What You Need to Know About Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation or PBGC, Part 2 of a 3 Part Series on Pensions

Contributed by: Nick Defenthaler, CFP® Nick Defenthaler


In many cases, the decision you make surrounding your pension could be the largest financial choice you’ll make in your entire life.  As such, the potential risk of your pension plan should be on your radar and factored in when ultimately deciding which payment option to elect.  This is where the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation comes into play.

The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation or “PBGC” is an independent agency that was established by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) of 1974 to give pension participants in plans covered by the PBGC guaranteed “basic” benefits in the event their employer-sponsored defined benefit plans becomes insolvent.  Today, the PBGC protects the retirement incomes of nearly 40 million American workers in nearly 24,000 private-sector pension plans. 

Municipalities, unions and public sector professions are almost never covered by the PBGC.  Private companies, especially larger ones, are usually covered (click here to see if your company plan is).  Each year, companies pay insurance premiums to the PBGC to protect retirees.  Think of the PBCG essentially as FDIC insurance for pensions.  Similar to FDIC coverage ($250,000) that banks offer, there are limits on how much the PBCG will cover if a pension plan fails.  It's important to note that in most cases, the age you happen to be when your company’s pension fails is the age the PBGC uses to determine your protected monthly benefit. 

For example, if you start receiving a pension at age 60 from XYZ company and 5 years later, XYZ goes under when you’re 65, your protected monthly benefit with the PBGC would be $5,2420.45 – assuming you are receiving a straight life payment (see table below).  As we would expect, the older you are, the higher the protected monthly benefit will be due to life expectancy assumptions.    

 *chart is from Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation website

*chart is from Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation website

When advising you on which pension option to choose, one of the first things we'll want to work together to determine is whether or not your pension is covered by the PBGC.  If your pension is covered, this is a wonderful protection for your retirement income if the unexpected occurs and the company you worked for ends up failing.  If you think it will never happen, let’s not forget 2009 when many unexpected things occurred in the world such as General Motors filing for bankruptcy and Ford nearly doing the same.  If your pension is not covered, we'll want to take this risk into consideration when comparing the monthly income stream options to a lump sum rollover option (if offered). 

While PBCG coverage is one very important element when evaluating a pension, we’ll also want to analyze other aspects of your pension as well, such as the pension’s internal rate of return or "hurdle rate" and various survivor options offered. 

As mentioned previously, the decision surrounding your pension could quite possibly be the largest financial decision you ever make.  When making a financial decision of such magnitude, we’d strongly recommend consulting with a professional to ensure you’re making the best decision possible for your own unique situation.  Let us know if we can help!   

Be sure to check out our previous blog discussing survivor benefits posted April 5th and our next blog explaining what the “Restore” option is for pensions will post soon.

Nick Defenthaler, CFP® is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ at Center for Financial Planning, Inc.® Nick works closely with Center clients and is also the Director of The Center’s Financial Planning Department. He is also a frequent contributor to the firm’s blogs and educational webinars.

The information contained in this blog does not purport to be a complete description of the securities, markets, or developments referred to in this material. The information has been obtained from sources considered to be reliable, but we do not guarantee that the foregoing material is accurate or complete. Any information is not a complete summary or statement of all available data necessary for making an investment decision and does not constitute a recommendation. Any opinions are those of Nick Defenthaler, CFP© and not necessarily those of Raymond James. This is a hypothetical example for illustration purpose only and does not represent an actual investment. This is a hypothetical example for illustration purpose only and does not represent an actual investment. Prior to making an investment decision, please consult with your financial advisor about your individual situation.

New Legislation is Hoping to Help Caregivers

Contributed by: Sandra Adams, CFP® Sandy Adams


Being a caregiver for a family member presents real-world challenges from an emotional and financial perspective.  The National Alliance for Caregiving reports that there are over 40 million Americans acting as family caregivers providing over 37 billion hours of unpaid assistance to loved ones.  As I wrote in a previous blog “Family Caregiving — The REAL Long Term Costs”, family caregiving can take a toll on caregivers’ health and future retirement goals if the right plans and tools are not utilized.

