Brussels Bombing

Prayers for Brussels

My heart is breaking for the injured and dead and their families of the Brussels Bombing this morning. Two separate bombing incidents took place, one at a subway station and the other at the airport.

It is fairly obvious that this is an act of terror as Isis has already claimed responsibility for the attack. This will only add more fuel to the fire of the anti immigration movement. Europe has a massive migration problem on their hands, and you can’t help but blame their open border policies for this tragedy.

The president is in Cuba and will likely not have much to say. He usually doesn’t when it comes to Islamic Terror. He will condemn but stop way short of naming the enemy, even though the whole world knows who the enemy is.

So far the markets appear to be taking the news in stride.

Can I Retire?

Can I Retire?

A very popular question in our line of work, and a question we certainly love answering in the affirmative. But before we can even attempt to answer that question, there is a lot of work that needs to occur. Sometimes this can be done in the weeks, months, and years leading up to that question.

Our clients experience a variety of motivations throughout their lives. These motivations are the very reasons that inspire them to work with our team on developing a comprehensive financial plan. Whether for their family or their business, it is equally as important. As we work together through the planning process, a lot of questions are answered that help us chart a clearer path toward the ultimate goal.

Questions like:

-Am I saving enough?

-Have I protected my family in the event of an emergency or disability?

-When should I apply for Social Security?

-Can I retire and maintain my lifestyle?

The answer to most of these questions is largely dependent on spending habits, and the clients ability to maintain and stick within a budget.

A household’s perceived amount of spending versus its actual amount of spending can move the needle on when they can comfortably retire by a matter of years. As a result, we see tremendous value in the expense gathering process because it allows us to generate the most accurate projections. It allows us to provide the best guidance in addressing the ultimate question “can I retire?”.

Contact us to have a conversation about developing a financial plan tailored to you.

Daily News: Mike Desepoli

How to know what you’re really paying your financial advisor

Mike Desepoli, Daily News Contributor

March 1, 2016

Looking for a financial advisor? Wondering how you’ll pay him or her — and just how much?

There are three types of advisers you can work with. The first will charge you commission; the second, a management fee on the assets handled; and the third, a hybrid of the first two approaches. But all might also charge you hidden fees.

When you’re working with a financial adviser — regardless of what type of adviser they are — it is important to understand not only how they’re being compensated, but what are the fees that aren’t so transparent.

Many advisers themselves don’t understand all the hidden fees and expenses associated with asset management.

So how can you be sure what you are paying?

Ask!

Any adviser with a transparent business model will be happy to explain all costs incurred in any investment program. After all, shouldn’t you know exactly what you are paying for?

Some good questions to ask include:

How will you get paid for investments you recommend?

Will you be paid commissions on investments or other products you sell?

Do you receive payments from mutual funds or investment companies you recommend?

Aside from what I pay you, what other costs will I incur?

It is extremely important for investors to do their homework when choosing a financial adviser. Advisers should be able to directly answer your questions and have detailed, documented proof of fees and fiduciary standards.

One of the most important responsibilities of an adviser is to ensure that fees are both reasonable, and clearly communicated to the client.

If your adviser isn’t holding up their end of the bargain, it may be time to shop around.

Take control of how your investments are being managed and the expenses that you’re paying. It is your right to have access to transparent information about your account.

About Mike Desepoli

As a financial advisor and accredited investment fiduciary for Heritage Financial Advisory Group, Mike Desepoli serves as a wealth management resource to business owners and executives, assisting them in making proactive, personal financial decisions. Mike’s vision is to help clients live for today, as well as plan for tomorrow. He believes in making the complicated simple, by educating his clients so they can feel more confident about the decisions they make regarding their financial health.

To view more of Mike’s work for The Daily News, you can visit them on the web at http://www.nydailynews.com/authors?author=Mike-Desepoli

 

10 Tips to Boost Your Savings

10 Tips to Boost Your Savings

Looking to boost your savings? Here are a few strategies to focus on to get on the right track.

1. Focus on starting today!

Time is your best friend when it comes to growing your savings so don’t wait any longer and get to it!

2. Contribute to your 401(k)

If your employer offers a 401k plan that allows you to contribute pre tax money, ENROLL IN IT! Your future self will thank you for this.

3. Contribute enough to get a “match” from your employer:

If your employer offers to match your 401k contributions, make sure you contribute at least enough to take full advantage of the match….IT’S FREE MONEY!

4. If you don’t have access to a 401k, open an IRA:

Consider establishing an Individual Retirement Account to help build your nest egg. You will be saving for your future and you will also be eligible for a tax deduction. Double WIN!

