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What Higher Interest Rates Could Mean for You

Unemployment is at its lowest level in years.1 Many Americans are seeing a bump in their paychecks due to the new tax law, and the stock market is remaining resilient in the bullish market. What could go wrong?   Inflation, for one, which is why the Federal Reserve has been raising interest rates. As part…

Economic Effects of U.S. Putting ‘America First’

At the start of this century, the internet enhanced global communication, and the world transitioned into one massive economy. But this new landscape came at a cost, and after years of hardships, including terrorist threats, domestic recession, income gaps and divisive politics, the country is now turning its focus inward on “America First” economics.1 The…

Impact Investing

The new federal government stance toward deregulation may lead many companies to roll back operational practices, potentially resulting in higher profit margins.1 However, shareholders may have a say in this decision.   As deregulation spreads throughout the nation, impact investing also is becoming a popular trend among shareholders. Many investors don’t want to simply have…

Strategies for Optimal Social Security Payouts

Social Security benefits are typically synonymous with retirement income. It would be inefficient to create a retirement plan without first estimating how much you will receive from the government.1 According to a 2018 report, Social Security benefits represent approximately:2   ·         33% of elderly income ·         50% or more of income for about half of…

Pros and Cons: Fewer Regulations in the U.S.

One of the current administration’s persistent themes has been deregulation — cutting through the red tape in the rules of doing business. In one instance, Donald Trump was filmed standing beside mounds of paperwork to symbolize the amount of regulation the government has implemented since 1960.1 Perhaps the same can be said for the paperwork…

Handling Market Corrections Correctly

Today’s political environment and recent volatility in the U.S. stock markets, particularly February’s correction, caused concern for some investors. If you’ve met with a financial advisor who designed a strategy to fit your individual financial goals, timeline and tolerance for risk, it’s generally recommended you stay the course.1 But that doesn’t mean to hold steady…

The Income Gap and the Economy

The income gap between the wealthy and the poor is widening in the U.S.1 Why does that matter? Because there are studies that indicate a wide swathe of income differentiation is not good for economic growth. In the years following the Great Recession, we often heard how slowly the economy was recovering. That was true…

Banking Trends

  In its recent 2018 Banking Industry Outlook report, Deloitte identified six key themes that are driving trends for financial institutions today:1   Redefining what makes for a positive customer experience Managing a myriad of technology platforms Mitigating cyber risk Adjusting to competition from fintech (financial technology) companies Aligning business strategy with regulatory compliance Reimagining…

Inflation: Expectations for 2018

It seems as if inflation has been biding its time. Since the financial crisis a decade ago, growth in prices and wages has been muted.1 However, many financial analysts believe that’s about to change. A jobs report from early March revealed continued hiring and a moderate increase in wages. The stock markets welcomed the news,…

Putting a Value on Real Property

Real property generally refers to land, but it also can include structures, bodies of water and machinery.1 It typically denotes property of significant value, which is why state and local governments choose to impose taxes on our homes. These levies could be considered a progressive tax, in that people who own more expensive homes likely…

Investing in Europe

It’s often said that when one asset class falters, others are likely rising. To some extent, this may be occurring with U.S. equities. The stock market correction that started in February amid fears of rising inflation has continued through March with the threat of a global trade war.1 According to Bank of America Merrill Lynch,…

Investment Themes for This Year

In the investment community, all eyes are on inflation this year. Economic analysts at Merrill Lynch anticipate further tightening in the labor market, to the tune of 3.9 percent unemployment by the end of 2018. Along with the tightened labor situation, they also expect personal consumption expenditure (PCE) inflation rising to 1.8 percent by year…

The New Tax Law: Things to Consider

Who will be affected by the new tax legislation that went into effect Jan. 1? That is a question many are asking. While “everyone” is likely to see some changes, here’s an idea of how many people fell into each income group. In 2015:1 About 1.4 million Americans accounted for the top 1% of income…

Balancing Investor Euphoria With Market Reality

Many social media users share nearly all aspects of their lives, from photos of cute kids and pets to their political views. And now, we even are seeing posts from exuberant investors bragging about their investment returns. For example, consider this social media post:1 “I strived to become a 401(k) millionaire someday, and this week,…

Financial Strategies in 2018

One philosophy of investing, as opined by Warren Buffett, is to be “fearful when others are greedy and greedy when others are fearful.”1 The nation’s eight-year bull market, however, has tested that philosophy. Most market analysts would agree that it was more important to be in the market and taking advantage of gains than to…

Mitigating Risk Goes Beyond Asset Allocations

What do Harvey Weinstein, “America First” policies and asset allocation have in common? Quite a bit, it turns out, when it comes to evaluating the various risk factors that can affect an investment or portfolio. Anyone who’s ever taken a hot minute to observe the market or talk shop about the economy must realize any…

A Look at the Potential Effects of Tax Reform

The tax overhaul legislation that was passed in December has been billed as a means to streamline tax filings at both the individual and corporate level.1 We certainly could use it. According to the IRS, Americans spend a total of 6.6 billion hours a year filling out tax forms.2 While simplifying taxes is a good…

Preparing for Retirement — Do You Have a Plan?

