Nickolas Strain

Retirement, Investing, Lifestage Based Planning
“Nick works with clients to create enduring strategies to address their wide-ranging financial concerns—from near-term cash flow to long-term legacy aspirations. He also heads up Halbert Hargrove’s Wealth Advisory Committee, an ongoing research group that identifies and explores innovative wealth approaches.”

Halbert Hargrove Global Advisors, LLC

Job Title:

Relationship Manager & Chair of Wealth Advisory Committee


In his advisory work with clients, Nick’s objective is to deliver an integrated strategy for their wealth. In addition to his investment expertise, Nick says he brings two key strengths to his client relationships. The first is educating them about their investments. “I make an effort to excel at this; it’s extremely important for clients’ peace of mind to understand that we invest with the intention of excelling in good markets and weathering challenging ones.”

Nick is also an excellent listener. “Through listening, I can suggest relevant solutions. I enjoy helping clients work towards goals, solve problems that arise, and uncover risks that they might not have considered.”

As Chair of Halbert Hargrove’s Wealth Advisory Committee, Nick leads the group in exploring financial planning issues that impact clients—and creating responsive solutions. Nick sees his role as “ensuring that we have a diverse set of ideas on the table to make the right decisions.” Nick is based in Halbert Hargrove’s Long Beach headquarters. He was named to his current management role in 2012; he joined the firm in 2005.

Nick holds an MBA from UC Irvine; he earned his B.S. degree in Management Science from University of California, San Diego, where he played college basketball and studied abroad in Florence, Italy. He was awarded the ACCREDITED INVESTMENT FIDUCIARY designation by the University of Pittsburgh-affiliated Center for Fiduciary Studies and is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER.

Nick and his wife Carrie love to travel; being part of close families, they also frequently head to central and northern California for visits. Ever hear of the Calaveras County Frog Jump? His extended family, aka the Gustine Frog Team, has participated in this event for over 50 years. Back home, Nick thinks a good start to the weekend is a morning run or hike in Rancho Palos Verdes.


BS, Management Science, University of California, San Diego
MBA, University of California, Irvine

Fee Structure:


CRD Number:



Nothing contained in this publication is intended to constitute legal, tax, securities, or investment advice, nor an opinion regarding the appropriateness of any investment, nor a solicitation of any type. The general information contained in this publication should not be acted upon without obtaining specific legal, tax, and investment advice from a licensed professional.

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December 2016
    Personal Finance, Starting Out
June 2017
    Retirement Plans, Retirement Savings, Career / Compensation
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    401(k), Retirement Savings, Personal Finance

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Should I start collecting Social Security now or wait three years?
0% of people found this answer helpful

The decision to start collecting Social Security should depend on your employment, tax situation, current expenses, and potential need for more income and survivor benefits if you are married.

Since you are currently working and plan to work until age 70, do you need the extra income to cover your living expenses? If the answer is yes, I would suggest decreasing your 401(k) contribution instead of starting Social Security benefits. You might be taxed heavily on the Social Security benefits you receive. And by electing to receive benefits now, you’d be giving up the 7-8% increase per year on these benefits available to you if you wait to start taking Social Security.

The Social Security Administration (SSA) penalizes recipients who start taking benefits before their full retirement age (age 66) if they make more than $16,920 in 2017 by reducing their Social Security benefit. Taking benefits early should be avoided if you are still working. I have included a link to the Social Security website that describes how the SSA deducts benefits from the earnings of those who haven’t reached full retirement age:

If you wait to start your Social Security benefits, the monthly amount you ultimately receive will be increased by two factors. You’ll increase your earnings record and your benefit amount will also be subject to an 8% annual increase until you start taking benefits. If you continue to work until age 70, you could increase your benefits amount to approximately $1,874 a month, which would be almost double the amount you’d receive if you started your benefit now. This is a large incentive for you to wait to start receiving benefits.

More information on these calculations is available here on the SSA’s Early or Late Retirement? page:

If you are married, the other benefit of waiting until at least full retirement age is that waiting to receive benefits increases the survivor benefit. If you were to die prematurely, your spouse would be able to receive your benefit should your benefit be higher.

Potential drawbacks of waiting until full retirement age or later

The big drawback of waiting to receive benefits? If you die prematurely and are not able to use the funds. The breakeven point of benefitting from postponing benefits to full retirement age is 78 years old (not including the negative tax consequences of receiving benefits now). The breakeven point to postponing receiving benefits to age 70 is age 80, but again this does not include the negative tax consequences of receiving benefits now while you are working.  If your health is of question, you might consider delaying receiving benefits for two to three years to increase your benefit amount. But in this case, it’s worth considering starting these benefits before full retirement age so that you can enjoy the funds you have contributed into the Social Security system. Although I would still recommend that you first decrease your retirement plan contributions before starting to receive Social Security benefits.

In summary, when to start taking benefits is a complex decision that should take into account many variables, including your health (life expectancy), income needs, and family situation. I would suggest that if you need extra funds to pay for your living expenses now, you consider decreasing your 401(k) contributions instead of starting to receive Social Security benefits right away. Delaying your benefits will allow your monthly benefit to grow by 8% a year—and you’d avoid having these benefits be subject to income tax before full retirement age. Delaying your benefits would also increase the Survivor benefit if you are married, which would provide a greater safety net for your family.

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