Just Kickin’ It

Raya Chope Contributed by: Raya Chope


The Center is dedicated to living and encouraging a healthy, active lifestyle. So this year, we decided to take it to the next level and join a kickball league offered through an organization called, Stay & Play Social Club (SPSC). The season started out a little rough for our team. We lost a few games in a row, but that certainly didn’t discourage The Center spirit (we just had to warm up first). Once the team started to get a feel for the tips and tricks of the game, we eventually became one to beat. I suppose the saying is true: with all great failures, come great success. With that being said, we lost in the championship game, but ended up coming in third place! We can all agree that this was one of the most fun, team-building opportunities we have participated in.

If you’re interested, SPSC provides various sports leagues and tournaments for adults (21+) as a way to stay active, engaged and involved, all while having a great time doing so. Once a year, they present ‘Kicks for Kids’, a one-day, adult, charity Kickball Tournament that raises money to support healthy environments for children to stay active, and build valuable social and emotional skills through play.

As for team Just Kickin’ It, we will be back for the championship win next year!

Raya Chope is a Client Service Administrator at Center for Financial Planning, Inc.®

Any opinions are those of Raya Chope and not necessarily those of Raymond James. Expressions of opinion are as of this date and are subject to change without notice. Raymond James is not affiliated nor endorse Stay & Play Social Club or Kicks for Kids.

Seven Summer Financial Planning Strategies


It is summer time! So, if you get a few minutes in between all of the outdoor activities here are 7 quick financial planning strategies to review.  As always, if we can help tailor any of these to your personal circumstances feel free to reach out.

By now you have heard there is a new tax law.  Because we will not experience the actual affects until next April, many of us are not sure how it applies to our specific circumstances.

  1. Do a quick tax projection with your tax preparer and check your tax withholding. Many of us will have an overall tax decrease – but withholdings from our paychecks also went down. Do not get caught off-guard. More importantly, some folks will see higher taxes due to the new limitations on certain itemized deductions. Combine this with lower withholding and you have a double whammy (read: you will be writing a bigger check to the IRS). 
  2. Lump and clump itemized deductions. The standard deduction has increased to $24k for married couples filing jointly. In addition, miscellaneous itemized deductions have been removed completely. $10k cap. For some. Lumping charitable deductions in one year to take advantage of itemizing deductions and then taking the standard deduction for several years might be best.
  3. Utilize QCD’s. If you are over age 70.5 and making charitable contributions, you should consider utilizing QCD. Don’t know what QCD stands for? Call us now.
  4. Consider partial ROTH conversions to even out your tax liability. If you are retired, but not yet age 70.5 (when RMD’s start). Don’t know what an RMD is?  Talk with us today! If you are in this group, multiyear tax planning may be beneficial.
  5. Most estates are no longer subject to the estate tax given the current exemption equivalent of $11.2M (times 2 for married couples). However, income taxes remain an issue to plan around. One of my favorites: Transfer low basis securities to aging parents and then receive it back with a step up in basis. If you think you might be able to take advantage of this let us know.
  6. Review your distribution scheme in your Will or Trust. Are you using the old A-B or marital/credit shelter trust format?  Do you understand how the increased exemption affects this strategy?
  7. How should high-income folks prioritize their savings?
    Are you in the new 37% marginal bracket? If so, consider contributing to a Health Savings Account IF eligible. Next, consider making Pretax or traditional IRA/401k contributions. However, if you reasonably believe that you will be in the highest marginal tax bracket now AND in retirement – then the ROTH may be suggested. Know that for the great majority of us this will not be the case. Meaning, we will be in a lower bracket during our retirement years than our current bracket. Next, use Backdoor ROTH IRA contributions. If your employer offers an after tax option to your 401k plan, take advantage of it. You can then roll these funds directly into a ROTH. Next, consider a non-qualified annuity that provides tax deferral of earnings growth followed by taxable brokerage account.

If you have not received a copy of our 2018 Key Financial Data and would like a copy let us know

Timothy Wyman, CFP®, JD is the Managing Partner and Financial Planner at Center for Financial Planning, Inc.® and is a contributor to national media and publications such as Forbes and The Wall Street Journal and has appeared on Good Morning America Weekend Edition and WDIV Channel 4. A leader in his profession, Tim served on the National Board of Directors for the 28,000 member Financial Planning Association™ (FPA®), mentored many CFP® practitioners and is a frequent speaker to organizations and businesses on various financial planning topics.

