Agili In the News

Building a Team: Employee Retention Tips

Cindy Joyce offers employee retention tips

Agili COO, Cindy Joyce

Employee retention is the topic Cindy Joyce discusses in a recent article for Business to Community. Retaining employees is critical for a business’s success – not only because it’s expensive to replace employees, but also because losing employees can be bad for company morale, productivity, and performance. And in this tight labor market, employee retention is more imperative than ever.


Science of Retaining Employees

Cindy asserts that there is a science to employee retention. To retain employees, companies must offer competitive compensation packages that are current with market salaries for your location and industry. And the benefits packages must be competitive as well. Another way to retain employees? Engage employees to give feedback on company decisions; ask employees what matters to them. All of this demonstrates commitment to your team.


Art of Retaining Employees

In addition, employers can excel at the art of employee retention by focusing on relationship-building through weekly team emails, team recognition, and company retreats. Of course, an informal way to engage with your team is to walk around and visit with them during the day. Offering surprise gift cards or company swag can also help build a cohesive team.


Check out Cindy’s first article in this series that covers hiring tips and the second piece that explores onboarding.

Financial Advice When Starting Out

Michael Joyce, Agili President, gives financial advice for young professionals

Michael Joyce, Agili President

In this interview with NBC12, Michael Joyce shares his financial advice for those just starting out in the workforce.


Tip #1: Contribute Immediately to a 401(k)

Michael reports that he told his older sons to contribute to their companies’ 401(k)s as soon as they began work. He suggests investing 10% of gross pay into a 401(k) plan immediately – so that you never miss that money.


Tip #2: Start an Emergency Fund

Another tip? Michael says it’s important to save 3-6 months of expenses in a low-earning savings account in the event of a financial emergency.


Tip #3: Pay Off Credit Cards Immediately

Lastly, Michael thinks we should all have a credit card (for emergencies), but he recommends paying it off every month.


For more financial advice for young professionals, check out Financial Planning Analyst Grant Wilburn’s recent blog post: Financial Management for Young Adults



Unexpected Costs When Buying a Home

Best to Know All Costs Before Buying a Home

Michael Joyce, Agili President, discusses buying a home

Michael Joyce, Agili President

In this interview with NBC12, Michael Joyce reminds new homebuyers that it’s important to consider all of the fees that go into buying a home.


Unexpected Costs At Closing

In addition to closing costs, it’s imperative that new homebuyers don’t forget to factor in the following costs to a home’s purchase price:

  • Mortgage insurance
  • Title insurance
  • Homeowner’s insurance


Ongoing Costs After Buying a Home

These days, higher property taxes should be accounted for when home-buying. Michael reminds us, “With property values going up, assessments are going up – which means homebuyers will pay more over time.”

Also, it’s important to remember to add ongoing home maintenance to your budget: “We recommend having a certain percentage of the home value that’s dedicated towards home maintenance every year because things wear out, you’re going to have to upgrade things over time.”


For more from Agili on the topic or real estate, check out Michael’s summer interview with NBC12, Real Estate Market: Renting vs. Buying.

Real Estate Market — Renting vs. Buying

Real Estate Market Today

Michael Joyce, Agili PresidentIn this interview with NBC12, Rachel DePompa asks Michael Joyce about renting vs. buying in this current real estate market where both rent and home prices are increasing.


Renting vs. Buying – Depends on Length of Stay

Michael says that the most important factor in determining whether to rent or buy may be how long you plan to stay in an area. If your move will be short-term (under five years), Michael recommends renting in today’s market.


Interested in more of Agili’s thoughts on financial planning and investment management? Check out our blog

Building a Cohesive Team: New Employee Onboarding

Written by: Cindy Joyce

In her series for Business 2 Community on building a cohesive team, Agili’s Chief Operating Officer, Cindy Joyce, writes about new employee onboarding. In her latest article, Building a Team: Onboarding Tips, she discusses the importance of onboarding because in today’s tight labor market, finding, hiring and keeping new employees can be challenging indeed.


Best Practices New Employee Onboarding

Cindy’s advice for businesses includes best practices for what should happen before a new employee begins, what should happen on their first day, and the continuing onboarding and training that should be implemented over the course of the first six months at a company.


Better New Employee Onboarding Leads to Better Employee Retention

Prioritizing and standardizing onboarding leads to a better employee transition – and, ultimately, higher employee retention rates.


For more from our team of experts at Agili, we invite you to visit our blog where we share advice on financial planning, investment management, and more. 



