Green Ridge Wealth Planning Recognized Among the Nation’s “Best Workplaces for 2024” by Inc. Magazine

Distinction Awarded to Companies Demonstrating Excellence in Cultivating Exceptional Workplaces and Culture

Best workplaces

For Immediate Release

June 18, 2024 (Montville, NJ) - Green Ridge Wealth Planning (GRWP), a leading financial planning and investment management fiduciary firm, has been named among the nation’s “Best Workplaces for 2024” by Inc. magazine. This award highlights GRWP's commitment to fostering a supportive and thriving workplace environment, distinguishing it as the only financial services firm in New Jersey to receive this recognition.

Inc.’s “Best Workplaces” list celebrates companies that prioritize employee satisfaction, company culture, and overall employee well-being. Out of numerous contenders, only 11 businesses across New Jersey were selected for this honor, underscoring GRWP's exceptional workplace culture and employee engagement initiatives.

“The GRWP culture emphasizes unity, collaboration, and a shared dedication to pushing the company forward. In every sense of the word we are like a family. We admire and respect one another immensely, we want to see each other succeed,” said Founder and CEO, Bobby Mascia. “This culture extends into our client relationships. Our team is dedicated to delivering exceptional service and treating clients with the same care as they do their colleagues.”

“Each year, Inc.’s ‘Best Workplaces’ program recognizes the very best in terms of companies that have fostered a truly amazing culture,” says Inc. Editor-in-Chief Mike Hofman. “We use hard metrics and data as well as qualitative measures for judging in order to find the very best—and we’re proud that the program is highly selective.”

After collecting data from thousands of submissions, Inc. selected 543 honorees this year. Each company that was nominated took part in an employee survey, conducted by Quantum Workplace, which included topics such as management effectiveness, perks, fostering employee growth, and overall company culture. The organization’s benefits were also audited to determine overall score and ranking.

About Green Ridge Wealth Planning

Green Ridge Wealth Planning (GRWP), based in Montville, NJ, is a financial planning and investment management firm specializing in serving businesses owners, as well as individuals and clients with complex needs. As a fiduciary, the team has a legal and ethical obligation to place clients’ interests above its own. GRWP prides itself on its wealth of financial expertise, creative money management strategies, accessibility, transparency, integrity, and its culture of caring and empathy for clients and employees alike. With carefully vetted partners, including mortgage professionals, tax advisors, estate planning specialists and business strategists, GRWP can offer clients a comprehensive suite of services. Learn more at www.grwealthplan.com

About Inc. Media

The world’s most trusted business-media brand, Inc. offers entrepreneurs the knowledge, tools, connections, and community to build great companies. Its award-winning multiplatform content reaches more than 50 million people each month across a variety of channels including websites, newsletters, social media, podcasts, and print. Its prestigious Inc. 5000 list, produced every year since 1982, analyzes company data to recognize the fastest-growing privately held businesses in the United States. The global recognition that comes with inclusion in the 5000 gives the founders of the best businesses an opportunity to engage with an exclusive community of their peers, and the credibility that helps them drive sales and recruit talent. The associated Inc. 5000 Conference is part of a highly acclaimed portfolio of bespoke events produced by Inc. For more information, visit www.inc.com.

About Quantum Workplace

Quantum Workplace, based in Omaha, Nebraska, is an HR technology company that serves organizations through employee-engagement surveys, action-planning tools, exit surveys, peer-to-peer recognition, performance evaluations, goal tracking, and leadership assessment. For more information, visit www.QuantumWorkplace.com.

June Commentary

After a tough April (down 4.2% on the S&P 500), markets had a huge recovery in May. The S&P 500 rose 4.8% in the month. As of the end of May, the S&P 500 is up just over 10%. The main thing to highlight here is how quickly things snapped back. We barely had time to digest the April decline before the S&P 500 was back to flirting with new highs.

Bond rates declined for the first half of June but were relatively unchanged for the month overall. We did see a broadening of stocks participating in the rally in May, including small cap stocks and value stocks. 

Economic data has been a touch softer (job gains slowed significantly in April), and inflation has seemed stickier (the Consumer Price Index, or CPI, remains around 3.5%). Economic growth has generally slowed in 2024 from the high growth we saw in 2023, but it remains positive, and unemployment remains at historic lows. 

