Déjà Vu All Over Again

Here is a nice article from Dimensional:

February 2019

Investment fads are nothing new. When selecting strategies for their portfolios, investors are often tempted to seek out the latest and greatest investment opportunities.

Over the years, these approaches have sought to capitalize on developments such as the perceived relative strength of particular geographic regions, technological changes in the economy, or the popularity of different natural resources. But long-term investors should be aware that letting short-term trends influence their investment approach may be counterproductive. As Nobel laureate Eugene Fama said, “There’s one robust new idea in finance that has investment implications maybe every 10 or 15 years, but there’s a marketing idea every week.”

What’s hot becomes what’s not                                             

Looking back at some investment fads over recent decades can illustrate how often trendy investment themes come and go. In the early 1990s, attention turned to the rising “Asian Tigers” of Hong Kong, Singapore, South Korea, and Taiwan. A decade later, much was written about the emergence of the “BRIC” countries of Brazil, Russia, India, and China and their new place in global markets. Similarly, funds targeting hot industries or trends have come into and fallen out of vogue. In the 1950s, the “Nifty Fifty” were all the rage. In the 1960s, “go-go” stocks and funds piqued investor interest. Later in the 20th century, growing belief in the emergence of a “new economy” led to the creation of funds poised to make the most of the rising importance of information technology and telecommunication services. During the 2000s, 130/30 funds, which used leverage to sell short certain stocks while going long others, became increasingly popular. In the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, “Black Swan” funds, “tail-risk-hedging” strategies, and “liquid alternatives” abounded. As investors reached for yield in a low interest-rate environment in the following years, other funds sprang up that claimed to offer increased income generation, and new strategies like unconstrained bond funds proliferated. More recently, strategies focused on peer-to-peer lending, cryptocurrencies, and even cannabis cultivation and private space exploration have become more fashionable. In this environment, so-called “FAANG” stocks and concentrated exchange-traded funds with catchy ticker symbols have also garnered attention among investors.

The Fund Graveyard

Unsurprisingly, however, numerous funds across the investment landscape were launched over the years only to subsequently close and fade from investor memory. While economic, demographic, technological, and environmental trends shape the world we live in, public markets aggregate a vast amount of dispersed information and drive it into security prices. Any individual trying to outguess the market by constantly trading in and out of what’s hot is competing against the extraordinary collective wisdom of millions of buyers and sellers around the world.

With the benefit of hindsight, it is easy to point out the fortune one could have amassed by making the right call on a specific industry, region, or individual security over a specific period. While these anecdotes can be entertaining, there is a wealth of compelling evidence that highlights the futility of attempting to identify mispricing in advance and profit from it.

It is important to remember that many investing fads, and indeed, most mutual funds, do not stand the test of time. A large proportion of funds fail to survive over the longer term. Of the 1,622 fixed income mutual funds in existence at the beginning of 2004, only 55% still existed at the end of 2018. Similarly, among equity mutual funds, only 51% of the 2,786 funds available to US-based investors at the beginning of 2004 endured.

What am I really getting?

When confronted with choices about whether to add additional types of assets or strategies to a portfolio, it may be helpful to ask the following questions:

1.     What is this strategy claiming to provide that is not already in my portfolio?

2.     If it is not in my portfolio, can I reasonably expect that including it or focusing on it will increase expected returns, reduce expected volatility, or help me achieve my investment goal?

3.     Am I comfortable with the range of potential outcomes?

If investors are left with doubts after asking any of these questions, it may be wise to use caution before proceeding. Within equities, for example, a market portfolio offers the benefit of exposure to thousands of companies doing business around the world and broad diversification across industries, sectors, and countries. While there can be good reasons to deviate from a market portfolio, investors should understand the potential benefits and risks of doing so.

In addition, there is no shortage of things investors can do to help contribute to a better investment experience. Working closely with a financial advisor can help individual investors create a plan that fits their needs and risk tolerance. Pursuing a globally diversified approach; managing expenses, turnover, and taxes; and staying disciplined through market volatility can help improve investors’ chances of achieving their long-term financial goals.

Conclusion

Fashionable investment approaches will come and go, but investors should remember that a long-term, disciplined investment approach based on robust research and implementation may be the most reliable path to success in the global capital markets.

 

Source: Dimensional Fund Advisors LP.

Past performanc is no guarantee of future results. This information is provided for educational purposes only and should not be considered investment advice or a solicitation to buy or sell securities. There is no guarantee a investing strategy will be successful. Diversification does not eliminate the risk of market loss.

All expressions of opinion are subject to change. This article is distributed for informational purposes, and it is not to be construed as an offer, solicitation, recommendation, or endorsement of any particular security, products, or services. Investors should talk to their financial advisor prior to making any investment decision.

Eugene Fama is a member of the Board of Directors of the general partner of, and provides consulting services to, Dimensional Fund Advisors LP.

Robert J. Pyle, CFP®, CFA is president of Diversified Asset Management, Inc. (DAMI). DAMI is licensed as an investment adviser with the State of Colorado Division of Securities, and its investment advisory representatives are licensed by the State of Colorado. DAMI will only transact business in other states to the extent DAMI has made the requisite notice filings or obtained the necessary licensing in such state. No follow up or individualized responses to persons in other jurisdictions that involve either rendering or attempting to render personalized investment advice for compensation will be made absent compliance with applicable legal requirements, or an applicable exemption or exclusion. It does not constitute investment or tax advice. To contact Robert, call 303-440-2906 or e-mail info@diversifiedassetmanagement.com.

 

The views, opinion, information and content provided here are solely those of the respective authors, and may not represent the views or opinions of Diversified Asset Management, Inc.  The selection of any posts or articles should not be regarded as an explicit or implicit endorsement or recommendation of any such posts or articles, or services provided or referenced and statements made by the authors of such posts or articles.  Diversified Asset Management, Inc. cannot guarantee the accuracy or currency of any such third party information or content, and does not undertake to verify or update such information or content. Any such information or other content should not be construed as investment, legal, accounting or tax advice.

Is a Cash Balance Plan Right for You? Part 2

Real world examples and risk factors to consider
Robert J. Pyle, CFP®, CFA

As we discussed in Part 1, if you’re a high-earning business owner or professional Cash Balance Plans (CBPs) are an excellent tool for supercharging the value of your nest egg in the last stretch of your career. They can possibly enable you to retire even sooner than you thought you could. Here are some examples of how CBPs can work for you:


Real world examples

I just completed a proposal for a dentist who earned a $224,000 salary. At that income level, he could have maxed out his annual SEP contribution at $56,000…..or he could sock away $143,000 a year via a CBP. Even better, the CBP enabled him to make an additional retirement contributions for her staff.  When times are flush, most high-earning entrepreneurs and professionals don’t have to think twice about making their CBP contributions. But, what about when the financial markets and economy are in the tank?

Back in 2008, at the start of the global financial crisis, a couple came to me because they wanted to save the maximum before they planned to stop working. The wife was a corporate executive and the husband was a self-employed entrepreneur.  Both were in their early 60s and wanted to retire in half a dozen years. The corporate executive was already saving the maximum in her 401(k) and continued to do so from 2008 ($20,500) through 2014 ($23,500). The self-employed entrepreneur, age 61 at the time, was making about $200,000 a year and wanted to set up a plan to shelter his self-employed income.

We explored a defined benefit plan (DB) because that allowed the couple to save significantly more than they could have saved via a 401(k) alone. In fact, the single 401(k) could be paired with the defined benefit plan for extra deferral, if desired. The couple was a good fit for a defined benefit plan since they were in their early 60s, and the entrepreneur was self-employed and had no employees. We completed the paperwork and set a target contribution rate of $100,000 per year for the defined benefit plan and they were off and saving. 

Despite the terrible stock market at the start of their savings initiative, they managed to contribute $700,000 to the DB by the time they retired in 2014--all of which was tax deductible. This strategy ended up saving them about $140,000 in taxes. They also contributed to a Roth 401(k) in the early years of their savings commitment, when the market was low and that money grew tax-free.

With a DBP, you typically want to have a conservative portfolio with a target rate of return pegged at roughly 3 percent to 5 percent. You want stable returns so you will have predictable contribution amounts each year. The portfolio we constructed was roughly 75 percent bond funds and 25 percent stock funds. That allocation helped the couple preserve capital during the market slump of 2008-2009 because we dollar cost averaged the funding for the plan over its duration.

With this strategy, you don’t want to exceed a 5-percent return by too much because your contribution decreases and thus, your tax deduction decreases. On the other hand, if the portfolio generates a really poor return, then you, the employer have to make up a larger contribution. If you have a substandard return, it typically corresponds to a weak economy and you have to make up a larger contribution when your income is off. So, you want to set the return target at a reasonable, conservative level.

Solution

We rolled over the DBP into an IRA and the Roth 401(k) to a Roth IRA. For the corporate executive, we rolled over her 401(k) to an IRA.  They were now set for retirement and can continue to enjoy life without the worry as to how to create their retirement paycheck. 

Are there any income and age limits for contributing to a CBP?

Income limits are $280,000 a year in W-2 income. Depending on your age, you could potentially contribute over 90 percent of that income into a CBP.

Source, The Retirement Advantage  2019 | Click here for complete table


For successful professionals, a good time to set up a CBP is during your prime earning years, typically between age 50 and 60. You certainly don’t want to wait until age 70 to start a CBP because you want to be able to make large tax-advantage contribution for at least three to five years. You can’t start a CBP and then shut it down after only one year.

 

We did a proposal for an orthodontist recently who liked the idea of a CBP for himself, but he also wanted to reward several long time employees. Unfortunately, the ratios weren’t as good as we would have liked since many of the employees were even older than the owner, so they would have required a much larger contribution. The ratio in this case was 80 percent of the contribution to the owner and 20 percent to the employees. We like to see the ratio in the 85- to 90-percent range, however.

Age gap matters

It’s also helpful to have a significant age gap between you and your employees. Many folks don’t realize this. CBPs are “age weighted,” so it helps to have younger employees. Because those employees are older, they’re much closer to retirement, and would need to receive a larger contribution from the plan.

How profitable does your business/practice need to be for a CBP to make sense?

You have to pay yourself a reasonable W-2 salary and you have to have money on top of that for the CBP. A good rule of thumb is to be making at least $150,000 a year consistently from your business or practice. So, if you designed a plan to save $150,000 in the CBP, you’ll need $300,000 in salary plus distributions. What typically happens is the doctor/dentist pays themselves $150,000 a year in salary and then takes $150,000 in distributions from their corporation. Well, that $150,000 now has to go into the CBP, so you have to have a decent amount of disposable income.

Can employees adjust their contributions?
 
A CBP is usually paired with a 401(k) plan, so employees will have their normal 401(k) limits. In a CBP, the employer has to do a CBP “pay credit” as well as a profit-sharing contribution. The pay credit is usually about 3 percent and the profit-sharing contribution is typically in the range of 5-percent to 10- percent of an employee’s pay.


Setting up and administrating a CBP

You want a plan administrator who can navigate all the paperwork and coordinate with your CPA. There are many financial advisors out there who have expertise in setting up CBPs. You don’t have to work with someone locally; just make sure they are highly experienced and reputable.

CBPs can be more costly to employers than 401(k) plans because an actuary must certify each year that the plan is properly funded. Typical costs include $2,000 to $5,000 in setup fees, although setup costs can sometimes be waived. You’re also looking at $2,000 to $10,000 in annual administration fees, and investment-management fees ranging from 0.25 percent to 1 percent of assets.


Risks

CBPs can be tremendously beneficial for retirement saving. Just make sure you and your advisors are aware of the risk of such plans. Remember that you (the owner/employer) bear the actuarial risk for the CBP. Another risk is if the experts of your plan--the actuaries, record-keepers or investment managers—fail to live up to the plan’s expectations. You, the employer ultimately bear responsibility for providing the promised benefit to employees if a key piece of the plan doesn't work. Like a DBP, an underfunded CBP plan requires steady and consistent payments by you, the employer, regardless of economic times or your financial health. The required contributions of a DBP and CBP can strain the weakened financial health of the sponsoring organization. This is a key item to consider when establishing a CBP and what level of funding can be sustained on a go-forward basis. 

Conclusion

If you’re behind in your retirement savings, CBPs are an excellent tool for supercharging the value of your nest egg and can possibly allow you to retire even sooner than you thought. They take a little more set-up and discipline to execute, but once those supercharged retirement account statements start rolling in, I rarely find a successful owner or professional who doesn’t think the extra effort was worth it.

Robert J. Pyle, CFP®, CFA is president of Diversified Asset Management, Inc. (DAMI). DAMI is licensed as an investment adviser with the State of Colorado Division of Securities, and its investment advisory representatives are licensed by the State of Colorado. DAMI will only transact business in other states to the extent DAMI has made the requisite notice filings or obtained the necessary licensing in such state. No follow up or individualized responses to persons in other jurisdictions that involve either rendering or attempting to render personalized investment advice for compensation will be made absent compliance with applicable legal requirements, or an applicable exemption or exclusion. It does not constitute investment or tax advice. To contact Robert, call 303-440-2906 or e-mail info@diversifiedassetmanagement.com.

 

The views, opinion, information and content provided here are solely those of the respective authors, and may not represent the views or opinions of Diversified Asset Management, Inc.  The selection of any posts or articles should not be regarded as an explicit or implicit endorsement or recommendation of any such posts or articles, or services provided or referenced and statements made by the authors of such posts or articles.  Diversified Asset Management, Inc. cannot guarantee the accuracy or currency of any such third party information or content, and does not undertake to verify or update such information or content. Any such information or other content should not be construed as investment, legal, accounting or tax advice.

