Marking My 20th Anniversary in this Industry
Many of you know my story: twenty years ago I was hired into this field by my longtime friend and mentor, the late, great Jack Albertson (may he rest in peace). At that time I was 35 years old and had just been laid off from a job where I had worked happily for eleven years . I had also just met the woman to whom I have now been married to for over seventeen years. I couldn't imagine what I was getting into or anticipate how any of that would go. What a ride! And so here I am in 2022, proud father of a high school freshman, and my business continues to grow year after year. Through all of the iterations of this journey, the one constant (other than my wife) has been the joy of being of service to my customers and our resulting relationships. There's real satisfaction for me when I meet with a longtime client and see that the plans we put together are on track. It also means a lot when I get a call from someone who just had a major life or financial change and needs to revisit and tweak or even redo their plans. After all, just as it was for me in 2002, sometimes you can't predict everything. If we haven't talked or met for awhile, you probably should check in with me! After all, this year has already had a few surprises... Thanks once again to all of you for your continued loyalty! -Frank
War is Here
We began this year as we always do, with fireworks and cautious optimism. As I began to compose this newsletter, there were very different fireworks happening. Tanks were rolling into Ukraine. Financial markets were already hurting, chiefly concerned about monetary policy, interest rates, inflation, slow GDP growth, and supply chain disruptions. The S & P 500 is in a correction. Oil prices just surged above $100 per barrel. Many of us were caught off guard at these developments. Some of us were surprised that some of these things hadn't happened sooner. The world seems to have gone mad. Heck, even Canada appears to have become a dictatorship. Will China invade Taiwan next? One important thing to remember is that it's not a good idea to panic. These periods of disruption are often relatively short and can be times of great opportunity. In fact, the stock markets somehow rallied to a positive close that same day, this despite the horrific news headlines and NATO's tepid response. If your portfolio is allocated appropriately the volatility doesn't have as much of an impact.
As I Begin My 20th Year
We celebrated our Christmas holidays very differently this year. No parties. No traveling to visit families. Less retailing than I can ever remember, and more online shopping than ever. We stayed home rather than attend church services, as attendance at our local parish was restricted to a small fraction of capacity. Amazingly, the lack of communal activity was actually a welcome respite for me after such a challenging year. I crossed the finish line of 2020 exhausted mentally, physically, and emotionally. Having several days with my wife and son with little-to-nothing planned occurred like a precious luxury. Our batteries needed some serious recharging! Whatever the new year brings, we will be here to help you deal with it. My business continues to expand since the shutdown began, and largely due to repeat and referral business. It's my pleasure and honor to continue to assist you and your families, friends, and associates in meeting the challenges that these times are presenting us. Thanks so much to all of you for your continued loyalty! -Frank Fixed Rates: Good News/ Bad News A few months ago I mentioned that we were seeing a lot of people asking about safe money alternatives as their old cd's matured. With the 10- year U.S. Treasury hovering around 1%,the banks are not offering what they used to. The good news is I've been able to offer a 3 year, tax-deferred MYGA ( multi-year guaranteed annuity) featuring a 2.4% fixed interest rate with an A- rated (A.M. Best) insurance carrier. The bad news: that rate is dropping to 2.1% after next week! If you are curious as to whether adding this type of investment to your portfolio is in your best interest now while it's still available, let me know! Best of all, the whole process can be done remotely for your convenience via phone and/or Zoom if you prefer. If you can contact me by Groundhog Day (February 2, 2021) we should still be able to get it done.
Beware the Ides of March
In some ways it feels like we've all been stuck in some kind of a depressing, dystopian remake of the comedy classic movie, Groundhog Day. Each day we wake up hoping that the world has moved on to a new day, only to find out ourselves stuck in a world of dread disease, foreboding political strife, and an unscheduled economic shutdown threatening us and our loved ones, with no defined end in sight. Now here we are, already a month into the new year with a new political reality and in the midst of the COVID-19 vaccine implementation, thanks to the apparent success of Operation Warp Speed. How long will we be stuck in this movie? Will the groundhog see its proverbial shadow, and are we in for an extended economic winter? Wasn't this supposed to be a two week shutdown? Meanwhile, equity markets reached new record highs in January. Some of you have reached out to me expressing concern about the new administration and the prospect of tax increases, among other things. It's impossible to predict what will happen next, but there's no historical data that support any kind of correlation between increased tax rates and negative stock market results in the years that followed them since 1950.
As I Begin My 20th Year We celebrated our Christmas holidays very differently this year. No parties. No traveling to visit families. Less retailing than I can ever remember, and more online shopping than ever. We stayed home rather than attend church services, as attendance at our local parish was restricted to a small fraction of capacity. Amazingly, the lack of communal activity was actually a welcome respite for me after such a challenging year. I crossed the finish line of 2020 exhausted mentally, physically, and emotionally. Having several days with my wife and son with little-to-nothing planned occurred like a precious luxury. Our batteries needed some serious recharging! Whatever the new year brings, we will be here to help you deal with it. My business continues to expand since the shutdown began, and largely due to repeat and referral business. It's my pleasure and honor to continue to assist you and your families, friends, and associates in meeting the challenges that these times are presenting us. Thanks so much to all of you for your continued loyalty! -Frank Fixed Rates: Good News/ Bad News A few months ago I mentioned that we were seeing a lot of people asking about safe money alternatives as their old cd's matured. With the 10- year U.S. Treasury hovering around 1%,the banks are not offering what they used to. The good news is I've been able to offer a 3 year, tax-deferred MYGA ( multi-year guaranteed annuity) featuring a 2.4% fixed interest rate with an A- rated (A.M. Best) insurance carrier. The bad news: that rate is dropping to 2.1% after next week! If you are curious as to whether adding this type of investment to your portfolio is in your best interest now while it's still available, let me know! Best of all, the whole process can be done remotely for your convenience via phone and/or Zoom if you prefer. If you can contact me by Groundhog Day (February 2, 2021) we should still be able to get it done.
CFK Financial: 3 Years & Counting!
Thanks to all of you and the help of my professional colleagues, I have continued to serve people with their investment portfolio management, retirement planning, life, long-term care and health insurance, and even estate and tax planning needs for eighteen and one-half years, with the past three of those here at CFK Financial.