Because of the mixed signals in economic data, Wall Street seems to be obsessed with trying to guess the Federal Reserve’s next move. Traders expected numerous cuts in 2024 at the beginning of the year, but now anticipate only one cut. At GRWP, we don’t find it very useful to guess the Federal Reserve’s next move. Instead of trying to guess the next move, we think it is more beneficial to focus on the core items at hand.

The main driver this year continues to be the excitement around Artificial Intelligence (AI). Commentators are starting to make comparisons between AI and the mania that surrounded the internet in the 1990s. While we might not agree, it is fair to consider this concept and give a moment of pause. As we look back at all the promises that were made in the early days of the internet, we must acknowledge that many of them have been fulfilled. But during that same period, we saw the crash of 2000, the financial crisis in 2008, and all the other memorable bumps along the way. Today, the stocks that helped usher in the internet are now some of the most profitable and successful companies of our time; and we are sure the companies that are ushering AI will enjoy the same level of success. But similar to the internet experience, this road may be bumpy.

Financial Planning Can Be Overwhelming. Here Are 8 Steps to Get You Started.

Creating a financial plan can feel like an overwhelming task. There is paperwork to gather, future scenarios to consider and decisions to make. As a result, it sometimes gets placed far down on our “to-do” list, making way for seemingly more urgent and less complicated tasks. However, it is something that requires attention. Our clients who DO plan and have good habits are often in a much better position to achieve their financial goals than those who don’t.

Here is a short checklist of things to consider, whether or not you have started the financial planning process:

Financial plans evolve throughout life. Having one is critical to get a sense of where you are, what your goals are, and how to achieve them. Our team is ready to guide you.

Charitable Planning Ideas to Consider During Tax Season

With tax season in the rearview mirror some are sighing from relief, and some may be wondering what they could have done differently to lower their taxes. It is never too early, or too late, to speak with your financial advisor about tax strategies, overall financial planning for the year ahead, and charitable giving. Here are some topics to consider having a conversation about surrounding philanthropic giving strategies for 2024.

First, an overview of the 2024 Giving and Tax Landscape:

Situations You May Find Yourself in During Tax Season:

A stock in your portfolio goes way up and you find yourself wondering, “what should I do with it” and “what are my tax implications?”

You become subject to an RMD on your IRA and you do not need the income this year nor do you want to take the income because of the tax implications.

Let’s say you are considering converting a traditional IRA to a Roth IRA. You may be hesitating because of the income taxes that will be owed on the amount that is to be converted.

Whether you have found yourself in a situation like this or not, it is important to stay up to date with the ever-changing, yet omnipresent, tax landscape. Charitable giving is an effective area in mitigating personal taxes, taxable events, and your overall financial efficacy. Leveraging deduction limits, appreciated non-cash assets, and exploring options like the qualified charitable distribution (QCD), you can optimize your philanthropic impact while minimizing tax burdens. As such, it is important to have a team of trusted professionals to help educate and guide you on and through these complex scenarios.

Feel free to give us a call at (973) 554-1770, email us via myplan@greenridgeweal.wpenginepowered.com, or submit a message through our website.

Source: Five charitable planning ideas to share during tax season – Charles Schwab.

Quarterly Commentary

The first quarter of 2024 is behind us, and this year is shaping up to be full of excitement!   

We already have some great things to report!  Our team has grown with two terrific additions, Luciano Betman as Client Account Associate and Leigh Buchmann as Executive Assistant. Our monthly Investment Committee webinars via Zoom continue to be popular and feature guest speakers for you all.  Bobby launched his podcast, Business Unchained, tune in and listen to insightful stories straight from business owners and be inspired in business and in life.  Finally, Bobby and I are humbled and proud to have been named NJBIZ 2024 “Leaders in Finance!” 

When it comes to the market, global politics, and economic data, the presidential election is sucking all the oxygen out of the room.  It is impossible to hear anything without someone adding a political bend to it.  So, as much as I can, I want to just give a quick state of the union. 

