On Our Minds

Happy (SECURE Act) 2020!

The Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement Act of 2019, better known as the SECURE Act, is so new that estate planners and accountants are still learning ways to plan around it to minimize the impact on existing and future clients. Following are some items to ponder as you review your estate plans through the year.

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4th Quarter 2019 Investment Update

Supported by stable interest rates and optimism regarding the China trade negotiations, the S&P 500 Index rose 28.9% and the Nasdaq Index, with its high information technology weighting, rose 33% for the year. Enthusiasm and expectations for a better economy and strengthening earnings grew as the year progressed. Current equity market valuations look historically elevated with an overall 18x expected Price-to-Earnings ratio, but with few attractive investment alternatives, the financial market gains can continue. There is still over $1 trillion in private equity and hedge fund cash ready to be invested, so even a minor correction would be met with supportive technical buying. The rally was concentrated in the Large Cap technology growth stocks with Mid Cap and Small Cap stocks generally up less significantly. Value stocks like financials, consumer staples, energy and utilities – which are not expected to have significant earnings growth – underperformed during the year.

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Bad Guys are “Phishing”– Don’t Take the Bait

As the name implies, phishing scams use emails, texts or calls as lures to get you to voluntarily hand over sensitive information. Phishing scams attempt to trick you into clicking a link or handing over personal information. Once a scammer has the information, they can use it to steal your money, identity or gain access to your computer.

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3rd Quarter 2019 Investment Update

The S&P 500 Index has climbed 1.2% during the third quarter as optimism about a China trade deal and the increased probability of a more accommodative Federal Reserve has investors convinced that the economic expansion will continue. The second-quarter earnings reports were generally better than anticipated with 2-4% growth year over year, so overall valuations look reasonable.

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Overlooked Methods to Control Business Expenses

Before you can begin to control expenses en route to lowering them, you must know where your money is going. Numerous financial management programs are available to help you keep track of your expenses, but they won’t help unless you or your business manager enters the proper information.

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Living Trust: Do I need one?

One of the most common misconceptions about trusts is that they’re only for individuals of high net worth with substantial estates.

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Not Feeling Retirement Ready? 6 Painless Ways to Beef Up Your Account

Worried about retirement? You’re not alone.

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4th Quarter Investment Update

The volatile equity markets continued dramatic price swings while bond yields moved lower in the fourth quarter. The potential for a trade war with China and higher interest rates has investors concerned that economic growth will be constricted. With U.S. annual inflation dormant at 2.2%, reduced home sales for the past nine months, decelerating automobile sales, declining commodity prices and slowing GDP growth, the concern is the Federal Reserve has already raised rates too quickly.

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Why should I make my final arrangements now?

Google “things to do before you die” and you’ll get over four billion hits. Most will involve experiences like “go on an African safari,” “visit the Grand Canyon,” “see a live Broadway show,” “swim with dolphins,” “ride in a hot air balloon,” etc.

One thing you probably won’t see is “get all my affairs in order.” That’s because most of us don’t like to think about our own mortality. But before you take up skydiving or that long ocean cruise, remember the words of Ben Franklin: “In this world, nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.”

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