For much of the 20th century, many employees who spent decades working for one company typically received a pension plan. According to the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College, 88 percent of all private-sector employees in 1975 had a pension.1 With the confidence of knowing their retirement would be covered by pension and Social…

Keep an Eye on Interest Rates

Optimism often predates good news. Such was the case last year when, just before the end of the year, Congress passed legislation that significantly reduced the corporate tax rate. The anticipation of this fulfillment of one of President Trump’s pro-business campaign promises helped drive up stock prices in the latter half of the year —…

Exploring the Behavioral Biases of Investing

Despite the research and due diligence necessary in developing an investment portfolio, investors are frequently influenced more by their own emotional and behavioral biases than by data.1 These biases may include overconfidence, regret, impatience and the desire to “keep up with the Joneses.”  In fact, personnel from at least one asset management firm believe that…

Debunking Market Myths

The world keeps changing, politics and social movements emerge, the stock markets fluctuate and a lot of our preconceived notions continue to be challenged. However, some things don’t seem to change, including myths about the markets and investing. Let’s take a look at some of the ones that still exist.   It’s true that it’s…

Green Innovation and Investors

President Trump may have announced his intention to drop the U.S. from the Paris Agreement last June,1 but that didn’t stop commerce from pressing on with “green” innovation. Drawing from lessons learned from the emerging renewable energy industry, many global corporations have found there is money to be made by saving the world from pollutants.…

Evolution of the 401(k)

When employer-sponsored 401(k) plans were introduced in the 1980s, an unexpected consequence occurred: Pensions stopped being the norm. One reason is that companies found 401(k) plans less expensive than traditional defined benefit plans.1   At the time, 401(k) plans were touted as an opportunity for greater earnings and a richer retirement lifestyle. While it’s true…

The Federal Reserve’s Role in the Economy

The U.S. government’s system of checks and balances applies not only to its distribution of power but also to its economic viability. The Securities and Exchange Commission regulates the investment industry, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau safeguards the interests of consumers and a banking supervisory system regulates U.S. monetary policy. That’s where the Federal Reserve…

Exclusive vs. Inclusive Investing

There are many different approaches to investing in the stock market, but most fall under two categories: exclusive and inclusive. Exclusive means conducting thorough research on prospective companies and investing in a portfolio of select, thoroughly vetted securities. One of the advantages of this approach is that if an investor’s research pans out, he could…

Study Proves Aging a One-Way Process

As you may have already suspected, aging is not a reversible process. This was confirmed in a new study titled “Intercellular Competition and Inevitability of Multicellular Aging,” in which researchers concluded it’s impossible to halt the aging process in multi-cellular organisms like humans.1   Scientists have found a cellular mechanism that enables a reverse aging…

Innovation Around the World

Digital music service Spotify and the popular electronic games Minecraft and Candy Crush Saga all originated in Sweden. The country is home to some of the world’s largest technology companies and is second only to Silicon Valley for tech giants.1   Sweden provides free health care, free higher education and outstanding infrastructure with the third-fastest…

Taking Required Minimum Distributions

Retirement savings accounts that allow employees to make pretax contributions have a caveat: At some point, taxes must be paid on that earned income. The Internal Revenue Code generally requires that retirement account owners take a certain amount of money out of those accounts each year, starting when they reach age 70 ½. This is…

Year-End Tax Tips

As of this writing, Congress is attempting to reform our tax code. While changes are common with every new presidential administration, an initiative so transforming as to be called “tax reform” is quite unusual — the last major tax overhaul happened during the Reagan administration in 1986.1   According to Fox News, some who may…

Falling Assets

Here’s some good news: The Center for Retirement Research (CRR) at Boston College reports that between 2013 and 2016, households led by someone between age 55 and 64 in the second-highest income quintile had an increase in retirement income. These wealthy households more than doubled their combined 401(k)/IRA assets – to a median total of…

Monetary Systems

In the days before cash, people bartered goods and services. Then we established various forms of “cash” payments, from paper bills and coins to checks, credit and debit card payments. It seems that the more we progress, the less we use physical cash.   Naturally, just because we’re not breaking out a wad of bills…

Update on the DOL Fiduciary Rule

In August, the Department of Labor (DOL) proposed to delay the launch of the final portion of the new “fiduciary rule” until July 2019. Part of the rule went into effect in June of this year, mandating that any financial professional making financial recommendations to a client with regard to an individual retirement account (IRA)…

