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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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“Be Prepared” for Hiking the Investment Trail

Samuel A. Kiburz, who serves as Scoutmaster for a Boy Scout Troop in Punta Gorda and Portfolio Manager at Charlotte State Bank & Trust, sees several similarities between the two callings. He described those parallels in a column he wrote after taking his troop to a summer camp in the Ocala National Forest.

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Estate planning and your pet: Should you consider a Pet Trust?

We share our homes, our beds and our hearts with our pets. Is it any wonder we treat them as if they were our children? For some people, pets are the only family member providing love, affection, entertainment, a listening ear and a reason to get up in the morning. They ask for no more than a place to live, to be well fed, cared for and loved – and if you spoil your pets as badly as I do, a lot of tummy rubs. What they give us in return is “priceless.”

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Cybersecurity: What You Need to Do

CSI Technologies and Harris Poll recently surveyed 2,000 Americans nationwide about their opinions and fears surrounding cybersecurity as it pertains to their personal financial data. A majority of respondents expressed concerns about their online security online, and 74% said they would be likely to participate in a cybersecurity education or awareness program if their bank offered it.

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Is a Loan or Line of Credit Best for My Business?

Selecting the proper loan product for your business depends on what you need the money for and how you intend to pay it back. Here are some quick facts about each product.

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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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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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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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