Balance Personal and Business Financial Goals for Greater Success

 

Man balancing personal and business financesMichael Joyce, CFA, CFP® recently contributed an article to Lehigh Valley Business about how many business owners spend so much of their time building their company that they neglect their own personal financial health. But it’s possible to balance personal and business financial goals; they do not need to be mutually exclusive. Two areas where business owners should be focused are developing a strong overall financial plan and anticipating regulatory developments that might impact a company and personal wealth-building. The following tips will help guide wiser financial decisions and protect both business and personal goals.

For Personal Wealth-Building, Diversify Away from the Business

Probably the most important way a business owner can protect their future financial security is to avoid having all of their financial eggs in one basket, diversifying their investments beyond the business they own. While their investment in the company may well be the one investment that generates the highest return over their lifetime, the company will have greater inherent risk, particularly “single enterprise” risk. To protect against having one’s entire financial future riding on their company, a business owner should develop a diversified investment portfolio.

 

Protect the Personal Financial Bottom Line with Business Insurance

Another way to ensure a business’s financial well-being (and, therefore, that of the business owner personally) is to guard against potential damage to the company by having adequate business insurance coverage. No one wants to see their hard-earned success threatened by a natural disaster or lawsuit. Three types of business insurance to consider are general liability insurance, business income insurance and commercial property insurance. Also, key person insurance is recommended if the death of a key employee would threaten the company’s financial viability.

 

Offering A Qualified Retirement Savings Plan Helps Both Employees and Business Owners

Another way for business owners to ensure their own financial well-being is to offer a qualified retirement savings plan to employees and to fully fund the plan on an annual basis, whether it is a 401(k) Profit Sharing Plan, SEP or SIMPLE. For newly established or cyclical companies, SEPs (Simplified Employee Pension Plans) are an attractive option since employer contributions can vary from year to year, as long as each employee receives the same amount. Offering a SIMPLE IRA gives the employer contribution options – they can either match employee contributions or contribute a fixed percentage of salary each year. Also, from an administrative standpoint, the SIMPLE IRA is indeed simple since there are no filing requirements for the employer with the IRS; rather, the investment firm handles the filing.

 

Understand Public Policy Affecting the Business for Professional and Personal Financial Success

For the future financial security of a company and its owner, it is critical to keep an eye on public policies that impact small businesses. Currently, with a new administration at the helm, there are many regulatory and tax-related developments that will affect businesses both positively and negatively.

Small businesses with government contracts will benefit from President Biden’s recent signing of an executive order closing the loopholes in The Buy American Act — requiring that companies accepting federal contracts must be based fully in the U.S. and prohibiting them from sourcing materials internationally. Since the Federal government purchases close to $600 billion in goods and services annually, this is good for American businesses.

In another executive order, Biden highlighted a commitment to build a “modern and sustainable infrastructure” and to deliver an “equitable clean energy future,” so businesses in the clean energy, sustainability, and transportation sectors will see growth opportunities. A new infrastructure bill will be introduced in the very near future — and while the terms are still to be negotiated, transportation and large construction firms can expect to profit.

An executive order that will negatively impact certain energy and construction businesses is the revocation of the permit to construct the Keystone XL oil pipeline. Without the pipeline, it is likely that businesses’ energy costs will be higher. And estimates as to the number of jobs that will be lost as a result of the cancellation of the pipeline construction range from 4,000 to 11,000 two-year positions.

At this time, tax policy as it relates to small business is more of an unknown. While the Biden administration is unlikely to crater the recovering economy with higher taxes in 2021, it all may come down to the mid-term elections in 2022. Some of the new infrastructure plans will require more Federal dollars — so future tax hikes are likely.

Of course, it is understandable that business owners focus predominantly on growing their companies — but to guard against neglecting the bigger financial picture, working with a trusted financial advisor can help. Responsible planning, diversification, and knowledge of future policy and regulatory developments can contribute to the financial success of a business and its owner over time.

Track Spending and Review Personal Finances Monthly

How You Track Spending Is Not As Important As Doing It!

Michael Joyce says to track spending monthly

Agili President and Founder, Michael Joyce

If a fancy app is not for you, a pen or paper is just as good to get your finances organized. In this story for NBC12, Old School Budgeting with a Pen and Paper Is Still a Good Way to Go, Michael Joyce says he still budgets the old school way. “You can certainly use technology to keep track of a budget. But really you can do it any way that is comfortable for you. You can be old school by writing it down. You can use excel spreadsheets,“ Joyce adds.

