News & Events

Of Weddings & Sambas, Freedom & Fear

by Michael Velazquez, CFP®, CPA, PFS, CGMA, MSP

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Yes, that’s me in the picture doing my best imitation of a latter day member of the Rat Pack. Of course, appearances can be deceiving. I was actually attending a wedding at the Biltmore in Coral Gables, FL. I left the ballroom where the reception was taking place (to powder my nose) at the precise moment when these young ladies were preparing to crash the party. The groomsmen had prepared this surprise gift for the groom. You have to admit I look really happy, right?

In reality, it was a special treat for everyone as these dancers took the room by storm, literally igniting a chain reaction of adrenaline that re-cast the energy and attitude of the room. People did not stop dancing for the rest of the evening.

I learned something in that moment. As easy as it is to be swept away by positive energy, engaging in negativity requires much more effort:  a sort of collaboration of the spirit to be purposefully negative. Both forces seem to arrive with a trail of momentum, but they leave with drastically different aftermaths. Everyone at that wedding now has a shared moment with the Bride and Groom and fellow attendees; one that will provoke smiles on demand; forever.

MAKING CENTS: Give wisely, use charity background checks

By: John P. Napolitano, CFP®, CPA, PFS, MST, RLP® as seen in the Patriot Ledger

Frequently this time of year I receive those same email, telephone or direct mail solicitations that you probably do from a charitable organization asking for a donation to a needy group.

Sometimes the charities or callers are ones you recognize. Other times, they are organizations you’ve never heard of. One reader recently reported to me they received a suspicious fundraising call and decided to forward the number to the local police department. The police later informed him the call came from a disposable cell phone – likely not from a legitimate charity but from a scam artist trying to take advantage of your good nature.

Women Know How To Talk!

By Carol Duschinsky, LPL Financial Registered Administrative Associate

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Bottom line - Communication is about more than just exchanging information. It's about understanding the emotion and intentions behind the information. It is a critical skill and joy, it opens all the doors to all relationships and if done poorly closes them. Your choice, your path. For me talking, writing, sharing time with people and their thoughts is pure pleasure.

Women are so comfortable talking and communicating. Did you ever observe a “ladies” only table at a restaurant or bistro? Constant chatter, emotional expressions, animated gestures. Women know how to talk to each other. It seems to be innate. They never run out of topics to discuss with their friends. Time runs away and still the talking is continuing. When it comes to talking to spouses or family or employers,   something changes. The communication is not as spontaneous and usually time spent is much shorter than when talking to their friends. And if the topic that needs discussion, borders on anything emotional or problematic with group two, and the phase “we need to talk” is used, get ready to be met with the look of patient dread. So I wonder what is different. What is the “secret” to the successful communications lady to lady vs lady to everybody else? Can that secret be used to communicate better with everybody? How can we create the atmosphere that invites open communication? Should we have different communication skills depending on who we are talking to? Why is just plain talking to somebody so complicated?

Making Cents: Family And Money Make Interesting Conversation

By: John P. Napolitano, CFP®, CPA, PFS, MST, RLP® as seen in the Patriot Ledger

Family and money are not the best conversations to be had at dinner time – especially at a holiday table. But conversations are appropriate, and should be had if you are depending on anyone for anything financially in the future.

This conversation should happen with family members that you care about. Let’s start up the family tree with parents. Sometimes older generations don't want to talk about money at all. But these are questions that must be asked, regardless of their willingness to answer the questions.

Do they have a current estate plan? Don’t be surprised when learning their estate plan may be nearly as old as they are.

Laughter Is The Best Medicine

by Michael Velazquez

Recently, I attended a conference where I had the opportunity to hear an interview with Ben Bernanke. You might remember him as the man who succeeded Alan Greenspan and came before Janet Yellen as Chairman of the Federal Reserve. You might also remember him as the man who was in charge of seeing us through what almost became financial Armageddon in 2008. To his credit and near steely resolve, he has drifted into relative obscurity to resume his life in academia as a professor, writer and researcher. I am sure we would remember him a lot more if he had not done his job. Amazingly self-effacing and humble, if he suffers from post-traumatic stress syndrome he certainly doesn’t show it. Possessing a rapier wit and a strong yet pleasant presence, he told stories and cracked jokes while enthralling the audience with excerpts of the pressure filled days of 2008. I share with you a couple of those anecdotes.

Off to Florida, For Tax Reasons

By: John P. Napolitano, CFP®, CPA, PFS, MST, RLP® as seen in the Patriot Ledger

This year, it seems the snow birds have taken off for warmer climates before the song birds. There could be a number of reasons why they're in such a rush migrate south. One could be a desire to make a state such as Florida their domicile.

Domicile in this instance means the state in which you live for tax purposes. To claim domicile in Florida, for example, you’d actually have to live in Florida for at least 6 months and a day; more than half of the year. The time does not need to be in succession, but it must add up to more than half the year in that domicile state. The only exception may be vacation or business travel.

