Financial Peace of Mind

Financial independence conjures up an idea of more than simply cash or material wealth. It also suggests a certain peace of mind and an approach to life that focuses on abundance and not shortage. Now, how does one go about obtaining and maintaining financial peace of mind? Let’s explore four best practice approaches to financial peace of mind practiced by many who have both obtained and maintained their independence over the long term. Simply put, how do many wealthy investors invest?

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Siena Wealth Advisors Recognized as a Top CPA Wealth Advisory Firm by Accounting Today Magazine

For the 6th straight year Siena Wealth Advisors has been included in the list of Top CPA Wealth Advisory Firms by Assets Under Management by Accounting Today magazine. Siena is included in the “100 Million Plus Club” classification on the list. We are one of only five investment advisory firms in Michigan on the 2015 list.

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Guaranteed Income For Life

NO STRINGS ATTACHED! The financial industry has been flooded with high-cost, commission-based annuities. Most of which are sold with the sales pitch of having a guaranteed income for investors. Many don’t understand just how high those commissions can be, and the conflict of interest they create. The Michigan Attorney General, the Michigan Office of Services to the Aging, the SEC, and FINRA have all issued consumer warnings and/or alerts regarding annuities. Our Firm, has been skeptical of traditional annuities and annuity sales practices for years. What if we could offer investors guaranteed income for life with absolutely no stings attached? Sounds too good …

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The Coming Retirement Boom

Each day, at least 8,000 baby boomers will turn 65 for at least the next fifteen years. 10,000 individuals retire every day according to The Washington Post. How should these retirees be invested for a successful retirement? The first and often most overlooked step, is to have a written investment plan highlighting all investment objectives and constraints. As the old saying goes, If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail. Second, Investors cannot control the market returns but they can control how they approach investing. Just like a doctor who uses evidence-based medical techniques to diagnose your ailments, investing should be based off the peer-reviewed academic …

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Siena’s 2015 Financial Planning Desk Guide

Siena has compiled a non-exhaustive list of frequently requested financial, education and estate tax planning numbers for the 2015 tax year.  This list is designed as a desk reference for use at home or at the office. We encourage you to use this guide in collaboration with your accountant or tax professional. Siena Wealth Advisors will update this tax guide every January in the Greater Lansing Business Monthly. Click here to view.

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The Retirement Gamble

We have been a broken record over the last several years calling for low cost as opposed to high cost and surrender penalties (“contingent deferred sales charges”); fee-only as opposed to fee-based, loads and commissions; complete transparency as opposed to hidden fees, costs and expenses; passive index investments as opposed to active; highly-educated advisers as opposed to brokers calling themselves retirement planners or money managers; and truly objective and independent advice without conflicts of interest under fiduciary standards as opposed to mere suitability standards of brokers.  April 2013, PBS Frontline explores just how bad the situation has become in their …

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Retirement Plans for Your Small to Mid-Sized Business and Professional Practices

As a business owner, you should carefully consider the varied benefits of establishing an employer-sponsored retirement plan. Employer’s can utilize these plans to attract and retain key employees, provide your employees and owners a tax-advantaged method to save for retirement, and lower the firm’s tax bill by taking allowed deductions on contributions made to the plan each tax year.  Each employer-sponsored retirement plan type has it’s own unique advantages and disadvantages.  Determining the correct retirement plan for your business involves a complex mix of considerations including financial, legal, administrative, cost and tax implications to state a few. Read more.

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Ask an Expert: Survey of Charitable Gifting Strategies

The subject of charity is a far-reaching matter that concerns everything from issues as wide and complex as estate planning and taxation to moral and ethical considerations.  We write this article with a keen understanding of the former and leave the latter to the donors and their families. The stated purpose of this survey is, then, to make the reader aware of many of the various charitable gifting strategies to explore with a professional fee-only adviser (not merely fee-based adviser or broker). The unstated purpose: As much as we leave the morality and ethical issues to others, we nonetheless hope …

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The Science of Investing

We often hear about the importance of being a disciplined investor. While this is true, it does not tell us much. Being disciplined suggests that we should make a plan and stick to it. Sounds correct, but does that mean just any plan will do? So, for example, should an investor follow the advice of a broker who says not to think long term because he can somehow time the market through his superior risk management skills or because he sells an insurance product such as an annuity? As you read on, the answer, if it already is not obvious, will become clear. …

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Approaching Retirement FAQ

Whether you are approaching retirement or already retired, determine what to do with your employer-sponsored retirement plans can leave you with many questions.  This article explores the frequently asked questions of those individuals and families considering the best plan of action for their retirement. Read more.

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Approaching Zero Taxes on Investments

Most investors cringe at the thought of losing money in the markets, even a small amount for a short while, yet permanently lose substantially more money to taxation without spending much thought on it. Although taxation seems inevitable, there is something you can do to reduce the effects on your portfolio. This article explores seven techniques that can greatly reduce the tax on your portfolio and help you approach zero taxes on your investments. Click here to see how.

