Inspired, Positive and Helping

Our clients’ interest comes first. Always.

Trust. Transparency. Being a fiduciary.

Learning to be a better listeners and communicators. Being authentic and present.

Life is not perfect, but we are fortunate to live in the US. We should be much more positive about the future, despite all the negativity which surrounds us.

bam-conference

These were some of the major themes at the 2016 BAM Alliance Annual Conference, which I attended earlier this week, for the 14th straight year.Attending this conference every year reinvigorates and motivates me. It reassures me that we are doing the right thing, in the right way, for our clients.

We all should be prepared for the unexpected. Unexpected events will occur, some of which can be major and life changing. How each of us prepares for, and how we handle these situations, can have a significant impact on our future. We can help you with this.

You need a team around you. A support system. Trusted advisors. Friends. Partners. Relationships.

We have great long-term business partners, such as:

  • DFA (the 6th largest mutual fund company in the US with over $445 billion in assets under management, whose stock funds we use extensively),
  • BAM Advisor Services, our back-office firm, and
  • Fidelity Investments, the custodian for most of our client accounts.

We are proud that we selected each of these firms and our investment philosophy in 2003. These very important decisions have withstood the test of time and challenging financial markets.

We are truly grateful and appreciative of the clients and relationships we have developed.

We are always continuing to learn and improve ourselves, for your benefit. That is why attending conferences like these are so valuable.

One of the most moving speakers I have ever heard was John O’Leary, who survived a horrendous fire which he set when he was 9 years old. on-fire-book

That he is alive and thriving is almost unbelievable. He has taken this unexpected, life changing event and turned it into a transformative experience, which he shares with others.

John now motivates others to have more inspiring, meaningful and impactful lives. Because a number of people showed up, cared and took action in the days and months after his tragic fire, he reminds each of us that one person, one action, one decision and one right relationship can make a real difference.

John challenged each of us to ask the following question everyday…..

What more can I do to help you (and others), to ensure that you (and others) have a better tomorrow and a better future?
How can our firm help you to have a better tomorrow and a better future?

For more information on John O’Leary, please see http://johnolearyinspires.com/ and his book, On Fire. I have not yet read the book, but plan to do so in the near future.

What the reports show

Every quarter we review our clients’ quarterly reporting packages before we mail them.  These reports provide a significant amount of information. And some very important lessons can be learned from this data.

Growth of assets over time

It is very gratifying for us to review the growth in client accounts over time. Each tells a unique but similar story. The most important lesson is that owning a globally diversified portfolio of asset class funds, with an appropriate stock allocation, has grown significantly over the past 5-10-12 years.

Due to SEC rules, we are not permitted to advertise investment performance results. That is not my intention at all in this essay. My intention is to provide important lessons of what we have experienced, for real people in real accounts, but in a general manner.

Gains and losses can come quickly and unexpectedly. This year has been a very good example of these occurrences. In the most recent quarterly report, for clients invested during the entire third quarter, most of the gains were reaped in the first two weeks of July. Earlier in the year, losses were sudden in early January (due to Japan concerns) and in late June, after the Brexit vote. However, both of those losing periods were recouped within a fast time.

It is nearly impossible to time the stock market, because you have to be consistently right twice, every time you would attempt this. You would have to consistently try to get out before a down period and then be accurate to know when to get back in the market. All of my readings, observations of experts and these client reports show that it pays to remain invested for the very long term.

This is why it is so crucial to have the emotional strength and confidence to stick with your stock market portfolio, despite world events and all the concerns you may have.

We started this financial advisory firm in mid-2003. Since that time, global stock markets have increased significantly. The S & P 500 has increased from 1,132 on December 31, 2003 to 2,130 as of September 30, 2016. The DJIA increased from 10,453 to 19,308 over the same time period.

During this same time period, we have faced global terrorism, the financial crisis of 2008-09 and the real estate meltdown, Hurricane Katrina and many other natural disasters, Greek financial bailout, oil price collapse, Ebola outbreak, Brexit, global refugee crisis, Republican and Democratic presidents and vast healthcare changes. Yet, we as a society and financially, have survived and thrived despite all these challenges.

As it relates to your long-term investment portfolio, you should ignore the current political events. You should ignore whether and by how much the Federal Reserve will increase interest rates. Focusing on these types of things will not improve your investment results.

Over the long-term, which we consider to be 5-10 or more years, these near term events do not matter, because companies, people and countries continue to adapt, evolve and prosper. By investing in the manner that we do, in globally diversified stock portfolios, you will benefit over the long-term.