Recent legislation is attempting to help the millions of Americans serving as caregivers:

RAISE Family Caregivers Act

In early 2018 the president signed into law the Recognize, Assist, Include, Support and Engage Family Caregivers Act.  The act directs the Department of Health and Human Services to create an advisory council charged with making recommendations on the strategy to support family caregivers.  The strategy, which must be developed within 18 months, will address financial and workplace issues, respite care and other ways to support caregivers.

Employer Tax Credit for Paid Family Medical Leave

A little publicized addition in the recent Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 that took effect on January 1st, 2018, was the Employer Tax Cut Credit for Paid Family Medical Leave Time.  Under the Family & Medical Leave Act (FMLA), employers must provide certain employees with the option for up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave per year (and must maintain group health benefits during the leave).  To incentivize employers to further support FMLA, the recent Tax Act provides employers with a business credit equal to 12.5% of wages paid to employees during leave (as long as the employee is paid at least 50% of their normal wages) and the credit phases in as much as 25% of wages if the employer provides 100% of continuing wages (up to the 12 week maximum).

Employers and the government are recognizing the deep impact of family caregiving on the financial futures of caregivers and are beginning to offer some support.  How significant the results of these recent legislative changes will be remains to be seen.  We will continue to keep you updated.  In the meantime, if you are a caregiver and need additional resources, information, or need assistance in designing strategies for yourself or for your loved one, please give us a call.  We are always happy to help!

The information provided does not purport to be a complete description of the developments referred to in this material, it has been obtained from sources deemed to be reliable but its accuracy and completeness cannot be guaranteed. Neither Raymond James Financial Services nor any Raymond James Financial Advisor renders advice on tax issues, these matters should be discussed with the appropriate professional.

Sandra Adams, CFP® is a Partner and Financial Planner at Center for Financial Planning, Inc.® Sandy specializes in Elder Care Financial Planning and is a frequent speaker on related topics. In addition to her frequent contributions to Money Centered, she is regularly quoted in national media publications such as The Wall Street Journal, Research Magazine and Journal of Financial Planning.

2018 1st Quarter Investment Commentary


Trade wars and tariffs have dominated the headlines over the past quarter. Volatility has increased for equity markets around the world because there are fears stemming from the possibility of a trade war.  To learn more about tariffs and what we think about how this could impact the markets click here.

The Federal Reserve (FED) raised rates as anticipated in March.  This is the first rate hike of the year.  There are two more rate hikes widely expected to come this year.  Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth has been slightly ahead of what has been expected; so, this could hint at a faster rate hike path than anticipated.  Economists were expecting growth to come in at 2.7% for the 4th quarter and it came in at a revised 2.9%.  Good news for the economy as we are growing faster and seem to be on solid footing.  However, if the market thinks that the FED will start to raise rates faster in response to increased growth, this could negatively impact bond prices as their yields increase.  Both consumer spending and business investment have been strong.  Payroll taxes went down in February with the new tax reform which means we may have more money in our pockets, meaning we have the capacity, now, to spend even more.

The story is even better overseas as GDP growth has gone from mixed throughout the world (disappointing in most countries outside of the U.S. up until recently) to synchronized expansion.

Breaking a streak

The Dow Jones Industrials Average and the S&P 500 snapped an impressive nine-quarter streak of gains.  This has been the longest stretch of quarterly gains for the Dow for over two decades.  Prior long streaks were broken in 1997 (an 11 quarter rally for the Dow).  The S&P had a more recent impressive streak that also lasted nine quarters and was broken the first quarter of 2015.  Other markets including bonds and international were also down this quarter.  See the chart below for more details


The cash quandary

Have you noticed your money market or bank deposits rates spiking along with all of these rate hikes from the Federal Reserve?  If not, you aren’t alone.  Rates have continued to remain frustratingly low on our most liquid savings accounts.  While the FED has raised rates by .25% on six separate occasions since 2015, deposit rates have not moved much.  There are two likely reasons for this:

  1. While the FED has raised short-term rates, long-term rates have not reacted as much. Since banks make money on the difference between the interest they charge on loans (which tend to be longer, think mortgages) and what they pay out in interest to their depositors, rates have stayed low for depositors.  Banks have been unable to increase the rates they charge to loan individuals money and, therefore, they cannot raise the rates they pay on savings accounts. 
  2. Deposits at banks in small savings accounts are at an all-time high.  This money tends to be steady even if the interest rate paid at the bank down the street is higher.  So banks don’t have to raise the rates they pay to keep the assets.  It is too much of a bother to close your account, withdraw the money, open a new account and deposit the money for a .1% boost in the interest rate.