 


Is a Cash Balance Plan Right for You? Part 1

Key questions to consider before pulling the trigger

By Robert J. Pyle, CFP®, CFA


You’ve worked incredibly hard to build your business, medical practice or law practice. But, despite enjoying a robust income and the material trappings of success, many business owners and professional are surprised to learn that their retirement savings are way behind where they need to be if they want to continue living the lifestyle to which they’ve become accustomed.

In response, many self-employed high earners are increasingly turning to Cash Balance Plans (CBPs) in the latter stages of their careers to dramatically supplement their 401(k)s—and their staffs’ 401(k)s as well. Think of a CBP as a supercharged (and tax advantaged) retirement catchup program. For a 55-year-old, the CBP contribution limit is around $265,000, while for a 65-year-old, the CBP limit is $333,000—more than five times the ($62,000) limit they could contribute to a 401(k) this year.

Boomers who are sole proprietors or partners in medical, legal and other professional groups account for much of the growth in CBPs. For many older business owners, the tax advantages that come with plowing six-figure annual contributions into the CBPs far outweigh the costs.


As I wrote in my earlier article: CBPs: Offering a Break to Successful Doctors, Dentists and Small Business Owners, CBPs can offer tremendous benefits for business owners and professionals who own their own practices….especially if they’re in the latter stages of their careers. There are just some important caveats to consider before taking this aggressive retirement catchup plunge.


CBPs benefit your employees as well
Business owners should expect to make profit sharing contributions for rank-and-file employees amounting to roughly 5 percent to 8 percent of pay in a CBP. Compare that to the 3 percent contribution that's typical in a 401(k) plan. Participant accounts also receive an annual "interest credit," which may be a fixed rate, such as 3-5 percent, or a variable rate, such as the 30-year Treasury rate. At retirement, participants can take an annuity based on their account balance. Many plans also offer a lump sum that can be rolled into an IRA or another employer's plan.

Common retirement planning mistakes among successful doctors


Three things are pretty common:

1) They’re not saving enough for retirement.

2) They’re overconfident. Because of their wealth and intellect, doctors get invited to participate in many “special investment opportunities.” They tend to investment in private placements, real estate and other complex, high-risk opportunities without doing their homework.
3) They feel pressure to live the successful doctor’s lifestyle. After years of schooling and residency, they often feel pressure to spend lavishly on high-end cars, homes, private schools, country clubs and vacations to keep up with other doctors. There’s also pressure to keep a spouse happy who has patiently waited and sometimes supported them, for years and years of medical school, residency and further training before the high income years began.

Common retirement planning mistakes among successful dentists


Dentists are similar to doctors when it comes to their money (see above), although dentists tend to be a bit more conservative in their investments. They’re not as likely to invest in private placements and real estate ventures for instance. Like doctors, dentists are often unaware of how nicely CBPs can set them up in their post-practicing years. They’re often not aware that they have retirement savings options beyond their 401(k)…$19,000 ($25,000 if age 50 and over). For instance, many dentists don’t realize that with a CBP they could potentially contribute $200,000 or more. It’s very important for high earning business owners and medical professionals to coordinate with their CPA who really understands how CBPs work and can sign off on them.

Common objections to setting up a CBP

First, the high earning professional or business owner must commit to saving a large chunk of their earnings for three to five years—that means having the discipline not to spend all of their disposable income on other things such as expensive toys, memberships, vacations and other luxuries.

Another barrier they face is a reluctance to switch from the old way of doing things to the new way. Just like many struggle to adapt to a new billing system or new technology for their businesses or practices, the same goes for their retirement savings. Because they’re essentially playing retirement catchup, they’re committing to stashing away a significant portion of their salary for their golden years. It can “pinch” a little at first. By contrast, a 401(k) or Simple IRA  contribution is a paycheck “deduction” that they barely notice.

A CBP certainly has huge benefits, but it requires a different mindset about savings and it requires more administration and discipline, etc. However, if you have a good, trustworthy office administrator or if you have a 401(k) plan that’s integrated with your payroll, then that can make things much easier. It’s very important to have a system that integrates payroll, 401(k) and CBP. That can simplify things tremendously. For example, 401(k) contributions can be taken directly out of payroll and CBP contributions can be taken directly out of the owner/employer’s bank account.

Before jumping headfirst into the world of CBPs, I recommend that high earning business owners and professional rolling it out in stages over time.

1. Start with a SIMPLE IRA.
2. Then move to 401(k) plan that you can max out--and make employee contributions.

3. Add a profit sharing component for employees which typically is in the 2% range and this will usually allow you to max out at $56,000 (under 50) or $62,000 (age 50 and over)
4.  Once comfortable with the mechanics of a 401(k) and profit sharing, then introduce a CBP.


Conclusion

If you’re behind in your retirement savings, CBPs are an excellent tool for supercharging the value of your nest egg and can possibly allow you to retire even sooner than you thought. CBPs take a little more set-up and discipline to execute, but once those supercharged retirement account statements start rolling in, I rarely find a successful owner or professional who doesn’t think the extra effort was worth it.

Robert J. Pyle, CFP®, CFA is president of Diversified Asset Management, Inc. (DAMI). DAMI is licensed as an investment adviser with the State of Colorado Division of Securities, and its investment advisory representatives are licensed by the State of Colorado. DAMI will only transact business in other states to the extent DAMI has made the requisite notice filings or obtained the necessary licensing in such state. No follow up or individualized responses to persons in other jurisdictions that involve either rendering or attempting to render personalized investment advice for compensation will be made absent compliance with applicable legal requirements, or an applicable exemption or exclusion. It does not constitute investment or tax advice. To contact Robert, call 303-440-2906 or e-mail info@diversifiedassetmanagement.com.

 

The views, opinion, information and content provided here are solely those of the respective authors, and may not represent the views or opinions of Diversified Asset Management, Inc.  The selection of any posts or articles should not be regarded as an explicit or implicit endorsement or recommendation of any such posts or articles, or services provided or referenced and statements made by the authors of such posts or articles.  Diversified Asset Management, Inc. cannot guarantee the accuracy or currency of any such third party information or content, and does not undertake to verify or update such information or content. Any such information or other content should not be construed as investment, legal, accounting or tax advice.

 


Smarter Business Exit Strategies

Too many business succession plans don’t work out as planned, but smart owners can get back on track and stay that way for the long-term.


Key Takeaways:

  • Most business owners create unnecessary risks for their families, employees and clients by failing to fund business succession plans.

  • Every business owner should establish a clear vision for his or her transition and look for ways to improve after-tax returns.

  • Business owners can reduce the costs of succession plans by 50 percent by using pre-tax dollars to pay for insurance.

 

Many successful entrepreneurs, especially Boomers, may be thinking that now is the right time to exit their businesses. Unfortunately, business transitions don’t usually go as smoothly as expected. The failure rate of succession plans is now at eyebrow-raising levels. But it doesn’t have to be this way.

What motivates most business owners to think about a business succession plan?

Scary stories about failed companies motivate business owners to consider implementing a business succession plan. Despite the obvious need, few plans are actually designed, drafted and funded properly. High professional fees and insurance costs often take the blame when business owners are asked why they did not implement a succession plan.

Why do so many succession plans miss the mark?

Most business succession plans fail. According to Harvard Business Review, only 30 percent of the businesses make it to Generation Two and a mere 3 percent survive to generate profits in Generation Three. Estate planning experts such as Perry Cochell, Rodney Zeeb and George Hester came up with similarly disappointing numbers. Given this dismal success record for family business transitions, it is no wonder that 65 percent of family wealth is lost by the second generation and 90 percent by the third generation. By the third generation, more than 90 percent of estate value is lost despite the efforts of well-meaning advisors. It does NOT have to be this way.

What is the biggest problem business owners face when they try to implement succession plans?

Unless a business succession plan addresses tax issues, company owners can lose much of their wealth to taxes on income, capital gains, IRD, gifts, estates and other taxes. In most successful businesses, the company will generate taxable cash flow that exceeds what is needed to fund the owner’s lifestyle. This extra cash flow is usually taxed at the highest top marginal state and federal income tax rates. When the after-tax proceeds are invested, the growth is subject to the highest capital gains rates. Ultimately, when the remaining assets are passed to family members or successor managers, there could be a 40 percent gift or estate tax applied.

How can owners and their advisors solve this tax problem?

Every business owner should establish a clear vision for his or her transition and look for ways to improve after-tax returns. Tax-efficient planning strategies are needed to guide decisions about daily operations and business exit strategies. An astute advisor can help you find ways to fund business succession agreements in ways that generate current income tax deductions while allowing the business to generate tax-free income for the business owner and/or successors.

What are some other ways to reduce taxes?

There are many tax-advantaged business succession techniques that give business owners a competitive edge. Qualified plans provide tax deductions in the current years, but they are not typically as tax-efficient for funding a buy-sell. More advanced planning strategies involving Section 79 and Section 162 plans can provide tax-free payments for the retiring executive or death benefits for family members, but limit the tax deductions when the plans are funded. There are very few options when owners seek up-front tax deductions, tax-free growth and tax-free payments to themselves and/or their heirs.

Bottom line

Advanced planning strategies allow business owners to fund business continuity plans more cost-effectively. Business owners should work with advisors who can design a plan that can convert extra taxable income into tax-free cash flow for retirement and/or the tax-free purchase of equity from the business owner’s estate.

Once the plan has been designed, experienced attorneys will draft legal documents to facilitate the tax-efficient plan funding. This integration of design, drafting and funding helps ensure effective implementation of the strategy as well as proper realization of benefits under a variety of scenarios. An experienced advisor should be able to help you quantify how planning costs are just a small fraction of the expected benefits. More important, these financial benefits bring peace of mind to the business owner, the owner’s family and to key executives. Great clarity and confidence results from having a business continuity plan that has been designed properly, drafted effectively and funded tax-efficiently.

Robert J. Pyle, CFP®, CFA is president of Diversified Asset Management, Inc. (DAMI). DAMI is licensed as an investment adviser with the State of Colorado Division of Securities, and its investment advisory representatives are licensed by the State of Colorado. DAMI will only transact business in other states to the extent DAMI has made the requisite notice filings or obtained the necessary licensing in such state. No follow up or individualized responses to persons in other jurisdictions that involve either rendering or attempting to render personalized investment advice for compensation will be made absent compliance with applicable legal requirements, or an applicable exemption or exclusion. It does not constitute investment or tax advice. To contact Robert, call 303-440-2906 or e-mail info@diversifiedassetmanagement.com.

 

The views, opinion, information and content provided here are solely those of the respective authors, and may not represent the views or opinions of Diversified Asset Management, Inc.  The selection of any posts or articles should not be regarded as an explicit or implicit endorsement or recommendation of any such posts or articles, or services provided or referenced and statements made by the authors of such posts or articles.  Diversified Asset Management, Inc. cannot guarantee the accuracy or currency of any such third party information or content, and does not undertake to verify or update such information or content. Any such information or other content should not be construed as investment, legal, accounting or tax advice.

Am I eligible for a Qualified Business Income (QBI) Deduction?

Due to recent tax law changes effective 2018, many are left in a state of confusion about what tax credits or deductions their business may qualify for.  For business owners, the Qualified Business Income deduction is one of the most advantageous new deductions available to them.  It allows for qualified businesses to deduct up to 20% of their income, reducing their tax bill by a considerable margin.  What makes a business a “Qualified Business?”

There are a several requirements to qualify for the QBI deduction.  Could your business be qualified for these tax deductions?  Read on to find out:

Staying Organized and Financial Planning Are Keys to Success

11 tactics to make this your best year ever

Key Takeaways:

·         The beginning of a new year is a particularly good time for you and your family to review finances and to update financial plans.

·         Staying organized and planning finances are lifelong processes, and the keys to reaching and maintaining financial success.

·         Sensible financial management is more than budgeting and saving for retirement. It’s about being ready to handle a lifetime of financial challenges, needs and changes.

Happy New Year to you and your family!

The beginning of a new year is a good time to review your finances and update financial strategies and plans. This year is especially important as financially challenging times continue for many individuals and businesses, rich and poor, big and small.

Even if the 2017 Tax Cut and Jobs Act (TCJA) had not been passed, most would say that managing their personal finances is more complicated and more important than ever before. We’re living longer, but saving proportionately less. Many of us feel less secure in our jobs and homes than we did in the past. We see our money being drained by the high cost of housing, taxes, education and health care. We worry about the future, or unfortunately, in too many cases, we simply try not to think about it.

More than simply budgeting and saving

Sensible financial management means much more than budgeting and putting money away for retirement. It means being equipped to handle a lifetime of financial challenges, needs and changes; figuring out how to build assets and staying ahead of inflation; taking advantage of deflation; and choosing wisely from a constantly widening field of savings, investment and insurance options. When it comes to finances, you are faced with more pressures and more possibilities than ever before.

The good news is that as complex as today’s financial world is, there’s no real mystery to sound personal money management. What you need is a solid foundation of organization and decision-making, plus the willingness to put those two things into action. I’ll talk about those core principles in just a minute.

Effective financial management involves certain procedures that you don’t usually learn from your parents or friends—and unfortunately they aren’t currently taught in our schools. It’s more than just a matter of gathering enough information and then making a logical decision. In fact, for many people, the constant barrage of economic news, fragmented financial information and investment product advertisements is part of the problem. Information overload can be a major obstacle to sorting out choices and making wise decisions.

