Educational Workshops

Taking Security Seriously

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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.

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.

This information has been obtained from sources deemed to be reliable but its accuracy and completeness cannot be guaranteed. Raymond James is not affiliated with Dr. Paula Duren.

Tax Free Growth: A Webinar Targeting Fiat Chrysler Retirement Plans

Contributed by: Center for Financial Planning, Inc. The Center

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A couple of weeks ago, Nick Defenthaler, CFP®, hosted a webinar targeting Fiat Chrysler employees and how they could save thousands of dollars by contributing to the after-tax portion of their 401k plan. Although not all 401k retirement plans have these same capabilities, knowing about the possible tax deferred options that could be available for your retirement plan can be helpful for future saving.

In the webinar below, Nick explains the difference between traditional 401ks and Roth 401ks, and also includes insight into other retirement saving vehicles like IRAs. He explains what retirement plan could be best for you and your future, which can depend on your current tax bracket and your predicted future bracket. The webinar is filled with basic information about retirement plans and then delves into the specific plan as it relates to Fiat Chrysler employees. Take 30 minutes to review the information and if you have any questions, feel free to contact us.

For further information, Nick has already shared advice for thinking about Back Door Roth IRA Conversion and what Ford Employees should do regarding this same topic.

How Millennials Approach Financial Planning

Contributed by: Nick Defenthaler, CFP® Nick Defenthaler

Last month, I visited Dallas, Texas for a unique “conference” – the Financial Planning Association (FPA) NexGen Gathering.  FPA NexGen is exclusive to those who are under the age of 37 and active in the financial planning profession.  As a board member for the FPA of Michigan, I learned about the NexGen group several months ago and was intrigued and very excited that there was a dedicated group connecting and sharing information among younger planners.   

Millennials Don’t Want “Conferences”

From the very moment I arrived, I could feel the positive energy.  As the “gathering” began (apparently calling it a “conference” was too stuffy for us Millennials), everyone gave a brief introduction, said where they had come from and one thing they hoped to come away with by the end of the weekend.  Even with a group of 108, you could truly feel the passion each person had for helping others with money.  For the next hour or so, we developed and voted on several lists of discussion topics that would be the focus of breakout sessions the following day.  No speakers.  No single voice preaching their view on a particular topic.  These were CONVERSATIONS between professionals with an open, casual, yet extremely respectful format. 

Starting Conversations & Building Relationships

The following day there were 6 breakout sessions, each with 4 topics to choose from to attend the round table discussions.  It was so difficult to just pick one because so many great ideas came out of the previous day’s brainstorming session. I came away with several great ideas to immediately put into practice both professionally and personally, which in my opinion, is what attending “conferences” and participating in professional development opportunities is all about.  I’ve also found that the relationships you develop while away from home at events such as the NexGen Gathering with like-minded peers does nothing but help you progress and become a better planner and professional.  It’s amazing what you can learn from others if you keep your mind open and challenge the way you normally think. 

Overall, the NexGen gathering was a great experience and I truly enjoyed spending time with the current and future leaders in the financial planning profession. I can tell you, they truly love what they do each and every day – helping others live great lives.  I look forward to attending the Gathering again next year and coming away with a new sense of energy like I have this year!

Nick Defenthaler, CFP® is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ at Center for Financial Planning, Inc. Nick is a member of The Center’s financial planning department and also works closely with Center clients. In addition, Nick is a frequent contributor to the firm’s blogs.


Any opinions are those of Nick Defenthaler, CFP® and not necessarily those of RJFS or Raymond James. Raymond James is not affiliated with and does not endorse the opinions or services of the Financial Planning Association (FPA). 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.

The Art and Science of Happiness

Contributed by: Angela Palacios, CFP® Angela Palacios

In 1988 Bobby McFerrin inspired us to “Don’t Worry Be Happy.” As I’m sure many agree, this is far easier said than done.  During the Raymond James National Conference I had the privilege to attend a session on happiness taught by Dr. Fred Luskin from Stanford University.  This session was a very abbreviated, but no less inspiring, version of his popular course offered at Stanford University.  We can all use a little more happiness in life even if we aren’t unhappy and Dr. Luskin offers some tools to help us do so.

Manage your drive to achieve

“Happiness is wanting what you have” said Dr. Luskin.

Don’t waste all of your time pining for more or something different than you already have. You can strive for more, but take time to appreciate what you do have.

Savor moments of success and love

Too often we ruin these moments by immediately picking up our phone to check email or text messages. Stop and just enjoy the moment briefly before moving on to the next item on the list.

Take time to show gratitude

Think about what you are grateful for and share that with someone.   We don’t have to wait until it is November to post these things on Facebook or share with someone; try to do this every day.

Give your brain the opportunity to see the happiness

Mediate, take breaks and relax.  It is ok to have a lot to do. “In every life we have some trouble, When you worry you make it double.”  Train yourself to just be ok with having a lot to do and temper your drive to get it all done at once.

