Category Archives: Articles

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Nicholas Scheibner, CFP® is certified as a NAPFA-Registered Financial Advisor

Nicholas J. Scheibner, CFP®

Nick Scheibner, a Wealth Management Advisor and CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ Professional with Baron Financial Group, fortifies his commitment to the fiduciary standard by becoming a NAPFA-Registered Financial Advisor.  Nick joins Founder and Wealth Management Principal, Victor Cannillo at Baron Financial Group, as NAPFA-Registered Financial Advisors.  Victor has held this certification since 1998.

According to the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors (NAPFA):

NAPFA membership is granted only to advisors who pass an extensive screening process and those advisors must be paid directly by their clients, without receiving conflict-inducing commissions and rewards generated from the sale of financial products.

NAPFA members live by three important values:

  • To be the beacon for independent, objective financial advice for individuals and families.
  • To be the champion of financial services delivered in the public interest.
  • To be the standard bearer for the emerging profession of financial planning.

NAPFA’s continuing education (CE) policy is an important part of its commitment to the highest competency standards in the industry. NAPFA-Registered Financial Advisors complete 60 hours of CE spread across a broad range of subjects every two-year CE cycle.  NAPFA standards have continuously been the most rigorous in the industry for over 30 years.  All NAPFA-Registered Financial Advisors are required to always work in a Fee-Only capacity. The Fee-Only structure is the best way to align compensation with a client’s needs, forgoing any and all commissions and referral fees.

Click here to learn more about NAPFA-Registered Financial Advisors. To learn more about Baron Financial Group, contact us at 201-791-6408 or at info@baron-financial.com.

Responsible Guidance: What to Do If Your Email Has Been Hacked

A 30-second read by the Baron Team:

How do you know if your email has been hacked?

According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), your email may have been hacked if:

  • Your family and friends tell you that they received emails from you that you didn’t send
  • You are unable to login to your email
  • Your sent folder shows emails you never wrote or sent, or your sent folder is empty, etc.

What are the next steps if you have been hacked?

If you think that your email has been hacked, the FTC recommends these five steps:

  1. Make sure you have security software on your computer & remove any malware
  2. Change your passwords
  3. See what information is available from your email provider about how to restore your account
  4. Check account settings for anything unfamiliar
  5. Let friends and family know that you are having issues with your email so they know to ignore any messages with links, etc. that might come from your email.

To read more tips from the FTC on this topic, click here.

For more information on Cybersecurity, please view our
Personal Cybersecurity Webinar.

Please reach out to your Baron Team with any questions.

BFG at the ballpark: We say “Thank You” to Our Clients and Friends

A 30-second read by the Baron Team:  With spring right around the corner, Baron Financial Group hosted a client-appreciation event at the spring-training home of the Baltimore Orioles. The March 14th game versus the New York Yankees ended in a 7 to 4 win for the Orioles.  This is our third year hosting a client event at Ed Smith Stadium in Sarasota, Florida. An extra special treat for our guests, and advisors, was a visit from the Oriole Bird!

Victor Cannillo, Tony Benante and Nick Scheibner, of Baron Financial Group, with the Oriole mascot

It is our custom to make a donation to a local charity whenever we host a client-appreciation event.  Continuing with our tradition, a donation has been made in honor of our clients and friends to the “All Faiths Food Bank” in Sarasota.

Baron’s purpose is to help our clients reach their financial goals and to secure a better future for them and their families. In keeping with our goal to help others with their financial security, the firm is committed to helping those less fortunate.

Taking a Closer Look at ETFs – the Importance of Liquidity when Investing

A 30-second read by Nicholas Scheibner: You may have heard about low- or no-expense-ratio Exchange-Traded Funds (ETFs), but cost is not the most important factor when investing in an ETF – it’s liquidity. You want to make sure that the ETF you’re investing in has a high daily volume of trading. Everything can seem great with an ETF when markets are going up, but when things are going down, and you want to sell out of your fund, you may take a big loss.

To illustrate this, picture a room with 100 people, and a door that can only fit one person at a time.  Imagine everyone wanting to leave the room at the same time.  As you can imagine, there would be a rush to the door, and it would be difficult for everyone to get out – a similar theory applies to ETFs.  If there are very few people trading an ETF on a daily basis, it can be difficult to sell at the price you would like. You want to invest in an ETF that has a lot of activity, (a large door), so that when you want to exit, you can at a reasonable price. 

For more information on ETFs, you can read our “What are some differences between Exchange-Traded Funds and Index Mutual Funds? ” article.