Some of you know that I never aspired to have my own business. I didn't consider myself an "entrepreneur type" and was content to work for successful entrepreneurs to help them grow and manage their businesses. That was my career. Who would have predicted that at the age of 50 I would have started on this journey, or how well things would turn out?
This is somehow true despite all of the craziness of 2020, a year most people will be happy to put behind them for so many reasons... yet here we are and my recurring revenue has nearly tripled since this time last year, thanks to all of you! So far 100% of my revenue for all three years has been from repeat business and referrals of new customers. My practice has even expanded geographically as several of my Atlanta-area clients have moved out of Georgia but still rely on my assistance.
I look forward to continuing to work with you, your loved ones and friends. My thanks go out to everyone for your continuing loyalty, support and encouragement!
First there was stock market crash brought on by the Wuhan CCP virus, followed by extra economic strife caused by the global economic shutdown in response to the pandemic; then ensued a truly scary period of planned, coordinated, non-spontaneous civil unrest and rioting and nightly summer violence in our cities, including right here in Atlanta; and even now there's some reluctance nationally to reopen schools and businesses despite strong evidence of a much weaker virus problem than was originally advertised. Throw in a historically bitter presidential election for good measure and you have the story of 2020, one nobody would have predicted.
Thank goodness the stock market tends to be forward looking! Last Friday the S & P had already recovered to beyond its pre-COVID record levels. This is largely due to the tech sector, up over 28% so far year-to-date. Over 60% of the
S & P 500 still is in a loss position this year. If the sociopolitical angst and trade war talk subsides, this could set up more good things for retirement portfolios as the economy continues to recover its health.
Honors to Announce
I am pleased to report that FormulaFolios was named to the Inc 5000 list for the 6th consecutive year! This is due to their sustained strong growth year over year over year.
Back to School?
I drove my son to his first day of 8th grade the other day....
He gets to take his mask off outdoors during a fifteen minute recess break. A few of his friends opted for remote learning, at least for the first quarter. His homeroom has been moved to the school's gymnasium. His school's basketball teams, which usually begin practicing in October for the season that starts in November, are not sure if they will have a season this year. That would end my amateur coaching career a year early!
In other homes, people are getting ready to send their kids back or start a year of distance learning. My nephew just started his junior year at Duke University. But only freshmen and sophomores are allowed to attend classrooms. He's taking classes remotely this semester from Maryland until they let him go back.
It's a frustrating time for most of us. There's some good news too. It looks like there's a much lower fatality rate from the Chinese coronavirus than originally feared. It seems like the medical profession has a better set of options for treating the sick. And the unemployment rate, which skyrocketed last quarter to record highs, has fallen much faster than anticipated as more people get back to work.
We'll still have some big challenges to deal with individually and as a nation as we continue to reopen businesses and eventually resume "normal" activities. And that's without including all of the strife caused by an explosion of violence in our cities nationwide and a toxic presidential election season!
I have to acknowledge my clients, most of whom have handled this pandemic year with an abundance of grace and calm. A few of you even have had the virus and recovered. Many of you have found the pandemic shutdown to be a ridiculous unending series of interruptions; there's only a handful of us for whom life didn't really change much, other than occasionally having to mask up at the store. Most of you are more concerned with how your friends and family are doing. It's been a pleasure to interact with you and an honor to serve you, especially this year.
I remain available to meet with you, whether in person (wear your mask into my building), by phone, or by Zoom.
Exciting Merger Announcement
As my AUM (Assets Under Management) clients already have heard, FormulaFolios announced a merger with Brookstone last month. The combined firm nearly doubles in size to over $6.5 billion in combined AUM, making it one of the largest independent Registered Investment Advisors in the country. That will allow us to continue to expand our financial services offerings.
Back to Growth?
Stocks rose last week
as retail sales and jobless claims data beat expectations, helping support optimism surrounding the economy. The
S & P 500 just recovered to record levels. What's been driving the rebound in the major stock indices?
Co-Signing on the Matter of Our Independence
As we stumble past the midpoint of 2020 A.D., it's time to look for things to deem worthy of celebration. Most celebrations commemorate either a birth or death of some importance.
Our Declaration of Independence, adopted some 244 years ago, marked the birth of a free nation in the New World, independent from the tyranny of King George. The Constitution that followed after winning the war with England gave the world a new model for self-governance that until now has stood the test of time. Our American Experiment gave rise to the most prosperous nation that ever existed in history, widely imitated but never quite duplicated.
I don't know a thinking soul that loves absolutely everything about life in America, or anywhere else, for that matter, but as the saying goes, it's still the "cleanest dirty shirt." As Churchill once remarked:
"Many forms of Government have been tried, and will be tried in this world of sin and woe. No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all-wise. Indeed it has been said that democracy is the worst form of Government except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time..."
But now there are some loud and extremely ill-informed people desperately trying to end our system of government. I don't think it's going to happen but, like anything else, our nation's future is not guaranteed. It depends upon the vigilance of its citizenry.
Remember the story of our colonial founding fathers? Talented, overtaxed, underrepresented, hardworking people of faith, family, and ambition who had quite a lot to lose. Their cause was grounded in their commonly held beliefs ("self-evident truths"), "that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness."
The violent revolution was a last resort to reclaim those freedoms. Millions of people every year who are fleeing poverty and oppression, or who just recognize the virtue of Equality of Opportunity, still storm our borders just to have a shot at this American Dream, centuries later. That happens nowhere else in the world.
Before we're done with 2020, our country's continued existence as the United States of America may ultimately require from us the same level of risk at stake as those original signers in Philadelphia. The aligned, misguided forces that threaten to divide and conquer us appear to be at least as determined as the British.
Let's make sure together that we are still celebrating our continuing United States of America experiment in 2021.
I pray it will be achieved peacefully.
As for me, I'm all in as a cosigner.
"We mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor..."
Happy Independence Day!
You Mean I Can Take Back My RMD?
Here's some news that might prove useful to a few of you that already took your RMD's from IRA's but didn't really need the money...and would like to lower your 2020 tax bill!
Thanks to Bill Cleary, CPA for alerting us to this recent announcement from the IRS:
"IR-2020-127, June 23, 2020
WASHINGTON — The Internal Revenue Service today announced that anyone who already took a required minimum distribution (RMD) in 2020 from certain retirement accounts now has the opportunity to roll those funds back into a retirement account following the CARES Act RMD waiver for 2020.