Dr. Luskin teaches us not to focus on what has gone wrong, but instead what makes people happy and why.  So while we all can’t attend a class at Stanford, an easy first step is try generating your own list of activities and experiences that rejuvenate you and keep it handy to help you manage your daily stress.  This small step can go a long way in increasing our mood, health, productivity and overall happiness.

Angela Palacios, CFP® is the Portfolio Manager at Center for Financial Planning, Inc. Angela specializes in Investment and Macro economic research. She is a frequent contributor to Money Centered as well asinvestment updates at The Center.


Raymond James is not affiliated with Dr. Fred Luskin

Center Team Back from RJ Conference with Ideas for the Future

Though the sun was shining brightly over the pool outside our Las Vegas hotel, our team turned a blind eye each morning and dove into work. Of The Center’s 18 employees, 17 of us made the trip to the Raymond James National Conference for Professional Development. We make it a point every year to get as many hands on deck as possible. Not just for the learning opportunities, but because it’s a great chance for us to do some off-site team building. This year we went with a mission: Find take-aways we could put into action for our clients. In this video, we share just a few:

4 Reasons Putnam Investments is back in the Winner’s Circle

Contributed by: Jaclyn Jackson Jaclyn Jackson

During the first quarter of 2015, I had the pleasure of attending Putnam Investment’s Research Analyst Meeting.  Even though a giant snowstorm hit the area just days before, positive energy seemed to be bursting at the seams in Boston. Admittedly, the Patriots had just won the Super Bowl and the victory parade was the day before the conference started, but the positive feeling at Putnam Investments came from something else.  It came from a proud shift in company culture that helped propel the firm back into its rightful spot in the winner’s circle of investment companies.

Putnam’s Fall & Rise

Having had their reputation shattered in 2003 after Securities and Exchange Commission market timing and late trading investigation, Putnam’s net asset level plummeted dramatically through 2008.  Fighting to stop the bleeding, Putnam decided to completely revamp.  On the first day of the conference, I had a chance to listen to R. Jeffrey Orr (President and CEO of Power Financial Corporation) and Robert Reynolds (President and CEO of Putnam) discuss how they turned the company’s culture on its head.  I remember R. Jeffrey Orr saying that when he first came to Putnam, there was a “playing not to lose” attitude and his goal became to shift that to a “playing to win” attitude. 

The Changing Culture at Putnam

I was most impressed by the analysts’ panel.  In line with the changes Orr and Reynolds set out to accomplish, the analysts talked about how Putnam’s research culture evolved to become more entrepreneurial and team based.  These fundamental changes have improved fund performance and subsequently brought Putnam back to life.  Many factors helped make that change happen, but here are what I see as the top four reasons Putnam is back in the winner’s circle:

  1. Shared Research: In the old company culture, credit analysts and equity analysts never crossed the aisle to work with each other.  Now, it is common for credit and equity analysts to combine research (as credit research often captures a perspective that differs from equity research performed on the same company and vice versa) to make better assessments of a company.
  2. Personal Accountability: Each analyst constructs his/her own individual portfolio and is rewarded based on how well his/her portfolio performs.  In this way, analysts are acknowledged for all the good calls they make and not just the calls they make that the portfolio manager adapts to the fund portfolio.  This encourages good ideas, individual thinking, high conviction, and entrepreneurship. 
  3. Different Compensation Structure: Putnam’s compensation structure differs from other companies in that, typically, analysts fight over a lump sum amount intended to be split among them. The traditional structure often pits researchers against each other; even if more than one person has a good year, only the best researcher is compensated.  Putnam’s structure allows everyone to be compensated for the choices they make in their individual portfolios; essentially, everyone can be rewarded when they make positive attributions.  Culturally, the compensation structure helps thought sharing and helps build comradery (provided analysts are no longer motivated to hoard good ideas).
  4. Efficient Communication: Communication has improved between portfolio managers, analysts, and traders.  To start, everyone is centrally located - meaning you can physically see when someone is at their desk and consult with them as needed.  This informal meeting style has helped Putnam eradicate the long, formal meetings they once had.  Check-ins are shorter, but more frequent and have generated more time for everyone to fulfill their job responsibilities.

This material is being provided for information purposes only and is not a complete description, nor is it a recommendation. Any opinions are those of Jaclyn Jackson and not necessarily those of Raymond James. The information has been obtained from sources considered to be reliable, but Raymond James does not guarantee that the foregoing material is accurate or complete. 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.

Possibilities Conference Offers Insights on Aging

Contributed by: Melissa Parkins Melissa Parkins

I recently attended the Branch Possibilities Conference at the Raymond James home office in St. Petersburg, Florida. The theme this year was "Working with Aging Clients". I had high hopes of receiving quality information that I could bring back to our office, like many others have been able to do in past years. My time there exceeded my expectations. Not only did I have a great time away from the office (and in some warm and humid weather!), I met a lot of interesting and intelligent people, got to collaborate with other RJ associates and learned more than I expected to about opportunities at Raymond James, including new technology, that we hope to share with clients in coming months.