For any other questions, please reach out to your Baron Team

Responsible Guidance: Tips to avoid Phishing Scams

A 60-second read by the Baron Team: It is not uncommon to turn on the news or read an article and hear about a new scam or hacking event. In the past, we have discussed tips to avoid phone scams and provided information about the Equifax data breach. Our Personal Cybersecurity webinar also contains helpful information. Below please find some phishing-scam tips provided by the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors (NAPFA). Baron Financial Group is a proud Fee-Only NAPFA firm, committed to providing financial education.

To learn more about NAPFA, click here.

  • Be cautious about opening attachments or clicking on links in emails. Even your colleague or friends’ accounts could be hacked. Files and links can contain malware that can weaken your computer’s security.
  • Do your own typing. If a company or organization you know sends you a link or phone number, don’t click. Use your favorite search engine to look up the website or phone number yourself. Even though a link or phone number in an email may look legitimate, scammers can hide the true destination.
  • Make the call if you’re not sure. Do not respond to any emails that request personal or financial information. Phishers use pressure tactics and prey on fear. If you think a company, friend or family member really does need personal information from you, pick up the phone and call them yourself using the number on their website or in your address book, not the one in the email.
  • Turn on two-factor authentication. For accounts that support it, two-factor authentication requires both your password and an additional piece of information to log in to your account. The second piece could be a code sent to your phone, or a random number generated by an app or a token. This protects your account even if your password is compromised. As an extra precaution, you may want to choose more than one type of second authentication (e.g. a PIN) in case your primary method (such as a phone) is unavailable.
  • Back up your files to an external hard drive or cloud storage. Back up your files regularly to protect yourself against viruses or a ransomware attack.
  • Keep your security up to date. Use security software you trust, and make sure you set it to update automatically.
  • Report phishing emails and texts.
    • Forward phishing emails to spam@uce.gov – and to the organization impersonated in the email. Your report is most effective when you include the full email header, but most email programs hide this information. To ensure the header is included, search the name of your email service with “full email header” into your favorite search engine.
    • File a report with the Federal Trade Commission at FTC.gov/complaint.
    • Visit Identitytheft.gov. Victims of phishing could become victims of identity theft; there are steps you can take to minimize your risk.

You can also report phishing emails to reportphishing@apwg.org. The Anti-Phishing Working Group – which includes ISPs, security vendors, financial institutions and law enforcement agencies – uses these reports to fight phishing.

For any further questions, please contact the Baron team

How to File an Extension on Your 2017 Tax Return

A 60-second read by the Baron Team: With the filing due date fast approaching, you are probably in the process of collecting all of your tax-related documents from the past year. Tax returns must be submitted by April 17th this year. If by that time you realize that you are going to need more time to compile information for your tax return or haven’t received all of the documents you need, it will be in your best interest to file a tax extension. This will extend the due date up until October 15, 2018.

How to file a Paper Tax Extension:

 To file an extension, you are going to need to fill out Form 4868 [Application for Automatic Extension of Time to File U.S. Individual Income Tax Return]. You can download the form and instructions from the IRS website.

With the form, you also need to send in at least 90% of your estimated tax liability due for the year. To pay by check, mail the form with the check together. Make the check out to United States Treasury. On the memo line, write your Social Security Number, Form 4868, and the tax year (2017). This way, they know that you are sending the check as part of your extension.

When mailing in the tax extension, it is highly recommended that you send it via certified mail or another method that provides you with a tracking number. The envelope needs to be postmarked by April 17th. Check the instructions portion of Form 4868 for the correct mailing address (it varies according to what state you reside in).

 To Prevent any Penalties:

  • Carefully read all instructions and follow all directions on Form 4868.
  • Correctly estimate your tax liability for the year and send in 90% of the amount due.

Miscellaneous tips:

  • It is possible to file your extension online. See the IRS website for more details.
  • If you ever feel unsure or concerned about the process, consult a Tax Professional to assist you.

For any other questions, contact the Baron Financial Group Team.

Does Your Advisor Offer Institutional Pricing?

This post originally appeared in April, 2016.  For more information on institutional pricing, visit our Investment Management page.

