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Role of tending to family members typically falls to women

65 percent of older adults rely on family and friends for long-term care needs”

As parents reach their golden years, many need their adult children’s help for daily living or for simple tasks like rides to doctor’s appointments and going to the grocery store or more intense care such as dressing, bathing and administering medication.

According to the Family Caregiver Alliance, 65 percent of older adults rely on family and friends for long-term care needs with 30 percent supplementing family care with paid providers. These informal providers give nearly $500 billion in valued services. A majority of the time — an estimated 66 percent — the caretaking tasks fall to women who give at least 20 hours of unpaid care on average while also balancing their own families and working outside the home.

When folks are giving so much of themselves to others, caregivers often suffer burnout from physical, mental and emotional exhaustion, including anxiety, stress and depression. “You have to make sure that you are not overextending yourself,” said Tammy Bresnahan, AARP’s associate state director for advocacy. “… That is why we recommend that you find breathing exercises and/or yoga or try to carve out a little bit of time for yourself so you are not all consumed.”

She suggests siblings may want to split up duties if possible, such as one takes the parent to doctor’s appointments while the other does home visits.

Elizabeth Weglein, CEO of the Elizabeth Cooney Care Network, believes it is important for caregivers to take time for themselves.

“If you are able to take care of yourself, you can take better care of someone else,” she said. “Most caregivers put themselves at the bottom row and take care of themselves last. Their health deteriorates fairly quickly. So really the mantra should be always take care of yourself.”

The advice is similar to the scenario you hear before an airplane flight from attendants who instruct caregivers, in the case of an emergency, to put on their oxygen masks first before helping their loved ones.

“Caregivers don’t always realize it when they are in the midst of it,” Weglein said. “They need to be taking care of themselves, getting time off. Even just going to the grocery store alone or going to get their hair done or seeing a friend and having lunch. Just having some downtime to talk. The value of that break is so high.”

One of the biggest needs for caregivers is respite care. Some caregivers need to attend out-of-town funerals or important events. Others need to have surgery or be in a medical facility for a short time.

Maryland is one of 16 states that utilizes a federal grant to provide emergency respite care services within 72 hours, allotting families $225 a year for services. Beginning in fall 2017, the Elizabeth Cooney Care Network serves as administrator.

“The individuals who have utilized (the grant) were very thankful,” Weglein said. “They really did not have any resources to turn if it had not been for the grant. …The good part is it doesn’t have a lot of strings. There is no economic requirement. They just have to have a need. It is supporting respite care which means it is helping the primary caregiver.”

Weglein believes the grant is unique because it can be triggered so quickly and families may call themselves.

“In Maryland, there are a lot of gatekeepers where you have to call this entity, get prequalified and then call,” Weglein said. “This particular grant was really designed to be very free and accessible that a family caregiver could just call Elizabeth Cooney 24 hours a day, trigger the grant and then services would be rendered within a 72-hour period for the total of $225. We’ve been very creative with that $225 to create support systems that really maximize the need for that individual.”

The Maryland Healthy Families Working Act, which took effect in February, also helps caregivers. The bill, vetoed by Gov. Larry Hogan but overridden by the Maryland General Assembly, requires employers with 15 or more employees to provide paid sick/safe leave for up to five days. Before the act, some fields, such as retail and food service, had no paid sick/safe leave.

“There is some fear from some businesses that it is going to hurt the business,” Weglein said. “… My perspective on how we treat our employees and also how we treat our clients (is) you support your team. The stronger and happier and healthier your team is, the stronger your company is.”

Weglein notes the better we understand taking care of our own families, especially with the aging population, the better we will be as a society in the state.

“Overall, financially, if we keep and take care of our citizens, it is really a matter of keeping our economic base strong so people don’t move to Delaware,” Weglein said. “They don’t move to Florida or North Carolina. They don’t look and seek other pathways to get care.”

This Article was prepared by a third party for information purposes only. It is not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual.

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Ways to Repair Your Credit Score

Steps to get your credit rating back toward 720.     

We all know the value of a good credit score. We all try to maintain one. Sometimes, though, life throws us a financial curve and that score declines. What steps can we take to repair it?

