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Medicare Update

Some hard-working, taxpaying Americans get angry when they hear Social
Security called an entitlement program, perhaps because the word “entitlement”
has come to have a connotation with welfare programs. The reality is that
Social Security is, by definition, an entitlement program, along with Medicare,
unemployment insurance and worker’s compensation. These mandatory programs are
funded by people who work through their payroll taxes, so they are eligible for those benefits through
those tax contributions.1

These programs differ from the nation’s six major welfare programs:
Medicaid, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, Supplemental Nutrition
Assistance Programs (SNAP), Supplemental Security Income, Earned Income Tax
Credit and Housing Assistance. These needs-based programs are funded by federal
revenues and administered at the state level.2

Federal government benefits for long-term care fall under
the welfare umbrella of Medicaid; beneficiaries must meet certain low-income
requirements. This leaves higher income retirees — who may have diligently
saved for their retirement needs —to have to pay for long-term care costs
because Medicare, in general, limits what it will cover.3 The odds are high that you or a loved
one will need long-term care; someone turning 65 today has almost a 70% chance
of needing some type of long-term care in their remaining years.4

This kind of care can be expensive: The median cost of a
private room in a nursing home is $102,200 a year.5 There are
insurance options to help pay for potential long-term care expenses; if you’re
interested in learning about these options, contact us for more information.

There’s good news for some Medicare beneficiaries who need
help caring for themselves at home: People who purchase a Medicare Advantage
(MA) plan now may have more options for household assistance benefits. In 2018,
Congress passed legislation that enabled MA plans to pay for some non-medical
services for chronically ill members, such as coverage for grocery delivery,
caregiver support and retrofitting homes with things like wheelchair ramps.6

The new legislation left it to
plan providers to decide what types of supplemental assistance benefits to
offer. Insurers have come up with some interesting offerings. For example,
Anthem offers Medicare Advantage plans with coverage options for quarterly pest
control, an allowance to help care for a service dog, access to acupuncture or
massages, sessions with a dietitian or up to 64 healthy food deliveries per
year.7

This year’s Medicare annual
enrollment period runs from Oct. 15 through Dec. 7. It’s a good idea to
comparison shop for plans with new options, or at least find out if anything
new is covered in your current plan.

Content prepared by Kara Stefan
Communications.

Kimberly
Amadeo. The Balance. Aug. 27, 2019. “US Welfare Programs, the Myths Versus the
Facts.” https://www.thebalance.com/welfare-programs-definition-and-list-3305759. Accessed Oct. 5, 2019.

2 Ibid.

3 LongTermCare.gov. U.S. Department of Health and Human
Services. “Who Pays for Long-Term Care?” 
https://longtermcare.acl.gov/the-basics/who-pays-for-long-term-care.html. Accessed Oct. 14, 2019.

4 LongTermCare.gov. U.S. Department of Health and Human
Services. “How Much Care Will You Need?” 
https://longtermcare.acl.gov/the-basics/how-much-care-will-you-need.html. Accessed Oct. 14, 2019.

5 Genworth. “Cost of Care Survey 2019.” https://www.genworth.com/aging-and-you/finances/cost-of-care.html. Accessed Oct. 18, 2019.

Robert
Pear. The New York Times. June 24, 2018. “Medicare Allows More Benefits for
Chronically Ill, Aiming to Improve Care for Millions.” https://www.nytimes.com/2018/06/24/us/politics/medicare-chronic-illness-benefits.html?module=inline. Accessed Oct. 5, 2019.

Shelby
Livingston. Modern Healthcare. Oct. 4, 2019. “Medicare Advantage insurers tout
pest control, acupuncture among new 2020 benefits.” https://www.modernhealthcare.com/insurance/medicare-advantage-plans-get-creative-2020-benefits. Accessed Oct. 4, 2019.

Our firm is not affiliated with the U.S. government or any governmental
agency.

We are an independent firm helping individuals create
retirement strategies using a variety of insurance and investment products to
custom suit their needs and objectives. This material is intended to provide
general information to help you understand basic financial planning strategies
and should not be construed as financial or investment advice. All investments
are subject to risk including the potential loss of principal. No investment
strategy can guarantee a profit or protect against loss in periods of declining
values.

The information contained in this material is believed to be
reliable, but accuracy and completeness cannot be guaranteed; it is not
intended to be used as the sole basis for financial decisions. If you are
unable to access any of the news articles and sources through the links
provided in this text, please contact us to request a copy of the desired
reference.

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The Economics of Immigration

The Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania has
conducted extensive studies on the effects of immigration on America’s economy.
In light of heightened policy debates in the U.S., some of the most critical
findings are:1

  • Increasing the number of legal immigrants with a college degree would
    have little impact on employment and slightly increase GDP.
  • Legalizing undocumented workers currently residing in the U.S. would
    slightly reduce employment and have a negligible impact on GDP.
  • Increasing deportations would substantially reduce both employment and
    GDP.
  • Increasing the net flow of immigrants would have the largest positive
    impact on growing both employment and GDP.

