What is Your Tolerance for Risk?

Are you risky or conservative? Or somewhere in between?

A 30-second read by the Baron Team: When it comes to your portfolio, it is important that you are invested in a strategy that aligns with your ability and willingness to take risk. Baron Financial Group is pleased to provide a free, scientific assessment of your financial risk-tolerance*. The questionnaire will provide you with a risk score, a crucial component when developing a long-term investment strategy.

How does it work?

To access the Risk Tolerance Questionnaire, you can either click here, or press on the “Are you risky or conservative?” button on the footer of our website.

You will be asked to provide your name and email address. Please note that we will only use your email to contact you regarding your score.

You will then be directed to the FinaMetrica website, where you will be prompted to answer 12 questions that will help to determine your risk tolerance score. At the time of this writing, the questionnaire can only be accessed via computer – tablet/phone capability is currently not available.

If you have any questions about the process or would like further information or instruction, please contact a member of our Baron Team.

* The risk tolerance calculator is intended to serve as an informational tool only, and should not be construed as legal, investment or tax advice.  Every investment strategy has the potential for profit or loss.

5 Financial Actions to Consider at Year-End – 2017 version

A 90-second read by Anthony Benante:  What 5 things should you be thinking about at the end of the year when it comes to your finances?

1. Review your personal budget and commit to a savings plan for 2018

a. On January 1, write down the balance in your checking account. Do this on the first of the month for the next three months. After you incorporate your income for the period, as well as take note of any cash withdrawals from other accounts, you can get a general sense of what your monthly spending is.

b. We work directly with our clients at Baron to help understand how their budget and all of their financial assets work together.  If you would like a budget sheet (either electronic or hard-copy), let us know. 

2. Review your long-term investment strategy

a. Is the long-term strategy in place for you still right for your specific circumstance? Are you going to be making any large purchases coming up in the New Year? Are you thinking about revisiting your risk tolerance – becoming more aggressive or conservative?

b. At Baron, we use a customized approach to design client portfolios.  We not only consider potential return, but also risk, as well as how the investments complement each other.  Having a long-term investment strategy is critical for investing success and provides a guide for when markets act unexpectedly or make a major directional move.

3. Rebalance your investment accounts

a. Rebalancing brings the portfolio into alignment with the original target weights of each asset class. It also helps to reduce long-term portfolio volatility.

b. Client portfolios at Baron are rebalanced on a contingent basis.  This means the actual holdings are regularly compared to the recommended strategy.  Triggers are in place to help identify when investments deviate too far from strategy and trades are placed. This keeps client portfolios close to their strategy.  Most individuals do not follow this disciplined approach. 

4. Review your tax situation for the year and take advantage of tax trading in your investment accounts, if possible

a. Understanding how your investments may impact your tax circumstance is important.  The last trading day for 2017 is Friday December 29th.  That is the last day you can make any changes to your portfolio for your 2017 tax return.

b. Throughout the year, we review Baron clients’ tax situations and see if any strategic trades can be made to help reduce tax burdens.  As year-end approaches, we look to minimize tax impacts when possible.  However, our main focus is adhering to portfolio strategy, while minimizing taxes when possible.

c. A new tax  bill has been passed and there will be changes for 2018.  Check in with your accountant or tax preparer to see if they recommend any changes prior to year-end or to your tax plan for 2018.

5. If you are 70 ½ or older, or if you have inherited a tax-deferred account, make sure you understand how required minimum distributions (RMDs) apply to you

a. If either of the above applies to you, you will need to take an RMD.  Contact your advisor or custodian to help understand the amount and how to take your RMD.  It is important to take your required minimum distribution in order to prevent any penalties from the IRS.

b. At Baron, we advise our clients on the timing, the structure (lump sum or regular distributions throughout the year) and the correct dollar amount needed to be withdrawn from retirement accounts requiring RMDs.

If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact the Baron Financial Group team.

 

Good Cheer and the Spirit of the Season!

In the spirit of the season, a donation has been made to the Fair Lawn Food Pantry in Fair Lawn, New Jersey and to the All Faiths Food Bank in Sarasota, Florida.

With these donations, we honor Baron Financial Group clients and friends and continue our commitment to making the community a better place.

We wish everyone a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year!

Keeping Your Portfolio “Balanced”

A 60-second read by Victor Cannillo:  If your goal is to invest over the long-term, totally avoiding a sector solely on the basis that it has recently performed well would not be prudent.  Long-term investors should identify a globally-diversified strategy, spread across many sectors, that is risk appropriate and helps them achieve their goals.  