  1. Equity markets have had a strong first quarter, with the S&P rising over 10%.   
  1. Bitcoin rose over 60% in the first quarter!  We think Bitcoin is a great litmus test for market participants’ overall appetite for risk. With Bitcoin making new highs, it seems the market is “risk on”. 
  1. The economy is strong.  Unemployment logged a new low in March at 3.8%.  Both consumer and corporate spending is rising.   
  1. Inflation is hanging in between 3 – 4%.  The 8% inflation days seem to be behind us, and the 2% days are not returning in any quick fashion.   
  1. Interest rates have done little to nothing in the first quarter.  The Federal Reserve is on hold, and while there is speculation they may cut rates in June, points 1-4 above would disagree. 

With this backdrop, it makes sense that the rally from 2023 has continued. If this trend continues, we expect the market to follow suit. The market rally has stabilized, and at this point, you would need a curveball to cause a break.  But that doesn’t mean we should sit back and kick our feet up, because anyone who pays even half attention to the news knows that the unexpected is always lurking around the corner! 

We want to address some concerns surrounding the market going up quickly and outlier risks. As Bobby likes to say in his videos, “lazy asset management has no place here!” At GRWP we are always actively watching markets and making shifts; and looking for opportunities to take advantage of, getting out of things that aren’t delivering strong risk adjusted returns, and finding ways to earn higher rates of return.  We are not just sitting by and waiting for things to play out.   

Building Good Habits: 

A little over three months into the year, how many people are sticking to their New Year’s resolutions?  It is difficult to swap bad habits with good ones.  We all struggle with this, and part of the reason is that willpower is like any other muscle; we need to exercise it and train it.  If your willpower muscle is weak, it will become exhausted, and you may find yourself falling back into less desirable habits. 

Habits and willpower also play a role in investing.  This is something we probably don’t talk enough about, so let’s spend a minute pointing out where our willpower gets tested, and highlight some good habits that can improve our chances of success. 

Will Power Killers: 

  1. Negativity:  Whether news, a friend that just won’t stop telling you everything wrong with the world, or your own mindset; negativity will wear you down.  We don’t suggest being foolishly positive, but instead, spend an equal amount of time thinking about what can go right as you do about what can go wrong
  1. Procrastination:  When we procrastinate, we are often giving in to our short-term desires versus our long-term goals.  This is not helping us build up willpower.  Don’t wait another month to hit your savings goals, or review your budget, or start that diet or exercise plan.  When you procrastinate in one area, it tends to bleed into all the other things you are trying to accomplish. 
  1. Lack of Clear Goals:  You need to have goals, keep track of your progress towards those goals, and have a system for rewarding yourself when you hit checkpoints on the way. The key is finding the right things to measure and frequency to improve your chances of achieving those goals. 

Understanding some of the things above can help us identify and overcome our challenges.  Again, this is true in all things in life, not just finances.  If you are negative, procrastinate, and don’t have clear goals, good luck accomplishing anything.  If you turn those around into optimistic, diligent, and goal oriented, you will be amazed at how much you accomplish. 

So, what are the habits we can work on to help us achieve our financial goals?  While those habits vary by person, below is a short list of easy things to incorporate if you are not already doing so. 

  1. Keep your credit cards paid off.  No credit card debt.  Absolutely none.  If you have credit card debt, it needs to be extinguished yesterday, or you must have a clear plan on how to extinguish it soon.  If you can’t do this, see the section on “Willpower” above. 
  1. Really comb through your budget each year.  You may find some saving opportunities, some things you don’t need, or even just better awareness. 
  1. Review your balance sheet once a quarter.  This will help remind you how your current savings and budget are impacting your net worth.  
  1. Schedule time each year to talk to your Accountant and Advisor about tax saving opportunities.  Our most successful relationships for helping to lower people’s tax obligations are when we are actively collaborating with their CPA. 

Have a great Spring! 

Jordan Kaufman 

Chief Investment Officer, Green Ridge Wealth Planning 

Navigating Social Security: A Guide to Maximizing Your Benefits

Social Security can make a big impact on your financial plan. Oftentimes, deciding when to start claiming the benefit can be overwhelming. Clients often ask us the following: Should I claim it as soon as I turn 62?  Does it make sense to wait longer until full retirement age (see graph below)? What are the tax implications? Are there benefits to pushing it back to when I turn 70?

Our analysis below works to shed some light on the topic and includes tax implications, and the tools and information we use to answer those questions. Let’s start with the basics.

Accumulated Income Overtime. Example $1,200 monthly income at 62, $1,700 monthly income at FRA, and $2,200 at age 70. Assuming 90 years old is the life of the plan.

