SBA Small Business Week Begins April 30th

Jim Lorenzen, CFP®, AIF®

Small business webinars will be available the week of April 30th to help celebrate Small Business Week.

SBA Secretary Linda McMahon announced this on the SBA website:

The countdown to National Small Business Week (NSBW) is on!   NSBW (April 30th – May 6th) is an annual event hosted by the U.S. Small Business Administration to recognize the nation’s top small businesses, entrepreneurs, small business advocates and champions, and will feature a series of small business webinars.

These small business webinars cover a wide variety of topics:

The U.S. Economic Outlook and Its Impact on Small Businesses

Presented by Visa
May 2, 2017 | 2:00-3:00 pm ET
Register here

5 Fabulous Habits of Local Business Champions

Presented by YP
May 3, 2017 | 2:00-3:00 pm ET
Register here

Grow Your Business Online
Presented by Google
May 3, 2017
4:00-5:00 pm ET

Register here

The Future of Small Business Innovation
Presented by Salesforce
May 4, 2017
2:30-3:30 pm ET

Register here

How to Write Your Email Content in 15 Minutes or Less

Presented by Constant Contact
May 4, 2017 | 3:30-4:30 pm ET
Register here

Find the Hidden Money in America

Presented by Chase
May 4, 2017 | 5:00-6:00 pm ET
Register here

 

IFG has also created a report, “How to Establish Business Value” – information that can be useful for evaluating the impact of major purchases on business value going forward.  You can get it here.

Enjoy!

Jim


Jim Lorenzen is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER® professional and An Accredited Investment Fiduciary® serving private clients since 1991.   Jim is Founding Principal of The Independent Financial Group, a  registered investment advisor with clients located across the U.S.. He is also licensed for insurance as an independent agent under California license 0C00742. The Independent Financial Group does not provide legal or tax advice and nothing contained herein should be construed as securities or investment advice, nor an opinion regarding the appropriateness of any investment to the individual reader. The general information provided should not be acted upon without obtaining specific legal, tax, and investment advice from an appropriate licensed professional.

Think You’re Diversifying Investments? Not Really.

Jim Lorenzen, CFP®, AIF®

 

Diversification may be one of the most misunderstood of investment principles.  I’ve seen tv stock gurus tell you that owning three stocks in different industries is diversification.  I don’t think so; it’s just compounding investment concentration.

Believe it or not, you can’t possibly diversify-away market risk.  Think about it; you could own every single stock contained in the S&P 500 Index and all you would have done is duplicate the market’s risk.

I’ve also seen investors buy multiple mutual funds in an attempt to diversify; but, since everything they bought had to be “quality”, all they did was duplicate their holdings (portfolio A) instead of diversifying them (portfolio B) across multiple investment styles (growth/value, large/small, etc.).

Diversification, done properly, can smooth things out, as this simple example shows.

But, what stocks?  Which bonds?  Is buying a few enough?   The answer, of course, is “it depends”; but, it’s worth noting that there are five basic asset classes (stocks, bonds, real estate, commodities, and cash) and within each there are multiple sectors.  It’s also virtually impossible to know which will outperform all others in any given year.  Yet, diversification among them can smooth the ride!

I’ve been telling clients for more than two decades now, “We’re not diversifying money.  We’re diversifying risk; we just do it with money.”

So, how do we diversify risk?  It’s all about something called correlation.

You can think of correlation as pistons in an engine:  They all go up and down, but not necessarily at the same time.  Their going up and down is what propels the machine, but you wouldn’t want your money on any one piston.  If the engine were to stop, you’d have a 50/50 chance of being up or down!  But, if your money was spread over all the cylinders, you’d still have a stable overall value regardless of when the engine shut down.

It doesn’t really work all that clearly in the real world of investing, of course; but the theory is no less valid.  Here’s a chart the relative correlations among a number of classes and styles.