Financial Planning for Doctors

Medical Economics Interviews Jamie Malone about Financial Planning for Doctors

stethoscopeMedical Economics recently interviewed Jamie Malone about financial planning for doctors. Medical Economics asked if it is better for doctors to pay off medical school debt or to save for retirement. Jamie explained that at Agili it’s not an either/or question; we believe doctors can do both. Jamie provides very specific wealth management strategies for doctors.

Read Jamie Malone’s interview with Medical Economics here. A video of this interview will be available soon.

Additional Resources: Financial Planning for Doctors

For more of Agili’s insights regarding financial planning for doctors, check out a our page, Financial Planning for Doctors, or Davis Barry’s recent blog post, Prescription for Financial Health: Financial Management for Doctors. 

Small Business Advice: Partner with Local Banks

Professional headshot photo of Marilee Falco, CFP®, ChFC, Agili Principal, Financial Strategist.

Marilee Falco, Principal and Financial Strategist

In a recent article for Lehigh Valley Business, Marilee Falco and Cindy Joyce shared some small business advice that we often give to our clients who own their own companies. That is, it is often beneficial to use local banks for a small business’s banking needs.


How Local Banks Helped Small Businesses During COVID

Thumbnail photo of Cindy Joyce, Agili Chief Operating Officer.

Cindy Joyce, Chief Operating Officer

Over this past year, during the COVID crisis, many bank lobbies have been shuttered, making neighborhood banking seem like a thing of the past. But for small business owners, this crisis has brought home just how important it can be to have a strong partnership with a local bank.

Thinking back to the beginning of the pandemic when communities were in lockdown, many small businesses needed to apply for Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans to cover payroll. Because of the complexity of the PPP loan applications, most banks worked with their existing business clients first. Early on, it was often those businesses with established relationships with local banks that received their emergency funds first.


Local Banks Have Same Security and Compliance Requirements as Larger Banks

Even in “normal times,” having a long-term working relationship with a local bank can be beneficial to a small business. Local banks have the same security and compliance requirements as larger mega-banks, but one particular benefit of smaller local or regional banks is that they have more latitude than larger banks when it comes to waiving fees or granting a more desirable interest rate.

If a small business owner needs something outside of the ordinary, she may not have to jump through as many hoops with a local bank. If, for example, the company needs something like a medallion signature, banks may only be willing to work with established clients they know well.


The Personal Touch of a Local Bank for a Small Business

With a local bank, you are likely to receive more personalized service than you would receive with a national bank. We have noticed that there is often less turnover and employee rotation between the branches of local banks as opposed to national ones. If a business owner has a banking question, when she calls her local bank, she will speak to a person in her area and not a call center as may happen with national banks. And if there is unusual activity in a business account, a local banker will often pick up the phone and call a business owner rather than wait for the automated system to kick in.

Over time, small business owners may realize another unintended and unexpected benefit of working with a local bank. Your local banker may become a good source for business development. Because they build business for their bank through networking, and because they come to know your business well, they may very well become a good referral source for your company.

A final benefit of working with a local bank? By doing so, you are supporting your local community’s economy – and not that of a national bank with headquarters elsewhere.

Yes, there are certain advantages to working with larger, national banks. Among them, bigger banks often have more comprehensive online services, for example, which can simplify and expedite transactions for businesses.


Finding a Local Bank for Your Small Business

If your small business is in the market for a local bank, the Independent Community Bank Association (ICBA) can help you compare options in your area. In addition, the FDIC’s BankFind tool provides information about all FDIC-insured banks and their locations, including current and historical data.

Of course, every business wants their banker to collaborate well with other professional advisors, such as attorneys, accountants, and strategists. It may be advisable to contact other small business owners to inquire about their experience working with local banks.

Whether you choose to bank with a local, regional or national bank, it’s always a good idea to take the time to develop and maintain a close relationship with your business’s banker.

If you would like more small business advice, we at Agili would be happy to help.


Financial Planning: Funeral Expenses

Funeral candle; funeral expense discussionMichael Joyce sat down with Rachel DePompa of NBC12 to discuss funeral expenses and funeral planning. It may be a morbid subject, but for the sake of your family, it’s important to think about planning for funeral costs. It’s thoughtful to provide your loved ones a road map for when you are not around.



Family Members Are Vulnerable After a Death

Soon after a death, people are vulnerable and can easily be talked into expensive options. And funeral and burial costs are typically costly.



Write a Letter of Instruction about Funeral Plans and Funeral Expenses

Michael says one of the things he often tells clients to do is to write up a letter of instruction to be kept with some of your estate documents: “Because you can put anything you want in these letters of instruction. And this could be one of the pieces of it: how you would want things done.”