It is always important to gain a better understanding of financial decisions. As always, we are here to light the way. Please let us know if you have any questions about Social Security or would like to schedule a meeting to discuss this in more detail.

Here are a few links to resources that are helpful to look over:

https://www.schwab.com/learn/story/guide-on-taking-social-security

https://www.ssa.gov/pubs/EN-05-10024.pdf

NJBIZ Awards Bobby Mascia and Jordan Kaufman with 2024 “Leaders in Finance”

Bobby Mascia and Jordan Kaufman. NJBiz Award

February 27, 2024 (Montville, NJ) - Green Ridge Wealth Planning, a leading financial planning and investment management fiduciary, has announced that Bobby Mascia, Founder and CEO and Jordan Kaufman, CIO and Partner haver been named “Leader’s in Finance” by NJBIZ magazine.

According to the NJBIZ website, “The NJBIZ Leaders in Finance awards celebrate New Jersey’s financial executives at all levels who contribute to the success of their companies as well as their communities. The 2024 honorees are prime examples of leadership in the industry. Honorees were chosen by a panel of independent judges with experience in the financial field. The selections were based on the nominees’ involvement in their industries and communities, as well as their professional achievements.”

Expressing gratitude, Mascia commented, "Jordan and I are truly honored to receive this distinction from New Jersey’s premier business resource. This award reflects the dedication we've invested in building this business, delivering white-glove service to our clients, and contributing to the betterment of our communities."

Kaufman added, “Receiving this honor is the proverbial icing on the cake to doing a job I Iove with a team that I respect immensely, and clients who feel like family. I am very grateful.”

Stacia Lupinacci, Director of Client Relations and founding member of the team, emphasized the well-deserved nature of the recognition, stating, "Bobby and Jordan are both exceptionally deserving of this honor. They bring unique skills to the table yet share a common vision for our company's future and a passion for excellence."

The awards ceremony is scheduled for April 18th at the Somerset Hilton.

Top of Form

About Green Ridge Wealth Planning

Green Ridge Wealth Planning (GRWP), based in Montville, NJ and founded in 2016, is a financial planning and investment management firm specializing in serving businesses owners, as well as individuals and clients with complex needs. As a fiduciary, the team has a legal and ethical obligation to place clients’ interests above its own. GRWP prides itself on its wealth of financial expertise, creative money management strategies, accessibility, transparency, integrity, and its culture of caring and empathy for clients and employees alike. With carefully vetted partners, including mortgage professionals, tax advisors, estate planning specialists and business strategists, GRWP offers clients a comprehensive suite of services.

About NJBIZ

NJBIZ, the definitive voice of New Jersey business news, is the most mature and distinguished voice in the state. Serving the community since 1987, NJBIZ provides business leaders and executives with the news and information that matters most. We connect and inform businesses through targeted networking and lead-generation opportunities via our recognition events, thought-leadership panel discussions, weekly lists, the annual Book of lists, along with premium online data. NJBIZ is in the business of connecting people and brands with information and each other.







For Immediate Release

January Commentary

2024 is off to the races with January coming to a close.  Our monthly commentary is meant to touch upon the month’s trending news and give our perspective on “what’s happening?” and “why should we care?”.  Let’s go over the few topics that have really driven headlines:

S&P 500:  With still a day left to the month, S&P is up about 4%, continuing the strength from last year’s strong finish. The gain was driven mostly by strong economic data, continued lower unemployment, and lower inflation numbers (The Fed-preferred inflation gauge of PCE was lower but, CPI, the more popular number, was a bit higher).  Fourth-quarter earnings are being released; results have been mixed but generally good. Some of the concerns we are hearing are focused on the upcoming election, forward looking earnings, conflict around the globe, and the high debt on both the public and private side.

Political Royal Rumble: We urge everyone not to let their political views play too much into their investing views. Trump? Haley? Biden? The market would say, “who cares?”.  While the controlling powers help to write and change legislation, the makeup of the Legislative Branch bears more weight than who gets elected. Voting-politics is a money-losing strategy. Vote with your politics, invest with your intellect.

Global Conflict:  Red Sea tensions have been a focus of the market for 24 months now, and while we will keep an eye on it, business has become pretty good at managing supply chains. This was tougher during Covid when supply-chain issues impacted inflation tremendously.  Let’s remember, a major driver of that situation was the lack of personnel to unload the ships that did make it to the coast.  While global tensions are high, the market seems to be shrugging it off. Political headlines can’t always be translated to our markets. 