5. Take advantage of catch up contributions if you are age 50 or older.

6. Automate your savings and pay yourself first:

Make your retirement contribution automatic each month and you’ll have the opportunity to potentially grow you nest egg without having to think about it.

7. SPEND LESS:

Examine your budget and evaluate what is a want, versus what is a needs. Rein it in.

8. Set GOALS

9. Create a rainy day fund

10. Consider delaying social security as you get closer to retirement:

For each year you delay taking social security, your benefit will increase up to a certain point, consult your advisor or accountant for help.

4th Quarter GDP

4th Quarter GDP

4th quarter GDP was reported this morning, coming in at 1%.This number was higher than the expectation of 0.7%, but it is still not a very impressive number for an economy that is projected to grow (according to the white house) at 2.5 – 3% for the full year. A majority of the increase in GDP was due to an increase in inventories on the balance sheet. That means consumers essentially consumed less goods in the 4th quarter That is not a great sign for retail. Whether or not this number is an indication that the economy is slowing remains to be seen. This continues a lackluster streak for the current administration of sub 3% annual growth.

Are Markets Worrying Too Much?

Are markets worrying too much?

Last week, markets headed south because investors were concerned about the possibility of negative interest rates in the United States, even though the Federal reserve just began raising interest rates.

The worries appear to have taken root after the Fed chair Janet Yellen was called before the house financial services committee to testify about the current path of monetary policy.

What Should Investors do if we see negative interest rates?

Worried investors may want to consider their longer term goals and objectives before bailing on their investment plan. Switching investment strategies can sometimes feel like changing lanes in traffic. As soon as you move out of that lane that is at a stand still, it starts to move again.

Don’t take your eye off the ball….step back, take a deep breath, and ask yourself what has changed so dramatically in your life that it would be prudent to tear up your investment plan and start over. More often than not, the best thing to do is nothing.

It’s times like now that many pundits come out and call a market top. These are the same critics that have not participated in the current bull market at all. They have a vested interest in creating fear and euphoria.

 

Chicken Soup for the Investor

Our years as financial advisors have given us unique insight into the complex relationships between investors and the ever-changing financial markets. While we do not present the following principles as immutable laws, we want to share them with you as you savor a cup of coffee this morning. They have guided us well.

People don’t invest to become rich. They invest so they don’t become poor. Individuals invest in stocks to help keep up with the rate of inflation. Bonds and cash may not allow you to keep up. But remember, stocks are more volatile than bonds.

People won’t fault a financial adviser who gets them 1 percent less on their investments. However, they will fault an adviser if he or she loses their money. A portfolio manager told me that years ago. The sound and passion in her voice have always stayed with me.

High fees and expenses will eat into your returns and thus, your nest egg. Most people are not aware of all the fees associated with investing. Pay attention to the fees and make sure they are in line with the averages.

Having to pay taxes should not prevent you from selling a stock. Let’s assume that you bought a stock for $50 and 14 months later it was worth $100 but you decide to hold it and forgo the $50 profit (minus $10 in capital gains tax.) If the stock then drops by 10 percent, to $90, and the capital gains rate is 20 percent, you’ll now make only $32 profit. How many people wish they had paid the taxes in the first place?

Most people underestimate how long they will live after retiring and how much money they will need. Increased longevity has had a major impact on retirement planning. I’ve often defined a failed retirement as running out of money before running out of time.

Emotions – not logic – often influences investment decisions. Fear leads to panic, and panic leads to the inability to distinguish between a temporary and a permanent decline in portfolio value. Voices of reason, such as “Stay the course” and “I’m in it for the long-term,” often yield to impulsiveness to sell.

Don’t constantly look up your account balance. You wouldn’t pull up your plants everyday to check on the roots would you?

Your investment decisions should be based on careful analysis of your time horizon, risk tolerance, expected return and asset allocation preference. If a salesman starts fishing around and talks about investments before addressing these issues with you, don’t take the bait.

It is never too late to start saving and planning for retirement. The key is to get started and have a plan.

These principles may not revolutionize the financial world (or even make the best-seller’s list). However, these principles have withstood the test of time. We hope these concepts provoke you into thinking about your own financial beliefs and goals.

About these ads

Does the Stock Market Overreact?

Does the Stock Market Overreact?

In short……you bet it does! Professors, philosophers, psychologists, academics…..you name it, have all done studies on behavioral finance to determine if the market overreacts, and why. If one thing is certain, it’s that psychology affects investor behavior. Classic economic theory assumes all people make rational decisions all the time and always act in ways that optimize their benefits. Well, wouldn’t that be nice if it were true? Unfortunately it couldn’t be more inaccurate. Behavioral Finance recognizes people don’t always act in rational ways, and it tries to explain how irrational behavior affects the stock market.