The Financial Awareness Foundation, a California-based not-for-profit organization developed a simple personal financial management system that’s designed to help you save time and money, while providing a systematic approach to help you better manage finances. The key is to stay organized, remain aware of money issues, and make deliberate choices about ways to spend, save, insure and invest your assets. That’s so much smarter than simply following your emotions or “going with the flow.”

Getting organized

1. Paperwork. Everyone has primary financial documents—birth certificates, marriage certificates, current year net-worth statement, retirement plan beneficiary statements, deeds of trust, certificates of vehicle title, last three tax returns, gift tax returns, insurance policies, wills, trusts, powers of attorney, passwords, digital paperwork, etc. Organize this information and keep it in a safe central location that ties into your paper and digital filing systems.

2. Net Worth. Know where you stand by inventorying what you own and what you owe. The beginning of a new year is an excellent time to do this, but you can do it any time. Just be sure to do this personal inventory at least once a year.

3. Cash Flow. Gain control of cash flow by spending according to a plan, not spending impulsively.

4. Employment Benefits. Make sure you fully understand employee benefits (the “hidden paycheck”) at your company. Maximize any dollar amounts that your employer contributes toward health insurance, life insurance, retirement plans and other benefits.

Financial planning

5. Goal Setting. Before you begin the financial planning process, ask yourself what’s really important to you financially and personally. These are key elements of planning for your future; they affect your options, strategies and implementation decisions.

6. Financial Independence and Retirement Planning. A comfortable retirement, perhaps at an early age, is one of the most common reasons people become interested in financial planning. Determine how much money is a reasonable nest egg to reach and maintain your financial independence. Then work with your advisors to determine the right strategy to make that goal a reality.

7. Major Expenditures Planning. A home, a car, and a child’s or grandchild’s college education—these are all big-ticket items that are best planned for in advance. Develop sound financial strategies early on for effectively achieving the funding you need for those big bills down the road.

8. Investments Planning. For most of us, wise investing is the key to achieving and maintaining our financial independence as well as our other financial goals. Establish and refresh investment goals, risk tolerance and asset allocation models that best fit your situation.

9. Tax Planning. Your financial planning should include tax considerations, regardless of your level of wealth. Proactively take advantage of opportunities for minimizing tax obligations.

10. Insurance Planning. Decide what to self-insure and which risks to pass off to insurance companies—and at what price you’re willing to do so.

11. Estate Planning. Develop or update your estate plan. If you get sick or die without an up-to-date estate plan, the management and distribution of assets can become a time-consuming and costly financial challenge for loved ones and survivors.

It is estimated that over 120 million Americans do not have up-to-date estate plans to protect themselves and their families. This makes estate planning one of the most overlooked areas of personal financial management. Estate and financial planning is not just for the wealthy; it is an important process for everyone. With advance planning, issues such as guardianship of children, management of bill-paying and assets—including businesses and practices—care of a child with special needs or a parent, long-term care needs, wealth preservation, and distribution of retirement assets can all be handled with sensitivity and care and at a reasonable cost.

Conclusion

Staying organized and planning wisely are the keys to financial success. Short of winning the lottery or inheriting millions, few people can attain and maintain financial security without some forethought, strategy and ongoing management. The beginning of a new year is an excellent time for you and your family to review finances and update financial plans.


Let’s have a great 2019!

 Robert J. Pyle, CFP®, CFA is president of Diversified Asset Management, Inc. (DAMI). DAMI is licensed as an investment adviser with the State of Colorado Division of Securities, and its investment advisory representatives are licensed by the State of Colorado. DAMI will only transact business in other states to the extent DAMI has made the requisite notice filings or obtained the necessary licensing in such state. No follow up or individualized responses to persons in other jurisdictions that involve either rendering or attempting to render personalized investment advice for compensation will be made absent compliance with applicable legal requirements, or an applicable exemption or exclusion. It does not constitute investment or tax advice. To contact Robert, call 303-440-2906 or e-mail info@diversifiedassetmanagement.com.

 

The views, opinion, information and content provided here are solely those of the respective authors, and may not represent the views or opinions of Diversified Asset Management, Inc.  The selection of any posts or articles should not be regarded as an explicit or implicit endorsement or recommendation of any such posts or articles, or services provided or referenced and statements made by the authors of such posts or articles.  Diversified Asset Management, Inc. cannot guarantee the accuracy or currency of any such third party information or content, and does not undertake to verify or update such information or content. Any such information or other content should not be construed as investment, legal, accounting or tax advice.

 

Teaching Kids and Young Adults about the Power of Giving; Part 2

Teaching Kids and Young Adults about the Power of Giving

You can have this discussion any time of year. Second in a series

 

Key Takeaways

·         Philanthropy can help smooth family friction is there is a common cause they all support.

·         Empower the next generation by letting them make charitable decisions on their own. It’s a very effective way of helping kids and young adults mature.

·         Even families that don’t get along well can find ways to get everyone involved in the giving process.

In Part 1, we discussed the importance of introducing children to giving and re-introducing young adults in your life to philanthropy as well. Giving not only supports worthy causes, but empowers young people to make financial decisions and helps sustain family values.

But, not all families are in sync about many things (big surprise), including the causes they support. Does that mean they shouldn’t give? Of course not.

Even if there is significant disharmony in an extended family, most will rally behind a cause with only a few outliers not participating. In those situations, it’s important to find something that is a passion for the ones who are out of the center--or who at least feel like they’re out of the center. If we can find an alternative cause while maintaining the family’s primary values and goals, it brings the family together and helps many deserving people in the process.

That’s because the children who always felt like they were on the outside, suddenly feel like they’re on the inside, and it’s helping everybody. What families should NOT do is say: “We’re just going to take a vote and the majority rules.”

When that happens, the person on the outside, or the little kids [who] are on the outside, will feel even more disenfranchised. But if somehow we can focus on something that they’re really interested in, you can bring harmony back into the family.

Three things are really important when a family rallies around philanthropy:

1.      Philanthropy, in and of itself, can help the family communicate and heal some of the old stuff that they haven’t been able to heal before.

2.      It’s okay if a family has a main philanthropic mission that not everybody agrees with.

3.      If you allow the next generation the freedom to select things that they’re interested in on their own, you’re empowering them. By letting them know that you believe in their ability to make a good decision. It’s a very effective way of helping young adults mature.

Sometimes as you get more into the “for what purpose” questions—why is it that you’re really into this?—you’ll find that they have some of the same basic targets even though they’re doing it different ways.

I was at a professional conference recently and one of the speakers was a young woman whose great-grandfather owned the patent for barbed wire? Her family had a large foundation, and each generation received a certain amount of money to give away. As you can imagine, the kids were giving a lot of money to a very liberal think tank organization and grandma was giving a lot of money to a very conservative think tank organization. That was causing friction because grandma was just negating them. But, as they started talking about their conflicting goals, both generations came to understand more about the other generation’s goals and values and why they supported the organizations they did.

Long story short, the liberal and conservative sides of the family still have their differences, but now the family foundation sponsors a debate between the two think tank organizations they support. Sometimes if you get deeper into what is behind the passion, there may be some synergy that we didn’t realize existed.

A lot of times we don’t take the time to really understand the other person’s reason, and when we understand the reason, we find it’s a similar reason that we have except the way the other person is approaching the problem is different from our approach.

Conclusion

Whether a young person in your family feels like they’re in the mainstream, or an outlier, the more you can empower them to make their own giving decisions, the more likely they are to instill those values into their own children and the generation that follows.

Robert J. Pyle, CFP®, CFA is president of Diversified Asset Management, Inc. (DAMI). DAMI is licensed as an investment adviser with the State of Colorado Division of Securities, and its investment advisory representatives are licensed by the State of Colorado. DAMI will only transact business in other states to the extent DAMI has made the requisite notice filings or obtained the necessary licensing in such state. No follow up or individualized responses to persons in other jurisdictions that involve either rendering or attempting to render personalized investment advice for compensation will be made absent compliance with applicable legal requirements, or an applicable exemption or exclusion. It does not constitute investment or tax advice. To contact Robert, call 303-440-2906 or e-mail info@diversifiedassetmanagement.com.

 

The views, opinion, information and content provided here are solely those of the respective authors, and may not represent the views or opinions of Diversified Asset Management, Inc.  The selection of any posts or articles should not be regarded as an explicit or implicit endorsement or recommendation of any such posts or articles, or services provided or referenced and statements made by the authors of such posts or articles.  Diversified Asset Management, Inc. cannot guarantee the accuracy or currency of any such third party information or content, and does not undertake to verify or update such information or content. Any such information or other content should not be construed as investment, legal, accounting or tax advice.

 

 

1031 and Done: The Collector’s Curse

Key Takeaways

·         Changes in the rules for personal property under §1031 will limit many collectors, but those changes don’t mean all sellers now have to realize tax on their sales.

·         The Federal long-term capital gains tax rate for real property is 20 percent, but it’s 28 percent for tangible personal property.

·         Add state income tax and the loss of itemized deductions for most tax payers, selling collectibles just got much more onerous….but you still have options.

 

The landmark 2017 Tax Cut and Jobs Act contains sweeping changes to the entire tax system. Corporate, personal and estate taxes have been revamped entirely. Taxpayers and their CPAs are scrambling to adapt to the new rules. Simply understanding the changes and working through the variations of scenarios as they play out is a monumental chore. One important change that’s not attracting much attention, despite its potentially significant impact, are the revisions to §1031. This code section refers to “like kind” exchanges of property.

Essentially, a properly executed §1031 exchange allowed a property owner to defer the recognition of a gain until the property that it was exchanged for was ultimately sold. For many investors, like kind exchanges have been a very smart method for swapping their way to significant gains by delaying the taxes the owe. In the past, like kind included both real property and personal property. While the majority of the value of §1031 exchanges were in real property, those who collect valuable assets such as fine art, collector automobiles and antiques also utilized the §1031 exchange to enhance their collections. And, while the Federal long-term capital gains tax rate for real property is 20 percent, for tangible personal property it is 28 percent. Add state income tax and the loss of itemized deductions for most tax payers, selling collectibles just got much more onerous.

What can collectors do?

Certainly, collectors are passionate about their collections and often buy or sell in the heat of the moment. While this may be necessary at times, there are still planning considerations that can be implemented, especially before a planned sale. First, there are several charitable techniques that could be considered. One option is a Flip Charitable Remainder Unitrust (Flip CRT). With this technique, the owner creates a special trust and transfers his or her collectible to the trust prior to any sales transaction taking place. The trust then sells the asset and receives cash from the sale. At the time of the sale the donor will receive a charitable income tax deduction based on a number of factors: The donor’s age, the payout rate of the trust, the cost basis of the asset transferred and several other technical factors.

Note, with personal property donated to these types of trusts the income tax charitable deduction is limited by what the owner paid for the item (cost basis) [  }not its fair market value (what it sells for). Further, the deduction for personal property is limited to 30 percent of the donor’s Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) in any given year. However, any unused deduction is available to be carried over for five additional years until it is fully utilized. In this transfer, there is no capital gains tax realized at the time of the sale. However, the donor no longer has access to the cash or the asset but rather will receive and income stream for life based on the what the property sold for and how the trust payout is structured.

Yet another opportunity for tax savings is the “young” Pooled Income Fund (PIF). Similar to the aforementioned Flip CRT, a PIF is a vehicle for avoiding the capital gains tax on the sale of personal property while creating a charitable income tax deduction. Unlike the Flip CRT, the PIF must be established and maintained by a public charity recognized under §501(c )(3). So, it is important to identify the charity that will cooperate with this complexity. One of the major advantages of the PIF strategy is the size of the charitable income tax deduction, which in most cases is many times larger than can be accomplished via a CRT.

The reasons for this are many and unnecessary to explain here. Just know that since the deduction is likely to be much larger, there is more planning flexibility. Consider, for example, that it might be possible to contribute only 50 percent of the asset or less, and still receive enough deduction to make it worthy of consideration. Indeed, with good planning, it may be possible to leave an income stream for the next generation after the donor is deceased--all while avoiding the long term capital gains tax completely.

Ultimately, money left in the CRT or the PIF will transfer to charity, so make sure you and your advisor do some analysis before entering into either of these arrangements. An additional, non-charitable strategy is the monetized installment sale. While not widely known, a monetized installment sale allows the seller to sell and defer taxes for 30 years while receiving more than 90 percent of the sales proceeds. Unlike the aforementioned charitable strategies, the monetized installment sale can take place even after an agreement to sell has been negotiated and agreed to--something that’s prohibited with charitable planning. And while there is no income tax deduction available, the seller does retain the funds for personal use.


Conclusion

While changes in the rules for personal property under §1031 will limit many collectors, they don’t mean that all sellers will now have to realize tax on sales. For those who own their collectibles for more than a year, the long term capital gains tax can be deferred or eliminated. To do so simply requires different planning and well informed advisors.

Robert J. Pyle, CFP®, CFA is president of Diversified Asset Management, Inc. (DAMI). DAMI is licensed as an investment adviser with the State of Colorado Division of Securities, and its investment advisory representatives are licensed by the State of Colorado. DAMI will only transact business in other states to the extent DAMI has made the requisite notice filings or obtained the necessary licensing in such state. No follow up or individualized responses to persons in other jurisdictions that involve either rendering or attempting to render personalized investment advice for compensation will be made absent compliance with applicable legal requirements, or an applicable exemption or exclusion. It does not constitute investment or tax advice. To contact Robert, call 303-440-2906 or e-mail info@diversifiedassetmanagement.com.