National Debt Crisis or Modern Monetary Theory?: Debt is an issue that is more complicated than meets the eye. We’ve said it before - for individuals and business owners, there is a difference between good debt and bad debt. We hope our elected representatives act responsibly, but this issue is likely to remain a concern for some time. The relative level of over 100% debt to GDP in the US is concerning, but keep in mind that Japan has over 200% debt to GDP.  In other words, this may not be an immediate threat to the markets, but we would love to see the fiercely polar political fights simmer down and experience some sense of compromise for the American People.

Let’s see what February news brings.   Wall Street Experience, Main Street Mindset!

With Heckerling in the Rear-View Mirror, Our Thoughts

First off, what the heck is Heckerling?  The Heckerling Institute is the premier estate planning conference for all members of estate planning teams, including attorneys, advisors, CPAs, charitable giving advisors, etc. Hosted by the University of Miami School of Law, it takes place annually in Florida and covers updates, usage, and case law for advanced estate planning techniques. Some sessions take basic concepts and dive into more sophisticated applications; some teach replacements of older approaches; some offer insight on topics that are not well known to those that are not as current or on top of the industry; all of them add value for the attendees’ clients.

There were many interesting concepts that we could discuss in great depth, but this blog is intended to be a highlight of those that may be applicable to you. With this information you can either approach your professionals for personal guidance or reach out to us to help you navigate how these concepts may best fit your needs. Here are four of them, and I will touch on each of them enough to give you an idea of its importance. I warn you, I am not going into substantial detail because some of these are very case specific.

  1. Guardianship for Adults
  2. Charitable Giving
  3. Divorce with Business/Passive Income
  4. Setting Up Your Business for Legacy

Guardianship for Adults

When we plan with clients, the conversation of guardianship usually comes up with children – and is usually the toughest decision for parents to make.  However, an adult who may, or may not, become incapacitated, can sometimes be at the mercy of the court to designate a guardian.  I say may not, because one may be seemingly “ok” to make decisions, but not 100% which leaves room for doubt.  Having an appointed guardian is a means of protection.  Consider the case of an untrustworthy family member who might take the opportunity to become your guardian.  Creating a guardianship clause in your estate planning documents to specify who you would, or definitely would not, want to be your guardian would ensure your wishes are followed. This is different than Power of Attorney. 

A Power of Attorney may only have limited rights associated with it and does not include guardianship.  This is an important topic for discussion, especially if you have something to protect and someone to potentially protect it from. Make sure that you have the appropriate paperwork in place.  Alternatively, we plan to not fail where a failure can occur.  So, with that, even if you trust all those around you, and feel like you are 100% too young and/or nothing will take you down, remember to remain planning-minded to cover all your bases.

Charitable Giving

You are charitably inclined, and you want to give a donation.  Remember, the amounts you give will require substantiation. Gifts under $25 need a receipt, $250-$5,000 you need a receipt along with an explanation from the non-profit of the benefit and how it helps the organization, and above $5,000 you will need tax forms. Remember, you can also gift non-cash items as donations. When would you gift non-cash items vs. sell to gift?

Questions:  In the first instance, why don’t I just sell and then give the proceeds away? 

Answer:  If you are in a high tax bracket the amount will go against your AGI and you will end up giving less or taking a bigger tax hit than the organization to which you will be donating. This is why advice from a professional comes in handy, you don’t want to be hurting yourself when your intentions are good.

Question:  Does this always work so simply? 

Answer:  No. There are guidelines.  There are always guidelines. 

Question:  So, I can just give my IRA away and take the deduction? 

Answer:  See last answer - there are always guidelines.  The benefit exists when you are over 70 1/2 years old.  Then you can give away the RMD or distribution directly without it appearing on your tax returns as a distribution. This is especially important for your medical deductions and Medicare premiums, which are based on your AGI.  The check needs to be written directly to the organization and it must be an IRA, not any other type of qualified account.  There are also maximums that you can use to contribute to a CLAT or CRAT.  What’s that?  Read on…….

What other tax benefits can I enjoy when considering charitable giving?