Our role is to develop a portfolio which is appropriate for you, for your timeframe, goals and your ability to handle risk and volatility. We are here for you when the markets are turbulent and investing is hard. It is during those time periods, when the markets are down and the world appears scary, that our guidance will provide you with the strength needed to maintain your diversified portfolio, so you can reap the rewards of long-term investing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Beware of Fake IRS Tax Scams and Bill Notices

There have been increased reports of IRS tax scams.

We want to remind you of some IRS basics, to help prevent you from being affected by these scams.

The IRS will never initiate a first contact for a real IRS matter by phone, text or email. The IRS will only begin a real matter with a taxpayer by sending you a letter, which almost always includes many pages.

If you get an email, phone call or robo-call (automated) which seems like it is from the IRS, you should ignore it. Just hang up the phone.

Do not click on anything in one of these emails. Do not open any attachment to these emails. Never click on a hotlink. Do not reply to them. Just delete the email or ignore it.

The most recent “hot” IRS scam regards phony IRS CP 2000 forms. Real IRS CP 2000 forms are issued when the IRS feels there is matching issue, such as a discrepancy on your return, versus what an employer or investment firm has reported to the IRS. Unlike the fake, real IRS CP 2000 notices provide extensive instructions to taxpayers about what to do if they agree or disagree that additional tax is owed. A real notice requests that checks be made out to “United States Treasury.” To add confusion, the fake IRS notices frequently says the matter involves the Affordable Care Act.

If you are contacted by the IRS by mail, you should always forward that notice to your CPA or tax preparer immediately, to determine if it is authentic and to respond promptly, if necessary. If the notice has your social security number on it, you should mail or fax it; do not ever email any kind of document to anyone with your full social security number on it.

These same general concepts apply to emails, calls or texts you may receive from a bank or financial institution. If you are at all concerned that one of these is not authentic, do not click on any part of the email or reply to it. Call the institution using a phone number that is on one of your regular statements, to determine its validity.

For example, if you get an email from your credit card company requesting your social security number for their “verification records,” you should call the company. Do not provide this information if requested by an email.

Computers, cell phones and the internet have provided many benefits, but they are expanding as a source of scams and vulnerabilities. You should always be alert and careful. If you are ever unsure about some form of contact you receive, you should call the governmental agency or real company yourself, or our firm.

If you ever get a notice from Fidelity, which is our primary custodian, and you are unsure about the notice or if you have questions, please contact our office and we would be pleased to assist you.

We hope this information is helpful to you.

 

 

 

What can be learned from your financial records

Your financial records reflect the story of many aspects of your life, your values and the decisions you make.

Have you made wise choices?

Have you saved early in your life, to help ensure a more secure retirement, financial future or for your children or grandchildren’s college education?

We can learn a tremendous amount from a review of your financial records, such as your tax returns, checkbook, credit card and investment statements. You can learn from these records as well.

All your financial decisions have an impact on your financial future. Everyday expenses, from coffee to clothing, impact your ability to save and invest. Larger decisions, like what car you get and whether you lease or buy, as well as house decisions, have an even greater impact on your financial future. As your financial advisor, we can help guide you with your major life financial decisions.

Are you using or maximizing the retirement plans which are available to you? If you are self-employed or a consultant, are you contributing to a defined benefit pension plan, which can provide significant tax savings, which can far exceed IRA or 401(k) contributions?

If your tax returns every year show lots and lots of stock trades and you get brokerage statements which are more than 10 pages long, is your advisor handling your account properly? Our clients would not have these type of statements.

Does your tax return reflect that you are charitable, in relation to your financial means?

Are you choosing to take family vacations and especially multi-generational experiences? Are you creating significant memories and a legacy?

If you are making large charitable gifts, are you using appreciated stock, which may be advantageous?

Does your tax return reflect that your financial advisor is using very tax efficient investments, which reduce taxable distributions, and thus reduces your taxes?

Does your tax return reflect that your financial advisor does tax loss selling throughout the year, if there are opportunities to do so? Or is your financial advisor only considering tax loss opportunities at year-end? Do you know what tax loss selling is?

Do your bank account statements show that you are spending less than your income?

Should your mortgage be refinanced? Are you pre-paying your mortgage? We would not recommend pre-paying mortgages today for most people, given the very low interest rates which currently exist.

If you have done proper estate planning, are your bank accounts, investments and real estate properly titled? Are the beneficiaries for life insurance and retirement accounts up to date and in accordance with your estate planning?

Your life can be viewed as a series of financial decisions. We are here to help you make good decisions. We want you to plan for the future, and at the same time, balance that with enjoying today.

Our advice may be to take that special trip now. Take your kids or grandchildren to that place you always wanted to see or experience. If you have saved and made many good decisions throughout your life, that experience may be the next great decision you should make.

Working together, we can help you to have a more secure, enjoyable and confident life.