There are a number of reasons economists consider immigrants critical to
the future of America’s economy. For one thing, our population is aging and
immigrants tend to be young adults. About half the immigrants who come from
Latin America are between the ages of 18 and 35.Since the birthrate
among Americans is historically low, immigrants help contribute to the future population
and workforce.2

As such, many undocumented immigrants may spend the bulk of their careers
contributing payroll taxes to Medicare and Social Security, even though they
are not eligible for benefits. The net advantage, however, helps bolster
pending deficits and sustain those programs.3

If America continues on its path of reducing the number of legal
immigrants into the country, it could produce a massive labor shortage —
particularly in industries reliant on large numbers of human capital. Therefore,
investors considering the long-term implications of such a policy may want to give
thought to market sectors that would be less impacted. For example, this may
mean considering finance and technology over health care, construction and
manufacturing. If you’d like to discuss portfolio strategies, please give us a
call.

Since 2011, immigrants have accounted for two-thirds of America’s
economic growth. This demographic is responsible for establishing nearly a
third of U.S. firms, including more than half of startups valued at over $1
billion.4

Research shows a pattern of how migrant groups tend to cluster in a particular
area. Once there is a substantial community present, companies from their home
countries will often make capital investments in that area with factories,
retail stores and research centers. For every 1% of immigrant population growth
in a state, there’s a 50% greater chance that a foreign company will choose to
expand its operations there.5

The data shows that large pockets of immigrants throughout the country
have been instrumental in increasing jobs, tax revenues and revitalizing the
local infrastructure in these clustered areas.

In addition to creating new companies and jobs, immigrants also are
consumers. Recent studies of mass deportation impacts concluded that continuing
these policies would result in a $1.6 trillion GDP loss.6

Researchers say there’s little data to support the position that
immigrants are taking jobs away from U.S.-born citizens. This is because immigrants
tend to accept low-paying jobs that Americans often don’t want, such as
agriculture and building and grounds maintenance. In fact, the biggest
competition comes from other low-wage immigrants, which actually serves to
improve quality and productivity in those industries.7

In the growing home health aide and long-term care industry, immigrants
hold 27.5 percent of positions as direct care workers and 30 percent of nursing
home housekeeping and maintenance jobs. This is an industry that is expected to
need 3.5 million additional health care workers throughout the next decade, so
it’s worth noting that immigrants are helping to fill this gap. In fact, immigrant
health care workers tend to be more educated than U.S.-born health industry workers;
often working at lower professional levels because they lack U.S. certification
or licensure. They are helping supplement shortages in rural areas, and they tend
to work nontraditional shifts (nights and weekends) that are hard to fill.8

While the current debate about
immigration policy tends to focus on jobs and wages, some economists are urging
policy leaders to consider the broader economic picture. The reality is that
immigration may be a necessary ingredient to drive long-term economic growth
and financial sustainability of the nation’s entitlement programs.

Content prepared by Kara Stefan
Communications.

1 Knowledge@Wharton. Sept. 10, 2019. “Could Increased
Immigration Improve the U.S. Economy?” https://knowledge.wharton.upenn.edu/article/us-immigration-policy/. Accessed Sep. 30, 2019.

2 Daniel Kurt. Investopedia. July 30, 2019. “The Pros
& Cons of Immigration Reform.” https://www.investopedia.com/articles/investing/043015/pros-cons-immigration-reform.asp. Accessed Sept. 30, 2019.

3 Kimberly Amadeo. The Balance. June 25, 2019. “Immigration’s
Effect on the Economy and You.” https://www.thebalance.com/how-immigration-impacts-the-economy-4125413. Accessed Sept. 30, 2019.

4 Ibid.

5 Knowledge@Wharton. Aug. 21, 2018. “Where Immigrants
Go, Economic Growth Follows.” https://knowledge.wharton.upenn.edu/article/economic-debate-immigration-reform/. Accessed Sept. 30, 2019.

6 Daniel Kurt. Investopedia. July 30, 2019. “The Pros
& Cons of Immigration Reform.” https://www.investopedia.com/articles/investing/043015/pros-cons-immigration-reform.asp. Accessed Sept. 30, 2019.

7 Knowledge@Wharton. Aug. 21, 2018. “Where Immigrants
Go, Economic Growth Follows.” https://knowledge.wharton.upenn.edu/article/economic-debate-immigration-reform/. Accessed Sept. 30, 2019.

8 Leah Zallman, Karen E. Finnegan, David U. Himmelstein,
Sharon Touw and Steffie Woolhandler. Health Affairs. June 2019. “Care For
America’s Elderly And Disabled People Relies On Immigrant Labor.” https://www.healthaffairs.org/doi/full/10.1377/hlthaff.2018.05514. Accessed Sept. 30, 2019.

We are an independent firm helping individuals create
retirement strategies using a variety of insurance and investment products to
custom suit their needs and objectives. This material is intended to provide
general information to help you understand basic financial planning strategies
and should not be construed as financial or investment advice. All investments
are subject to risk including the potential loss of principal. No investment
strategy can guarantee a profit or protect against loss in periods of declining
values.

The information contained in this material is believed to be
reliable, but accuracy and completeness cannot be guaranteed; it is not
intended to be used as the sole basis for financial decisions. If you are
unable to access any of the news articles and sources through the links
provided in this text, please contact us to request a copy of the desired
reference.

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Can Your Portfolio Weather an Economic Storm?

