Wednesday, August 08, 2018

Advisors: 4 Keys to Getting More (and Better) Media Attention

Our recent post (HB Clients Featured in Philly Inquirer, Advisor News and Accounting Today) generated higher than normal feedback, so we thought we’d do a follow-up. In a highly competitive business in which most of your work, establishing yourself as a thought leader is one of the best ways to separate yourself from the pack.

According to the Wealth Advisor Confidence Survey that we conducted in conjunction with The Financial Awareness Foundation, getting mentioned in the press is one of the most effective thought leadership tactics advisors can use today. In fact, “Being quoted in the press” ranked #4 out of 15 tactics surveyed and #3 among firms expecting double-digit growth in 2018. Full rankings here.
“A mention is most valuable when it is in a media outlet that your existing or potential clients follow regularly,” said Rich Chernela, a veteran financial media relations professional who will be joining our firm this fall. “A mention in an outlet that is not followed will only have value if you leverage it.”

Also consider media outlets that your clients’ spouse or adult children follow. Case in point: Our client James Nevers (Soundmark Wealth) shared his thoughts about planned giving yesterday in the Self Magazine financial planning guide (What Financial Planners Want You to Know Before You Donate to Charity).
According to Chernela, media mention “is not an end in and of itself; it is a part of building your brand and establishing yourself as a thought leader.” He suggested four ways to leverage your media hits, whether a simple quote or a feature-length interview:
  1. Share it. Post a link on your web site and send an email to your contacts with a link to the article and include additional comments, expanding on your mention.

  2. Incorporate your mention in a blog. If you were quoted in an article, chances are much of what you said to the journalist who wrote the story did not appear.  Incorporate the comments left on the cutting room floor into your blog post.

  3. Use social media. LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter are useful social media platforms to broadcast your media mention to a wide audience. Note that many journalists follow social media and may pick up your mention and further comments in your post for own their stories.

  4. Cite your media mentions when you are meeting with prospective clients. They validate that you are a leader in your profession.

Attracting media attention is not too difficult for most of you. The challenge is getting featured in the right outlets and doing more with the media attention that you DO receive. Contact us any time if you’d like to discuss media training and PR outreach strategies to build our personal brand.

TAGS:  Rich Chernela, Wealth Advisor Confidence Survey, Financial Awareness Foundation,, James Nevers, Soundmark Wealth, media coverage, media training

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

HB Clients Featured in Philly Inquirer, Advisor News and Accounting Today

From stock market forecasts, to the dollar’s impact on emerging markets, to getting your firm to the next level of growth, HB clients educated the national financial media last week.

With respect to the dollar’s impact on emerging markets, our client Matt Topley (
@MattTopley), chief investment officer of Valley Forge, PA-based Fortis Wealth told the Philadelphia Inquirer that the greenback’s strength has hurt emerging markets where the majority of debt is dollar-denominated. As a result, emerging market stock markets sold off and are extremely cheap, explained Topley. “One fund we use for clients and which is my biggest position personally is DFA Emerging Market Value” (symbol: DFEVX), The fund trades at below book value, which is a buying opportunity,” Topley added.  The key takeaway is that if you think the president and other factors will push down the dollar, then this may be a point in time to start buying emerging markets.

Meanwhile, HB clients Bill Schultheis and James Nevers (Soundmark Wealth Management) told Advisor News last week that “There is nothing on the horizon that leads us to believe a bear market is imminent.” Soundmark’s forecast calls for muted economic global growth on the horizon as they explained in an Advisor News piece entitled Are Investors Losing Faith In The Stock Market?

Kirkland, Washington-based Soundmark expects common stocks to return somewhere in the 5 percent-to-7 percent range. “We have incorporated these conservative estimates into our clients' projections,” they added.

Meanwhile, our client Kyle Walters (@AtlasCFO), a partner at Dallas-based L&H CPAs and Advisors just published his latest guest column in Accounting Today (Are you committed to being a better firm or just interested?).