 

 

 

 

 

Correlations don’t remain the same, even from day-to-day; so, they’re not in stone – they just give us a historical look at their relative movements, but the numbers will be different depending on the time-frames chosen.

Diversification is all about correlation reduction in portfolios.  I created a report on all this a while back called Understanding the Diversification Puzzle.   You might find it helpful and you can get it here.

Enjoy!

Jim


Jim Lorenzen is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER® professional and An Accredited Investment Fiduciary® serving private clients since 1991.   Jim is Founding Principal of The Independent Financial Group, a  registered investment advisor with clients located across the U.S.. He is also licensed for insurance as an independent agent under California license 0C00742. The Independent Financial Group does not provide legal or tax advice and nothing contained herein should be construed as securities or investment advice, nor an opinion regarding the appropriateness of any investment to the individual reader. The general information provided should not be acted upon without obtaining specific legal, tax, and investment advice from an appropriate licensed professional.

Inflation, Stocks, and Computing Investment Returns

Jim Lorenzen, CFP®, AIF®

People are often either surprised to hear that stocks are probably the best inflation hedge they’ll ever find – or they really don’t understand why.

Those who intuitively believe it believe it’s simply because stock prices tend to rise over time; but, so do prices for other things, generally, including real estate.  After all, as a long-term hedge, most real estate is a good inflation hedge, as well.  It’s only real drawback, most believe, is the lack of liquidity it entails.

When my parents retired, the common practice was to simply “ladder” bond or CD maturities as many counted on rising interest rates to offset inflation.   While inflation had averaged only 2% in te 1950s and 2.3% in the 1960s, all of a sudden climbed to 6.2% in 1973 and by 1974 had reaced 11%.  Bonds, of course, paid higher rates to the holders, but after taxes, the income didn’t keep up with inflation.

From 1973 to 1982, inflation averaged 8.7%!  A little math reveals that the purchasing power of bond income had declined 57% in just one decade; and, as many found out, they were living longer, too!

Enter the 1980s and a newfound interest in stocks, which continued into the 1990s and even into the 2000s.  But why?

The reason lies in a simple, basic premise:   stocks represent shares of ownership in businesses – businesses that sell goods and services in the marketplace.  When you eat breakfast, everything you eat or drink was grown, packaged, distributed, and sold by a business.  Everything we consume was sold by a business.  The largest providers, distributors, and sellers are publicly held – the ownership shares are owned by people like you and me – and often in their 401(k) plans through their ownership of mutual fund shares, which are shares of ownership in investment companies which, in turn, buy shares in publicly held companies.

So, if prices go up, stocks go up.  Is it that simple?   Actually, there’s more to it.

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Take an (admittedly oversimplified) example of a company that generates $1 million in sales and $800,000 in expenses.  Let’s assume the remaining $200,000 is paid out in dividends.

If inflation causes prices to double, sales rise to $2 million and expenses rise to $1.6 million, now creating $400,000 in dividends.  Dividends have doubled, despite the fact that all margins have remained the same.  That’s how stocks become an inflation hedge, with liquidity.

This is exactly what happened throughout the 1980s.  The decade began with the S&P paying out around $7 in dividends, when the index paid out a 5.3% yield as it stood at $133.  By 1990 it was paying out around $12.50 when the index was up to $340, for a 3.7% yield.   As the yield went down, stock prices went up; yet, the investor saw cash flows rise from $7 to $12.50!   This actually did better than inflation, which averaged 4.7% – up 58%.

Of course, dividends are not guaranteed and stocks have both business and market risk – a good reason why people relied on “blue-chip” stocks and a sound asset allocation process.

It’s also important to understand investment returns, including their measures (there’s more than one) and why most individual investors typically don’t do as well as institutional investors.  If you’d like to learn more about this topic, you might want to see our report, which you can access here.

Enjoy!