Technology volatility

Technology stocks are catching headlines recently as Facebook had a breach of privacy and Apple and Alphabet suffer from fears of tightening regulation.  The recent darlings of the stock market suffer because investors are calling in to question all of these technology companies that gather our personal data to enhance our user experience.

Midterm Elections

While it is still early in the year, midterm elections are starting to heat up.  Democrats are out of power, and the midterm elections tend to favor the party that is out of power.  Currently, we have a strong economy, and that is a factor that can influence whether voters go out to the polls and for whom they vote. A stable economy tends to encourage the status quo vote. The increased stock market volatility could favor the party that is out of power, though.  While I’m not here to debate who will and won’t win, I am interested in how(or if) that could affect your portfolios.  Generally, it isn’t a good idea to make changes within a portfolio based on politics.  Politics are emotional, and it is rarely a good idea to mix these sensitive emotions with our investment dollars.  We generally recommend not to make any major changes to a portfolio driven solely by an upcoming election. 

In times of market distress including the areas outlined above that cause temporary volatility in markets, investors need to focus on the basics:

  • sticking to a diversified portfolio
  • maintaining appropriate cash reserves
  • rebalancing

If you ever have any questions on these or other topics don’t hesitate to reach out to us!

On behalf of everyone here at The Center,

Angela Palacios, CFP®, AIF®
Director of Investments
Financial Advisor

Angela Palacios, CFP®, AIF® is the Director of Investments at Center for Financial Planning, Inc.® Angela specializes in Investment and Macro economic research. She is a frequent contributor The Center blog.

https://finance.yahoo.com/news/dow-streak-quarterly-gains-risk-184351660.html https://am.jpmorgan.com/us/en/asset-management/gim/protected/adv/insights/should-i-hold-cash The information contained in this commentary does not purport to be a complete description of the securities, markets, or developments referred to in this material. The information has been obtained from sources considered to be reliable, but we do not guarantee that the foregoing material is accurate or complete. Any opinions are those of the professionals at The Center and not necessarily those of Raymond James. Expressions of opinion are as of this date and are subject to change without notice. There is no guarantee that these statements, opinions or forecasts provided herein will prove to be correct. This material is being provided for information purposes only. Any information is not a complete summary or statement of all available data necessary for making an investment decision and does not constitute a recommendation. Please note, changes in tax laws may occur at any time and could have a substantial impact upon each person's situation. While we are familiar with the tax provisions of the issues presented herein, as Financial Advisors of RJFS, we are not qualified to render advice on tax or legal matters. You should discuss tax or legal matters with the appropriate professional. Investments mentioned may not be suitable for all investors. Future investment performance cannot be guaranteed, investment yields will fluctuate with market conditions. Investing involves risk and you may incur a profit or loss regardless of strategy selected. The S&P 500 is an unmanaged index of 500 widely held stocks that is generally considered representative of the U.S. stock market. Keep in mind that individuals cannot invest directly in any index, and index performance does not include transaction costs or other fees, which will affect actual investment performance. Individual investor's results will vary. Past performance does not guarantee future results. Prior to making an investment decision, please consult with your financial advisor about your individual situation. The companies engaged in the communications and technology industries are subject to fierce competition and their products and services may be subject to rapid obsolescence. The MSCI EAFE (Europe, Australasia, and Far East) is a free float-adjusted market capitalization index that is designed to measure developed market equity performance, excluding the United States & Canada. The EAFE consists of the country indices of 22 developed nations. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA), commonly known as “The Dow” is an index representing 30 stock of companies maintained and reviewed by the editors of the Wall Street Journal. The Russell 2000 Index measures the performance of the 2,000 smallest companies in the Russell 3000 Index, which represent approximately 8% of the total market capitalization of the Russell 3000 Index. The Barclays US Aggregate Bond Index is a broad-based flagship benchmark that measures the investment grade, US dollar-denominated, fixed-rate taxable bond market. The Bloomberg Barclays U.S. Corporate High Yield Bond Index is composed of fixed-rate, publicly issued, non-investment grade debt, is unmanaged, with dividends reinvested, and is not available for purchase. The index includes both corporate and non-corporate sectors. The corporate sectors are Industrial, Utility and Finance, which include both U.S. and non-U.S. corporations. The IA SBBI US IT Government Bond Index is an index created by Ibbotson Associates designed to track the total return of intermediate maturity US Treasury debt securities. Links are being provided for information purposes only. Raymond James is not affiliated with and does not endorse, authorize or sponsor any of the listed websites or their respective sponsors. Raymond James is not responsible for the content of any website or the collection or use of information regarding any website's users and/or members.