Begin Financial Planning for Funeral Expenses Early

Michael says that you would be well advised to begin funeral planning early, before becoming terminally ill or elderly. Taking steps like this could make it easier for the family left behind, even if you have decades or a half a century left to live.

Is It Possible to Pay Off Student Debt and Save for Retirement Simultaneously?

Graduation cap with cash; pay off student loans while saving for retirementSave for Retirement While Paying Off Student Loans

In a conversation with Rachel DePompa of NBC12, Michael Joyce reminds us that it’s important to save for retirement while paying off student loans. No matter how hard it is, it’s important to not ignore one at the expense of the other. You have to look at how much you are going to pay on the student loan over the minimum amount versus how much you are going to put into a retirement account.



Retirement Savings Compounds and Taxes Are Postponed

 “In a retirement account what’s always important to remember is not only are the funds in there not taxed until well into the future, but that money grows. It compounds without a tax drag,” said Joyce.



Save Up to Your Company’s 401(k) Match

Michael adds you shouldn’t leave money on the table. For example, if your company offers a 401(k) match, try your best to save up to that match amount. But even if you are setting aside just one or two percent of your take-home pay in a retirement account, do it. Every little bit helps.

A financial planner may also be able to help you make a plan to save for retirement while paying off student loans. Our team of experts at Agili would be happy to help. 

Don’t Believe Investment Hype

Michael Joyce discusses investing carefullyDon’t believe investment hype! In a conversation with NBC12, Michael Joyce says that young investors risk losing a lot of money if they don’t understand the fundamentals behind an investment. The GameStop phenomenon is one such example.

Watch video here.


The Stock Market is Not a Game

If you are new to investing and watching the stock market or your kids are, Michael says there’s one big thing to remember — the stock market is not a game.


Understanding Investment Fundamentals

Michael says inexperienced investors can lose a lot of money getting caught up in the hype surrounding a new investment trend. He says there’s a difference between investing and speculation or gambling. Investing is not a get-rich-quick scheme.

Michael says it’s critical think about why you want to invest in a business. What are the fundamentals for investing in this company? You don’t want to invest in something because of what you read on a Reddit board.


Be Measured and Careful When Investing

Michael also reminds investors that they shouldn’t buy something just because it moved up or sell something just because it’s gone down and you think it’s going to go lower. He says you want to be measured and careful.


Hire an Investment Advisor

He also says a financial advisor or an expert can teach you the ins and outs of investing. You don’t want to just wing it.

Young Wealth Management: Four Tips from a Financial Advisor

Cindy Joyce discusses young wealth management

Cindy Joyce, Agili’s Chief Operating Officer

In this article for Business 2 Community, Cindy Joyce shares her insights on personal finances for young adults — how they can move on from the economic fallout of the pandemic and plan for a secure financial future.

This past year demonstrated the importance of planning ahead and doing whatever you can to be financially prudent. Having savings to fall back on can make all the difference during tough times. The good news for young adults is that they’ve got time on their side.

Cindy shared these four financial management lessons:


Make Sure You Are Financially Literate

A 2019 USA Today story reported that only 57 percent of adults in the U.S. are considered financially literate. Other studies have shown that only about half of college-educated young adults between 25-34 years of age correctly answered questions to test basic financial literacy. These findings highlight the lack of financial planning education taught during school years.

Young professionals should educate themselves to ensure at least a surface-level understanding of common financial issues, such as budgeting, interest rates, loans, taxes, financial priorities, and debt. Financial advisors and others can help, but you need to have that foundational knowledge.



Start Saving Early and Don’t Stop

Compound interest is incredibly powerful and young professionals are in the best position to use it to attain their financial goals.

We recommend saving a little bit from your very first paycheck and continuing to add to that account. Add a little more every time you get a bonus or raise and keep that savings or retirement account locked. Don’t touch it and watch your money grow.

How do you know if you’re saving the right amount? A good rule of thumb is to save until it hurts just a little (i.e., skip eating out one night per week). The earlier you start saving, the more power compound interest will have and the less you’ll need to save later in life.

As you consider how much to save, think about your goals and risk tolerance. A generic savings account at a bank is a start but won’t do the trick for high returns. Research low-cost accounts with higher yields, such as money market accounts.

A final note on savings. If you get a surprise cash influx – stimulus check, tax refund, bonus, etc. – treat yourself with a small portion and put the vast majority into savings. You’ll want that on hand in case there’s ever a financial emergency. A good rule of thumb is to have two savings accounts. One account should be an emergency fund with six-to-eight months’ worth of regular expenses and the second account should be used to save for your future retirement or bigger expenses, such as your first house.



