Is your policy's coverage enough to protect you?

True wealth is more than what you earn; what you retain and maintain also matters. Proper insurance coverage helps by protecting your assets from risks that can subtract value or cause costly harm. But do you have ample coverage? High net worth individuals often don't. Many experience an insurance gap and require attention that's above and beyond the scope of traditional mainstream products. 

Umbrella Coverage for Reduced Liability
Sometimes those with significant wealth can be attractive litigation targets, even after less severe situations like a simple fender bender. Consider adding another layer of protection with an umbrella policy. This additional coverage picks up where your existing insurance leaves off to give you extra security and peace of mind. 

Extensive Coverage for Real Estate
Whether you monetize them as rental homes or enjoy them as vacation getaways, having multiple properties in your portfolio can pose unique complications when it comes to homeowners insurance. Review your situation with a fine-toothed comb to properly insure personal property, and keep in mind that high-dollar items, like jewelry and art, may require additional endorsements.

Individualized Attention to Insurance Needs
Sophisticated asset protection may require different types of coverage. If you're working directly with an agent who's beholden to a single insurance company, you may be missing out on better, more protective alternatives from other insurers. An independent personal insurance manager can pick and choose policies from multiple insurers to get you coverage that's customized to your needs.

Just because you're adept at acquiring assets doesn't mean you're as savvy when it comes to protecting them. Choosing the right policies to insure your property will help guard your net worth against unexpected drops in value due to accident, theft and more.

Is now the time for a sabbatical?

When was the last time you took a few vacation days and left work behind? In a 2016 Indeed poll of approximately 2,000 adults, 20 percent didn't take a summer vacation and 59 percent of those who did worked while on the break. A busy work life with little to no time to unwind puts you at high risk for burnout. A well-planned sabbatical could be just what you need to recharge. 

Taking an Extended Break
Employees may have a couple of options when it comes to getting away for a while. A sabbatical is a period of employer-approved leave that may or may not be paid; it can be as short as a month or as long as a year. When it's over, you usually return to your job and pick up where you left off. 

If you want more time away or don't want to continue with the same employer, a career break may better suit you. Many who choose this type of hiatus quit their job and use the extensive period away from employment to travel, volunteer or work abroad. When the career break is over, they search for another job, often with a renewed sense of commitment. 

Does Your Employer Have a Sabbatical Policy? 
Many companies see value in offering a sanctioned gap year to top talent, especially when it comes to high-value employees with a thirst for adventure. If you're interested, check with your company's human resources department or scan your employee benefits package to see if a sabbatical policy exists.

When You Return
Once you have your sabbatical behind you, know how to leverage your time away during interviews and other career-related conversations. What lessons did you learn? How did the break make you better? What skills did you improve or acquire during your time away? Let your answers reflect the unique benefits only you can provide.

3 Pitfalls That Can Impact Your Retirement Savings

A long-term savings strategy like planning for retirement relies on small steps taken over an extended period of time. Make sure you're on track by avoiding these common mistakes.

Underfunding Retirement Accounts
Are you among the 71 percent of Americans who aren't putting enough away for retirement? The most effective determining factors of a well-funded retirement are how early you start and how much you save. Aim to contribute the maximum amount allowable into your retirement accounts each year. If that's a stretch, commit to increasing contributions to retirement accounts any time your income climbs, whether it's from annual raises or salary boosts when you change jobs.

Ignoring Tax Ramifications
If you're early in your wealth-building journey or you anticipate a lower-than-usual income this year, it may be worthwhile to take advantage of your lower tax rate and make Roth contributions in your retirement accounts. Just make sure your employer-sponsored retirement plan has a Roth option. If your income disqualifies you from making Roth IRA contributions, consider Roth conversions.

Concentrating Your Investments Too Narrowly
Many Americans who held most of their funds in a single company or sector of stocks learned this harsh lesson during the dot-com bubble. When the bubble burst between 1999 and 2001, so did a portion of those portfolios. And the same concern goes for tying up the bulk of your wealth in your principal residence. Not only is it time-consuming and costly to convert a home to cash, but you'll also have the added stress of finding a new place to live. Diversification is key to avoiding this mistake.

Whether retirement is a few decades away or just around the corner, the goal is to make steady progress in the right direction as you prepare for life after work.

Unique Hotels for a Once-in-a-Lifetime Vacation

Vacations allow you to escape the routine of your everyday life. Making the most of your time away from home is up to you. If you're interested in springing for once-in-a-lifetime hotel accommodations, here are a few unusual options.