Jim


Jim Lorenzen is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER® professional and An Accredited Investment Fiduciary® serving private clients since 1991.   Jim is Founding Principal of The Independent Financial Group, a  registered investment advisor with clients located across the U.S.. He is also licensed for insurance as an independent agent under California license 0C00742. The Independent Financial Group does not provide legal or tax advice and nothing contained herein should be construed as securities or investment advice, nor an opinion regarding the appropriateness of any investment to the individual reader. The general information provided should not be acted upon without obtaining specific legal, tax, and investment advice from an appropriate licensed professional.

A Slick 2017 Market Outlook Infographic!

Jim Lorenzen, CFP®, AIF®

Jim Lorenzen, CFP®, AIF®

Here’s an interesting market outlook infographic from Vanguard!  Thought you might enjoy seeing it!

Just click on the image; you can enlarge it.

The White Paper referenced was written at the end of last year, but you may still find it interesting.  You can get it here.

Enjoy!

Jim


Jim Lorenzen is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER® professional and An Accredited Investment Fiduciary® serving private clients since 1991.   Jim is Founding Principal of The Independent Financial Group, a  registered investment advisor with clients located across the U.S.. He is also licensed for insurance as an independent agent under California license 0C00742. The Independent Financial Group does not provide legal or tax advice and nothing contained herein should be construed as securities or investment advice, nor an opinion regarding the appropriateness of any investment to the individual reader. The general information provided should not be acted upon without obtaining specific legal, tax, and investment advice from an appropriate licensed professional.

Someone else likes your key employee – Your competition!

 

iStock Images

Jim Lorenzen, CFP®, AIF®

Successful business owners know they’re successful because of their people.  Within that group there’s usually one or two key people that either seem to make everything run well or, without their presence, the business would suffer a significant loss of revenue.   Sometimes they have special vendor or banking relationships, which means the banker’s terms may not be as good if those key people left, until the business could ‘prove itself’ again.

You value your key people.  So do your competitors.

How does the small business owner compete with competitors who can offer hefty benefit packages – or keep key employee(s) from striking out on their own?

This report shows one easy way small business can compete!  You can access it here.

Hope you find it helpful.

Enjoy,

Jim


Jim Lorenzen is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER® professional and An Accredited Investment Fiduciary® serving private clients since 1991.   Jim is Founding Principal of The Independent Financial Group, a  registered investment advisor with clients located across the U.S.. He is also licensed for insurance as an independent agent under California license 0C00742. The Independent Financial Group does not provide legal or tax advice and nothing contained herein should be construed as securities or investment advice, nor an opinion regarding the appropriateness of any investment to the individual reader. The general information provided should not be acted upon without obtaining specific legal, tax, and investment advice from an appropriate licensed professional.

Should You Buy Term Insurance and Invest the Difference?

iStock Images

Jim Lorenzen, CFP®, AIF®

 

I first heard this mantra in the 1970s.  It resurfaced again in the ’80s and again in the 90s.  Funny thing is it’s only the guru’s selling CDs and DVDs – people who are neither registered, regulated, or even have a single client – who keep promoting it.

Nevertheless, it does sound good!  Would it work.   I thought you might like to see an independent analysis that even gives term insurance a head start!  What if you could buy $500,000 of term insurance for only $1 a year!   Silly, I know, but, the analytics are interesting – and worth understanding.

I think you’ll find it interesting.  You can access it here.

Enjoy!

Jim


Jim Lorenzen is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER® professional and An Accredited Investment Fiduciary® serving private clients since 1991.   Jim is Founding Principal of The Independent Financial Group, a  registered investment advisor with clients located across the U.S.. He is also licensed for insurance as an independent agent under California license 0C00742. The Independent Financial Group does not provide legal or tax advice and nothing contained herein should be construed as securities or investment advice, nor an opinion regarding the appropriateness of any investment to the individual reader. The general information provided should not be acted upon without obtaining specific legal, tax, and investment advice from an appropriate licensed professional.