Fiduciary Standard is a Hot Topic


The fiduciary standard may not be a kitchen conversation in your house, but it’s a hot topic in the world of investment and wealth management. The CFP® board defines a fiduciary as, “one who acts in utmost good faith, in a manner he or she reasonably believes to be in the best interest of the client.”

The fiduciary standard has always been at the core of The Center’s financial planning services.

All of our partners and many of our team members are CERTIFIED PROFESSIONAL PLANNER™ professionals, and the obligations of a fiduciary is a fundamental component of a CFP professional’s standard of care. This is in contrast to a suitability standard widely adopted in the brokerage industry. Investopedia defines suitability as “a situation that an investment strategy meets the objectives and means of an investor.” Suitability is often seen as being acceptable whereas fiduciary standard is seen as the best interest.

In the last few years, the Department of Labor stepped in forming regulations they deemed would meet a fiduciary standard for retirement accounts. This move was seen as a win by consumer advocates and cumbersome and challenging by many brokerage firms and financial advisors. Although we might have preferred that the standard of care be interpreted differently by regulating bodies, the shift to a fiduciary standard caused a relatively small adjustment to our daily practice.

With a change in presidential administration and political landscape came a change of favor with the fiduciary standard which was to be enforced by the Department of Labor. While laws were drafted and a timeline was laid out to adopt the fiduciary standard, recent messaging indicates that these regulations will not be enforced by the Trump administration’s Department of Labor. In essence, the DOL’s fiduciary mandates appear to be dead on arrival.

Meanwhile, the CFP Board, the governing body for CERTIFIED PROFESSIONAL PLANNER™ professionals, has broadened the scope of their fiduciary duty for advisors. This, in the end, is where the buck stops for The Center. We will work to continue to ensure that our clients are receiving fiduciary advice avoiding conflicts of interest whenever possible as has been the case over the years. When conflicts of interest are inevitable, we disclose them and discuss them with you.

All of this conversation may sound arcane, but it is at the heart of professional standards similar to an attorney duty of confidentiality or the Hippocratic Oath. We expect that regulations of fiduciary standards may resurface either from the Securities Exchange Commission or Department of Labor. In the meantime, we will continue to operate as fiduciaries as we work with clients like you.

Melissa Joy, CFP®, CDFA® is Partner and Director of Investments at Center for Financial Planning, Inc.® In 2013, Melissa was honored by Financial Advisor magazine in the Research All Star List for the third consecutive year. In addition to her contributions to Money Centered blogs, she writes investment updates at The Center and is regularly quoted in national media publications including The Chicago Tribune, Investment News, and Morningstar Advisor.

Financial Advisor magazine's inaugural Research All Star List is based on job function of the person evaluated, fund selections and evaluation process used, study of rejected fund examples, and evaluation of challenges faced in the job and actions taken to overcome those challenges. Evaluations are independently conducted by Financial Advisor Magazine.

How to Choose a Survivor Benefit for Your Pension

Contributed by: Nick Defenthaler, CFP® Nick Defenthaler


If you’re married and eligible to receive a pension upon retirement, chances are you will be making an election for a survivor benefit before you start collecting. What should you choose when it’s time to elect your payment option?

As a quick refresher, when a pension has a survivor benefit attached to it, the income stream the pension provides goes through the lifetime of you and your spouse. Depending on the level of the survivor benefit, you could see a large discrepancy in the payment amount that the pension ultimately provides while both spouses are still alive. 

For example, the monthly payment a 100% survivor benefit provides will be much lower than the monthly payment a 25% survivor benefit would provide. This is because the 100% survivor option offers a guaranteed continuation of full benefits to the surviving spouse as compared to only a 25% continuation of benefits. In reality, a survivor benefit is an “insurance policy” on your pension! The reduction in monthly benefits by having a survivor option is like the “monthly premium” on that insurance policy.

