Year End Contribution Reminders

The end of the year is approaching fast! Here is some information to help in your tax planning and make the most of your retirement accounts. Although you can make 2014 contributions until April 15th or later on most accounts, note that Individual 401k and Roth Individual 401k accounts’ deadline is 12/31/14 or the date of your last paycheck.

Account type(s) Max Contibution

(under age 50)

Max Contribution

(over age 50)

Deadline for 2014
Roth & Traditional IRA $5,500 $6,500 4/15/15
SEP IRA $52,000 $52,000 4/15/15(plus extensions)
SIMPLE IRA $12,000 $14,500 4/15/15(plus extensions)
Indi & Roth Indi 401k $17,500 (employee)

$52,000 (employer)

$23,000 (employee)

$57,500 (employer)

Deferred from last paycheck or 12/31/14

Thanksgiving greetings

HappyThanksgiving

At this time of Thanksgiving, we are thankful for wonderful clients and associates like you.

Your business and referrals have helped us to grow over the years and we are grateful for your support.

Sincerely, DWM

Door Number One, Door Number Two, or Door Number Three?

LetsMakeaDealRemember Monty Hall? He was co-creator and game show host for “Let’s Make a Deal”, one of America’s all-time favorite game shows. Contestants were asked to decide which door they wanted. Behind the three doors were some booby prizes and some very valuable items. Problem was- the contestants didn’t know what was behind the doors.

Today, we’re changing up the game. Money Hall is going to ask you to decide which door you want. Behind doors 1, 2, and 3 are three very different financial advisers, all of whom want to manage your money. But today you’ll have an advantage. Money Hall is going to open each door for you and give you a detail of the adviser behind each door before you make your choice.

Money Hall: “Ready, let’s open Door #1. Financial adviser #1, please tell us about yourself.”

Financial adviser #1: “I’m a broker with XYZ Bank. I’ll do my best to sell you the products and services of XYZ bank. However understand that my primary obligation is to my employer.”

Money Hall: “Let me add some other important information about adviser #1. Adviser #1 is paid based on fees and commissions he or she generates for XYZ. He or she is required to make “suitable” recommendations to investors. However, he or she has no obligation to put your interests first. Investments don’t have to be the most appropriate, merely “suitable.” The “suitability standard” favors the brokerage firm and its employees over the investor. It also creates a conflict of interest between the adviser and the investor. Finally, XYZ bank considers its’ compensation to be “fee-based”. This means it receives fees from customers, commission payments on annuities and insurance contracts, and revenue sharing payments from mutual funds it recommends to its customers. Adviser #1 is a CFP® practitioner.”

Money Hall: “Thank you, adviser #1. Now let’s open Door #2. Financial adviser #2, please tell us about yourself.”

Financial adviser #2: “I work for LMN Company, a Registered Investment Advisor. We don’t sell products. We are fiduciaries and put our clients’ interests first.”

Money Hall: “Let me add some other important information about adviser #2. Adviser #2 is required by law to act solely in the interests of clients and disclose any potential conflicts of interest. LMN is a fee-only RIA. Its only income comes from fees paid by clients. It receives no commissions or revenue-sharing. Adviser #2 is a CFP® practitioner.”

Money Hall: “Thank you, adviser #2. Now let’s open Door #3. Financial adviser #3, please tell us about yourself.”

Financial adviser #3: “I’m an owner of ABC Company, a Registered Investment Advisor. I have signed a fiduciary oath stating that I will always put our clients’ interests first. Our firm works hard and uses a systematic, prudent process in all areas to fulfill our fiduciary commitments to our clients.”

Money Hall: “Let me add some other important information about adviser #3. Adviser #3 is similar to financial adviser #2 in that he or she is required to act solely in the interests of and with undivided loyalty to their clients and disclose any potential conflicts of interest. In addition, though, adviser #3’s firm consistently uses a fiduciary quality management system (analogous to ISO 9000) to organize, formalize, implement and monitor the proactive financial planning and investment management it performs for its clients. ABC is a fee-only RIA. Adviser #3 has the CFP®, CFA, and Accredited Investment Fiduciary (AIF®) designations.”

So, it’s now your choice. Door #1, Door #2, or Door #3? Who will manage your money? Who do you want to be your trusted adviser? Who will always put your interests first? Who will always disclose potential conflicts of interest? Who has a proactive process to make sure they fulfill their fiduciary obligation to you? And, who has best demonstrated their commitment to you and excellence in their profession through their multiple credentials and experience?

Did you make your selection? We hope the choice was clear. If it was, you might be as happy as this couple:

LMADBTW, if the adviser behind Door #3 sounds like someone you know, it is. Brett and I are CFP® practitioners, CFA charterholders, and AIF® designees. DWM believes effective relationships between investors and advisers are built on trust. That trust is grounded by a commitment by the adviser to act solely in your best interests.

However, it goes beyond that commitment. It requires the application of a prudent process consistently applied, which we do every day. We value greatly our role as wealth manager and fiduciary with our clients as it puts us in a special relationship of trust, confidence and legal responsibility. It’s a role we don’t try to avoid, it’s one we cherish.

Continuing Education: My Time at Schwab Impact

BernankeLearning is so very important. Just because one has undergone extensive training through classroom work, hands-on experience, or has obtained a prestigious designation like the Certified Financial Planner practitioner or the Chartered Financial Analyst charterholder, doesn’t mean the education stops there. At DWM, we actively participate in ongoing education to keep us up-to-date with the latest and greatest in an industry that is constantly evolving and changing by the second.

In this blog, I’ll provide a little insight about what I think is the “mack daddy” educational event in our industry: Schwab’s annual IMPACT convention, held this year in beautiful Denver, Colorado. For a Registered Investment Advisor Representative like me, I think it’s the best convention available in terms of blending thought-provoking speakers, networking opportunities, and collaborative learning that can be customized to an advisor’s personal taste.