What’s Your Focus?

Jim Lorenzen, CFP®, AIF®

Most people buy life insurance based on the same outdated advice they’ve been given for years.   It’s predictable:  buy term – and, for many people term insurance makes the most sense!   Others have been told they should buy “whole life” because it’s permanent and comes with the most guarantees; and, for many people that probably is the best choice – and it does come with the most guarantees.

All generally agree they should buy the most amount of death benefit for the least amount of money – and in some cases, that’s true as well – but, not in all cases.

Different strategies and case designs are possible to achieve a wide variety of objectives and all can make sense for some people and not for others.    This should be no surprise.  There are people who are allergic to foods other people love – my dad, for example, couldn’t eat peanuts, but I could munch on them all afternoon.

If you’re wondering what kind of life insurance strategy makes the most sense for you, the first thing to do is to identify your focus – your priorities.  Life insurance can be simple death protection or it can function as a highly versatile financial tool accomplishing a number of objectives.

What’s your focus?  What do you want life insurance to accomplish for you?  Here’s a little tool you can use to help identify your focus; so, when you talk to an advisor (naturally I hope it’s me, but it can be anyone you trust), you’ll be able to more clearly communicate just what your needs really are.

Hope you find this helpful.
What’s Your Focus Life Insurance Priorities Tool

By the way, when you request this tool, you’ll also receive future issues of my ezine.  I hope you find that helpful, as well; but, you can unsubscribe at any time and be removed from the list immediately.

Enjoy!

Jim


Jim Lorenzen is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER® professional and An Accredited Investment Fiduciary® serving private clients since 1991.   Jim is Founding Principal of The Independent Financial Group, a  registered investment advisor with clients located across the U.S.. He is also licensed for insurance as an independent agent under California license 0C00742. The Independent Financial Group does not provide legal or tax advice and nothing contained herein should be construed as securities or investment advice, nor an opinion regarding the appropriateness of any investment to the individual reader. The general information provided should not be acted upon without obtaining specific legal, tax, and investment advice from an appropriate licensed professional.

Do You Have A Greedy Business Partner – Even if you don’t own a business.

Jim Lorenzen, CFP®, AIF®

If you work, you have a business partner, even if you don’t own a business.  And, this partner isn’t like most others.

The problem is your partner in the business of life gets to decide how much of your revenue he wants to take… and you have no vote.  In fact, he can – and will – change his mind at any time at any time, including during your retirement years.

What can you do?  You might find this special report helpful.

You can access it here.

Enjoy!

Jim


Jim Lorenzen is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER® professional and An Accredited Investment Fiduciary® serving private clients since 1991.   Jim is Founding Principal of The Independent Financial Group, a  registered investment advisor with clients located across the U.S.. He is also licensed for insurance as an independent agent under California license 0C00742. The Independent Financial Group does not provide legal or tax advice and nothing contained herein should be construed as securities or investment advice, nor an opinion regarding the appropriateness of any investment to the individual reader. The general information provided should not be acted upon without obtaining specific legal, tax, and investment advice from an appropriate licensed professional.

Is Your Business A Ticking Grenade?

Jim Lorenzen, CFP®, AIF®

Did you know that as much as 80% to 90% of many business owner’s net worth is tied-up in their businesses?

According to the Exit Planning Institute’s State of Owner Readiness survey, 83% of business owners do not have a plan for how they will leave their business.

It’s interesting when you consider the number one reason a business owner sells is to fund retirement.  The stats above are even more alarming when you consider that 70% of those doing over $1 million in revenue are 54 years old or older; and many businesses distribute all their cash flow to their owners with little in the way of cash reserves set aside.

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Businesses like these are called “lifestyle’ businesses; and many experts  agree that up to 90% of all closely-held businesses operate just this way:  They are simply operated until they shut the doors.   This being the case, it’s no wonder that 50% of all businesses end-up closing their doors unexpectedly.