Budgets Are Fluid: Don’t Overcomplicate Things

Michael says you don’t have to have every nickel and dime written down either. It can be fluid. Budgets are constantly changing as people get raises, bonuses or new better-paying jobs. Just get in the habit of watching your finances each month so you know where your money is going. It’s just important to have a budget written down and accessible to you, so you’re not just remembering numbers off the top of your head.

 

For more information on budgeting, see our video Best Financial Advice: Why Budgets Matter. For some “back to basics” personal finance education, check out our blog post Three Components of Personal Financial Planning. Additional Agili blog posts and news items can be found on the Insights page of our website. 

After the Pandemic: Personal Finance Planning Tips

Recently, Rachel DePompa of NBC12 sat down with Michael JWoman carrying many shopping bagsoyce to discuss post-pandemic personal finance planning and behaviors.

 

Money Management Tips after Covid

Michael shares money management tips, warning consumers to not splurge and forget all the great habits picked up during the pandemic. When the pandemic ends, there’s naturally going to be some pent-up demand to buy things and spend some money, but Michael says don’t get carried away. “What I would advocate is that people take some of the habits that they’ve [developed] from the pandemic and apply them to 2021 and the new year,” Joyce said.

 

Tips for Saving Money

Michael’s financial tips include not “going crazy” by going to every restaurant and flying to expensive vacation destinations. Rather, he suggests being measured in spending and continuing to put money into savings and retirement accounts. He says budgeting and paying yourself first should be your number one habit of 2021. Also, keep that emergency fund funded! We all learned last year how quickly things can change.

 

More Financial Tips

For more information on budgeting, please see Agili’s Why Budgets Matter video included in this blog post. And, if you’ve ever asked yourself, “Do I need a financial advisor?” we’d love to hear from you. Please contact us anytime.

Financial Planning Before Divorce Is Finalized

Man's hands holding divorce certificate Divorce is tough on everyone, but it can also be tough on finances. In this story for NBC12, Michael Joyce says what he sees most often is people signing the divorce decree and then being surprised by the financial implications of the signed document.

 

Consider All Financial Ramifications Before Signing Finalized Divorce Decree

“I can’t stress enough that it is important to think about all the tax implications, maybe get some professional assistance before the divorce decree is signed,” Joyce said.

Michael adds that it’s more than just a matter of splitting assets. You could get hit with surprise taxes or fees you didn’t think about.

For instance, you may need help splitting a 401(k) equitably so as not to trigger a penalty for early distribution.

 

Hiring a Financial Advisor Can Help During Divorce Proceedings

While attorneys help with the legal side of things, a financial advisor could be a huge help to protect your assets through divorce proceedings.

Review Beneficiary Designations Annually

Woman signing beneficiary designation In this story for NBC12, Michael Joyce discusses the importance of updating beneficiary designations each year.

 

What Are Beneficiary Designations?

When initially completing paperwork for investment accounts like IRAs, qualified plans through work, or life insurance policies, you are asked to provide the names of your beneficiaries. By completing beneficiary designations, you enable a spouse, child or even a charity to receive your assets when you pass away. The designation allows you to avoid probate and send the asset directly to the individual.

 

Review Beneficiary Designations Annually

While we may not want to think about it, it’s important to direct where our money goes after our death. We recommend reviewing and updating beneficiary designations annually. And December is a good month to review them, just before the new year.

 

It’s easy to overlook updating beneficiary designations – it’s even happened to Michael Joyce himself. He shared the following with Rachel DePompa, “A couple of years ago, when my youngest son was about 12 or 13 and I was reviewing the beneficiary designations on one of my Roth IRAs, I realized that he was not listed as a contingent beneficiary,” said Joyce.

 

Joyce says you can name a percentage of your assets for multiple people as long as it adds up to 100 percent. To name a person as a beneficiary, you need their full name and date of birth. Some institutions require a social security number.

 

Life Events that Should Trigger a Review

Other life events that should trigger a review of your beneficiary designations are marriage, divorce, having a child or the death of a loved one.