This is the time of year that CPA firms like to have their offsite retreats in which great ideas are bandied about, but rarely implemented upon returning to the office. To break through this inertia, Walters wrote that you have to set a realistic timeline for implementing change. “Start with a bite-size chunk that you can commit to implementing in the next 90 days—a change that will have a big impact on your firm and the value you’re delivering to clients. Call those your ‘90-day rocks.’ Don’t do five things—just do one.’”


Whether investing or overseeing a professional service firm, the winners today are those that set realistic expectations and always follow through on what they promise. That’s what our highest performing clients have figured out—and the media is taking notice. As Warren Buffet famously said, Price is what you pay. Value is what you get.

TAGS:  Soundmark Wealth, James Nevers, Bill Schultheis, Advisor News, Kyle Walters, Accounting Today, L&H CPAs, Warren Buffet

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

HB Clients Rock NYC Accounting & Finance Show

As the old saying goes, “If you want something done, ask a busy person to do it.” Three of our most peripatetic clients—Molly Grubb, Anthony Glomski and Cecil Nazareth--took time out of their hectic schedules to share their expertise with 2,000 attendees at the  Accounting & Finance Show last week at New York City’s Javits Convention Center.

Molly Grubb, exit planning expert and founder of Columbus, Ohio-based Grubb Wealth, revealed secrets from her forthcoming book Build Your Dynasty. After watching her family’s success evaporate due to no plan or system, she built a system that is easily customizable to any CEO to help that owner define their purpose, simplify their life, gain more control over their business and multiply their success.

Anthony Glomski, a former Big Four CPA and founder of LA-based AG Asset Advisory, shared tips for CPAs interested in evolving from tax preparer to personal CFO. Author of the new book Liquidity and You: A Personal Guide for Tech and Business Entrepreneurs Approaching an Exit, Glomski warned attendees that IBM Watson’s alliance with H&R Block is not necessarily going to put tax preparers out of business, “but it’s definitely a sign of things to come and you need to adjust fast.” Providing investment advice alone is not enough Glomski explained, adding that you need a process that includes advanced planning and relationship management capabilities.
Anthony Glomski at NYC Accounting & Finance Show

Cecil Nazareth, CPA, Fordham University adjunct professor and co-founder of Nazareth CPAs with three offices in the NYC tristate area, is the author of the new book, International Tax & Compliance Handbook. Using his unique lens as a global citizen, practitioner, teacher and coach, Nazareth draws on a myriad of practical examples and case studies he has collected from years in the trenches with clients, colleagues and students. When it comes to investing and doing business across borders, Nazareth said most of the reporting and compliance mistakes made by practitioners and their clients go under the heading of “they don’t know what they don’t know.” But ignorance isn’t bliss, when penalties and interest start piling up on you, Nazareth cautioned.

Empathy and generosity 
In addition to being HB clients, Molly, Anthony and Cecil each worked through tremendous hardships growing up and have a genuine desire to help others make smart decisions about their wealth.

Cecil came to the U.S. from India at age 18 with no job and less than $100 in his pocket. He spent several years driving cabs and waiting tables until he finally landed a job at an accounting firm. Anthony’s father had little job security and his mom had health issues that prevented her from working. Further, his high school guidance counselor told him he wasn’t smart enough to go to college—after his parents told him they didn’t have enough money. Molly saw her family’s business go under—while her sister battled a life-threatening illness--which forced them into bankruptcy and foreclosure.

“The fear of scarcity always loomed large in our house,” recalled Glomski. “So, I responded in two ways: (1) I went out and made money, and (2) I learned as much as I possibly could about preserving the money I made. I never ever wanted to feel that sense of scarcity again.”
As Molly, Cecil and Anthony have demonstrated again and again, empathy is one of the most valuable skills that successful wealth advisors have, no matter how many credentials they may have after their names. Read their books. Get inspired. Share your story with us.

TAGS:  NYC Accounting & Finance Show, Anthony Glomski, AG Asset Advisory, Cecil Nazareth, Nazareth CPAs, Molly Grubb, Grubb Wealth

Sunday, July 08, 2018

Estate Planning Myths and Misconceptions

Now is the time of year when extended families get together at the beach, lake, mountains or national parks. While the focus is on meals, family bonding and R&R, it’s also a good time to get the ball moving about those sensitive estate planning issues.

