News & Insights

The Trouble with Trusting Your Stock Options

by Chris Jaccard, CFP®, CFA on 11/27/2018

Here's the trouble with trusting your stock options.

Stock options are great for established companies who want to reduce their tax bill, startups who don’t have a revenue stream, and many others in between. But do they always make sense for the employee? Here are some scenarios when you should push back on a stock option offer, and the questions to ask to avoid locking yourself into an unfavorable one.

FINISH READING HERE

posted in BlogInvestmentsPersonal Finance

The #1 Thing That Most Executives Aren’t Doing With Their Stock Options and Executive Compensation Plans – and What It May Be Costing You

by Jim Freeman, CFP® on 10/23/2018

Executives are constantly overlooking the automation of their stock options - here's how to do just that.Executives who are time-constrained yet serious about reaching their financial and investing goals commonly overlook one important factor: automation. Set up your plan so that it will be automatically executed without you having to remember what decisions were made. Automate, automate, automate! Here’s why.

A Typical Executive’s Financial Snapshot

Let’s say that you are an executive for a successful company that offers the following executive compensation:

  • Salary & Bonus $350,000
  • Restricted Stock Units (RSUs) of $150,000 annually
  • Stock option grants annually
  • A deferred compensation plan
  • An employee stock purchase plan (ESPP)
  • A matching 401k plan

We also assume your portfolio is overweighted to your company’s stock and you’d like to gradually reduce this overweight. In addition, let’s suppose you are in a high tax bracket and you’d like to reduce your taxes if possible during your peak earning years. You also want to begin saving money for your kid’s college costs, have your mortgage paid off in 10 years, keep your spending to $200,000 per year and aggressively reduce your stock option holdings if your company stock hits certain price targets.

If you’re doing this all manually, as most executives are, you may not realize how much time you are spending on tasks that could easily be achieved in a fraction of the time. In addition, automation reduces the risk of error.

The Automation Advantage

So how could an executive go about reducing the amount of manual work that is done in their financial and investment planning? Here is how this might look.

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posted in BlogInvestmentsPersonal Finance

Loopholes for Substantial and Perpetual Property Tax

by Jim Freeman, CFP® on 7/9/2018

This blog was written in conjunction with guest author Matt Brand.

Homeownership is quickly becoming a luxury that fewer can afford in California these days. But it doesn’t have to be – if you know the tax code.  In this column we highlight some lesser known property tax loopholes that can help ease the financial burden for those who qualify.

Tax Loophole That May Apply to You

Most people know about Proposition 13, which applies to all California homeowners. It caps property tax at 1% of home value as determined by purchase price and then it limits annual increases to no more than 2% annually thereafter.

There are a handful of loopholes that apply to people in specific circumstances and these are not well known.

Proposition 60 lets homeowners who are 55 or older sell their home, buy a new one, and transfer their “old” home’s tax assessment basis to the new home (“property tax portability”). Such fortuitous transfers are permitted only once in a lifetime. And this law only applies to moves into a home of equal or lesser value and to moves within the 11 participating counties (including San Diego). But these rules may soon become more flexible.

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posted in BlogInvestmentsPersonal Finance

Stock Returns – The Uncommon Average

by Jim Freeman, CFP® on 11/10/2017

The US stock market has delivered an average annual return of around 10% since 1926 (as measured by the S&P 500 Index through 2016). But short-term results may vary, and in any given period stock returns can be positive, negative, or flat. When setting expectations, it’s helpful to see the range of outcomes experienced by investors historically. For example, how often have the stock market’s annual returns actually aligned with its long-term average?

Exhibit 1 shows calendar year returns for the S&P 500 Index since 1926. The shaded band marks the historical average of 10%, plus or minus 2 percentage points. The S&P 500 had a return within this range in only six of the past 91 calendar years. In most years the index’s return was outside of the range, often above or below by a wide margin, with no obvious pattern. For investors, this data highlights the importance of looking beyond average returns and being aware of the range of potential outcomes.