 

Pandemic Client Connections

Cindy Joyce discusses pandemic client connectionsSince the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, businesses have observed that care and creative thinking can help them forge stronger connections with customers (McKinsey & Company). In this fourth installment in a five-part series for Business 2 Community about the ongoing evolution of offices and what businesses can do to adapt and succeed, Cindy Joyce shares three lessons that are particularly important and revolve around communication and bolstering relationships, even if from afar. She shares the following advice:

 

Communication with Financial Advisory Clients is Key

As with so much, communication is crucial. Many organizations focused a great deal of energy and effort on enhanced communications as the pandemic first emerged and spread in the beginning of the year. Don’t let up on those initiatives now. If the frequency and substance of your communication has decreased in recent months, consider reengaging with customers at the end of the year. It’s a natural time to share updates about your business and your plans in 2021. It’s also a nice time to check in and say hello.

The holidays offer a chance to reconnect and reestablish consistent communications. Customers, particularly older clients, are continuing to stay at home and many will not see their family for the holidays. This isolation could be a welcome opportunity for a call to wish them happy holidays and check in.

When communicating with clients, it’s important not to make many assumptions either. To ensure you’re reaching them where and when they want, don’t forget to ask about their comfort level with video calls. They may have been excited about Zoom in April, but a phone call is preferable now (or vice versa).

As we all look ahead to more months of social distancing, consistent communication will remain vital. Ultimately, the best advice is to “Communicate, communicate, communicate.”

 

Make Digital or Distanced Connections with Financial Advisory Clients Work

Remote meetings have become standard in 2020 and that’s unlikely to change even after vaccines are approved and distributed. These remote meetings and video calls often require extra preparation, for good reason. When meeting with a client or customer remotely, consider their perspective. It can be more difficult to stay engaged and focused. Therefore, you should take it on yourself to proactively anticipate and mitigate those challenges. How?

Practice the meeting in advance so you’re fully prepared and don’t have to reference your notes too frequently. Looking down at notes creates a break in the engagement and can be hard to recover. Also, consider shorter meetings to reduce Zoom fatigue and maximize focus for the time you have.

If you have customers who are comfortable with socially distanced meetings in person, get creative. Instead of sitting far apart at a large conference table, perhaps you can meet outdoors (weather permitting). Another option is to cover as much material via email in advance so the in-person meeting provides time to focus on the most pressing issues and gives you an opportunity to strengthen your personal relationship.

 

Don’t Forget the Personal Touch with Financial Advisory Clients

An important business lesson that’s been true for generations should not be forgotten during the pandemic. That lesson is that relationships matter. Even if we’re not together as often as we’ve been in the past, people like to work with people they like.

Professionals would be wise to remember the value of the personal touch, especially during challenging times. For example, send emails to clients and customers with interesting or funny news stories. Think about what they might like and engage with. As a financial planning firm, we help clients better understand and manage their money. With so many kids still learning from home, our team thought it would be fun and helpful to launch a personal finance game for kids. Clients loved it! They recognized the value in the game and our team’s desire to support them in unexpected ways. How can you connect with and help your clients in a manner that will surprise and delight them?

Sometimes that personal touch is as simple as understanding what they like. When talking with customers, ask them what books they’re reading or what they’re watching. Do they have a favorite sports team? When you see something that would connect with them, share it.

We’re all looking for new books to read, podcasts to listen to, and shows to watch. Don’t be afraid to share some of your personality with clients and customers. Consider a blog post or email with highlights of what you’re reading and watching. You may find a common interest with a client. At the very least, you’re reinforcing a personal connection.

Finally, if budgets allow, send a small gift to customers and clients. This gesture is a great way to keep them engaged and let them know you are thinking of them.

Michael Joyce Shares Economic and Investment Analysis

Michael Joyce recently sat down with Virginia Business to share his views on how the coronavirus pandemic affected Agili’s investment strategy, how election results affect portfolios and what to do now money-wise. Please click on the link above for his economic and investment analysis.

 

Early on, Diversification Mitigated Damage to Financial Portfolios

In this feature, Michael Joyce, says diversification “mitigated the damage to [client] portfolios in those [first] six weeks,” of economic shutdowns caused by the pandemic. He adds that while the firm “saw opportunities almost everywhere we looked” due to low stock prices, investors should primarily maintain a wide range of asset types.

“This is not an environment to run scared from,” Joyce adds. “I also don’t think it’s an environment in which we can just throw money at the market.”

Joyce also cautions against purely following trends that “turn around quickly” in today’s market.

 

Presidential Elections Have Little Impact on Financial Portfolios

Michael states that investors should not put too much stock in presidential election outcomes when managing stocks and other assets.