To elaborate, if you live in Miami Beach for 6 months and a day, and while in Miami you had business trips that required travel out of state, time devoted to business travel may still count as time in Florida. I suggest “may” because it would be dicey if your business travel took you to your former state of domicile for business – especially if you use that former domicile residence as the place you stay when traveling for business.

A Tale of Two Cities

by Michael Velazquez

Dear Friends and Clients:

I am really excited to share with you a bit of good news. It is an accomplishment that has been years in the making and for which you are responsible. I have been incredibly blessed to have had an interesting life journey thus far. I have run into some wonderful people who have supported my endeavors, believed in me and stuck with me allowing me to deploy my talents along the way. My friends and clients, I am talking about you, as I am not bashful in admitting that I have worked hard but your trust in me has been, and continues to be the key motivator in my success.

Most of you know of my heritage and origins in Miami since leaving Cuba when I was 6. We have maintained our family and professional relationships in Miami throughout the 33 years we have been in Los Angeles. But at this time, because of our strong ties to Miami and our desire to continue to serve our current clients in California and more closely in Florida, we have come full circle deciding to open our first office in Florida, US Wealth of Coral Gables. The office is officially open! More to come…

ALERT! Market Volatility Update - The Macro Enviornment

Recent headlines have been quick to report a global sell off in equity securities. While there are many variables seeking to disrupt capital markets, only a handful may be attributed to the significance of the recent pullback in asset pricing.

The three fears most aggressively permeating equity markets have resulted in the tightest range of returns for the S&P 500 in the last 50 years:

1. The Greek monetary crisis and ensuing dismantle of the Euro Area. Greece, after defaulting on their loan to the International Monetary Fund, has accepted more pronounced austerity measures in their debt servicing. They have received emergency liquidity, and for the moment, the uncertainty of European dissolution has largely dissipated.

2. Prominent fears of interest rate normalization. Investors are concerned with a premature interest rate hike by the Fed that could potentially drive the economy into a relapsed recession. The Fed has reiterated however that the path to interest rate normalization will be of greater concern to capital markets than the timing and magnitude of the first rate hike. Equity securities on average have appreciated near 10% during the first 12 months of an interest rate hike, similarly bull markets do not dissipate for two and a half years after such an event.

3. The correction within Chinese equity pricing and deceleration of domestic production will put greater deflationary pressures on commodity pricing, which may be indicative of a global collapse in equity markets. The Purchasing Manager’s Index (PMI) which indicates contraction or expansion within industrial production and services of an economy has signaled growth not only within developed nations – but also in that of Chinese and emerging markets. (World PMI; 53.4, EU PMI; 54.5, U.S. PMI; 55.7, China PMI; 50.2, EM PMI; 50.2. A value greater than 50 indicates expansion while a value below depicts contraction.)

Paper or electronic, handle financial records with care

by John Napolitano CFP®,CPA,PFS,MST,RLP® as seen in the Patriot Ledger

You may frequently hear as you check out from the supermarket – paper or plastic? With your financial records, the question is paper or electronic?

Every service provider from your accountant to your investment accounts want you to stop getting paper copies of everything and go to their secure portal to access what you need when you need it. Is this the right thing to do? Is it safe? How secure is secure?

Let’s begin with what is not secure. Copies of your personally identifiable information such as Social Security numbers and account numbers sitting in your mailbox or going out in your trash is not considered secure. Neither are all email accounts secure. Personal information sent via email should be encrypted, which may require you to go through a little extra effort to actually get to the message containing the personal information.

Is an “F” Good or Failing?

by Robert D. Crawford, MBA

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The Federal Government has the uncanny ability to create the most confusing government programs ever devised.  In their infinite wisdom to simplify a program for the common citizen they unwittingly default to committee planning which transforms the process into chaos and confusion.

Take for example Medicare.  There are four coverage Parts, each with a different letter designator starting from the beginning of the alphabet. 

There is Medicare Part:            Part A, (Hospital Insurance)

                                                   Part B, (Medical Insurance)

                                                   Part C, (Medicare Advantage) and

                                                   Part D, (Prescription drug coverage)

Not too hard to comprehend, right?

“Original Medicare (Part A and Part B) pays for many, but not all, health care services and supplies.  Medicare Supplement insurance policies, sold by private companies, can help pay some of the health care costs that Original Medicare doesn’t cover, like copayments, coinsurance, and deductibles.  Every Medigap policy must follow federal and state laws designed to protect you, and must be clearly identified as “Medicare Supplement Insurance.” Insurance companies can sell you only a “standardized” policy identified in most states by letter A through D, F through G, and K through N.  All policies offer the same basic benefits, but some offer additional benefits so you can choose which one meets your needs.”1

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