News & Events

Special Edition - Market Commentary

January 10, 2019

Dear Valued Investor:

It’s a new year and resolutions are in place, but investors in the financial markets may be struggling to find their optimism. The past several weeks have been very difficult, as the stock market sell-off resulted in the worst December performance since 1931. It’s understandable how such a dramatic decline can deliver a blow to investor confidence and lead to reactions driven by fear and an instinct to protect ourselves from further losses. Although it can be hard to completely take our emotions out of our investment decisions, it’s during times like these when we need to force ourselves to focus on the facts instead of how we feel. That means considering not only our current environment but also the historical investment tenets that we rely on—avoiding the urge to sell near the market bottoms, sticking to an investment plan, and maintaining a long-term perspective.

Special Edition - Market Commentary

January 10, 2019

Dear Valued Investor:

It’s a new year and resolutions are in place, but investors in the financial markets may be struggling to find their optimism. The past several weeks have been very difficult, as the stock market sell-off resulted in the worst December performance since 1931. It’s understandable how such a dramatic decline can deliver a blow to investor confidence and lead to reactions driven by fear and an instinct to protect ourselves from further losses. Although it can be hard to completely take our emotions out of our investment decisions, it’s during times like these when we need to force ourselves to focus on the facts instead of how we feel. That means considering not only our current environment but also the historical investment tenets that we rely on—avoiding the urge to sell near the market bottoms, sticking to an investment plan, and maintaining a long-term perspective.

Be Positive

 

“Stop being afraid of what could go wrong and start being positive about what could go right”

by Michael Velazquez

We have many reasons to be grateful. Even though it is the Holidays and we want to embrace that certain “feel good” emotion as a general mindset, this is not meant to be blissful ignorance or a form of selective happiness. Research has shown that there is a correlation between gratefulness and wellness and that people who are conscious of being happy generally are.

 But now there is a lot of data that shows we have reason to be optimistic. So, says Ricard Pinker, Harvard Psychology Professor and well-known writer and speaker. One observation that jumped out at me in reading his material: Since 1992, the % of the world’s population living in extreme poverty has gone from approximately 35% to 10%!

 Mr. Pinker speculates that we don’t hear about such good news because the news media sells itself covering the negative.

Year-End Tax Stategies: Charitable Giving

by Michael Velazquez

Movie buffs may remember about 20 years ago a comedy called Encino Man, starring Brendan Fraser and Pauly Shore. Fraser was a Neanderthal frozen in a block of ice, who was discovered when they were digging a pit for a swimming pool in Shore’s backyard. Good for some laughs.

Unless you have been frozen for several centuries like Encino Man, you have probably heard we have a new tax law (TCJA = Tax Cuts and Jobs Act) which took effect January 1, 2018. The discussion here will focus on charitable giving.

Three Major Changes

TCJA made 3 major changes to the rules governing charitable deductions:

Year-End Tax Stategies: Charitable Giving

by Michael Velazquez

Movie buffs may remember about 20 years ago a comedy called Encino Man, starring Brendan Fraser and Pauly Shore. Fraser was a Neanderthal frozen in a block of ice, who was discovered when they were digging a pit for a swimming pool in Shore’s backyard. Good for some laughs.

Unless you have been frozen for several centuries like Encino Man, you have probably heard we have a new tax law (TCJA = Tax Cuts and Jobs Act) which took effect January 1, 2018. The discussion here will focus on charitable giving.

Three Major Changes

TCJA made 3 major changes to the rules governing charitable deductions:

Saving Christmas

by Joe Novak Wealth Manager Assistant

Recently, one of my very best friends passed away. His name was Bill and he could make you smile on a sad day and smile wider on a happy one. He had the gift of a storyteller and could create a comedic masterpiece out of something as mundane as a trip to the supermarket. I don’t have that gift. There will be no guffaws by reading further. But, if you permit me to indulge my sentimental memories, I would like to briefly outline three true holiday stories from Bill. Maybe, at least one of them will put a smile on your face.

Saving Christmas

by Joe Novak Wealth Manager Assistant

Recently, one of my very best friends passed away. His name was Bill and he could make you smile on a sad day and smile wider on a happy one. He had the gift of a storyteller and could create a comedic masterpiece out of something as mundane as a trip to the supermarket. I don’t have that gift. There will be no guffaws by reading further. But, if you permit me to indulge my sentimental memories, I would like to briefly outline three true holiday stories from Bill. Maybe, at least one of them will put a smile on your face.

Making Cents: A Counter-Intuitive Tax Plan for Retired High Earners

John Napolitano CFP®, CPA, MST

US Wealth Management Chairman and CEO

 

Most Americans are conditioned to postpone the payment of income taxes for as long as humanly possible. Yet for some, this desire to postpone could end up costing you more in the long run.

I’m specifically thinking about those who were high earners during their working years. During the first few years of retirement, before your required minimum distributions (RMD’s) kick in, you may feel pretty good about filing tax returns with a very low taxable income and an equally low amount of tax. But that temporary joy could be even better if you extended your tax planning mentality to all of your retirement years, and not just the first few.

Because of the new tax act, taxable income over approximately $9,500 will be taxed at 12%. That’s a pretty low rate for someone who may be used to paying in excess of 30% in federal taxes. That 12% tax bracket for married couples filing jointly lasts until your taxable income creeps up over $77,400. If you’re likely to be over that amount when you must start taking retirement distributions, this year could be a year when you may consider creating income, but at a lower tax rate. For a retiree, the best way to create income is to withdraw from retirement assets.

101 Years

“The ultimate test of man's conscience may be his willingness to sacrifice something today for future generations whose words of thanks will not be heard.” 
Gaylord Nelson

 

Mike's Dad Jose, with mom Maria and sister Hilda.jpg

Mike' Dad Jose with Mom Maria and sister Hilda.

Long ago, but only yesterday.

 

101 Years

by Michael Velazquez

As I write this, my Dad would have celebrated his 101st birthday. When I try to put this in perspective, it amazes me how the world has changed in that time frame. The US entered World War I; Einstein was developing his Theory of Relativity; The Bolshevik Revolution overthrew the Czars in Russia.

In economics, the US Federal budget was $2 Billion and a postage stamp was 2 cents. In 1917, only 2 years after the Income Tax burst on the scene, you would have been doing reasonably well if you earned about $700 a year, that is, if you were a man; if you were a woman, cut that number by half – some things never change.

The 4% Rule

by Michael Velazquez

Every now and then, there are ideas and so-called rules of thumb about retirement planning that creep their way into the mainstream consciousness and then back into oblivion. Sometimes, however, they linger no matter how inaccurate they might be, like undesirable guests at a party who outlast their welcome. This is exactly my opinion about the 4% rule.