“Every presidential election year we get contacts that say,  ‘If a Democrat wins, I want to divest everything,’ or, ‘If a Republican wins, I want to divest everything,’” Joyce says. “In almost all cases, it doesn’t make a big difference [for the markets] who gets elected.”

 

What Moves Should Investors Make Now?

Michael adds that there are a couple of money moves investors can make during downturns that are beneficial in the long term, such as converting a portion of an IRA into a Roth IRA — the benefit being that investors can withdraw funds tax-free during retirement because income tax is paid up front on investments. Investors would save money on Roth conversions during a down market because they would pay taxes on a smaller investment portfolio.

Michael’s concludes his comments saying, “Overall, preparing for the future by balancing aggressive asset acquisition with cautious diversification is the best way to weather a down economy.”

Michael Joyce Discusses Financial Planning When Starting a Family

Michael Joyce recently shared with Rachel DePompa of NBC12 his suggestions for financial planning when starting a family.

Watch the video here.

Starting and raising a family is more expensive than ever these days. So, while may be fun to figure out a nursery and buy new baby gadgets — there are some financial steps you should really take when you learn you’re expecting and right after the baby arrives.

Budget for Baby

Michael says to begin with a financial plan. He says, “Start budgeting early for all the things you will likely buy once baby arrives.”

 

Update Beneficiary Designations

In addition, Michael says to “Update your beneficiaries on all your accounts and your will in case something ever happens to you.”

 

Start Saving Immediately for College

And finally, he suggests starting a college fund as soon as your child is born. “We started saving for my sons when they were 30 days old. I mean, as soon as we got a social security number for them we start saving at least a little bit every month,” said Joyce.

Experts say if you set aside $25 a month– to start. That will add up over the 18 years. And if you have a 529 account, the money you add will accrue interest.

 

Financial Implications Are Long-Lasting

Michael says, “Don’t just think about the baby clothes and diapers when you start to plan for a family. Consider the financial implications that will last 18 years or longer.”

For more information about starting a 529 college savings account for your child, contact Virginia529 or PA529. And, of course, you can reach out to your financial strategist any time to discuss education planning.

Now Is a Good Time to Negotiate Credit Card Terms

Woman's hand holding credit card in left hand while negotiating terms on the computerMichael Joyce sat down with Rachel DePompa of NBC12 to discuss improving and negotiating credit card terms. Most people don’t realize this, but you can approach your credit card company and negotiate or even request new terms such as a higher or lower credit card limit, a lower payment and especially lower interest rates. The ongoing pandemic even gives you extra leverage.

 

Credit Card Companies Want to Negotiate with You

Companies are listening right now. If you’re worried about falling behind on a payment, they might be more willing to reduce that interest rate. Michael says, ”It’s in the credit card issuer or the bank’s best interest to have you pay something, to have you pay the minimum amount. In fact, they’d like you to pay the minimum amount and not pay off the whole balance.”

Michael suggests looking at other deals, knowing your options and what you can ask for. The credit card companies want to keep your business.

 

Credit Card Companies Know You Could Transfer a Balance

Rachel DePompa adds, “If you’ve always paid on-time, credit card companies are likely to reward you and give you a break to keep your business because, at the end of the day, a lot of people can transfer a balance to a different card. Also, remember kindness when you ask goes a long way.”

For information about how the timing and amount of your credit card payments can impact your credit score, see Financial Planning Analyst Jennifer Pieson’s informative blog post, Credit Card Smarts – Micropayments.

Selling a Business – A Metaphorical Triathlon

Triathletes running into the water for their swimAgili’s Davis Barry and Marilee Falco recently wrote an article for Lehigh Valley Business and Central Penn Business Journal, with strategic recommendations for business owners deciding whether or not to sell. Business owners and executives considering the sale of a company have important decisions to make at three different phases: Before Negotiations (the swim), Purchase and Sale (the bike race), and Closing and After (the run).

Before Negotiations on the Sale of a Business (the Swim)

Prior to negotiating the sale of a business, an owner must honestly evaluate their company’s salability and the timing of the sale. Is the business on trend in its industry and is there a likely buyer, or better yet, buyers? How motivated would potential buyers be to purchase the business? Are there direct comparables for the business’s valuation process?

