Longview Gives Back

Every quarter our team meets offsite to think big and consider the future of Longview and our services. It is a great exercise to get us out of the office and away from the day to day. Over the years, these meetings have changed our company. Sometimes seemingly small ideas, like a decision to change an internal process, result from the brainstorm, but other times bigger ideas emerge. That was the case in our October 2014 meeting when we created Longview’s one page business plan.

After nearly two years of brainstorming and developing our core values and core purpose, our one page business plan finally materialized. The revisions and the final creation of the plan led us to realize what really matters to us as individuals and a company. We walked away from that October meeting with focus and passion like none other since we merged five years ago. As a firm we decided that it is important to us to empower our clients and team members to think big, make a difference in the world and feel the joy of using their wealth, talents and experience to improve their lives and help others do the same. This purpose changed us and how we view working with our clients. Our discussions have become more focused on how to help our clients live their best life, it has strengthened our process around goal conversations, and it has pushed us to increase our own company’s giving program in both time and funds. We have also added philanthropic planning as a major category within our services. We are ecstatic about Longview and where the company is going. We hope that you see this excitement spill over in our conversations with you and you become excited as well!

As part of this new chapter, we are in the process of updating our website and blog to better reflect Longview. The new website will be unveiled in the 4th quarter. Changes to the blog will be rolled out over time. One update begins this quarter. You’ll start to notice a monthly highlight on a local nonprofit in the geographic areas where we work, play, and live. Some of these are nonprofits in which we participate; others are there in case they may be of interest to you.

We invite you along this journey with us and we welcome your feedback on how we can improve the services we offer you.

As always, thank you for your support and continued belief in what we do. We all feel so special to be a part of your lives and love to come to work every day where we have the privilege to work with people like you.

The Straw That Broke the Camel’s Back

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By Jeffrey Cedarholm, CFP®, ChFC®, CLU®

Chief Investment Officer

It is difficult to know exactly what is causing this abrupt global sell-off in equities, especially in the United States and in Europe.  There has been plenty of bad news since the first of this year:  a third Greek bail-out that was handled sloppily, slowing profit and revenue growth in the US, the threat of rising interest rates, the slowing of GDP globally but especially in China and the emerging markets, along with a few other minor concerns.  But which one was the one too much for investors to take, the one that started a global contagion of selling, the last straw?

The easy answer is all of the above, although I suspect it was a very poor manufacturing production report out of China that was made public last Thursday.  Since 2009, China has been responsible for at least 50% of the world’s growth.  With evidence that the Chinese economy is slowing more than investors thought, a stampede for the exits started last Thursday.  The United States hasn’t had a 10% sell-off since August of 2011.  This is certainly it, and feels like it could get worse.  Our Federal Reserve Bank has done a good job of trying to keep the American economy from falling into a major recession since the crisis in 2008, but the real result has been that they have succeeded in inflating financial assets much more that GDP growth.  What we are experiencing is the convergence of the two lines, with the stock market line coming down very quickly to be more in line with GDP line.

Longview understands and manages portfolios for less risk, primarily because we understand if we don’t lose as much of your capital as the market wants to take back in a selling rout, then we don’t have to take as much risk when the markets eventually turn up.  Often we have talked about our “protect and grow” strategy.  Other than our most aggressive portfolios, we had prepared client accounts for a slowing market, although not the selling tsunami we saw last Friday and Monday.  To the best of our ability, we are assessing how much more we need to protect your portfolios without injuring the potential for future gains.  In these turbulent times, your confidence in our ability has never been more appreciated.

Jeffrey Cedarholm is the Chief Investment Officer at Longview Financial Advisors, Inc.  He is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ practitioner with a passion for investment and wealth management. Jeff can be reached via e-mail at jeff@longviewfa.com.

Please remember that past performance may not be indicative of future results. Different types of investments involve varying degrees of risk, and there can be no assurance that the future performance of any specific investment, investment strategy, or product (including the investments and/or investment strategies recommended or undertaken by Longview Financial Advisors, Inc.), or any non-investment related content, made reference to directly or indirectly in this newsletter or post will be profitable, equal any corresponding indicated historical performance level(s), be suitable for your portfolio or individual situation, or prove successful. Due to various factors, including changing market conditions and/or applicable laws, the content may no longer be reflective of current opinions or positions. Moreover, you should not assume that any discussion or information contained in this newsletter or post serves as the receipt of, or as a substitute for, personalized investment advice from Longview Financial Advisors, Inc.. To the extent that a reader has any questions regarding the applicability of any specific issue discussed above to his/her individual situation, he/she is encouraged to consult with the professional advisor of his/her choosing. Longview Financial Advisors, Inc. is neither a law firm nor a certified public accounting firm and no portion of the newsletter or post content should be construed as legal or accounting advice. A copy of the Longview Financial Advisors, Inc.’s current written disclosure statement discussing our advisory services and fees is available for review upon request.

