Category Archives: Wealth Management

The Details More People Should Know About Medicare

medicareUntitled-logoBefore you enroll, take note of what the insurance does not cover and the changes ahead.

Misconceptions about Medicare coverage abound. Our national health insurance program provides seniors with some great benefits. Even so, traditional Medicare does not pay for dental care, vision care, or any real degree of long-term care. How about medicines? Again, it falls short.1

Original Medicare (Parts A & B) offers no prescription drug coverage. You may not currently take prescription medicines, but you may later, and can you imagine paying out of pocket for them? Since 2013, the prices of the 20 most-prescribed drugs for seniors have risen an average of 12% annually. Will Social Security give you a 12% cost-of-living adjustment next year?1pills

To address the issue, many seniors sign up for Part D (prescription drug) plans, which may reduce the co-pays for certain generic medicines down to $1 or $0. As private insurers provide Part D plans, the list of medicines each plan covers varies — so, carefully check the list, also called the formulary, before you enroll in one.  Keep checking it, as insurers are permitted to change it from one year to the next.1, 2

You may want a Medigap policy, considering your Part B co-payments. If you stick with original Medicare, you will routinely pay 20% of the cost of medical services and procedures covered by Part B. If you need a hip replacement or a triple bypass, you could face a five-figure co-pay. Medigap insurance (also called Medicare Supplement insurance) addresses this problem with supplemental Part B coverage. Premiums and services can vary greatly on these plans, which are sold by insurers.1

If you want dental and vision coverage (and much more), you may want a Part C plan. Around a third of Medicare beneficiaries enroll in these plans, also called Medicare glasses.jpgAdvantage programs. The typical Part C plan includes all the coverage of Medicare Parts A, B, and D, plus the dental and vision insurance that original Medicare cannot provide. Medicare Advantage plans also limit beneficiary out- of-pocket costs for the services they cover.1

Part C plans may soon offer even more benefits. They will be allowed to include services beyond normal medical insurance beginning in 2019. Starting in October, they can reveal what new perks, if any, they have chosen to offer. Some of the new benefits you might see: coverage for the cost of home health aides, adult day care, palliative care, the installation of grab bars and mobility ramps in the home, and trips to and from medical appointments. The list of potential benefits could expand further in 2020.3

Few seniors who enroll in Part C plans switch out of them. If you enroll in one, you should realize that these plans are regional rather than national – so, if you move, you may have to find another Part C plan or return to traditional Medicare, with or without Medigap coverage.1,3

The Medicare Advantage Disenrollment Period is disappearing. A recently passed federal law, the 21st Century Cures Act, does away with this annual January 1-February 14 window. Beginning in 2019, there will simply be an annual Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period from January 1-March 31. During these three months, Medicare recipients will have the chance to either switch Part C plans or disenroll from a Part C plan and go back to original Medicare.4

Some Medicare Cost plans are being phased out. These plans, which offer some features of Medigap policies and some features of Medicare Advantage programs, are ending in certain counties within 15 states and in the District of Columbia. Enrollees are being left to search for new coverage.4

If you are financially challenged, you may have options. State subsidies and Medicare savings programs are available to help households handle co-payments and deductibles under original Medicare. Some non-profit groups offer pharmaceutical assistance programs (PAPs) to help Medicare beneficiaries pay less for medicines.4

Lastly, diabetics who use insulin pumps sometimes find they are better off with original Medicare as well as a Medigap policy, rather than a Part C plan. Some Medigap plans cover the entire cost of insulin. Many infusion treatments (such as chemotherapy) are also 100% covered by Medigap policies.4

Neil Byrne, JD, CPA, LLM may be reached at 502-625-2459 or Neil.Byrne@syb.com. https://www.syb.com/wealth-management-and-trust/our-team/

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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. – forbes.com/sites/nextavenue/2018/07/10/avoid-these-big-medicare-mistakes-people-make [7/10/18]
  2. – money.usnews.com/money/retirement/medicare/articles/2018-06-25/prescription-drug-costs-retirees-should-expect-to-pay [6/25/18] 3 – nytimes.com/2018/07/20/health/medicare-advantage-benefits.html [7/20/18]
  3. rd.com/health/healthcare/things-medicare-wont-tell-you/ [7/6/18]
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Six Tips for Wealth & Sanity

wealth sanityUntitled-logoAnd the most important tip of all? Hire a financial advisor.