Purchase and Sale of A Business (the Bike Race)

What issues should a business owner be prepared to discuss during negotiations for the sale? First and foremost, the owner must have a thorough understanding of his business’s value (i.e., cash flow, growth, margins, assets, liabilities, and intellectual property). The owner should have a firm grasp on the business’s exposure to past (and possibly future) liabilities. In addition, when the seller owns the business property, they should know in advance if it makes good fiscal sense to retain the real estate and lease it back to the purchaser and if that might be an appealing prospect to them.

After Closing on the Sale of the Business (the Run)

Once the business sale has closed, it’s important for the seller to think holistically about their financial future, both professionally and personally. First, the seller needs to determine whether or not they need a new source of income, be it a new job or an investment. And how should they reinvest the proceeds from the sale? Because of the tax savings associated with them, Qualified Opportunity Zones may be a worthwhile investment.

Other more personal planning considerations are health, life and disability insurance — adjustments will likely need to be made. Also, it would be wise to have an estate attorney review and update estate documents upon the sale of the business.

Since business owners often spend years reinvesting company proceeds back into their business, they may need to play catch up on retirement savings. To best take advantage of this windfall, it is important to work with a trusted financial advisor to appropriately invest in a customized and diversified portfolio that aligns with the seller’s long-term goals and objectives. Down the road, cash flow strategy (tax optimization) and possible Roth conversions should be considered each year.

For the business owner, it can be hard to view their company objectively and navigate emotions surrounding the sale of the company they have worked for years to build. Business owners don’t have to do it alone. They would be wise to rely on experienced and trusted advisors, such as a business coach, financial advisor, accountant, and investment banker, among others. By enlisting an expert team, a business owner can be confident that they’ll receive objective, fact-based financial planning and investment recommendations throughout the different phases of the negotiation and sale.

Contact us at Agili to help ease the burden of the negotiation, sale, and closing of your business. Our financial experts with years of experience in wealth and financial advising can help you look at your business objectively and help you make an informed decision.

Changes to Office Policies during Pandemic

Agili's Richmond, Virginia officeWhen 2020 began, not many business owners or executives were likely planning to redesign or significantly update their office policies and employee handbooks. In her article for Business 2 Communities, Cindy Joyce discusses how office policies, manuals and handbooks must be updated due to new work practices brought on by the coronavirus pandemic.

Work from Home Policies

 A Gallup poll in April 2020 found that over 60 percent of Americans were working from home. Many months later, a lot of those employees are still home. Immediate pivots rightly focused on technological needs to support remote work and new standards for when it would be safe to reopen shared office spaces. Yet, as the pandemic continues to drag on, it’s crucial for business leaders to take a closer look at existing office and work policies.

Have you adjusted those policies to consider the remote work reality many employees face?

Mask-Wearing and Social Distancing Policies

Whether working from home or in the office, policies governing how and where people work need to change. For example, I’m not aware of any organizations that had established policies for masks and social distancing at their office at the beginning of the year. Likewise, remote work presents potential issues for businesses. The Society for Human Resource Management released a survey of its members this spring that found that 71 percent of employers noted that adapting to remote work has been a challenge. A key component to that struggle is how to revise company policies to meet this new reality.

Successful businesses are constantly evolving in order to grow. Such adaptation is required during the pandemic as well. As your business adjusts, so too should your company policies and handbooks. With clear guidelines, employees will feel empowered and businesses will be better positioned to survive and thrive.

Dynamic Office Space Doesn’t Have to be Sacrificed During the Pandemic

Lounge area at Agili's Richmond office.

Agili’s Richmond office space, allowing for social distancing.

Cindy Joyce writes about being flexible and adaptable with office space during the pandemic in this article for Business 2 Community.

Challenges stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic have accelerated a number of changes that were already taking place in how and where businesses work. This article is the second in a five-part series about the ongoing evolution of offices and what businesses can do to adapt and succeed. The uncertainty unleashed this year has been harrowing for many businesses, but there are opportunities to grow amidst all the disruption. The first part of the series focused on employee communication and now we turn our attention to office space.

Encourage Creativity and Collaboration

Creating dynamic office spaces can spur innovation and creativity. You don’t have to sacrifice these benefits during the pandemic. In fact, adapting to new realities offers an opportunity to rethink your company’s work environment. Open and airy spaces, including larger conference rooms and teamwork areas, that allow groups to collaborate at safe distances can align with your company’s brand and values, as it did with Agili’s Richmond, VA, space. The key takeaway is that office spaces can still work in our COVID-dominated world.