9 Things to Consider When Trying to Avoid Identity Theft

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By Whitney Rhyne, MS
Associate Financial Planner 

According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the number of identity theft cases has increased to 9.9 million per year! (1)  The recent IRS and Office of Personnel Management (OPM) breaches are proving that identity theft can happen to anyone.

In a story that hits a little closer to home, a Priceville woman recently reported a random caller accusing her of asking for money, when in fact, they were scamming her into providing her personal information. Protecting your personal information and monitoring your accounts is a necessity to help avoid identity theft.

Below are 9 steps for you to consider:

1.  Request a free credit report every 4 months. Experian, Equifax and Trans Union allow for one free credit report each year.  These can be requested online or by phone.  You can order a free annual report from all three bureaus online at www.annualcreditreport.com.

Experian
1-888-397-3742

Equifax
1-800-685-1111

TransUnion
1-800-916-8800

2. Create strong and unique passwords. This includes passwords on personal computers, cell phones, and all types of online accounts, including email accounts, bank accounts, and social media.  Ensure you are using a random mix of numbers, letters, and symbols.  You should consider changing these passwords every 90 days. There are several online tools that can help generate random passwords.

There are online and offline ways to store passwords, including online options and smartphone apps such as LastPass or something as simple as an encrypted Excel spreadsheet or a written list placed in a safe place.  Also, consider increasing the 4-digit password on your cell phone to a 6, 8 or even 10 characters.

3.  Protect your key personal and financial information. This includes Social Security numbers, account numbers, credit card numbers, PIN numbers and different forms of photo identification.  Shred your credit card statements, bank statements, and any documents with important personal and financial identification. If you plan to be away from home for an extended period, place a hold on your mail by visiting https://holdmail.usps.com/holdmail/.

4.  Review your monthly bills, credit card and bank statements carefully and frequently. Make sure your bills are arriving on time and  that there is no suspicious activity on your credit cards by checking your statements and account balances.

5.  Do not open unexpected email attachments from unknown sources or give our personal information over a phone call you did not initiate. If someone asks for personal information on the phone, ask for their name, employee or badge number, and a call back number. Do not call back at the number provided; rather, look up the appropriate call back number for the company or agency they claim to represent.

6.  Eliminate phone calls and unwanted mail. To be placed on the Do Not Call List, you can register your phone via the National Do Not Call Registry.  You can also be opt-out of pre-approved credit offers by phone at 1-888-567-8688 or online at optoutprescreen.com.

7.  Protect your personal information-on your computer, on your phone and in your home. When downloading software, make sure it is from a website that you trust. Update your anti-virus and firewall software regularly. Ensure that you are using a secure wireless network in your home and in public.  It is safer to use your provider’s network than the free Wi-Fi at the coffee shop. When online shopping, make sure you are buying from a trustworthy website.

8.  Have a plan if your device is stolen. On many smart phones and some computers, you can enable a setting to find your device online if it were to be lost or stolen. This could give you the option to remotely lock or wipe your device if you desire.

9.  Teach your children about internet safety and what information is appropriate to be shared.  By monitoring your children’s internet access, you can prevent your family’s private information from slipping through the cracks.  For social media, remind them that setting your profile to private and not revealing excessive personal information can help to keep them safe online.

While completely avoiding the risk of identity theft may not be possible, these are steps to take to reduce the risk.  If you suspect you may be a victim of identity theft, a list steps to follow can be found via the Federal Trade Commission’s sponsored website.

(1) http://www.transunion.com/personal-credit/identity-theft-and-fraud/identity-theft-facts.page


Whitney Rhyne is a part of the planning team at Longview Financial Advisors in Huntsville, Alabama. She holds a Masters in Financial Planning from the University of Alabama. Whitney can be reached via e-mail at whitney@longviewfa.com  

Congratulations to Jeff Jones!

Congratulation to Longview’s own Jeff Jones for completing his pursuit of the CFP Board’s certification marks.

Jeff has been authorized by the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards (CFP Board) to use the CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ and CFP® certification marks in accordance with CFP Board certification and renewal requirements. 