Investing can be stressful, but it doesn’t have to be. If you have a portfolio that was built for you and use the help of a financial advisor, you shouldn’t be too worried about volatility and financial news.

Here are a few tips to help you invest wisely, and stay sane at the same time.

  1. Cut back on financial (entertainment) media. The financial news is entertaining, but the focus is on short-term trends and hype. Sure, you need to keep up with general economic and business news, but it isn’t wise to trade on every piece of information that you come across. Print media tends to be less sensational than TV programs.
  2. Stop checking your accounts online every day. If you have a properly diversified portfolio, built for you, focusing on daily changes in your account value is likely to tempt you to trade too much. Should you make frequent transactions, hoping to profit from price swings, your trading fees increase. Avoid making emotional decisions and wait for your monthly statement to arrive. As a disciplined investor, you need to tolerate volatility. This gives you more peace of mind, too.
  3. Focus on the bottom line, not individual investments. If one investment is doing well and the other is doing poorly, what should you do? The answer may surprise you. You should probably sell some of the investment that went up and buy more of the poor performer. It seems counterintuitive, but this is “buy low, sell high” in a nutshell. If you focus on the value of your portfolio as a whole, you won’t be tempted to make poor trading decisions, like selling lagging stocks out of fear.
  4. Clean old junk out of your portfolio. Do you have stocks you held for a while, just waiting for them to return to the price you bought them? A good way of knowing whether to hold certain stocks is to ask yourself whether you would buy them today as new positions. Investors often think they need to wait until the stock price comes back before selling. Cut your losses and rid your portfolio of those old underperformers. You will feel like a weight is lifted from your shoulders, and you can use that money on better prospects.
  5. Create a plan and follow the rules. One of the biggest mistakes that investors make is failing to make a disciplined plan. Choose your overall asset allocation, such as a mix of stocks and bonds, and stick to it. Check your portfolio every three months to see if your account has fluctuated away from your original plan (say, 60% stocks, 40% bonds).  If needed, make changes to bring your account back to the proper proportion.  This is called rebalancing, a fantastic risk management tool.
  6. Hire an investment advisor. Seeking the advice of a professional doesn’t mean you are not smart enough or capable enough to figure it out on your own. You’re capable of mowing the lawn, cleaning your house and doing your taxes, too. But you don’t mind paying someone else to do those tasks. There are some cases where you should never do things on your own. You don’t see people filling their own cavities, right? A professional financial advisor can help you devise your plan and offer unbiased advice about your portfolio. Who knows, you may even enjoy letting go of the reins.

Hopefully, taking a step back from your investing life gives you greater peace of mind and lets you focus more on other things like your career and family.

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The End of the 4 Percent Rule?

retirement plan1Untitled-logoThe “4 percent rule” was a retirement spending approach that became mainstream in the 1990s. The rule suggested that a retiree with an average portfolio distributed between stocks and bonds (approximately 60-40) should withdraw 4 percent of his or her retirement funds each year (adjusting each year for inflation). If the retiree could stay limited to that 4 percent, he or she would be able to fund retirement for at least 30 years.

The simplicity of the 4 percent rule made it a hugely popular with investors. The method made planning easy and was projected to leave the vast majority of retirees with surpluses late in life. Many quickly adopted the method and the approach became a staple of retirement budgeting.

