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Tax Cuts and Jobs Act Changed Things More Than You Realize

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act made a lot of changes. It was the single largest tax reform bill in nearly 30 years. However, the impact of the TCJA might be a lot broader than most realize. Almost every small business owner in the country is impacted by a new tax deduction called 199A. Read more


Digital Assets – What They Are and Why You Already Own Some

By Jamie Hopkins

Recently I gave a presentation to a large group, over 300 in attendance. I asked the group, “How many of you own a digital currency?” Only about three or four hands went up. I was shocked. Read more

year end planning


7 Year-End Planning Tips from a Wealth Planner

Published by Mark Petersen, Vice President Affluent Wealth Planning

The holidays are upon us, so that must mean it’s time for year-end income tax planning, right? In the past, I would have said yes, but that changed 12 months ago when the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) of 2017 was passed. Read more


Be Careful When You Dream of a White Christmas!


As we approach the Christmas holiday, I have been thinking about past Christmas experiences and one sticks out in my mind.  Years ago, my family was lamenting about never having the experience of a white Christmas.  They’ve never had a Christmas where they’d wake up in the morning with the front and back yard covered in snow.  I remembered my childhood growing up on the East Coast and told them how magical that is.  They said, “Well, why don’t we do it?”  I replied, “Well, that means getting on a plane, going back east.”  They said, “Yes, let’s do that!”

So we set it up.  We’re going to have a Graves family reunion in Buffalo, New York.  We planned it for a week before Christmas, and everybody from the West Coast got on the plane.  My wife, Sandy and I, my sons, Steven and Brian their families all flew to Buffalo, New York.  We didn’t know at the time how white this Christmas reunion would be!

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The 4 Pitfalls of No Plan

There are some things in life you just can’t plan for: an unexpected illness, job loss, death of spouse, disability…While these major events can impact your life, having an effective game plan can help ensure that it doesn’t ruin your financial well-being. Read more


Improving The Traditionally Allocated Portfolio

Published by Tyler Schlumpf

We’re going to introduce a few mathematical concepts in this article that are crucial to building a portfolio. For those that are already moving their cursor up to the X in the right hand corner, just stick with it! These concepts, whether we choose to learn them or not, have a significant impact on the way we combine investments and are important to understand as we discuss portfolio construction. Read more


Good Reasons to be a Control Freak

“To try may be to die, but not to care is never to be born.” –William Redfield

In 2008, the institutions that were the foundation of the U.S. economy dissolved as if they were built on sand.  Most of us probably couldn’t describe exactly what all of these companies did, but we recognized them from their Manhattan skyscrapers, billboards, and TV ads.

In a downward spiral that seemed to have no bottom, we heard and read that companies like AIG, Merrill Lynch, Countrywide, Lehman Brothers, and Bear Stearns were on the brink of collapse.  When Lehman Brothers filed for bankruptcy, we learned that it was the largest bankruptcy filing in U.S. history.  We read that Countrywide, the company to which millions of us mailed our mortgage payments every month, was failing quickly.  (We now know that it was acquired by Bank of America).

We expressed outrage when AIG, at one point the world’s largest insurer, received federal bailout money and two weeks later rewarded a select group of employees with lavish bonuses totaling $443,344.  The corporate compensation proved to be a major public relations gaffe and fed into public perceptions of corporate excess. Read more


4 Simple Steps to Creating an Estate Plan

Published by Beth Schanou, JD

Most of the time, it feels like life is moving at the speed of light. I often feel my entire day, both at home and at the office, is spent in fast forward mode. As if it’s a race to get done as much as possible, I’m running from one thing to the next, all day long, and making sure every household member is fed, cared for, and attends school and their activities. Of course this includes the four-legged members of the family too. Read more


Risk & Reality



Part of creating a Life Plan for clients requires assessing their risk tolerance.  I ask the following question:  “How would you feel if you lost 10 percent of your savings because of a market downturn?”

“I think I’d be OK with that”, a client says.

“How about this: if you had $1 million and lost $100,000, how would you feel?”

A blank stare tells me that the 10 percent loss, when put into dollars and cents, is far less palatable.  Prior to 2008, many investors didn’t understand the asset allocation risks they were taking.  As a result, their portfolios were focused on certain areas while neglecting others.  This may have prevented them from having a well-defined, diversified portfolio with alternative investments that may help protect it.

I hope that the recession will help people understand risk better than they have in the past and that they will understand the difference between long and short range planning; the more time you have, the more risk you can take.  The opposite is true as well: the less time you have, the less risk you should take.  Recognizing risk factors in a tangible way means that more of us will be conservative in our investments, which could benefit us greatly in the long term. Read more

Diversified Investments Global Image


4 Easy Ways to Diversify Your Investments

Published By Jake Bleicher, Equity Analyst

The benefit diversified investments has for a portfolio is simple, in theory. It reduces the impact any individual investment has on the portfolio, and proper diversification can help mitigate losses during a market downturn. In practice however, portfolios can become a large hodgepodge of various assets rather than a methodical allocation. The key is to reduce the correlation between assets so that they generally perform independent of one another. Read more