Let’s talk a little about famous last words. On Nov. 8, 2007, then-Federal
Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke told lawmakers that the U.S. economy did not
appear headed for recession. One month later, the Great Recession of the 21st
century began.1

So, on Sept. 6 of this year, when Fed Chair Jerome Powell announced that
he didn’t “at all” expect the U.S. to enter a recession, it makes you wonder.2
The reality is that even the most experienced economists don’t always make accurate
predictions.

Economic growth rises and declines just like market volatility, inflation
and interest rates. It’s difficult for anyone to predict these things with any
accuracy because the economy is cyclical and moves on its own timeframe. The ups
drive growth, and the downs spur companies and the government to make effective
decisions that will eventually drive up growth again.

When it comes to investment planning, you should plan on ups and downs. It
can keep you up at night if your portfolio is reliant on day-to-day market
moves and economic cycles. If you have long-term goals, it’s best to align your
investment allocation to help you reach those goals and try not to worry too
much about temporary declines.

That said, if you’re concerned that your financial strategy or investment
portfolio might be vulnerable to a possible economic recession, talk to us. We
have some ideas to help you weather the storm.

And speaking of a possible economic storm, it’s a lot like watching
predictions of those named weather events that form in the Atlantic Ocean. One
day it’s a tropical storm, the next day it’s a hurricane — it’s fast moving;
then it’s stalled. There’s just no predicting its next move. But we can pick up
on the signals, much as we watch for signs of a recession. And lately, there
have been a few.

For example, the Trump administration’s ongoing trade war with China is
causing problems for U.S. manufacturers, farmers and even consumers. Moody’s
Analytics reports that the U.S. has lost approximately 300,000 jobs and 0.3% in
GDP since the trade war began. If trade escalations continue, the firm predicts
the nation could lose up to 800,000 jobs and the economy could plunge into a
recession.3

The economic effects don’t end there. Because China and the U.S. are the
world’s top two economies, the trade war is affecting other countries, as well.
The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) reduced this
year’s forecast for global growth from 3.2% to 2.9%. The U.S. economy is
expected to grow by only 2.4% in 2019, compared to 2.9% last year. Next year,
it’s predicted to drop to 2.0%.4

We’ve also seen a recent drop in CEO confidence, meaning they are less
likely to invest in expansion, and fewer jobs may be on the horizon.5
Another possible indication is that ultra-high-net-worth investors have been
transitioning parts of their investment portfolios into private ventures,
alternative investments and cash in anticipation of a recession in 2020.6

Content prepared by Kara Stefan
Communications.

1 Mark Felsenthal. Reuters. Nov. 8, 2007. “Economy faces
risks, not recession: Bernanke.” https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-bernanke/economy-faces-risks-not-recession-bernanke-idUSWBT00789120071108. Accessed Sept. 25, 2019.

2 Paul Davidson. USA Today. Sept. 9, 2019. “Powell: Fed
is not ‘at all’ expecting a recession, saying economy continues to ‘perform
well.’” https://www.usatoday.com/story/money/2019/09/06/fed-chair-jerome-powell-no-recession-expected-at-all-u-s/2232221001/. Accessed Sept. 25, 2019.

3 Shane Croucher. Newsweek. Sept. 11, 2019. “If Donald
Trump’s China Trade War Escalates, the US Could Lose 800,000 Jobs and Plunge
into a Deep Recession: Economists.” https://www.newsweek.com/trump-trade-war-escalates-jobs-deep-recession-moodys-1458706. Accessed Sept. 25, 2019.

4 Antonio Rodriguez and Richard Lein. International
Business Times. Sept. 19, 2019. “Trade Tensions Slam Brakes On Global Economy:
OECD.” https://www.ibtimes.com/trade-tensions-slam-brakes-global-economy-oecd-2829329. Accessed Sept. 25, 2019.

5 Business Roundtable. 2019. “Business Roundtable CEO
Economic Outlook Index Decreases in Q3.” https://www.businessroundtable.org/media/ceo-economic-outlook-index/ceo-economic-outlook-index-q3-2019.
Accessed Oct. 10, 2019.  

6 Suzanne Woolley and Benjamin Stupples. Bloomberg. Sept.
23, 2019. “The World’s Wealthiest Families Are Stockpiling Cash as Recession
Fears Grow.” https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-09-23/world-s-wealthiest-families-stockpiling-cash-on-recession-fears. Accessed Sept. 25, 2019.

We are an independent firm helping individuals create
retirement strategies using a variety of insurance and investment products to
custom suit their needs and objectives. This material is intended to provide
general information to help you understand basic financial planning strategies
and should not be construed as financial or investment advice. All investments
are subject to risk including the potential loss of principal. No investment
strategy can guarantee a profit or protect against loss in periods of declining
values.

The information contained in this material is believed to be
reliable, but accuracy and completeness cannot be guaranteed; it is not
intended to be used as the sole basis for financial decisions. If you are
unable to access any of the news articles and sources through the links
provided in this text, please contact us to request a copy of the desired
reference.

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What’s New in Indexing?