The foregoing information has been obtained from sources considered to be reliable, but we do not guarantee that it is accurate or complete, it is not a statement of all available data necessary for making an investment decision, and it does not constitute a recommendation. Any opinions are those of Tim Wyman and not necessarily those of Raymond James. Investments mentioned may not be suitable for all investors. Unless certain criteria are met, Roth IRA owners must be 591⁄2 or older and have held the IRA for five years before tax-free withdrawals are permitted. Additionally, each converted amount may be subject to its own five-year holding period. Converting a traditional IRA into a Roth IRA has tax implications. Investors should consult a tax advisor before deciding to do a conversion. Raymond James and its advisors do not offer tax or legal advice. You should discuss any tax or legal matters with the appropriate professional. A fixed annuity is a long-term, tax-deferred insurance contract designed for retirement. It allows you to create a fixed stream of income through a process called annuitization and also provides a fixed rate of return based on the terms of the contract. Fixed annuities have limitations. If you decide to take your money out early, you may face fees called surrender charges. Plus, if you're not yet 591⁄2, you may also have to pay an additional 10% tax penalty on top of ordinary income taxes. You should also know that a fixed annuity contains guarantees and protections that are subject to the issuing insurance company's ability to pay for them. Every investor's situation is unique and you should consider your investment goals, risk tolerance and time horizon before making any investment. Prior to making an investment decision, please consult with your financial advisor about your individual situation.

Volatility Isn’t Always a Bad Thing

Kali Hassinger Contributed by: Kali Hassinger, CFP®


If you’ve been paying attention to the markets this year, you’ve certainly noticed that the days of 2017’s slow and steady positive returns have disappeared.  Instead, 2018 has been full of daily market ups and downs, which, it turns out, is actually normal! 

With the calm and comfortable markets of 2017, it’s easy to let our short term memory overshadow previous years.  2018, on the other hand, has created feelings of investor anxiety as the markets switch between red and green on a daily basis.  The word volatility alone often has a negative connotation.  However, in relation to your portfolio, volatility also includes positive returns! 

Post 2008, overall portfolio and market returns have been positive. However, as presented in the chart below, each year since then has been filled with daily market movements of 1% - both up and down!  2017 is by far the greatest outlier within the most recent 10 year average.


Investors have to be willing to endure the occasional market rollercoaster in order to reach long-term goals.  Even though we work to minimize volatility over time, avoiding it altogether isn’t realistic.  Try to remember that we never base your plan on market returns of a single day or calendar year.  Staying disciplined and committed to your financial plan can help you filter out the noise and focus on your long-term goals. 

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

The MSCI World Index is a free float-adjusted market capitalization weighted index that is designed to measure the equity market performance of developed markets. As of June 2007 the MSCI World Index consisted of the following 23 developed market country indices: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and the United States. 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. Investing involves risk and investors may incur a profit or a loss. The foregoing information has been obtained from sources considered to be reliable, but we do not guarantee that it is accurate or complete, it is not a statement of all available data necessary for making an investment decision, and it does not constitute a recommendation. Any opinions are those of the author and not necessarily those of Raymond James.

Sustainable Investments and Your Portfolio

Laurie Renchik Contributed by: Laurie Renchik, CFP®, MBA

Planning for a sustainable retirement is one that will financially support you for a lifetime. The financial planning process is dynamic as life unfolds and is subject to new information and changing circumstances along the way. 

One of the changes I see happening today is that a growing number of retirement savers are thinking more seriously about how a sustainable investment strategy fits into their overall investment plan. 

In tandem, the sustainable investment landscape is also evolving and growing.  Once a niche market, sustainable investing is becoming mainstream moving from a limited universe of investments focused on screening objectionable exposures to a range of solutions to achieve sustainable outcomes.  In fact, US investments focused on sustainable objectives grew 135% in the four year period from 2012 through 2016.**  With this volume of growth comes opportunity.  Demographic shifts, government policies and corporate views on environmental and social risk are the primary forces driving growth and change today.

For example, sustainable investing today includes Exclusionary Screens, ESG factors and Impact Targets.  Exclusionary screens avoid exposure to companies who operate in controversial sectors such as fossil fuels, tobacco or weapons.  ESG Factors invest in companies whose practices rank highly by Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) performance standards.  Impact Targets invest in companies whose products and solutions target measurable social or environmental impact.

If your goal is to create a sustainable retirement and in tandem allocate a portion of your investments to supporting a sustainable global future we can help. 

Our top priority is to create the best plan coupled with the best investment portfolio for you.  If that means taking sustainable investment preferences into consideration we have the resources and solutions available to build on traditional portfolio analytics to understand your current exposures and relevant sustainability factors.  We can set targets to improve the sustainability of your portfolio based on your personal objectives and measure performance data over time.