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posted in BlogInvestments

Thoughts on S&P’s decision to exclude non-voting stock from indexes

by Chris Jaccard, CFP®, CFA on 8/3/2017

This week the company that maintains the S&P 500 index announced that they will start excluding companies from their indexes that issue multiple classes of shares.  So newer issues of stock from companies like Snap Inc. (SNAP) – that do not have voting rights – will not be included in many popular indexes.  This follows similar statements from FTSE Russell and MSCI earlier in the year.

These announcements highlight a couple of key reminders for investors.  First, there is a significant human element even with indexes that claim to be strictly rule-based.  Second, although index providers and professionals agree that corporate governance matters, there is no consensus on how to encourage better practices while still maintaining indexes that represent public companies.

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posted in BlogInvestments

Prediction Season

by Jim Freeman, CFP® on 12/16/2016

stockpredictionIn one of our newsletters from October, we included an article entitled, “Presidential Elections and the Stock Market”. The conclusion of the article was:

Trying to make investment decisions based upon the outcome of presidential elections is unlikely to result in reliable excess returns for investors. At best, any positive outcome based on such a strategy will likely be the result of random luck. At worst, it can lead to costly mistakes. Accordingly, there is a strong case for investors to rely on patience and portfolio structure, rather than trying to outguess the market, in order to pursue investment returns.

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posted in BlogInvestments

Interesting Article: Hold Your Nose and Buy Europe

by Jim Freeman, CFP® on 6/17/2016

Jason Zweig wrote an interesting article in the May 28th Wall Street Journal entitled, “Hold Your Nose and Buy Europe.”  Zweig says that as investors search for bargains in a world of overpriced assets, they should be guided by the EMH. That isn’t the Efficient Market Hypothesis, which holds that the price of a security reflects all available information but instead Zweig’s own Emetic* Market Hypothesis, which says if the mere thought of owning an asset turns your stomach, that probably is a sign to buy it.

*Emetic – a medicine or other substance that causes vomiting.

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posted in BlogInvestments

Beware the Rollover Offer: 5 Important Questions to Ask

by Chris Jaccard, CFP®, CFA on 5/28/2016

Last week, one of my aunts asked me about rolling over an old 401(k) plan.  She had been getting calls from a friend saying she can get up to $8,000 in bonuses/incentives if she does the rollover now.  Wow, I thought, this is way beyond the usual $100 or $200 cash offers I’ve seen.

New Law Not in Full Effect

My remark to her was – Beware!  I told her of the new law I wrote about last month, and that we recently learned that the protections actually don’t come into full effect until April 2017.

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posted in BlogInvestmentsPersonal Finance

New Department of Labor Rules Coming Soon

by Chris Jaccard, CFP®, CFA on 4/4/2016

The Department of Labor is coming out with new rules in the next couple of weeks that some in the financial services industry have said is the most disruptive piece of regulation to come down since 1974.  What will it say?

It will basically require that financial advisors act in their clients’ best interests – as a “fiduciary” – when advising on company retirement plans such as 401(k) plans.  Currently, advice on these plans only has to be “suitable”, which can lead to the sale of expensive or inferior investment products.

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posted in BlogInvestmentsPersonal Finance

S&P 500 Annual Returns and Intra-Year Declines

by Jim Freeman, CFP® on 11/2/2015

Last quarter the US stock market as measured by the S&P 500 experienced its first 10% correction since 2011. As you can see from this graph, “Annual Returns and Intra-Year Declines” these types of fluctuations are normal and to be expected. The red dot and red negative numbers on the graph show the largest peak to trough drop during each year and the black bars and black numbers show the total returns for each year. The total returns shown here do not include dividends.

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posted in BlogInvestments

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Posts are general in nature and do not constitute the rendering of legal, investment, accounting or other professional advice.