According to my friend Valentino Sabuco, founder of The Financial Awareness Foundation, half of the U.S. adult population has NO financial, estate or gift plan. As most of you know, estate planning is not just for the wealthy or elderly. It’s essential for anyone who wants to make their own decisions about their assets and their heirs—rather than the government making it for them.

I don’t have to remind you that estate planning is not only a touchy subject; it’s complex and often misunderstood. In response, several of our clients have been speaking to the national media recently about estate planning myths and misconceptions that frequently trip successful families up.
With the significant increase in the lifetime exemption under the 2017 tax act ($11.2 million per spouse in 2018), our client, Blake Christian, CPA said even many affluent taxpayers do not believe estate planning is truly necessary. “Nothing could be further from the truth,” said Christian, a partner of HCVT in Long Beach, CA. “Even for the 99 percent who will never pay estate tax, estate planning is very necessary for numerous reasons, including:

1) Avoiding the probate process.
2) Asset protection.
3) Simplifying mixed-family complexities associated with divorce, blended families and common-law marriage situations.
4) Titling assets properly can also make the difference between getting a full or partial step-up in an asset's tax basis for the heirs.
5) Making sure your assets are distributed correctly to provide your heirs with sufficient after-tax income after you are gone,” added Christian. 

According to our client, Mark A. Rioboli, CFP®, CFS, director of wealth management at Wayne, PA-based Independence Advisors, “The misconception is that if you have a will, it controls everything. In reality, it only controls the assets in your own name.” 

*** NOTE: HB clients Anthony Glosmki, Molly Grubb and I will be speaking about advanced planning topics at the Accounting & Finance Show in NYC this week at the Javits Center. More than 2,000 attendees and 200 speakers are expected.
Stop by if you are in the Big Apple.
Our client, James Nevers, an advisor at Soundmark Wealth near Seattle, WA agreed. He said it’s a common mistake to believe that if you have a Will, you don’t need to worry about your beneficiary designations on retirement accounts. “I manage several 401(k) plans for medical groups. When I provide participant education to their staffs, I tell them the same story every time we meet – ‘If your primary beneficiary designation on your retirement accounts says your ex-spouse, then all your hard-earned savings in your 401(k) is coming to your ex-spouse, regardless of what your Will states.’”

According to Nevers, you should also check to see if a minor child is listed as a beneficiary. “I don’t know many 8 year-olds who can responsibly manage $100,000. Nor do I know anyone who wants their ex-spouse to get one more penny than they’ve already received,” added Nevers. “Beneficiary designations supersede your will – simple as that.  I advise everyone to consult with their estate attorney about who they should designate, whether it is their spouse, a trust, or another individual.”

As Benjamin Franklin famously said, "Failing to plan is planning to fail." Don’t let that happen to you and your clients. Hope to see you at the
Accounting & Finance Show on July 11th and 12th.

TAGS:  Mark Rioboli, Independence Advisors, Blake Christian, HCVT, James Nevers, Soundmark Wealth, NYC Accounting & Finance Show, Valentino Sabuco, The Financial Awareness Foundation

Monday, June 25, 2018

Don’t Get Anchored to Your Emotions

As the old saying goes: “Markets don’t create losses, people do.” To that end, our client Brian Thomas, chief investment officer of LA-based AG Asset Advisory, told CNBC last week that many retirees confuse price with value.

According to Thomas, a fallen stock price looks like a bargain and makes it easier to amass a lot of shares, but it doesn't mean you're getting a steal. "This is a classic fallacy.” It's tied to what he called the "anchoring bias" of incorrectly viewing the low price — relative to the higher price the stock used to trade at — as an indication of a value stock opportunity. "A $50 stock that went to $5 lost half its value three times while falling and can do it again," Thomas added.