The 60-day rollover period for any RMDs already taken this year has been extended to August 31, 2020, to give taxpayers time to take advantage of this opportunity.
The IRS described this change in Notice 2020-51 (PDF), released today. The Notice also answers questions regarding the waiver of RMDs for 2020 under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, known as the CARES Act.
The CARES Act enabled any taxpayer with an RMD due in 2020 from a defined-contribution retirement plan, including a 401(k) or 403(b) plan, or an IRA, to skip those RMDs this year. This includes anyone who turned age 70 1/2 in 2019 and would have had to take the first RMD by April 1, 2020. This waiver does not apply to defined-benefit plans.
In addition to the rollover opportunity, an IRA owner or beneficiary who has already received a distribution from an IRA of an amount that would have been an RMD in 2020 can repay the distribution to the IRA by August 31, 2020. The notice provides that this repayment is not subject to the one rollover per 12-month period limitation and the restriction on rollovers for inherited IRAs.
The notice provides two sample amendments that employers may adopt to give plan participants and beneficiaries whose RMDs are waived a choice as to whether or not to receive the waived RMD."
Reopening in Fits and Starts
The 2nd quarter roller coaster ride ended on a high note, with some of the most impressive stock market index quarterly moves for the Dow, S & P, and NASDAQ on record despite experiencing some of the scariest one-day downswings. Fueling the anxiety was the news of record numbers of positive CCCP coronavirus tests around the country. It seems that the market swoons every time someone sneezes in Texas or Florida.
This is in contrast to strong employment numbers as the country returns to work. Keep an eye on Wuhan coronavirus hospitalizations and death tallies going forward. Those metrics of how well we are actually dealing with treating the virus will be the ones that will either improve or destroy confidence in the short run. So far those numbers have been holding steady or declining in most areas, which is a very good sign for recovery. But it should remain bumpy.
This Time IS different
Ever since I was a kid back in the '70's, the advent of summer has long been associated with a hodgepodge of nostalgic happy thoughts and memories of a carefree existence:
Alice Cooper's legendary rock anthem, "School's Out For Summer," playing in my head, signaling the end of a school year after an eternity of anticipation. Spending quality time with my family on long road trips. Having a massive supply of unscheduled time. Playing outside for hours with my siblings. Going to baseball games.
Even though I haven't had a summer off since 1981, I am aware now more than ever how precious those experiences were, and how attached I am even now to having my summer rituals. The most glaring example: almost without exception, I have managed to spend a few days each July at the beach in Ocean City, Maryland. In fact my teenager has never seen a summer without that annual pilgrimage. Until this year. Pandemic shutdown restrictions are slowly lessening around the country, but not enough to make visiting my family up north a wise move. Everyone we would spend time with there has "at-risk" health conditions for at least one family member.
It ticks me off, to be honest. And if I who has so little to be upset about is so easily upended by this and the thousand other minor annoyances that life in Pandemic 2020 brings, imagine how it is for others.
Whatever molehills people were dealing with before March have been displaced by new volcanic mountains of distrust, fear, and as we've seen lately on the news, anger and violence. Politicians and bureaucrats play their games. "Journalists" stir the pot. Radical opportunists sow discord and division. There are lots of incentives on all sides to keep this pot boiling over for the rest of the year, or at least into early November. Social media is a viper's pit of despair. People have been largely unable to go to church, school, ballgames, restaurants, movies, or even spend social time with friends... it's been a ridiculously disruptive spring.
This too shall pass.
My interactions with my clients have served to ground me in reality. Even during this period of isolation, the grace and dignity you all have demonstrated during our Zoom meetings, phone calls, emails, and more recently, face-to-face meetings (those are starting to happen again!) have been a true blessing to me. Frankly, all of you have been keeping me too busy with your needs to let me get caught up in the noise and heat of the moment for very long. For that I am immeasurably grateful!
This summer, I'm making an extra effort to be kind to the people around me. In particular I'm refraining from posting things on social media (they really should call it Antisocial Media) that I might regret later! And I'm praying for peace.
Finally, Happy Father's Day to all you Dads out there, especially to my own Dad, Frank, Sr.!
P.S. Some of my clients have been using the shutdown time indoors to review their estate plan, too. Let me know if you need me to do a quick review session.
Remember that we can also help you with finding proper health insurance, including pre-Medicare, Medicare, dental/vision, and long term care policies.
Visions of V-Shaped Recoveries Dance In Our Heads
“The four most dangerous words in investing are, it’s different this time.”
-Sir John Templeton
“The stock market is a device for transferring money from the impatient to the patient.”
- Warren Buffett
As we navigate through this time of artificially government-imposed recession and reopening boom, we are still seeing wild swings as the market keeps repricing valuations with each new development. The temptation to speculate is strong, testing our ability to stick to our plans.
I'm noticing that it's a ton easier for those among us whose retirement plan includes diversification and proactive portfolio management. Even less stressed out are those with guaranteed income sources.
Happy Mother's Day
My Mother's (and Grandmother's) Example
This Mother's Day feels a bit different, doesn't it?
As the human race starts to get back to working, traveling, and participating in life in a more or less normal fashion, I take a moment to acknowledge my own mother and grandmother and their examples for living courageously under unimaginable
circumstances. Many of you have heard me share about their remarkable lives before.
Angelita Castro was born in northern Luzon, Philippines, in August of 1942. She was the last of six children born to her parents, who in normal times functioned as the local healthcare providers for their town. Her mother, Eufemia Albano Castro, was a pharmacist. Her father, Dr. Miguel Castro, performed the delivery. However the birth happened in a python-infested jungle, not in a hospital or in their comfortable villa at their sugar cane plantation in Ilocos Norte. This was because my grandfather was serving as an officer in the U.S. Army, resisting the Japanese invasion as a guerilla. He came out of hiding in a cave to deliver my mother. He hung around for a few days until the Japanese drew near, long enough to name her. It would be the only time my mother met her father, as he was later captured and killed in captivity.
My grandmother Eufemia returned home with the family and had to raise six children by herself under occupation. In fact the family home was being used as a staging area by the local Japanese forces. My uncles, just young boys, smuggled supplies and messages to their father. They would have been immediately executed as spies had they been discovered. Farmhands and servants were being tortured and killed around them. My grandmother would carry my infant mother to the door to greet the Japanese officers. She would pinch the baby's cheeks to cause her to cry and wail pitifully each time because the officers were less likely to rape or beat her with a crying baby in her arms. Three years later when the Americans were liberating the country, the family had to evacuate their home quickly, as it was targeted by bombers for being a Japanese staging area.