Case Study

Let’s take a look at an example of how selecting a survivor option could vary depending on your family’s unique, personal situation:

Nancy (age 65) and Steve (age 64) are evaluating Nancy’s pension options as she approaches retirement in a few months. Unfortunately, Nancy has had heart issues over the years and does not have longevity in her family. Steve on the other hand, is in great shape and plans on living into his nineties.  Below are the pension options Nancy has to choose from:

  • 100% Survivor Option
    • $42,000/year to Nancy: Steve would receive $42,000/year if Nancy dies first
  • 50% Survivor Option
    • $46,000/year to Nancy: Steve would receive $23,000/year if Nancy dies first
  • 25% Survivor Option
    • $48,000/year to Nancy: Steve would receive $12,000/year if Nancy dies first
  • Straight-Life Option (No Survivor Benefit)
    • $50,000/yr to Nancy: No continuation of payments for Steve when Nancy dies

Due to Nancy’s health issues, the straight-life option would likely not be advisable. There is a very high likelihood that Nancy pre-deceases Steve so they would not want to select an option that would provide zero continuation of benefits, especially considering the size of the pension payment. In a similar vein, Nancy and Steve are not comfortable with Steve only receiving 25% of Nancy’s pension if she passes before him, primarily due to Nancy’s health issues.  At this point, they have narrowed their options down to the 100% survivor or 50% survivor benefit election.  

Because Nancy is a number cruncher, we created a spreadsheet to analyze the value of maintaining a larger survivor benefit, assuming she pre-dececeases Steve at various ages:


While it’s all well and good that Steve would receive a higher continuation of benefits if Nancy passes before him under the 100% survivor option, we have to remember that there is a “cost” to this pension option ($4,000/yr lower payout compared to the 50% survivor option). However, as the table above shows, it does not take long at all for Steve to “break even” on the cost of the $4,000/yr “insurance premium”. 

After reviewing the numbers in detail, Steve and Nancy decided to elect the 100% survivor option.  They arrived at this decision primarily because of Nancy’s reduced life expectancy. In addition, if she does die before Steve within the first 15 years of retirement (a very likely possibility), it only takes several years for the larger survivor benefit to make up for the lower pension payment Nancy would have received during her life, especially taking into consideration Steve’s good health.  

As you can see from our example, many factors come into play when selecting a pension benefit and survivor option. While it might be human nature to ask which option is best, unless we have the proverbial crystal ball to look into the future and see what life has in store for us over the next 30+ years, it’s impossible to provide a concrete answer.

When evaluating pension options, my number one goal as a fiduciary advisor is to provide a sound recommendation that aligns with your own personal situation and retirement goals. If our team can be a resource for you in evaluating your pension decision, please feel free to reach out to us.  

I invite you to join my webinar April 24th at 1:00 pm for more on Retirement Income Planning: How Much Will You Get Paid In Retirement?  Find out more and register here.

The case study and accompanying chart have been provided for illustrative purposes only. Individual cases will vary


Nick Defenthaler, CFP® is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ at Center for Financial Planning, Inc.® Nick works closely with Center clients and is also the Director of The Center’s Financial Planning Department. He is also a frequent contributor to the firm’s blogs and educational webinars.

Choosing a Down Payment Option on a House: Beyond the Numbers

Contributed by: Robert Ingram Robert Ingram


Whether you’re buying your first home, looking to downsize or are considering that ultimate dream house, you’re probably facing a couple of common questions. How much should I put down on the purchase?  How much should I finance through a mortgage?  A 20% down payment is typically recommended as a good starting point because amounts less than 20% will likely subject you to private mortgage insurance (PMI) in most conventional loan programs, which increases your mortgage payment.  However, as financial planners we’re often asked if it makes more sense to put down larger amounts and carry smaller mortgages, or to keep those extra funds and invest them.

Making a larger down payment

There are several benefits to increasing the amount you put down on your home purchase.  Having a smaller mortgage balance that you repay over time lowers your monthly payment.  This can provide more flexibility in and control over your monthly budget with smaller portions being committed to servicing debt. 

The smaller mortgage also means you will pay less interest on your loan.  For example, if you put an additional $25,000 down on your home purchase, you are borrowing $25,000 less and you save interest that you would be paying had you borrowed it.  This interest cost savings is like a return on the $25,000 that you are not borrowing.