 

The views, opinion, information and content provided here are solely those of the respective authors, and may not represent the views or opinions of Diversified Asset Management, Inc.  The selection of any posts or articles should not be regarded as an explicit or implicit endorsement or recommendation of any such posts or articles, or services provided or referenced and statements made by the authors of such posts or articles.  Diversified Asset Management, Inc. cannot guarantee the accuracy or currency of any such third party information or content, and does not undertake to verify or update such information or content. Any such information or other content should not be construed as investment, legal, accounting or tax advice.

 

Optimizing Your Capital Gain Treatment Part 2

It’s a new world. When it comes to carried interest, real estate and collectibles, carefully document your purpose for holding these assets

Key Takeaways:

  • Long-term capital gains associated with assets held over one year are generally taxed at a maximum federal rate of 20 percent — not the top ordinary rate of 37 percent.

  • Just be careful if you are planning to sell collectibles, gold futures or foreign currency. The tax rate is generally higher.

  • The more you can document your purpose for holding your assets (at the time of purchase and disposition), the better your chances of a favorable tax result.

  • The deductibility of net capital losses in excess of $3,000 is generally deferred to future years.

There’s no shortage of confusion about the current tax landscape—both short-term and long term—but here are some steps you can take to protect yourself from paying a higher tax rate than necessary as we march into a new normal world.

 

Carried Interest

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act lengthens the long-term holding period with respect to partnership interests received in connection with the performance of services. Profit interests held for three years or less at the time of disposition will generate short-term capital gain, taxed at ordinary income rates, regardless of whether or not a section 83(b) election was made. Prior law required a holding period greater than one-year to secure the beneficial maximum (20%) federal long-term capital gain tax rate.

Real estate

Real estate case law is too technical for the purposes of this article. Let’s just say the courts look at the following factors when trying to determine a personal real-estate owner’s intent:

  • Number and frequency of sales.

  • Extent of improvements.

  • Sales efforts, including through an agent.

  • Purpose for acquiring, holding and selling.

  • Manner in which property is acquired.

  • Length of holding period.

  • Investment of taxpayer’s time and effort, compared to time and effort devoted to other activities.

Unfortunately, the cases do not lay out a consistent weighting of these general factors. Always check with your legal and tax advisors before engaging in any type of real-estate transaction.


Collectibles

Works of art, rare vehicles, antiques, gems, stamps, coins, etc., may be purchased for personal enjoyment, but gains or losses from their sale are generally taxed as capital gains and losses. But, here’s the rub: Collectibles are a special class of capital asset to which a capital gain rate of 28 percent (not 20%) applies if the collectible items are sold after being held for more than one year (i.e. long-term).

Note that recently popular investments in gold and silver, whether in the form of coins, bullion or held through an exchange-traded fund, are generally treated as “collectibles” subject to the higher 28 percent rate. However, gold mining stocks are subject to the general capital gains rate applicable to other securities. Gold futures, foreign currency and other commodities are generally subject to a blended rate of capital gains tax (60 percent long-term, 40 percent short-term).

Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are treated as “property” rather than currency and will trigger long-term or short-term capital gains when the funds are sold, traded or spent. Cryptocurrencies are NOT classified as collectibles.

The difficulties arise if you get to the point that you are considered a dealer rather than a collector, or if you are a legitimate dealer but start selling items from your personal collection. In most cases, the following factors in determining whether sales of collectibles result in capital gain or ordinary income:

  • Extent of time and effort devoted to enhancing the collectible items

  • Extent of advertising, versus unsolicited offers

  • Holding period and frequency of sales from personal collection

  • Sales of collectibles as sole or primary source of taxpayer’s income

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, will end any further discussion about whether gain on the sale of collectibles can be deferred through the use of a like-kind exchange. The tax bill limits the application of section 1031 to real property disposed of after December 31, 2017.

Recommended steps to preserve capital gain treatment:

  • Clearly identify assets held for investment in books and records, segregating them from assets held for sale or development.

  • In the case of collectibles, physically segregate and document the personal collection from inventory held for sale.

  • Memorialize the reason(s) for a change in intent for holding: e.g., death or divorce of principals, legal entanglements, economic changes or new alternate opportunities presented.

  • If a property acquired with the intent to rent is sold prematurely, then retain documentation that supports the decision to sell: e.g., unsuccessful marketing and advertising, failed leases, news clippings of an adverse event or sluggish rental market.

  • If a property is rented out after making substantial improvements, then document all efforts to rent, and list or advertise it for sale only after a reasonable period of rental.

  • Consider selling appreciated/unimproved property to a separate entity before undertaking development. This would necessitate early gain recognition, but may preserve the capital gain treatment on the appreciation that’s realized during the predevelopment period.

  • Consider the application of Section 1237, a limited safe harbor, permitting certain non-C Corporation investors to divide unimproved land into parcels or lots before sale, without resulting in a conversion to dealer status.

Conclusion

Characterizing an asset as ordinary or capital can result in a significant tax rate differential. It can also affect your ability to net gains and losses against other taxable activities. So you must spend the time and effort needed to document the intent of the acquisition of an asset, as well as any facts that might change the character of the asset, during the holding period.

Sure, we’re all busy. But, in today’s new regulatory and tax landscape, don’t you think it’s worth taking the time to do so in order to potentially cut your future tax rate in half?

 

Robert J. Pyle, CFP®, CFA is president of Diversified Asset Management, Inc. (DAMI). DAMI is licensed as an investment adviser with the State of Colorado Division of Securities, and its investment advisory representatives are licensed by the State of Colorado. DAMI will only transact business in other states to the extent DAMI has made the requisite notice filings or obtained the necessary licensing in such state. No follow up or individualized responses to persons in other jurisdictions that involve either rendering or attempting to render personalized investment advice for compensation will be made absent compliance with applicable legal requirements, or an applicable exemption or exclusion. It does not constitute investment or tax advice. To contact Robert, call 303-440-2906 or e-mail info@diversifiedassetmanagement.com.

 

The views, opinion, information and content provided here are solely those of the respective authors, and may not represent the views or opinions of Diversified Asset Management, Inc.  The selection of any posts or articles should not be regarded as an explicit or implicit endorsement or recommendation of any such posts or articles, or services provided or referenced and statements made by the authors of such posts or articles.  Diversified Asset Management, Inc. cannot guarantee the accuracy or currency of any such third party information or content, and does not undertake to verify or update such information or content. Any such information or other content should not be construed as investment, legal, accounting or tax advice.

 

Withdrawal Strategies: Tax-Efficient Withdrawal Sequence

Key Takeaways:

  • Retirees’ portfolios may last longer if they incur the least amount of income tax possible over their retirement period.

  • Retirees should focus on minimizing the government’s share of their tax-deferred accounts.

  • Make sure your advisor is helping you select the appropriate dollar amount and the appropriate assets to liquidate in order to fund your retirement lifestyle.

Asset Placement Decision

A winning investment strategy is about much more than choosing the asset allocation that will provide the greatest chance of achieving one’s financial goals. It also involves what is called the asset location decision. Academic literature on asset location commonly suggests that investors should place their highly taxed assets, such as bonds and REITs, in tax-deferred accounts and place their tax-preferred assets, such as stocks, in taxable accounts.

In general, your most tax-efficient equities should be held in taxable accounts whenever possible. Holding them in tax-deferred accounts can result in the following disadvantages:

  • The potential for favorable capital gains treatment is lost.

  • The possibility of a step-up in basis at death for income tax purposes is lost.

  • For foreign equities, foreign tax credit is lost.

  • The potential to perform tax-loss harvesting is lost.

  • The potential to donate appreciated shares to charities and avoid taxation is lost.

Asset location decisions can benefit both your asset accumulation phase and retirement withdrawal phase. During the withdrawal phase, the decision about where to remove assets in order to fund your lifestyle should be combined with a plan to avoid income-tax-bracket creeping. This will ensure that your financial portfolio can last as long as possible.

Tax-Efficient Withdrawal Sequence

Baylor University Professor, William Reichenstein, PhD, CFA wrote a landmark paper in 2008 that’s still highly relevant today. It’s called: Tax-Efficient Sequencing of Accounts to Tap in Retirement. It’s fairly technical, but it provides some answers about the most income-tax-efficient withdrawal sequence to fund retirement that are still valid today. According to Reichenstein, “Returns on funds held in Roth IRAs and traditional IRAs grow effectively tax exempt, while funds held in taxable accounts are usually taxed at a positive effective tax rate.”

Reichenstein also noted that only part of a traditional IRA’s principal belongs to the investor. The IRS “owns” the remaining portion, so the goal is to minimize the government’s share, he argued.

Tax-Efficient Withdrawal Sequence Checklist

In our experience, retirees should combine the goal of preventing income-tax-bracket creeping over their retirement years with the goal of minimizing the government’s share of tax-deferred accounts.

To achieve this goal, the dollar amount of non-portfolio sources of income that are required to be reported in the retiree’s income tax return must be understood. These income sources can include defined-benefit plan proceeds, employee deferred income, rental income, business income and required minimum distribution from tax-deferred accounts. Reporting this income, less income tax deductions, is the starting point of the retiree’s income tax bracket before withdrawal-strategy planning.

The balance of the retiree’s lifestyle should be funded from his or her portfolio assets by managing tax-bracket creeping and by lowering the government ownership of the tax-deferred accounts. The following checklist can assist the retiree in achieving this goal:

  1. Avoid future bracket creeping by filling up the lower (10% and 12%) income tax brackets by adding income from the retiree’s tax-deferred accounts.

  2. If the retiree has sufficient cash flow to fund lifestyle expenses but needs additional income, convert traditional IRAs into Roth IRAs to avoid tax-bracket creeping in the future. This will also allow heirs to avoid income taxes on the inherited account balance.

  3. Locate bonds in traditional IRAs rather than in taxable accounts. This will reduce the annual reporting of taxable interest income on the tax return.

  4. Manage the income taxation of Social Security benefits by understanding the amount of reportable income based on the retiree’s adjusted gross income level.

  5. Liquidate high-basis securities rather than low-basis securities to fund the lifestyle for a retiree who needs cash but is sensitive to additional taxable income.

  6. Aggressively create capital losses when the opportunity occurs to carry forward to future years to offset future capital gains.

  7. Allow the compounding of tax-free growth in Roth IRAs by deferring distributions from these accounts.

  8. Consider a distribution from a Roth for a year in which cash is needed but the retiree is in a high income tax bracket.

  9. Consider funding charitable gifts by transferring assets from a traditional IRA directly to the charity. This avoids the ordinary income on the IRA growth.

  10. Consider funding charitable gifts by selecting low-basis securities out of the taxable accounts in lieu of cash. This avoids capital gains on the growth.

  11. Manage capital gains in taxable accounts by avoiding short-term gains.

Conclusion

You and your advisor should work together closely to make prudent, tax-efficient withdrawal decisions to ensure your money lasts throughout your retirement years. Contact us any time if you have questions about your retirement funding plans or important changes in your life circumstances.

Robert J. Pyle, CFP®, CFA is president of Diversified Asset Management, Inc. (DAMI). DAMI is licensed as an investment adviser with the State of Colorado Division of Securities, and its investment advisory representatives are licensed by the State of Colorado. DAMI will only transact business in other states to the extent DAMI has made the requisite notice filings or obtained the necessary licensing in such state. No follow up or individualized responses to persons in other jurisdictions that involve either rendering or attempting to render personalized investment advice for compensation will be made absent compliance with applicable legal requirements, or an applicable exemption or exclusion. It does not constitute investment or tax advice. To contact Robert, call 303-440-2906 or e-mail info@diversifiedassetmanagement.com.

 

The views, opinion, information and content provided here are solely those of the respective authors, and may not represent the views or opinions of Diversified Asset Management, Inc.  The selection of any posts or articles should not be regarded as an explicit or implicit endorsement or recommendation of any such posts or articles, or services provided or referenced and statements made by the authors of such posts or articles.  Diversified Asset Management, Inc. cannot guarantee the accuracy or currency of any such third party information or content, and does not undertake to verify or update such information or content. Any such information or other content should not be construed as investment, legal, accounting or tax advice.

 

Qualified Opportunity Funds

Impact investing—using wealth to create positive change in the world while also benefiting financially—has become increasingly popular, as the idea of “doing well by doing good” has gained traction among investors.

Now there’s a new type of impact investment—called Qualified Opportunity Funds—that is worth checking out if you’re looking to build wealth, reduce a capital gains tax, and improve communities across the country. For investors with these goals, the funds can potentially be a powerful part of an overall wealth plan.

Sparking economic growth

Qualified Opportunity Funds invest in properties in economically distressed communities categorized as Qualified Opportunity Zones, which have been targeted for economic development.

These funds, which are generally formed as partnerships or corporations, can own a broad range of properties—from apartment buildings to start-up businesses—that exist in Qualified Opportunity Zones. By investing in these funds, you can help give communities a much-needed economic boost.

The full article can be read here: Qualified Opportunity Funds

Robert J. Pyle, CFP®, CFA is president of Diversified Asset Management, Inc. (DAMI). DAMI is licensed as an investment adviser with the State of Colorado Division of Securities, and its investment advisory representatives are licensed by the State of Colorado. DAMI will only transact business in other states to the extent DAMI has made the requisite notice filings or obtained the necessary licensing in such state. No follow up or individualized responses to persons in other jurisdictions that involve either rendering or attempting to render personalized investment advice for compensation will be made absent compliance with applicable legal requirements, or an applicable exemption or exclusion. It does not constitute investment or tax advice. To contact Robert, call 303-440-2906 or e-mail info@diversifiedassetmanagement.com.

