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Roth IRAs for Kids and Grandkids

Most investors are familiar with the standard mechanisms of the Roth IRA: A person contributes post-tax money to a retirement account, typically for him/herself, and those funds experience tax-free potential growth as long as they are not withdrawn until the person reaches the age of 59 ½.

 

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Having trouble freezing your credit?

A week ago Equifax, one of the three major U.S. credit bureaus, reported that identity thieves stole the Social Security numbers, birth dates, addresses and driver’s license numbers of approximately 143 million Americans.

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Equifax security breach – what you can do

The news is buzzing with information on the latest security breach. Equifax, one of three major U.S. credit bureaus, reported on Thursday that identity thieves stole the Social Security numbers, birth dates, addresses and driver’s license numbers of approximately 143 million Americans.

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Tax Planning Today for 2017

If tax time is always a bit confusing, then Federal tax planning for 2017 might feel like a 12-sided Rubik’s Cube. While a precise algorithm may not exist to solve for this new tax environment, we are happy to offer some simple and practical advice for your consideration at year-end.

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When Financial “Rules of Thumb” Become Costly

Frank and Fiona Eff are a bright couple who saved diligently for their retirement years throughout their adult lives.  Each is 50 years old, their children have been raised and launched, and each loves their respective job at ABC Corporation.  Frank and Fiona enjoy the challenges and connections of their work so much that they plan to stay at their careers another fifteen years before enjoying a retirement filled with family, travel, and giving back to their community.  Fortunately, each has a pension plan, and each will enjoy relatively generous Social Security benefits.  Though they have been saving inside and outside of retirement plans since the age of 22, they aren’t sure they’ll even need to draw from those accounts due to anticipated regular retirement inflows.

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Your Portfolio and Presidential Elections

Presidential elections in the United States are storied events which often culminate with a fresh face in office and a large new voice in American policy.

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Two Documents Every 18-Year-Old Should Sign

Financial and health care power of attorney documents are fundamental components of any estate plan.  Executing these documents is essential to allow others to act on our behalf when we are unable to act for ourselves.

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Who is your financial advisor really working for? Part 3 of 3

People like to ask financial advisors for “the next hot pick” in the stock market. Though a true professional won’t venture a serious guess to that inquiry, you can be sure he or she can offer something more valuable than a stock tip. Parts 1 and 2 addressed the first four of five questions people really should ask when coming face-to face with a wealth advisor or anyone selling investment products. The answer to the fifth and final question will quickly reveal what kind of investment provider you are dealing with, and whose interests might take priority in any future relationship. Not a SYM client? Put your current advisor to the test.

The fifth and final question is one of critical importance:  Will you accept the responsibility to put my best interests first? 

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Who is your financial advisor really working for? Part 2 of 3

People like to ask financial advisors for “the next hot pick” in the stock market. Though a true professional won’t venture a serious guess to that inquiry, you can be sure he or she can offer something more valuable than a stock tip. Part 1 addressed the first two of five questions people really should ask when coming face-to face with a wealth advisor or anyone selling investment products. SYM clients and friends will recognize how quickly these next two questions reveal whose interests are likely to take priority in any future relationship. Not a SYM client? Put your current advisor to the test.

 

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Who is your financial advisor really working for? Part 1 of 3

People like to ask financial advisors for “the next hot pick” in the stock market. Though a true professional won’t venture a serious guess to that inquiry, you can be sure he or she can offer something more valuable than a stock tip. Below are five questions people really should ask when coming face-to face with a wealth advisor, or anyone selling investment products. SYM clients and friends will recognize how quickly these five questions reveal whose interests are likely to take priority in any future relationship. Not a SYM client? Put your current advisor to the test.

 

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SYM Financial Advisors announces new South Bend office location

South Bend, IN - Sixteen years after first opening a South Bend office location, Winona Lake-based SYM Financial Advisors announces a move to the Leighton Plaza Office Building, 130 S. Main St, Suite 325, South Bend. 

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Fellowship Missions holds Soles for Souls shoe and sock drive now through Memorial Day

Warsaw, IN –Eric Lane, founder and executive director of Fellowship Missions Homeless Shelter in Warsaw, has found that well-fitting, clean shoes and socks are some of the most basic necessities that go unnoticed for people on the margins.

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A Step in the Right Direction – The DOL’s Revised Fiduciary Rule

On April 6, 2016, the Department of Labor (DOL) released its new fiduciary rule. Discussed and debated for almost a year, the final provisions offer a stricter interpretation of who in the financial industry must serve as a fiduciary and how disclosures must be made to investors. Implementation of the new guidelines is scheduled to take place between April of 2017 and January of 2018.

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Even More So in 2016, Beware of Fake Filers

Each tax year, the risk of identity theft is highlighted in the news as scammers adopt new methods to separate people from their money and credit. 