My top takeaways:

  • I heard a lot about the work RJ has been doing regarding future quality of life. Their research was used by many different presenters at the conference. One of the main themes revisited throughout the entire conference was the three questions that can be used to predict future quality of life: Who will change my light bulbs? How will I get an ice cream cone? Who will I have lunch with? For more on how the answers to these questions can provide valuable insight on housing and quality of life issues, take a look at this blog by Sandy Adams, CFP®. These are three simple and innovative questions that clients, families and planners should be discussing to assess preparedness for long life in retirement.
  • The value of debt, especially for an aging client, was another hot topic. I learned of the new lending options available for all clients based on securities through Raymond James bank (lines of credit, mortgages, etc.).  These new lending opportunities open up planning options for clients of all ages that weren’t present in the past.  We look forward to conversations with clients about these opportunities during meetings in the coming months.
  • Social Security continues to be a hot topic as it relates to retirement income strategies.  We talk a lot about this with clients as they prepare for retirement.  The presentations at the conference connected a lot of dots for me personally, and we look forward to continuing to put Social Security strategies to work for our clients in the context of their lifelong retirement income planning.

This material is being provided for information purposes only and is not a complete description, nor is it a recommendation. Any opinions are those of Melissa Parkins, Registered Client Service Associate and not necessarily those of Raymond James. The information has been obtained from sources considered to be reliable, but Raymond James does not guarantee that the foregoing material is accurate or complete.

Experts & Economists Share Insights at ETF.com Conference

Bitcoin, robo-advisors, overvalued equities and more … all were hot topics at January’s ETF.com Conference. For the second year in a row, we sent our portfolio manager Angela Palacios. She reports back on her biggest insights.

After 2014’s ETF.com Conference, I had high expectations. They were quickly exceeded.  With over 1,800 attendees, it was one of the world’s largest conferences focusing on exchange-traded funds and the agenda was jam-packed. Keynote speakers included JJeffrey Gundlach of DoubleLine Capital and RRob Arnott of Research Affiliates, two money managers we know well here at The Center. We have utilized Gundlach and Arnott for many years for our clients.  

In addition to the all-star speaking lineup, I had the chance to hear from a “Robo-advisor” … a topic of debate around our office, which we featured in our recent blog. I also heard from experts in Bitcoin as well as Mark Yusko who talked about endowment models and the way they manage money.

Here are the 3 questions everyone seemed to be talking about:

  1. Is deflation on the horizon?  I expected conflicting viewpoints, but there was some agreement. The majority of the experts think it is coming.
  2. Where is oil headed? Most say it will stay low and drift higher, only very slowly.  Gundlach made an interesting point that $100 per barrel of oil may not be where oil should be. Natural gas has been and stayed low for so long, he suggested oil could now be coming in line with where it should be.
  3. Are U.S. equities overvalued?  There were too many differing viewpoints here to count but everyone was talking about it!

In between listening to the experts and economists, I also enjoyed a sprinkling of some lighter material.  Terry Bradshaw gave his thoughts on life in general (including his unusual infatuation with Tom Brady) and James Carville and Karl Rove faced off in a political showdown. Both were excellent additions to the lineup this year.

Angela Palacios, CFP®is the Portfolio Manager at Center for Financial Planning, Inc. Angela specializes in Investment and Macro economic research. She is a frequent contributor to Money Centered as well as investment updates at The Center.


This material is being provided for information purposes only and is not a complete description, nor is it a recommendation to buy or sell any investment. Any opinions are those of Center for Financial Planning, Inc. and not necessarily those of Raymond James. The information has been obtained from sources considered to be reliable, but Raymond James does not guarantee that the foregoing material is accurate or complete. Unless otherwise noted, individuals mentioned are not affiliated with Raymond James. 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.

Reinventing Michigan Retirement

 At a conference tailored to Michigan residents age 50 and up, Sandy Adams, CFP® and Laurie Renchik, CFP® volunteered their professional retirement planning expertise. Sandy and Laurie were part of the team of volunteers at the Reinventing MI Retirement conference hosted by the Michigan Department of Insurance and Financial Services.

The event was held at the Michigan State University Management Education Center in Troy. It was one of nine conferences put on across the state to help Michigan residents learn more about how to potentially achieve financial security in your later years.

Sandy and Laurie provided attendees with one-on-one financial check-ups.  Governor Rick Snyder made an appearance and delivered a message about living well and aging well. The Reinventing MI Retirement initiative is funded by contributions and grants from the Michigan Securities Investor Education and Training Fund.


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 web sites or their respective sponsors. Raymond James is not responsible for the content of any web site or the collection or use of information regarding any web site’s users and/or members. C14-038753