There are, however, some important considerations when taking more of your assets and putting them towards the home purchase.

  • Those resources are no longer as accessible for your other needs or financial goals.  Is your cash reserve still intact in case of unexpected emergencies?  Would you still be on track to retire or to fund that college plan?  
  • Changes to your financial circumstances or in the economic environment could make it difficult to access the equity in your home through future borrowing.  Unfortunately, we saw this all too often during the financial crisis in 2008-2009 when many banks and lending institutions cut home equity lines of credit and drastically tightened their lending standards.
  • Having to fall back on other assets such as your qualified retirement plans or IRA accounts could result in additional taxes and/or early withdrawal penalties depending on your age and other circumstances.  Not only could this negate some of the cost savings from making the larger down payment, but it may also derail your retirement.

Smaller down payment and investing the difference

Choosing to make a smaller down payment and investing the additional dollars rather than adding them to the down payment can make sense financially if a key assumption holds true. This assumption is that your investment’s returns outperform the interest cost of your mortgage.  Consider a bank that pays depositors an interest rate (its borrowing cost) and then lends those funds to borrowers for a charged interest rate (its investment return).  If the bank pays 2% interest to depositors and earns 5% interest on the money it lends, its potential earnings exceed its costs, a profitable financial move.

A risk to this strategy of investing the additional funds in lieu of a larger down payment, however, is that earning the required investment return is not guaranteed.

When thinking about making the investment decision, there are some important points to consider.

  • What kind of investor are you?
    Investors should have the appropriate risk tolerance and willingness to invest in a portfolio of different asset categories that may provide the opportunity to earn their required rate of return long-term.  For very conservative investors it may be more difficult for their portfolios to outperform the mortgage interest costs. (It may be especially difficult if the mortgage interest rates are higher than historical averages)
  • Following your investment strategy also takes discipline over the long-term.
    It can be challenging to avoid some of the emotional buying and selling decisions that in hindsight can lead to under-performance, and to keep your investments invested.
  • How do you handle debt?
    If the mortgage without the larger down payment is not a burden to your cash flow and you have been successful in limiting other forms of consumer debt, this strategy may fit. If you are prone to getting overextended or have a large part of your budget allocated to paying off debt, reducing your potential mortgage debt may be the appropriate option.

As you can see, many factors can play into the down payment decision depending on your own unique circumstances and values.  As always, consult your planner when considering these financial moves.  We are here to look at the big picture to help you make confident decisions.

Robert Ingram is a Financial Planner at Center for Financial Planning, Inc.®

Any opinions are those of Bob Ingram and not necessarily those of Raymond James or RJFS. Information contained herein was received from sources believed to be reliable, but accuracy is not guaranteed. Information provided is general in nature, and is not a complete statement of all information necessary for making an investment decision, and is not a recommendation or a solicitation to buy or sell any security. Asset allocation and diversification do not ensure a profit or protect against a loss. Past performance is not indicative of future results. Investing always involves risk and you may incur a profit or loss. No investment strategy can guarantee success. Raymond James Financial Services does not provide advice on tax, legal or mortgage issues. These matters should be discussed with an appropriate professional.

Center Stories: Kali Hassinger, CFP®

Contributed by: Kali Hassinger, CFP® Kali Hassinger

Regardless of your circumstances or stage in life, there can be a general sense of anxiety surrounding money.  Our society tells us it's uncouth to discuss our personal finances with others, and in many cases fundamental financial concepts aren't taught in schools. This environment can make taking control of your financial life seem extremely difficult and overwhelming.

When I decided to become a financial planner, I knew that I wanted to help others to establish, maintain and ultimately reach their goals.

Money and finances are an integral part of our personal wellbeing, and the most effective way to feel empowered is through education.  I take the time to make sure you understand the financial planning process and that you feel confident in our decisions.  Whether you're starting from scratch or reevaluating your current plan, we can walk through each step together and without judgment. The relationship between you and your financial planner is profoundly personal and built on trust, and here at The Center there is nothing we take more seriously.

If you want to know a little more about my background, please check out my bio video above.