Reduce your credit utilization ratio (CUR). CUR is credit industry jargon, an arcane way of referring to how much of a credit card’s debt limit a borrower has used up. Simply stated, if you have a credit card with a limit of $1,500 and you have $1,300 borrowed on it right now, the CUR for that card is 13:2, you have used up 87% of the available credit. Carrying lower balances on your credit cards tilts the CUR in your favor and promotes a better credit score.1

Review your credit reports for errors. You probably know that you are entitled to receive one free credit report per year from each of the three major U.S. credit reporting agencies – Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. You might as well request a report from all three at once. You can do this at annualcreditreport.com (the only official website for requesting these reports). About 25% of credit reports contain mistakes. Upon review, some borrowers spot credit card fraud committed against them; some notice botched account details or identity errors. Mistakes are best noted via a letter sent certified mail with a request for a return receipt (send the agency the report, the evidence, and a letter briefly explaining the error).2

Behavior makes a difference. Credit card issuers, lenders, and credit agencies believe that payment history paints a reliable picture of future borrower behavior. Whether or not you pay off your balance in full, whether or not you routinely max out your account each month, the age of your account – these are also factors affecting that portrait. If you unfailingly pay your bills on time for a year, that is a plus for your credit score. Inconsistent payments and rejected purchases count as negatives.3

Think about getting another credit card or two. Your CUR is calculated across all your credit card accounts, in respect to your total monthly borrowing limit. So, if you have a $1,200 balance on a card with a $1,500 monthly limit and you open two more credit card accounts with $1,500 monthly limits, you will markedly lower your CUR in the process. There are potential downsides to this move – your credit card accounts will have lower average longevity, and the issuer of the new card will of course look at your credit history.1

Think twice about closing out credit cards you rarely use. When you realize that your CUR takes all the credit cards you have into account, you see why this may end up being a bad move. If you have $5,500 in consumer debt among five credit cards that all have the same debt limit, and you close out three of them accounting for $1,300 of that revolving debt, you now have $4,200 among three credit cards. In terms of CUR, you are now using a third of your available credit card balance whereas you once used a fifth.1

Beyond that, 15% of your credit score is based on the length of your credit history – how long your accounts have been open, and the pattern of use and payments per account. This represents another downside to closing out older, little used credit cards.4

If your credit history is spotty or short, you should know about the FICO XD score. A few years ago, the Fair Isaac Co. (FICO) introduced new scoring criteria for borrowers that may be creditworthy, but lack sufficient credit history to build a traditional credit score. The FICO XD score tracks cell phone payments, cable TV payments, property records, and other types of data to set a credit score, and if your XD score is 620 or better, you may be able to qualify for credit cards. Credit bureau TransUnion created CreditVision Link, a similar scoring model, in 2015.5

This material was prepared by MarketingPro, Inc., and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting party, nor their affiliates. This information has been derived from sources believed to be accurate. Please note – investing involves risk, and past performance is no guarantee of future results. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. This information should not be construed as investment, tax or legal advice and may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any Federal tax penalty. This is neither a solicitation nor recommendation to purchase or sell any investment or insurance product or service, and should not be relied upon as such. All indices are unmanaged and are not illustrative of any particular investment.

Citations.

1 – investopedia.com/terms/c/credit-utilization-rate.asp [6/28/18]
2 – creditcards.usnews.com/articles/everything-you-need-to-know-about-finding-and-fixing-credit-report-errors [9/15/17]
3 – creditcards.com/credit-card-news/behavior-scores-impact-credit.php [11/9/17]
4 – creditcards.com/credit-card-news/help/5-parts-components-fico-credit-score-6000.php [11/9/17]
5 – nytimes.com/2017/02/24/your-money/26money-adviser-credit-scores.html [2/24/17]

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Keep Your Life Insurance When You Retire

Some good reasons to retain it.

Do you need a life insurance policy in retirement? One school of thought says no. The kids are grown, and the need to financially insulate the household against the loss of a breadwinner has passed.

If you are thinking about dropping your coverage for either or both of those reasons, you may also want to consider some reasons to retain, obtain, or convert a life insurance policy after you retire. It may be a prudent decision once you take these factors into account.

Could you make use of your policy’s cash value? If you have a whole life policy, you might want to utilize that cash in response to certain retirement needs. Long-term care, for example: you could explore converting the cash in your whole life policy into a new policy with a long-term care rider, which might even be doable without tax consequences. If you have income needs, many insurers will let you surrender a whole life policy you have held for some years and arrange an income contract with the cash value. You can pull out the cash, tax-free, as long as the amount withdrawn is less than the amount paid into the policy. Remember, though, that withdrawing (or taking a loan against) a policy’s cash value naturally reduces the policy’s death benefit.1

Do you receive a “single life” pension? Maybe a pension-like income comes your way each month or quarter, from a former employer or through a private income contract with an insurer. If you are married and there is no joint-and-survivor option on your pension, that income stream will dry up if you die before your spouse dies. If you pass away early in your retirement, this could present your spouse with a serious financial dilemma. If your spouse risks finding themselves in such a situation, think about trying to find a life insurance policy with a monthly premium equivalent to the difference in the amount of income your household would get from a joint-and-survivor pension as opposed to a single life pension.2

Will your estate be taxed? Should the value of your estate end up surpassing federal or state estate tax thresholds, then life insurance proceeds may help to pay the resulting taxes and help your heirs avoid liquidating some assets.