 

The views, opinion, information and content provided here are solely those of the respective authors, and may not represent the views or opinions of Diversified Asset Management, Inc.  The selection of any posts or articles should not be regarded as an explicit or implicit endorsement or recommendation of any such posts or articles, or services provided or referenced and statements made by the authors of such posts or articles.  Diversified Asset Management, Inc. cannot guarantee the accuracy or currency of any such third party information or content, and does not undertake to verify or update such information or content. Any such information or other content should not be construed as investment, legal, accounting or tax advice.

Diversified Asset Management, Inc. - 2019 1st Quarter Newsletter

New Year's Resolution: Review Your Estate Plan

Before you ring in another New Year, you may want to take time out of your busy schedule to observe another annual ritual: a review of your estate plan. If you're like most people, you probably stuck your will and other documents in a drawer or a safe deposit box as soon as you had them drawn up-and have rarely thought about them since. But changes in your personal circumstances or other events could mean it's time for an update.

Good Riddance To The Alternative Minimum Tax

Perhaps the most despised federal levy is the alternative minimum tax, which Congress passed in 1969 to prevent the loophole- savvy ultra-wealthy from shortchanging Uncle Sam.

Over the years, AMT's reach expanded to include households with more than $200,000 in AGI (adjusted gross income) annually and two- earner couples with children in high- tax states.

Reduce Your Widow’s Tax Bill Materially Annually

This is a good time to consider converting a traditional individual retirement account into a Roth IRA. Tax rates are low but unlikely to stay that way. Here's a long- term strategy that takes advantage of the current tax policy and economic fundamentals - a tax-efficient retirement investment and avoids a new twist in the Tax Cut And Jobs Act that penalizes widows.

Giving More to Loved Ones- Tax Free

While it may be better to give than to receive, as the adage contends, both givers and receivers should be happy with the new tax law. The annual amount you can give someone tax-free has been raised to $15,000, from $14,000 in 2017.

Protect Yourself Against Spearphishing

The Russian conspiracy to meddle in the 2016 presidential campaign relied on a common scam called "spearphishing." While the history-making scam may sound sophisticated, this form of digital fraud is running rampant. Anyone using email is likely to be attacked these days. Here are some tips to protect yourself.

Sidestepping New Limits on Charitable Donations

If you think you're no longer allowed to deduct items like charitable donations on your income tax return, think again.

The new tax law doubled the standard deduction, slashing the number of Americans eligible to itemize deductions from 37 million to 16 million.

To read the full newsletter click here.

 

2018 Market Review from Dimensional

After logging strong returns in 2017, global equity markets delivered negative returns in US dollar terms in 2018. Common news stories in 2018 included reports on global economic growth, corporate earnings, record low unemployment in the US, the implementation of Brexit, US trade wars with China and other countries, and a flattening US Treasury yield curve. Global equity markets delivered positive returns through September, followed by a decline in the fourth quarter, resulting in a –4.4% return for the S&P 500 and –9.4% for the MSCI All Country World Index for the year.

The fourth quarter equity market decline has many investors wondering how equities may perform in the near term. Equity market declines of 10% have occurred numerous times in the past. The S&P 500 returned –13.5% in the fourth quarter while the MSCI All Country World Index returned –12.8%. After declines of 10% or more, equity returns over the subsequent 12 months have been positive 71% of the time in US markets and 72% of the time in other developed markets.[1]

If you would like the pdf version of the report click here.

Dami 2018 Market Review Graph 1.png

Exhibit 1 highlights some of the year’s prominent headlines in the context of global stock market performance as measured by the MSCI All Country World Index (IMI). These headlines are not offered to explain market returns. Instead, they serve as a reminder that investors should view daily events from a long-term perspective and avoid making investment decisions based solely on the news.

Market Volatility

Exhibit 2 shows the performance of markets subsequent to declines of 10%, 20%, and 30%. For each decline threshold, returns are shown for US large cap, non-US developed markets large cap, and emerging markets large cap stocks in the following 12-month period. While declines in equity markets may cause investor concern, the data provides evidence that markets generally have positive returns after a decline.

Dami 2018 Market Review Graph 2.png

The increased market volatility in the fourth quarter of 2018 underscores the importance of following an investment approach based on diversification and discipline rather than prediction and timing. For investors to successfully predict markets, they must forecast future events more accurately than all other market participants and predict how other market participants will react to their forecasted events.

There is little evidence suggesting that either of these objectives can be accomplished on a consistent basis. Instead of attempting to outguess market prices, investors should take comfort that market prices quickly incorporate relevant information and that information will be reflected in expected returns.

While we cannot control markets, we can control how we invest. As Dimensional’s Co-CEO Dave Butler likes to say, “Control what you can control.

WORLD ECONOMY

In 2018, the global economy continued to grow, with 44 of the 45 countries tracked by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) on pace to expand. Argentina was the only country expected to contract.[2] While market participants may consider the economic outlook of a region, it is just one of many inputs that determine realized market performance.

Dami 2018 Market Review Graph 3.png



2018 MARKET PERSPECTIVE

Equity Market Highlights
Global equity markets, as measured by the MSCI All Country World Index, ended the year down –9.4%, with significant dispersion by country.

US equities generally outperformed other developed markets for the year, although they lagged other developed and emerging markets in the fourth quarter. The S&P 500 Index recorded a –4.4% total return for the year and –13.5% return in the fourth quarter.

Returns among other developed equity markets were negative. The MSCI World ex USA Index, which reflects non-US developed markets, was down –14.1% for the year and –12.8% for the fourth quarter, and the MSCI Emerging Markets Index fell –14.6% for the year and –7.5% for the fourth quarter. US small cap stocks, as measured by the Russell 2000 Index, returned –11.0% for the year.

Dami 2018 Market Review Graph 4.png

Impact of Global Diversification

While markets around the world generally had negative returns in the fourth quarter, the dispersion in their returns highlights the importance of global diversification during market declines. The MSCI All Country World ex USA Index (IMI) outpaced the S&P 500 for the quarter
(–11.9% vs. –13.5%). Given the strong returns of US markets through September, however, the US equity market was one of the stronger performing markets for the year, ranking seventh out of the 47 countries in the MSCI All Country World Index (IMI).

The S&P 500 Index’s –4.4% return marked the end of nine consecutive positive annual returns. Despite the negative return this year, the S&P 500 has still produced a 13.1% annualized return for the 10 years ending December 31, 2018.

When considering individual countries, 46 out of 47 countries were down for the year. Using the MSCI All Country World Index (IMI) as a proxy, no countries posted positive returns among developed markets, and only Qatar managed a positive return among emerging markets. As is typically the case, country-level returns varied significantly. In developed markets, returns ranged from –24.1% in Belgium to 0.0% in New Zealand. In emerging markets, returns ranged from –41.3% in Turkey to 27.1% in Qatar—a spread of almost 70%. Large dispersion among country returns is common, with the average spread in emerging markets over the past 20 years of 90%.[3] Without a reliable way to predict which country will deliver the highest returns, this large dispersion in returns between the best and worst performing countries again emphasizes the importance of maintaining a diversified approach when investing globally.

Dami 2018 Market Review Graph 5.png

 To emphasize this point, Israel went from being the worst performer in developed markets in 2017 (10.4%) to the second-best performer in 2018, returning –3.6%. Likewise, Qatar went from being the second worst performing emerging market country (–12.5%) in 2017 to being the best performer in 2018.

When considering investing outside the US, investors should remember that non-US stocks help provide valuable diversification benefits, and that recent performance is not a reliable indicator of future returns. It is worth noting that if we look at the past 20 years going back to 1999, US equity markets have only outperformed in 10 of those years—the same expected by chance. We can examine the potential opportunity cost associated with failing to diversify globally by reflecting on the period in global markets from 2000­-2009, commonly known as the “lost decade” among US investors. While the S&P 500 recorded its worst ever 10-year cumulative total return of –9.1%, the MSCI World ex USA Index returned 17.5%, and the MSCI Emerging Markets Index returned 154.3%. In periods such as this, investors were rewarded for holding a globally diversified portfolio.

Currencies

Currency movements detracted from US dollar returns in 2018 for non-US dollar assets. The strengthening of the US dollar vs. weakening of non-US currencies had a negative impact on returns for US dollar investors with holdings in unhedged non-US dollar assets, and detracted 3.5% from the returns as measured by the difference in returns between the MSCI All Country World ex USA IMI Index in local returns vs. USD. The US dollar strengthened against most currencies, including the euro, the British pound, and the Canadian dollar, and weakened against the Japanese yen.

As with individual country returns, there is no reliable way to predict currency movements. Investors should be cautious about trying to time currencies based on the recent strong or weak performance of the US dollar or any other currency.

 Broad Market Index Performance

In 2018, the MSCI Emerging Markets Value Index (IMI) outperformed its growth counterpart (–11.5% vs.
–18.4%). In developed markets, however, this was not the case. The Russell 3000 Value Index underperformed the Russell 3000 Growth Index (–8.6% vs. –2.1%) and the MSCI World ex USA Value Index (IMI) underperformed its growth index counterpart (-15.6% vs. –13.8%). Small cap stocks generally underperformed large cap stocks globally. For example, the Russell 2000 Index returned –11.0% relative to –4.8% for the Russell 1000 Index. Similarly, the MSCI World ex USA Index outperformed its small cap counterpart (–14.1% vs. –18.1%), and the MSCI Emerging Markets Index outperformed its small cap counterpart (–14.6% vs. –18.6%).

 The mix of relative performance of value vs. growth stocks within and across regions this year serves as a reminder of the importance of integrating premiums when designing and managing portfolios. Within US equity markets, when at least one of the size, value, and profitability premiums has been negative in a given year, at least one of the other factors was positive 81% of the time.[4] Positive premiums can contribute to relative returns during time periods when other premiums are negative.

US Market

In the US, small cap stocks underperformed large cap stocks, and value stocks underperformed growth stocks using Russell indices. The Russell 2000 Index declined –11.0% for the year vs. –4.8% for the Russell 1000. The Russell 3000 Value Index returned -8.6% in 2018 vs. –2.1% for the Russell 3000 Growth Index. The variation in returns between these indices is within historical norms. Since 1979, there has been an annual return difference of 6% or greater 60% of the time.

Developed ex US Markets

In developed ex US markets, small cap stocks underperformed large cap stocks and value stocks underperformed growth stocks. Despite underperformance in 2018, over both five- and 10-year periods, small cap stocks, as measured by the MSCI World ex USA Small Cap Index, have outperformed large caps, as measured by the MSCI World ex USA Index. Growth stocks, as measured by MSCI World ex USA Growth Index (IMI), returned –13.8%, outperforming value stocks, which returned –15.6% in 2018, as measured using the MSCI World ex USA Value Index (IMI).

Emerging Markets

In emerging markets, small cap stocks, as measured by the MSCI Emerging Markets Small Cap Index, underperformed large cap stocks, as measured by the MSCI Emerging Markets Index. However, over the past 10 years, small caps returned an annualized 9.9%, outperforming large caps, which returned 8.0%.

 Value stocks returned –11.5% as measured by the MSCI Emerging Markets Value Index (IMI), outperforming growth stocks, which returned –18.4% using the MSCI Emerging Markets Growth Index (IMI). This was the sixth largest outperformance of value over growth in emerging markets since 1999.

The complementary behavior of size (small vs. large) and relative price (value vs. growth) in emerging markets in 2018 is a good example of the benefits of diversification. While small cap stocks underperformed, diversified portfolios were buoyed by outperformance among value stocks. This integration can increase the reliability of outperformance and mitigate the impact of an individual asset group’s underperformance.

Despite recent years’ headwinds, the size, value, and profitability premiums remain persistent over the long term and around the globe. It is well documented that stocks with higher expected return potential, such as small cap and value stocks, do not realize outperformance every year. Maintaining discipline to these parts of the market is the key to effectively pursuing the long-term returns associated with size, value, and profitability.

Fixed Income

Over the full year, the return on the US fixed income market was relatively flat; the Bloomberg Barclays US Aggregate Bond Index returned 0.0%. Non-US fixed income markets posted positive returns in 2018, contributing to the return of the Bloomberg Barclays Global Aggregate Bond Index (hedged to USD) at 1.8%.

Yield curves were upwardly sloped in many developed markets for the year, indicating positive expected term premiums. Realized term premiums were negative in the US as long-term maturities underperformed their shorter-term counterparts and positive in developed markets outside the US. For example, the FTSE Non-USD World Government Bond Index 10+ (hedged to USD) returned 4.4% for the year vs. 3.0% for the 1-10 Index.

Credit spreads, which are the difference between yields on lower quality and higher quality fixed income securities, widened during the year, as measured by the Bloomberg Barclays Global Aggregate Corporate Option Adjusted Spread. Realized credit premiums were negative both globally and in the US, as lower-quality investment-grade corporates underperformed their higher-quality investment-grade counterparts. Treasuries were the best performing sector globally, returning 2.8%, while corporate bonds returned –1.0%, as reflected in the Bloomberg Barclays Global Aggregate Bond Index (hedged to USD).

In the US, the yield curve flattened as interest rates increased more on the short end of the yield curve relative to the long end. The yield on the 3-month US Treasury bill increased 1.06% to end the year at 2.45%. The yield on the 2-year US Treasury note increased 0.59% to 2.48%.[5] The yield on the 10-year US Treasury note increased 0.29% during the year to end at 2.69%. The yield on the 30-year US Treasury bond increased 0.28% to end the year at 3.02%. 

