The Financial Planning Blog
Your go-to financial planning and wealth management resource, whether you're just getting started or well on your way to a financially secure future.
An investment broker is the same as a financial advisor, right? Wrong. If you’re new to the search for a qualified financial expert to help you plan for and manage your money (regardless of your stage in life), you may not be privy to the fact that there are differences between types of financial professionals, and that these distinctions can be very important. Take, for example, the decision over whether to choose an investment broker or an independent financial advisor. You probably didn’t even realize these were two separate options.
As a parent, if there is one thing I hope I’ve passed on to my daughters—it’s that no matter where you are in life, there are principles which can ultimately determine whether you live with fulfillment or regret. To help you create a clearer path in the right financial direction, here are 5 rules that will help empower every woman—regardless of circumstance or age.
Use this free workbook to gather a comprehensive list of all information pertaining to your family’s current financial picture!
You’ve made the proactive decision to seek the professional guidance of a financial advisor who can help you make a plan, manage your accounts, invest your money and gain some real peace of mind. You’re headed in the right direction to achieve your financial goals by taking this important step. With your meeting on the horizon, however, you may be wondering whether you’re fully prepared with all of the necessary financial documentation to have the most productive appointment.
Your mortgage, your loans, your savings, your retirement plan, your investment portfolio, your kids’ college funds, your taxes, your estate – these are all very real pieces of your overall financial picture, and figuring out how they all fit together to create fulfillment and peace of mind can feel like a never-ending exam in mathematics and law. Even if you’re only managing some of these financial components, the burden can contribute to significant stress in your everyday life. Is partnering with a financial advisor the answer?
You understand the importance of partnering with an experienced, qualified financial advisor to help keep your financial goals on track and gain real clarity over the money matters affecting you and your family. You’ve done the work to research and vet those professionals that share a common philosophy around money management and align with your own principles. Now what?
For some people, especially those new to the experience of working with a financial advisor, the prospect of meeting with a firm can be daunting and stressful. But it’s important to do so on a regular (at least annual) basis to discuss the realities of your financial outlook. With an informed approach to preparing for this meeting, you can achieve greater peace of mind and make the most of your time together. Here are four expert tips for tackling your meeting preparation and coming to the appointment with a more enlightened perspective.
Why Should You Diversify? You work hard for your money. You want your investments to grow so you can live a life of freedom from worry, fulfillment, and love. When the financial markets are up one day and down the next, investors often feel tempted to double down on what they believe performed well in the past. Historical data suggests that by diversifying globally investors can hedge against volatile market highs and lows, and reap potential long-term benefits.
The American Dream is being able to live life on your own terms. Knowing you can follow your personal calling and realize your goals offers a feeling of incredible freedom. Do you know what you’re capable of achieving? For far too many investors, the answer is no. And that translates to an investing experience riddled with confusion, stress, fear, turbulence and exhaustion. But investing peace of mind is possible, and you have the power to transform your own experience.
As we explored in our previous blog post, no one – not you, not your financially savvy friend, not your financial advisor and especially not the media gurus spouting investment tips – can predict the future. In fact, the free markets work because of (not in spite of) the fact that no one can predict the future. We also explored the underlying realities that make it possible to create wealth in a random and unpredictable environment. Now we’re taking you deeper into the discussion about the free markets so you can make smart investment decisions and gain peace of mind.
Investors who try to forecast, stock-pick, time the market or employ track record investing usually end up with dismal return rates over the long term. Why? Because markets are random and unpredictable. By understanding this unpredictability, you can actually harness the power of the financial markets to create wealth for yourself. Investing for the long term with an academic-based investment strategy based on your true purpose for money will help you support your life with the choices that inspire new possibilities, and build a future around what’s really important.
Have your investment results been generally expected, better than expected or worse than expected? Chances are the answer depends on how realistic your expectations were in the first place. If they’re unrealistic from the outset, you’re bound to feel disappointment and concern over your portfolio outcomes. This is not an uncommon experience for people who get caught up in the chaos of the Investors’ Dilemma, but with the right mindset, you can manage your expectations much more effectively.
As an investor, you may have a hamster wheel of thoughts, goals and concerns swirling through your mind from day to day: Am I getting high enough returns? Will I be able to retire comfortably, pay for my kids’ ongoing education and care for loved ones? Am I prepared for the next market crash or market boom? Am I missing out on the latest stock tips or getting bad investment advice? These are incredibly common and valid worries, but they can negatively impact both your investment outcomes and your peace of mind.
Greg Hammond golfed in the Joe Martin ALS Foundation Golf Tournament in Charlotte, NC to support families touched by Lou Gehrig’s Disease (ALS) in honor of our late client, Bernie Martinelli.
Greg Hammond, CFP®, CPA enjoyed a surprise after he ran the Hartford Half Marathon with the CT Children’s Medical Center team on Saturday, October 13.
If you haven’t spent your life studying investing, you may not have a complete picture of all the costs associated with trading. In fact, these numbers are probably much higher than you think, with potential hidden costs of up to 5% of your portfolio every year. Between the explicit and implicit costs involved in every investment, it’s important to gain a complete understanding of these expenses. Ultimately, controlling your costs could make the difference between investment failure and success over the long term.
Throughout our childhood and early adulthood, we all subconsciously adopt beliefs, stories, attitudes and assumptions about money. These inner thoughts become our reality, and though we may not recognize it, they heavily influence many of our financial decisions throughout life. We often unknowingly make, spend and save money based on these internalized ideas, even when doing so may not serve us well. The good news? In a very specific way, we can recognize and overcome those money beliefs that hinder our ability to achieve financial goals.
What is investing peace of mind? It’s the confidence and security of knowing you can live the lifestyle you desire and also retire. If you’ve reached a point in your life where you want to get serious about your retirement, you may have a number of financial worries and concerns. Maybe you don’t feel knowledgeable enough about your options. Perhaps you’re nervous to make any significant investment decisions. It may even seem like you lack any real control over your own money.
It would be great if you could simply check on the status of your investments and know immediately whether they are progressing in line with your long-term financial goals. But the truth is analyzing the overall performance of your portfolio is much more complex. From yields and rate of return to capital gains and losses, tax implications, risk and inflation, there’s an array of significant factors that go into painting your full financial picture. So, what can you do to gain clarity on whether or not your investment portfolio is actually performing?
