Monthly Archives: February 2016

We’re Hiring: Client Services Associate

You’re here because you heard of this job or you saw a post on social media. And we’re excited you’re here – because it means you’re interested in joining our team. Here’s what we’re looking for in a Client Services Associate:

This is a part-time position with flexible days and hours.

Are you a people person? Do you enjoy working closely with team members and getting to know clients? Can you manage multiple tasks, switching between administrative and communications as needed?

Client Services Associate

JOB SUMMARY:

The Client Services Associate is responsible for assisting the Director of Client Services in ongoing client service and communications as well as maintaining the client database. This position also works closely with other team members to ensure the office and administrative functions are working smoothly and efficiently.

PRIMARY RESPONSIBILITIES:

  • Client Service:
    • Assist with meeting preparation; research items as needed.
    • Assist with maintaining the client database; create new client contact records as needed; keep records updated throughout the year; enter notes; create and update rules, action sequences and templates in CRM to maximize efficiency and consistency.
    • Provide imaging support for non-operational documents; scan and file documents to electronic imaging system.
    • Assist in answering incoming calls; route to appropriate staff or assign actions as needed.
    • Contact clients on a regular basis through phone calls, emails, letters, etc. to obtain updated information.
    • Maintain office calendar; assist in scheduling client and prospective client meetings for advisors and other staff as needed.
  • Work with other team members to provide overall administrative support for the firm including:
    • Greet clients and visitors.
    • Handle and process daily mail: open and distribute; drop off outgoing mail.
    • Maintain professional appearance of office common areas including conference room.
    • Prepare conference room for client and prospect meetings.
    • Manage process for sending cards and gifts to clients (e.g., birthday cards, holiday cards and gifts).

 Qualifications:

  • Bachelor’s degree (preferred).
  • 4+ years client service experience; experience in financial planning and/or the securities industry (preferred).
  • Advanced level computer skills; advanced knowledge of Microsoft Office Suite.
  • Experience with contact management software (Junxure preferred).
  • Ability to learn new technologies and utilize them effectively.
  • Excellent oral, written and interpersonal communication skills.
  • Detail oriented and demonstrates a commitment to accuracy by delivering high quality, error-free work.
  • Excellent planning and organizational skills, efficient multi-tasker, effective follow-up, deadline focused.
  • Energetic, eager to learn, willing to cooperate.
  • Self-motivated with ability to work independently and under direction.

Essential Physical Functions:

  • Ability to sit for extended periods of time working on computer.
  • Ability to communicate via phone with clients and vendors. 

Equipment Used:

  • Constant use of computer, keyboard, scanner, and mouse.
  • Frequent use of telephone.
  • Regular use of office equipment, including copier, fax, shredder, etc.

How to Apply:

Email your resume to Brian Gosell at brian.gosell@guidantwealth.com or fax it to (847) 330-9922. Be sure to include the job title in the subject line or on your cover sheet.

 

The One Thing You Don’t Know about Social Security Benefits

Couple Socializing and Seeking Security

When working with our clients, we often talk about when is a good time to file for social security benefits. The milestones of 65 and 70 years old (the age we recommend you enroll, if you can) are fixtures in these discussions.

And even though today’s consumers are sometimes much more educated about social security, there is one thing some may not even know about, called retroactivity.

PBS recently published an article on social security retroactivity, calling it a hidden provision. After reading it, we wanted to share this information with you.

What You Should Know about Retroactivity

When you apply for social security benefits – online, in person, or over the phone – you are asked when you want the benefits to start. However, you are also informed at this point that you are eligible to take a lump sum of retroactive benefits from the past six months. Sounds good, right?

Here’s the potential catch: If you were waiting to take your benefits until 70 years old in order to maximize your benefits, and you take the retroactive lump sum, then the social security forms will actually show you took your benefits at 69 and a half years old.  

So while you get a large payment up front, you may have less money coming in each month from social security. Which may not seem so bad until you realize you could be losing thousands of dollars for every year you receive benefits.

How to Get Your Full Benefits

If you do not want to receive the retroactive payment, then you may need to specifically tell the social security claims rep to write it on your document. If you apply online, you may need to write in the comments the month you want your benefits to begin and why. Otherwise, you may end up with a lump sum payment and less money over time.

For More Information

If you want to be sure you are making the right choices for social security benefits, please feel free to reach out to us at (847) 330-9911. Our financial advisors can help you get the information you need.

 

The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual.

When Do Senior Citizens Stop Filing Income Taxes?

senior-man-filing-deadline

According to AARP, we become “seniors” at 50 years old; however, if we go by government standards, it seems we get an extra decade or so before earning the title. The definitions for senior citizen can be quite murky.