At Baron, our objective is to find the appropriate balance of globally-diversified assets for our clients’ portfolio, while producing as little volatility as possible to achieve their desired results. Using a rebalancing strategy can help smooth out volatility in the portfolio and prevent overweighting to any one sector or asset class while still allowing the investor to remain invested.

A rebalancing strategy aims to divest the relative gains from strong-performing asset classes and invest the proceeds in non-correlated asset classes that may be underperforming at the present time. By purchasing securities within sectors that may be trading at severe discounts due to their lackluster recent performance, our clients can both reap the reward of the recent market surge, while simultaneously strengthening the long-term stability of their portfolio. Furthermore, if the sectors that have been performing well recently were to take a severe and unexpected downturn, a rebalancing strategy would look to assure that the portfolio is not overinvested in those asset classes and exposed to an unwarranted amount of risk at any given time.

For any questions on your portfolio, please don’t hesitate to contact your Baron Team

 

We are thankful for…

In this season of gratitude, we pause to say Thank You to our clients, family and friends.

As is the firm’s practice at Thanksgiving, we donate to our local food pantry to help those less fortunate in our community.

To make a contribution to the Fair Lawn Food Pantry, you can send a check, payable to “Fair Lawn Human Services Trust”, or send a food or personal product donation to:

Fair Lawn Health and Human Services
8-01 Fair Lawn Ave.
Fair Lawn, NJ 07410

To make a contribution to the All Faiths Food Bank in Sarasota, FL, click here for their website

It is our hope that together, we can look forward to a future of promise for all.

Baron Financial Group Attends Fall Educational Conferences

Baron Financial Group strives to stay up-to-date on the current information and newest advancements available in the financial industry regarding financial planning and investment management, practice management, and security. The Baron Team members attended the following fall educational conferences.

Victor Cannillo, NAPFA-Registered Financial Advisor, and Nicholas Scheibner, CFP®, of Baron Financial Group, recently attended the Disrupt|Advice 2017 two-day conference in New York City, “Navigating the Present & Future of Financial Advice.” The conference focused on the notion that “wealth management is changing rapidly, and those advisers that will succeed in the long run are those who embrace, prepare for and readily adapt to change.” Topics discussed at the conference included “the myriad forces that are disrupting the world of financial advice, from digital platforms and tools, pricing pressures, regulatory pressures, innovations in practice management…”, among other topics.

Victor attended the NAPFA (National Association of Personal Financial Advisors) Fall Conference via livestreaming.  NAPFA is the country’s leading professional association of Fee-Only financial advisors. The educational conference held in Orlando, Florida, livestreamed programs on income tax and retirement planning, diversification in investments, healthcare reform, estate planning, and data security, among others.

James Suazo, an Associate Financial Planner with Baron Financial Group, attended a cybersecurity workshop presented by Charles Schwab. The workshop provided insights as to what steps we should be taking to strengthen our cybersecurity program, based on the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) cybersecurity framework for improving critical infrastructure.  Essential topics included:

  • Establishing governance and roles
  • Cybersecurity assessment and action plan
  • Actions to be implemented
Left to right: James Suazo, Victor Cannillo and Nicholas Scheibner of Baron Financial Group

James also attended the FPANJ (Financial Planning Association of NJ) Fall Conference on November 1, 2017.  The FPANJ discussed various topics including retirement planning, tax planning, investments, and client communication. 

Economic and governmental policies are dynamic; attending industry conferences help us to remain current so that we may continue to provide a valuable service to our clients.

Please contact the Baron Team with any questions.

Baron Financial Group Attends Autism New Jersey’s 35th Annual Conference

We recognize that the financial planning challenges faced by families with special needs members are significant. When it comes to planning for the special needs community, the need for financial professionals who have comprehensive knowledge and experience is essential to meet the specific challenges of these families. We take great pride in helping families address today’s needs and plan for those that are likely to follow.

Nicholas Scheibner, CFP®, of Baron Financial Group, attended Autism New Jersey’s 35th Annual Conference on October 19th and 20th in Atlantic City. Sessions included government benefits, transitioning period for children out of school, and Special Needs trusts.

Autism New Jersey is the state’s leading autism advocacy organization, supporting families and professionals through their four service pillars:

  • Information
  • Education & Training
  • Public Policy
  • Awareness

“Autism New Jersey advocates, with a strong and unified voice, for appropriate and effective policies and services that will benefit children and adults with autism living in New Jersey. Autism New Jersey is a nonprofit agency committed to ensuring safe and fulfilling lives for individuals with autism, their families, and the professionals who support them.”
                                                        -Autism New Jersey 

 

Please contact the Baron team to learn more about our services for families with special needs.