Today, people want to learn how to manage their longevity, not just retirement. It’s vital to have conversations that link money with purpose, rather than just ways of saving, spending, or moving money.
“Someday when I achieve this, then I’ll be happy.” “When I obtain that, then I’ll be happy.” Fill in the italicized words with your personal desires, and surely you’ve had these thoughts. We all do. But if that “someday” comes, will you really have “arrived?” Will you feel fulfilled?
New Tax Reforms Several tax reforms in the December 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act will impact individual tax filers beginning in 2018. Three of the most impactful are: the limitation of property and state income taxes deductions to $10,000 each year the elimination of personal exemptions the almost doubling of the standard deduction, increasing the amount to $12,000 for singles and $24,000 for married couples filing jointly.
Investing is deceptively simple, but it sure isn’t easy. Recently, we finished teaching “Gearing Up for the Next Market Crash. It’s part of this year’s series of our wealth mastery and investor education classes to help people at every stage of life invest smarter. We always aim to give our students nuggets of wisdom gleaned from academic research, instead of the wolves of Wall Street so they know what to do when they encounter the next hot investing tip and media frenzy fed to us all day, every day.
It reinforces the message that our firm is doing what we say we’re doing for you...your money is where it’s supposed to be and doing what it is supposed to do. Why Financial Advisors Who Offer GIPS-Compliant Investments Earn More Trust The Global Investment Performance Standards (GIPS) have become a symbol of confidence within the investment and financial advisory industry. In an arena where consumers have become more apprehensive – or darn right cynical – this ethical set of standardized, industry-wide principles helps investors decide which investments they will choose - those from a compliant and therefore transparent source, or those that may not be.
We live in an “OMG” world, where people have the tendency to make immediate and rash decisions based on limited information. No more is this true than in the stock market and investing world.
Stock markets (and their movements) are often a mystery to the average investor, and that mystery can often create fear. After all, in roughly 30 years, we’ve experienced three major stock market crashes, and they are all surprisingly similar.
With something as important as our financial security, investing myths pose a serious threat to your future wealth. And as long as investors believe in harmful myths, they run the risk of damaging their way of life.
Successful investing depends on a number of factors, but perhaps none is more important than an investment portfolio built around your goals, preferences, and risk tolerance. Many money management and retirement planning tools aim to give investors a platform to gain the insight they need.
It’s human to make mistakes, and all of us have made mistakes at one time or another. But some mistakes are more costly than others. Investment mistakes certainly fall into this category. A sour investment not only comes at the cost of money lost, but also the opportunity cost of financial growth that could have come from another, more sound investment.
As wealth advisors, people often ask us for perspective on whether or not their money will last in retirement. Questions such as, “When can I retire? How successful will I be planning my retirement?” These questions relate to more than investing strategies. They’re strongly tied to your life strategies. If you want to live a rich life and plan for a happier, healthier retirement, you should consider everything that will impact your wellbeing.
When it comes to our retirement, we often have many important questions. And while all of them are valid, no two questions are as crucial as: “Will I have enough money to retire when I want to?” “Will I have enough money to last me through retirement?”
Some of us like tracking our investments on a fairly regular basis. Others prefer not to think about their savings, and only want their financial advisor to reach out if there’s something they need to know about. Regardless of your mindset, you should (and likely do) meet with your advisor on an annual basis. But you shouldn’t come to this meeting blind. It’s always best to be prepared to review your financials with your financial advisor.
Choosing to give to charitable causes is an admirable act. Many important initiatives are solely dependent on charitable contributions. And while the greatest benefit of making such contributions is the impact it can make on an issue or cause you care about, it can also have financial benefits.
65 is a funny age. We’ve collectively agreed that 65 is the age we should retire, but few of us feel ready to stop working on our 65th birthday. We have plenty left to give. It’s why nearly 50% of retirees report that they’ve worked or plan to work in their retirement. As you question younger generations, the statistics become even more pronounced. 72% of pre-retirees – age 50 and above – want to continue working after they “retire.”
When you check your investment accounts and see positive growth, it’s easy to assume your assets are reaping good returns. The untrained eye may not understand the true measures of portfolio performance, and nominal returns are far from an accurate indicator. Professionals assess portfolio performance using a collection of measures, including interest rates, yields, gains and much more.
When most people think of the net worth and the assets that comprise it, they often consider their money and investments alone. But assets come in many forms – from land and properties to jewelry and collectibles.
When people think of Roth retirement plans, they often think of Roth IRAs – or Individual Retirement Accounts. But employers are increasingly offering their employees Roth 401(k) plans, and these plans have grown in popularity over the years. According to Aon Hewitt’s study of 3.5 million 401(k) plan participants, 11% contributed to a Roth 401(k) in 2014. The rate of plan participants choosing to contribute to Roth plans in 2011 was 8.1%.
Most people aren’t sure what to do after someone dies and the funeral takes place. With so many questions and a myriad of details to take care of, it’s easy to get overwhelmed at such an emotional time. As you review what's in store, try to delegate anything you realistically can to trusted family members and close friends.
If you’re like many people, you think of estate planning as what to do after someone dies or something you’ll address later in life once you build substantial wealth. But in reality, you need to protect your assets and make your intents known no matter how old you are. Even the basic estate planning concepts mentioned in Consumer Reports “How to Create a Bullet-Proof Estate Plan” can help you care for loved ones, leave a legacy, possibly reduce transfer taxes, and avoid inheritance oversights. If you develop your plan now, you and your loved ones won’t have to worry about it during a time of crisis.
You know how people say there are only two guarantees in life, and one of them is taxes? Well, this is about the other. To be clear… death. Most people feel uneasy with this subject, but confronting your own mortality and talking to family about managing finances won’t bring death sooner. Instead, it eases everyone’s stress if you’re organized before a crisis occurs when emotions run high and you don’t have the capacity to focus on complicated financial matters. Are you prepared for a life-changing event where your loved ones need to access financial accounts, legal documents, or medical information on your behalf?
The Bridge Family Center’s annual Children's Charity Ball was held in January. Hammond Iles is proud to support the Bridge because it helps kids through its youth development programs, support groups and residential programs. Greg Hammond and his wife Karen attended the festive evening featuring a live auction emcee'd by Scot Haney of WFSB.