In other major markets, interest rates decreased in Germany and Japan, while they increased in the United Kingdom. Yields on Japanese and German government bonds with maturities as long as 10 years finished the year in negative territory.

Conclusion

2018 included numerous examples of the difficulty of predicting the performance of markets, the importance of diversification, and the need to maintain discipline if investors want to effectively pursue the long-term returns the capital markets offer. The following quote by John “Mac” McQuown, a Dimensional Director,[6] provides useful perspective as investors head into 2019: 

“Modern finance is based primarily on scientific reasoning guided by theory, not subjectivity and speculation.

Finally, if you would like the pdf version of the report click here.

[1] Declines are defined as points in time, measured monthly, when the market’s return since the prior market maximum has declined by at least 10%. Declines after December 2017 are not included, but subsequent 12-month returns can include 2018 returns. Compound returns are computed for the 12 months after each decline observed and averaged across all declines for the cutoff. US markets (1926–2018) are represented by the S&P 500 and Developed ex US markets (1970–2018) are represented by the MSCI World ex USA Index.

[2] OECD Real GDP Forecast, 2019. Accessed Jan. 4, 2019.
https://data.oecd.org/gdp/real-gdp-forecast.htm#indicator-chart

[3] Source: MSCI country investable market indices (net dividends) for each country listed. Does not include Greece, which MSCI classified as a developed market prior to November 2013. Additional countries excluded due to data availability or due to downgrades by MSCI from emerging to frontier market. MSCI data © MSCI 2019, all rights reserved. Past performance is no guarantee of future results. Indices are not available for direct investment; therefore, their performance does not reflect the expenses associated with the management of an actual portfolio.

[4] Measured from 1964 through 2017. In US dollars. Size premium: Dimensional International Small Cap Index minus the MSCI World ex USA Index (gross dividends). Relative price premium: Fama/French International Value Index minus the Fama/French International Growth Index. Profitability premium computed by Dimensional using Bloomberg data: Dimensional International High Profitability Index minus the Dimensional International Low Profitability Index. Profitability is measured as operating income before depreciation and amortization minus interest expense, scaled by book. Dimensional indices use Bloomberg data. Fama/French indices provided by Ken French. MSCI data copyright MSCI 2019, all rights reserved. The information shown here is derived from such indices. Index descriptions available upon request. Eugene Fama and Ken French are members of the Board of Directors of the general partner of, and provide consulting services to, Dimensional Fund Advisors LP. Indices are not available for direct investment. Their performance does not reflect the expenses associated with the management of an actual portfolio. Past performance is no guarantee of future results.

[5] Source: The US Department of the Treasury

[6] Dimensional Director refers to the Board of Directors of the general partner of Dimensional Fund Advisors LP.

Sources:

Frank Russell Company is the source and owner of the trademarks, service marks, and copyrights related to the Russell Indexes. S&P and Dow Jones data © 2019 S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC, a division of S&P Global. All rights reserved. MSCI data © MSCI 2019, all rights reserved. ICE BofAML index data © 2019 ICE Data Indices, LLC. Bloomberg Barclays data provided by Bloomberg. Indices are not available for direct investment; their performance does not reflect the expenses associated with the management of an actual portfolio.

Past performance is no guarantee of future results. This information is provided for educational purposes only and should not be considered investment advice or a solicitation to buy or sell securities. There is no guarantee an investing strategy will be successful. Diversification does not eliminate the risk of market loss.

Investing risks include loss of principal and fluctuating value. Small cap securities are subject to greater volatility than those in other asset categories. International investing involves special risks such as currency fluctuation and political instability. Investing in emerging markets may accentuate these risks. Sector-specific investments can also increase these risks.

Fixed income securities are subject to increased loss of principal during periods of rising interest rates. Fixed income investments are subject to various other risks, including changes in credit quality, liquidity, prepayments, and other factors. REIT risks include changes in real estate values and property taxes, interest rates, cash flow of underlying real estate assets, supply and demand, and the management skill and creditworthiness of the issuer.

Dimensional Fund Advisors LP is an investment advisor registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Robert J. Pyle, CFP®, CFA is president of Diversified Asset Management, Inc. (DAMI). DAMI is licensed as an investment adviser with the State of Colorado Division of Securities, and its investment advisory representatives are licensed by the State of Colorado. DAMI will only transact business in other states to the extent DAMI has made the requisite notice filings or obtained the necessary licensing in such state. No follow up or individualized responses to persons in other jurisdictions that involve either rendering or attempting to render personalized investment advice for compensation will be made absent compliance with applicable legal requirements, or an applicable exemption or exclusion. It does not constitute investment or tax advice. To contact Robert, call 303-440-2906 or e-mail info@diversifiedassetmanagement.com.

The views, opinion, information and content provided here are solely those of the respective authors, and may not represent the views or opinions of Diversified Asset Management, Inc.  The selection of any posts or articles should not be regarded as an explicit or implicit endorsement or recommendation of any such posts or articles, or services provided or referenced and statements made by the authors of such posts or articles.  Diversified Asset Management, Inc. cannot guarantee the accuracy or currency of any such third party information or content, and does not undertake to verify or update such information or content. Any such information or other content should not be construed as investment, legal, accounting or tax advice.

What is Good Advice from a Wealth Manager? Part 2

5 types of advice that you should be receiving from your advisor

By Robert J. Pyle, CFP®, CFA

Key Takeaways

·  Good advice is timely, holistic, personalized, grounded in empirical research and adheres to a high fiduciary standard.

·  Financial advice isn’t worth much if it can’t help you enjoy life, protect the ones you love and reassure you in times of trouble.

·  It’s not about making more money; it’s about having understanding the multifaceted parts of your financial life and the people and causes most important to you.

In Part 1 of this post, we explored differences between general investment advisors and truly comprehensive wealth advisors. We also walked through the five-step process that only wealth advisors are equipped to use in order to understand what makes their clients tick and serve them extremely well.

As mentioned last time, advice is cheap. But, good advice is worth its weight in gold. So, what constitutes good advice? Here are five key pillars of advice that we use here at Diversified Asset Management:

1. Good advice is timeless … and timely. At its essence, good financial advice never goes out of style. Its principles are permanent: It should be brave and true, and meant for you. At the same time, good advice must remain relevant in an ever-changing world. Your adviser should be able to help you embrace promising new opportunities and insights while avoiding the false leads and frightening challenges that are as formidable as ever in today’s markets.

2. Good advice looks at the parts … and the whole. Good financial advice helps you manage your investment portfolio and preserve or increase your wealth according to your goals. It also helps you plan, implement and manage your myriad related interests: taxes, insurance policies, estate planning paperwork, philanthropic pursuits, executive compensation, real estate holdings, business activities and more. Beyond that, what are your goals? How can you relate your total wealth to your relationships, resources and realities? Good financial advice should contain a comprehensive understanding of the multifaceted parts of your financial life and the people and causes most important to you.

3. Good advice is personalized … and persistent. Good financial advice is essential for making good decisions about your money, your interests and your life. It’s about being in a relationship with an adviser who is there for you, not only during the promising planning stages when everything makes sense, but when your resolve is being sorely tested in turbulent markets, or when life’s events or personal setbacks knock you off course. Good advice helps you find your way when you’ve been sideswiped by the unexpected and keeps you on course when seas are calm.

4. Good advice is wise … and compassionate. Good financial advice is grounded in empirical research, structured process and informed experience. That being said, financial advice is nothing if it can’t bring you joy in life, or help you protect the ones you love and reassure you in times of trouble. To provide this type of advice, an adviser must not only counsel you; he or she must be able to listen to you—really listen to you. This brings us to our most important point…

5. Good advice is in your highest financial interests, period. Above all, good advice should always and only be in your highest financial interest, even when it means the adviser must take a hit to deliver it. This is where things get particularly confusing. Around the world, various advocates (including ourselves) are pressing for legislation to govern best-interest advice. Such efforts are unfailingly met with resistance from those who would undermine this sensible ideal. As a result, the financial advice you choose will probably always call for a “buyer beware” perspective. As Vanguard Group founder John Bogle has wryly observed, “There are few regulations that smart, motivated targets cannot evade.”

Conclusion

We look forward to a world in which good advice reigns supreme. Until then, we hope you’ll be open to good advice when you hear it – the kind that sees you through turbulent times, and keeps you on the right path toward your financial and life goals. If this advice sounds a little different from the status-quo stock tips or market-timing tactics you may be used to hearing, that’s because it is.

May we offer you additional advice about good advice? We hope you’ll schedule a second opinion discovery call.

Robert J. Pyle, CFP®, CFA is president of Diversified Asset Management, Inc. (DAMI). DAMI is licensed as an investment adviser with the State of Colorado Division of Securities, and its investment advisory representatives are licensed by the State of Colorado. DAMI will only transact business in other states to the extent DAMI has made the requisite notice filings or obtained the necessary licensing in such state. No follow up or individualized responses to persons in other jurisdictions that involve either rendering or attempting to render personalized investment advice for compensation will be made absent compliance with applicable legal requirements, or an applicable exemption or exclusion. It does not constitute investment or tax advice. To contact Robert, call 303-440-2906 or e-mail info@diversifiedassetmanagement.com.

The views, opinion, information and content provided here are solely those of the respective authors, and may not represent the views or opinions of Diversified Asset Management, Inc.  The selection of any posts or articles should not be regarded as an explicit or implicit endorsement or recommendation of any such posts or articles, or services provided or referenced and statements made by the authors of such posts or articles.  Diversified Asset Management, Inc. cannot guarantee the accuracy or currency of any such third party information or content, and does not undertake to verify or update such information or content. Any such information or other content should not be construed as investment, legal, accounting or tax advice.

What is Good Advice from a Wealth Manager? Part 1

Investing should be just a small part of the conversation                                    

By Robert J. Pyle, CFP®, CFA

Key Takeaways

·  All kinds of people claim to be wealth advisors--research show only out of 16 really are.

·  Does your advisor have the ability to see your entire financial picture and how your values, goals and people close to you fit into that picture?

·  A wealth manager should be a personal CFO/financial consigliere who always has your best interests in mind.

·  Before committing to working with an advisor, be 100-percent clear how they get paid.

In today’s climate of one-page financial plans, bargain-basement fund pricing and automated investment tools, you may wonder if it’s still necessary to have a human financial adviser. If you’re like most successful people, it is. As an accomplished business owner, professional or retiree, you financial life is too complex to be robo-cized and investments are just a small part of your overall picture.

It goes without saying that you want an advisor who is a true fiduciary; someone who always has your best interests in mind. You want someone who is not under pressure to earn commissions and who is free to recommend the very best products and solutions that meet your needs—not simply the ones that his or her employer is pushing at the moment.

All kinds of people can call themselves wealth advisors these days, but you’ll probably find that advisors with CFP®, CFA or CPA after their names. Those credentials aren’t just professional “vanity plates.” They’re not easy to obtain and require a level of skill, training, independence and fiduciary responsibility that a stock picker, investment consultant or algorithm isn’t required to have.


Also make sure you understand how your advisor is paid. True wealth advisors are paid on a fee-only model, rather than a commission model. In other words, they earn a fixed percentage of your assets under their management and do not get paid a commission each time you make a trade. If they help you grow your wealth then they earn more along with you. If your wealth declines under their guidance, then they earn less. Compare that to a commission based advisor (human or machine) that gets paid whenever you buy or sell an asset, regardless of whether that investment worked out for you.

Diversified Asset Management Financial Advice Model.JPG

Commission-based advisors are still capable of making smart investment recommendations, but they don’t have a specific investment philosophy or for each client they serve. They frequently change philosophies when new ones come out each week from the “people upstairs.”

Whether human or machine, advice providers at the major financial institutions don’t normally spend time educating their clients about their philosophy or provide them with unique ideas to help them build their wealth. Their business model generally doesn’t allow them to invest the time in doing what’s in the very best interests of each client—they just need to make sure their recommendations are “suitable.”

As Nobel Laureate Eugene Fama once observed: “Academic research produces about three to five good ideas every 20 years. However, the financial industry packages and sells about 10 new ideas per week.” Note the emphasis on “new” rather than “good.


Wealth Managers/Trusted Advisors using the fee-only model  

By contrast, wealth managers use a disciplined process to interview a prospective client and are more selective about who they take on. The client is always at the top of the model and wealth managers determine the best solutions for each client using an in-depth method that I’ll share with you shortly. Of course that takes a special type of skill, independence and expertise. Research from CEG Worldwide shows that only one out of every 16 financial professionals (6.6%) are truly consultative wealth manager

If you’re still not sure how a wealth manager works with clients, let’s take a closer look that the process they follow. Here’s how it works at our firm:

Wealth+Management+Consulting+Process-DAMI+new+version.jpg

1. Discovery Meeting. At this initial meeting with a prospective client, a wealth advisor asks detailed questions to find out what is important to the prospective client in terms of values, goals, relationships, assets, advisors, interests and—very important—the extent to which they want to be involved in the process. Some clients want to be very hands on and others want to be hands-off. No two client situations are the same and a truly consultative wealth advisor can tailor his or her approach to each unique client preference.

2. Investment Plan (IP). The next step is to take the information from the Discovery Meeting, analyze it and craft an IP. The investment plan looks at where the prospective client is today in their personal and financial life, where they want to be ideally and what the gaps are between they are now and where they want to go. A truly consultative wealth advisor presents the investment plan at the Investment Plan Meeting and offers solutions to close that gap—solutions they are equipped to implement.