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Buyer Beware: Equity Indexed Annuities

The lure of having principal protection and some upside growth with a tax-deferral makes many investors consider an Equity Indexed Annuity, but buyers should beware and exercise caution before buying an annuity or other insurance product as a substitute for an investment. Take notice that many financial commentators from highly regarded publications such as Forbes, Bloomberg, Business Week, Financial Planning and other national publications have been very critical of Equity Indexed Annuities, for many of the reasons that we will explore in this article. Read more.

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Everything You’ve Always Wanted To Know About IRAs

The Individual Retirement Account (IRA) was introduced in 1974 with the passage of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA). According to the Investment Company Institute, IRA investment to date is well in excess of 3 trillion dollars (representing approximately one-fourth of all retirement assets in the United States). In 1997, Congress created the Roth IRA for individuals of earned incomes below certain threshold amounts. In this article, we explore the traditional IRA and the Roth IRA, including the benefits and limitations of each, along with a discussion about the possible utility of converting a traditional IRA to a Roth …

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Evidence-Based Investing

Many people have heard the term evidence-based medicine and would not trust their health with any other approach, but few people have heard of evidence-based investing.  So, what is evidence-based investing or EBI? Very generally, it is how science is done in the application of investing. More specifically, EBI is the field work of investing science where data are continuously collected, organized and analyzed by professionals who are academically trained in the science. As with any science, EBI demands a rigorous, objective and meticulous analysis of data. Most people wouldn’t place their trust in a doctor who didn’t follow evidence-based …

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Fiduciary Stewardship

No greater source than the Bible itself, Luke 16:2, calls for managers to give an account of their stewardship. This command recognizes that we live and work in communities, each person reliant on his or her brethren in some important way to perform those services for which others are more aptly suited. Clearly this reliance creates a special position of trust between principal and agent. In the context of investments the principal, or the person who is being served by others, is the client, and those person(s) who are doing the service are the agents. So, at least in our …

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The Hidden Cost of Investing

How do you make money in the stock market? Well, a good start is to avoid excessive and often hidden brokerage and insurance fees, costs and expenses. If you think that you are working with an independent and objective fiduciary adviser or planner and not a broker, you are likely mistaken as brokers often use every name to describe their work except the name “broker.” This article explores many common and often hidden or at least hard to find costs of investing. Find out more.

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How Do You Know When You’ve Had Enough

How do you know when you have enough?  It’s a different answer for everyone, but not knowing it can put your investments in jeopardy.  With full gratitude and acknowledgement to Larry E. Swedroe, MBA for his wonderful prose and practical erudition, we seek to discover the answer to this most important question.  So, what is your risk tolerance, and how do you know when enough is enough? Learn more.

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Ask An Expert: Investing In Bonds

The investing universe can be broadly separated between two investment vehicles: stocks and bonds. Most investors think of stocks or stock mutual funds when investing; however, bonds are often a significant if not substantial asset component of an investment plan.  Experts Stephen L. Hicks and Roger L. Millbrook break down everything you need to know about investing in bonds. Read more.

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Modern Estate Planning: Protecting Your Family

The modern estate plan consists of a revocable living trust; pour-over will; durable powers of attorney for property, healthcare and mental health care. Together these estate planning instruments constitute a basic estate plan that is vital for the protection of your family. Each of these instruments is explained in-depth within. Read more.

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Obtaining and Maintaining Financial Independence

Most of us have a goal of obtaining financial independence at some point in our lives. Of course, the sooner, well, the better. Financial independence conjures up more than simply cash or material wealth; it also suggests a certain peace of mind and an approach to life that focuses on abundance and not shortage.  So, how does one go about obtaining financial independence, and once obtained, how does one keep it? Click to learn more.

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Retire Worry-Free

For most of us, retirement is not simply a goal but also a state of mind. How best to enjoy one’s retirement? With confidence, enthusiasm and peace of mind.  Simply put, to retire “worry-free.”  This article explores best practices in relation to financial and retirement planning for those individuals and families saving for retirement, approaching retirement or already retired. Learn more.

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Saving for Children’s College

It is always best to start saving for your children’s college education as early as possible. Long ago, in a previous article, we discussed the magic of compound interest. The simple Rule of 72 suggests that money doubles every seven years at approximately 10 percent. Those parents who begin saving at their child’s birth, as opposed to those who start when the child is age seven, potentially have one full doubling period advantage. Considering that tuition and related expenses are growing at an inflationary rate which is currently more than double the Consumer Price Index (CPI), we recommend you start …

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Secrets of Wealthy Investors Revealed

Ever wondered how the wealthy invest? Do wealthy investors pay commissions like the rest of us? What do wealthy investors invest in? How do they limit or reduce the taxes they pay on their investments? Who are the advisers to the wealthy and what type of education, training and experience do they possess? Perhaps most importantly, how can I invest as the wealthy do? These and other questions about the wealthy abound. Let’s shed some light on these and other questions about wealthy investors. Click here to see the secrets of wealthy investors.