Index mutual funds are investment vehicles comprising stocks from a wide
variety of companies and track the performance of a specific index, such as the
Dow Jones Industrial Average. Investors are able to spread their assets across
many different investments with the convenience of one fund, which can help
protect them from market volatility. Index funds also tend to be relatively
inexpensive, with annual costs ranging from 0.03% to 0.40% of assets compared
to actively managed funds, which can have annual costs of 0.85% or higher.1

The first index fund was founded in 1975 by The Vanguard Group. Today it
is known as the Vanguard 500 Index Fund, but there are many others on the
market now. In fact, their prevalence has prompted some cause for concern. In a
2018 Wall Street Journaleditorial, Vanguard founder John Bogle sounded
the alarm that today’s index fund investments are largely managed by three
firms — Vanguard, State Street and Black Rock. His concern was that these
money managers are now the majority shareholders for more than 80 of the largest
companies in the United States. 2 That’s a lot of concentrated power
and influence.

There are currently about 5,000 U.S. indexes. The most commonly known are
the S&P 500, the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the Nasdaq Composite
Index. Monitoring various buckets of investments that represent different asset
categories and/or sectors is a critical measure for market analysts, as they
provide keen insights into the economy and investment trends.3

Indexing may be an appropriate
strategy for risk-averse, long-haul wealth accumulation, as well as a strong
component in a retirement portfolio. Index funds can offer a way to consolidate
aggressive investments into a diversified vehicle offering growth potential to
help offset long-term inflation. In fact, annuities that credit interest based
on the performance of a specific index may give retirees the ability to combine
growth opportunity with guaranteed income (guaranteed by the insurer). If you’d
like to learn more, just give us a call.

There are other aspects to the
indexing strategy that have come into play in recent months. In August, for
example, President Trump pitched the idea of reducing the capital gains tax by
indexing it to the rate of inflation. This would lower tax bills for investors.4

However, despite the administration’s
claims, the nonpartisan Tax Foundation asserted that indexing capital gains
taxes would have very little effect in stimulating economic growth. Furthermore,
the tax cut would benefit only the top 1 percent of taxpayers and was projected
to reduce federal tax revenues by nearly $178 billion over the next 10 years.5
Trump has since backed off the proposal.6

In related news, JPMorgan has
introduced a new index called the “Volfefe Index.” The Volfefe is designed to
monitor how President Trump’s messages on Twitter affect Treasury market yields.
Volfefe was named after one of Trump’s 2017 tweets featuring the undefined word
“covfefe.” Given that one in ten of the president’s tweets relate to U.S. investment
markets, JPMorgan’s index tracks the rolling one month probability that each message
initiates market-moving volatility (based on the status of Treasury yields five
minutes following a Trump tweet). The Volfefe Index indicates that a wide range
of stocks have been impacted by Trump tweets, especially in recent weeks.7

Content prepared by Kara Stefan
Communications.

1 Daniel Kern. ThinkAdvisor. July 3, 2017. “How ETFs and
Indexing Took Over Active Management.” https://www.thinkadvisor.com/2017/07/03/how-etfs-and-indexing-took-over-active-management/. Accessed Sept. 9, 2019.

2 Meghna Chakrabarti. WBUR. Dec. 12, 2018. “Stock Market
Distress Signal: How Low-Cost Index Funds Are Taking Over.” https://www.wbur.org/onpoint/2018/12/12/stock-market-index-funds-john-bogle. Accessed Sept. 9, 2019.

3 Caroline Banton. Investopedia. June 25, 2019. “An
Introduction to U.S. Stock Market Indexes.” https://www.investopedia.com/insights/introduction-to-stock-market-indices/. Accessed Sept. 9, 2019.

4 Caitlin Oprysko and Arren Kimbel-Sannit. Politico.
Aug. 30, 2019. “Trump again flirts with easing capital gains taxes.” www.politico.com/story/2019/08/30/trump-capital-gains-taxes-1478882. Accessed Sept. 26, 2019.

5 Daren Fonda. Barron’s. Aug. 3, 2019. “Indexing Capital
Gains to Inflation Would Be Great for the Rich. There’s No Economic Rationale.”
https://www.barrons.com/articles/indexing-capital-gains-to-inflation-makes-no-economic-sense-51564833600. Accessed Sept. 9, 2019.

6 Jacob Pramuk. CNBC. Sept. 11, 2019. “Trump rules out
for now cutting capital-gains taxes.” www.cnbc.com/2019/09/11/trump-white-house-mulls-indexing-capital-gains-to-inflation-tax-plan.html.

Accessed Sept. 26, 2019.

7 Tracy Alloway. Bloomberg. Sept. 8, 2019. “JPMorgan
Creates ‘Volfefe’ Index to Track Trump Tweet Impact.” https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-09-09/jpmorgan-creates-volfefe-index-to-track-trump-tweet-impact. Accessed Sept. 9, 2019.

We are an independent
firm helping individuals create retirement strategies using a variety of
insurance and investment products to custom suit their needs and objectives.
This material is intended to provide general information to help you understand
 a variety of financial vehicles and
should not be construed as financial advice. Investing involves risk, including
the potential loss of principal. Any references to protection and lifetime
income generally refer to fixed insurance products, never securities or
investment products. Insurance and annuity product guarantees are backed by the
financial strength and claims-paying ability of the issuing insurance company.

The information
contained in this material is believed to be reliable, but accuracy and
completeness cannot be guaranteed; it is not intended to be used as the sole
basis for financial decisions. If you are unable to access any of the news
articles and sources through the links provided in this text, please contact us
to request a copy of the desired reference.