Are you carrying a mortgage? If you have refinanced your home or borrowed to buy a home, a life insurance payout could potentially relieve your heirs from shouldering some or all of that debt if you die with the mortgage still outstanding.2

Do you have burial insurance? The death benefit of your life insurance policy could partly or fully pay for the costs linked to your funeral or memorial service. In fact, some people buy small life insurance policies later in life in preparation for this need.2

Keeping your permanent life policy may allow you to address these issues. Alternately, you may seek to renew or upgrade your existing term coverage. Consult an insurance professional you know and trust for insight.

This material was prepared by MarketingPro, Inc., and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting party, nor their affiliates. This information has been derived from sources believed to be accurate. Please note – investing involves risk, and past performance is no guarantee of future results. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. This information should not be construed as investment, tax or legal advice and may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any Federal tax penalty. This is neither a solicitation nor recommendation to purchase or sell any investment or insurance product or service, and should not be relied upon as such. All indices are unmanaged and are not illustrative of any particular investment.

Citations.

1 – forbes.com/sites/forbesfinancecouncil/2018/03/06/using-life-insurance-for-retirement-purposes/ [3/6/18]
2 – nasdaq.com/article/4-reasons-to-carry-life-insurance-in-retirement-cm946820 [4/12/18]

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Life Insurance Explained

A quick look at the different types of policies.

When it comes to life insurance, there are many choices. Whole life. Variable universal life. Term. What do these descriptions really mean?

All life insurance policies have two things in common. They guarantee to pay a death benefit to a designated beneficiary after a policyholder dies (although, the guarantee may be waived if the death is a suicide occurring within two years of the policy purchase). All require recurring payments (premiums) to keep the policy in force. Beyond those basics, the differences begin.1

Some life insurance coverage is permanent, some not. Permanent life insurance is designed to cover you for your entire life (not just a portion or “term” of it), and it can become an important element in your retirement planning. Whole life insurance is its most common form.2

Whole life policies accumulate cash value. How does that happen? An insurer directs some of your premium payments into a reserve account and puts those dollars into investments (typically conservative ones). The return on the investments influences the growth of the cash value, which builds up according to a formula the insurer sets.3

A whole life policy’s cash value grows with taxes deferred. After a while, you gain the ability to borrow against that cash value. You can even cancel the policy and receive a surrender value. Premiums on whole life policies, though, are usually higher than premiums on term life policies, and they may rise with time. Also, beneficiaries only receive a death benefit (not the policy’s cash value) when a whole life policyholder dies.2,4

Universal life insurance is whole life insurance with a key difference. Universal life policies also build cash value with taxes deferred, but there is the chance to eventually pay the monthly premiums out of the policy’s investment portion.5

Month by month, some of your premium on a universal life policy gets credited to the cash reserve of the policy. Sooner or later, you may elect to pay premiums out of the cash reserve – so, the policy essentially begins to “pay for itself.” If all goes well, a universal life policy may have a lower net cost than a whole life policy. If the investments chosen by the insurer severely underperform, that can mean a dilemma: the cash reserve of your policy may dwindle and be insufficient to keep paying the premiums. That could mean cancellation of the policy.5

What about variable life (and variable universal life) policies? Variable life policies are basically whole life or universal life policies with a riskier investment component. In VL and VUL policies, you may direct percentages of the cash reserve into investment sub-accounts managed by the insurer. Assets allocated to the sub-accounts may be put into equity investments of your choice as well as fixed-income investments. If you choose equity investments, you (and the insurer) assume greater risk in exchange for the possibility of greater reward. The performance of the subaccounts cannot be guaranteed. As an effect of this risk exposure, a VUL policy usually has a higher annual cost than a comparable UL policy.6

The performance of the stock market may heavily affect the performance of the subaccounts and the policy premiums. A bull market may mean better growth for the policy’s cash value and lower premiums. A bear market may mean reduced cash value and higher monthly payments to keep the policy going. In the worst-case scenario, the cash value plummets, the insurer hikes the premiums in order to provide the guaranteed death benefit, the premiums become too expensive to pay, and the policy lapses.6