3. Mutual Commitment Meeting. If the prospective client is satisfied with the IP, then we move toward a meeting at which we mutually agree to work together. This is when the prospective client signs the paperwork to become a bona fide client.

4. The 45-Day Follow-up Meeting occurs about 1-1/2 months after the client has been on-boarded. At this very important check-in meeting, the trusted advisor reviews all the paperwork that a client has received and updates the client on the progress the firm has made toward the clients goals so far.

5. Regular Progress Meetings occur at a frequency with which the client is most comfortable. Some clients only want to meet for an annual or semi-annual checkup. Others prefer more frequent contact, often to bounce ideas off their trusted advisors—they don’t necessarily have to meet only when there is a crisis or major change in life circumstances. The trusted advisor and client review the progress and implementation of the wealth management plan and make mid-course corrections as needed. The meetings are generally built into the advisor’s annual management fee, so clients don’t feel like the “advice meter” is always ticking.

 

In addition to the five steps above, true wealth managers create a financial plan and an advanced plan that includes a comprehensive evaluation of the client’s entire range of financial needs and recommendations for going forward. The financial plan typically looks at where clients are now and what each one needs to do in order to retire on their own terms. The advanced plan focuses on wealth management items such as maximizing wealth, protecting wealth and tax-advantaged ways to give some of their wealth away to deserving heirs and causes.

If nothing else, your wealth manager should be your personal CFO/financial consigliere—a trusted advisor who functions as the noise cancelling headphones in your life. He or she should be someone who can help you filter out the noise of dramatic market swings and screaming headlines from the news media and the internet. A wealth advisor understands that your ultimate goal is not to make more money in the market; it’s to get to your destination in the most relaxed manner as possible and enable you to enjoy the life that your money intended you to live.

Conclusion

Advice is cheap. Good advice is worth its weight in gold. In Part 2 of this post we’ll look at what constitutes good advice from wealth advisors who are truly fiduciaries. If you or someone close to you is not sure about where to turn for financial advice, please consider scheduling a complimentary second opinion discovery call.

Robert J. Pyle, CFP®, CFA is president of Diversified Asset Management, Inc. (DAMI). DAMI is licensed as an investment adviser with the State of Colorado Division of Securities, and its investment advisory representatives are licensed by the State of Colorado. DAMI will only transact business in other states to the extent DAMI has made the requisite notice filings or obtained the necessary licensing in such state. No follow up or individualized responses to persons in other jurisdictions that involve either rendering or attempting to render personalized investment advice for compensation will be made absent compliance with applicable legal requirements, or an applicable exemption or exclusion. It does not constitute investment or tax advice. To contact Robert, call 303-440-2906 or e-mail info@diversifiedassetmanagement.com.

The views, opinion, information and content provided here are solely those of the respective authors, and may not represent the views or opinions of Diversified Asset Management, Inc.  The selection of any posts or articles should not be regarded as an explicit or implicit endorsement or recommendation of any such posts or articles, or services provided or referenced and statements made by the authors of such posts or articles.  Diversified Asset Management, Inc. cannot guarantee the accuracy or currency of any such third party information or content, and does not undertake to verify or update such information or content. Any such information or other content should not be construed as investment, legal, accounting or tax advice.

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Here's the Prescription - Avoid the Internet for Financial News

Here is a great article by:

David Jones
Head of Financial Advisor Services, EMEA
and Vice President
Dimensional Fund Advisors Ltd.

As much as I value the unfettered access to information the internet provides, I recognize the potential harm that too much information can cause.

Take, for example, a friend of mine, who was experiencing some troubling medical symptoms. Typing her symptoms into a search engine led to an evening of research and mounting consternation. By the end of the night, the vast quantity of unfiltered information led her to conclude that something was seriously wrong.

 

One of the key characteristics that distinguishes an expert is their ability to filter information and make increasingly refined distinctions about the situation at hand. For example, you might describe your troubling symptoms to a doctor simply as a pain in the chest, but a trained physician will be able to ask questions and test several hypotheses before reaching the conclusion that rather than having the cardiac arrest you suspected, you have something completely different. While many of us may have the capacity to elevate our understanding to a high level within a chosen field, reaching this point takes time, dedication, and experience.

 

My friend, having convinced herself that something was seriously wrong, booked an appointment with a physician. The doctor asked several pertinent questions, performed some straightforward tests, and recommended the following treatment plan: reassurance and education. Not surgery. Not drugs. But an understanding of why and how she had experienced her condition. The consultative nature of a relationship with a trusted professional—both when a situation arises and as we progress through life—is one of the key benefits that an expert can provide.

 

There are striking parallels with the work of a professional financial advisor. The first responsibility of the doctor or advisor is to understand the person they’re serving so that they can fully assess their situation. Once the plan is underway, the role of the professional is to monitor the person’s situation, evaluate if the course of action remains appropriate, and help to maintain the discipline required for the plan to work as intended.

 

Like my friend’s doctor, advisors may have experienced conversations with clients that are triggered by news reports or informed by unqualified sources. In some cases, all that is required to help put the client’s mind at ease is a reminder to focus on what is in their control as well as providing reassurance and (re)education that they have a financial plan in place that is helping them move toward their objectives. The benefits of working with the right advisor are demonstrated through the ability to both help clients pursue their financial goals and to help them have a positive experience along the way.

Click Here to Read More:

Here's the Prescription - Avoid the Internet for Financial News

Robert J. Pyle, CFP®, CFA is president of Diversified Asset Management, Inc. (DAMI). DAMI is licensed as an investment adviser with the State of Colorado Division of Securities, and its investment advisory representatives are licensed by the State of Colorado. DAMI will only transact business in other states to the extent DAMI has made the requisite notice filings or obtained the necessary licensing in such state. No follow up or individualized responses to persons in other jurisdictions that involve either rendering or attempting to render personalized investment advice for compensation will be made absent compliance with applicable legal requirements, or an applicable exemption or exclusion. It does not constitute investment or tax advice. To contact Robert, call 303-440-2906 or e-mail info@diversifiedassetmanagement.com.

The views, opinion, information and content provided here are solely those of the respective authors, and may not represent the views or opinions of Diversified Asset Management, Inc.  The selection of any posts or articles should not be regarded as an explicit or implicit endorsement or recommendation of any such posts or articles, or services provided or referenced and statements made by the authors of such posts or articles.  Diversified Asset Management, Inc. cannot guarantee the accuracy or currency of any such third party information or content, and does not undertake to verify or update such information or content. Any such information or other content should not be construed as investment, legal, accounting or tax advice.

Six Really Dumb Things That Business Owners Do at Year-End

Avoiding calendar-related cardinal sins

Key Takeaways:

·         Spending money just to get a tax write-off is a really dumb thing to do.

·         Rushing to finish a project just because it’s year-end will often end up badly.

·         When you buy stuff you don’t need, it often ends up in the trash.

·         Paying bonuses just because you always pay them every year sets a bad precedent.

 

Around this time of year you start seeing lots of advice about what you should do for year-end planning. I’m going to take a slightly different tack. I’m going to talk about some of the really dumb things I see business owners do at year-end to reduce taxes.

Let’s face it; none of us likes to pay taxes. At the same time, a tax deduction is just a tax deduction. If you’re spending money unwisely, you’re taking at least 60 cents out of every dollar you spend and just flushing it down the toilet. This isn’t something you want to do, is it?

1. Buy capital equipment you don’t need

Just because you are having a good year doesn’t mean you should go out and buy equipment to get a tax write-off. Before you buy any type of capital equipment, always do an analysis to see if there is a true payoff for the expense.

When you and your advisor are contemplating what to do about some extra cash that’s burning a hole in your company’s pocket, make sure you figure out how to assess the ROI on the intended purchase. If the purchase doesn’t cover its cost of capital, then you shouldn’t spend the money, period.

Make sure you acknowledge the tendency we all have to overspend in December — with the inevitable cash crunch in February. You and your advisor will be glad you did.

2. Pay bonuses because you had a good year

When business owners do this, I call it the “pennies from heaven” bonus. Employees don’t know why they’ve received the bonus. They surely will appreciate it, but you haven’t communicated with your employees about why they received the extra money.

The real problem with a ”pennies from heaven“ bonus system occurs after you have done this two or three years in a row and then have a terrible year. Employees become resentful if they feel their employer is skipping the annual bonus to which they feel entitled. Even worse, when ”pennies from heaven“ bonuses are the norm, many employees have already spent the bonus money (at least in their minds) before it ever shows up in their paychecks. After all, it’s been paid in the past and now it’s perceived as an expectation, not just a reward.

I love variable compensation. I just want my employees and yours to understand why they’ve earned it. If you want to pay year-end bonuses, make sure the bonuses are based on some company metrics. If you do this, make sure your employees know throughout the year how they are tracking toward earning a bonus. If there isn’t one in the future, communicate early and clearly why a bonus isn’t going to be paid.

3. Rushing to buy a business before year-end

There is nothing magical about December 31. If you’re really not ready to close the transaction, don’t do it. The world won’t come to an end.

Rushing into any transaction, let alone buying a business, is always a bad idea. It’s really hard to do an acquisition that’s accretive under the best of circumstances. The only way to make a business purchase that actually works is to be mindful and carefully follow a purchase process that you’ve designed before you start.

The process should not be based on anything happening at any special time. That is, unless there is an unusual reason that the seller has to sell before the end of the year.

I’ve never seen an acquisition go quickly. Stay the course and follow an acquisition process that you know has a chance of making a smart purchase that you will be proud of.

4. Rush because it’s year-end

For that matter, don’t rush to finish up a project just because the end of the year is coming. I made that mistake when I launched our new website. For some reason I decided that I had to rush to get our site up and running before the end of the year.

One of the things I missed was making sure that all of the pages from our old site were linked to the proper pages on our new site. Our old site was never mapped to our new site. Because we didn’t map our site properly, Google penalized our site for almost a year. This happened just because I rushed a project for no really good reason.

5. Increase your inventory

If you are a cash-based taxpayer, you can deduct inventory as you buy it. The problem with loading up on inventory is that you then have to sell it. If you have too much inventory, you can be sure that some of it is going to go bad.

Don’t fall prey to end-of-the-year deals. They’re always just so your suppliers can make their numbers. If you must load up on inventory, make sure you have a way to return stuff you can’t use. Otherwise, you’re just going to rent a dumpster for those great deals you couldn’t resist.

6. A tax write-off still means you’re spending money

The days of tax credits for buying stuff are long gone. Don’t buy stuff just because you have money burning a hole in your pocket. You shouldn’t either. A tax write-off is only part of the money you spend. It really does come out of your pocket.

A tax deduction is just that, a deduction. Spending money just to get a deduction often turns out really poorly. We either end up junking stuff, throwing inventory away or resenting the feeling that we have to pay a bonus.

Buying capital equipment, setting a precedent for compensation or increasing your inventory because it’s a good deal too often means you just spent money that you’re going to need in the next year. Even worse, being forced into a major activity like buying a business can be worse than painful. It might just end up being a business disaster.

Conclusion

Be smart and think about your year-end purchases just like you would for one in April. If you need it and can afford the expenditure, go for it. Otherwise wait. You’ll be glad you did.

Robert J. Pyle, CFP®, CFA is president of Diversified Asset Management, Inc. (DAMI). DAMI is licensed as an investment adviser with the State of Colorado Division of Securities, and its investment advisory representatives are licensed by the State of Colorado. DAMI will only transact business in other states to the extent DAMI has made the requisite notice filings or obtained the necessary licensing in such state. No follow up or individualized responses to persons in other jurisdictions that involve either rendering or attempting to render personalized investment advice for compensation will be made absent compliance with applicable legal requirements, or an applicable exemption or exclusion. It does not constitute investment or tax advice. To contact Robert, call 303-440-2906 or e-mail info@diversifiedassetmanagement.com.

The views, opinion, information and content provided here are solely those of the respective authors, and may not represent the views or opinions of Diversified Asset Management, Inc.  The selection of any posts or articles should not be regarded as an explicit or implicit endorsement or recommendation of any such posts or articles, or services provided or referenced and statements made by the authors of such posts or articles.  Diversified Asset Management, Inc. cannot guarantee the accuracy or currency of any such third party information or content, and does not undertake to verify or update such information or content. Any such information or other content should not be construed as investment, legal, accounting or tax advice.

It’s Never Too Early to Teach Kids about the Power of Giving

…..And adult children are never too old to relearn. First in a series


Key Takeaways:

  • Listening and communication are keys to successful giving.

  • Children as young as five or six can be introduced to the power of giving.

  • Philanthropy can help bring families closer together.

  • It’s okay if a family has a main philanthropic mission that not everybody agrees with.

 

The concept of “philanthropy by design” is gaining traction as charitable organizations increasingly understand that successful giving starts by tapping into the donor’s passions—not the funding needs of the organization.

Let’s talk about the next generation a little bit and how to get the kids involved. Where do you start and at what ages, and then how do you step up as they get older?

Children can start giving at any age. It doesn’t have to be formalized philanthropy. A client of ours had a child who started giving when he was five or six. The son was playing T-ball and our client, his dad, was trying to teach his son the concept of philanthropy and helping other people. He said, “I want you to think about what we can do to help someone else.”

The boy had a kid on his T-ball team who didn’t have a mitt, so he was borrowing a glove from everybody else. Our client and his son went out and bought a glove and gave it to the kid. Just that concept of helping someone else and getting the adrenaline rush of seeing the difference you’re making in somebody’s life can start really early.