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What’s New in Banking

Nearly a quarter of the adult U.S. population is “underbanked.” This
means they don’t regularly use a bank (or a bank’s mobile/online capabilities)
to deposit checks and pay bills. That’s about 55 million people ostensibly
living from cashed paycheck to cashed paycheck.1

When these underbanked people cash their paychecks for immediate funds to
buy groceries and pay rent, they are more likely to use the services of a check-cashing
business. These services often charge a flat fee or take a percentage cut for
cashing checks, and that can add up. For example, some payday lenders take as
much as a 10% cut for cashing a check. That means if you’re cashing a $500
check, you could pay $50 for the service.2

There’s also such a thing as being “overbanked,” meaning that by
spreading your assets over a multitude of different accounts, you may be paying
more in fees than is necessary. Especially as you approach retirement, it may
be worth considering consolidating accounts for ease of cash management and
investment oversight. We can also conduct a fee analysis of your portfolio; if you’re
interested, please give us a call.

The banking industry is highly competitive, and as such, it changes fast
and offers new features all the time. One of the biggest challenges, however,
is protecting account data. More government and industry initiatives now
promote increased transparency as to how consumer data is gathered, shared and
used by third parties.3

The bigger banks, like JPMorgan
Chase, Bank of America and Wells Fargo, have the advantage of capital to
explore new technologies in an effort to offer more features. You may have
recently seen ads that let consumers place their own temporary hold on a credit
card, view recurring charges so they can cancel them more easily or access
their accounts through fingerprint scans. But most people still like to deposit
checks at a physical bank, rather than doing so digitally; a recent survey by
Fiserv found that 53% of customers who visit a branch do so to deposit a check.4

Mobile banking has found
acceptance among all generations, but millennials, unsurprisingly, have
embraced it the most. A 2018 study by Business Insider revealed 97% of
millennials use mobile banking, followed by 91% of Generation X and 79% of baby
boomers.5

Expect more innovations like this
as banks continue to evolve their services to attract and keep their
tech-friendly customers happy.

Content prepared by Kara Stefan
Communications.

1 Knowledge@Wharton. Aug. 27, 2019. “How Fintech Can
Make Banking More Inclusive – and Empowering.” https://knowledge.wharton.upenn.edu/article/fintech-can-make-banking-inclusive-empowering-consumers/. Accessed Sept. 3, 2019.

2 Margarette Burnette. NerdWallet. Sept. 28, 2018. “How
to Cash a Check Without Huge Fees.” https://www.nerdwallet.com/blog/banking/cash-check-paying-high-fees/. Accessed Sept. 13, 2019.

3 Knowledge@Wharton. Jan. 16, 2019. “Why Open Banking
Represents a Seismic Shift for Fintech.” https://knowledge.wharton.upenn.edu/article/open-banking-represents-seismic-shift-fintech/. Accessed Sept. 3, 2019.

4 Andrew Meola. Business Insider. Aug. 8, 2019. “The
digital trends disrupting the banking industry in 2019.” https://www.businessinsider.com/banking-industry-trends. Accessed Sept. 3, 2019.

5 Ibid.

We are an independent firm helping individuals create
retirement strategies using a variety of insurance and investment products to
custom suit their needs and objectives. This material is intended to provide
general information to help you understand basic financial planning strategies
and should not be construed as financial or investment advice. All investments
are subject to risk including the potential loss of principal. No investment
strategy can guarantee a profit or protect against loss in periods of declining
values.

The information contained in this material is believed to be
reliable, but accuracy and completeness cannot be guaranteed; it is not
intended to be used as the sole basis for financial decisions. If you are
unable to access any of the news articles and sources through the links
provided in this text, please contact us to request a copy of the desired
reference.

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Fingerprint, Retina Scans Not Just for James Bond Anymore

Most people using the internet to shop, conduct financial transactions or
read firewall-protected content are likely familiar with the aggravation of
maintaining passwords. Worse yet, tech experts now say conventional password
security is only a marginal defense against hacking.1

We are now entering a new age in
electronic security for the average user — one that more closely resembles James
Bond movies featuring high-tech gadgetry. Biometric coding uses unique physical
traits — such as fingerprints and retina images — to permit access to certain
devices. You may already use FaceID or fingerprint technology to unlock your
smartphone.2

Behavioral biometrics recognizes
unique traits such as your voice, the way you swipe a pen or press a keyboard,
your gait, common gestures, your foot/pressure movement when you drive a car,
etc.3

Biometrics may be easier than
remembering passwords. However, the technology is not without challenges.
Unlike passwords, biometrics are unchangeable. This data is stored for
accessibility, and if hackers breach a cloud storage system that includes
biometric data, they could hack into user accounts.4

In this era of rapidly changing
consumer technology, it’s important to stay on top of your financial data. It
may not be possible to prevent someone from hacking into the company websites
that host your accounts, but you may be able to detect fraudulent acts before they
cause too much damage by regularly checking your account activity.