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Tips For Combating Inflation

Inflation should always be a concern of investors and especially for those who are retired or are about to retire and live on a fixed income. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which issues the Consumer Price Index or CPI, over the last several years inflation has been low and otherwise in check. So what’s the concern, if inflation has been in check for the last several years? Inflation has not always been so moderate and, indeed, with the recent economic stimulus plan and other unprecedented government spending inflation or even hyper-inflation is a real and significant possibility. So …

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Wealth Management Best Practices

The following best practices represent the very pinnacle of financial planning and wealth management practiced by those few advisers in the rarefied field of fee-only, fiduciary investing. We recommend that an investor use this best practice guide as an aid in determining whether to keep or leave an existing investment strategy or investment adviser.

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Siena’s 2014 Financial Planning Desk Guide

The following is a non-exhaustive list of frequently requested financial, education and estate tax planning numbers for the 2014 tax year. This list is designed as a desk reference for use at home or at the office. We encourage you to use this guide in collaboration with your accountant or tax professional. Click here to see Siena’s 2014 financial planning desk guide.

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Siena’s 2013 Financial Planning Desk Guide

The following is a non-exhaustive list of frequently requested financial, education and estate tax planning numbers for the 2013 tax year. At the time this article went to the publisher there is much uncertainty as to the 2013 tax rates. Congress is currently debating how to resolve its budget concerns and a significant change to the tax rates may be in line. However, this list represents the tax law as it will currently be. Please check back on the GLBM website for updated information when, and if, Congress acts. This list is designed as a desk reference for use at …

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Why Siena Avoids Traditional Annuities

Let’s be clear from the outset that we’d make a lot more money for ourselves if we sold annuities, yet, we avoid them. Instead, we believe in wealth management, not product sales. All too often we see self-described “money managers” or “retirement/financial planners” simply selling various products for a commission with little if any actual management or advice being provided, other than incidental advice. Indeed, brokers are limited from offering anything other than mere “incidental investment advice” to their clients. This is true regardless of their marketing hype to the contrary. Learn more.

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Siena Wealth Rebrands in Preparation for Continued Growth

Siena Wealth Advisors of Grand Ledge has taken a unique approach to investment advising and turned it into a growing, nationally- recognized success in less than a decade. The company, formally known as Siena Capital Management, LLC, has changed its name and branding to better reflect the scope of their services as they continue to grow.

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Siena’s 2012 Financial Planning Desk Guide

The following is a non-exhaustive list of frequently requested financial, education and estate tax planning numbers for the 2012 tax year.  This list is designed as a desk reference for use at home or at the office.  We encourage you to use this guide in collaboration with your accountant or tax professional.  Siena Wealth Advisors will update this tax guide every January in The Greater Lansing Business Monthly. Click here to see Siena’s full 2012 tax guide.

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Siena’s 2011 Financial Planning Desk Guide

The following is a nonexhaustive guide of frequently requested financial, education and estate tax planning numbers for the 2011 tax year.  This guide is designed as a desk reference for use at home or at the office. *As this article goes to press, there is still much uncertainty regarding the 2011 tax law. There are many “Bush tax cuts” that are set to expire at the end of 2010. However, as we write, Congress is discussing many issues that could change the following tax rates. We encourage you to use this guide in collaboration with your accountant or tax professional. …

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Siena’s 2010 Financial Planning Desk Guide

The following is a non-exhaustive list of frequently requested financial, education, and estate tax planning numbers for the 2010 tax year.  This list is designed as a desk reference for use at home or at the office.  We encourage you to use this guide in collaboration with your accountant or tax professional.  Siena Capital Management will update this tax guide every January in The Greater Lansing Business Monthly. Click here to see the full 2010 tax guide.

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Why We Are Excited About Mid-Michigan

It has often been said often that Lansing and, for that matter mid-Michigan, suffers from an image crisis. Let’s put it to rest now. This image crisis is nothing more than an imagined crisis. It’s as if we have been looking at ourselves in a funhouse mirror for a long, long time instead of a real mirror. Looking with a proper reflection will tell us who we are as a community, how we should be defined, and what others should know about us. We are, of course, Michigan’s capital city, but we are so much more. Click here to see why!

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Siena’s 2009 Financial Planning Desk Guide

The following is a non-exhaustive list of frequently requested financial, education, and estate tax planning numbers for the 2009 tax year. This list is designed as a desk reference for use at home or at the office. We encourage you to use this guide in collaboration with your accountant or tax professional. Siena Capital Management will update this tax guide every January in The Greater Lansing Business Monthly. Click here to see Siena’s full 2009 tax guide.

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Ask an Expert: Is Your Pension and Retirement Plan Safe?

Is your pension or retirement plan safe? If you are not absolutely certain, then we strongly encourage you to read on. In the next several years as many as 60 to 80 million Americans will be retiring. This large number is due to the aging baby boomer population (those born between 1946 and 1964). Many of these retirees will be living on a fixed income such as Social Security, a defined benefit plan or fixed annuity or, if not fixed and subject to market volatility, other assets that need to be protected. Below are some common questions that we are …

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