Despite all of these extremely challenging ordeals and more, my amazing widowed grandmother raised her six fatherless children. The results: one doctor, two award-winning teachers, two career diplomats (including a Minister of Foreign Affairs)....
And my mother, Angelita, who later became the first Asian and/or woman to be a Mission Operations Manager at NASA. In fact when she died five years ago, my mother was still working as the Constellation Manager for NASA's Earth Observing Satellites, which still are circling the globe serving humanity today. She won numerous leadership awards during her 40+ year career and was known in particular for her ability to get all kinds of brilliant scientists and engineers from across the planet to cooperate and work well together . Two of the satellite groups she oversaw were Japanese.
My mother left behind a wonderful life full of accomplishments and full of love for her family, friends and colleagues. And it was a miracle that she was even born at all and survived. When things I am dealing with seem difficult, I sometimes reflect on her and my grandmother and usually whatever's going on with me doesn't seem all that tough.
We are certainly living in some difficult times these days.
I look forward to seeing what kinds of extraordinary things will have to happen for us all to move forward and thrive together. Anything is possible, with God's help.
For any of you who are interested, I've attached a link to an interview my mother gave about her life and career on her last visit home to the Philippines:
Fun Facts About Mother's Day
1. Mother’s Day is the third most popular holiday in the world, behind only Christmas and Easter.
2. More phone calls are made on Mother’s Day than any other day of the year.
3. According to research, flowers affect human behavior and make people feel happier and more compassionate.
4. Approximately 65% of all greeting card sales occur in the last five days before Mother’s Day.
5. Women purchase 80% of all Mother’s Day cards.
6. On May 8, 1914, President Woodrow Wilson signed a Joint Resolution designating the second Sunday in May as Mother’s Day.
7. Around one-quarter of all flowers purchased throughout the year are purchased for Mother’s Day.
8. Many of the trademark sweaters that Mr. Rogers wore on his television show, Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood, were knitted by his real mother.
9. Mother’s Day is the busiest day of the year for the restaurant industry with 62% of Americans dining out.
BACK TO LIFE
"We may not know the answers to some very important questions for many years....but never bet against America and that in my view is as true today at it was in 1789, and even was true during the Civil War and the depths of the Depression.''
-Warren Buffett, May 2, 2020
At the time of this writing, the economy is in shambles as our country enters its third month of the Great CCP Wuhan Coronavirus (also known as COVID-19) Pandemic Shutdown. D.C. Politicians dither and posture. Governors wrestle with their constituents about whether or not they should lift their restrictions. Tempers are flaring across the country.
Hopefully the results of this massive national science experiment will be as nominally intended: all the government-imposed restrictions of our activities end with mitigation of the spread of the virus, flattening the infection curve and keeping our hospital ICU's from being overwhelmed. That appears to be the case, as it looks like the lethality of the disease, while sadly quite serious, is going to be in the final analysis comparable to other bad flu epidemics.
As the smoke clears and things open back up, a lot of folks are wondering: was April's rally the big comeback or just a bear market rally? Is it time to go all in for the ride back up?
Proceed With Caution
My office sits in a lovely, locked, secure building in the northern Atlanta suburbs off of Powers Ferry Road, one mile from Truist Park, where the Atlanta Braves should be playing (formerly known as SunTrust Park).We've got a great new coffee machine in the lobby that grinds the beans upon your selection. Out my window there's a scenic 9th floor view of Kennesaw Mountain. I often see planes heading by on their way to and from Dobbins Air Force Base, and the occasional bird of prey circling.
I have not shut down my operation for a single day. I continue to talk to my clients about their retirement planning needs, make my suggestions, and help implement them. It's just been a little weird doing all of this without seeing anyone in the flesh for so long.
Everything has been via email, phone, or video.
I am pleased to report that my business keeps growing even in the face of the pandemic shutdown.
I know that this is not the case everywhere. It's clearly not due to any great marketing scheme or innovation on my part. Everything I've earned has been by virtue of customer loyalty, 100% repeat and referral business.
for allowing me to serve you, and for continuing to recommend me to your friends and loved ones. I honestly don't know what I'd be doing if I didn't have all of you to work with during these crazy times!
Looking forward to seeing you soon, maybe even in person!
NO RMD FOR ME, PLEASE
One of the provisions of the CARES Act was to waive Required Minimum Distributions for 2020. This is right after the SECURE Act at the end of last year changed the age requirements for the RMD and effectively eliminated the Inherited IRA stretch option.
Many of us are not affected by all of these changes one way or the other. But for many of you, they could make a big difference. If you are taking distributions from your qualified accounts it's worth a look.
When Will Business as Usual Resume?
We are in uncharted territory.
With almost nobody traveling or driving, oil prices moved to negative for the first time in history. You actually had to pay someone money to take a barrel of oil away from you!
As the states and eventually the rest of the world reopen their businesses and get people back to work, things will improve. We will lead the recovery from right here in Atlanta, starting now. I trust all of us to remain careful and safe in our activities as we emerge from global house arrest. Without our health, the rest won't matter!
Stock Market Bounce
At the time of this writing, we have just seen the fastest bear market in history, followed by one of the strongest market recovery weeks in history. Despite reports of record unemployment filings, the stock market soared; then after the news that the government would spend north of $2 Trillion to try to cushion the financial shock of the economic shutdown while boosting the all-out spending assault against Coronavirus, the markets fell. High volatility will likely continue like this until some time after the war against the plague is won.
Our world has come together in an unprecedented concerted effort to slow the spread of a deadly plague, to try to keep our hospital systems from being swamped with COVID-19 patients. Our people are voluntarily working from home (for the most part) and keeping our children out of their schools. Whole industries have been set aside until the crisis subsides and we get back to living our lives. It's been almost three weeks and we pray that it'll only be another month or two more of this.
Some of you have called to check on how I'm doing in all of this. I appreciate that very much, and I'm doing fine. My business has actually doubled within the past few months and is still growing even during this crisis. I am available remotely via phone and video/online meetings. I will of course be delighted to see you all in person again when things get back to "normal."