Term life insurance is life insurance that you “rent” rather than own. It provides coverage for a set period (usually 10-30 years). Should you die within that period, your beneficiary will get a death benefit. Typically, the premium payments and death benefit on a term policy are fixed from the start, and the premiums are much lower than those of permanent life policies. When the term of coverage ends, you may be offered the option to renew the coverage for another term or to convert the policy to a form of permanent life insurance.2,7

Term life is cheap, but the tradeoff comes when the term is up. Just as you cannot build up home equity by renting, you cannot build up cash value by “renting” life insurance. When the term of coverage is over, you usually walk away with nothing for the premiums you have paid.7

Which coverage is right for you? Many factors may come into play when deciding which type of life insurance will suit your needs. The best thing to do is to speak with a qualified insurance professional who can help you examine these factors, so you can determine which type of coverage may be appropriate.

This material was prepared by MarketingPro, Inc., and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting party, nor their affiliates. All information is believed to be from reliable sources; however we make no representation as to its completeness or accuracy. Please note – investing involves risk, and past performance is no guarantee of future results. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. This information should not be construed as investment, tax or legal advice and may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any Federal tax penalty. This is neither a solicitation nor recommendation to purchase or sell any investment or insurance product or service, and should not be relied upon as such. All indices are unmanaged and are not illustrative of any particular investment.

Citations.

1 – thebalance.com/does-a-life-insurance-policy-cover-suicide-2645609 [6/5/18]
2 – fool.com/retirement/2017/07/20/term-vs-whole-life-insurance-which-is-best-for-y-2.aspx [7/20/17]
3 – investopedia.com/articles/personal-finance/082114/how-cash-value-builds-life-insurance-policy.asp [4/30/18]
4 – insure.com/life-insurance/cash-value.html [12/12/17]
5 – thebalance.com/what-you-need-to-know-about-universal-life-insurance-2645831 [5/8/18]
6 – insuranceandestates.com/top-10-pros-cons-variable-universal-life-insurance/ [9/1/17]
7 – consumerreports.org/life-insurance/how-to-choose-the-right-amount-of-life-insurance/ [3/30/18]

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Congrats, Investors! You’re Behaving Less Badly than Usual

A fair argument can be made that investor behavior is among be the most important factors in the success of an investment strategy. Please enjoy the following article written by wsj.com

Congrats, Investors! You’re Behaving Less Badly than Usual

Investors tend to buy high and sell low. But new evidence suggests that may be changing… for now

By Jason Zweig

On the eternal treadmill of the financial markets, investors can’t even keep up with their own investments.

In what’s often called the behavior gap, investors underperform the investments they own, partly because they tend to buy high and sell low instead of vice versa.

New evidence suggests investors may be behaving better — but they aren’t turning into financial angels.

A study published this month by Morningstar, the investment-research firm, finds that the average mutual fund gained 5.79% annually over the 10 years ending March 31; the average investor, 5.53%. That gap of 0.26 percentage points is much narrower than in the past; over the 10 years through the end of 2013, investors lagged their investments by a horrific 2.5 percentage points annually.

What’s behind this puzzle?

Let’s imagine a fund that starts with $100 million in assets and earns a 100% return from Jan. 1 through Dec. 31. Assuming that no one added or subtracted any money along the way, $100 million at the start of the year turns into $200 million at the end.

Attracted by that spectacular 100% return, investors pour $1 billion into the fund overnight. It thus begins the New Year with $1.2 billion. This year, however, its investments fall in market value by 50%.

After gaining 100% in year one and losing 50% in year two, an investor who had bought at the beginning and held until the end without any purchases or sales would have exactly broken even. (Losing half your money after doubling it puts you back where you started.)

Such rigid buy-and-hold behavior doesn’t describe what the fund’s investors did, however. Only a fraction of them were present at the beginning to double their money, while all were around in year two to lose half their money. As a group, they gained $100 million in year one — but lost $600 million in year two.

Adjusted for the timing and amount of inflows, the typical investor lost an average of about 43% annually — in a fund that officially reported a 0% return over the same period. The investment broke even; its investors took a beating because of their own behavior.

In real life, the gap between investors and their investments is rarely that extreme. On average, trying to do better makes you do worse: It feels great to buy more when an investment has been going up, and it hurts to buy more when an asset has gone down. So you tend to raise your exposure to assets that have gotten more expensive (with lower future potential returns) and to cut it — or at least not to buy more — when they are cheaper (with higher future returns).