Contact us today to learn more!  Sustainable investing can drive positive social or environmental impact alongside financial results, allowing investors to accomplish more with their money.  Opportunity awaits.

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.

**Year over year growth in sustainable assets in the U.S. 2012 to 2016. Source: Global Sustainable Investment Alliance. Views expressed are not necessarily those of Raymond James Financial Services and are subject to change without notice. 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. Past performance is not indicative of future results. There is no assurance these trends will continue or that forecasts mentioned will occur.  Investing always involves risk and you may incur a profit or loss. No investment strategy can guarantee success.

Nick Defenthaler, CFP® Named to Forbes list of “America’s Top Next-Generation Wealth Advisors” for second year


For the second year in a row, Nick Defenthaler, CFP® has been named to the Forbes list of “America’s Top Next-Generation Wealth Advisors.” The list, which recognizes advisors from national, regional and independent firms, was released online July 25, 2018.  

“I’m ecstatic to once again be recognized as one of the top next generation financial planners in the country.  It’s truly a privilege to serve such amazing clients and to be surrounded by an incredible team of professionals here at The Center.” Defenthaler said. 

Nick specializes in working with clients who are closely nearing retirement or currently retired.  He has a passion for helping clients throughout the retirement transition and working with them to develop a sound, tax-efficient retirement income and portfolio decumulation strategy.  In addition to meeting with clients, Nick is the Director of The Center’s Financial Planning Department, a member of the firm’s Operations Committee as well as a frequent speaker and writer on various financial planning and investment related topics.

 Email Nick to set up an initial meeting.  Learn more about our process here.

The Forbes ranking of “America’s Top Next-Generation Wealth Advisors,” developed by Shook Research, Data as of 3/31/2018 SHOOK Research considered advisors born in 1980 or later with a minimum 4 years relevant experience. Advisors have built their own practices and lead their teams; joined teams and are viewed as future leadership; or a combination of both. Ranking algorithm is based on qualitative measures derived from telephone and in-person interviews and surveys: service models, investing process, client retention, industry experience, review of compliance records, firm nominations, etc.; and quantitative criteria, such as assets under management and revenue generated for their firms. Investment performance is not a criteria because client objectives and risk tolerances vary, and advisors rarely have audited performance reports. Rankings are based on the opinions of SHOOK Research, LLC. Neither SHOOK nor Forbes receives compensation from the advisors or their firms in exchange for placement on a ranking. Raymond James is not affiliated with Forbes or Shook Research, LLC. This ranking is not indicative of advisor’s future performance, is not an endorsement, and may not be representative of individual clients’ experience. Out of 5,832 advisors considered, 1000 made the final list in 2018.Center for Financial Planning, Inc. is a wealth management and financial planning registered investment advisor located in Southfield, Michigan. Founded in 1985, the firm has ten financial planners and 29 total team members who work with more than 900 clients; the firm manages more than $1.1 billion in assets under management. Securities are offered through Raymond James Financial Services, Inc., member FINRA/SIPC. Investment advisory services offered through Center for Financial Planning, Inc. Center for Financial Planning, Inc. is not a registered broker/dealer and is independent of Raymond James Financial Services.

Webinar in Review Blog: Staying Safe with Best Practices

Contributed by: James Brown James Brown

In today’s technology environment, information is just a click away. Sadly, bad guys looking for your information are just a click away also. Good security practices can protect you from becoming prey while you are on the Web.

The Center for Financial Planning, Inc.® offers some best practices on how to protect your accounts and your information.

Basic Security Hygiene: (Minute 1:15)

  • Prevention
  • Updates
  • Firewalls
  • Safe Browsing

Mobile\Wireless Security: (Minute 6:50)

  • Limit your transactions
  • Make sure the network is the right network
  • ·Turn off what you are not using

Passwords: (Minute 11:10)

  • Bad Practices
  • Good Practices

Final Solution: (Minute 25:00)

  • Your Backup Plan
  • Backup best Practices

James Brown is an IT Manager at Center for Financial Planning, Inc.®

Can You Have a Purposeful Retirement?

Contributed by: Sandra Adams, CFP® Sandy Adams


It is quite often we find ourselves as financial planners delivering the good news to clients that their financial plans are on solid footing and their retirement goals are on track, only to hear from the client that they still don’t feel that they are “ready” to retire.  These clients, while financially prepared, express that they don’t feel they have put enough planning into the practical side of retirement – what will we do every day that will give our lives meaning, purpose and joy?