Lastly, please join me in continuing to pray for a speedy victory for humanity, with consequences that include a stronger, more united country and world, better health and healthcare preparedness going forward, and a universal appreciation for the value of all life. Add in a special intention for the good health and well-being of our healthcare providers, first responders, and all of the other essential workers who are working overtime and under stressful circumstances they could not have imagined even a month ago.
It's A Good Time For:
I've been discovering all kinds of useful activities during all of these extra waking hours safe at home:
"Hang In There?"
In market downturns, brokers traditionally have advised their clients to stay the course. "Don't sell your holdings if you don't need the money right now. The market will always come back if you are a long term investor!"
But what if you have already retired, or are trying to retire within the next ten years?
We are living in unprecedented times indeed. And, especially if you are in a glorified buy-and-hold strategy it probably feels like you are riding on some kind of powerful roller coaster right now, after a very long (eleven years) ride up the hill. More bumpy times are likely ahead.
If your portfolio is diversified and being proactively monitored and tactically managed, the ride tends to be less volatile. This is as good a time as any to recheck your overall retirement plan and see if any changes would make a positive long-term difference whenever we ride the market back up, accompanied by a V-shaped (not L-shaped) economic recovery, hopefully!
Important Market Update:
Here's the latest video blog about last week's Coronavirus Correction from Derek Prusa of FormulaFolios:
March Madness or Coronavirus Craziness?
With all of the legitimate concerns we are now facing since the emergence of the Wuhan Coronavirus as a real, deadly threat in our country and the immediate and surreal lifestyle consequences that have resulted from it so far, I have to say that I'm keenly aware of how lucky I am. Lucky to be healthy, lucky to live where I do, and lucky that things haven't been so much worse for me, my family and friends, and my clients. At the time of writing this my wife's employer and son's school just closed for two weeks as part of the effort to slow the spread of infection.
This does not in any way discount the severity of the pandemic and the real impact it is having on our global economy and on individual investment portfolios. It's just been gratifying to see that when proper asset allocation planning has been done in advance, the result for my clients financially so far has been that the current turmoil hasn't been an "end of the world" devastation. It's remarkable when I'm able to let retirees know that they can just focus on their own health and the well-being of their loved ones and not have to be overly preoccupied with the recent drama in the stock market.
I also feel tremendously fortunate to have such loyal clients helping me to continue growing my business dramatically even in these troubled times. Thanks to all of you for your continued support, encouragement, repeat business, and referrals. On Wednesday the 18th, I enter my nineteenth year in this industry.
As things continue to evolve, please feel free to reach out to me if I can be of assistance to you or your friends and families. I am still open to meeting in person (carefully-with no handshakes or hugs, sadly- and armed with a fresh spray bottle of lysol at the ready!), but also I am fully capable of servicing your needs remotely. Also, for those of you who were unaware, I am fully available to take on and provide services to new clients in all 50 states.
Everyone stay vigilant and well!
Are you approaching the dilemma of having to choose a Medicare policy?
Getting bombarded with sales information in the mail? Not sure what type of plan to go with? We can help you cut through the “noise” and guide you to a plan that is, and will continue to be, right for you. Call us.
We have plans that include Dental/Vision coverage, as well as pre-Medicare age health plans for early retirees for whom COBRA rates are unpalatable.
Last but certainly not least, we have a variety of insurance coverage options for Long Term Care needs too.
“The chief task in life is simply this: to identify and separate matters so that I can say clearly to myself which are externals not under my control, and which have to do with the choices I actually control. Where then do I look for good and evil? Not to uncontrollable externals, but within myself to the choices that are my own…”
— Epictetus, Discourses, 2.5.4–5
Where's My Pot of Gold?
Here's the latest blog update regarding the Coronavirus pandemic and its upheaval of the stock market, from Joshua Grow at FormulaFolios:
When your personal life changes significantly, it hits you like a ton of bricks, even if you planned for it:
Falling in love.... A new arrival of a grandchild.... Losing a loved one.... An unwelcome medical diagnosis.... An early retirement package offer....deciding to retire....moving to a new home.
I've been hearing from so many of you about all of these major occurrences in your lives (and more) in the past month. It's a good thing to review your financial plan and make sure that you're still on track, or if not, figure out what adjustments need to be made.
It's a privilege to work with you and your friends and loved ones as you face the significant events in your lives. I love that part of my job!
Thanks again for all of your continued loyalty and referrals!
Lots of folks are needing to pick up health insurance or switch to Medicare these days! Some of you need to get a new plan when you move from one state to another. We can help you with that!
Is It Time To "Quarantine"
We've had quite a week of potentially worrisome news to pay attention to.
The impeachment trial ended. The Iowa Caucus and New Hampshire Primary kicked off the 2020 election process. And word is not promising from China, where more than 400 million people are now living under a government-imposed quarantine as the Communists try to contain the spread of Coronavirus.
So far the financial markets have shrugged off these worries and kept on surging. But it may be time to start protecting those gains many of you have been accumulating. Remember, it's impossible to predict the end of our longest ever bull market...
Here's the latest market blog article from Joshua Grow at Formulafolios:
HAPPY NEW DECADE!
I am happy to announce that Retirement Wealth Advisors, the Registered Investment Advisory firm I represent, was just named as one of the Top 100 Wealth Managers in the country for 2019.
Top 100 Wealth Managers is an annual award owned by Labworks, LLC (DBA RIA Channel and RIA Database), a private company that services the financial services industry. Firms may not nominate themselves or pay a fee to be considered for or receive the Top 100 Wealth Managers Award. Rankings are based on an undisclosed set of proprietary criteria and data, which includes size, growth in assets, regulatory data, organic research, and advisor surveys. Assets under management are as reported to the SEC as of November 15, 2019.
Needless to say, it's a great feeling to see that the folks I work with every day are making this kind of news and appearing on these kinds of lists! In a very direct way our own AUM client growth contributed to this achievement.
What a great way to kickoff a new decade!
Lastly, I give special thanks to all of you for whom I have the privilege of managing your assets!
Happy New Decade!
"Winter is Coming!"
It's actually here already, despite the warm weather!
Kinda gives you a false reading, like you know it oughtta be colder than this (and soon will be)... Do you think about your portfolio in the same way?
Have you taken steps to protect your portfolio so that when this overheated market cools off you are mitigating your level of risk?
Will the change be sudden, like a tornadic cold front storm system that hits with little advance warning? Things always seem good until they aren't.