Relax in Luxury
Looking to indulge beyond the traditional hotel and continental breakfast? A well-appointed retreat that makes you the focus can help you recharge your mind, body and spirit. One option: the art-centric Hotel Marques de Riscal in northern Spain, which was designed by renowned architect Frank Gehry and sits on an established vineyard of the same name. 

Or you can add a little adventure to your luxury getaway. At Oberoi Vanyavilas in Ranthambore, India, guests can sip champagne from the observation tower and spot royal Bengal tigers at a nearby watering hole, along with other indigenous wildlife. 

Travel off the Beaten Path
If a real escape sounds like music to your ears, consider a remote destination where you can avoid real-world interruptions. How about a quiet island retreat off the east coast of Africa? The Manta Resort on Zanzibar's Pemba Island offers privacy and romance and the option to stay in an underwater room surrounded by untouched coral reefs and their inhabitants. 

If that's not remote enough, consider White Desert's Whichaway Camp in Antarctica. From November through January, travelers can experience the South Pole and all of its beauty in comfort and style.

Go With What Speaks to You  
Finding a one-of-a-kind stay isn't as hard as you may imagine; just give some thought to your personal interests. Car enthusiast? The 4.5-star, auto-themed V8 Hotel in Stuttgart, Germany, may speak to you. Nature lover? Sleep among the clouds in one of the treetop rooms in Sweden's aptly named Treehotel. Your options for unconventional lodging across the globe are nearly limitless.

Looking into long-term care insurance?

Like estate planning, long-term care insurance is a critical component of a financially secure future, but many people tend to put it off or actively avoid it. Planning ahead helps you avoid burdening your family and loved ones with the mental and financial costs of providing care. Read on for more about adding a long-term care policy to your overall wealth portfolio and what to consider along the way.

  • Chances are high you may benefit from this coverage. Thanks to modern medicine, we're living longer than ever. But that also means we're more susceptible to cognitive impairment as we age, and that often makes daily activities difficult enough to require assistance. Hiring help to perform activities of daily living can be costly, particularly if conditions persist indefinitely, since Medicare payments cease if your stay in a skilled nursing facility exceeds 100 days. From Day 101 on, you will be responsible for all costs.
  • Long-term care insurance policies aren't getting better. The unfortunate reality is that this kind of coverage is an increasing loss leader for insurance companies. When long-term care is needed, it's usually necessary until death, which means extended payout periods for insurance companies. Fewer companies offer long-term care contracts, and many of those that do have significantly increased premiums on existing policies. If you're interested in long-term care coverage, consider shopping sooner rather than later.
  • Buy early, or put an alternative plan in place. Those in their 30s and 40s with a few decades to spare may look into alternate ways of paying for long-term care. Having more options to address future needs, like a health savings account or long-term care annuities, can provide security and flexibility as the insurance industry continues to evolve.

Before biting the bullet on long-term care coverage, weigh your options to come up with the strategy that best fits your lifestyle and needs.

Fortune 500 Companies: Who and Where They Are

Landing on the Fortune 500 is a pie-in-the-sky dream of many business owners. The most profitable U.S. companies that make up the latest list collectively employ 27.9 million individuals across the world and represent $840 billion in profits and $12 trillion in revenues. Who are these business dynamos and where are many of them based?

The Top 10
In June 2016, Fortune magazine took a look at 2015's top moneymakers, most of which are household names. The No. 1 spot goes to the Arkansas-based big-box retailer Wal-Mart, followed by oil and gas giant Exxon Mobil, tech innovator Apple, insurance and investment outfit Berkshire Hathaway, and pharmaceutical distributor McKesson. Health care companies, auto manufacturers and a communications company round out the top 10. 

Hot Areas for Headquarters
Many Fortune 500 company headquarters are on the East Coast -- from Comcast (No. 37) in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; to JetBlue Airlines (No. 405) in Long Island City, New York; to General Electric (No. 11) in Fairfield, Connecticut. 

The Midwest also houses several successful centers of operation, including Motorola Solutions (No. 451) in Schaumburg, Illinois; Harley-Davidson (No. 432) in Milwaukee, Wisconsin; and Dow Chemical (No. 56) in Midland, Michigan. 

How States Rank for Business
Knowing where a state ranks on business matters and understanding their differing approaches to incentives, tax rates and more may narrow down where to move next, even if a job isn't waiting for you upon arrival. According to Chief Executive magazine's "Best and Worst States for Business," Texas is the most beneficial, pro-growth spot for business owners, while California ranks lowest.

As we begin a new year, one way of exploring the economic landscape ahead of us is to examine the biggest revenue generators in America and the impact they have on national and local scales.