Here are some of the common ways
fraudsters can hack accounts:

  • A brute force
    attack is when a hacker guesses at possible credentials using a trial-and-error
    system. This can take time, but less so if the hacker has some inkling of your
    data (such as your email address) or personal information (such as the names of
    your children).5
  • A credential
    stuffing attack is when the hacker already has a set of your credentials,
    having purchased or breached a system (hotel or store database) to obtain them.
    Using this data, he or she may be able to hack into other accounts you use,
    such as your bank account.6
  • A dictionary
    attack uses a systematic approach of testing each word in the dictionary as a
    potential password to hack into an account or system.7

In the movie “Skyfall,” James Bond
is tasked with hunting down a genius hacker bent on terrorizing MI6
headquarters. Hollywood’s depictions of cyber hacks are rarely limited by minutiae
such as science and technology — only by the imagination of writers and
directors. In fact, movies often give would-be hackers ideas on how to
infiltrate security systems, which can then lead to life-imitating-art events
in which security technology is beefed up in response to creative breaches.
Films like “Eagle Eye,” “Snowden” and “The Circle” also demonstrate
possibilities associated with artificial intelligence, social media and mass
surveillance.8

Content prepared by Kara Stefan Communications.

1 Kelly Lappin. Security Intelligence. Feb. 18, 2019. “Are
Passwords Killing Your Customer Experience? Try Passwordless Authentication.” https://securityintelligence.com/are-passwords-killing-your-customer-experience-try-passwordless-authentication/. Accessed Aug. 29, 2019,

2 Sam Rutherford. Gizmodo. Aug. 5, 2019. “Touch ID Will
Reportedly Return to iPhones in 2021 With Apple’s New In-Screen Fingerprint
Sensor.” https://gizmodo.com/touch-id-will-reportedly-return-to-iphones-in-2021-with-1836973588. Accessed Aug. 29, 2019.

3 Gemalto. Aug. 22, 2019. “Biometrics: authentication
and identification (definition, trends, use cases, news) – 2019 review.” https://www.gemalto.com/govt/inspired/biometrics. Accessed Aug. 29, 2019.

4 Ibid.

5 Mike Greene. Bank Info Security. Aug 19, 2019. “Credential
Stuffing Attacks vs. Brute Force Attacks.” https://www.bankinfosecurity.com/blogs/credential-stuffing-attacks-vs-brute-force-attacks-p-2767. Accessed Aug. 29, 2019.

6 Ibid.

7 Techopedia. “Dictionary Attack.” https://www.techopedia.com/definition/1774/dictionary-attack. Accessed Aug. 29, 2019.

8 John William. CPO Magazine. Aug. 29, 2019. “Movies
That Can Help You Understand Data Privacy and Hacking.” https://www.cpomagazine.com/cyber-security/movies-that-can-help-you-understand-data-privacy-and-hacking/. Accessed Aug. 29, 2019.

We are an independent
firm helping individuals create retirement strategies using a variety of
insurance products to custom suit their needs and objectives. This material is
intended to provide general information to help you understand basic retirement
income strategies and should not be construed as financial advice.

The information
contained in this material is believed to be reliable, but accuracy and
completeness cannot be guaranteed; it is not intended to be used as the sole
basis for financial decisions. If you are unable to access any of the news
articles and sources through the links provided in this text, please contact us
to request a copy of the desired reference.

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What’s Up With the Markets?

Anyone who followed the often-used
investment adage, “Sell in May and go away,” is likely pleased with
their decision after the markets struggled in the month of August.1

While recent market events may
seem dramatic, August is historically the weakest month of the year for U.S. equities.2
By mid-August this year, both the Dow and S&P 500 experienced the greatest
sell-offs of 2019. Meanwhile, the 30-year Treasury bond rate dropped to the
lowest on record, and the 10-year Treasury yield fell below the two-year rate
for the first time since 2007.3

Lately, concerns regarding a
potential recession have increased. If you’re questioning your investment
portfolio, we’re happy to help ensure it’s designed to weather economic
turbulence and aligned with your financial goals. Give us a call to schedule an
appointment.

Market analysts point to three
factors that have increased the chances of the U.S. falling into decline in the
next year or two:4

  1. The inverted
    yield curve — When the yield on longer-term Treasuries is lower than the yield
    on shorter-term Treasuries, it creates an inverted yield curve, which has historically
    been an indicator of a pending recession.
  2. Interest rates — While
    the Federal Reserve recently lowered interest rates, more cuts may be necessary
    to avoid an earnings recession, which is when there are two consecutive
    quarters of reduced corporate profitability.
  3. Trade — President
    Donald Trump initially announced, and later backed off, more trade tariffs on
    Chinese imports. However, the constant and prolonged trade uncertainty tends to
    shake up the markets and could even be the trigger for a recession.

While the August shake-up may be
only temporary, some of these underlying factors could be a harbinger for more
serious economic issues. For example, the continuing trade spat with China is
sinking U.S. companies further when it comes to competing on a global scale.
According to the IMD World Competitiveness Center, the U.S. is no longer the
world’s most competitive economy. Asian-Pacific countries, particularly Indonesia
and Thailand, showed significant improvement in the rankings. Meanwhile,
several Middle Eastern nations — namely Saudi Arabia and Qatar — have also made
significant progress.5

This year, the U.S. slipped from
first to third in global competitiveness, falling behind Singapore and Hong
Kong. While the U.S. ranked first in the categories of domestic economic
strength and delivering on business needs, it didn’t make the top five in effective
government policies on competitiveness or business efficiency.6

Content prepared by Kara Stefan
Communications.

1 Troy Segal. Investopedia. May 1, 2019. “Sell in May and
Go Away Definition.” https://www.investopedia.com/terms/s/sell-in-may-and-go-away.asp. Accessed Aug. 19, 2019.