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Certainties

The first three and a half months of every year often provide a reminder of the maxim “nothing is certain but death and taxes.” Our fear of taxes (or the IRS) and the regularity of filing returns drives most of us to be punctual, prepared, and accurate in our annual preparation for the inevitable.

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View Markets Through a Wide-Angle, Not Magnifier

Driven by several factors including a decline in the China stock market, the price of crude oil, negative interest rates in Japan, concern about slowing global economies and a strong U.S. dollar, global equities are off to their worst start in years. While this may seem like new territory, challenges have existed in the stock market from its beginning. The question of a stock market correction has never been one of “if”, but “when” it would occur. One of the things that is most certain in the world of investing is that it can be very uncertain at times. This can get even more magnified in the short term.  Understanding this provides perspective.

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Climbing A Wall Of Worry

Over the past few weeks, consumers of worldwide media have been bombarded with alarming news from the financial markets in Greece, China and Puerto Rico. If those stories weren’t enough to promote a feeling of uneasiness, the New York Stock Exchange shut down last week for a few hours for what was deemed to be a “technical glitch.”

 

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Identity Theft

In light of recent news headlines related to the Anthem cyber-attack, it is important to revisit the critical importance of controlling those things in our financial lives that remain within our control. This includes partnering with companies who have a solid plan for your information security, and understanding the “worst-case scenario” if your personal data is accessed during a cyber attack. 

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Tracey Yeager Memorial 5K Run/Walk

 

 

Tracey Yeager Memorial 5K Run/Walk

"The Finish Line is Just the Beginning"

Memorial Day - May 26th            Race Time 9:30 AM

 

Race Registration

To register online for the race, please click here (there are no additional fees to register online) - https://secure.getmeregistered.com/TraceyYeager5K

 

We are proud to sponsor the 3rdannual Tracey Yeager Memorial 5K Run/Walk (TYM5K). This annual event is held on Memorial Day in scenic Winona Lake Park. This is a family friendly event designed to honor Tracey’s memory while also honoring the brave men and women who died in service to our great nation. 100% of the registration fees and corporate sponsorship dollars for this event go toward the “Tracey’s Trails Fund” at Kosciusko County Community Foundation. This fund is used to aid in the continued development of the bike/walk trails in Kosciusko County.

 

To access and mail a registration form, click here.

To like us on Facebook, please click here - http://facebook.com/TYM5K

 

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A Rough Week

Since 2009, the stock market has moved higher on an almost regular basis. Success like this can make it hard to believe that two short years ago the global economy was being buffeted by the Arab Spring uprising and the potential exit of Greece from the European Union. One outcome of these events was a 10% correction in the S&P 500 index. Having moved from that point in time to now without a major pullback, some would say a market setback is long overdue. Last week, there was news that could potentially be the trigger for a correction. Lower than expected company profits and concerns about slowing worldwide growth caused the Dow to lose 3.5%. The NASDAQ, an index that measures technology and growth companies, was down 1.7% for the week.

 

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Tax Time Readiness

As the calendar moves toward the inevitable April 15thtax deadline, this is a good time to consider some of the details related to the process. Whether you use tax software or rely on a tax professional, there are a number of important items to think about prior to filing. Consider whether the following items apply to you before submitting your return:

 

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Maximize your Charitable Gift (''Tis the Season'')

As we near the end of 2013, we will likely spend some time assessing the past twelve months and then turn our attention to preparing tax returns. The fact that it has been a good year for the markets is undisputable. The equity returns of 2013 have left many of our clients with significant unrealized capital gains in their portfolios. To most investors, these gains represent a future tax obligation. If considered differently, these gains can become a valuable tool for tax advantaged gifting.

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The Fed Surprises Again

Two goldfish are standing outside their goldfish bowl which is engulfed in flames. One goldfish says to the other goldfish, “Whew, that was close.”

 

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Wire Fraud Protection Strategy

Financial advisors and their clients have increasingly been targeted by scammers attempting to use email to commit wire fraud. Even at SYM there have been several spurious, unsuccessful, attempts to access client accounts in the last few months.

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Have the Capital Markets Spoken or Is This Just Reaction to the Fed?

“To support a stronger economic recovery and to help ensure that inflation, over time, is at the rate most consistent with its dual mandate, the Committee decided to continue purchasing additional agency mortgage-backed securities at a pace of $40 billion per month and longer-term Treasury securities at a pace of $45 billion per month.” Ben Bernanke

 

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Markets and the Federal Reserve

Earlier this week, at the conclusion of its Policy Meeting, the Federal Reserve (the “Fed”) announced it will likely begin to pull back on its “easy money” policy, popularly referred to as “Quantitative Easing”. Per the policy, the Fed has been buying approximately $85 billion of mortgage backed securities per month. The purchase of these securities has helped to keep interest rates low and thus has provided liquidity to businesses and individuals at relatively very low rates.