Make the Most of Your Financial Legacy As you get older, you might start thinking about how you can pass your lifetime of collective wisdom, values, and assets to the next generation. Most parents hope their kids will be successful, and in turn also pass wisdom, values–-and wealth to their own children. When it comes to assets, a transfer between generations opens a gaping hole that can swallow much of what you’ve worked for. The transfer gives federal and state tax authorities the opportunity to levy and collect estate and gift taxes, shrinking what’s actually left.
Your Financial Wellbeing Many people take more time and care planning their vacations than their financial and estate plan. They leaf through travel guides and find the best rates online, all in anticipation of a week or two in their future. Because we’re human, planning for short-term fun often trumps long-term gain. We’re not certain about our future—a retirement that we may not have saved enough for, taxes, and risks. Combined, all of this causes us to lose enthusiasm and the courage to devote commitment, energy, and urgency to our planning.
What happens when couples who are working to build their legacy aren’t on the same page about what’s best for their family? How do you bring two different perspectives together? In our practice, we see many kinds of estate planning disconnects. It happens to couples who are happy in their marriage and lifestyle as well as to those who aren’t. So, why the lack of alignment?
Did you know you can be happier and healthier by simply reflecting on what you’re grateful for? A recent research study by psychologists, Dr. Robert A. Emmons of the University of California, Davis, and Dr. Michael E. McCullough of the University of Miami, asked 3 groups of participants to write a few sentences each week focused on a specific topic. One group wrote about what they were grateful for, a second group wrote about what irritated or angered them, and a third group wrote about events in their lives that either positively or negatively affected them.
There are many myths surrounding legacy planning, but one of the biggest is children fighting over money and possessions. In our practice we find that it’s not things they fight over, but what those things mean to everyone involved. Most of the families we meet with look for fulfillment beyond the material possessions that money affords. Memories, shared experiences, and dreams fulfilled give them more satisfaction. However, when possessions carry many memories, disputes can happen. If you’re a parent or grandparent it’s important for you to consider building your living legacy not only attached to assets, but also to the personal values and memories they represent.
There is no “typical” retirement. Most people dream about retirement. However, it isn’t the typical retirement pictured in the media. We’ve met with thousands of people and believe there aren’t any universal truths about the retirement experience. Here are some commonly held assumptions. They may or may not prove true for you, depending on your financial and lifestyle circumstances.
TEAM Connecticut Children's raised a total of $51,353.00 for the medical center in the Eversource Hartford Marathon on Saturday, October 8. The amount of generosity that poured in from runners’ friends and family is absolutely amazing. Donations are still coming in to help CT Children’s Medical Center reach their goal of $55,000. Greg Hammond ran the half marathon with the team raising $2,295. Hammond Iles Wealth Advisors will match the funds Greg raised.
Greg Hammond helped raise funds for ALS by supporting the Joe Martin ALS Foundation CDI Southeast Annual Golf Tournament, Dinner and Auction. The event was held at Ballantyne Country Club in Charlotte, NC on October 10th. ALS most often overwhelms families financially and emotionally.
Investing & the Investor’s Dilemma As an investor you face a dilemma. You need to grow your assets so you can meet your personal financial goals. Yet, for many people, emotions and a fear of loss often drive self-defeating investment decisions. Let's look at emotional decisions, and how they interfere with your ability to develop and maintain an investment strategy that works to grow your investments year after.
Greg Hammond will once again run the Eversource Hartford Half Marathon on Saturday, October 8, 2016. As part of TEAM CT CHILDREN'S he’s running to raise funds for the amazing work they do at Connecticut Children's Medical Center.
Life insurance can be difficult to understand, but here are a few facts to make it easier Basically, life insurance products fall into one of two categories: term or permanent. Both can play an essential role in planning a secure future for your family. Term Life Insurance A term life policy covers you only for a specific period of time and generally doesn’t build cash value. If you decide to end your coverage before the term is up, you can simply stop making payments and that's it – there's nothing more to pay or any other obligations. If you die during the term period, your named beneficiary is paid the coverage amount. If you don't die during the specified term period, your coverage simply ends.
Open enrollment for Medicare is October 15 to December 7 every year. Here are seven things you should know to protect yourself from coverage gaps, surprises, overpaying, and late fees:
"The Greatest Irony in Family Estate Planning" I always find the greatest irony in family estate planning is that people tend to think more about financial assets and give little thought to the personal side of preparing heirs. Some clients just want to be “done with it” and not look at estate planning again. Looking through plans, I see they represent a lot of time and legal work. What’s often missing is the story behind it all. How did the family get to this point? What is the backstory of their pain, failures, victories and joys?
The clearest consequence of the Brexit referendum in the quarter ahead will be political and market uncertainty. And that’s something we just can’t model. While this summation sounds simple and obvious, it is fraught with endless possibilities. What we have learned over the years, however, is to stay the course until we have a better picture of what lies ahead.
Hammond Iles Wealth Advisors has once again, been recognized in the FA Magazine 2016 Independent Top RIA Survey, ranking number 454. This signifies company growth and is a notable accomplishment!
In his book, Run With the Horses, Eugene Peterson shares how a bird teaches its young to fly. Three young swallows were perched on a dead branch that stretched out over a lake."One adult swallow got alongside the chicks and started shoving them out toward the end of the branch—pushing, pushing, pushing... The end one fell off.
Estate Planning: Are Equal Slices Best When You Divide the Family Pie? While many people think life isn’t always fair, in my practice I find it more likely that life is unequal in how wealth gets distributed. This inequality carries over into many families with children of different ages, skills, interests, needs, and degrees of material success. "... there are many creative ways to actually increase the impact of “the family pie.” -Greg Hammond, CFP®, CPA You may believe a policy of “sharing equally” is the best way to divide your assets. While it’s easiest, especially when it comes to avoiding conflicts, I find it’s not necessarily fair. Even at the risk of conflict, often it’s more practical to divide your assets by recognizing and compensating for differences in the needs and abilities of your heirs.
Our Family Cross-Country Trip began with a dream. At the time, my daughters were getting to the age where they’d soon be busy with friends and activities, too cool to hang out with their parents, and then off to college. My wife reminisced about a magical cross-country trip she took as a kid, and I’ve always wanted to see the majesty of our country, so we set off on a four week, 8,593 mile cross-country adventure.
Life is short, as you know. Sometimes when I help clients plan their legacy, they muse, "Is life really short, or is it that planning one’s legacy makes you realize life is finite?" If we lived twice as long would we be just as likely to feel that life is short?