2 Jacob Sonenshine. The Street. Aug. 5, 2019. “August Is
S&P 500’s Worst Month – Especially When Stocks See Strong Year.” https://www.thestreet.com/markets/august-one-of-s-p-500-worst-month–15045736. Accessed Aug. 19, 2019.

3 Jeremy Herron and Sarah Ponczek. Bloomberg. Aug. 14,
2019. “U.S. Stocks Tumble as Economic Worries Mount: Markets Wrap.” https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-08-13/stocks-to-rally-in-asia-on-tariff-delay-relief-markets-wrap?srnd=markets-vp. Accessed Aug. 19, 2019.

4 Anna-Louise Jackson. Acorns. Aug. 14, 2019. “Why
August has been such a wild ride for the US stock market.” https://grow.acorns.com/why-the-stock-market-has-been-bumpy-so-far-this-august/. Accessed Aug. 19, 2019.

5 Daniel Moritz-Rabsen. Newsweek. May 30, 2019. “U.S. Economy
Slips From First to Third Place in Global Competitiveness Ranking Amid Trump’s
Tariffs.” https://www.newsweek.com/us-economy-slips-first-third-place-global-competitiveness-ranking-1439659. Accessed Aug. 19, 2019.

6 IMD. May 2019. “Singapore topples United States as
world’s most competitive economy.” https://www.imd.org/news/updates/singapore-topples-united-states-as-worlds-most-competitive-economy/. Accessed Aug. 19, 2019.

We are an independent firm helping individuals create
retirement strategies using a variety of insurance and investment products to
custom suit their needs and objectives. This material is intended to provide
general information to help you understand basic financial planning strategies
and should not be construed as financial or investment advice. All investments
are subject to risk including the potential loss of principal. No investment
strategy can guarantee a profit or protect against loss in periods of declining
values.

The information contained in this material is believed to be
reliable, but accuracy and completeness cannot be guaranteed; it is not
intended to be used as the sole basis for financial decisions. If you are
unable to access any of the news articles and sources through the links
provided in this text, please contact us to request a copy of the desired
reference.

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Small-Business Growth Has Economic Benefits

A promising way to jumpstart the U.S.
economy is by helping more entrepreneurs establish their own businesses. The 30.2
million U.S. small businesses represent 99.9 percent of all businesses in this
country. They employ nearly half (47.5 percent) of America’s total workforce.1

If you need further proof that
small businesses can provide an economic boost, consider that in July 2019 alone,
small-business loan applications grew to a post-recession record of more than 27%
at big banks ($10 billion-plus in assets) and more than 50 percent at small
banks. As small businesses grow, they use borrowed capital to hire more
workers, expand to new locations and increase inventory.2

Small-Business Planning

Starting or expanding a business
takes know-how, capital and a strategic understanding of your market. Because
small-business entrepreneurship can be risky, it helps to first get your
financial ducks in a row to help ensure that any business declines don’t affect
your personal finances. Give us a call if you’d like some help structuring your
assets to help protect them from business losses. Our goal is that they
continue to grow throughout your career as a business owner.

Using strategic tactics can help
keep capital flowing. Such options could include outsourcing accounts
receivable collections to a third party in order to get paid sooner, applying
for a microloan from a U.S. Small Business Administration partner financial
institution to help cover a one-time overhead expense or keeping technology
expenses low by shopping for free or low-cost software options that can scale with
business needs.3

Another way to help reduce costs while
supporting local economies is by starting or relocating businesses to a post-industrial
town. Many of these places have seen declines as factories and plants have
closed throughout the past decade. Not only can business owners find cheaper
property and plentiful labor sources, the business may prove to be an important
boost for the local economy.4

New Networking Options

For those who are consultants or own
a small business, the career networking site LinkedIn can help simplify
marketing. The website recently announced a new feature for freelancers and
small-business owners to showcase their services on their LinkedIn profile,
allowing members to search specifically for services based on keywords. For
now, the new feature is available only to freelancers and small-business
leaders who have a U.S. premium business subscription, but it’s scheduled to be
rolled out to nonsubscribers this fall.5

Other time-saving features on LinkedIn
include the ability to use it as an informational website for your business instead
of maintaining a separate site. Also, at any time you can print a PDF of your
profile, which converts into a professional-looking resume.6

Content prepared by Kara Stefan
Communications.

1 U.S. Small Business Administration. 2018. “2018 Small Business
Profile.” https://www.sba.gov/sites/default/files/advocacy/2018-Small-Business-Profiles-US.pdf. Accessed Aug. 23, 2019.

2 Rohit Arora. Forbes. Aug. 7, 2019. “Small Business
Loan Approvals at Banks Hit Record Highs.” https://www.forbes.com/sites/rohitarora/2019/08/07/small-business-loan-approvals-at-banks-hit-record-highs/. Accessed Aug. 12, 2019.

3 Serenity Gibbons. Forbes. Aug. 8, 2019. “How Small
Businesses Can Grow On A Tight Budget.” https://www.forbes.com/sites/serenitygibbons/2019/08/08/how-small-businesses-can-grow-on-a-tight-budget/. Accessed Aug. 12, 2019.