Markets Breathe a Sigh of Relief
No Christmas crash this time as the stock markets continue to push to new highs. How long can we keep this up? Here's a recent article about what the various asset classes and indicators are telling us right now, from Joshua Grow at Formula Folios:
Medicare Open Enrollment
now through December 7
For those of you interested in medicare supplemental insurance, let's set up a time to chat about options. We can also assist pre-medicare "early retirees" shopping for health insurance.
Happy Holidays 2020
It's hard to believe that this decade is ending already! So many things have changed in our world since 2010. If the events of these past few years have taught me anything, it's that life is precious and unpredictable.
I'm now 53, and I plan to continue to provide my services for the next decade or two.... which was already my plan in 2010. But as many of you know, a LOT of the details didn't go as originally planned for me, not least of which were the events that led to the creation of CFK Financial. What are your plans now? How have the details changed? What needs to change? Are you still on track?
Many of you retired this past decade. A few more of you are currently in the process of retiring, or semi-retiring (congratulations, by the way) ! And the rest of you are inching closer, hoping that those plans you had put together so long ago will really work out.
Now is as good a time as any to take a good hard look at your financial situation as we embark on a fresh decade. In addition to the powerful RetireworX analysis software tool that most of you remember, we can also now do a deeper dive into analyzing the details of your retirement plan with something we call Results in Advance Planning that includes portfolio analysis and Monte Carlo simulations. Call me and let's jump into the new decade together!
Thanks To You
I am humbled every time I look at my numbers and see that I have been able to grow my business entirely on the strength of word of mouth advertising. Virtually 100% of my revenue has come from repeat customers and referrals since we embarked on this venture together in 2017.
This will likely change a bit in the coming decade as the company continues to grow and new marketing programs are added. But as a small business owner I am aware that this is not "normal." I feel a very special connection with every one of you that I have the opportunity to serve and am honored to be introduced to your families and friends.
Here's to 2020!
Will there be another stock market roller coaster ride this Christmas?
Here's a recent market update from Joshua Grow at FormulaFolios:
RMD Before It's Too Late:
This time of year is when things seem to accelerate from Halloween to the end of the year. Some of you new septuagenarians may not yet have finalized your RMD's from your retirement accounts. There's still time to take care of those distributions and avoid massive (50%) tax penalties. Often it makes sense to be strategic in taking those distributions, especially when you have more than one qualified account. Many of you are using the occasion to review your overall retirement income strategy. Make sure to get in touch with us prior to December 15th to make sure it gets done!
Before It's Too Late:
So many times I regret not expressing my appreciation enough for the people in my life. I am so grateful to have served so many of you for so many years.
Thanks to ALL of you for giving me your business, and especially for recommending me to your friends and families this past year. I wish all of you the Happiest of Thanksgivings!
Before It's Too Late:
Are we in another stock market bubble? How long can this go on? Is now the time to reassess your risk tolerance?
A lot of folks I've been seeing lately are in VERY aggressive positions in the market.
When I run a Morningstar Analysis on their portfolios, their performance and volatility numbers usually look pretty good.
There's just one problem: all of those reports are only looking at data for the previous ten years.
When you look back to 2007 it looks a LOT different. Their current holdings in many cases risk the same kinds of reductions we saw back in the pop of the real estate bubble, especially if they are in passively managed buy-and hold strategies.
If your risk investments have been doing great in the stock market it might be time to protect your gains... a little proactive management can go a long way. You don't have to leave all your assets on the table.
Also, here's a recent market blog post from Derek Prusa at FormulaFolios:
Wow Time Flies When You Love What You Do!Has It Been Awhile?
Trump Impeachment ?Trade Agreement ?S & P 500 at New Record Highs !?!Where Are We Going?Here's a recent market update from Derek Prusa at FormulaFolios:
Medicare Open Enrollment
now through December 7
For those of you interested in medicare supplemental insurance, let's set up a time to chat about options. We can also assist pre-medicare "early retirees" shopping for health insurance.
Have you opened a new location, redesigned your shop, or added a new product or service? Don't keep it to yourself, let folks know.
In The News Today
Frank Kelly was ON the news!
Awaken Atlanta, United Intentions Network's morning show, asked me to come on with them last month and chat about what I do. I also got to announce my upcoming retirement workshop. It was a blast and I ended up on air for almost 20 minutes!
I am the newest sponsor for the Health Matters show on the same network, hosted by my friend Dr. Nelson Bulmash. If you haven't had a chance to check out the United Intentions Network... here's a link to their shows.
"Holy Smokes... What's Happening With The Stock Market?"
This summer has been anything but boring! And the stock market is a perfect example. After surging to new all time highs, the markets got hammered after a ratcheting up of the trade war with China, even after the Fed went back to cutting interest rates. Is it time to reexamine and possibly adjust your portfolio mix?
We are watching it all very closely. Here's a useful look at what is happening from Derek Prusa of FormulaFolios:
Huge Mega Celebrity (in my own mind?) Breakthrough Announcement...
Last month my friend Dr. Nelson Bulmash asked me to appear on his radio show to talk about what I do. His show "Health Matters" focuses on all things from a health, inspiration, and spirituality point of view and from what I understand has been attracting a fast-growing loyal base of followers.
Little did I know that I would not only be on the radio, but also on the live video broadcast! Also I didn't realize that I would be the only guest and that we would talk for the entire hour about retirement planning.
So here's the result. I hope you enjoy it!
"So What Do I Do With My AT&T Pension Buyout Offer?"
It seems like every year several of my clients let me know that they just "got offered money to go away" by AT&T.
In other words, the bean counters are hard at work trimming corporate liabilities off the books and an easy way to do that is to lower pension obligations.
So what companies like AT&T will occasionally do is pick several hundred or several thousand pensioners and offer them a lump sum of cash in exchange for not having a guaranteed paycheck for life.
Many times taking the buyout offer is the right move because, as many of my clients tell me, they don't want to take their first pension payment, die in a car wreck next week and have nothing go to their family. We're talking about tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars typically that would just go back to the pension fund to pay everyone else.
Recently I've had a number of you let me know about AT&T's most recent round of pension buyouts. The money is on the table, and the clock is ticking...
Once you've decided to take the offer, then what? It's not wise to put it in the bank, as these are qualified rollovers and fully taxable if you do that. So we look at each situation to see what's best for you.