Modern Problems

Recently, the 4 percent rule has begun to fall out of favor with financial planners and investors. The rule, which was designed in the bull market of the mid-90s, relies heavily on regular, high returns from stocks. However, since that time, low economic growth and a major slump [in] the market has made equities look much less attractive. Few retirees will want to take on the risk of holding over half their portfolio in potentially volatile stocks.

The market is simply not what it was once thought to be. Retirees who are trying to reduce the risk of significant loss are less willing to put faith in perpetual stock growth. In addition to smaller gains, the average lifespan is on the rise and people are living longer in retirement. Strategies have become more conservative to deal with these concerns, and individuals planning for retirement must consider changes to saving and investing.

Ideal Rates in Retirement

The changes in the market do not indicate that the 4 percent rule can never work for retirees, just that it causes problematic exposures. The 4 percent rule works when yearly withdrawals are matched by yearly growth. Even if a portfolio averages 4 percent real growth, it could still underperform a target goal because it suffered severe losses early on.

So is there a better rule to follow? A 3 percent rule, perhaps? Unfortunately, there are no fixed guidelines when it comes to retirement income planning. A retiree must adjust his or her plans regularly to match both changing needs and market performance. The 4 percent rule might be a great place for investors to get a rough estimate when planning, but they should always be prepared to adjust their annual withdrawals lower if necessary.

What Can Investors Do to Make Retirement Work?

Since investors cannot control market performance and the rate of return, they often try to increase allowable withdrawals by increasing total portfolio value. By starting with more money in their retirement plan, a smaller rate of withdrawal will still be worth a solid dollar amount.

To sustain larger dollar withdrawals, retirees must either invest more money or delay retirement by a couple of years. Though neither option may seem pleasant, retirement planning is full of these give-and-take situations; an investor must find a way to make retirement income sustainable.

As another option, some retirees might look to an annuity to lock in an income. Annuities do not provide the flexibility or adjustable withdrawals of direct portfolio management, but they are guaranteed to pay out for the rest of the retirees’ lives—always providing them with some level of income.

Changing Rates

There may be many reasons to change withdrawal rates during retirement, but retirees must always keep one eye on the market and the other on the future. A profitable year might entice higher withdrawals, but a retiree could benefit far more if the extra earnings were reinvested for later expenses. On the other hand, if withdrawals are greatly restricted early on, people might miss their opportunity to travel and enjoy active life in retirement.

There are no simple answers when it comes to the chaos of the market and the unknown developments of the future. Investors should prepare themselves for changes and be ready to adjust their portfolios as things come into focus. No matter what hap- pens, it is important to plan with trusted financial advice. If you have concerns about your retirement strategy or want to better understand your financial options, contact Stock Yards Bank & Trust Company with all your questions.

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This article was written by Advicent Solutions, an entity unrelated to Stock Yards Bank & Trust Company. The information contained in this article is not intend- ed to be tax, investment, or legal advice, and it may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any tax penalties. Stock Yards Bank & Trust Company does not provide tax or legal advice. You are encouraged to consult with your tax advisor or attorney regarding specific tax issues. © 2013 Advicent Solutions. All rights reserved

Your Rollover Options

ira rollover 3Untitled-logoLeaving your job can be hectic, whether you’re retired, laid off or moving to a new company.  It may not cross your mind to take care of your previous employer-sponsored retirement plan, but this is an important box to check during your transition.


You have four options when it comes to your retirement assets: leave them with your former employer, roll them over into your new employer’s retirement plan, roll them over into an IRA or cash out. As with most financial decisions, there are pros and cons to each choice, and your specific circumstances may make one choice more appealing than the others.

Leave assets in your former employer’s plan

You can choose to leave your investments where they are when you leave your job, though you will not be eligible to continue making contributions. This is the default option if you choose to do nothing. However, if simplifying your retirement savings is your goal, this is probably not the route for you. If you leave your investments behind at each company, you’ll have various accounts to keep track of throughout your career and distributions to take from each during retirement. Keeping in touch withCapture roll.JPG former employers can be difficult. Your old plan may also have high fees, limited flexibility or poor allocation options when compared with an IRA or your new employer’s plan. If your retirement account has less than $5,000, your former employer has the option of cashing you out of the plan, incurring taxes and penalties. Avoid getting cashed out by rolling the money over when you leave the company.