4 Adi Gaskell. Forbes. Aug. 12, 2019. “Can
Entrepreneurship Breathe New Life Into Post-Industrial Towns?” https://www.forbes.com/sites/adigaskell/2019/08/12/can-entrepreneurship-breathe-new-life-into-post-industrial-towns/. Accessed Aug. 12, 2019.

5 Peter Economy. Inc. July 23, 2019. “If You’re
Freelance or a Small-Business Owner, LinkedIn Just Revealed a New Feature That
Changes Everything.” https://www.inc.com/peter-economy/if-youre-freelance-or-a-small-business-owner-linkedin-just-revealed-a-new-feature-that-changes-everything.html?cid=sf01001. Accessed Aug. 12, 2019.

6 Paige Doepke. Jan. 14, 2019. “How to Download a Resume
from LinkedIn.” https://www.jobscan.co/blog/how-to-download-linkedin-resume/. Accessed Aug. 23, 2019.

We are an independent firm helping individuals create
retirement strategies using a variety of insurance and investment products to
custom suit their needs and objectives. This material is intended to provide
general information to help you understand basic financial planning strategies
and should not be construed as financial or investment advice. All investments
are subject to risk including the potential loss of principal. No investment
strategy can guarantee a profit or protect against loss in periods of declining
values.

The information contained in this material is believed to be
reliable, but accuracy and completeness cannot be guaranteed; it is not
intended to be used as the sole basis for financial decisions. If you are
unable to access any of the news articles and sources through the links
provided in this text, please contact us to request a copy of the desired
reference.

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Clean Living

We frequently hear about the various effects of climate change and how they can be mitigated. It often feels as though households and companies must make significant sacrifices to undo a lot of the damage that’s been done. However, there also are many positive benefits that can come from making certain changes, both locally and globally.

For example, scientists say that planting billions of trees across the planet is the cheapest and most effective change we can make. Trees absorb and store the type of carbon dioxide believed to cause global warming. Moreover, scientists say what is “mind blowing” is that a massive worldwide planting effort could remove two-thirds of emissions currently in the atmosphere.1

 

This strategy doesn’t require restrictive limits for factories but still addresses climate change with an appealing solution. Planting trees also may address long-term health care costs as they mitigate air pollution, which contributes to instances of stroke, heart attack, diabetes, lung cancer and chronic lung disease.2

 

Additionally, planting more trees in your own yard can provide shade and potentially reduce the use of your central air conditioning, not to mention help clean the breathing air around your home.3

 

It’s common to instinctively balk at the idea of change, especially when things seem to be working fine as they are. But sometimes it’s a good idea to at least review our current situation, including our finances and insurance coverages. This can help ensure that they are aligned with our current financial goals and objectives. Being proactive may also help avoid an unexpected scenario down the road. Give us a call if you’d like an insurance review.

 

There may be some other simple things you can do around your home that both help the environment while offering immediate benefits to you. For example, while you likely use energy-efficient bulbs in light fixtures inside your home, when was the last time you upgraded your external lighting? Replacing older lighting solutions with LED (light-emitting diode) bulbs can help save money on your electric bill while providing brighter light to enhance safety and security. And, while solar lights may not be as bright as LEDs, they are continually being improved and are easy to install and maintenance free. Solar fixtures may help reduce your energy bill, allowing you to create a lighting design for landscaping that you may not have done before due to the expense.4

 

Another energy-efficient way to make your home more comfortable and reduce energy bills is through window tinting. You may use this on your car windows, so why not on your house windows? Lightly tinted window film can help block heat in the summer and reduce heat loss while allowing solar heat to penetrate during winter — all without altering your view outdoors. You can shop for window-tinting DIY kits at local home center stores or search online for a professional installation company.5

 

Content prepared by Kara Stefan Communications.

1 Damien Carrington. The Guardian. July 4, 2019. “Tree planting ‘has mind-blowing potential’ to tackle climate crisis.” https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/jul/04/planting-billions-trees-best-tackle-climate-crisis-scientists-canopy-emissions. Accessed Aug. 1, 2019.

2 IHME. April 3, 2019. “State of Global Air 2019 Report.” http://www.healthdata.org/news-release/state-global-air-2019-report. Accessed Aug. 16, 2019.

3 Conserve Energy Future. “30+ Terrific Ways To Conserve Natural Resources.” https://www.conserve-energy-future.com/terrific-ways-to-conserve-natural-resources.php. Accessed Aug. 1, 2019.

4 Duke Energy. “Energy-Efficient Lighting: Inside and Out.” http://www.myenergytips.com/article.aspx?accountId=210005&articleId=46709&nl=25396&userID=30921685. Accessed Aug. 1, 2019.

5 James Dulley. Daily Herald. July 12, 2019. “Window films can reduce your cooling bills.” https://www.dailyherald.com/entlife/20190712/window-films-can-reduce-your-cooling-bills. Accessed Aug. 1, 2019.

We are an independent firm helping individuals create retirement strategies using a variety of insurance products to custom suit their needs and objectives. This material is intended to provide general information to help you understand basic retirement income strategies and should not be construed as financial advice.

 

The information contained in this material is believed to be reliable, but accuracy and completeness cannot be guaranteed; it is not intended to be used as the sole basis for financial decisions. If you are unable to access any of the news articles and sources through the links provided in this text, please contact us to request a copy of the desired reference.

 

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