Sharing your talents for a moment, even on a New York city bus. . . Although Agapi graduated from the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts with many accolades and awards, she went through years of auditions without getting the parts she wanted. As time passed, she became discouraged and began to question her skill. In her book Unbinding the Heart, Agapi Stassinopoulos tells about a life-changing epiphany she had on a New York city bus. Here’s what she experienced:
Generational differences exist in all families. Every generation develops its own style of expression, methods for handling conflict, and values. Even tech-savvy parents are likely to feel that virtual connecting and 24/7 technology lacks sufficient depth to replace face-to-face conversation. Kids, on the other hand, can feel that Mom and Dad just don’t get it and can barely turn on the TV without help.
On May 15, 2016, Greg Hammond will run the Mystic Half Marathon to raise funds for Girls on the Run of SE CT. This nonprofit organization strives to inspire girls to be joyful, healthy, and confident using a fun, experienced based curriculum which creatively includes running. Your contributions directly help a girl become confident in herself and learn the benefits of incorporating healthy exercise, like running, into her life. You can learn more at http://www.gotrsect.org/ or donate here.
Restricted Executive Bonus Arrangement, the Client and Concern John Smith, sole owner of ABC, Inc. wants to offer some additional employee benefits for Mike Star, his top salesperson that can provide life insurance protection for Mike’s family while also giving Mike the ability to have additional pension income at retirement to supplement Social Security and the corporation’s modest 401k plan.
Hartford, CT, February 11, 2016 — Hammond Iles Wealth Advisors and Investment Management moved its company headquarters to the 7th floor, Suite 701, from Suite 103 in Putnam Park, Wethersfield, Connecticut. The newly designed office will foster employee collaboration and continue to deliver award-winning client service.
GRATs and GRUTs are irrevocable trusts designed to transfer assets to the next generation at a reduced gift tax value. The current owner/grantor retains the right to receive income payments for a fixed period of years. At the end of the term, the ownership of the assets shifts to a subsequent generation.
Under a properly funded cross purchase buy-sell agreement, an owner agrees to purchase all or a portion of the business interest of the other owners. The agreement stipulates that the deceased owner’s estate must sell the business interest and that the surviving owners will buy that business. The agreement also establishes the price to be paid either based on a fixed amount or a formula. In general, current tax law has made the formula method the more prudent choice.
An irrevocable life insurance trust (ILIT) is an irrevocable trust set up to own and be beneficiary of life insurance policies. The life insurance can be on one individual or be a second-to-die survivorship policy where death proceeds are payable at the second death.
Warm Coats and Blankets at Hands on Hartford Thanksgiving Day Meal Joe Lander belongs to a group of seven men in the Connecticut area from a variety of industries, who help hold each other accountable towards being better men. Along with improving themselves, and the lives of those close to them, part of their team’s mission is to give back to their community in creative ways.
Your legacy can be joyful, tragic, or somewhere in between – but you get to choose which.
All closely held businesses face the possibility of an owner dying, retirement or becoming disabled. A business owner’s death or disability can create major problems. A lifetime of hard work and investment can be jeopardized, leaving the other owners and the deceased’s family in the difficult position of sorting things out. A properly structured and funded buy sell agreement permits an orderly transfer of the business.
A Family Limited Partnership (FLP) is a limited partnership that families use to manage family enterprises and other family investments. The FLP has two classes of partners—general and limited. The general partners retain managerial and financial control over the partnership. Typically, once the senior family member(s) transfer the family assets into the FLP, they keep the general partnership interests, which are typically a small percentage of the partnership, and transfer the limited partnership interests to the younger family members through gifts.
"Only a few of the families I have worked with over the past decade have taken time to fully capture their family story and harness its legacy-building power." How happy is your family? Do you communicate about what matters most? Do you truly know each other? Mere facts are meaningless until infused with significance. Your family's passions, longing, failures, regrets, and wins are the fabric of life—and the stories that recall "life" are crucial to building a lasting legacy.
"Many organizations have not adopted the newer options that potentially allow them to reduce risk, lower costs, and improve the return on their investment portfolios." Because nonprofits and charitable organizations can’t survive on donations alone, they must invest wisely and find additional ways to generate revenue. Fortunately, the last few decades have seen tremendous changes to the investment landscape. Investment alternatives and strategies once reserved only for larger organizations are now available for small and mid-sized institutions and nonprofits. However, many organizations have not adopted the newer options that potentially allow them to reduce risk, lower costs, and improve the return on their investment portfolios. A thoughtfully designed portfolio invested in a broad variety of asset classes has the potential to outperform any type of market over the long term. This approach offers flexibility and allows timely changes in an effort to preserve and grow the portfolio.
Once again, Greg Hammond will run with the CT Children's Medical Center team in the Eversource Hartford Half Marathon on Saturday, October 10, 2015. The Connecticut Children's Medical center's mission hit especially close to home when one of our own advisors, Kevin Flynn's newborn baby fought for her life. Read how CT Children's saved tiny, precious Audrey. "Investing in this great cause that touches so many lives ensures they'll be here for our families should we ever need them," says Greg Hammond
Build Your Living Legacy While You Educate The Next Generation Early in your children’s lives, you can share your values, family history, and insights through light-hearted conversation and stories centered on the beliefs and decisions that shaped your successes, failures, and your vision for the future.
The Hammond Iles Wealth Advisors team has once again been recognized in the FA Magazine 2015 Independent Top RIA survey, ranking number 482. This accomplishment signifies company growth and is a great accomplishment! FA Magazine Top RIA RAnking
Financially savvy couples use 4 key money moves to stay organized, on track, and harmonious. They leverage today's tools and technology so they can feel confident and excited about the future.
There isn’t much grandparents won't do for their grandchildren. In our practice, we are often asked, "How can I help my grandchildren after I’m gone? Can I build a legacy that will remind them of me and provide them additional security?"
For many entrepreneurs, their business is one of their most valuable assets. They rely on it to generate income to support their family and their lifestyle. However, we meet many entrepreneurs who are so busy that they never take time to think about what will happen to their family and the business they've worked so hard to build should something unexpected happen to them.
