Category Archives: Sign of the Times

The End of Complex Social Security Filing Strategies

By Karl Schwartz, CPA, CFP® | Principal, Consultant and
Ryan McGuire, CFP® | Senior Associate Consultant

Over the past 15 years, a few Social Security filing tactics have gained momentum among married couples reaching retirement age. These strategies are a source of conversation for many clients and were also the focus of Hewins Financial Advisors’ first OneBite™ Webinar, which took place last month. As a firm, Hewins recognizes the importance of Social Security for all working families and is proactively educating its client base about the changing landscape of the program.

On November 2, 2015, President Obama signed the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015, which impacts two of the strategies mentioned in the webinar: “file-and-suspend” and “restricted application”.

New Social Security Changes-01

It’s very important to understand that the following are the authors’ personal opinions of the new rules, but nothing herein is an interpretation of or opinion on behalf of Hewins Financial Advisors or its affiliates. The authors expect the Social Security Administration (SSA) to provide their own interpretation of the new rules in the coming months, which may vary drastically from those set forth below; Congress may even pass some revisions to eliminate any “unintended consequences” of the original language.

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The Curious Case of ETF Illiquidity in Volatile Markets

By Rafia Hasan, CFA, CFP® | Senior Associate Consultant, Investment Committee

Exchange-traded funds, or ETFs, have gained popularity in recent years, amassing close to $2 trillion in assets.1 ETFs come in many shapes and sizes: the plain-vanilla funds are similar to index mutual funds, with the added flexibility of allowing investors to trade throughout the day. Other ETFs follow a more complex strategy — some promise the inverse of an index, while others are leveraged to provide double or triple the return on an index.

Most long-term investors are better served steering clear of the latter — complex ETF strategies that are opaque, speculative and often contain hidden risks. But what about the ETFs that track broadly diversified indices? Do they make sense for the long-term investor?

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When Should You Take Social Security Benefits?

By Thuong Thien, CFP® | Consultant

Do you want to learn more about how you can boost your Social Security benefits? Click here to register for the first installment of our OneBite™ Webinar series.

You have probably seen the word “FICA” on your paychecks — and like many people, you may disregard it. FICA, or the Federal Insurance Contributions Act, actually refers to a tax you pay toward Medicare and Social Security. While it’s important to understand the impact both programs will have on your future, let’s focus on the latter: Social Security.

One of the most common questions I hear from clients is, “When should I start my Social Security benefits?” It’s important to build a framework for your retirement and understand where Social Security fits into your overall financial picture. Here are a few aspects to consider as you start to navigate the process.

When to take Social Security benefits

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An Introduction to Tax-Smart Indexing™

By Martha Post, CFA | Principal, Chief Investment Officer, Chief Operating Officer

Volatile market environments, like the conditions we recently experienced, remind us just how valuable a tax-aware investment approach can be. Though down moves in the market can be unsettling, they can also provide opportunities for tax-loss harvesting — the “silver lining” of a market decline, which can provide tax benefits at a time when asset values are going down.

As a CPA-based financial advisory firm, we have always taken a tax-sensitive approach to investing. We deploy a range of tax-management techniques on behalf of our clients — from using low-turnover funds, to the strategic placement of assets in accounts that make the most tax sense, to the ongoing harvesting of losses to offset gains.

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Perspectives on Volatility

By the OneBite Editorial Staff

From rebound to reverse, the market has shown its volatile side this week, putting investors’ nerves and confidence to the test. After a massive rally Tuesday morning, the Dow Jones Industrial Average slid 205 points in the last half hour of trading.1 Yesterday morning, U.S. stocks notched small gains in an attempt to recover from Tuesday’s plunge and eventually rose to close about four percent higher, bringing the S&P 500 out of correction territory.2

As uncomfortable as the ride may be, the current circumstances seem to confirm what we already know: markets go up, and yes, markets go down. In times like these, we choose to remain steadfast to the tenets of our investment philosophy, keeping our eyes focused on the long term — not the headlines.

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The Cautionary Tale of Puerto Rico

By Rafia Hasan, CFP®, CFA | Senior Associate Consultant, Investment Committee

Many investors have no doubt seen the recent headlines about Puerto Rico’s inability to repay its approximately $72 billion in debt. The situation is illustrative of how our investment approach works and is a cautionary tale for bond investors chasing yield and income.

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Alternate Universes and Global Cities

By Roger Hewins | President

Many of you will recall that Bill Gross, aka The Bond King, built the world’s biggest and most successful bond management firm, PIMCO. Many of our clients use some of their bond funds; they really are an excellent organization. And we all remember the headlines last year as Bill quit on a Friday morning just before being ousted by the Board.

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Staying the Course: An Update on PIMCO

By Martha Post, CFA | Principal, Chief Investment Officer

Many people are interested in an ongoing assessment of PIMCO and PIMCO funds, given the developments within the firm over the past year and the attention it has garnered in the media. The recent Wall Street Journal article, “Pimco Total Return Fund Outpaces Most of Its Rivals,” may come as a surprise to those who have been reading PIMCO’s press.

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Donor-Advised Funds (DAFs) & Charitable Giving: What to Consider

By Sheila Handrick, CFP® | Consultant

Recently, a client contacted me and inquired about donor-advised funds (DAFs). She asked whether this type of account made sense for her situation. DAFs have grown in popularity over the past few years, but many people are unfamiliar with how they work.

I decided to use my client’s inquiry as an opportunity to expand my own understanding of these tools, and how they can help investors enhance their charitable giving.

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NASDAQ 5,000: Let’s Try This One Again

By Roger Hewins | President

We are not quite there yet, but we are getting close. The NASDAQ index, often considered a proxy for technology stocks, closed above 4,950 last week, the highest it has been since the tech bust began in March 2000. Seems like yesterday, but my goodness, that was almost 15 years ago.

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