Begin Retirement Planning Now

Saving is important so you have a cushion as you age and so you’re set for retirement. For young professionals, retirement is decades away, but if you want a lifestyle you can truly enjoy when you retire, you need to start working at it now.

Here’s an easy strategy that young professionals can implement early in their career (although it’s really applicable to anyone at any stage): Max out your 401(k) savings option through your employer. This money will be automatically deducted from your paycheck and placed in your 401(k). It’s like you never had the money in your pocket to begin with, so you won’t miss it (but you will appreciate it later in life). This move helps you maximize your company match as well, resulting in even more money directed to your retirement account. Similar to other types of saving, the earlier you start the less work you have to do in the end.

Remember, if you start saving when your career is in its early stages, you can even become a 401(k) millionaire. Cindy shared additional tips on 401(k) millionaire strategies last year as well.



Look Ahead: More Financial Planning for Your Future

Looking ahead is more than just planning for retirement. Retirement planning is certainly crucial for all young professionals, but you shouldn’t stop there. Some other common financial planning considerations to keep in mind include:

  • Life Insurance: It’s cheaper and easier to get when you’re younger.
  • Long Term Disability Insurance: Same as life insurance, easier to qualify for and less expensive the younger you are. Fun fact: More people need disability insurance than need life insurance.
  • Tax Planning: Review withholdings annually so you don’t overpay. Getting a refund check is essentially giving the U.S. government an interest-free loan.
  • Employee Benefits: Take advantage of programs, insurance policies, and incentives your employer offers because it’s usually cheaper (or free) when packaged through your company.

The right preparation and planning can put young professionals on a financial path that will reward them for decades to come. It just takes getting started.


For more information, check out Financial Planning Analyst Grant Wilburn‘s blog post, Financial Management for Young Adults

For some back-to-basics financial planning education, please see our blog post, Three Components of Personal Financial Planning

Do You Have a Freelance Retirement Plan?

Michael Joyce discusses retirement savings for freelancersMichael Joyce sat down with Rachel DePompa at NBC12 to discuss developing a  freelance retirement plan. There are plenty of ways freelancers can save.

Watch the video here.


Freelance Retirement Plan Vehicles

Michael shared that if you don’t work for a company that offers a 401(k), retirement savings tools such as a Simple IRA, Solo 401(k) or Individual 401(k) are great vehicles for building up retirement savings.


Financial Planning and Discipline Are Key

The key to successful retirement savings for freelancers is planning. You need to be disciplined and prioritize goals. And you must make sure money is automatically moving into this account every few weeks.


Save Until It Hurts

Michael reiterated that we should contribute to retirement accounts until it hurts — until you feel the pinch. You can always pull back how much money you contribute. But, of course, the more you save, the more it grows over the years.


For some back-to-basics financial planning advice, please check out our blog post, Three Components of Personal Financial Planning

For information about Agili, our ethics, our investment philosophy and how much we care for our clients, please check out this video and blog post, About Agili: Get to Know Your Personal CFO.

Why Hire a Financial Advisor?

Michael Joyce discusses reasons for hiring a financial advisor

Michael Joyce, Agili President

Michael Joyce spoke with Rachel DePompa of NBC12 about the when and why of hiring a financial advisor.

See the video here.

You Don’t Need A Lot of Money to Hire a Financial Advisor


A lot of people have the misconception that you need a lot of money to have a financial advisor, but Michael says that’s just not true. He says to think about it like this: “You hire a painter, right? They can do something better than you can, and they can do it at a reasonable cost.”


Benefits of Hiring a Financial Advisor


Financial advisors can help with strategizing how to pay off student debt or how to save for that first home. They can also help determine how much insurance you need. They make recommendations for getting estate documents in order. And they help you know how much you need to save for college.


Financial Advisors Help with Decision-Making


According to Michael, “It’s good to have someone to help…prioritize things for you and give you some expert advice that includes, what are the advantages of every decision? Plus, what are the drawbacks of every decision?”


Resources to Help Find the Right Financial Advisor for You


You can go to the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors at or the Certified Financial Planner’s website which is to find the financial advisor that’s right for you. 


Michael says you don’t need to have somebody that’s going to be charging a lot of money either. Some financial advisors charge an hourly rate. There are also financial advisors who work for commission or charge a flat fee.


If you’re looking for some basics in financial planning, we recommend reading our blog post, Three Components of Financial Planning

If you’d like to know more about Agili and how we act as our clients’ Personal CFO (our ethics, our investment philosophy and how much we care for our clients), we invite you to view our video included in this blog post, About Agili: Get to Know Your Personal CFO


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.”

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