Financial advisor Greg Hammond got into the coffin about eight years ago..."We wanted to make a greater impact not only in our own lives but in our firm, too," he said. Hammond and his business partner have a plan in place. They also are in negotiations with other advisors who would be interested in using Hammond's firm as a succession partner to protect the value of their practices, both for their loved ones and their clients. Read the full story on CNBC.com
When you attain a level of financial security where you feel the freedom to devote resources to causes and organizations that you value, it's worthwhile to take time to think, dream, and plan before you give. Reflecting on your underlying motivations to give can lead to more effective and focused philanthropy and ensure that you work toward achieving your desired legacy.
The Bridge’s Planned Giving Society, Builders for the Future, honors donors who have made a bequest or other planned gift to support their future and build a legacy for future generations. Greg Hammond, president of Hammond Iles Wealth Advisors is a strong advocate of planned giving as a way to create a legacy that reflects one's personal values. He and his wife, Karen are West Hartford residents and long-time Bridge Family Center supporters.
People sometimes think they should stop or reduce their charitable giving when they retire. There are many things to take into account when developing your retirement lifestyle plan. Among those considerations, you may take pride in helping organizations and causes near and dear to your heart, and want to continue your charitable giving throughout retirement.
Generosity is a mindset and a way of life. It's about far more than just giving money, and it is a great tool to teach younger generations about legacy. Growing up, my father and I never really discussed being generous, but he showed me in so many small ways that it has become his living legacy―and now, I am making it my life's work to share the message. It seems that lessons learned best are lessons practiced.
Greg Hammond CFP®, CPA is a member of the Travelers Championship Volunteer Executive Committee that helps manage 32 volunteer committees, comprised of more than 4,200 volunteers. This group is working hard to ensure the success of the Connecticut PGA TOUR event. In 2014, the tournament donated 100 percent of their net proceeds, or $1.558 million to over 140 charities.
Today's culture tells us we need a lot of money to live a happy and successful life. Sure, having enough money to meet our basic needs increases happiness, but more money won’t turn an unhappy life into a happy one. Consider that the United States is nearly three times as rich today as it was in 1970, but according to most surveys, Americans were just as happy then as they are now.
Legacy planning can be a win-win for everyone—it strengthens relationships and allows a person's values to accompany the wealth he or she passes on to heirs or gives to charity. In this way, legacy planning is much more than a business transaction, and reaches beyond mere tax savings. We believe there are at least three basic, yet distinct steps in legacy planning:
Entrepreneurs have vision, understand risk and reward, and are good at decision-making. Why is it then that many don't understand the importance of planning for their legacy or having an estate plan? As an entrepreneur myself, I view estate and legacy planning like a business plan for life―a road map to long-term success and peace of mind. There’s no escape from death and taxes, so we might as well plan for both.
When you think of succession in family companies, legacy assets may not immediately come to mind. Many financial advisors, lawyers and accountants focus on advising their clients on their ownership in the family business because it generates the income that provides the client with their chosen standard of living, gives them the ability to invest, and enables them to pay the advisor’s fees.
Your Treasured Collection George Hoke assembled two rooms full of war memorabilia—but no family members wanted it. The late Maine resident collected for a lifetime, but when he passed away, select items went to a museum and the rest went for pennies at an estate sale.
For the first time, people born today have a life expectancy of 90 years of age, according to revised mortality tables published by the Society of Actuaries. This represents an astonishing increase over the past century. In 1900, newborns could only expect to live to the age of 50. Now, a big question looms―how can the average person pay for all these years?
My daughter, Audrey Elizabeth Flynn was born May 9, 2014. Arriving into the world early, she weighed only 5 pounds, 1 oz. and was 18 inches long. At five weeks premature, her tiny lungs weren't yet mature enough to support her, and she had acid reflux and apnea. Seeing our beautiful daughter in such a helpless, fragile state brought my wife, Kristin and I to tears. Tiny, lovely Audrey was covered in tubes and wires that supported her breathing, monitored her heart, and helped feed her.
As expected, the Federal Reserve officially announced an end to its quantitative easing bond-buying program "The Committee judges that there has been a substantial improvement in the outlook for the labor market since the inception of its current asset purchase program. Moreover, the Committee continues to see sufficient underlying strength in the broader economy to support ongoing progress toward maximum employment in a context of price stability. Accordingly, the Committee decided to conclude its asset purchase program this month," reads part of a statement released by the Fed on Wednesday.
Investors may expect U.S. equity markets to calm after some of the most volatile trading since 2012 as the 21-day incubation period for Ebola passed for many in Texas without new infections, however new developments continue to surface. Recent losses in the U.S. markets mainly attributed to concerns over global growth and plummeting oil prices, were further fueled by fears that Ebola could spread in the United States, adding to the market's recent convulsions.
Greg Hammond recently returned from Jeff Walker's PLF conference. Together with 700+ people who had a lot of fun and did some amazing work, the group raised $123,100.00 for Canadian charity, World Teacher Aid. This is enough to build an eight-classroom school for displaced children in Kenya. Supporters of this cause believe that the answer to poverty is education. These schools change lives, and in turn, change entire communities.
Although corporate stock inversions have come under fire lately, U.S. based multinational companies continue to announce inversion plans. In an inversion transaction, the shareholders of the U.S. Corporation must exchange their shares for shares of the foreign parent corporation. Although the inversion transaction qualifies as a tax-free reorganization that imposes no tax on the U.S. Corporation, this exchange is a taxable event for shareholders.
Twice a year the Pacific Life Foundation awards twenty $5,000 grants to nonprofit organizations that financial advisors who work with Pacific Life are involved in. As a member of the Connecticut Children's Medical Center Advisory Board, Greg Hammond CFP®, CPA recently applied for a Pacific Life Partner Grant on their behalf. Pacific Life Foundation selected our application and the Connecticut Children's Medical Center Foundation received a $5,000 donation. The Pacific Life Foundation was established in 1984. Together with Pacific Life companies, the Foundation has contributed more than $77.9 million to community and national nonprofit organizations that address a broad spectrum of social needs.
On Tuesday, July 15 2014, we participated in a transformational day of community service to support Baltimore, MD homeowners in need. One of our colleagues organized the event in conjunction with Rebuilding Together Baltimore, a nonprofit organization that preserves affordable homeownership and provides critical repairs for low-income homeowners at no charge.