A 60-second read by Anthony Benante: Baron Financial Group is an institutional investor.  As an independent RIA (Registered Investment Advisor) with no allegiance to any investment company, we seek the most attractively-priced investments for our clients. We look at every situation, and when we have the opportunity to invest in institutionally-priced mutual funds that make sense for our clients, we take advantage of the opportunity. The result of this is a direct benefit to the clients’ bottom line. And here’s why:

In the world of mutual funds (which are pools of assets such as stocks and/or bonds), there can be different pricing for the same underlying investments.  For simplification, you could think about these different pricing levels as institutional and retail. Whether you buy institutional-class shares or retail-priced shares from a mutual fund, the investment itself will be exactly the same. The major difference between the two is their fees and this can directly impact investor performance. For example, retail-priced shares can have higher expense ratios, while institutional-class shares have ongoing lower expense ratios (an expense ratio is a measurement of what an investment company charges to run a mutual fund). Retail customers may experience the effects of higher expense ratios because they typically have lower purchasing power.  Retail investors may also be subjected to upfront fees (fees when you purchase shares) as well as back-end fees (fees when you decide to sell your shares). There can also be yearly marketing fees called “12b-1” fees that you might have to pay. Finally, there may be a minimum to what you have to buy.

Institutional-class shares, on the other hand, tend to offer 25 to 50 basis points (a basis point is 1/100th of 1%) of pricing advantage because of their lower fees. There are no initial upfront percentage fees (note that there can be a small nominal transactional fee to purchase these funds) and no maximum sales fees are allowed. With lower expense ratios, more of your money is actually being invested. The result of this can be better performance and better returns for longer periods. 

Ask an advisor at Baron Financial Group to find out if institutional-class mutual funds are right for you. 

Recent Market Volatility

A 60-second read by Anthony Benante: The US Stock market is experiencing something that historically happens about once per year, a market correction.

Our Clients’ Perspective is Important to Us
Our client portfolios are constructed in a risk-appropriate strategy, based on ability and willingness.  When clients complete a financial-planning workbook, we are able to present analysis showing their financial position in different market environments, including markets like we are currently experiencing

Market Activity
Starting January 30th, market volatility has significantly increased.  Explaining the exact reasons for the current moves at this point is difficult.  Fundamentally, not much has changed from an economic growth, corporate profit or employment standpoint.  These are all showing stability and improvement.  However, on Friday, as part of the unemployment report, it indicated that wage inflation is starting to surface.  This created some questions and concerns around inflation and interest rates.  Markets responded aggressively to these concerns.  We have seen popular equity benchmarks trade significantly lower than where they were in mid-to-late January.

Though the numericalpoint moves you hear about may sound alarming, keep in mind that the index levels themselves are higher.  In reality, the percentage moves are not that uncharacteristic.  As investors, you should expect to experience periods of market weakness.  Corrections of 5% – 10% are not that uncommon historically.  We just have not seen these types of moves recently. 

What Baron is Doing – Controlling the Controllable 
The development of Baron Strategies for clients considers different market environments.  That is why we have assets that are built for Growth, for Stability and for Diversification.  We are paying attention to the performance of our investment choices.  We continue to review our investment choices versus peers and benchmarks, and seek rebalancing opportunities.

Baron follows the four pillars of disciplined investing:

  1.  Create a globally-diversified portfolio
  2.  Control the quality of investments
  3.  Rebalance when needed
  4.  Keep emotions out of investing

With the recent Stock Market turbulence, there are THREE questions you should be asking yourself:

  1. Do I have a strategy in place for all market conditions?
  2. Am I receiving proactive communication from my advisor?
  3. Have I been given financial guidance to help answer “Am I OK”?

We gladly offer a second-opinion phone call to help review your financial situation or to answer any questions you may be having at this time.  Please feel free to reach out to the Baron Team.

Click here to learn about our comprehensive Financial Planning and Investment Management service

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.

Tax Identity Theft Awareness Week 2018

A 30-second read by Nicholas Scheibner: The week of January 29th – Feb 2nd has been designated “Tax Identity Theft Awareness Week.” The FTC (Federal Trade Commission) will be offering some free webinars and chats on this topic. To learn more about the free webinar offerings, click here.

According to the FTC, tax identity theft occurs when another person uses your social security number for the purpose of getting a job or a tax refund. You will usually know when you receive a letter or notice from the IRS saying that you filed more than one tax return or see on their records that you were paid by an unknown employer. To learn more, click here for the FTC’s article on Tax-Related Identity Theft. If you’re the victim of tax fraud, visit the IRS website.

On a related note – if you are interested to know how long you should be keeping your tax returns, please refer to our “What documents are safe to shred? What must I keep?” blog post.

Feel free to reach out to us for any questions.