When you chase outperformance, you catch underperformance.

Why, then, does the new Morningstar report find that investors’ behavior seems to be improving?

The stock market itself, which has risen for most of the past decade with remarkable smoothness, deserves much of the credit.

“Extreme volatility triggers emotional responses that lead you to screw up,” says Russel Kinnel, author of the Morningstar report. With so few stabs of panic in recent years, staying invested has felt unusually easy.

Fran Kinniry, an investment strategist at Vanguard Group, says investors have increasingly favored index funds, which hold big baskets of stocks or bonds, as well as so-called target-date funds that bundle several types of assets into one portfolio. Both approaches blunt the jagged fluctuations investors would suffer in less-diversified funds that focus on narrower market segments.

More financial advisers are seeking to keep their clients’ portfolios aligned with target allocations to stocks, bonds and other assets, says Mr. Kinniry. That means they automatically sell some of whatever has recently risen in price, using the proceeds to buy some of whatever has dropped. That’s a mechanical counterweight to the natural human tendency to buy high and sell low.

When Mr. Kinnel is asked whether these changes mean that investors and their advisers won’t bail out at the bottom during the next crash, he sighs.

“No,” he says after a long pause. “Advisers and individual investors still have an inclination to chase performance, to fight the last war, to panic a bit. People are still people. They’re still going to be inclined to make the same mistakes.”

And so they are. Spooked by recent poor performance, investors are pulling out of international and emerging-market stock funds, even though those markets are significantly cheaper than the U.S. Through June 26, investors have yanked $12.4 billion out of global equity funds, according to Trim Tabs Investment Research, putting June on track for the biggest monthly outflow since October 2008.

The more investors change, the more they stay the same.

Write to Jason Zweig at intelligentinvestor@wsj.com, and follow him on Twitter at @jasonzweigwsj.

This article was prepared by a third party for information purposes only. It is not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual. It contains references to individuals or entitles that are not affiliated with Cornerstone Wealth Management, Inc. or LPL Financial.

Investing in stock includes numerous specific risks including: the fluctuation of dividend, loss of principal and potential illiquidity of the investment in a falling market.

Bonds are subject to market and interest rate risk if sold prior to maturity. Bond values will decline as interest rates rise and bonds are subject to availability and change in price.

Investing in mutual funds involves risk, including possible loss of principal.

Asset allocation and diversification do not ensure a profit or protect against a loss. There is no guarantee that a diversified portfolio will enhance overall returns or outperform a non-diversified portfolio.

An investment in a target date fund is not guaranteed at any time, including on or after the target date, the approximate date when an investor in the fund would retire and leave the workforce. Target date funds gradually shift their emphasis from more aggressive investments to more conservative one based on the target date.

International investing involves special risks such as currency fluctuation and political instability and may not be suitable for all investors. These risks are often heightened for investments in emerging markets.

All investing involves risk including loss of principal. No strategy assures success or protects against loss.

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Mid-Year Outlook

The recently released LPL Research Midyear Outlook 2018: The Plot Thickens is filled with investment insights and market guidance to take us through the rest of the year. So far this year, the return of the business cycle has brought the fiscal policy changes that were expected to propel economic activity and the financial markets higher in 2018.

Policy remains a key theme to watch. Tax cuts, a more business-friendly regulatory environment, and increased government spending should support consumer spending, business investment, and corporate profits—key drivers of LPL Research’s economic and stock forecasts. The biggest risk to investor confidence this year has been around trade, including new tariffs. When comparing the fiscal measures with the potential impact of increased tariffs, however, the benefits appear to outweigh the costs. With these factors in mind, policy changes should have a positive influence on the economy and markets.

Another theme that may garner more attention this year is that certain economic and market indicators may have peaked, and that we may have seen the best out of this expansion. However, the context is critically important here. Reaching these points with a strong economic backdrop is expected and indicates the potential for continued growth; in addition, historically, we’ve seen an average of four more years of stock gains after triggering these market signals. So, although we are in the later stages of the economic cycle, it does not appear that a recession is looming.

Against this backdrop, LPL Research maintains the forecasts that were set forth at the beginning of 2018, following the passage of the new tax law. Expectations are for 3% gross domestic product growth for the U.S. economy, with tax cuts, government spending, and deregulation measures providing support. As expected, accelerating economic growth and rising interest rates continue to pressure bonds; thus, flat to low-single-digit returns are projected for bonds (as measured by the Bloomberg Barclays U.S. Aggregate Bond Index). However, it’s prudent to note that high-quality bonds may provide diversification benefits for investors’ portfolios.