Where a stock has been isn’t as important as where it is going based on the company's products and services, management quality, regulatory environment. Don’t be fooled he said, just because it’s at a new low.
Our client Matt Topley, chief investment officer of Fortis Wealth in Valley Forge, PA agreed. “In one sense, anchoring is about having a mental stake in the ground to give you a framework for making decisions,” said Topley. “For instance, the Shiller CAPE ratio is above 30 so I’m going to sell. Or, if Buffet’s Market Cap-to-GDP Indicator is above a certain number, I’m going to sell. Sure, the market is more expensive today than it has been historically, but those aforementioned ratios don’t tell you when to buy and they don’t tell you when to sell.”

Anchors away!

So we can anchor into these numbers—for example news about new market highs is blaring every day. And people are saying to themselves: “New highs! New highs! It must be time to sell.” But think about it. New highs are usually a positive sign for the market. We get anchored into these numbers and they screw up our thought process.

For more great examples of tricks that our emotions play on the rational side of our brain, check out Topley’s new white paper: Investing is a Psychology Game, Not and IQ Game.

“We have personal anchors and we have professional anchors,” observed Topley. “The personal anchors are psychosomatic things going on in our lives that affect our daily work decisions. Professional anchors are the numbers and ratios I just talked about that keep getting stuck in our head.


What’s Topley’s advice for riding out the summer doldrums that inevitably pull us into complacency? Investors should plan a great vacation and spend zero time worrying about valuations and volatility over a this month period. “This is a prime example of opening yourself up to an emotional decision that damages long-term portfolio. Successful investing is 40 percent risk control and 60 percent self-control,” Topley added.

*** Take our Insta-Poll and see how you stack up to your peers.

TAGS:  Matt Topley, Fortis Wealth, Brian Thomas AG Asset Advisory, CNBC

Saturday, June 09, 2018

Can You and Your Clients Count on Social Security?

“Today more people believe in UFOs than believe that Social Security will take care of their retirement.” -- Scott Cook, billionaire cofounder of Intuit.

“Before Social Security existed, about half of America's senior citizens lived in poverty.”Senator, Bernie Sanders

Depending on your point of view, Social Security is either one of the Big Government’s greatest social achievements, or it’s just another heavy-handing tax on the first $128K of your income and a well-intended social safety net that’s poised to collapse on itself.

A Gallup poll found that half of working Americans don't think they'll receive any benefits when they retire. In fact, a new report this week from the trustees of Social Security said the program's costs are expected to exceed its income this year for the first time since 1982. That shortfall will force the U.S. government to dip into the retirement system's trust fund to pay benefits to participants. How serious a problem is that?

Well, if the program’s reserves are depleted as expected by 2034, the system won’t be able to pay all the benefits retired workers are entitled to. Experts say the program could still honor three-fourths of benefit claims if its reserves are depleted post-2034. But even at 100-percent, payouts won’t be enough to meet the needs of most retired Americans.

This much is clear. Over 10,000 Boomers a day are filing for Social Security benefits for the first time. Confusion over the program’s future is causing many retirees and near-retirees to make ill-advised filing decisions.

To help separate Social Security fact from fiction, a number of our clients have been fielding media inquiries lately about some of the biggest myths about the program. Here are some excerpts:

Spousal Benefits

According to Blake Christian, CPA, a partner of Long Beach, California-based HCVT, “Many taxpayers are confused about how Social Security benefits vests with respect to surviving spouses of a decedent or a former spouse.  Generally a spouse, or former spouse (‘requesting spouse’), who was married for at least 10 years is entitled to receive up to 50 percent of the Social Security benefits of their spouse or former spouse. In order to claim spousal benefits, the spouse requesting benefits must meet the following three tests:
a) The requesting spouse must generally be 62 years or older, and
b) The related spouse must have reached Social Security eligibility and
c) Have filed to receive their benefits.
Christian added that if the spouse has deferred claiming Social Security benefits in order to increase future pay-outs, the requesting spouse must also wait for their share. “Divorced spouses who have not re-married, are likewise eligible to claim up to 50 percent of their former spouse's Social Security benefits once the requesting spouse and ex-spouse reach 62; however, the requesting spouse is not required to wait until their ex-spouse files for benefits. If newly divorced, there is also a two-year waiting period before benefits are available to the requesting ex-spouse. It is worth noting that these spousal benefits do not reduce amounts payable to the ex-spouse or the new spouse (if the ex re-married),” added Christian.