Shrewd business owners and executives will recognize the current opportunities to rethink their office spaces during the pandemic. If you’re in a position to consider changing or growing your office, it’s truly an ideal time to strike. Decisive action now can help put your company in a stronger position through the remainder of the pandemic and beyond.

Is Refinancing Always the Best Option?

Everywhere you turn, people are looking at refinancing. Let’s face it, the rates are so low — it’s tempting. But is it really the best idea for you?

What Matters Is the Interest That Will Be Paid Over the Course of the Loan!

Refinancing may not always be the best idea, according to Michael Joyce in this story for Richmond’s NBC 12. Michael tells homeowners they shouldn’t refinance unless the interest they will pay over the course of a new mortgage loan will be less than what they are currently scheduled to pay.

Michael Joyce says mortgage rates are the lowest he’s seen in his entire career. But he says — you don’t want to get hung up on the low rate. Instead, you want to look at how much interest you’ll be paying.

“The way mortgages amortize you pay the most interest on the first payment and then the amount of interest that gets paid with each payment goes down the further you are into the mortgage. You could have a case that you’re 8, 9 or 10 years into a mortgage with a higher rate but if you refinance at a lower rate you could end up paying higher interest,” Joyce says.

So, it’s important to factor this in before you get seduced by the low rates out there. You don’t want to just assume refinancing is the best option without first doing a little research and some basic math.

Savings Should Be Top Goal During Pandemic

Saving money should be a top priority as the pandemic rolls on, Michael Joyce told Rachel DePompa of NBC12. He recommends taking care of savings first (both emergency and retirement savings) before purchasing a “want” and not a “need”.

Save First!
Michael Joyce discusses savings.

Michael Joyce and the Agili team.

That means, if you are tackling home improvement projects right now, stick to the budget.

A lot of people are investing in new cars, RV’s, boats and bicycles. Joyce says that’s ok to do if you’ve taken care of savings first.

“Those things are fine to do if you’ve covered the other pieces of your budget first and again that does include saving for your long-term goals and objectives,” said Joyce.

And when he says savings, he’s not just referring to having an emergency fund — which is important, and a great first place to start. He’s also talking about continuing to invest in your future and put money into a 401k or an IRA if you are able.

Don’t let that simple step fall to the side as you focus on what you want to buy rather than what you need to buy.

Teaching Kids Personal Finance Through Games

Game developer, Jennifer Pieson, who teaches her kids personal finance, is pictured on the beach with her family.

Agili game developer, Jennifer Pieson, and her family.

It’s important to teach kids personal finance lessons at home – early and often, says Agili’s Michael Joyce. In this interview with NBC 12’s Rachel DePompa, Michael says that children may learn about money and budgeting in school, but they learn best from parents. And real life lessons are invaluable.

“Maybe you had Econ 101 and it was really boring. It’s because the professor didn’t make it about the real world,” says Michael.

 

Agili Helps Parents Teach Kids about Personal Finance!

Agili recently launched a personal finance game that parents can play with their children. We created a kid-friendly game to introduce your child to some common personal finance topics through real-world, fun examples. A series of blog posts was written by Financial Planning Analyst (and resident game developer), Jennifer Pieson, to accompany each of the nine modules. Clients and friends of the firm have thoroughly enjoyed sharing this content with children ages 7-15 during the pandemic’s downtime. 

Agili cares about financial education, and as a family-oriented firm, we want your children to get a head start in learning to make thoughtful financial choices.

 

Effective Business Communication During the Pandemic

In this article for Business 2 Community, Agili COO, Cindy Joyce, discusses how this year’s challenges and unpredictability have accelerated a number of changes that were already taking place in how and where businesses work. This article is the first in a five-part series about the ongoing evolution of offices and what businesses can do to adapt and succeed. The uncertainty unleashed this year has been harrowing for many businesses, but there are opportunities to grow amidst all the disruption.

Better Communication Engages Employees

The first area of focus for any company or business leader should be effective business communication with employees. Team members who don’t feel engaged or connected to a company’s mission and strategy are unlikely to be invested in that company’s success. In fact, those disengaged employees are typically less productive and effective at work. It’s no wonder, then, that communication and engagement with employees is a top concern for many businesses. That concern has been amplified as businesses have adjusted by communicating with their team members remotely.

In this article, Cindy asserts that communication is a two-way street, that active listening matters and that management should lead by example. In addition, she suggests conducting an annual employee survey to better track overall improvements or dips in productivity and effectiveness that may not be apparent on a daily basis.