Recently, I received a disheartening telephone message. The call came from the daughter of a good friend and client who passed away last week from pancreatic cancer. Young and vibrant, her life was shorter than it should have been. In our practice, I dread this type of call because they are reminders that many lives are shorter than we hope. We always think that we have more time. More time to be with our family, more time to do what we enjoy doing, and more time to live our life’s purpose. The truth is, not one of us knows just how much time we have.
Monday, June 9 was a big day for golf at Hammond Iles Wealth Advisors, helping to raise over $51,000 for charity. Hammond Iles sponsored Bernie's Tournie, held in honor of late client, Bernie Martinelli at Ballantyne Country Club in Charlotte, NC, and the 24th Annual Camp Ruggles Golf Tournament at Metacomet Country Club in East Providence, RI.
Charitable giving provides benefits for the non-profit organization receiving the gift and for you. Are you currently giving in the most efficient and beneficial way? You can free up additional funds for charitable giving by being more effective with your charitable donations. Avoid these 5 common mistakes so you can give more and make a greater impact on the causes and nonprofit organizations you care about.
It was the flutter of a wing felt around the world. In 1963, Edward Lorenz presented his hypothesis about the “butterfly effect” to the New York Academy of Science. A butterfly could flutter its wings on one side of the world and set molecules of air in motion,which could then move other molecules of air. The cumulative effect had the potential to create a hurricane on the other side of the world. The Academy laughed at the idea. But the concept, because it was so fascinating, endured. Physics professors in the mid-1990s established that it was accurate and valid. It proved true every time. And not just with butterflies and air molecules, but with all living matter, including people. Thus was established “the law of sensitive dependence upon initial conditions.” In other words, a small impact on the initial conditions of a situation can greatly change the outcome.
Some individuals simply don't need their full Required Minimum Distributions (RMD) for living expenses; they'd rather keep the money invested, so that it can compound and grow. Of course, most would no doubt like to keep deferring the tax bill on their IRA assets, too. Although it's impossible to circumvent RMDs without incurring big penalties, there's nothing saying you have to spend that money, either. Instead, you can keep at least some of your distribution working on your behalf. The following strategies can help you maximize the RMD proceeds you don't need for living expenses.
When planning for tax-qualified plans such as IRAs, 401(k)s and qualified retirement plans, you should carefully examine the potential taxes that impact these assets. Unlike most other assets that receive a "basis step-up" to current fair market value upon the owner's death, IRAs, 401(k)s and other qualified retirement plans do not step-up to the date-of-death value.
Many financial advisors unwittingly (or in some cases, not so unwittingly) tap into or add to people’s already existing fears. They don’t explain the difference between voluntary and involuntary philanthropy. When people regularly respond, “Well, no, we’ll need that money for us and the kids,” many financial professionals conclude that the conversation is over. Additionally, they feel this is a conversation that just isn’t worth having unless the client brings it up.
Let’s examine some uses for life insurance, the only asset class that can ensure the completion of proper funding for a myriad of unique planning needs - regardless of the state of the federal estate tax. Income Replacement ("How will my family eat if I die?")
In the world of financial professionals, a major obstacle to getting people to do more is, unfortunately, the professionals themselves. Frequently, professionals such as attorneys, investment advisors, insurance professionals, and accountants tell us their clients aren’t interested in charitable giving but instead want to minimize taxes and maximize the wealth that their family and heirs will receive.
Many people spend more time and care planning their vacations than they spend on their financial and estate planning. They pore over travel guides and find the best rates online, all in anticipation of a week or two in their future. Probably because of our human impulses, planning for short-term fun can trump long-term gain. With the future uncertain, risks to be managed, a retirement for which we fear we may not have saved enough, and worse yet, death and taxes, many of us understandably lack the requisite enthusiasm and courage to address this area of planning with commitment, energy, and urgency.
Though convinced they should take their plan to the next level, create a legacy, and make an impact by possibly engaging in philanthropy, people procrastinate for a host of reasons. And they aren’t necessarily conscious that they are doing so.
Not Bill Gates? Many people whom society would regard as well-off are actually concerned about running out of money. And that fear is part of the challenge in encouraging them to engage in philanthropy. The media hardly helps the situation: Advertisers, in their bid for attention, take things to the extreme and play on those worries. You can see this daily as the financial news networks proclaim that the financial markets are in a boom or that there is gloom and doom ahead. Affluent people come to feel insecure – they could lose all their money or there could be a global economic collapse. The sky always seems to be falling. Feeling so vulnerable, how could they risk helping others? In truth, if you consider yourself able to help the world, then you are able to help the world. Generosity is an attitude, a way of life.
Many people could easily write big checks, but something holds them back. Most of our clients are age 60 and over and have a net worth generally in the range of one million to thirty million dollars. They could spend hundreds of thousands of dollars more than they spend now, but they can't bring themselves to do it. When shown that they have excess wealth, they might travel more or perhaps buy a second home, but they’re not likely to do a whole lot more than that. It is just not who they are.
In his book “Drive,” Daniel Pink summarizes three primary motivators of human behavior – and none of them is money. The first one is autonomy. We want to be able to have the freedom to do as we wish, the way we wish, and independence from needing anything from anybody. The second motivator is mastery. Golfers know there’s only one reason to play the game: to get better. Otherwise, you would have to admit, it is a pretty strange game of hitting and chasing a ball. We all are driven to get better and better – and that includes becoming better human beings. We want to care more about others than ourselves.
In our practice, regular folks- the “millionaires next door” [www.thomasjstanley.com/pub-books/1/The_Millionaire_Next_Door.html] often do not relate, at first, to the possibilities of philanthropy – until they see that they can do it voluntarily so the government doesn’t make them do it involuntarily. That realization appeals to those innate human drives for autonomy, mastery and purpose. – excerpt from chapter 4 “What’s philanpoppy?” one client asked. He quickly learned – not only how to pronounce the word but also its many benefits. And today, he is quite active in his giving to his church, as well as several community charitable organizations he cares about. He also restated his trust, zeroing out federal estate taxes in favor of his family’s chosen causes and organizations. Truth is, once the average affluent come to understand how philanthropy can work for them and their families, and that it is not just for the realm of the ultra-wealthy, they want to do more.
