News & Insights

Become a Better Health Care Consumer

by Jim Freeman, CFP® on 9/6/2016

Health CareHow do you become an empowered health care consumer?  A recent blog post on the Forbes magazine website, authored by financial planner/doctor Carolyn McClanahan, suggests that the relationship between doctors and patients is entering a third phase of its long-term evolution.  Phase one was paternalistic, where the doctor told the patient what to do and the patient was expected to do it.  With the rise of the Internet, the relationship has become more informational—the doctor provides the patient with a number of choices, and the patient chooses one of them.

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posted in BlogPersonal Finance

Create a Social Security Account before a Hacker Does it for You

by Chris Jaccard, CFP®, CFA on 8/15/2016

Social Security Log InTighter Security

The Social Security Administration now requires a cell phone number for people who want to access their benefit information at

When you log into your Social Security Administration account, you give your user name and password but then you receive a one-time security code sent by text message – and must type in that code to complete your login procedure.  In the cybersecurity trade, this is known as multi-factor authentication.

While this has tightened security, it does not prevent identity thieves from fraudulently creating online accounts for people that haven’t already done so – potentially siphoning their benefits.

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posted in BlogPersonal Finance

Planning for Special Needs Children in Your Estate Plan

by Ellen Li, MSBA, CFP® on 7/22/2016

If you have children or grandchildren with special needs, whether they were born with congenital defects or develop disabilities through accident or disease, you should consult with your estate planner and financial advisor to protect the future of these children.

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posted in BlogPersonal Finance

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

Taxes and Your Children

by Ellen Li, MSBA, CFP® on 5/6/2016

Over the years we have encountered questions on whether client’s children need to file their own taxes.

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posted in BlogPersonal Finance

6 Income Tax Audit Triggers

by Jim Freeman, CFP® on 4/22/2016

Laura Saunders recently wrote an interesting article in the Wall Street Journal entitled, “Is Your Tax Return Audit Bait?” With taxes still on everybody’s mind, I decided to give you a brief summary of her article.

First of all it’s interesting to know that in 2015 the IRS audited less than 1% of nearly 147 million individual returns – the lowest rate in a decade. The overall numbers don’t tell the whole story. In recent years, the IRS has increased its focus on high earners, and in 2015 it audited nearly 10% of returns with $1 million or more of income. In 2006, just 5.3% of taxpayers reporting at least $1 million of income were audited.

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posted in BlogPersonal 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

5 Scams to Watch Out For – with Defense Tips

by Mary Rose Schwartz on 3/25/2016

Recent surveys show that older Americans are criminally defrauded out of 12.76 billion dollars a year. This includes identity theft and the scams or cons we all think we would never fall for.

In fact, con artists run away with twice as much of the defrauded funds as identity thieves. Apparently it is much easier to just fool someone into giving away financial information and passwords than it is to hack their password.

Forbes reported that scammers even successfully breached CIA Director John Brennan’s email account by calling and pretending to be a Verizon customer support person. They ultimately obtained his Social Security number which they then used to reset his passwords.

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posted in BlogPersonal Finance

New Law Changes Social Security Claiming Strategies

by Ellen Li, MSBA, CFP® on 3/1/2016

In a January 25th 2013 blog I explained how to maximize your Social Security benefits by using the restricted application claiming strategy . Unfortunately, this strategy is no longer available for most people due to new legislation being passed by Congress in  October in 2015.

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posted in BlogPersonal Finance

Five Investments to Consider at 50

by Chris Jaccard, CFP®, CFA on 8/11/2015

Age 50 is great time to a take a look at your retirement trajectory, and re-evaluate your financial circumstances:

1. Invest in Your Career

At 50, you have probably gotten close to your lifetime peak earnings level – it’s a good time to objectively evaluate your position, and decide how to approach the next decade or two of working years.  Have you been itching for a career change?  Are you being paid what you’re worth?  If you are eligible for a traditional pension plan, look into how your benefit is calculated – to best take advantage given your circumstances and goals.

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posted in BlogInvestmentsPersonal Finance

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