In The News Today
From a recent report on ABC News... Atlanta is being hit particularly hard with phone scams, most aimed directly at seniors. The most prevalent scams to take note of are:
1 - You have been selected to receive $9000 in Federal Grant Money....
2- Alert, your Social Security Number has been identified with possible fraud activity...
3-Call our officer immediately to prevent your arrest...
4- We have driven by your property and wish to make a cash offer...
Check out AARP for information on the latest scams, how to report them and how to stop those annoying calls!
Isn't This "Tarriff-ic"
It's been a bumpy May so far with all the talk of trade wars and tariffs playing havoc with the market.
How concerned should we be? Here's the most recent market update from Derek Prusa, of FormulaFolios.
What a turbulent ride we have going on in the market these days! After the recent holiday scare in the stock market, we've seen a continuous surge to start off the new year.
Will it continue? Is it time to reevaluate your portfolio allocation? Should some of your investment winnings come off the table, or do we let it ride?
These are the kinds of things people are wondering about as we review their retirement plans.
Here's an article that breaks down what's been happening in the markets.
Are You Covered?
Did you know that more than 68% of people over the age of 65 will need Long Term Care and that LTC costs are expected to double every 15 years?
For our clients who have questions about Long Term Care Insurance we are excited to have Belen Hickman available. Belen brings many years of experience working with A-rated carriers with long-term care planning. She can meet with you in-person or via webinar, whichever you prefer.
Another thing Belen offers is Medicare Supplement Insurance planning. She helps many of my clients shop for appropriate Medicare Supplement plans. She can even access competitive individual health insurance plans for you early retirees who need it to bridge the gap between employment and turning 65.
Please email me if you would like a pdf of our Long Term Care information sheet that explains options, risks and how you can save on LTC insurance.
"I just want to thank everyone again for the continued referrals of your friends and family members. There is no greater honor than being recommended as someone who can make a difference in their lives!"
Welcome To 2019!
New Year, New Tax Season
For years many of you have asked me if I knew a good CPA to help with your taxes. I'm pleased that Bill Cleary has made himself available to our clients for tax planning and preparation services. Concurrent to his private CPA practice, he mentors and educates the next generation at Kennesaw State University as Adjunct Professor of Accounting. For years, Bill actually has taught tax preparation classes to train tax preparers.
As a Navy veteran, Bill had a long and distinguished career at Price Waterhouse and Equifax, among other organizations, prior to moving to the world of academia.
One resolution I have for this new year is to ensure that all of my clients have access to Bill's personal tax preparation services.
A MESSAGE FROM FRANK
I was pleasantly surprised to see that my Forbes.com article about retirement planning has already received more that 10,000 views since it launched right after Christmas! The general tenor of the feedback has been that the reader experiences a little of what it's like to meet with me to talk about their retirement plan. If you haven't seen it yet, here is the link:
STOCK MARKET UPDATE
Merry Roller Coaster!
* We had one of the most volatile Decembers in history. In case you missed it, the stock market plunged on Christmas Eve, only to rebound in record-setting fashion on Boxing Day (fyi...that's December 26th).
* With all the talk of trade wars, Fed interest rate hikes, and political showdowns, it's a wonder we haven't seen even more swings.
* Even so, the U.S. Economy continues to hum with strong growth indicators across the board.
For The New Year:
This holiday season when you have your family gathered around you, take a moment to reflect on how you have planned for their future. It's been said that the greatest gift you can give your family is the gift of estate planning. Ensuring that your legal documents are in place and up-to-date with your current wishes, that your finances are arranged, and that everything you've worked hard for benefits the ones you love.
One resolution I have for the new year is to ensure that all of my clients are well informed and educated about estate plan options. Let's have the
LONG TERM CARE FACTS
70% of Americans 65+ will need LTC
* Nearly one-fifth of us may face living beyond our financial resources.
Medicare only pays LTC for an average of 23 days
* $2,000 per day is the average LTC cost.
Long Term Care Insurance Options
* Explore options for preferred health, marital and shared polices provide savings.
These days it can be difficult to have peace on earth and good will towards men if you're worried about your account balances. We are finishing up one of the most volatile periods for the stock market in recent memory. Here's a recent article to help you put things in perspective:
In my last email, I shared with you about my role as an Investment Advisor Representative with Retirement Wealth Advisors. One of the best things about that relationship is that it gives me access to timely market updates and insights.
TIS THE RMD SEASON
If you have achieved the wonderful age of 70 or above, you may already be familiar with the term RMD. If you turned 70-1/2 this year or will within the next year or two... we definitely need to talk about taking your Required Minimum Distributions.
The most important fact you need to know about RMD's, is that if you don't take them before the deadline, you can be penalized up to 50%!
SOCIAL SECURITY NEWS
2.8% COLA Adjustment
* The Social Security Administration announced an increase for 67 million Americans for 2019.
$132,900 New SS Tax Limit
* The max amount of earnings subject to Social Security tax increases in 2019 to $132,900.
Modest Increases To
Medicare Part B
* Individuals up to $85,000 in income, will now pay $135.50 monthly, up from $134.00. Other brackets will experience similar increases with the exception of the new highest income bracket ($500,000+) which jumps to $460.50.
The response to my announcement of CFK Financial has been overwhelming! It's been great to hear from you. Seeing so many of you in the past weeks and looking forward to meeting more of you soon, has been heartwarming.
One thing I want to share with you is, for those of you who haven't heard, I have expanded my service offerings within the past couple of years to include investment management as an Investment Advisor Representative for Retirement Wealth Advisors, Inc.
This may come as a surprise to some of you, who have known me for a long time, I had been reluctant to include market-based managed money services and focused almost exclusively on safe money strategies for retirement income planning.
There were a couple of reasons for this:
One reason was that Mr. Albertson and I focused the company away from market risk just before the stock market meltdown of 2008-2009. As a result, our clients experienced a blissful condition of no losses to their accounts and the business prospered for many years with the reputation of providing safety and certainty.
Conversely, the other reason for the change had more to do with what I saw happening during and after that crash in the industry and how people were caught completely off-guard.
There had to be a better way. Simply encouraging people to "hang in there" or "stay the course" with a glorified buy-and-hold strategy was not effective.
