Sep 252013
Career Transition: Opportunity Or Anxiety?

Greg PowellAre you in a career transition or thinking about making one? Making a change like this can create great anxiety in someone’s life. In our financial planning process, we help our clients work through this type of transition. Watch this video to find out more.

Greg Powell, CIMA
Wealth Consultant

Apr 272012

Quint Cook, Executive Vice President, Wealth Consultant, Financial Planning04/27/12: Although it’s an unfortunate situation, I often deal with clients who have a loved one that has been diagnosed with some form of Dementia or Alzheimer’s. Anyone facing this type of situation wants to be focused on their loved one rather than dealing with stressful financial decisions.

If you are dealing with this type of scenario, the first thing you should do is surround yourself with a team of professionals who are experienced in dealing with Alzheimer’s and Dementia. This would consist of a financial advisor, legal counsel, health care specialist, and mental health professional.

Frequently Asked Questions:Frequently Asked Questions

Here are three of the most common questions I receive when I am giving financial advice to a client.

Q: Should I start making financial plans now or should I wait?

A: You want to start making financial plans immediately after diagnosis while the loved one can still participate in the planning process. Once the loved one can no longer participate in the decision making process, the hard decisions become harder and stress levels can rise.

Q: How can I manage the costs associated with Alzheimer’s and Dementia?

A: There are various governmental programs such as Medicaid, V.A. Benefits, tax deductions, and tax credits that can be used to offset a significant portion of what could be staggering medical costs. There are also insurance options such as long-term care or accelerated death benefits for life insurance that will advance death benefits in case of a terminal diagnosis.

Q: How can I protect my loved one’s assets for future generations?

A: There are many financial considerations when addressing your loved one’s assets for future generations. Based on your loved one’s individual needs, your team of professionals should develop a strategy to avoid the complicated financial pitfalls that may occur, such as the “5 Year Look Back Rule”. While I do not give legal counsel, our firm has the ability to create a team of these professionals with our trusted business partners to meet your needs and the needs of your family. We can also incorporate and work with any professional with which you already have a relationship.

If you have this need, let us assist you with building a team of knowledgeable professionals who collectively can develop a sound financial strategy for you. This way, you can focus on being the caregiver for your loved one, knowing you have a financial strategy in place.

I would like to talk with you should you have any questions or concerns. You can call me at (205) 989-3498 or email me by clicking here.

Quint Cook
Executive Vice President
Wealth Consultant

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 Posted by at 10:53 am
Apr 202012

Franklin Bradford, CMT, Vice President/Wealth Consultant04/20/12: At some point we all hope to retire and enjoy the fruits of our labor. In our investment firm, part of our financial planning process is to discuss how couples envision their retirement and what their dreams and goals are for their golden years. However, what if one spouse wants to retire and the other wants to keep working?

In the past, it was traditionally the husband who retired promptly at age 65, after receiving a gold watch for his service and a nice corporate pension to live on through retirement. Then the wife would loyally follow him to a golf community where they spent the rest of their years together.

Today’s arrangements are vastly different. In many cases the wife has a career also and may not be ready to retire when the husband does. According to a recent Wall Street Journal article, which cites a study conducted by Fidelity Investments, 62% of the couples polled said they don’t agree on their expected retirement ages. In fact, only 16-20% of couples will retire in the same year with the vast majority of couples retiring within three to five years of each other, according to the research conducted by Fidelity Investments.

The article also notes that 47% of couples don’t agree on whether they will continue to work in retirement. After spending the vast majority of your married life apart during the day, it isn’t surprising that couples sometimes struggle with the adjustment of one spouse being at the home more often. Frequently Asked Questions

What can help this process?

The Wall Street Journal article confirms what we at fi-Plan Partners have known for years regarding how to ease the stresses around retirement; it’s communication. Communication with each other is the key, as is communication with a financial planner or retirement coach to discuss how each spouse envisions retirement. At fi-Plan Partners, we have been helping clients map out a retirement strategy for three decades and it is a cornerstone of our trademarked financial planning process “Your Financial House”. As our President and CEO, Greg Powell, likes to say “a bored retired male is more dangerous than a bored teenager.”