Markets tend to overreact to unexpected and dramatic news and events, with investors giving too much weight to new information. As a result, stock markets often are buffeted by bouts of optimism and bouts of pessimism, which push stock prices higher or lower than they deserve to be.

According to Howard Marks, “in order to be successful, an investor has to understand not just finance, accounting, and economics, but also psychology.” We couldn’t agree more.

When markets become volatile, it’s a good idea to remember your long term goals. Stay disciplined, and don’t let other people’s mood swings (or the market’s mood swings) affect your financial destiny. Like Benjamin Graham said, “in the end, how your investments behave is much less important than how you behave.”

How Do You Define Wealth

What does Wealth mean to you?

When I think about wealth, a lot of things come to mind. I think about a time in my golden years where I hope to be at peace. My hope is that I am proud with all I have done and accomplished in my life. I picture a day where I can say with certainty that I provided for my family. Through the years hopefully I made the world a better place along the way. I hope to look back with happiness over what I have done, and not with regret about what I have failed to do.

You may notice, that I just gave you my meaning of the word “wealth”, and not once did I mention money. That’s because at our firm, wealth is so much more than money. Wealth can be sending a grandchild to college, or donating to your favorite charity. It can be taking that vacation that you always wanted, or buying that dream vacation home. Wealth to us is anything that money can’t buy and death can’t take away.

What I love about my job as an advisor, is that I am responsible for so much more than generating investment returns. We offer much more than just advice, we help people live out their lives to the fullest. Our mission is to help our clients use wealth as a tool to pursue their goal of a work optional lifestyle. We look at money as much more than an object, a tool to get what you want out of life. When careful planning and smart decision making collide, its amazing what you can accomplish.

Stay Disciplined With Your Portfolio

Stay Disciplined With Your Investment Approach

One of the most challenging aspects of investing is not what many may think. Digging through the multitude of options available to put your money to work can be a daunting task. However, keeping your cool when things move in the wrong direction can make or break your portfolio returns.

Sometimes stock prices move based on economic facts, other times they move based on a perceived notion, or in anticipation of an event. If we know one thing, markets DO NOT like fear and uncertainty…..and given the levels of those prevalent in the market today, it’s no wonder we are seeing the market go haywire. This can easily weigh on an investors emotions. Watching your portfolio plunge into a sea of red is by no means easy to stomach, but it happens. Making sure you take the right steps when it happens, will make sure you don’t turn short term pain into long term damage.

So what should you do With your portfolio?

For one, it is always advisable to work with a professional. You wouldn’t try to build a house by yourself…..you hire a builder. So why should you treat your portfolio any differently? Secondly, beware of taking financial advice from the mass media. The media speaks to a very large and diverse audience, and their recommendations may not be suitable for you. They do not know your goals, risk tolerance, and time horizon…..so how would they know what is best for your portfolio?

The more you stay focused on your long term goals, the better off you will be. Keep your eye on the ball!

If you want to talk with us about ways to stay more disciplined with your portfolio strategy, click Contact and we will get back to you shortly.

When China Sneezes

When China Sneezes…

The quote above has been circulated around for years…..but how much truth does it hold? Well, if the start to 2016 is any indicator… global markets are paying close attention to China. Chinese stock markets got off to a horrific start in 2016. As a result, the negative sentiment is spreading quickly. The US markets are off to their worst 5 day start in……HISTORY. Consequently, we are seeing the bond and stock markets retreat convincingly.

Is the market drawdown justified? Many questions are beginning to circulate. It is too early to say we are in a correction as the market averages have not yet reached that level. No one can say with any certainty, but it is times like this that having a disciplined investment strategy becomes more important than ever. Remember your goals, objectives, and time horizon……if none of that has changed over the past week then why should your investment strategy change? Here’s a hint…….IT SHOULDN’T!!!

Interested in a compliment Portfolio Stress Test?

Is your portfolio protected from the risk that China presents? If you don’t know, lets run a portfolio stress test.  Contact

A Startling Stat!

No emergency savings?

Americans are starting 2016 with more job security, but most are still theoretically only ONE paycheck away from living on the street, due to a lack of emergency savings!

According to bankrate.com, 63% of Americans have NO emergency savings for things such as a $1,000 emergency room visit, or a $500 car repair. That represents an increase over 2014! How in the world did we get to this point. Well, for starters the increased used of credit cards certainly doesn’t help the trend. Many rely on credit limit availability in the event they face a hardship.

That is some scary stuff, folks. Do you have a savings plan in place? If you need some savings tips…. we can help! Visit Wealth Management Services to see what we can help with.