A book I found recently gives guidance for clients struggling to design the next phase of their lives. Hyrum Smith, the author of Purposeful Retirement: How to Bring Happiness and Meaning to Your Retirement, provides tips, tools, and stories based on his journey through this very process.  In his words, “The rest of your life can be the best of your life” if you have the right attitude, embrace this stage, and bring enthusiasm to the process.  He finds that folks entering this phase are in one of two camps – those who can’t wait and those who will need to be dragged into it kicking and screaming.  It is important to identify which camp you are in and check your attitude at the door.

Takeaways from “Purposeful Retirement”:

  • Being proactive is the key to transitioning well into retirement. If you simply let yourself drift into retirement, you can become lost without the purpose or structure that your work life provided. 
  • Take charge of planning your next phase by defining your mission, your purpose and core values which will help direct how you spend your time in retirement.
  • The book offers options for how to take your purpose and translate it into action on a weekly and daily basis.
  • Fear or losing your identity or role is a key fear for many entering retirements.  For those folks, asking, “How will I make a difference?” will help fill that gap.
  • For many, retirement is not a solo endeavor (we do it with our spouse).  The book offers lessons on how to retire well as a couple and make adjustments that may need to be discussed and made to make retirement successful for both of you.
  • Just because you are entering into the last phase of your life doesn’t mean you are dead yet!  This can be your most successful, joyful, fulfilling phase of your life – if you are intentional and embrace it with enthusiasm.

Financially planning for your retirement is just the first step in the process.  Emotionally and psychologically planning for the last phase of your life may be the more challenging part for some – especially if you don’t want to coast to the end.  “Purposeful Retirement” may be a good place to start, and/or or have a conversation with your financial planner about other ways to help you plan your NEXT best phase of life.  We are always here to help!

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.

500 Books Donated…and counting!


The Center is just half way through our book collection drive for Rx for Reading Detroit.  I am thrilled to report that over 500 hundred books have been donated so far!  As we packed up the books to donate, we smiled to see some of our childhood favorites… remember the Hardy Boys adventures?  There were also more recently published classics like the Harry Potter series. I’m excited to know that these old and new stories will be filling the Little Libraries in Detroit soon!

When my parents recently relocated, my siblings and I were all handed a box of childhood mementos.  My mom said she could not throw them away, but the box did not make “the cut” to move to their new house.  Sound familiar to anyone?  After laughing at my childhood arts and crafts efforts, I found several books that I loved as a kid. I can’t think of a better way to show my appreciation for those stories than to share with the next generation of young readers.

We are so appreciative of the donations from clients, team members, and Center friends to this worthy charity.  If you are wondering if you can still participate, it’s not too late! We will continue collecting books through July 31st. 

If you are interested in donating, we are collecting gently used or new books, appropriate for elementary through high-school aged students. Rx for Reading Detroit is able to purchase books at a deep discount, so if you’d like to make a cash donation, please send directly to: Rx for Reading Detroit, University of Detroit Mercy, 4001 W. McNichols Road, Detroit, MI 48221. The Little Libraries used by Rx for Reading are constructed by Center client, John Mio.  

For more information about our event, please click here: Collecting-books-for-donation-to-rx-for-reading.

Jeanette LoPiccolo, CRPC® is a Client Service Manager at Center for Financial Planning, Inc.®

2018 2nd Quarter Investment Commentary


Helping our clients achieve their goals is truly a team effort here at The Center.  You may not have met or spoken to the investment team here at The Center, but we are an important resource leveraged to help you achieve your goals.  Watch the video below to learn more about the investment team and how we help you reach your financial planning destination!   We are always here to help so please don’t hesitate to reach out to us! 


The investment team monitors and rebalances your portfolio, in addition to portfolio construction.  It is equally important to continue to monitor portfolios and their compliance with your investing preferences and objectives as it is to determine what the proper investments are.  Rebalancing is a key part of this process.  See our recent blog post on how to rebalance a portfolio to understand the reasons and mechanics behind the process.  The most important way to be successful is to get invested and stay invested.  Rebalancing your portfolio on occasion will help you stay the course for the long-term.

Market Update

The story has stayed much the same over the past quarter with trade tensions remaining center stage.  Volatility remains, while trade war talks have spilled over into action and interest rates continue to rise.  Synchronized global growth is slowing but is not yet slow; so, do not expect growth to immediately fall off the cliff from a peak to a trough. 

U.S. markets remain in consolidation mode after a strong 2017 as investors waffle between getting comfortable with the lower rate of growth while having a strong economic and earnings outlook.  The U.S. market ended the quarter on a higher note up 3.43% for the S&P 500 despite the ups and downs throughout the quarter with China and U.S. relations.  Despite being up as much as 6.6% and down as much as 4.4% throughout the year so far we are up 2.65% through the end of the second quarter for the S&P 500. 