For more information about effective communication in the workplace, please see another Agili blog post on the subject.

Office Space Should Align with Company Brand and Culture

In their recent article for Lehigh Valley Business, Cindy Joyce and Marilee Falco say businesses should, “…align office space with a company’s brand and culture to be uplifting and even motivating.” If a business’s brand colors are teal blue and yellow, for example, a business should use the same colors in everything from furniture selection, to paint colors, to art. Incorporating a company’s logo into wallpaper to adorn a “brand wall” is another trendy idea.

It’s been widely reported that millennials, in particular, seek a sense of community at work. An uplifting and modernized kitchen and dining space makes it more likely that coworkers will share meals together. To further encourage a sense of community and collaboration, businesses can incorporate casual, comfortable furniture throughout their office space to allow coworkers to sit down together to bounce ideas off of one another or to share what’s going on in their lives outside of work.

When today’s business owner considers the number of hours current and future employees spend in the workplace, she undoubtedly wants them to be comfortable and energized.

Factors to Consider Before a Roth Conversion

Michael JoyceMichael Joyce at conference table spoke with Money Magazine about what investors should consider before a Roth conversion. It’s not only important to decide whether or not you’ll convert, but also how much you’ll convert. There are important tax implications to consider.

If you’re among those who lost a job, pushing you into a lower income tax bracket, then it may be a good opportunity to convert to a Roth IRA, because the tax bill on your conversion will be lower.

 

How Much Should Be Converted?

It’s not only important to think about whether or not you will convert, but also how much. You don’t have to convert an entire IRA – just switch a portion that will not push you into a higher tax bracket. Retirees have to be careful that the income resulting from their Roth conversion doesn’t push them into a higher Medicare income bracket, meaning they would have to pay higher Medicare Part B (and possibly D) premiums. The good news is that, once you fully convert to a Roth IRA, you don’t have to take required minimum distributions starting at age 72, and can leave that money in your account to grow tax-free for yourself in the future, or your heirs.

Invest More in 401ks During a Down Market

Cindy Joyce, Agili COO, discusses contributing more to 401kDespite recent market uncertainty and volatility, Cindy Joyce tells Business 2 Community that business owners and employees who have the ability to invest in their 401k plans now will see major upside in the long term.

By establishing or enhancing 401k plan offerings, companies can ensure that their owners and employees become 401k millionaires by the time they retire. Talk about a nice benefit!

 

Encourage Participation!

Creating a retirement plan and encouraging participation is good business. This investment in your employees will improve retention and recruiting efforts because you’re demonstrating a commitment to your team. Additionally, it communicates that your company cares about your employees and their long-term financial goals.

Send a positive message about the value of saving for the future and in doing so, you’ll likely recruit and keep talented people to help your company soar.

 

401k Plan Design

Businesses can further encourage participation and retirement savings in how you design your 401k plans. Consider setting automatic enrollment for employees. You can start the automatic enrollment at a relatively low percentage, such as two percent, so all employees are saving something. If someone wants to save more, they can adjust their enrollment percentage higher. At the very least, you’ve established a baseline.

You also can set automatic escalations so that every time an employee receives a salary increase, their 401k is adjusted as well.

Finally, consider including a qualified default investment alternative (QDIA) in your plan. This can be set as a default in the 401k for employees who have not made investment choices or do not feel qualified to make investment choices. A QDIA ensures that they can still yield the benefits of the plan and won’t miss out on the savings.

Michael Joyce Advises Those Starting RIAs

The Agili team, RIAIn an article for Financial Planning magazine, Michael Joyce tells financial advisors who are making the move from wirehouses to starting a Registered Investment Advisory firm (RIA), like Agili, that as a fiduciary they must keep their clients’ interest in mind 24/7. “It’s definitely a different mindset from working in the wirehouses.”

 

Time Management

He also cautions those making the move that they may be surprised by how much time they will spend in the administrative, compliance and marketing areas of their new business.

The cost of meeting an ever-expanding array of clients needs is another consideration many newbies don’t consider, Joyce says. “When I talk to people who have made this move, they often say they didn’t realize the amount of time they’d have to spend on admin, compliance and even marketing,” says Joyce, whose practice oversees roughly 300 clients and $850 million in AUM. “You have to have a strong bench of people that are basically cost centers — they’re not profit centers, but it allows you to do the things you need to be successful.”

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