Strong earnings are expected to remain the key driver of stock gains, thanks to the benefits of the new tax law. Given that we are in the later stages of this economic cycle, with factors such as increased trade tensions and geopolitical uncertainty at play, greater market volatility may be ahead. But it’s important to remember that experiencing these ups and downs is a normal aspect of our market environment. Also, within the context of steady economic growth and strong corporate profits, there is the potential for stock gains of 10% or more (as measured by the S&P 500 Index).

Overall, economic and market growth is expected to continue in 2018 and beyond, and the LPL Research Midyear Outlook 2018 is here to provide insightful commentary to help you navigate the year ahead. If you have any questions, I encourage you to contact me.

Cornerstone MYO 2018 Executive Summary

Important Information

The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual security. To determine which investment(s) may be appropriate for you, consult your financial advisor prior to investing.

All performance referenced is historical and is no guarantee of future results. Indexes are unmanaged and cannot be invested into directly. Economic forecasts set forth may not develop as predicted.

There is no guarantee that a diversified portfolio will enhance overall returns or outperform a nondiversified portfolio. Diversification does not ensure against market risk.

Investing involves risks including possible loss of principal. No investment strategy or risk management technique can guarantee return or eliminate risk in all market environments. Bonds are subject to market and interest rate risk if sold prior to maturity. Bond values will decline as interest rates rise and bonds are subject to availability and change in price.

The S&P 500 Index is a capitalization-weighted index of 500 stocks designed to measure performance of the broad domestic economy through changes in the aggregate market value of 500 stocks representing all major industries.

The Bloomberg Barclays U.S. Aggregate Bond Index is a broad-based flagship benchmark that measures the investment-grade, U.S. dollar-denominated, fixed-rate taxable bond market. The index includes Treasuries, government-related and corporate securities, MBS (agency fixed-rate and hybrid ARM pass-throughs), ABS, and CMBS (agency and non-agency).

Additional descriptions and disclosures are available in the Midyear Outlook 2018: The Plot Thickens publication.

This research material has been prepared by LPL Financial LLC.

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Key Person Insurance

A way for businesses – especially niche businesses – to address a major risk. 

Who are the people most crucial to your business? Have you taken steps to insure them?

At every company, there are certain people whose absence would cause day-to-day operations to grind to a halt. If they die or become disabled, the future of the company may be jeopardized.

Key person insurance is designed to help businesses deal with this kind of major disruption. Its payout can offer some monetary relief so that operations can continue running smoothly.

Small & large businesses choose key person insurance for a variety of reasons. The insurance benefit can be used to settle outstanding loans, and to fund the recruitment and training of a new hire. Key person insurance benefits may also help in an ownership transition, and become a component in an executive compensation plan. If a key person dies, the business owner(s) may want to provide his or her spouse or family with the equivalent of their salary for a time.

How easy it is to arrange this type of insurance? In a word, very. As private insurance, it requires no IRS filings or disclosures. In the case of key person life insurance, both permanent life and term life options may be explored. Typically, term coverage is the choice.1,2

Key person disability insurance amounts to an insurance contract, whereby the policy provides coverage up to a certain age or a certain date – for example, the end of the period in which monthly cash benefits are paid to the disabled employee, or the retirement date of the employee.

The payout from a key person insurance policy is tax-free. As a tradeoff for that, the premium payments are not tax-deductible. Typically, the company owns the policy, pays the premiums and is listed as policy beneficiary.2,3

This is the kind of perk that can help you attract & keep good employees. The knowledge that a manager or executive can count on some financial support in the event of a health crisis, the understanding that his or her family could receive insurance benefits in the event of a tragedy – this may make a job offer that much more compelling.

Key person insurance can even be continued after the key employee retires or transfers his or her ownership interest – a nice addition to that person’s retirement package.

Key person insurance can also boost your standing as you seek financing. It can give your business added financial stability that might help its loan prospects and credit position. If you apply for a business loan, the question of whether you have key person insurance will come up quickly. If your company lacks key person coverage, the loan may not be forthcoming. If you intend to apply for a loan guaranteed through the Small Business Administration, key person insurance is often a prerequisite.4

Niche businesses arguably need this coverage the most. A software development firm, a biomedical company, any kind of business where the owner or employees must have “expert” knowledge of a discipline or an industry … these businesses may be most at risk if a key employee dies or is left disabled.