3 Ways to Prepare Now for 2016 Taxes

It isn't too early to start planning. Tackle these tips now so you can reap the benefits later.

It may seem early, but the start of a new year is an ideal time to get your ducks in a row when it comes to tax preparation. Use the following tips to get some work done now and avoid the panic of procrastination.

Revisit Your Usual Routine
The bulk of tax prep comes down to organized paperwork, so take stock of your documents. To report income, you'll want W-2 statements if you're salaried, 1099s if you do any freelance work and end-of-year statements for taxable investment accounts. Keep in mind that employers have until Jan. 31 to file and provide copies of W-2s and most 1099s to employees and contractors.

Strategize Your Upcoming Tax Bill
One significant benefit to gearing up for tax season now: You can potentially owe less to the IRS by stashing away some funds in tax-advantaged accounts. You have until April 17, 2017, to max out 2016 contributions in a Traditional IRA, solo 401(k) or health savings account and potentially net a nice deduction as a result. Or if 2016 resulted in lower-than-usual income and you can afford to pay more taxes (but at a lower rate), consider whether a Roth conversion makes sense for the year.

Note What's New
High-income earners should be aware of phaseout limits for itemized deductions, the Medicare surtax and a new higher rate for dividends and long-term capital gains. And if you were without healthcare coverage in 2016, don't be surprised when the IRS levies a penalty fine.

Square away your tax situation early in the year so you have plenty of time to identify potential gaps, valuable opportunities and strategies to protect your hard-earned wealth for this year and the next.

5 Finance-Related Podcasts Worth a Download

One common trait among the highly successful is their endless drive to improve and learn. Take a page from their book during your downtime this holiday season by feeding your curiosity and keeping your mind engaged. Make space on your digital device for some of these popular finance-focused podcasts:

  1. National Public Radio's Planet Money tackles broad economic topics with a fun, inventive approach. One example: In August, a five-episode series chronicled their 100-barrel oil purchase, following it from a Kansas well to its final stop at an Iowa gas station. Look for new podcasts once or twice a week.
  2. Marketplace delivers a daily podcast that takes a detailed look at the day's business and financial news in a relatable and highly digestible format. 
  3. What started in 1997 as a syndicated newspaper feature has evolved into Motley Fool Money, a weekly radio show and podcast. A team of analysts helms this production, deciphering technical jargon and covering investing-related stories and interviews.
  4. Fans of the 2005 nonfiction bestseller "Freakonomics" may appreciate the eponymous weekly podcast, which looks at economic systems from fresh perspectives. Podcast topics range from an economist's take on ride-sharing apps to conversations with innovative entrepreneurs like Tim Ferriss and more.
  5. Stacking Benjamins focuses on personal finance, alternating between guest interviews that touch on earning, saving and spending, and a roundtable format that features other podcasters and bloggers.

Time is money, so spend it wisely. Put your downtime to good use with these and other informative podcasts.

How do you plan to spend your bonus?

Making the Most of a Financial Windfall

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Whether it's tied to performance, holiday profits or a tax refund, nothing beats the joy of receiving a bonus. But resist the temptation to blow it all on something that could be short-lived. Instead, consider the following, all of which can have a lasting impact. 

  • Pay down debt. If you're carrying a credit card balance or another high-interest, short-term debt, here's a chance to reduce it. With average credit card debt at nearly $8,000 per household, even a modest holiday bonus can make a serious dent and minimize the snowball effect.
  • Refresh your emergency fund. Are you one of the 63 percent of Americans who doesn't have the savings to cover an unexpected $500 expense? Consider building a cash cushion that will help prevent you from reaching for your credit card at the next emergency.
  • Superfund your retirement savings. Take this opportunity to max out your IRA or 401(k). Using a bonus to put more long-term money into tax-advantaged accounts lets you avoid the end-of-year funding rush.
  • Leap ahead a few payments. Overpaying your usual mortgage amount means you're shaving down the principal faster, which results in less interest. You can do the same with student loans and other long-term payments, just make sure there isn't a prepayment penalty.
  • Don't just treat yourself; invest in yourself. Reserve 10 to 20 percent of your bonus for a home, health or education upgrade. Spending in areas that are likely to generate more money in the future is a smart way to rationalize a purchase since you're putting the unexpected funds to good use.

Consider dividing your bonus among multiple categories, giving higher percentages to your more urgent priorities. Using this strategy for a lump-sum windfall can turbocharge your existing short-term and long-term financial goals while still giving you a little breathing room to enjoy your reward.