For example, the educational sessions that I chose included ones such as health care reform, social marketing, and investor behavior. I also attended many investment-oriented sessions including, but not limited to, emerging markets, liquid alternatives, fixed income, and smart beta. It was also great fun to hear different ideas and research some of the newest products from over 300 exhibitors in the 500,000+ square foot Exhibit Hall. One can also see CNBC broadcasting within the Hall, where, as they say, “the heartbeat of the industry beats”, represented by the networking of around 2000 of the country’s finest advisors (including yours truly).

There are always a number of good speakers at this event. Charles Best, who leads DonorsChoose.org, a nonprofit organization that provides a simple way to address education inequity, spoke of how the same technology behind “crowdfunding” can help students in schools with needs. Dr. Dambisa Moyo, economist and author, gave us macroeconomic views on global affairs and where this world may be heading if we don’t take action now. But the most thrilling presenters were this year’s keynotes: Dr. Ben Bernanke, our former Fed Chairman and President George W. Bush. Bernanke talked about the crazy times during the Great Recession and how he and his team led us out of the turmoil and brought this country back on its feet. George W. talked about his new passion and talent for painting and how anyone can reinvent themselves however old or young they are. He also had everyone rolling when he told us the story about how Putin made it a point to show him how Putin’s dog was bigger, stronger, and better than Bush’s dog, Barney.

These events are great in that we get to hear past and future leaders and gather our own ideas which ultimately make us better leaders. We leave an event like this with new ideas, strategies, and knowledge to propel us individually forward, our firms forward, and our clients forward.

Brett at BroncosMy four day agenda was jam-packed. The days were long amongst all the sessions and networking, but there were still a little time for fun which for me included a stop at fabulous Mile High Stadium and culminated with the final night event featuring the band Train (“Hey Soul Sister”).

In an effort to continue to learn and gain knowledge, Les and I attend many educational events and workshops like this throughout the year. They equip us to be stronger advocates for our clients and for our industry. Never stop learning. Knowledge is power!

Safeguard Your Assets Against Cyber Attacks

cyber attackThe cyber attack this summer on JPMorgan Chase compromised the accounts of 83 million households and 7 million small businesses. Last year, the information of 40 million cardholders and 70 million others was breached at Target. In September, hackers got 56 million names, addresses and phone numbers at Home Depot. Fortunately, it has been reported that the various hackers did not get detailed information such as account numbers, passwords, social security numbers and dates of birth. Even so, cyber attacks are on the rise.

The financial industry is working on prevention- JPMorgan, e.g. plans to spend $250 million per year on security. Congress is discussing legislation. Regardless, individuals need to take primary responsibility for the safety of their identity and assets.

Therefore, we thought we would recap some of our earlier comments regarding prevention of identity theft. In addition, we’ll update you on the safety of your accounts at Schwab and your 401(k) plans.

Here’s what you should do re digital security:

  • Choose tough to decipher passwords
  • Use anti-malware/spyware and anti-virus programs
  • Don’t respond to “phishing scam” e-mails
  • Shop online only on secure sites
  • Don’t use the same password for multiple sites

Here’s what to do at home:

  • Shred everything with sensitive information
  • Protect snail mail
  • Don’t fall for telephone scams
  • Use a bolted-down safe for important documents

When out and about:

  • Limit the amount of information you provide at store checkout registers
  • Avoid “shoulder surfers”
  • Watch what you carry
  • Carry your wallet in your front pocket, if possible

Other:

  • Change your credit card to include a PIN
  • Monitor your credit card and bank activity at least every few days
  • Order a free credit report
  • Put a security freeze on your credit files to prevent new accounts

At the same time, we’re pleased to report that assets held at Charles Schwab & Co. or company 401(k) plans should be secure. Here’s Schwab’s guarantee: “Schwab will cover 100% of any losses in any of your Schwab accounts due to unauthorized activity.”

Schwab monitors every disbursement from each account. Anytime a transfer request comes through to send money to a third party, Schwab will first contact the investment adviser, such as DWM, to make sure we have talked with the client and that this disbursement is authorized. In addition, in many cases, Schwab will also contact the account holder directly. We’ve seen phone calls on transfers of as little as $600. We and Schwab recognize that it’s a bit of a pain to have to answer a call about a transfer for which you have already signed, but in this day and age of hackers, it’s a necessary and valuable procedure.

A few caveats about the guarantee. First, account holders need to safeguard their account access information including login ID, password and security questions. If they share it with anyone, Schwab will not cover the loss. This information is not shared by Schwab with us, Orion, or any other party. Second, if you suspect you have been a victim to activity you didn’t authorize within your Schwab account, Schwab needs to be notified immediately.

Unauthorized activity in a 401(k) or similar account would be very difficult to accomplish. First, there are only certain times that a participant could request funds from the account. They could do it to borrow money from their account, when they terminate employment, or when they have an in-service withdrawal. All of the requests are typically done through the human resources department of the employer and require signed documentation. In addition, we have only seen transfers from 401(k) plans either go directly by wire, trustee to trustee, to the same registration at a new custodian or, in the case of a check, mailed to the participant’s home address and made payable to the participant and the new custodian.

In addition, we have been asked about the cloud services DWM uses based on the breach of the Apple iCloud. We are pleased to report that Orion and MoneyGuidePro never request, nor receive, any client account access information.

DWM and Schwab are committed to safeguarding your assets and the privacy of your information. We want you to have the highest level of confidence when you do business with us. We will continually review our privacy policy and update it as necessary to protect you. If you have any questions about these very important matters, please let us know.