Stake your kids so they can set their own charitable goals

Next, giving kids a small amount of money and letting them decide what to do with it can be very powerful and rewarding. I had another client who started this practice when his kids were about 6 and 8 years old. Each child received $500 to give away, not to spend on themselves. They had to do research on the worthy causes and they had to bring their intended organizations to the family “grant committee,” which was mom, dad, grandma and grandpa. They talked about it Christmas afternoon or the day after Christmas.

 

Children have things that they’re concerned about. One of my clients had a son who was 15 when he started talking about giving. The boy was concerned that some kids at his school couldn’t hear well and that it was affecting their grades. The teen actually created a nonprofit and went to the audiologists in town and got them to volunteer to give [hearing] exams to the affected kids. Then they hearing experts got the teen in touch with the people who sell hearing aids for school age kids.

The point is, you don’t have to wait until your kids are old enough to understand money from the standpoint of having a part-time job or having to pay for some of their own expenses like gas, movie tickets or trendy clothes. No, they don’t have to be 15, 18 or even 20 years old. You can start at a much younger age, and the earlier you start, the more they’ll start identifying things that are important to them. By the time those children reach their teens, they can be pretty serious about giving.

So, what happens when Generation Two in a family is already in their 20s or maybe even their 30s?

If they’re in their 20s and 30s, those are kind of interesting years because normally they’re just getting started with adult responsibilities like budgeting and paying rent, utilities, credit cards and other bills. It’s almost like you’re starting over with them. It’s like when they were little and you were giving them small opportunities to make a difference. But it makes it easier in terms of the family situation because there are limited resources, and so together they can make a bigger impact than they would have been able to do separately.
So, if as a group, if there are two or three siblings, they can decide together about a couple of things that they really want to make a difference on, then by pooling their money they can do something that will really make a difference rather than just give a little bit to different charities. In many ways, you use the same process with those in their 20s and 30s that you use with teens.


Conclusion
It’s never too early to teach your kids and grandkids about the power of giving and it’s never too late to remind your adult children about philanthropy. Even if their current financial situation makes it difficult to give a lot—the act of giving will make them feel better, will help those in need, and will set a great example for their own children.

By the way, you can give all year round, not just during the Holidays and before end of year tax deadlines.

Robert J. Pyle, CFP®, CFA is president of Diversified Asset Management, Inc. (DAMI). DAMI is licensed as an investment adviser with the State of Colorado Division of Securities, and its investment advisory representatives are licensed by the State of Colorado. DAMI will only transact business in other states to the extent DAMI has made the requisite notice filings or obtained the necessary licensing in such state. No follow up or individualized responses to persons in other jurisdictions that involve either rendering or attempting to render personalized investment advice for compensation will be made absent compliance with applicable legal requirements, or an applicable exemption or exclusion. It does not constitute investment or tax advice. To contact Robert, call 303-440-2906 or e-mail info@diversifiedassetmanagement.com.

The views, opinion, information and content provided here are solely those of the respective authors, and may not represent the views or opinions of Diversified Asset Management, Inc.  The selection of any posts or articles should not be regarded as an explicit or implicit endorsement or recommendation of any such posts or articles, or services provided or referenced and statements made by the authors of such posts or articles.  Diversified Asset Management, Inc. cannot guarantee the accuracy or currency of any such third party information or content, and does not undertake to verify or update such information or content. Any such information or other content should not be construed as investment, legal, accounting or tax advice.

Optimize Your Capital Gain Treatment

Carefully document the purpose for holding your assets


Key Takeaways:

  • Long-term capital gains associated with assets held over one year are generally taxed at a maximum federal rate of 20 percent — not the top ordinary rate of 39.6 percent.

  • Just be careful if you are planning to sell collectibles, gold futures or foreign currency. The tax rate is generally higher.

  • The more you can document your purpose for holding your assets (at the time of purchase and disposition), the better your chances of a favorable tax result.

  • The deductibility of net capital losses in excess of $3,000 is generally deferred to future years.

 

There’s no shortage of confusion about the current tax landscape—both short-term and long term—but here are some steps you can take to protect yourself from paying a higher tax rate than necessary as we march into a new normal world.

Capital assets vs. ordinary income assets

The IRS oddly defines a capital asset by describing what it is not, rather than describing what it is. For instance, the following “ordinary income” assets are not considered capital assets: Inventory, property held for sale to customers, artistic compositions created by the taxpayer’s personal efforts, and accounts or notes receivable acquired or originating in the ordinary course of a trade or business. With the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act signed into law, self-created patents and other intellectual property will be added to this list.

Assets used in a trade or business that qualify for depreciation, also known as “Section 1231 Assets,” are not capital assets. However, a disposition of such property that results in a gain may enjoy, at least partially, capital gain treatment.

Most other noncash assets are considered capital assets. However, the tax consequences upon disposition are further dependent on whether these assets are held for investment or personal use.

Personal assets

Assets acquired primarily for personal use are generally not purchased with the primary intent of anticipating future appreciation. Nevertheless, if such an asset does appreciate, the gain from its sale is taxed as a capital gain. In the case of a gain on the sale of a personal residence, the capital gain is first reduced by a generous exclusion, in most cases up to $500,000 for joint filers. Losses on sales of personal assets, however, are rarely deductible.

Investment assets

In addition to creating wealth through appreciation, investment assets may also produce a current income stream in the form of interest, dividends, royalties or rents. The most common investments are:

  • Real property

  • Securities

  • Collectibles

Dealer vs. investor vs. trader

In the case of the three asset categories above, whether a holding is considered an “ordinary income asset” or a “capital asset” depends primarily on what you intend to do with those assets. Intent is most important at the time of disposition (i.e. sale), but asset re-characterization during the holding period may be more closely scrutinized in an audit.

In general, a “dealer” acts as a merchant or middleman, purchasing assets at one price and selling them to customers at a higher price to reflect compensation (“markup”) for risk, handling costs and other services. An “investor” holds property to benefit from the appreciation upon a later disposition. Difficulties arise when you, the taxpayer, act as a dealer in some transactions and as an investor in others—or if you acquire an asset with the intent to resell it, and then decide later to retain it as an investment.

Conclusion

Characterizing an asset as ordinary or capital can result in a significant tax rate differential. It can also affect your ability to net gains and losses against other taxable activities. So you must spend the time and effort needed to document the intent of the acquisition of an asset, as well as any facts that might change the character of the asset, during the holding period.

Sure, we’re all busy. But, in today’s unpredictable regulatory and tax landscape, don’t you think it’s worth taking the time to do so in order to potentially cut your future tax rate in half?’

Robert J. Pyle, CFP®, CFA is president of Diversified Asset Management, Inc. (DAMI). DAMI is licensed as an investment adviser with the State of Colorado Division of Securities, and its investment advisory representatives are licensed by the State of Colorado. DAMI will only transact business in other states to the extent DAMI has made the requisite notice filings or obtained the necessary licensing in such state. No follow up or individualized responses to persons in other jurisdictions that involve either rendering or attempting to render personalized investment advice for compensation will be made absent compliance with applicable legal requirements, or an applicable exemption or exclusion. It does not constitute investment or tax advice. To contact Robert, call 303-440-2906 or e-mail info@diversifiedassetmanagement.com.

The views, opinion, information and content provided here are solely those of the respective authors, and may not represent the views or opinions of Diversified Asset Management, Inc.  The selection of any posts or articles should not be regarded as an explicit or implicit endorsement or recommendation of any such posts or articles, or services provided or referenced and statements made by the authors of such posts or articles.  Diversified Asset Management, Inc. cannot guarantee the accuracy or currency of any such third party information or content, and does not undertake to verify or update such information or content. Any such information or other content should not be construed as investment, legal, accounting or tax advice.

The Forest for the Trees

To enjoy the holidays, leave the family business at work


Key Takeaways:

·         Talking too much about the business during family celebrations can alienate relatives who are not actively involved in the family business.

·         Your family’s values are often the core culture of your family’s business.

·         Seek innovative ways to celebrate that are inclusive and family-oriented.

 

The music of the holiday season fills our lives. Images of chestnuts roasting on an open fire and family gatherings around the hearth dance through our heads like sugarplum fairies—or at least that is the popular mythology we think about for the holidays.

But for members of family-owned businesses, the holidays can be a very different story.

When families that have a business together gather for the holidays, they sometimes have another place at the table set for discussing their business. This scene shares similarities with one of my favorite holiday films.

For me, preparing for the holidays means viewing some of my favorite movies. At the top of my list is “The Bishop’s Wife,” a 1947 film (remade with Denzel Washington) that originally starred Loretta Young, Cary Grant and David Niven.

The film is a metaphor for an entrepreneur and family-owned businesses. The story is about a bishop (David Niven) and his wife (Loretta Young), who are involved in parish life. The bishop is driven to raise money for a new cathedral at the expense of everything else in his parish, including his family. In the midst of the holiday season and beleaguered by his responsibilities, the bishop asks God for relief from the pressure. God sends him an angel (Cary Grant) who, through a series of tricks, helps the bishop realize that his real mission in life is not to build a cathedral, but to serve the needs of his parishioners.

In family businesses, the entrepreneur often becomes so focused on building a cathedral (the business) that family relationships suffer. During holidays, it’s not unusual for business discussions to dominate family gatherings. As a result, family members who are not active in the business may feel left out of the family—as if the business were the family.

In the film, the bishop not only focuses on building the cathedral, but in the process ignores his wife at the expense of their marital relationship. The angel becomes smitten with the bishop’s wife, which creates a competition between the bishop and angel for the wife’s affections.

Just as the fictional bishop realizes his real mission—to serve parishioners—entrepreneurs should realize their mission is not only to serve the business, but to steward family traditions and rituals along with their spouses. These family and holiday rituals are what bind families together and create the richness in families that makes holidays so lasting and special. These rituals also contribute ultimately to the well-being of the business.

Whatever your tradition, the holiday season is a wonderful opportunity to set aside the stress and strains of the business and celebrate all the special rituals that bind families together. For me, the family is what makes the holidays special. As our family celebrates the holidays, we build the emotional value of our family. This strengthens our family and continues to inspire, strengthen and infuse family values into the company.

The family’s values are the core culture of the family’s business. However, by talking too much about the business during family celebrations, you could inadvertently alienate family members who are not actively involved in the business. So, keep normal business discussions in the boardroom and out of the holiday gatherings.

During this holiday season, seek new and innovative ways to celebrate that are inclusive and family-oriented. You can form a “family holiday committee” to evaluate whether your family holiday celebration is working. If so, keep doing it; if not, create a new approach. Put the family in charge first and keep it there.

Here are some ways to strengthen your holiday celebration:

1.    Be clear with each other about your expectations for the holidays. Spend time talking with each other before the holidays arrive to make sure you all understand what you want to get out of the holiday season.

2.    Do your best to focus your time and energy on activities that celebrate family traditions and the blessings of the holiday season. In those instances where you’ve outgrown family traditions or the family has become too large to reasonably continue the traditions, create new ones that allow you to experience the joy and love of your family.

3.    Do your best to limit business discussions or save them for the boardroom or for a regularly scheduled family meeting. Sitting around the table on Christmas Eve is not the appropriate forum for airing business activities, successes and problems.

4.    Most of all, go out of your way to have fun.  It’s important to have fun with each other and connect or reconnect with those family members you often don’t see. In the event you see your family regularly at work, go out of your way to renew, rekindle and enjoy a side of your relatives you would otherwise not see. Here are some suggested family icebreakers to be discussed in a group:

  • What’s your favorite holiday memory?

  • What’s the most exciting thing that’s happened this past year?

  • What is your biggest dream for the new year?

Here are some other ideas:

  • Take a multigenerational family photograph.

  • Learn about each other’s kids—your nieces and nephews.

  • Hide a special small toy or prize in the holiday pudding; the winner receives a special gift.

  • Have a holiday cookie “bake off” with your grandsons and granddaughters.

  • Do your best to focus your time and energy on activities that celebrate family traditions and the blessings of the season.

The holiday season provides great opportunities to emphasize those family values that are the bedrock of your family. As you plan family activities, understand that less is more. Consider what you can do to create balance and harmony and to enjoy the family and life you’ve created.

Blessings to you and your family. Have a happy holiday season!

Robert J. Pyle, CFP®, CFA is president of Diversified Asset Management, Inc. (DAMI). DAMI is licensed as an investment adviser with the State of Colorado Division of Securities, and its investment advisory representatives are licensed by the State of Colorado. DAMI will only transact business in other states to the extent DAMI has made the requisite notice filings or obtained the necessary licensing in such state. No follow up or individualized responses to persons in other jurisdictions that involve either rendering or attempting to render personalized investment advice for compensation will be made absent compliance with applicable legal requirements, or an applicable exemption or exclusion. It does not constitute investment or tax advice. To contact Robert, call 303-440-2906 or e-mail info@diversifiedassetmanagement.com.

The views, opinion, information and content provided here are solely those of the respective authors, and may not represent the views or opinions of Diversified Asset Management, Inc.  The selection of any posts or articles should not be regarded as an explicit or implicit endorsement or recommendation of any such posts or articles, or services provided or referenced and statements made by the authors of such posts or articles.  Diversified Asset Management, Inc. cannot guarantee the accuracy or currency of any such third party information or content, and does not undertake to verify or update such information or content. Any such information or other content should not be construed as investment, legal, accounting or tax advice.