You can also create Charitable Lead/Remainder Annuity Trusts called CLATs or CRAT’s. These allow you to take a deduction up front but allow for benefits and rights for you or your family. The “annuity” component will be either a payment annually to you (remainder) or to charity (lead). At the death of the grantor, or a term that is no longer than 20 years, the charity will get the remainder(remainder) or the non-charity beneficiary the remainder(lead) of what is left in the trust. This creates a good tax deduction, control and estate planning.

The way I look at it from complexity and flexibility to simplicity but stricter, is:  Create a foundation, create a CLAT or CRAT, use a Donor Advised Fund (DAF), and take the deductions annually as they come. That is an extremely broad view, but as you can see, there are options based on your intentions and your benefits.

Divorce with Business/Passive Income

Divorces can be heated, emotional, and sometimes very damaging events. With that said, how do we lessen the blow and make it more about the kids than about the adults in a way that benefits everyone? We are talking bottom line, wants versus needs, tax benefits, and sound estate planning. I often see divorce attorneys create methods of distributing assets in a clear-cut manner; give up this to get that. Sometimes, clear and cut negotiations are easy for the process, but the outcome is terrible and less fortunate for the family. Why? Not to be disparaging to attorneys or their clients; but the planning is hard, attorneys are in the business of zealously advocating for their clients. The more involved planning can be harder for the client to understand, it is a lot of work and sometimes the client is short sighted or emotionally charged and does not want to pay to save. Further, emotions get in the way, attorneys have other clients they need to deal with, often simpler is just easier! 

Let me explain, without getting into the details of re-titling assets, reorganizing entities, creating Spousal Limited Access Trusts, etc., let’s just think about the end game. There is a way to divide the assets - the income-generating assets - and separate out the tax burden, keep the structure of the business and/or real estate in place, divide out the assets or give the assets for the benefit of the kids, without giving up the things you don’t want to give up.  It just takes work and planning. So, if you are planning on a divorce, before you go off and file paperwork and hire your attorney, discuss the sophisticated options with your advisor and get your ducks in a row. Do it either with your spouse, if you are on the same page, or before your spouse gets into FU mode. 

Setting Up Your Business for Legacy

Just like with divorces, you can fail to plan or plan to not pay so much in taxes.  It all comes down to your intentions, communication with the next generation, the team you have in place, and your ability to pull yourself out of the “control of my business” box and into the “control of my money” box. Depending on the family business (it can be operating or can be passive), there are a few structures you can look at when planning. There is a lot of customization, work and filing that must happen when we make these changes. I am not going to sugar coat it – if it costs you $100k to save $5M, it seems like a no brainer. Without going through the exercise, and especially if you are over the threshold, you cannot know what you can avoid.  It comes down to a few things:

Right now, the limits for exemption are high at $27,220,000. If you are above that amount, there are ways to plan on minimizing or eliminating your tax burden.  If you are below that amount, remember, this law sunsets in 2026 and is subject to change.  Taking advantage of a limitation now is the smart move. If it goes up in the future, it is more you can pass without taxes. If it goes down, well, you are out of luck.

Let’s just say, there are favorable estate planning and taxation laws that are at your disposal if you work with the right people. The savings alone is worth a lifetime of earnings for the other 99% of Americans. Most people I know, even if they don’t want to give it to their kids or have anyone to give it to, would rather see it go to a charitable cause rather than the IRS. 

If you want to learn more on how all of this can benefit your family, or know someone that may be facing these issues, please email our team at team@greenridgeweal.wpenginepowered.com.  Green Ridge Wealth Planning has created the GRWP Wealth Counsel arm. We are the family office experience for families with a net worth of $25-$200M who need sophisticated advice on how to make, save and protect their net worth in a non-cookie cutter fashion. Where most of the bigger firms say they know how to do these things, few, if any, have the direct experience we have or the service model we use to run our firm. We hold your hand, hold all parties accountable, take the weight off your shoulders, and work with you and your team to become our team of professionals. 

What’s the future of the 401k?

Are employers cutting back on contributions? Will the Secure Act 2.0 help keep it relevant?

While it is statistically true that employers are cutting back on their contributions to these plans, we don’t have large concerns over a massive overhaul of the 401k universe. One reason we see that employer contributions to 401ks have waned in the last couple years is contributed to by reduced contributions by employees, potentially driven due to fears of recession and inflation. If we look at the numbers, employers contributed an average of 5.6% in 2021 compared to 4.5% in 2023. Employee contributions had a similar drop, falling from 8.3% in 2021 to 7.4% in 2023. These statistics cannot be viewed in isolation since one impacts the other.

