeboat.  It’s a matter of life and debt.

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The Real Estate Guys™ radio show and podcast provides real estate investing news, education, training and resources that help real estate investors succeed.