So, does this raise any questions about you and your spouse’s plans and vision for retirement? I would enjoy talking with you both to help find answers to your questions. We do that with our clients every day.  Give me a call or email me by clicking here and let us guide you towards a happy and fulfilled retirement.

Franklin Bradford, CMT
Vice President, Wealth Consultant

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Mar 092012

Chris Davis picture03/09/12: Just about every business that wants to succeed has a website. These days, a website can be thrown together in a manner of minutes on any number of “build your own click and drag” websites. On the other hand, a business can spend months developing, creating and fine tuning their site. Your company’s website can work for you, against you or simply do nothing at all… which is the same as working against you in my book.

As the web designer for fi-Plan Partners, I talk often with our business owner clients about their website and advise them on ways to make their site more valuable. If you feel like your website isn’t working for you, here’s my humble, but experienced top five reasons why.

5 Reasons Your Business Website Isn’t Working for Youweb pic

1. You don’t know what you want from your website

There are very few if any, “set it and forget it” money making sites out there, so don’t have the goal of “making money.” You need to be more specific. Next to having a product or service that is valuable and in demand, you need to have specific goals that you want your website to accomplish. If you desire direct sales, you will need an eCommerce site, which is a totally different kind of website where the goal is to capture leads for potential customer follow-up. You know your product or service better than anyone, so the key is to know your customer, what they want, how they want to receive it, and provide it online in the most user friendly way. When you develop measurable goals, you can track and study your website stats (through Google Stats or your hosting company) and reassess and fine tune your site according to that information. This takes time so be patient.

2. Your site is all about your business and not about your target audience

Experts say that when someone visits your website, you have exactly 3 minutes to convey who you are and what you do. After that, if visitors decide they are interested, you need to show them you understand them and have what they need. Business websites that don’t work are usually filled with content that is just about the company and not about the customer. A visitor is asking you when they visit your site, “What’s in it for me?” If you can’t lead them to the correct answer quickly, they will click away.

3. You are not using Search Engine Optimization (SEO) best practices

How many of us can remember the last time we opened a Yellow Pages book to find information on a business we are looking for? Where is your first place to find that information? Say it with me, “You Google it” (or use Yahoo or Bing). These companies make money from advertisers when people use their search engines. People will use the engine that gets them to the best information online fast. The search engines have criteria by which they judge whether your site has the information people want. If your site does not meet that criteria, your site will be no better than a house for sale on a dead end street with no real estate listing. If it can’t be found… well, it won’t be found.

Just about anybody can design a website these days, but for your website to work for you, your web design person (or company) should know this criteria set forth by the search engines and guide you as you provide content for your site. This is called Search Engine Optimization or SEO. If they don’t, it’s time to find another.

4. You’re business is not involved in social media

You need to go where the people are and social media sites, like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and LinkedIn, are just a few places where millions of people gather online every day to share information. If you can build relationships with those people through engaging dialogue and by providing valuable information, these tools can be the tour bus that brings visitors to your website. There are unwritten rules of engagement to be sure to watch, listen and learn before you jump in.

5. Your site never changes

You must give your audience a reason to come back. If they visit your site once, read everything, then come back a few days later and there is no new and valuable information, they most likely will never return. Why would they? This is where blogging can be your most powerful tool for providing consistent, new and valuable information for your site. Notice that I said, “valuable information.” You can’t just blog about anything. You must provide information that people can use… things that make them say, “I’ll use that today and later, I’ll come back for more.” This establishes your business as an expert in your field and trusted resource… and people love to do business with businesses they trust. I encourage you to check out our daily blog on our site to see how we are striving everyday to give something of value to our readers.

There are many other factors that can make or break your website. These are just a few. If you would like to talk with me and receive a free initial evaluation concerning your business website, please email me here or call me at (205) 989-3498.

Chris Davis
Director of Integrated Communications

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Jan 202012

Amy Marquis1/20/12 It’s tax time again, and that means you may be considering contributing to an individual retirement account. I have attached a document with useful information for IRA and other plan contribution limits for both 2011 and 2012.  I have included in the document the deadlines for opening an account, as well as making your contribution. To view or download this document click here.