When it comes to income taxes, however, there are clear rules on senior citizens – particularly when, and if, they can stop filing taxes.

Let’s take a look at the guidelines.

  • If your gross income exceeds the sum of the standard deduction for your filing status plus one exemption amount, then you are required to file a tax return.
  • You must file a tax return if you are unmarried, at least 65 years of age, and have a gross income of $11,850 or more.
  • You must file a tax return if you are married filing jointly, with a spouse age 65 or older, and with a combined gross income of $23,100 or more.
  • You must file a tax return if you are married filing jointly, with a spouse younger than 65 years old, with a combined income of $21,850 or more.
  • You do not count your Social Security income as gross income if you are a senior citizen, unless:
    • You are married and live with your spouse at any time of the year, but you file a separate tax return. This may or may not require a tax return.
    • Half your Social Security benefits plus all other income, including tax-exempt interest, exceeds $25,000, regardless of filing status. This means a portion of your Social Security benefits are included in your gross income.
    • Half your Social Security benefits plus all other income, including tax-exempt interest, exceeds $32,000, if you are married filing jointly. This means a portion of your Social Security benefits are included in your gross income.
  • If your only source of income is Social Security, and you do not meet any of the requirements above, then you do not need to file an income tax return.

These amounts are for the 2015 tax year only. They generally increase with each year. Before you decline to file a tax return, consider speaking with your tax preparer. For more information on how to manage your tax burden as a senior citizen, feel free to speak with one of our experienced financial advisors.

3 Tips for Talking Finances with the One You Love

Spouses Discussing Finances – Guidant Wealth Advisors

Whether you are about to get married, are recently married or have been married for years, talking finances with your spouse or soon-to-be partner can be among the most challenging.

Are you a saver and they are the spender? Do you have different views about what is a priority when you do spend? Talking about personal finances can bring up feelings of resentment, embarrassment, and a myriad of other awkward emotions.

The good news? Financial talks can actually be exciting and successful.

Here are three tips for smoothing the edges around these rough discussions:

Do It Together, Regularly

Yes, one person can do the budget and look at monthly expenses. But when you look at these items together, you both face the reality of spending habits and amounts. You hold each other accountable, and you have the opportunity to talk about what has gone on in the past week or month. You also have the chance to discuss big dreams and celebrate small accomplishments.

Speaking of timeframes, set a specific date where you both sit down and talk about the budget, future goals, and how to achieve them. When you do this regularly, you always make the time for keeping short- and long-term money objectives in check.

Put Yourself in Their Shoes

Not everyone has the same view of money. How it should be spent vs. how it should be saved are perspectives formed from different experiences – be it educational or from our family environments.

When you talk finances with the one you love, bring your patience and empathy to the discussion. Because you have set aside time for it (see above), you won’t feel rushed to say what is on your mind and you will have time to listen to your partner’s aspirations and challenges.

Work With a Third Party

Once you have discussed your financial goals, whether on the surface or in detail, a talk with a financial advisor can solidify your plans and take them to the next level. You and your partner will have the financial advisor as an unbiased source of knowledge and strategy. And you can alleviate the emotional weight to focus on your financial future together.

Word from Tony DiMaso: Emergency Broadcast System

It has probably happened in the middle of your favorite show. For me, it was Happy Days. Right at the most exciting part (Fearless Fonzie’s Motorcycle Jump), the television flashes to a rainbow bar graph and all sound halts.

“This is a test. This station is conducting a test of the Emergency Broadcast System. This is only a test.”

Then 15 seconds of a blaring tone. The system, which was established in 1963 and ended in 1997, was created to provide the President of the United States with an expeditious method of communicating with the American public in the event of war, threat of war, or grave national crisis. I hear these words in a slightly different way when I think about the market’s recent volatility.

“This is a test. These markets are conducting a test of your self-discipline and patience. This is only a test.”

Volatility, as witnessed so far this year, can make us all feel anxious. However, it is important to keep in mind that staying true to one’s investment plan – even when the market may feel like a roller coaster – is the most suitable course of action for working towards your long term goals .

Investing legend Jack Bogle, founder of The Vanguard Group and respected author, provided timely input on this topic during a interview on January 20, 2016; Bogle said, “Just stay the course. Don’t do something, just stand there. This is speculation that we’re seeing out there, and you can’t respond to it.”

Regarding the importance of being a long term investor in one’s portfolio, Bogle also remarked, “If you’re investing in a retirement plan, as tens of millions of people are, don’t stop investing when the market goes down. The prices are 10% better than they were. Keep investing.”

I think it is worthy advice to consider from a wise investor as we stay the course. Remember, “This is only a test.”

 

 

– The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual. No strategy assures success or protects against loss. Stock investing involves risk including loss of principal