Converting your IRA to a Roth IRA – What to Know

A 60-second read by Nicholas Scheibner:  The main difference between a Traditional Individual Retirement Account (IRA) and a Roth IRA is that with a Roth IRA, you pay taxes upfront, so that when you are in retirement, you can make withdrawals tax-free.

If you are considering converting your IRA to a Roth, here are a few things to consider:

Taxes: If you convert money from a traditional IRA to a Roth, your tax rate for the year you convert could go up.  If you decide to explore the conversion, please review with your accountant when to convert, as ideally, you would want to convert in a year that you expect your taxes to be lower.

RMDs: If you do decide to convert, this does provide a greater tax diversification to your overall portfolio, since you will potentially be reducing the required minimum distribution (RMD) amount from your IRA by converting IRA assets to Roth IRA assets.

The financial breakeven: The financial breakeven for a Roth is different for everyone, however, there are some general principles for the calculation – If tax rates increase in the future, this conversion may be worth more. If tax rates stay the same, or go lower, there may be less of a benefit. You may want to consider the opportunity cost of investing all monies today as opposed to using a portion for taxes.  The longer you live the more you may benefit from having the Roth assets grow tax-free.

Please review this information with your accountant and consult with your financial planner prior to converting.

For any further questions, please reach out to your Baron team.

Medicare Webinar: Prepare for the 2018 Medicare Open Enrollment – Oct. 15th – Dec. 7th, 2017

Medicare is health insurance for individuals who are 65 and older, under 65 with certain disabilities, or those who have End-Stage Renal Disease (ESRD).

The 2018 Medicare annual open enrollment period will begin on Oct. 15, 2017 and run through December 7, 2017. Baron Financial Group’s informative webinar, presented by independent Medicare Consultant Mary Jean Cullen (MedicareAssist, LLC), discusses how Medicare works and what you need to know prior and during your Medicare years. This presentation was first held at the September 13, 2016 Wine & Wealth event for Baron Financial Group clients.

You can learn more at Medicare.gov, the official U.S. Government site for Medicare.

If you have any further questions, please don’t hesitate to contact the Baron Financial Group team.

What are some differences between Exchange-Traded Funds and Index Mutual Funds?

A 45-second read by Anthony Benante: There are many factors to consider when comparing an exchange-traded fund (ETF) and an index mutual fund.  An ETF is a marketable security that tracks an index, like an index fund.  A Mutual Fund is an investment company that pools money from shareholders and invests in a variety of securities, including stocks, bonds and money market funds. A main difference between an ETF and an index mutual fund is an ETF trades continuously while the market is open, while the index mutual fund trades one time a day at market close. 

For ETFs, investors should be aware of the spread between the bid and the ask price.  The larger the spread, the higher the implied cost is for investing in the ETF.  Also, investors need to understand the strength and depth of the ETF to make sure there is ample liquidity during volatile markets.  Investors can research the daily volume traded, the overall size of the ETF and other factors to better understand the strength of the ETF.  All these factors can lead to the ETF performing differently than its benchmark.

Index mutual fund performance will not perfectly match its benchmark either.  The costs to run the fund, which are paid by the investor and identified as an expense ratio (ETFs have similar costs) negatively impact performance compared to a benchmark index.  Also, index mutual funds may be required to hold a portion of the fund in cash to meet investor redemptions, which could contribute to lower relative performance when the benchmark’s performance is positive. 

Investors may experience different costs for the same product, meaning you have to do your homework.  Some ETFs can have transaction costs, however, some brokerages allow for free trading for certain ETFs.  For index mutual funds, you may be able to go direct to a mutual fund company and invest with no transaction cost, but you could pay transaction charges in a brokerage account for that same fund, depending on where the account is held.

In general, active investors may prefer the trading flexibility offered from ETFs, while long-term buy and hold investors may prefer using a straight index mutual fund to gain exposure to a specific benchmark.  We encourage investors to do their research and seek help in areas outside of their expertise. 

If you have any further questions on the subject, please reach out to your Baron team.

Disclosure: Past performance is no guarantee of future results.  Every investment strategy has the potential for profit or loss. This material is not intended to be relied upon as a forecast, research or investment advice.

High Stability Wealth Management