Does your company lack key person insurance? Too many businesses do. While insuring a company’s information, equipment and inventory against loss is par for the course, insuring a business against the loss of human and creative capital is not. A loss of knowledge and mastery can spell the end for a business that has transitioned from survival to success, and even for an established sole proprietorship or partnership. Look into this today, for you never know what tomorrow may hold.

This material was prepared by MarketingPro, Inc., and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting party, nor their affiliates. This information has been derived from sources believed to be accurate. Please note – investing involves risk, and past performance is no guarantee of future results. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. This information should not be construed as investment, tax or legal advice and may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any Federal tax penalty. This is neither a solicitation nor recommendation to purchase or sell any investment or insurance product or service, and should not be relied upon as such. All indices are unmanaged and are not illustrative of any particular investment.

Citations.

1 – rbcinsurance.com/business/small-business/key-person-insurance.html [11/9/15]
2 – smallbusiness.com/manage/why-you-need-key-person-insurance/ [11/9/15]
3 – raymondjames.com/small_business_key.htm [11/9/15]
4 – sba.gov/offices/headquarters/oca/resources/4950 [11/9/15]

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Midyear Outlook 2018

The recently released LPL Research Midyear Outlook 2018: The Plot Thickens is filled with investment insights and market guidance to take us through the rest of the year. So far this year, the return of the business cycle has brought the fiscal policy changes that were expected to propel economic activity and the financial markets higher in 2018.

Policy remains a key theme to watch. Tax cuts, a more business-friendly regulatory environment, and increased government spending should support consumer spending, business investment, and corporate profits—key drivers of LPL Research’s economic and stock forecasts. The biggest risk to investor confidence this year has been around trade, including new tariffs. When comparing the fiscal measures with the potential impact of increased tariffs, however, the benefits appear to outweigh the costs. With these factors in mind, policy changes should have a positive influence on the economy and markets.

Another theme that may garner more attention this year is that certain economic and market indicators may have peaked, and that we may have seen the best out of this expansion. However, the context is critically important here. Reaching these points with a strong economic backdrop is expected and indicates the potential for continued growth; in addition, historically, we’ve seen an average of four more years of stock gains after triggering these market signals. So, although we are in the later stages of the economic cycle, it does not appear that a recession is looming.

Against this backdrop, LPL Research maintains the forecasts that were set forth at the beginning of 2018, following the passage of the new tax law. Expectations are for 3% gross domestic product growth for the U.S. economy, with tax cuts, government spending, and deregulation measures providing support. As expected, accelerating economic growth and rising interest rates continue to pressure bonds; thus, flat to low-single-digit returns are projected for bonds (as measured by the Bloomberg Barclays U.S. Aggregate Bond Index). However, it’s prudent to note that high-quality bonds may provide diversification benefits for investors’ portfolios.

Strong earnings are expected to remain the key driver of stock gains, thanks to the benefits of the new tax law. Given that we are in the later stages of this economic cycle, with factors such as increased trade tensions and geopolitical uncertainty at play, greater market volatility may be ahead. But it’s important to remember that experiencing these ups and downs is a normal aspect of our market environment. Also, within the context of steady economic growth and strong corporate profits, there is the potential for stock gains of 10% or more (as measured by the S&P 500 Index).

Overall, economic and market growth is expected to continue in 2018 and beyond, and the LPL Research Midyear Outlook 2018 is here to provide insightful commentary to help you navigate the year ahead. If you have any questions, I encourage you to contact me.

Important Information

The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual security. To determine which investment(s) may be appropriate for you, consult your financial advisor prior to investing.

All performance referenced is historical and is no guarantee of future results. Indexes are unmanaged and cannot be invested into directly. Economic forecasts set forth may not develop as predicted.

There is no guarantee that a diversified portfolio will enhance overall returns or outperform a nondiversified portfolio. Diversification does not ensure against market risk.

Investing involves risks including possible loss of principal. No investment strategy or risk management technique can guarantee return or eliminate risk in all market environments. Bonds are subject to market and interest rate risk if sold prior to maturity. Bond values will decline as interest rates rise and bonds are subject to availability and change in price.

The S&P 500 Index is a capitalization-weighted index of 500 stocks designed to measure performance of the broad domestic economy through changes in the aggregate market value of 500 stocks representing all major industries.

The Bloomberg Barclays U.S. Aggregate Bond Index is a broad-based flagship benchmark that measures the investment-grade, U.S. dollar-denominated, fixed-rate taxable bond market. The index includes Treasuries, government-related and corporate securities, MBS (agency fixed-rate and hybrid ARM pass-throughs), ABS, and CMBS (agency and non-agency).