There are some advantages to leaving your money with your former employer. For instance, some large companies have access to lower-cost institutional funds that your new employer might not offer. In this case, it would be cheaper for you to stay with the old plan than to roll over into a new plan or IRA. Additionally, if you’re 55 or older when you leave your job, you may be eligible for penalty-free withdrawals (though income tax would still apply), so keeping your investment in your former plan could give you access to money sooner.

Rollover into new employer’s plan

A rollover is moving assets from one account to another while avoiding taxes and penalties. You can move your assets from your old employer’s plan to your new employer’s plan seamlessly without losing any money. Choosing this option is advantageous because your assets will continue to grow in a tax-advantaged account, and you won’t have to start over at each new company. You can rollover assets from a Roth 401(k) to a traditional 401(k) and vice versa, as long as both plans allow for it. If your new company has a better selection of investments or lower prices than your previous employer, it makes more sense to do a rollover. This way, you can also avoid having to keep track of old accounts with former employers.

Rollover into an IRA

In general, an IRA will offer you the most versatility and flexibility, so if you’re unhappy with either your former or current employer’s plans, an IRA may be a better bet. An IRA can also be more convenient, because you won’t have to worry about rolling it over again if you leave your job in the future. One feature unique to IRAs is the ability to take penalty-free distributions early (before the age of 59 ½) in order to pay for your first home or qualified higher education expenses. You’ll still pay income tax on the distributions, but you’ll avoid the fees that you’d accrue if you cashed out of an employer plan. An IRA can also be a great vehicle for your heirs, who have the option of stretching out required minimum distributions with a traditional IRA, or avoiding them altogether with a Roth IRA.

There are two types of rollovers, whether you’re rolling your money into a new employer plan or an IRA. A direct rollover is from plan to plan. No taxes are withheld, no penalties are owed and no money crosses your hands. For an indirect rollover, your previous plan administrator writes a check to you, withholding 20 percent for taxes. You’ll have 60 days to transfer it to your new plan or IRA. If you exceed 60 days, you won’t get the 20 percent in taxes back when you file a return, and you’ll owe an additional 10 percent penalty for early withdrawals. A direct rollover is a simpler, safer route, but you’ll have to make sure you have an IRA or new employer plan established first.

Cash out

This is the option least likely to be recommended to you, but it can be useful in certain circumstances. It’s important to know that cashing out a retirement plan incurs a 20 percent tax and a 10 percent penalty for early withdrawal, so you won’t actually get the amount listed in your account. If you’re truly strapped for cash, or if you’re over age 55 when you leave your employer (thus avoiding the early withdrawal penalty), you may want to consider cashing out. However, cashing out is generally not advisable. In addition to the taxes and penalties, your money will lose its tax-advantaged growth, and you may be damaging your future financial security. Cashing out in order to reinvest in a new employer plan or IRA is a costly mistake many workers make each year.

Now that you know your options, you can make an informed decision about your retirement assets. Leaving your job for any reason can be stressful, but jeopardizing your retirement security would be even worse.

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This article was written byAdvicent Solutions, an entity unrelated to Stock Yards Bank & Trust Company.  The information contained in this article is not intended to be tax, investment, or legal advice, and it may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any tax penalties.  Stock Yards Bank & Trust Company does not provide tax or legal advice. You are encouraged to consult with your tax advisor or attorney regarding specific tax issues. © 2013 Advicent Solutions. All rights reserved.