It is important to know that fi-Plan Partners does not give tax advice. Please remember that not all contributions are tax deductible. You should consult a tax professional before making your final decision regarding contributions.

Frequently Asked Questions

Regardless of the type of retirement plan you choose, contributing regularly is the key to building a strong retirement savings. Don’t put off saving for retirement because you are still in your 20’s or 30’s either, early contributions pay off!  If you have additional questions or would like to inquire about opening an IRA, please email me here or call me at (205) 989-3498. We look forward to helping you build your retirement assets.

Amy Marquis
Chief Operations Officer

Jan 132012

Mac Frasier01/13/11 With 2011 in the rearview mirror, it is time to look ahead to this year and see what the markets will have in store.  As we make these predictions we are reminded of the great quote from John Kenneth Galbraith, “The function of economic forecasting is to make astrology look respectable.”  That being said we feel like these 12 predictions best represent our views on what is in store for investors in 2012.

  1. Volatility is here to stay – Uncertainty with regards to Europe and the presidential election in the U.S., will keep investors on edge.
  2. Europe will dominate the news and markets– This should hardly come as a surprise seeing that a day doesn’t pass without some type of news coming out of Europe.  We expect the problems of the Euro-Zone will continue to affect the financial markets for the whole year.
  3. Greece leaves the Euro-Zone – Despite numerous bailouts, Greece will finally realize they are better off on their own.  By leaving the Euro-Zone, they will be able to print their own currency with hopes of inflating their woes away.
  4. U.S. businesses come home – After years of outsourcing, U.S. companies will realize there is no place like home.  Rising wages in emerging markets and supply chain problems are just some of the reasons businesses will choose to move back to the U.S.  We also have better transportation, cheaper energy and plenty of people looking for employment.
  5. The U.S. economy will grow, but still leaves much to be desired – Despite improving earnings from corporate America, the U.S. economy as a whole will struggle to grow.  We believe unemployment, political uncertainty, and low consumer confidence will prove to be too much of a drag to allow for significant GDP growth.  We expect GDP growth to be under 2.5%Financial Market Outlook.
  6. Mortgage rates stay low – Due to record low interest rates and no sign of them rising, mortgages will stay near historically low levels.  Unfortunately, many Americans will not be able to take advantage of these rates with an estimated 20% of homes currently underwater.
  7. Facebook IPO – After many years of anticipation, we will finally see the Facebook IPO.  The real question will be how successful it will be. If the 2011 IPOs of similar companies are any indication, we should see a successful open that is followed by a disappointing performance in the following months.
  8. We will see QE3 – In an effort to stimulate financial markets in the U.S., we will see the Federal Reserve start Quantitative Easing 3 sometime in the first half of 2012.
  9. Mergers and acquisitions will dominate the news in the U.S. markets – Corporate America currently has a tremendous amount of cash on their balance sheets.  The surplus of cash combined with low interest rates should lead to a boom in M&A activity, as shareholders demand that capital be used or returned to them in the form of dividends.
  10. Mid and small cap stocks outperform – In staying with the previous prediction, we expect these areas to outperform because they are usually the beneficiaries of M&A activity.
  11. Companies will raise dividends – Cash rich companies will continue to raise dividends.  We also expect to see increased dividends from companies that traditionally do not pay dividends.  For example; Cisco started a quarterly dividend in 2011.
  12. Expect the unexpected – There will be some unexpected events that will have an impact on the markets. In 2011, the markets were impacted by the Arab Spring protests, Japanese earthquake/tsunami, debt ceiling debate, and Euro-Zone crisis.   Just thinking about the events is enough to scare some investors out of the market, but the truth is each one of these presented investment opportunities for those people willing to look for them.

In addition to my 12 predictions, you can also download here one of many research reports we look at on a regular basis. It is an informative piece and I thought you might enjoy it.

If you have additional questions or would like to discuss how we will use this forecast in managing portfolios, please give me a call at (205) 989-3498 or email me here.

Mac Frasier
Senior Vice President
Wealth Consultant