By Rose Miller I was asked to speak recently on the value of training programs. I was excited to speak on this topic because I’ve witnessed many examples of the damage caused by untrained managers, who are not self-aware nor able to embrace a culture of learning. More managers are being asked to take...
Business Report: Immovable Object Vs. Unstoppable Force
By Steven Luttman
April 2, 1989 marked a formative day in the childhood of many within a certain age demographic. Following the dissolution of their tag team, Hulk Hogan battled Randy Savage for the world title in what was billed as “The Mega-Powers Explode.”
Two icons of the sport engaged in battle, the former relying on brute strength and power while the latter found success with finesse and quickness. It was impossible to imagine either succumbing to the other. Three-plus decades later and this impasse parallels today’s conflict between buyers and affordability within the residential real estate market.
On one side of the housing equation, you have interest rates. Last March the Federal Reserve announced what would go on to be the first of several increases to their Fed Funds rate. Since then, the velocity in which the cost of borrowing money has risen hasn’t been seen since the early 1980s.
Many homeowners fortunately saw the writing on the wall, and locked in attractive mortgage payments before the escalation fully got underway. Goldman Sachs now estimates nearly three-quarters of all borrowers have interest rates below 4 percent, and 99 percent possess one below six.
While this was financially prudent, the corresponding friction it would go on to cause is significant. When considering moving up, downsizing or simply eyeing a change, one of the first factors a homeowner must come to terms with is the idea of trading in a 3 percent mortgage in exchange for the prevailing rates of today which are double that.
Consider a $250,000 loan amount. On a 30-year mortgage this change represents an additional $450 of monthly interest required when compared to a purchase made just twelve months ago. This puts sellers in an uncomfortable situation where they could conceivably be priced out of buying a house that is less expensive than the one in which they currently reside. Let that sink in for a moment.
Business Report: Finding Safety In Whole Life Insurance
By Brian M. Johnson, MBA, CLTC
Amid recent news about prominent banks failing, inflation and increased market volatility, many Americans are finding refuge in whole life insurance.
To be clear, whole life insurance is NOT an investment. It is a type of life insurance policy that provides coverage for the entirety of one’s life, as opposed to term life insurance which only covers a specific period of time. While whole life insurance offers several benefits, one of the most important considerations for many people is the safety of the policy.
What is whole life insurance? It is a type of permanent life insurance that provides coverage for the entirety of one’s life. Unlike term life insurance, which only provides coverage for a specific period of time, whole life insurance does not expire as long as premiums are paid. In addition to providing a death benefit, whole life insurance policies also build cash value over time, which can be borrowed against or used to pay premiums.
One of the main benefits of whole life insurance is its safety. Unlike other types of investments, such as stocks or mutual funds, whole life insurance policies are not subject to market fluctuations. This means that the cash value of the policy is guaranteed to increase over time, regardless of economic conditions. In addition, whole life insurance policies are backed by the financial strength of the insurance company, which provides an additional layer of safety.
When you purchase a whole life insurance policy, you are essentially entering into a contract with the insurance company. The insurance company agrees to pay a death benefit to your beneficiaries in exchange for the payment of premiums.
In addition, the insurance company guarantees that the cash value of the policy will increase over time, regardless of market conditions. This means that even if the stock market crashes or the economy takes a downturn, your whole life insurance policy will continue to provide coverage and build cash value.
Business Report: EDC, Our Communities And The Way Forward
By Jim Siplon
Earlier this year EDC Warren County shared a stark view of the future economy as we age, try to compete with a smaller and smaller workforce, and still build a community and economy that works.
To help catalyze the needed investments, public policy work, and collective actions needed to attract new, younger residents that can support our diversified economy for the long haul, EDC is adding “convener” to our list of roles we play supporting our businesses and communities.
Last year we brought Dr. Rachel Sederberg to Warren County from leading labor market research firm EMSI Burning Glass to share deep insights on the “demographic drought” we are all experiencing. Using that groundbreaking research and aggregating it with local economic data that is current and novel, EDC is now engaged in meeting with as many audiences as we can to share the underlying foundation for our position.
Convening as many groups as we can, EDC is sharing the data over the last 50 years that led to where we are so we can have informed discussions and public discourse on what we must do to navigate and adapt to our new normal.
One lesson I learned over and over in my previous chapters as a military, business and sustainability leader was the value of not rushing to action, especially on problems that took generations to develop.
Business Report: See ‘Big Picture’ For Your Business Exit
Stephen L. Ferraro
CPA/ABV/CFF, CEBC, MAFF, CVA
The success of exiting a business depends greatly upon the mental perspective and preparation of an owner during the exit process. Business owners tend to fixate their thoughts only on running and growing their business.
However, there is a tremendous amount of value in seeing the “big picture” with your exit and thinking about the future and where you would like both the company, and yourself personally, to end up.
The owner who is able to see the larger picture and understands that stepping out of a business is an opportunity to move both themselves and their company toward a new stage of life, will be best prepared to execute a successful business transition.
The Transfer Timing Slots
One of the first big picture concepts that owners should grasp is the idea of timing slots. Much like a slot machine, you want to see if you can match up three critical areas—personal timing, company preparedness, and market timing. A solid ‘big picture’ of an exit considers all three.
