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.”

Michael Joyce Reminds Investors to Understand Risk Tolerance

Michael Joyce, who advises those approaching retirement. He is pictured, smiling, in a blue suit and tie

Michael Joyce spoke with Rachel DePompa of NBC12 recently. He reminded her that investors should contact a financial advisor to understand their risk tolerance if they are approaching retirement. They may live many years after leaving the workforce! “You can’t start to think about your nest egg as a short term goal. You’ll still need it for many years to come.” Even if an investor is about to retire, they may live 30 years or more in retirement. Michael says that you have to get more conservative with your money as you inch close to leaving the workforce– but you also need to make savings last.

Michael Joyce Shares Market Insights

Michael JoyceMichael Joyce recommends protecting nest egg and credit score asserts that stocks won’t be down forever so we need to protect our nest eggs and credit scores.

Michael says you have to remember this is a long-term game.

“If I look at all the downturns in the market over the last half-century, in nearly everyone one of them the markets were as high or higher a year later. And certainly, three and five years later they’re a lot higher,” said Joyce. He adds that you should stay focused on that nest egg and saving for it.

If you’ve lost a job or are experiencing financial trouble he recommends doing everything you can to keep your credit in good standing. Work with your landlords or banks about payments. Call the credit card companies directly and see what you can work out. He says take care of the essentials but also, try to tackle bills that will matter to your credit.

At Agili, we believe that the first tenet of a strong investment philosophy for your nest egg should be diversification so that all investments in a portfolio do not appreciate or depreciate in tandem.

Cindy Joyce on Business Cybersecurity in Uncertain Times

Cindy Joyce, discussing cybersecurity, is pictured in a blue sweater. In this article for Business 2 Community, Cindy Joyce shares best practices for protecting businesses from cybercriminals, especially during these uncertain times when attention may be focused elsewhere. Applicable to companies large and small, this advice on cybersecurity is especially relevant during the coronavirus pandemic.

It is more important than ever to be cautious when receiving and/or responding to emails and phone calls. Cybercriminals excel in the ability to take advantage of vulnerabilities. During these precarious times, businesses and their leaders must be vigilant, especially in terms of protecting personal data for employees, clients, and customers.

One of the most challenging aspects of combating cyber scams in uncertain times is that our attention is often diverted elsewhere, creating openings for cybercriminals to strike. A key takeaway for businesses is the importance of training everyone in your company about the perils of cyber scams and questioning any dubious request.

Michael Joyce Answers Questions about Recent Market Uncertainty

Michael spoke with the Richmond Times-Dispatch ( about recent market uncertainty. While Michael understands this is a scary time, he believes, “This too shall pass.” He said anyone who has a diversified portfolio “has the downside mitigated” — and the correction will run its course.

Michael Joyce Shares Insights regarding Possible Bolton Testimony

NBC News asked Michael for his take on the possible economic impact of Bolton testifying, “I don’t think it’s going to have…a longer-term impact, but I do think there [will] be more volatility this year than we saw last year.” He added that even if there were a correction after Bolton’s potential testimony, strong economic fundamentals would help mitigate the duration of potential volatility and facilitate the market’s recovery.

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