3 Tips for Minimizing Financial Anxiety

When unexpected or worrisome financial news hits, what do you do? Constantly checking your portfolio can derail you from long-term goals, while having zero awareness of your finances can lead to reckless overspending or other bad behavior. 

Information travels faster than ever these days, and it's easy for investors to feel alarmed or panicked about finances when they read the headlines. Get a handle on financial anxiety with a few helpful strategies. 

  • Start to see others' fears as opportunities. When the markets go down, investments can lose value and appear on sale. That's when some say it's time to buy rather than sell. Whatever you choose, zoom out on S&P 500 charts to get some perspective and look at the long-term picture.
  • Revisit your goal-based investment plan regularly but not necessarily in response to world events. Sometimes all it takes is a check-in to remember why you have a particular portfolio set up just so. If changes must be made, consider timing them with significant life events like a birth, death, career move or change in marital status.
  • Begin incorporating mindfulness techniques and meditation into your daily life. Not only are these practices ideal for reducing anxiety and stress, which can lead to larger health conditions that are expensive to treat, but they can also improve cognition and concentration

With the potential for more volatility on the horizon as markets tend to fluctuate during presidential election years, there's no time like the present to practice taming financial anxiety with the above suggestions. Employing thoughtful techniques can help you stay balanced and on track, both mentally and financially.

Trump Administration - What's Next?

These are interesting times.  Our Country has spoken and regardless of  one's political preference, the landscape has shifted toward a different and as of yet, undefined path forward.  What does this mean for the Capital Markets and the Economy?  What happens next?  There are many uncertainties as the Trump Administration prepares to take office, and our message is simple, "We are here for you, our Clients."  

As might be expected, we have fielded many inquiries, questions and concerns about the election results, and we want you to know that we are available.  If you would like to discuss your portfolio, as always, please give us a call or send us an email and we'll be happy to talk with you or arrange a meeting.

College Rankings That Measure More Than Academics

3 College Rankings Worth Considering

With higher education costs escalating faster than traditional inflation, it's important to treat the college selection process as the serious investment it is. Whether you, your child, grandchild or other loved one is researching colleges and universities, calculating the actual value of higher education can help whittle down the options and justify the escalating costs. Here are three interesting metrics to consider:

  1. Total Debt at Graduation -- Earning an undergraduate degree is a crucial milestone, but starting a new life chapter saddled with tremendous debt can disrupt that momentum. States and institutions can take different approaches to student loans, so pay attention to the student debt trends at each university or college to set realistic expectations.
  2. Alumni Earnings Above Expectations -- While U.S. News & World Report provides a popular college ranking list each year, the minds behind The Economist created their version with a unique, finance-oriented premise. The magazine's first-ever ranking of four-year, nonvocational colleges is based on how much money graduates earn compared to how much they could have made had they studied elsewhere.
  3. Highest 4-Year Graduation Rates -- While overall graduation rates matter, the ideal situation is earning the degree in as little time as possible since college costs can skyrocket as more semesters are added. Looking at graduation rates for those who completed college in four years can help prospective students find campuses with similar work ethics. 

College is a booming business, and it's critical to consider the financial impact from a variety of angles, especially if your goal is to help yourself or someone else on the path to lasting success.

Are you beginning each day with purpose?

Create a Powerful Morning Routine

Looking for long-term success? Some of the most productive people throughout history -- from Benjamin Franklin to Steve Jobs -- put useful routines into practice the moment they woke. Just as a financial plan must be customized for each person, so should your morning routine. Personalize the details to suit your goals and lifestyle, and leverage new technology and time-tested wisdom to establish a healthy, lasting habit.

Focus on the Physical
For your mind to perform at its peak, your body must be well maintained and have energy to fuel your brain. This starts with eating a nutrient-rich diet and reaping the benefits of regular workouts. Caring for your mind and body as a daily, long-term practice can help guard against deterioration and illness. Because poor health can be expensive to fix with doctor visits, medication and procedures, it's smart to invest in preventive care. 

Automate the Hard Parts
When it comes to optimizing your ideal morning routine, you now have many mobile app options that can do some of the heavy lifting for you. For example, if you're not an early riser by nature, consider an alarm clock app that can sense the optimal time to wake you up, or take advantage of curated playlists filled with energizing tunes chosen specifically to get your blood pumping. 

Reflect and Engage
Each morning gives you a fresh start, so use it to ruminate and act on your personal priorities. Whether that's spending some quality time with the family or enjoying a quiet meditation before the busy day begins, aim to bring a better sense of work-life balance and perspective to the tasks before you.