Bond markets have continued to struggle with bonds giving back what they are earning via interest payments, and then some, as the Bloomberg Barclays US Aggregate bond index is down 1.6% year to date.  Interest rates continue to increase at a well-telegraphed pace by the Federal Reserve with two more increases expected this year. 

In contrast to the U.S. market, international markets are struggling for the year with the MSCI EAFE posting a -2.75% so far.  In stark contrast, domestic small company stocks are enjoying a nice tailwind from the corporate tax reform so far this year.  The Russell 2000 is posting a startling 7.6% return year-to-date, all of which occurred in the second quarter.

Inflation continues its slow creep back into our economy with wages slowly starting to increase.  Just as slowing growth in the economy is not yet slow, rising inflation is not high inflation.  We are still at very low levels of inflation when you look at the history of our domestic economy.  Our investment committee has decided to add an allocation to an inflation-focused real asset strategy.  We want to add exposure within the portfolios to a strategy that would have the potential to respond more favorably than the broad equity markets to rising inflation. 

Preview of exciting changes

The investment team has been working on some exciting developments for your experience.  We will soon have a “Center for Financial Planning, Inc®” app for your smartphone where you can view returns, asset allocation and even your probability of success for your financial plan.  This new portal will be available to all who are interested.  More information and training on how to set up and view information will be coming later this year so watch your inboxes!  As always, please feel free to reach out if you ever have any questions.

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.

The information contained in this report 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 Angela Palacios 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. Investing involves risk and no strategy can ensure success. The process of rebalancing may carry tax consequences. Raymond James and its advisors do not offer tax or legal advice. You should discuss any tax or legal matters with the appropriate professional. Diversification and strategic asset allocation do not ensure a profit or protect against a loss. The S&P 500 is an unmanaged index of 500 widely held stocks. The Bloomberg Barclays US Aggregate Bond Index is a market capitalization-weighted index, meaning the securities in the index are weighted according to the market size of each bond type. Most U.S. traded investment grade bonds are represented. Municipal bonds, and Treasury Inflation-Protected Securities are excluded, due to tax treatment issues. The index includes Treasury securities, Government agency bonds, Mortgage-backed bonds, Corporate bonds, and a small amount of foreign bonds traded in U.S. The MSCI EAFE (Europe, Australia, Far East) index is an unmanaged index that is generally considered representative of the international stock market. These international securities involve additional risks such as currency fluctuations, differing financial accounting standards, and possible political and economic instability. The Russell 2000 index is an unmanaged index of small cap securities which generally involve greater risks. Inclusion of these indexes is for illustrative purposes only. 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. Bond prices and yields are subject to change based upon market conditions and availability. If bonds are sold prior to maturity, you may receive more or less than your initial investment. Holding bonds to term allows redemption at par value. There is an inverse relationship between interest rate movements and bond prices. Generally, when interest rates rise, bond prices fall and when interest rates fall, bond prices generally rise.

Taking Security Seriously


Ever wonder what steps we take to ensure the security of your information?

This is a topic we take very seriously here at The Center. There are a variety of ways we work to ensure the privacy of your data. One of the steps we took was to hire our IT Manager, James Brown. James brought with him not only an in-depth knowledge of networks, hardware, and software but also an eye for security best practices. A core value of our firm is to seek continuous learning. While we have a large number of individuals on staff who seek new certifications on the topics of investment management and financial planning, it is also just as important in the world of technology and security. While James possessed a large amount of knowledge on the topic of security, he felt it is important to remain on top of the latest threats. This is why he sought to obtain the CompTIA Security+ certification.

In “non-geek speak” CompTIA Security+ certification is an assessment of an IT professional’s cybersecurity skills in risk management, disaster recovery and computer security best practices.

CompTIA Security+ is a vendor-independent global cybersecurity certification for IT Security professionals. Security+ certified professionals have proven competency in:

  • Network security
  • Threats and vulnerabilities
  • Compliance and operational security
  • Cryptography
  • Access control/identity management
  • Application, data and host security

This is not an easy test to pass, let alone on your first try! So join us in congratulating
James on achieving this! We know he spent countless hours for the benefit of you, our
client, studying to pass.

In addition to James, we also have an excellent resource available to us in security through
our relationship with Raymond James. James requested that Raymond James perform a
scan of our externally facing addresses and ports. This is a vulnerability assessment that
checks for a variety of ways a hacker could make their way into our system and gain access
to your data. After their threat assessment, we were found to have no vulnerabilities, a
clean bill of health so to speak.

James will be sharing some of what he has learned in his upcoming webinar on “Staying
Safe with Computer Best Practices

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.