The CFP® marks identify those individuals who have met the rigorous experience and ethical requirements of the CFP Board, have successfully completed financial planning coursework and have passed the CFP® Certification Examination covering the following areas:  the financial planning process, risk management, investments, tax planning and management, retirement and employee benefits, and estate planning.  CFP® professionals also agree to meet ongoing continuing education requirements and to uphold CFP Board’s Code of Ethics and Professional Responsibility, Rules of Conduct and Financial Planning Practice Standards.

CFP Board is a nonprofit certification organization with a mission to benefit the public by granting the CFP® certification and upholding it as the recognized standard of excellence for personal financial planning. For more about CFP Board, please visit their website.

Alabama Tax Credit Could Lead to Even Greater Savings For Those With Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT)

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By Jessica Smith, CFP®, CLU®, CPWA®
NAPFA-Registered Financial Advisor

An AL.com contributor called the Alabama Accountability Tax Act of 2013 the “most radical education reform in decades”.  Similar legislation had only been passed in 16 other states at the time the Alabama Accountability Act passed in February 2013.1 It was developed with the intent to allow flexibility in meeting children’s educational needs, improve overall education performance, encourage innovation in meeting the needs of school systems and provide financial assistance through income tax credits.2 Since it was passed, there has been a great deal of controversy over the Act, which lead to a lawsuit over the constitutionality of the document. On March 2nd, the Alabama Supreme Court upheld the Act, so it is important to know how you may benefit from it.

The Act opens the door for Alabama residents to make donations to a Scholarship Granting Organization (SGO). Scholarship Granting Organizations are 501(c)3 (charitable) organizations that are created with the purpose of granting scholarships to eligible students at failing public schools so they may transfer to a private school.  The scholarships are provided to students who qualify based on family income requirements. All taxpayers who make a donation to a SGO qualify for a state tax credit of 50% of their state income taxes, up to $7500. C corporations also qualify for a 50% credit, but there is not a maximum limit on the amount of the credit. In addition, taxpayers can claim the donation as a charitable deduction on their federal return. For some, this is just a zero-sum game. The taxpayer receives a credit from the state, which lowers the state tax deduction by the same amount of the federal charitable deduction taken. However, for those who pay Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT), it actually results in additional savings because state taxes are disallowed for the AMT calculation, while charitable contributions are not.

The Alabama Accountability Act outlines a process for making SGO donations and claiming the tax credit. The state has earmarked $25M for these credits on a first come, first serve basis. Please let us know if you are interested in learning more about this opportunity or about how to make a donation and claim a credit. This is not something you want to plan on waiting until the end of the year for if you are interested.

*In full disclosure, Jessica Smith serves on the board of a local Scholarship Granting Organization.

1 McClendon, Robert. (March 1, 2013) “Alabama Accountability Act FAQ, a guide to the most radical education reform in decades.” Retrieved April 24, 2015 from AL.com: http://blog.al.com/wire/2013/03/alabama_accountability_act_faq.html.

2 Alabama Accountability Act of 2013 (HB 84, 2013)

Jessica Smith is the director of financial planning at Longview Financial Advisors, Inc.  She is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER® practitioner with extensive experience and expertise in insurance and retirement planning.  Visit “Our Team” to learn more about her and other team members at Longview. Jessica can be reached via e-mail at jessica@longviewfa.com.

Please remember that past performance may not be indicative of future results. Different types of investments involve varying degrees of risk, and there can be no assurance that the future performance of any specific investment, investment strategy, or product (including the investments and/or investment strategies recommended or undertaken by Longview Financial Advisors, Inc.), or any non-investment related content, made reference to directly or indirectly in this newsletter or post will be profitable, equal any corresponding indicated historical performance level(s), be suitable for your portfolio or individual situation, or prove successful. Due to various factors, including changing market conditions and/or applicable laws, the content may no longer be reflective of current opinions or positions. Moreover, you should not assume that any discussion or information contained in this newsletter or post serves as the receipt of, or as a substitute for, personalized investment advice from Longview Financial Advisors, Inc.. To the extent that a reader has any questions regarding the applicability of any specific issue discussed above to his/her individual situation, he/she is encouraged to consult with the professional advisor of his/her choosing. Longview Financial Advisors, Inc. is neither a law firm nor a certified public accounting firm and no portion of the newsletter or post content should be construed as legal or accounting advice. A copy of the Longview Financial Advisors, Inc.’s current written disclosure statement discussing our advisory services and fees is available for review upon request.

Posted in Tax