Additional descriptions and disclosures are available in the Midyear Outlook 2018: The Plot Thickens publication.

This research material has been prepared by LPL Financial LLC.

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Coping with College Loans

Paying them down and managing their financial impact.

Is student loan debt weighing on the economy? Probably. Total student loan debt in America is now around $1.5 trillion, having tripled since 2008. The average indebted college graduate leaves campus owing nearly $40,000, and the mean monthly student loan payment for borrowers aged 30 and younger is about $350.1,2

The latest Federal Reserve snapshot shows 44.2 million Americans dealing with lingering education loans. The housing sector feels the strain: in a recent National Association of Realtors survey, 85% of non-homeowners aged 22-35 cited education loans as their main obstacle to buying a house. Eight percent of student loan holders fail to get home loans because of their credit scores, the NAR notes; that percentage could rise because the Brookings Institution forecasts that 40% of student loan borrowers will default on their education debts by 2023.1,3

If you carry sizable education debt, how can you plan to pay it off? If you are young (or not so young), budgeting is key. Even if you get a second job, a promotion, or an inheritance, you won’t be able to erase any debt if your expenses consistently exceed your income. Smartphone apps and other online budget tools can help you live within your budget day to day or even at the point of purchase for goods and services.

After that first step, you can use a few different strategies to whittle away at college loans.

*The local economy permitting, a couple can live on one salary and use the wages of the other earner to pay off the loan balance(s).

*You could use your tax refund to attack the debt.

*You can hold off on a major purchase or two. (Yes, this is a sad effect of college debt, but it could also help you reduce it by freeing up more cash to apply to the loan.)

*You can sell something of significant value – a car or truck, a motorbike, jewelry, collectibles – and turn the cash on the debt.

Now in the big picture of your budget, you could try the “snowball method” where you focus on paying off your smallest debt first, then the next smallest, etc., on to the largest. Or, you could try the “debt ladder” tactic, where you attack the debt(s) with the highest interest rate(s) to start. That will permit you to gradually devote more and more money toward the goal of wiping out that existing student loan balance.

Even just paying more than the minimum each month on your loan will help. Making payments every two weeks rather than every month can also have a big impact.

If a lender presents you with a choice of repayment plans, weigh the one you currently use against the others; the others might be better. Signing up for automatic payments can help, too. You avoid the risk of penalty for late payment, and student loan issuers commonly reward the move by lowering the interest rate on a loan by a quarter-point.4

What if you have multiple outstanding college loans? If one of them has a variable interest rate, try addressing that one first. Why? The interest rate on it may rise with time.

Also, how about combining multiple federal student loan balances into one? That is another option. While this requires a consolidation fee, it also leaves you with one payment, perhaps at a lower interest rate than some of the old loans had. If you have multiple private-sector loans, refinancing is an option. Refinancing could lower the interest rate and trim the monthly payment. The downside is that you may end up with variable interest rates.5

Maybe your boss could help you pay down the loan. Some companies are doing just that for their workers, simply to be competitive today. According to the Society for Human Resource Management, 4% of employers offer this perk. Six percent of firms with 500-10,000 workers now provide some form of student loan repayment assistance.6

To reduce your student debt, live within your means and use your financial creativity. It may disappear faster than you think.

This material was prepared by MarketingPro, Inc., and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting party, nor their affiliates. All information is believed to be from reliable sources; however we make no representation as to its completeness or accuracy. Please note – investing involves risk, and past performance is no guarantee of future results. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. This information should not be construed as investment, tax or legal advice and may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any Federal tax penalty. This is neither a solicitation nor recommendation to purchase or sell any investment or insurance product or service, and should not be relied upon as such. All indices are unmanaged and are not illustrative of any particular investment.

Citations.

1 – studentloanhero.com/student-loan-debt-statistics/ [5/29/18]
2 – cnbc.com/2018/05/24/students-would-drop-out-of-college-to-avoid-more-debt.html [5/24/18]
3 – cnbc.com/2018/04/19/student-loan-debt-can-make-buying-a-home-almost-impossible.html [4/19/18]
4 – nerdwallet.com/blog/loans/student-loans/auto-pay-student-loans/ [2/21/17]
5 – investorplace.com/2017/06/how-to-navigate-your-student-loan-debt/ [6/6/17]
6 – shrm.org/resourcesandtools/hr-topics/benefits/pages/student-loan-assistance-benefit.aspx [6/14/17]