Preferably we can make this happen during life, but if not, then through our planning and our legacy. . . Darren Hardy, in his book The Compound Effect, discusses the power of your “why.” If you were offered twenty dollars, he asks, to walk a thirty-foot plank that was lying on the ground, you would certainly accept such an easy challenge. But what if the plank were between the tops of two tall buildings? Would twenty dollars be enough to take such a risk? Then imagine that you needed to cross that plank because the other building was burning and your children were in peril. Under such circumstances, all of us would scramble across, without even a thought about money. This illustrates the power of determining your “why” – understanding what motivates you to action. Unless we find a source of motivation, energy, and inspiration – something truly important or even urgent – we won’t take the action we ought to take. As humans, we are incredibly prone to procrastination or taking the path of least resistance. By and large, we avoid change and are slow to move toward new ideas and innovations. What we need is to see and understand our “why,” opening ourselves up to different perspectives as well as new resources, searching and then focusing on how to move in the right direction.
Perhaps you have heard the story of Alfred Nobel, the Swedish chemist who invented dynamite. He was shocked to discover his own obituary published one morning in a French newspaper. He was very much alive – it was his brother, Ludwig, who had died, but the newspaper confused the two and, in doing so, described the inventor as a “merchant of death.”
When we think of the concept of good stewardship, many of us tie it to our faith, whatever our belief system may be. We come to believe that our money and possessions aren’t really ours. Rather it is all God’s, or it is all part of the greater ethos of the universe, or whatever your beliefs might dictate. We are taught that our role is to be good stewards of what has been entrusted to us for the benefit of others. We are to consider those who will come after us, as we care for and use what we have been provided with.
It is a rhetorical question, because the answer is a given. If you knew you could, of course you would – it seems nobody would ever say otherwise. Any of us would if we honestly thought we could, right? The problem, however, is that all too many of us don’t know this and don’t believe we can.
Oseola McCarty was a washerwoman with a heart. She grew up in southern Mississippi and never finished school – in sixth grade, she quit so she could take care of an ailing aunt. Her home in Hattiesburg was humble, and she made a meager living. She never married or had children, and she walked wherever she needed to go, often pushing a cart a mile to get groceries. But before she passed away in 1999 at the age of 91, she donated $150,000 to the University of Southern Mississippi.
We are part of a sleeping giant in this country and globally . . . We hope to inspire a “LIVE MORE, GIVE MORE” spirit and attitude with our new book, You Can Do More that Matters. We hope to encourage you to think differently about your money and your passion. We want to motivate you to personally assess what you are really capable of doing, and address the concerns and needs that move you. As you discover what you are actually able to do, we are confident that you will feel inspired to take action.
Today, people want to learn how to manage their longevity, not just retirement. It’s vital to have conversations that link money with purpose, rather than just ways of saving, spending, or moving money. As a wealth manager, I recommend you begin the planning process with a conversation on what’s coming up in your next stage of life. Next stages of life may include planning for needs that encompass care-giving and support, aging parents, transitioning to purposeful income, or planning for items you or a family member may need as they age, such as home modification and in-home care. This includes addressing the cost of health, care-giving, and long-term care insurance.
Elder law and Medicare planning strives to preserve your financial assets from being devoured by the cost of long-term care. Medicare is a valuable source of health insurance but there are significant gaps that could cost you a great deal of money because of the “donut hole”- a gap in coverage that comes along after a patient has used a certain amount of their Medicare benefits and is responsible for 100% of their prescription drug costs. Did you know that NO Medicare supplement insurer has a better claims-paying history than another insurer - Medicare makes the decision on whether a claim will be paid. Learn more about Medicare – attend Understanding Medicare 2013 with Scott Iles
“We had a great day of golf . . . we were all part of something special . . . we made an impact.”
A potential injury or illness could prevent you from doing your job, causing you to lose your paycheck. Even a short-term disability could be financially devastating. This doesn’t need to be the case if you properly plan for this potential risk by purchasing disability insurance. Many individuals overlook the need for disability insurance as part of their financial picture. A poll of 1,200 private sector U.S. workers by the non-profit Consumer Federation of America found that two-thirds of them didn’t have disability insurance coverage. The challenge is that many individuals don’t see a reason to purchase additional insurance for something they don’t think they will need. This is understandable, but many of us don’t realize all the ways we could become disabled.
The Hammond Iles Wealth Advisors team has once again, been recognized in the FA Magazine 2013 Independent Top RIA Survey, ranking number 454. This accomplishment signifies company growth and is a great accomplishment!
As we age there will come a time where we will need the assistance of others to manage our finances and/or our estate. It is important to discuss these questions with your parent or parents while they are healthy and of sound mind in order to prepare for the future. Keep in mind that while your parents need to keep a sense of control, you want to be knowledgeable enough to be in a position to assist them if needed. It is important to keep up to date with any changes in your parent’s feelings and his or her financial and estate plans. These questions should be a continuous dialogue.
Simple, Beautiful, Valuable. How an Ancient Practice Can Work for Multigenerational Planning The first written ethical wills date to the 12th century, when Jewish fathers wrote to their sons on how to live an ethical life. These writings were an obligation as a parent, and included both practical advice and timeless words of wisdom – “Don’t quarrel, don’t oppress others in money or word, instruct your children as I have instructed you.” Today, with a growing awareness that a legacy is far more than material goods or financial assets, ethical wills can be part family history, part love letter and part self-reflective exercise. Traditional wills involve what you want your loved ones to have; ethical wills involve what you want them to know.
Once again, Greg Hammond is running with the CT Children’s Medical Center team in the Hartford Half Marathon on Saturday, October 12, 2013. We hope you’ll share our dedication to this great cause by sponsoring him. To pledge, call 800.416.1655 or visit www.crowdrise.com/greghammond.
More and more women are looking at money as a tool to enable their families to live their dreams and passions – both personally and philanthropically. Many are passing their beliefs about philanthropy, values about money, strong work ethic and sense of responsibility to their children and grandchildren; assisting them with giving to a charity of their choice as a way to engage the younger generations’ passions and teach responsibility.