 

Playing by the IRA Rules

ira rulesUntitled-logoIndividual Retirement Accounts (IRAs) offer favorable tax-deferral benefits to individuals who are saving for retirement. But with those benefits, there are certain rules about when distributions may be taken to avoid penalty taxes. Contributions to a traditional IRA, depending on your income and participation in employer-sponsored plans, may entitle you to certain current income tax deductions. Further, because your funds are not taxed until distributions begin, your savings have the potential for tax-deferred growth.

Generally, IRAs are designed to work as long-term savings vehicles, but you may be able to withdraw funds early and without penalty, provided your situation qualifies as an exception.

The Age 59½ Rule

The age 59½ rule provides that, if you take distributions from your traditional IRA before you reach the age of 59½, you may be subject to a 10% Federal penalty tax in addition to regular income tax. However, you may not have to pay the penalty tax if your early distribution meets certain requirements.

Exceptions

You may be eligible for penalty-free qualified distributions, if one of the following exceptions applies:

  1. You are taking distributions as the beneficiary of a deceased IRA owner. Generally, if you inherit an IRA, you are required to take required minimum distributions (RMDs) over a period no longer than your life expectancy. For non-spousal beneficiaries, RMDs must begin in the year following the year in which the IRA owner died.  Spousal beneficiaries may have additional time to begin taking RMDs, depending on certain factors, including whether they opt to treat an inherited IRA as their own. This penalty tax exception does not apply to spousal beneficiaries who opt to treat the account as their own IRA.
  2. You are paying for certain first-time home buyer expenses, generally referred to as qualified acquisition costs, such as buying, building, or renovating a first home. Distributions, which may not exceed $10,000, may be used to cover qualified costs for you, your spouse, your children, or your grandchildren.
  3. You, your spouse, or dependents have un-reimbursed medical expenses that total more than 10% of your adjusted gross income (AGI) (7.5% if you are age 65 or older, but only through 2016). If a medical expense for you, your spouse, or a dependent qualifies as an itemized deduction on your income tax return, it will generally qualify for this penalty tax
  4. The distributions are part of a series of substantially equal periodic payments (SEPPs) made at least annually that meet certain additional requirements. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) currently recognizes three methods for calculating SEPPS: the required minimum distribution method, the fixed amortization method, and the fixed annuitization method.
  5. Once SEPPs begin, they must be made for five years or until you reach age 59½, whichever is later.
  6. You qualify with certain physical and/or mental conditions as being disabled, determined by a physician and if the disability can be expected to result in death or continue for an indefinite duration.
  7. You are paying medical insurance premiums due to unemployment. If you lost your job, and received unemployment compensation for 12 consecutive weeks, you may take distributions from your IRA account, penalty tax-free, during the year in which you received unemployment compensation, or in the following year, but no later than 60 days after you have been re-employed.
  8. You are paying for higher education expenses, such as tuition, fees, and books at an eligible educational institution (generally all accredited postsecondary institutions). The distributions may not exceed your qualified education expenses, or those of your spouse, your children, or your grandchildren.
  9. The distribution is attributable to an IRS levy of the IRA.
  10. Reservists qualify while serving on active duty for at least 180 days.

IRAs are strictly regulated to ensure that they are used as vehicles for retirement savings. Therefore, they generally work best as long-term savings vehicles. However, if you do need income from your IRA before you reach age 59½, it is important to know if your situation excuses you from the penalty tax levied on early distributions before making a withdrawal. Playing by the rules may save you money and help preserve your savings for retirement. Be sure to consult your tax advisor to determine whether your individual situation will qualify as an exception.

Please visit https://syb.com/wealth-management-and-trust/how-we-serve-our-clients/ira-retirement-rollovers/.  for more information.

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Easing Into Retirement

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Untitled-logoFor many people, crossing the bridge into retirement is a big step. If you’re approaching retirement, it’s time to develop a strategy to facilitate a smooth transition from the more structured world of work to one of leisure.

After spending years building your professional career, you’ve accumulated assets along the way.