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What Sector Will Lead the Market Next?

For the last year, SYM has emphasized the large cap value sector within managed client portfolios. This gave clients an overweighting to dividend-oriented companies in defensive sectors like healthcare, consumer staples, utilities and telecom. It also meant less exposure to materials, industrials, energy, and technology stocks.

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All Time High

It would be easy to conclude the bull market in US stocks is over now that we have hit new highs. Many underinvested bears will proclaim stocks must be overvalued and it’s just a matter of time before the stock market takes it all back. But dig a little deeper into the fundamentals of the success story of American corporations. For instance, since hitting a low point in the financial crisis of 2009, dividends that are paid to shareholders have soared. For the stocks in the S&P 500, for instance, quarterly dividends have risen nearly 70%, and payments have surpassed the previous high set in 2007, just before the financial crisis hit.

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''Sequessure''

SYM Definition: Downward pressure on the equity markets due to the looming potential start of sequestration on March 1st.

 

The media noise will continue to pick up this week as we approach the March 1st deadline for Congress to act or accept mandatory cuts in spending. Media accounts are positioning the sequester as a negative for economic growth and the stock market, but we doubt the looming spending cuts will be as negative as they are portrayed.

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Tax Time Readiness Check

As the calendar moves toward the inevitable April 15thtax deadline, we’ll gather all the documentation we’ve acquired over the past twelve months and head to our CPA’s office or sit down at the computer to determine this year’s final tally. Whether you use tax software or rely on a tax professional, there are a number of important items to think about prior to filing. Consider whether the following items apply to you before submitting your return:

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Charles Schwab CEO Visits SYM Financial Advisors

Charles Schwab President and CEO, Walt Bettinger,visited the Winona Lake headquarters of SYM Financial Advisors on Friday. Walt spent time with the SYM owners to solicit feedback and ensure that Schwab is meeting the needs of SYM clients. Bettinger assumed the role of President and CEO in 2008 when founder, Charles R. Schwab, stepped down.

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IRA Distributions to Charity

The fiscal cliff has been addressed. Reading through the articles and summaries of the legislation last week, you might be led to think it only had to do with tax rates. However, as is most often the case, when you stop reading, you can miss out.

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Golden Opportunity . . . Expiring Soon

In late 2010 Congress handed wealthy tax payers a golden opportunity to shift millions of dollars out of their estate with no transfer tax liability. To the extent not already used, this golden opportunity allows individuals ($5.12 million) and married couples ($10.24 million) to gift from their estates without incurring any transfer tax. Without an act of Congress, this unique planning opportunity is set to expire at the end of 2012 when the current law sunsets and lifetime gifts will again be limited to $1 million per person, $2 million per couple.

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Game Plan

game plan: noun

 

  1. A carefully thought out strategy for achieving an objective.

The voting is over. The ballots have been counted. Barack Obama has another term as president. Half the population is celebrating and half the population is a bit more fearful. In the US stock markets the initial reaction has been to sell. As long term investors we knew the outcome of the presidential election was only one of many worries ahead of us.

 

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Presidential Elections and Market Returns

How should my portfolio be allocated as the election nears? Should I re-allocate now in anticipation of election results or wait until the election is decided before making adjustments? Should I put excess cash to work now or wait until 2013? These are questions investors are asking as the November election nears. David G. Booth of Dimensional Fund Advisors analyzed this same issue in an article in 2004. Booth analyzed five return relationships* within stock and bond allocations for the five months leading up to and twelve months following a presidential election.

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Don't Fight the Fed ...Rebalance

A week and a half ago, the Federal Reserve (the Fed) announced a third series of measures for quantitative easing or “QE3”.

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Perspective on the Fiscal Cliff

If you have not already heard reference to the “fiscal cliff” you probably soon will. We feel it is important for our clients to have knowledge of what this refers to and how SYM Financial is approaching this potential economic event.

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The Death of Equities, Revisited

A recent article appearing in the Financial Times caught our eye—or perhaps we should say ear. At first glance it was unremarkable—just one among dozens of recent think pieces suggesting that investors were losing interest in stocks as markets around the world continued to stagnate.

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Preparing for the Next Correction

Last week the Dow broke 17,000. Even the small-cap index, the Russell 2000, notched a new high, illustrating the breadth of this healthy bull market. The NASDAQ, believe it or not, is less than 15 percent away from the record set in the crazy dot-com era market of 2000. Yet valuations are not even close to the extremes of those days.

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Social Security Timing

Death and taxes may be the only two things that are certain in life. Although death is inevitable, preparing for it can be difficult. Making decisions too soon or too late can diminish or even eliminate some available planning options.

 

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