Leadership, Perseverance, Hope

Last month, I attended the Schwab IMPACT conference for investment advisors in San Francisco. This invitation-only financial-industry conference brings together independent investment advisors with influential presenters, exhibitors and experts to learn about and collaborate on key issues and best practices. It was my extreme honor to speak on a panel about building and managing an advisory business.

Photo Caption: Investment Advisor Mike McCann (left) with U.S. Navy Captain Mark Kelly at the Schwab IMPACT conference, November 2011

In addition to continuing education sessions, I had the pleasure of sitting in on inspiring keynote presentations by Tony Blair, former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom; Maria Bartiromo, anchor of CNBC’s Closing Bell and host/managing editor of the nationally syndicated Wall Street Journal Report; and Charles Schwab, founder and chairman of the Charles Schwab Corporation. Their insights on the economy, global events and the future were enlightening.

American hero, U.S. Navy Captain Mark Kelly also was a keynote speaker at IMPACT. Kelly served in the Persian Gulf and flew in dozens of missions during Operation Desert Storm. During his tenure with NASA, Kelly  was an astronaut on four space shuttle missions, including one as the leader of Discovery and another as the commander of the final flight aboard Endeavour in May of this year. He spoke, in part, about the importance of thinking individually and dangers of falling into a “group think” mentality. “None of us is as dumb as all of us,” Kelly said, quoting a popular NASA saying.

He is married to Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, who was the target of an assassination attempt in January 2011. Regarding Giffords’ surprise return to Congress in August 2011, Kelly asked, “Have you ever packed for your wife for a trip? This is the most risky thing I’ve ever done.”

Kelly’s overall message of leadership, perseverance and hope was both humbling and uplifting. He believes America must continue to be a leading presence in the world, sharing our values of freedom, family, community and self-reliance for the betterment of all humankind.

By |December 6th, 2011|Advisors, Company News, Current Affairs, Uncategorized|

Decide Where Your Arizona Tax Dollars are Spent

by Andrew Mark, CPA

While no one likes paying taxes, it can be more palatable when you can designate where the money goes. Arizona offers a number of dollar-for-dollar credits you can take on your income-tax return. It doesn’t matter if you owe money or get a refund; but you must have Arizona taxes to offset the credits. If you’re married and think your tax bill to Arizona will be $2,200 for the year, for example, here’s a way to designate how all of it will be spent.

  1. Public schools. You can donate up to $400 ($200 for singles) to any public or charter school in Arizona for after-school activities. These must be received by the end of the year.
  2. Private school tuition organizations. Give up to $1,000 ($500 single) to a tuition organization that awards scholarships for children in Arizona private schools. Donations can be made up to April 15 of the next year.
  3. Working poor. Donate up to $400 ($200 single) to any Arizona-registered charity that helps the poor (organization must be approved by the Department of Revenue). You must also itemize your deductions on your Arizona form to claim this credit and the charity must receive your money by December 31.
  4. Military family relief. You can contribute $400 ($200 single) to benefit Arizona service members and their families. The assistance goes to those who are deployed or to the families of those injured or killed. The credit is capped at $1 million annually so it’s important to get this money in as early as possible. Any money received after $1 million is reached (usually sometime in December) is returned.

As with all tax advice you should seek confirmation from your own advisor that this will work for you.

By |November 9th, 2011|Charitable Giving, Taxes, Uncategorized|

Evaluating Personal Liability and Insurance Needs

What would happen if your dog bit someone jogging past your home? Or if your cinderblock fence collapsed onto the neighbor‘s vintage car? Or if your teenage child caused a serious car accident? Would your homeowners and auto insurance policies include sufficient personal liability protection if someone decided to sue you?

Evaluating Personal Liability and Insurance Needs

Most people are confident their homeowners and car insurance provides sufficient coverage for accidents. Yet, they’re unsure whether it adequately guards against potential lawsuits. In the rare event that you are ever sued, you could be required to pay a legal judgment from not only your current assets but also your future earnings. Even if you win the case, legal defense fees can add up quickly.

The typical homeowners and auto policies include personal liability coverage up to a certain limit. When you purchase the policies, you are able to customize many aspects of the coverage to suit your needs. A separate personal liability policy (called an umbrella policy) provides liability coverage beyond what your home and car insurance covers. The price of an umbrella policy varies by risk, but it is typically inexpensive (about a couple hundred dollars per year for a $1 million policy) because the coverage only kicks in after you’ve exhausted the liability benefits from your other policies.

One way to figure out how much personal liability insurance you need is to ask yourself how much you have to lose if you are sued. Add up the value of your home, your belongings, your financial assets and potential legal costs. Also take into account your current annual income and potential future earnings. You want to be sure a lawsuit won’t cause significant financial strain or wipe you out completely.

You may want to consult your insurance professional about modifying the personal liability limit of your existing homeowners policy and adding an umbrella policy to your insurance mix.

By |May 21st, 2011|Financial Planning, Insurance, Uncategorized|