When this happens, the only thing the business owner can fall back on is retirement savings, if there are any, including the business’ 401(k), which often proves insufficient simply because it’s funding limitations often can fall short of what an owner will need in retirement to preserve his/her pre-retirement lifestyle.

Many business owners intuitively understand that there business either does or should have resale value allowing them to cash-out their equity.  The problem arises, if they’ve waited too long to address this issue, is not only the ability to find a viable buyer with money, but even one that’s ‘bankable’ – one able to arrange financing outside of the selling owner; after all, no seller wants to have to come back in and retake control of a now failing business.

There are a number of solutions available to an owner who begins planning early – the earlier the better.  Just to provide one example, one solution is called the “One-Way Buy-Sell“.

It’s just one possible option among many, but you may find it interesting.  I caution, however, not to assume it’s the right solution for you.  The best solution is one that’s tailored to the business owner’s unique circumstances; but, FYI, you may enjoy learning about this one.  You can get a copy of our One-Way Buy Sell Report by using the link below:

One-Way Buy-Sell Report
Enjoy,

Jim


Jim Lorenzen is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER® professional and An Accredited Investment Fiduciary® serving private clients since 1991.   Jim is Founding Principal of The Independent Financial Group, a  registered investment advisor with clients located across the U.S.. He is also licensed for insurance as an independent agent under California license 0C00742. The Independent Financial Group does not provide legal or tax advice and nothing contained herein should be construed as securities or investment advice, nor an opinion regarding the appropriateness of any investment to the individual reader. The general information provided should not be acted upon without obtaining specific legal, tax, and investment advice from an appropriate licensed professional.

Jim’s background includes founding, building, and selling five successful businesses and international consulting.  He has been the headline speaker at more than 500 national and international association and corporate conventions for clients such as Foster Grant, Hobie Cat, CapCities/ABC, H.R. Textron, Hearst Corporation, The National Management Association, the National Newspaper Association, and Cox Communications, as well as scores of state, regional, and national conventions.  Jim has also been featured on American Airlines’ Sky Radio heard on more than 19,000 flights, as well as in The Wall Street Journal’s SmartMoney magazine, The Profit Sharing Council of America’s Insights, and has been published in the Journal of Compensation and Benefits, NASDAQ, and in scores of national and international association trade publications.

Trying to Keep Top Talent? This could be your roadmap

 

iStock Images

Jim Lorenzen, CFP®, AIF®

No, that’s no my picture – I wish I were that young and good looking; but he does look like a happy executive who’s worth keeping…. a key employee!

Key employees don’t have to be executives.  It can be anyone who is valuable to a business, particularly a small business that has to compete to attract top talent – and keep them from jumping ship to join a larger competitor or to start their own business in competition with you (trying to enforce non-compete agreements is no fun and costs far too much time and money, not to mention lost opportunities).

Small business owners often aren’t established enough to offer expensive benefit packages, but they want to find a way they can offer the right incentives to benefit their top people.

You might be interested in learning about the REBA, or GEBA, as some call it.  It’s a Restrictive Executive Bonus Arrangment, or Golden Executive Bonus Arrangement.

They’re pretty simple to set-up and can be designed to provide flexibility for the owner.

You can get a copy of the REBA Report by using the button below.  Hope you find it helpful.
Get My REBA Report!
Enjoy,

Jim


Jim Lorenzen is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER® professional and An Accredited Investment Fiduciary® serving private clients since 1991.   Jim is Founding Principal of The Independent Financial Group, a  registered investment advisor with clients located across the U.S.. He is also licensed for insurance as an independent agent under California license 0C00742. The Independent Financial Group does not provide legal or tax advice and nothing contained herein should be construed as securities or investment advice, nor an opinion regarding the appropriateness of any investment to the individual reader. The general information provided should not be acted upon without obtaining specific legal, tax, and investment advice from an appropriate licensed professional.