News & Insights

Scam Watch: Protect Yourself From Phishing Schemes

by Thao Truong on 11/4/2016

It has recently come to our attention that the clients of some of our colleagues have reported a jump in the number of phishing attempts on their investment accounts. Although we haven’t heard this from any of our clients recently, we understand that becoming a cyber-security victim can be very painful and costly.

We continually upgrade our systems and procedures to help prevent and detect unauthorized access, but hackers are getting smarter and bolder. Because security is a shared responsibility, we think our clients and others need to know what a phishing attack looks like and what steps they can take to defend themselves.

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posted in BlogGeneralPersonal Finance

Market Review – Q3 2016

by Financial Alternatives on 10/12/2016

Index Performance

  • Looking at broad market indices, emerging markets outperformed all other equity markets during the quarter.
  • The US equity market lagged developed markets outside the US.
  • The Bloomberg Commodity Index Total Return posted a -3.86% return during the quarter.
  • US real estate investment trusts (REITs) recorded negative absolute returns and lagged the US equity market.

posted in InvestingNewsletters

Planning Newsletter – Oct 2016

by Financial Alternatives on 10/12/2016

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  • Emotions are running high this election season and investors are nervous about how the election will affect their investments.
  • Tumultuous events have been a constant theme for presidential elections throughout history.
  • In 17 of 18 past presidential elections, a hypothetical $10,000 investment in the S&P 500 made at the beginning of each election year would have gained value 10 years later.
  • Long-term investment success has depended more on the strength of the US economy than on which party occupies the White House during any particular four-year period.
  • Beliefs about which political party is best for the markets may encourage you to vote, but shouldn’t discourage you from investing.

posted in NewslettersPlanning

Cancel your Covered California Plan When You Turn 65

by Ellen Li, MSBA, CFP® on 9/27/2016

If you have a Covered California plan, chances are that you also receive tax credits that reduce your monthly insurance premiums. When you turn 65 and enroll in Medicare, you become ineligible for those tax credits, which can amount to hundreds of dollars a month. As a result, you will not only lose your tax credit but you will also need to start budgeting for the premiums on Medicare Part B & a supplemental plan.

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posted in BlogPersonal Finance

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 SSA.gov.

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

Market Review – Q2 2016

by Financial Alternatives on 7/22/2016

  • Looking at broad market indices, the US outperformed developed markets outside the US and emerging markets.
  • US REITs had very strong positive returns for the quarter, outperforming the broad equity market.
  • Commodities were broadly positive during the quarter. The Bloomberg Commodity Index Total Return gained 12.78%.

posted in InvestingNewsletters

Investing Newsletter – Jul 2016

by Financial Alternatives on 7/14/2016

  • Despite a historic US stock price drop at the start of the year and the recent Brexit vote, most asset classes showed positive returns for the first half of 2016
  • In volatile markets, it’s important to remind yourself of what you really own when you own a diversified collection of stocks as part of your portfolio.
  • Ideally, a client of ours will have underlying stock ownership in 5,500 – 11,500 companies from all over the world.
  • These companies have millions of employees that work diligently day after day and year after year in an effort to increase the earnings of their companies.
  • In aggregate, these companies make a profit and part of this is paid out to shareholders in the form of dividends.
  • Ignoring the often sensationalist day to day financial news and focusing on the progress mankind continues to make can help you maintain a positive long term focus.

posted in InvestingNewsletters

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

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Disclaimer

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