More solvent than you think

Matt Topley
, chief investment officer of Fortis Wealth in Valley Forge, PA thinks that predictions of Social Security’s demise are greatly exaggerated. “If we increased the retirement age by two years and slightly increased contributions for high wage earners, Social Security would be solvent for another 100 years.  Since the death of pensions in the U.S., Social Security has become vital for retirement--not just for the working class, but middle class as well.” According to Topley, the meager balances in the average American’s 401(k) account “tell a dismal story on the economic future for retirees,” added Topley.

Taxability of Social Security benefits

HCVT’s Christian said many retirees to continue part-time work into their 60s and 70s. Understanding how part-time work impacts the taxability of their Social Security benefits is critically important. “Knowing these rules will allow retirees to better time their Social Security elections as well as other income and expense items,” noted Christian.
Even though most taxpayers never received any tax benefit when they paid into the Social Security system, Congress still subjects up to 85-percent of the related Social Security benefits to potential taxation in retirement years. “This taxability concept runs counter to most tax rules and is seldom discussed,” said Christian. “From a state tax perspective, the rules get even more complex. 36 states either have no state income tax or exclude Social Security benefits from taxation. However, at least four states, including: Minnesota, North Dakota, Vermont and West Virginia follow federal rules and tax up to 85-percent of Social Security benefits. Colorado, Connecticut, Kansas, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico and Utah also tax all or a portion of such benefits, depending on specific demographics of the recipients.  While state taxation may not dictate where to retire, it should be factored into retirement planning,” Christian added.
From a federal standpoint, it gets fairly complicated, too. Just know the following thresholds, said Christian:

Single Filers: with 2017 MAGI between $25,000 to $34,000 retirees were required to include 50% of their Social Security Benefits in taxable income on page 1. Taxpayers with MAGI in excess of $34,000 must include 85 percent of Social Security benefit in taxable income.

Joint Filers:
with MAGI between $32,000 and $44,000 in 2017 were required to include 85% of their Social Security benefits in taxable income. MAGI over $44,000 would have triggered an 85% inclusion.”


Just as you need a well-diversified portfolio of investments during your wealth accumulation years, you need a well-diversified portfolio of income streams during your retirement (i.e. wealth drawdown) years. Our friends at Independence Advisors in Wayne, PA have more great resources about Social Security planning.

Best, HB

*** Take our Insta-Poll and see how you stack up to your peers.

TAGS:  Matt Topley, Fortis Wealth, Blake Christian, HCVT, social security insolvent, social security myths

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

HB Featured in ’25 Financial Advisor Marketing Ideas’ (Fit Small Business)

As many of you know, we’ve long advocated “Taking the High Road” when it comes to providing clients, prospects and followers with concise, highly relevant content. Thanks to the folks at Fit Small (FSB), we’re not the only ones who agree. FSB was kind enough to list us as #9 in their 2018 listing of 25 Financial Advisor Marketing Ideas & Strategies

Too swamped to produce regular original blog posts, but you don’t want to send out canned, aggregated content?

Try this approach

Every few days, share with your clients/prospects a link to an article or broadcast clip from the mainstream financial media (e.g., “New Tax Rules Allow 529 Plans Withdrawals for K-12”). But instead of just giving your audience another link and FYI, add some of your own color commentary about the topic. Explain why the New 529 rules are so beneficial to your readers and how the journalist/reporters could have done a better job of explaining the nuances of the new rules for college and prep school savers. If space permits, remind readers about the dangers of taking all the financial advice they consume in the mainstream media can be misleading—even if provided by ethical, hard-working journalists.

At a time when we’re all inundated with too much news, information and noise, you’ll position yourself as a true thought leader if you can be not only an aggregator and curator of valuable information for your clients and followers—but a value added “complexity filter” as well.

If you have time, there are 24 other good tips in the Fit Small Business article (it’s a very quick read)

Best, HB

*** Take our Insta-Poll and see how you stack up to your peers.

TAGS: Hank Berkowitz, HB Publishing & Marketing, Fit Small Business, Taking the High Road