While retirement planning usually focuses on preparing for your financial future, nonfinancial matters may also need to be addressed. When retirees feel dissatisfied, it’s often the lifestyle changes that accompany retirement living that tend to create difficulties with self-esteem and identity associated with ending one’s profession.

Staying Active

One possible solution for managing these challenges may be to ease into retirement. Some individuals may welcome the opportunity to continue some form of work, such as consulting, job-sharing, mentoring, or back-up management. Mentoring, in particular, enables you to transfer a lifetime of learning and experience to a friend, relative, or younger colleague. Phased-in retirement provides an “anchor,” allowing new retirees to explore other activities while also maintaining their role at work.

Since some people may have more of an emotional reaction to the separation and disengagement from working than they expected, taking between two to five years to “decompress” may be an appropriate option.

Maintaining a Healthy Perspective

While “retirement” suggests the end of your working life, a more positive perspective to take could be that it’s the beginning of a new phase of life—when you can do all the things you never seemed able to find the time for while you were working. For example, volunteer work can allow you to make a valuable contribution to a charitable cause and meet new people. Taking courses in subjects that interest you can sharpen your intellect and help maintain your cognitive abilities. If chosen thoughtfully, these activities can be enjoyable and fulfilling.

Obviously, it’s a lot easier for a retiree to consider other pursuits if financial considerations are secondary. People may think that it costs less to live in retirement. However, it’s actually common for retirees to increase, rather than decrease, their expenditures, especially in the first few years of transition. Without working full-time, retirees may have more energy and time to enjoy entertainment, dining out, travel, and recreation.

On Spending and Inflation

During the working years, it’s common to take a certain lifestyle for granted. In retirement, however, you may need to change your priorities or consider budgeting depending on your circumstances. On the other hand, you may find that you no longer need or want to do some of the things that seemed so important when you were working.

Additionally, be sure to keep an eye on the effects of inflation after retirement. For example, an item costing $100 when you are age 65 will cost $180 at age 80, assuming a 4% inflation rate compounded annually. Therefore, it’s important that your retirement plan be not only a plan “at” retirement, but also a plan continuing “through” retirement, which may require revision on a regular basis.

If you view retirement as your opportunity for growth and exploration, you can make this transition exciting and enjoyable. Your horizons are limited only by your imagination. After all of your hard work, you’ve earned this opportunity—enjoy the freedom!

Please visit https://syb.com/wealth-management-and-trust/how-we-serve-our-clients/ira-retirement-rollovers/.  for more information.

Resource information provided by Financial Media Exchange

 

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Investment & Financial Insights

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Have a seat at our table

KathyWe live in a world where having access to the internet affords everyone an opportunity to be a self-appointed expert on a vast and varied list of topics. A quick online search can provide information as broad and diverse as the best way to remove grass stains, all the way to diagnosing complex medical conditions. While educating yourself is always a wise and recommended endeavor, it’s also important to remember that discernment is key. In other words, there is wisdom in knowing when to ask for help.

Reaching your financial goals and maintaining the assets you’ve worked so hard to attain can be a complex and overwhelming task, even for the most fiscally savvy of individuals. This is why we believe so strongly in a synergistic approach to money management.

The collective and comprehensive experience and training of our financial professionals make us a respected authority on an array of banking and wealth management services. Working together as a team, we offer depth of knowledge and a holistic approach to help you realize your financial objectives. Our staff is comprised of trusted professionals who hold advanced degrees in business, law, and other prestigious credentials. We’ve got all the bases covered. So no matter if your current focus is financial planning, investments, retirement, or tax planning, the team at Stock Yards Bank Wealth Management & Trust will work hard to make your financial dreams come true. ♦

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Economic Update| Q3: 2018

BREAKING NEWS ALERTS: NORTH KOREA, ICE, TARIFFS, EXTINCTION, BREXIT, HATE CRIME, CONSPIRACY!

markJuly 10, 2018

If there were any good news, would anyone be able to hear it over the hyperbole or read it through the sensationalized headlines on our smartphones?

