February 2020 | Posted By Nell Schiffer

This month we celebrated the anniversaries of three committed HIG team members. Buddy Reisinger (11 years), Henry Bragg (6 years), and Katie Ackerman (5 years) have unique abilities that make our firm better. Beyond their talents, we love them for the way they love our clients. We hope this is the last job any of them have!

February 2020 | Posted By PJ McDaniel

Much like people scramble to shed a few pounds before summer vacation, it’s not uncommon to see people frantically searching for ways to minimize their taxes due as April looms. Inevitably, when the vacation ends or tax season is over, many of the procrastinators look back despondently and think, I could have done better.

This pattern appeared again recently, as I heard steady chatter from investors who ended up paying more taxes than they had anticipated. But could it have been possible for them to save themselves from that unpleasant surprise (and spare a good chunk of change in the process)? You bet—if only they had been planning all year. But don’t just take our word for it. This sketch by our friend Carl Richards sums it up perfectly.

There are, of course, facets of wealth management that lie outside the realm of our control. At first, taxes would seem to fall into that category. Truthfully, though, there are steps all investors can take to minimize their taxes due. But planning can’t wait until the last minute.

Moving forward, here are four best practices to tame your taxes before April.

Tax-Loss Harvesting: Those familiar with tax-loss harvesting may assume that losses are best harvested in April, when taxes are top of mind. In reality, tax-loss harvests can be utilized whenever market conditions and the investor’s best interests warrant it.

Enroll in Tax-Favored Accounts: Examples of tax-favored accounts include IRAs, Roth IRAs, 529 plans, and Healthcare Savings Accounts (HSAs). Opening these accounts as appropriate can keep a lid on your taxes when April rolls around.

Asset Location: To put it simply: minimizing a portfolio’s overall taxes due entails locating the most tax-efficient holdings in taxable accounts and the least tax-efficient holdings in tax-deferred or tax-free accounts.

For example, income from real estate investment trusts (REITs) are best-suited for an IRA where it won’t be taxed until retirement. Alternatively, mutual funds, ETFs, and stocks are best-suited for taxable investment accounts since capital gains taxes are generally lower than typical income taxes.

Tax-Wise Charitable Giving: In addition to helping a cause you believe in, charitable giving is also favorable for optimizing your taxes. Specifically, opening a Donor Advised Fund can enable investors to avoid capital gains tax on their securities and deduct the total value of the contribution from their federal income taxes. Appreciated long-term investments are the ideal asset to contribute to a Donor Advised Fund.

Do you want to get ahead of the curve in 2020 with these tax-planning strategies? I’m happy to walk you through them in detail. Schedule a quick call with me.

February 2020 | Posted By Buddy Reisinger

Our friend and future podcast guest, John Jennings, wrote a thoughtful piece in his IFOD blog that captured our team’s full attention. His post on Clayton Christensen, who recently passed away from leukemia, was enough to have some of us circling back to reread Christensen’s book How Will You Measure Your Life?  A long time professor at the Harvard Business School, Christensen challenged his students to find answers to three questions:

  1. First, how can I be sure that I’ll be happy in my career?
  2. Second, how can I be sure that my relationships with my spouse and my family become an enduring source of happiness?
  3. Click to read the rest of the story…

 

January 2020 | Posted By Buddy Reisinger

It’s that time of year—investors are eager for advice and herds of “thought leaders” are competing for your attention to tell you what to do during the new year. Instead of adding to the cacophony of 2020 to-do lists, we’re switching it up by telling you what to ignore.

We’re big fans of the author and celebrated podcast host Tim Ferriss’ Not-To-Do-List, so we decided to put our own twist on his concept.

“Not-to-do lists are often more effective than to-do lists for upgrading performance,” says Ferriss. “The reason is simple: what you don’t do determines what you can do.”

Below are four types of financial information that, at best, waste time and, at worst, create stress and anxiety. It’s our hope that you’ll ignore them so you can stay focused and productive, and live richly.