Kali Hassinger, CFP® is an Associate Financial Planner at Center for Financial Planning, Inc.®

Webinar in Review: Carepartners Passage Through Dementia

Contributed by: Sandra Adams, CFP® Sandy Adams

More and more of our clients and families are being impacted by dementia.  What is it and how does it impact those diagnosed and those who are caring for them?

Dementia is a general term for a decline in mental ability severe enough to interfere with daily life. While it is believed there are over 50 different types of dementia, Alzheimer’s disease is the most prevalent type, with more than 5 million people currently living with this specific type.  1 in 9 seniors has Alzheimer’s disease, but half don’t know it.  There are currently medications available to slow the progression of dementia, but there is no cure.

Most individuals with dementia are being cared for by family caregivers.  Having knowledge about the signs and progression of different types of dementia can be extremely helpful to both the person with the disease and the caregiver.  Planning ahead to make sure that the appropriate legal and care plans are in place in advance can relieve a tremendous amount of stress from everyone involved.

Realizing that the person with dementia is still the same person, just with a disease, is essential.

Dr. Paula Duren shared with us the 5 Foundational Care Concepts for Caregivers of individuals with dementia:

  1. Everyone has basic human needs
  2. You are the one with the healthy brain
  3. Be a good detective
  4. They may not remember your words but they will remember your spirit/energy
  5. Know that every behavior is an effort to communicate

Dr. Duren of Universal Dementia Caregivers also teaches care strategies for caregivers about how to work effectively with those they are caring for.  She also works with caregivers to care for themselves.  After all, if caregivers are not healthy and strong, they cannot care for their loved ones with dementia fully. 

Listen to the replay of our webinar “Carepartners Passage Through Dementia” for additional tips and information AND watch for information about our May workshop for caregivers being facilitated by Dr. Duren.

Sandra Adams, CFP® is a Partner and Financial Planner at Center for Financial Planning, Inc.® Sandy specializes in Elder Care Financial Planning and is a frequent speaker on related topics. In addition to her frequent contributions to Money Centered, she is regularly quoted in national media publications such as The Wall Street Journal, Research Magazine and Journal of Financial Planning.

Trade War or Negotiation Tactic?

Contributed by: Center Investment Department The Center


In March, President Trump announced tariffs for the steel and aluminum industry (25% tariff on steel and 10% tariff on aluminum) outside of the approval from his advisors.  He stated these tariffs are to protect industries in the U.S. and protect national security. Trump’s campaign focused a lot on trade with China and Mexico. This announcement lead to the departure of Gary Cohn who held the top economic advisor position to the President.  Since then, potential exemptions or grace periods for some countries were created softening his initial threat.  These exemptions are designed primarily for Canada and Mexico with whom; by the way, we are in the middle of re-negotiating NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement).  This exemption is contingent on a NAFTA deal.  This type of threat is exactly the type of shock and awe we have gotten used to from the President as a bargaining chip.  While the stock market initially had a strong negative reaction as this news came out, it has since recovered.  The market also took in stride the news of Gary Cohn departing and threats from other countries to retaliate with their own tariffs.


Following is some insight from our team into what tariffs are and why we need to pay attention to a potential trade war and how it may affect portfolios.

What are tariffs?

Let’s start from the top – a tariff is a tax placed on imports from another country. The idea is to make goods from other countries more expensive to encourage consumers to purchase domestic goods.

Who wins and who loses?


  • + Domestic industries whose competition has been limited
  • + Workers in those domestic industries
  • + The government which collects the revenue from the tariff


  • - Foreign exporters whose goods are less attractive to the domestic country
  • - Domestic consumers who see prices rise
  • - Secondary industries who rely on the imported product (in the case of steel think automobiles, heavy duty equipment, etc.)

On what products/countries does the U.S. currently impose tariffs?

The U.S has tariffs in place on thousands of products including animals, food, other commodities, but most tariff revenue in the U.S. comes from apparel and cars (https://www.cnbc.com/2016/12/07/trump-tariffs-countries-and-products-that-pay-the-highest-us-tariffs.html). The countries that pay the most to the U.S. from tariffs are China, Vietnam, and Japan. Canada and Mexico import more than every other country besides China, but do not come close to duties paid compared to the other countries because of current agreements through NAFTA.