Thankfully, the technology and management tools have evolved to the point where market risk, while still present, can be proactively managed and consistently lower levels of volatility are possible. That is why I'm excited to represent Retirement Wealth Advisors, Inc. for the risk-based portions of my clients' portfolios.
One thing I'd like to offer everyone reading this is a complimentary Morningstar risk and volatility analysis of your portfolio.
As many of you know, I was the Vice President of Retirement Planning at Albertson Financial, which meant that I had responsibility for training and managing the team of advisors as well as supporting my clients.
After nearly a dozen years at Albertson,
I moved on to start my own practice,
My company’s goal is to make retirement planning an enjoyable and satisfying experience.
My new venture has been going extremely well, thanks in no small part to customer loyalty. In fact, our first year was funded one-hundred percent from repeat and referral business, and has been profitable and growing since day one, so much so that I’ve hired additional staff to keep up with demand and will continue to do so as things evolve.
We are poised for even more exciting growth with the launch of our new website. I invite everyone to visit www.CFKFinancial.com to learn about the services and professional resources we provide.
In addition to our website, we are launching a newsletter service to help keep you informed. We will include information about retirement planning that we hope you will enjoy and can benefit from.
Many of you receiving this announcement have been clients for many years, and I want to take this opportunity to invite you to come by my new office, especially if you haven’t already been in to see me.
In particular, if you have policies that have not been reviewed for some time and would like to evaluate your options to make sure that the retirement plan you created years ago addresses your needs today, I would love to reconnect with you.
You can call me at 678-784-4090 or email me at Frank@CFKFinancial.com.
My new office is conveniently located near the I-285 and I-75 interchange at 1000 Parkwood Circle SE, Suite 900, Atlanta, GA 30339.
All The Best,
It's hard to believe that at the end of August we will mark the 1st anniversary of my company.
I am pleased to report that we have broken even since day one and have grown each month since. On top of that, we were able to accomplish this with 100% repeat and referral business. Thanks for your support! There is no greater honor for me in business than when one of my clients recommends me to their friend or family member. This has allowed me to spend more time focused on taking care of my clients and developing systems and relationships that will allow for continued expansion while maintaining our level of service. With the launch today of the new website (please let me know what you think of it), we are poised for even more exciting growth ! Stay tuned for future announcements on that subject....
-Frank Kelly, President, CFK Financial Services, LLC.
To our valued clients and friends:
Thank you for your support and for your contribution to the success of my business! UPDATE: We've migrated and secured our website, ensuring whether you go to .net, .com, or .co , you're still reaching CFK Financial. -Frank Kelly
After nearly twelve wonderful years as Vice President, Retirement Planning at Albertson Financial, I have moved on to start my own practice. My company’s goal is to make retirement planning an enjoyable and satisfying experience. For those of you who know me already, welcome to my new website! For newcomers, I look forward to making your acquaintance. – Frank Kelly
Investment Advisory Services offered through Retirement Wealth Advisors, Inc. (RWA) a Registered Investment Advisor. CFK Financial and RWA are not affiliated. Investing involves risk including the potential loss of principal. No investment strategy can guarantee a profit or protect against loss in periods of declining values. Opinions expressed are subject to change without notice and are not intended as investment advice or to predict future performance. Past performance does not guarantee future results. Consult your financial professional before making any investment decision.
This information is designed to provide general information on the subjects covered, it is not, however, intended to provide specific legal or tax advice and cannot be used to avoid tax penalties or to promote, market, or recommend any tax plan or arrangement. Please note that CFK Financial and its affiliates do not give legal or tax advice. You are encouraged to consult your tax advisor or attorney.
Annuity guarantees rely on the financial strength and claims-paying ability of the issuing insurer. Any comments regarding safe and secure investments, and guaranteed income streams refer only to fixed insurance products. They do not refer, in any way to securities or investment advisory products. Fixed Insurance and Annuity product guarantees are subject to the claims‐paying ability of the issuing company and are not offered by Retirement Wealth Advisors, Inc.
WealthGuard™ is a complete portfolio monitoring system. Designed by determining the amount of downside risk a client is willing to tolerate, WealthGuard™ is added to client accounts to help protect from downside risk. WealthGuard™ is not a stop loss strategy. When the account value in the portfolio hits the targeted downside value, an alert is sent to the client, advisor, and money manager. The money manager trades the account as indicated on the WealthGuard™ agreement. There is no guarantee the exact WealthGuard™ value will be captured, or assets will be traded or liquidated the same day the WealthGuard™ value is reached due to time of day and/or market restrictions. WealthGuard™ is not responsible for any tax implications that may result due to the liquidation or trading of the holdings. FormulaFolio Investments is not responsible for any errors or omissions in the information used to prepare your WealthGuard™ percentages. WealthGuard™ does not make any representations or warranties, whether expressed or implied, regarding investing in securities or investment products. WealthGuard™ makes no warranties to the legality or suitability of any investment product.
Annuity guarantees rely on the financial strength and claims-paying ability of the issuing insurer. Any references to protection benefits or lifetime income generally refer to fixed insurance products. They do not refer, in any way to securities or investment advisory products or services. Fixed Insurance and Annuity product guarantees are subject to the claims‐paying ability of the issuing company and are not offered by Retirement Wealth Advisors, Inc.
Million Dollar Round Table (MDRT) Disclosure:
Million Dollar Round Table (“MDRT”) is a membership organization. Qualifying criteria for membership includes attaining specified levels of commissions earned, premiums paid or income earned on the sale of insurance and other financial products. MDRT membership requirements include the payment of annual dues, compliance with ethical standards, and maintaining good standing with an MDRT-approved professional association. The MDRT logo and/or trademarks are property of their respective owners and no endorsement of Frank Kelly or CFK Financial is stated or implied. MDRT and Retirement Wealth Advisors, Inc. (RWA) are not affiliated.
Top of the Table is an additional membership organization within MDRT. In addition to MDRT membership, qualifying criteria for membership includes attaining a higher level of commissions earned, premiums paid or income earned on the sale of insurance and other financial products. In addition to fulfilling MDRT membership requirements, Top of the Table membership requirements include payment of additional dues. Top of the Table and RWA are not affiliated.
For the detailed requirements of MDRT, please visit: https://www.mdrt.org/membership/requirements/
Professional service providers are suggestions only. These professionals are not associated with CFK or RWA. You are encouraged to consult your tax advisor or attorney.