Artificial Intelligence: Innovation for Today’s World

Artificial intelligence (AI) is rapidly changing the way businesses build products and even provide customer service. We now have automated virtual assistants and “chatbots” answering customer service calls.1 We even have self-driving cars being tested for pizza delivery.2   These quantum leaps in technological advances present both opportunities and challenges. For example, the way we…

Assessing Risk

It is common to have a very traditional interpretation when we think of investment risk, such as the belief that stocks are seen as a risky investment, and bonds less so. But many issues have come to light in the past decade that cause us to think about risk differently. For example, there’s the risk…

Investing for the Long Term

What does the phrase “long term” mean to you? For children, long term can mean waiting for Christmas or summer vacation that feels like a million years away. For young adults, long term may reference how long it takes to pay off student loans. As we get older, we begin to understand that long term…

Working Longer

Ah, the life questions we face. Young adults contemplate which college to attend and how that might affect their future. Women – and increasingly often, men – ponder whether to stay home and raise children, work or both. People contemplate job changes and relocations. And then, of course, a big question: When should I retire?…

Ways to Help Increase Retirement Savings and Reduce Your Tax Liability

As we head into the homestretch of this year, two things individuals may be seeking are ways to help maximize retirement savings and minimize 2017 tax liability. One way to help do so is by contributing as much as possible to an employer-sponsored retirement plan. Many employers match worker contributions up to a certain point,…

Goals-Based Investing

There’s a difference between monitoring an investment and checking its performance on a daily basis. Rather than being concerned about short-term volatility in the market, consider the future purpose or goal of what you want your money to pay for. This is the fundamental idea behind goals-based investing. You don’t just seek out investments that…

What Type of Investor Are You?

Each person is unique. We are composed of many variables, such as genetics, family influence, geographic influence and even the birth order among siblings – a veritable combination of the forces of biology and society.1 So when it comes to managing your finances, the debate isn’t about nature versus nurture; it’s both. For example, consider two…

IRS News to Know

As we head into the final quarter of 2017, it’s a good idea to stay cognizant of any tax issues that may affect your finances come April 2018. Now is the time to review your investments and income distribution plans to help ensure you don’t trigger additional taxes or penalties later on. We can help…

Assessing Risk in Retirement Income

When it comes to investing, there’s no such thing as a “safe bet.” Every type of financial vehicle has some level of risk, even checking and savings accounts. Back in the 1920s, people believed that the safest place to keep their money was a bank, and they were right. But as they witnessed during the…

Income Strategies for an 8,000-Day Retirement

By 2030, it’s estimated that 20 percent of the U.S. population will be over age 65.1 That means a fifth of all Americans will be on the fringe of retirement or already retired, a milestone that’s generally perceived to come late in life. But consider this, there are approximately 8,000 days in today’s average retirement. That’s…

How Much Retirement Income Should Come From Savings?

According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, Americans’ personal savings rates are about half of the amount they once were. For the past few years, the personal savings rate has hovered around 5 percent, but that’s still significantly lower than the savings rate from 1950-2000, which averaged 9.8 percent.1 For many retirees, a big concern…

Potential Reasons to Put the Retirement Countdown on Hold

Retirement is still something most people look forward to, but over the years, some of the reasons for anticipation have dwindled. During the industrial age, more people worked jobs requiring manual labor that were hard on the body. By mid-century, many rank-and-file workers could look forward to a pension waiting for them upon retirement. Workers…

Strategic vs. Tactical Asset Allocation

In recent years, the markets, the economy and the global political scene have evolved considerably. We’ve witnessed both remarkable volatility and remarkable resilience in these areas. The reality is that less predictability in today’s economic landscape requires more vigilant risk diversification, coupled with the ability to adapt to a fast-changing environment.1 We work with our…

Retirement Plan Fees: Know What You Are Paying

Many large companies offer employees a 401(k) plan with some degree of matching contribution. Although this is a good employee benefit to have, you always should pay attention to the fees involved in your plan. Your plan provider charges various fees to invest, manage and administer the plan, and those fees are passed on to…

3 Common Questions About Social Security

While Social Security shouldn’t be relied upon to be the sole source of income during retirement, it can play an important role in your overall financial strategy for retirement. But making sense of the basic ins and outs of Social Security can be overwhelming. Here are three questions people commonly ask as they approach retirement…

Is Feeling Younger the Secret to a Longer Life?

“You don’t stop laughing when you grow old, you grow old when you stop laughing.” ~George Bernard Shaw   While some people accept getting older as a natural part of life, many others are on a mission to fight the aging process and maintain a youthful attitude and appearance. Although we are often reminded to…