Thankfully, we did.  During the second quarter of 2018, unemployment in the United States fell to a rate not seen since 1969.  Wage growth accelerated.  Tax reforms boosted personal take-home pay, as well as corporate earnings.  The stock market in the United States rose as the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index delivered a total return of 3.4%.  International stocks as measured by the MSCI EAFE Index declined modestly due to political uncertainty in Europe and the Far East.  Although many fixed income investors experienced negative returns during the second quarter (Bond prices fall as prevailing interest rates rise.), proceeds from maturing bonds could be reinvested in bonds offering more attractive yields.

Cable commentators are very good at creating a sense of uncertainty and fear to keep viewers engaged (and to sell advertisements).  News organizations have plenty of raw material available to construct gripping storylines: rising
interest rates, wealth disparity, volatility in financial markets, turmoil in Washington D.C. and abroad, and tariffs.  Because these variables are beyond our control, they are prone to create anxiety.  Only by delving into the facts can we determine whether or not the worry is warranted.

For example, the subject of tariffs often leads to discussion of a global trade war and its potential consequences.  Should we be worried?  Research firm Strategas helps put this topic in perspective.  It compares the size of the tariffs that have been imposed and merely proposed to the size of new fiscal stimulus including repatriation of cash held abroad by US-based companies and tax cuts resulting from the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017.  In total, $800 billion of stimulative policy in the United States dwarfs the $120 billion of tariffs and potential tariffs that have been in the news.

Here are some other encouraging facts.  For the first time in a decade, the United States posted three sequential quarters of 2.5%-or-better GDP growth last year.  Consumer confidence and business confidence indicators have strengthened and remain strong.  A decrease in regulatory burden has enabled businesses to increase efficiencies.  Tax reform has helped US companies compete more effectively in the global economy.  Tax cuts have provided companies, both large and small, with the ability to hire and to invest in new property, plant, and equipment.  All of this is good news for economic growth.

Now, if you are beginning to worry that we have turned Pollyannaish, rest assured that we are well-aware of the business cycle.  Although we do not expect to see a recession soon, we recognize that the combination of full-employment and inflation has typically compelled the Federal Reserve to act.  The Fed has been especially careful to share its plans in recent years.  That said, if the Fed tightens monetary policy too aggressively, a recession could follow.  Since the timing and magnitude of an inevitable recession are unknowable, we investors stay the course.

By this we mean that we continue to favor common stocks as the financial asset of choice over fixed income and non-financial assets like collectibles and commodities.  We welcome stock price volatility, which market commentators and business school professors call risk.  In our view, volatility creates opportunity.  While prices can be quite volatile, the value of quality companies is quite stable.  Volatile stock prices enable alert investors to capitalize on asset mispricing.  To quote Benjamin Graham, the father of value investing, “In the short run, the market is a voting machine but in the long run, it is a weighing machine.”  Daily price changes are the result of emotion and speculation.  But, over the long run, fundamentals dictate value.

Most of our clients have a long investment time horizon.  Since this is the case, we have the long run in mind and are able to focus on the fundamentals that can create the most value for our clients over time.  We concentrate our efforts on constructing portfolios of high quality, shareholder-friendly, growing companies that are trading at reasonable relative valuations.  We prefer moated businesses with inside ownership, proven management, and unique business models that insulate them from competition.  We also prefer conservatively financed businesses with low levels of debt, strong cash flow from operations, and high returns on capital.  We expect that companies with these characteristics will do well in the current economic environment and, more importantly, during difficult economic times.  When the inevitable recession or stock market correction occurs, the high quality, well-capitalized companies that we own will protect our clients from permanent loss of capital.  We use this perspective in our investment process to minimize mistakes that could result from reacting to BREAKING NEWS ALERTS.  Professional investment discipline is one of the most valuable things we can provide to our clients.