Weekly Focus

Weekly Focus – Think About It

“I never blame myself when I’m not hitting. I just blame the bat and if it keeps up, I change bats. After all, if I know it isn’t my fault that I’m not hitting, how can I get mad at myself?”
–Yogi Berra

September 1st

Happy September 1st!
As a new school year begins, here are some inspirational quotes for Teachers:

“Good teachers know how to bring out the best in students.” ~ Charles Kuralt
“I touch the future. I teach.” ~ Christa McAuliffe…
“Nine-tenths of education is encouragement.” ~ Anatole France

Weekly Focus

Weekly Focus from this weeks Market Commentary:

“Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”

–Arthur C. Clarke, British science fiction write

Weekly Focus

Weekly focus from this weeks Market Commentary!

“In the 20th century, the United States endured two world wars and other traumatic and expensive military conflicts; the Depression; a dozen or so recessions and financial panics; oil shocks; a flu epidemic; and the resignation of a disgraced president. Yet the Dow rose from 66 to 11,497.”

–Warren Buffett

Mike Desepoli Earns Investment Fiduciary Designation

Mike Desepoli Named Accredited Investment Fiduciary

A huge congratulations to our Financial Advisor and head of portfolio management, Mike Desepoli. Mike achieved the accredited AIF® designation, for Accredited Investment Fiduciaries.

What is the AIF?

Being awarded the Accredited Investment Fiduciary® designation comes with the highest standard of knowledge of client management. Advisors with this designation have chosen a business model that is free of conflicts of interest. As a result, they have chosen a model that truly benefits the client as they deliver their services in a fair and transparent manner. It also shows competence to handle the responsibility of implementing policies and procedures that meet a defined standard of care. A fiduciary advisor has his or her clients best interest in mind with every single recommendation that they make. A fiduciary advisor is help to the highest standards when it comes to providing investment advice.

 

For more information on Mike Desepoli, visit Our Team

The 7 Biggest Threats to Your Retirement:

1) Not Starting Early Enough
2) Hidden Fees
3) Withdrawing Too Much…
4) Major Unexpected Expenses
5) Inflation
6) Not Saving Enough
7) Outliving Your Money

Give us a call today to see how we can add value to your financial plan and create a stress-free retirement. (631) 878-5117

Weekly Wednesday!

Desepoli Wealth Weekly

April 20, 2015

The Markets

It’s a topsy-turvy world.

In the United States, during the last quarter of 2014, about seven million (13 percent) of all mortgaged residential properties were underwater, meaning the mortgage loan amount was at least 25 percent higher than the estimated market value of the property, according to RealtyTrac.com. That’s a significantly lower number than the 12.8 million that were underwater early in 2012. Regardless, it’s an unhappy situation for the homeowners who may wish they lived in Spain.
Why Spain? Well, as has been mentioned before, negative interest rates have been sweeping across Europe and affected mortgage rates. The Wall Street Journal explained:

“In countries such as Spain, Portugal, and Italy, the base interest rate used for many loans, especially mortgages, is the euro interbank offered rate, or Euribor… Banks set interest rates on many loans as a small percentage above or below a benchmark such as Euribor. As rates have declined, sometimes to below zero, some banks have faced the paradox of paying interest to those who have borrowed money from them.”

In fact, at least one bank – the seventh largest in Spain – has been paying some of its mortgage holders’ interest! It just deducts the interest amount from the principal amount the borrower owes. It may be safe to say European banks’ expenses have increased since, in addition to paying interest on some loans they’ve issued, banks also have been “compelled to rebuild computer programs, update legal documents, and redo spreadsheets to account for negative rates.”

In addition to a confounding interest rate environment, Europe is also contending with issues related to Greek debt, which triggered a sell-off in stock markets late last week. U.S. markets fared no better. Major markets lost value last week on concerns about Greece leaving the Euro, the potential for weaker-than-expected earnings results, and new trading regulations in China.
Data as of 4/17/15 1-Week Y-T-D 1-Year 3-Year 5-Year 10-Year
Standard & Poor’s 500 (Domestic Stocks) -1.0% 1.1% 11.6% 14.4% 11.7% 6.2%
Dow Jones Global ex-U.S. 0.3 7.0 0.6 6.4 3.3 3.8
10-year Treasury Note (Yield Only) 1.9 NA 2.7 2.0 3.8 4.3
Gold (per ounce) -0.3 0.3 -7.4 -9.7 1.2 10.9
Bloomberg Commodity Index 2.4 -2.4 -26.0 -9.7 -5.2 -3.9
DJ Equity All REIT Total Return Index -0.8 1.4 17.8 13.0 14.4 9.1