Hammond Iles Wealth Advisors has a deep conviction for actively sharing the fruits of our labor within the communities where we live and work. We think it is our responsibility as US citizens to help the injured service members who have sacrificed so we can live free and be safe. Support our team at the World’s Largest Golf Outing to raise funds for the Wounded Warrior Project. Your support is greatly appreciated...please donate TODAY! 100% goes directly to the WWP. http://www.worldslargestgolfouting.com/donate
A majority of American women may be underprepared for their financial futures. Taking control of your financial future may be even more important for women than it is for men. Here’s why women need to actively save and invest. Although women are just as optimistic as men about the stock market, they are not always as confident about their investment decisions. This lack of confidence may lead women to shortchange themselves in the long run by investing less in their retirement savings. Regardless of gender, retirement is often more of a concern than healthcare costs, job security and managing debt. In our practice, we often see that women who participate in retirement savings plans save less than men, and are concerned that they haven’t saved enough. Let’s examine some reasons: 1. The earnings gap. Even today, men tend to earn more than women. Although the gap is closing, earning more offers the chance to defer greater amounts of salary into a company retirement plan.
The inception of the American Taxpayer Relief Act at the beginning of this year brought sweeping changes to the American tax system. Lower income brackets were affected when the AMT patch became permanent and the payroll-tax holiday expired. All things considered, however, this legislation focused mainly on raising taxes for high income individuals. The top income tax bracket was increased to 39.6%, a new capital gains and dividends “bucket” taxed at 20% for income in excess of $450,000 married/ filing jointly) was introduced, personal exemption and deduction phase-out limits were decreased, and the top estate-tax rate was increased to 40%. For wealthy clients the time for tax-conscious financial planning is now. Business Owners
Ron Ware and Greg Hammond – wealth impact strategists and personal legacy advisors – have authored a new book designed to help individuals and families “live more and give more.”
The third or social dimension of wealth is where you make a choice on how you will benefit society. Suppose I gave you $1 million that you couldn’t keep, give to family or friends - you could only choose to give it to the IRS or charity, which would you give it to? Where would it have the greatest impact?
The skillful blending of the three dimensions of your wealth - Financial, Personal and Social allows you to build a legacy of your values, influence, and money so you can truly make a difference in the world. Moving beyond the financial and into the personal dimension of wealth, ask yourself “What is important about money to me?” When I ask my clients, their answers initially tend to be safety, security and financial independence.
The skillful blending of the three dimensions of your wealth - Financial, Personal and Social allows you to build a legacy of your values, influence, and money so you can truly make a difference in the world.
By Greg Hammond, CFP®, CPA Charitable giving provides benefits for the non-profit organization receiving the gift and for you. You can free up additional funds for charitable giving by being more effective with your charitable donations Are you currently giving in the most efficient and beneficial way? Avoid these 5 common mistakes so you can give more and make a greater impact on the non-profit organizations and causes you care about. 5. Failing to Plan for Impact by Diversifying Your Donations
By Greg Hammond, CFP®, CPA Charitable giving provides benefits for the non-profit organization receiving the gift and for you. You can free up additional funds for charitable giving by being more effective with your charitable donations Are you currently giving in the most efficient and beneficial way? Avoid these 5 common mistakes so you can give more and make a greater impact on the non-profit organizations and causes you care about. 4. Not Using the IRA Charitable Rollover
By Greg Hammond, CFP®, CPA Charitable giving provides benefits for the non-profit organization receiving the gift and for you. You can free up additional funds for charitable giving by being more effective with your charitable donations Are you currently giving in the most efficient and beneficial way? Avoid these 5 common mistakes so you can give more and make a greater impact on the non-profit organizations and causes you care about. 3. Donating an Investment Held Less Than One Year or That Has a Loss
By Greg Hammond, CFP®, CPA Charitable giving provides benefits for the non-profit organization receiving the gift and for you. You can free up additional funds for charitable giving by being more effective with your charitable donations Are you currently giving in the most efficient and beneficial way? Avoid these 5 common mistakes so you can give more and make a greater impact on the non-profit organizations and causes you care about. 2. Giving Cash vs. Appreciated Investments
By Greg Hammond, CFP®, CPA Charitable giving provides benefits for the non-profit organization receiving the gift and for you. You can free up additional funds for charitable giving by being more effective with your charitable donations Are you currently giving in the most efficient and beneficial way? Avoid these 5 common mistakes so you can give more and make a greater impact on the non-profit organizations and causes you care about. 1. Not Keeping Accurate Records for Gifts
The Sequester-Where and how soon might the cuts be made? As there was no last-minute agreement between Congress and the White House to postpone federal budget cuts scheduled to take effect March 1, the ax now falls. Unless a bipartisan effort somehow undoes them, assorted federal government agencies will have their budgets reduced by $85 billion between now and October 1, as the initial step in a planned $1.2 trillion deficit trimming over the next ten years. (The belt-tightening could have been more severe: without January’s fiscal cliff deal, it would have been $109 billion.)1,2
Investors continued to add money to equities, resulting in 11 consecutive weeks of positive increases, the longest run in nine years. The financial markets are off to a good start this year. Although it’s easy to get caught up in the positive momentum of increasing values in the markets, we recommend exercising caution. We believe the financial markets have gone a little too far, too fast and may be positioned for a modest pullback. In the short term this would be neither unexpected nor unhealthy. In addition, we’re approaching self-imposed Congressional deadlines that create uncertainty.
We all strive to find meaning and happiness in our lives, but it’s hard to agree on what that means. How do we know when we have found success? Is happiness prosperity and the perfect job, or a white picket fence, or a large group of friends, or service to others, or the money to travel, or life-affirming spirituality, or something else altogether? Join The Connecticut Forum for a thoughtful conversation with panelists who have thought and written about these questions and have themselves lived lives of exploration, service and meaning. [http://www.ctforum.org/forum/meaningful-life]
70½ Age 70½ is the second important age milestone, when you are required to start taking distributions from your retirement account, even if you don’t want or need to. Even if you are already drawing an income or haven’t started to take distributions from your retirement accounts, you must begin taking a Required Minimum Distribution (RMD) at age 70½. At 70½ the IRS gets tired of waiting for its share of your retirement accounts and requires you to start taking money out which will trigger the income tax on the distributions.
A frequently asked financial question is, “Now that I’ve saved up for retirement, when can I access my retirement funds and when do I have to start taking money out?” All too often we spend so much time planning for retirement and accumulating assets that we forget to consider the most efficient way to draw income from retirement accounts.
Since 2006, IRA owners age 70½ and older have been able to make qualified charitable distributions (QCD) up to $100,000 each year from an IRA directly to a nonprofit organization.
Greg Hammond ran the Hartford Half Marathon as part of "Team Connecticut Children's" which was the largest official charity in the marathon with 80 runners, collectively raising over $32,000!