Any Variation of the Headline: “X Stocks to Buy”

The 4+ billion Google results for “stocks to buy in 2020” aren’t just risky—they’re almost certainly doomed to flop.

“The track record of expert forecasters is as dismal as ever,” says David Epstein, author of Range. “In business, esteemed forecasters routinely are wildly wrong in their predictions of everything from the next stock-market correction to the next housing boom.”

As our co-founder Rick Hill says, “Stop trying to find the needle in the haystack—just buy the haystack,” which is what our clients do.

Stock Market News and Notifications

Just like watching what you eat keeps you fit and healthy, a low information diet can keep you calm and focused, especially when it comes to your personal finances. As important as the latest headlines might seem, it’s important to remember: The media’s job isn’t to keep you informed, it’s to keep you tuned in 24/7/365 so they can sell advertising. We stay tuned in to what matters over the long term, so that you can focus on what matters today. That’s the kind of tradeoff we like.

Your Short-Term Portfolio Performance

It’s nice to have our sleek app that puts your entire investment portfolio in your pocket, but that doesn’t mean you should monitor it incessantly. Redefine how you measure success – we suggest measuring your performance against your goals in terms of decades and generations rather than 24-hour news cycles.

Financial Advice from Anybody Without a Fiduciary Standard

As Matt Hall covered in his book, Odds On, most big-name brokerage firms prize sales quotas and their compensation over client care and education. In any industry, a convergence of greed and incompetence is dangerous. In wealth management, the consequences can be life-shattering for you and your family. 

Before considering any financial advice, always ask: Is our relationship a fiduciary? If the answer is anything besides, “Yes, always” or if the written version is accompanied by an asterisk and a bunch of legalese, ignore it.

It’s great to pick up new productive habits, but sometimes the best way to improve your life is by subtracting, not adding. You might surprise yourself with how much you accomplish with the extra breathing room.

January 2020 | Posted By Nell Schiffer

We work for our clients. It’s that simple. We value the work of our partner firms (mutual fund companies and custodians), but we never forget who we serve and our fiduciary duty to them. To that end, you should know we routinely ask our partners for better options and lower fees – when and where appropriate. Hill Investment Group is pleased to announce significant fee reductions related to 14 funds in our recommended portfolios. The largest reduction is a 20% drop in fund expenses and the smallest change is 3.6% in one of our fixed-income solutions. Big or small alterations, it’s good news and savings for clients. We will not list individual funds here, but look forward to sharing the details with you during your next review. For now, we end this post with a quote from Dimensional Co CEO Gerard O’Reilly:

“We expect to do better than benchmarks and peers, after fees, so we fight for every basis point. We continue to gain insights from research and innovate across all aspects of our process.” 

January 2020 | Posted By Henry Bragg

 

We have a lot of planning-obsessed people on staff at HIG and hope it gives you comfort knowing that we are thinking about things on your behalf – even when you aren’t. It’s a huge part of what makes Hill Investment Group different. Don’t be surprised if you hear us talking a lot more in the coming year about the value our planning process adds to our investment management approach. We normally don’t share our client quarterly letters with everyone, but enjoy an exclusive peak this time!

Enjoy our client quarterly report letter.

January 2020 | Posted By Matt Luzecky

Behavioral and emotional aspects of our planning are important to us. When we better understand ourselves, we get closer to breaking our old patterns. For more inspiration, we point you to a recent WSJ article “For the New Year, Say No to Negativity”.

What we love about the article is that it acknowledges the truth found in the research – bad stuff impacts us more than good stuff – but the article and corresponding book offer practical ways to turn the corner towards a clear focus on health and wealth in 2020. And you know we are suckers for anyone who uses our motto “take the long view” to help readers/investors shift their outlook to a prosperous lens.

“By rationally looking at long-term trends instead of viscerally reacting to the horror story of the day, you’ll see that there’s much more to celebrate than to mourn.”