Business Report: Life Estate Deeds In Estate Planning
By Jason Snyder, Esq.
With a rise in the value of land over the past decade, one’s largest asset oftentimes ends up being their home. While a last will and testament usually cover the transfer of title of real estate upon death, life estate deeds also fulfill this purpose while also providing many more benefits that property owners might not be aware of.
What is a life estate deed?
Deeds effectively transfer real estate from one party to another. The parties to a life estate deed are referred to as the “life tenant” and the “remainderman.” The life tenant (the current owner) transfers the property to the remainderman (the beneficiary).
While the deed is signed and recorded now, the full transfer of title does not happen until the death of the life tenant. The life tenant can use the property during his or her natural life and has rights to any rents or profits arising from its use. Upon the death of the life tenant, the remainderman receives the full title and all the rights and benefits of owning the property.
Benefits of establishing a life estate deed.
Probate avoidance: One of the biggest reasons many clients choose life estate deeds is probate avoidance. Because the home transfers to the remainderman automatically upon the owner’s death, it does not go through probate. If the home is administered through the will, it can take several months or years before the beneficiaries can take possession. This could also save the estate thousands of dollars in probate fees.
In Economic Uncertainty, Investors May Focus On Individual Quality Of Companies
By Kevin M. Hedley
Looking back on 2022, for much of the year inflation was a major topic.
Inflation peaked at 9.1 percent in June of 2022 which was the highest rate since 1980. Inflation is measured by the Bureau of Labor and Statistics which calculates CPI inflation by taking an average weighted cost of a basket of goods and dividing it by the same basket of goods from the previous month.
So, a lot of the inflation numbers reported are based in comparison to the previous month and not since the beginning of the year. Some of the root causes of inflation included higher commodity prices due to supply issues which was exacerbated by the war in Ukraine, higher prices due to increased demand of consumers who spent less in the pandemic while saving more and supply struggling to keep up, and tight labor markets leading to increases in employee wages.
In order to combat inflation, the Fed has tightened its monetary policy by continuing to raise interest rates at it’s most aggressive pace since the 1970s. It appears the Fed has made combatting inflation a top priority, understanding the risk of being so aggressive may cool the economy to the point of triggering a recession.
Business Report: Am I Saving Enough For The Retirement I Want?
By Joseph Vedarte, CRPC
There’s no one-size-fits-all answer. These four steps can help you figure out the amount that’s right for you.
Ask three retirement experts how much you need to save for retirement, and you’ll likely get three different answers.
One might respond with a specific number, say $3 million; another might suggest you save enough to let you draw down 80 percent to 90 percent of your annual pre-retirement income every year; and a third may say you should strive for 12 times your pre-retirement salary. So what’s right for you? And how do you know if you’re on track?
As you seek answers to those questions, the following steps can help you identify a sustainable savings target, one designed to support your desired lifestyle over a retirement that could last 30 years or more. Knowing that can be useful in figuring out whether you need to adjust your current savings and investment plan.
Ask yourself: How long could my retirement last?
“There are multiple personal variables to weigh when starting to think about how much you’ll need to save for retirement,” says David H. Koh, managing director and senior investment strategist, chief investment office, Merrill and Bank of America Private Bank.
2023 Follows Difficult Year For Economy And Markets, But Adjustments Remain Possible
By Stephen Kyne
The year 2022 was an incredibly difficult year for the economy and the markets. In fact, it was the worst year for U.S. stock markets since 2008. Rapidly rising interest rates meant that there were few places to hide as an investor, since even fixed income funds sank due to interest rate pressure.
The S&P 500, the most broadly used US index, ended the year down 20 percent, while the NASDAQ suffered a 33 percent loss, according to FactSet. You’ll be in good company if you open your December statement and find that your balance dropped in 2022.
Down years happen, and it’s something that every investor must accept. The question is: Where do we go from here?
We think that the economy and markets will be impacted by several factors. The first of which will be the continued raising of interest rates by the Fed.
Caught flat-footed in early 2022, the Fed began a rapid series of interest rate increases in a desperate attempt to rein in rampant inflation, which resulted from the wanton subsidies and stimulus of the government’s pandemic response. Since interest rates are essentially the price of money, raising them should slow down economic activity, although it can be a messy and very imprecise process.
Business Report: New Years Financial Resolutions
By Rob Snell
It’s that time of year when many of us promise ourselves we’ll go to the gym more, or learn a new language, or take up a musical instrument, or any number of other worthy goals.
But this year, when making New Year’s resolutions, why not also consider some financial ones?
Here are a few to consider:
Don’t let inflation derail your investment strategy. As you know, inflation was the big financial story of 2022, hitting a 40-year high. And while it may moderate somewhat this year, it will likely still be higher than what we experienced the past decade or so.
Even so, it’s a good idea to try not to let today’s inflation harm your investment strategy for the future. That happened last year: More than half of American workers either reduced their contributions to their 401(k)s and other retirement plans or stopped contributing completely during the third quarter of 2022, according to a survey by Allianz Life Insurance of North America. Of course, focusing on your cash flow needs today is certainly understandable, but are there other ways you can free up some money, such as possibly lowering your spending, so you can continue contributing to your retirement accounts?
It’s worth the effort because you could spend two or three decades as a retiree.