Thank you for the confidence you have placed in our Wealth Management & Trust team at Stock Yards Bank & Trust.  Please contact us directly by phone or by email at any time to discuss our outlook or to review your portfolio in light of your objectives.♦


Retirement, Social Security and Divorce

marc.JPGWhether you expect social security benefits to account for a substantial portion of your retirement income or to supplement other sources, everyone has a similar objective of receiving the maximum benefit possible.  It is widely known that married couples have several strategies to consider, however, divorced individuals have some options as well.  Divorce after 50, otherwise known as Gray Divorce, is on the rise and recent changes to the tax code have removed the taxation and deductibility of alimony* paving the way for social security to become a more prevalent income consideration for couples divorcing at older ages.  Understanding claiming strategies for divorced couples may be more important than ever.

In order to claim benefits on your ex-spouse’s record you must have been married at least 10 years and divorced at least 2.  Your ex-spouse must be entitled to receive social security or disability benefits based on his or her work history, however, he or she does not have to be retired or currently claiming.  This differs from married couples where the spouse upon whose record the benefit is being claimed must also file for benefits.  The ex-spouse can be remarried and is not alerted of anyone claiming based on his or her record.  In fact, multiple ex-spouses can claim on the same worker’s record!

If you wish to claim on an ex-spouse’s record, you cannot be currently remarried.  Additionally, the spousal benefit must be more than what you would receive based on your own record.   Although you may file as an ex-spouse you are deemed to have filed for your own benefit as well.  Social Security will give you the highest benefit available (the spousal benefit is typically ½ of the higher wage earners benefit).

The earliest an individual can file for a social security retirement benefit is age 62 (unless your ex-spouse is deceased and you qualify to file for a survivors benefit).  Filing at age 62 permanently reduces your benefit whether you claim on your own record, your spouse’s, or your ex-spouse’s.   By claiming early you lose the opportunity for delayed retirement credits and growth of your benefit (there is no impact on the ex-spouse’s own benefit).  An exception to this rule applies to those born before 1954.  These individuals have the option to file for a benefit based on their spouse’s (or ex-spouse’s) work history and then claim his or her own at a later date if higher.

Exceptions also apply in the case of survivors.  A divorced individual (meeting all of the criteria explained above) can claim his or her own benefit if initially it is greater than the spousal benefit, then step-up to a survivors benefit upon the death of the ex-spouse.  Ex-spouses, widows, and widowers can continue a survivor benefit if they remarry after age 60.

There are many factors to consider in claiming social security whether you are single, married, divorced, or widowed.  How to claim becomes equally important as when to claim.  Your team of advisors at Stock Yards Bank is here to aid you in making these decisions as you move through your various phases in life. ♦

*For divorce agreements entered into after December 31, 2018.

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Wealth Management & Trust

KATHY THOMPSON, Senior Executive Vice President, (502) 625-2291
E. GORDON MAYNARD, Managing Director of Trust, (502) 625-0814
MARK HOLLOWAY, Chief Investment Officer, (502) 625-9124
SHANNON BUDNICK, Managing Director of Investment Advisors, (502) 625-2513
PAUL STROPKAY, Chief Investment Strategist, (502) 625-0385
REBECCA HOWARD, Managing Director of Wealth Advisors, (502) 625-0855

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We provide the information in this newsletter for general guidance only. It does not constitute the provision of legal advice, tax advice, accounting services, investment advice, or professional consulting of any kind. The information provided herein should not be used as a substitute for consultation with professional tax, accounting, investment, legal, or other competent advisers. Before making any decision or taking any action, you should consult a professional adviser who has been provided with all pertinent facts relevant to your particular situation. The information is provided “as is,” with no assurance or guarantee of completeness, accuracy, or timeliness of the information, and without warranty of any kind, expressed or implied, including but not limited to warranties of performance, merchantability, and fitness for a particular purpose.

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