China is currently the world’s largest producer of steel, but according to the International Trade Administration (https://www.trade.gov/steel/countries/pdfs/imports-us.pdf), less than 2% of the U.S.’s steel came from China. Mexico and Canada are large exporters of steel to the U.S., but are currently exempt from the tariff, for now, while NAFTA negotiations are underway.

The impact on markets and portfolios

Steel and aluminum market capitalization is less than $50 Billion (or about 1/10 the market cap of Facebook Inc.), so direct implications on stock prices may not be the cause of much worry. The fear comes from the uncertainty of a global trade war. Countries can retaliate and place tariffs of their own on products imported from the U.S., which could disrupt any number of markets.

So what is going to happen? Whenever you restrict the flow of goods and services, you risk causing inflation and a deterioration in global trade. Low and rising inflation is usually good for stock markets, and we are starting from a place of low inflation.  Initially, there could be some market jitters as inflation creeps back up.as we witnessed in early February but those should abate as investors realize that inflation is still quite low.  The deterioration in global trade is what could have a more significant impact on stock and bond markets.  The question of whether or not this is just a bargaining chip for President Trump remains to be seen.  If this is the case, it will likely not be pushed to the point where it starts to meaningfully affect global trade. The last time the U.S. took a similar step to impose tariffs on steel was back in 2002 and retaliatory actions from other countries caused President Bush to halt the practice after only 19 months.  In an economy that has a strong fundamental footing, as the U.S. does now, higher inflation and even interest rates should not be too punitive for stocks.  We recommend maintaining a well diversified portfolio in this environment.  If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to reach out!

The information provided does not purport to be a complete description of the securities, markets, or developments referred to in this material; it has been obtained from sources deemed to be reliable but its accuracy and completeness cannot be guaranteed. Opinions expressed are those of the team of Center for Financial Planning and are not necessarily those of Raymond James. There is no assurance that any forecasts provided will prove to be correct. The S&P 500 is an unmanaged index of 500 widely held stocks that is generally considered representative of the U.S. stock market. Please note, direct investment in any index is not possible. Past performance is not a guarantee of future results. Diverisification does not ensure  a profit or guarantee against loss. Links are being provided for informational purposes only. Raymond James is not affiliated with and does not endorse, authorize or sponsor any of the listed websites or their respective sponsors. Raymond James is not responsible for the content of any website or the collection or use of information regarding any website's users and/or members.

International Women’s Day Celebration with The Center


On behalf of The Center team we want to thank everyone who participated in our First Annual International Women’s Day event!  The energy in the room of 200+ women on March 8th was an inspiration sure to carry on throughout the year.  Celebrating women’s success and making a difference in other women’s lives carries a message of community and mutual support; a WIN-WIN with staying power.

Our keynote presentation by Laura Vanderkam was a gift of wisdom and practical application as she helped us understand how to focus on aligning our time with priorities.  Before, during and after the presentation it’s no surprise that networking conversations were abundant from start to finish.  A truly remarkable exclamation point on the morning was the generous spirit in which financial donations were made for Haven’s Spark program. 


An amazing result for Haven’s Spark program:

$5,295 (so far!)


Networking connections are an essential ingredient to success.  If you have not already reached out to new connections we are happy to provide this resource directory of the companies and organizations who were participants in our Women’s International Day event.


Laura’s advice hit home as evidenced by all of the head nodding going on in the room!  If you missed the link to our “more balanced life” To-Do list click here to open your personal copy!


Smiles and memories of our time together at The Center sponsored Women’s International Day event. Click to view.


Plan to celebrate International Women’s Day with us again next year on Friday March 8th 2019!  You can mark your calendar and we will take care of all the details!  


Women celebrating women is one example of pooling resources around a common goal.  We are grateful to have so many professional connections and women advocates in our circle of friends.  In our world of financial planning, it is not uncommon to work with accomplished women who are seeking guidance to ensure that their present plan for financial security is on track for future success.  One hurdle is that many times they don’t know someone …… consider that we might be that someone!

Laurie Renchik, CFP®, MBA is a Partner and Senior Financial Planner at Center for Financial Planning, Inc.® In addition to working with women who are in the midst of a transition (career change, receiving an inheritance, losing a life partner, divorce or remarriage), Laurie works with clients who are planning for retirement. Laurie is a member of the Leadership Oakland Alumni Association and is a frequent contributor to Money Centered.