401ks remain a strong tool for employees to take advantage of for retirement, especially with the recent changes that have been implemented through the Secure Act 2.0. This act increases the age where the participant is forced to take required minimum distributions, allows for employers to provide matches in Roth 401ks, increases the catchup contribution for those approaching retirement, and requires most employers to auto enroll their eligible employees into a 401k plan. These changes are all very positive for those looking to take advantage of these retirement accounts and shows the commitment that lawmakers have to the current system.

The Corporate Transparency Act: Lighting the Path to Transparency

In this article:

What is the Corporate Transparency Act?

In an era where transparency is increasingly recognized as a cornerstone of ethical business practices, the federal Corporate Transparency Act emerges as a landmark piece of legislation. Designed to shed light on the ownership and control structures of corporate entities, this act aims to enhance accountability, curb illicit financial activities, and foster a more transparent corporate landscape. In this blog, we will delve into the key provisions and takeaways of the Corporate Transparency Act, understanding its implications for businesses and the broader economic ecosystem.

Firms like ours, accounting firms, or law firms can help businesses and Trusts comply with these new reporting requirements. 

Who must report and by when:

What must be reported:

Reporting Companies must provide information on their “Beneficial Owners,” a term with a broad and evolving definition.  This includes any individual:

Steep penalties can and may be assessed, including civil fines and criminal charges.

What you need to do now:

  1. Corporate Compliance and Due Diligence: Businesses must proactively assess their ownership structures and compliance frameworks to ensure alignment with the new reporting requirements. This may necessitate a review of internal processes and systems to accommodate the increased demand for transparency.
  2. Complete online report: Covered entities, including corporations, LLCs, and other similar structures, must submit detailed reports to the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) website. These reports will include information about beneficial owners, such as names, addresses, and identification numbers, providing authorities with a clearer understanding of corporate ownership structures. The reporting process must be completed online through a portal on the federal government’s FINCEN (Financial Crimes Enforcement Network) website. The form is electronic and is not yet available as of 12/19/2023 but will likely be ready just after the New Year.

Understanding the Reasoning Behind the Corporate Transparency Act:

  1. The Need for Transparency: The Corporate Transparency Act addresses the pervasive issue of anonymous shell companies being used for money laundering, fraud, and other illicit activities. By requiring companies to disclose their ultimate beneficial owners, the act seeks to bring greater transparency to corporate structures.
  2. Defining Beneficial Ownership: A pivotal aspect of the legislation is the definition of beneficial ownership. Covered companies are required to report individuals who directly or indirectly control the entity, aiming to unmask the true faces behind corporate entities and prevent the misuse of anonymous ownership for illegal purposes.
  3. Enhanced Enforcement and Penalties: The Corporate Transparency Act empowers authorities with enhanced tools for enforcing compliance. Non-compliance can result in significant penalties, including fines and imprisonment. This underscores the government's commitment to ensuring adherence to the new transparency standards.
  4. Promoting Accountability: The Corporate Transparency Act represents a significant step towards fostering accountability within the corporate realm. By requiring the disclosure of beneficial ownership, the legislation aims to create a more level playing field and minimize the potential for fraudulent activities.
  5. Impact on Financial Institutions: Financial institutions, which play a critical role in combating money laundering, will benefit from the increased transparency provided by the act. Access to accurate and comprehensive information about corporate ownership structures will enhance their ability to assess and mitigate risks associated with potential illicit financial transactions.
  6. Global Implications: The Corporate Transparency Act aligns with international efforts to combat financial crimes and promote transparency. Its implementation sends a clear message that the United States is committed to playing a leading role in the global fight against money laundering and illicit financial activities.

Conclusion:

The Corporate Transparency Act marks a significant stride towards a more transparent and accountable corporate landscape. As businesses adapt to the new reporting requirements, the long-term impact of this legislation will likely extend beyond the borders of the United States, influencing global standards for corporate transparency and ethical business practices. Embracing transparency not only aligns with regulatory expectations but also contributes to a more resilient and trustworthy business environment.

Santa Rally?

Last month, our commentary focused on how pessimistic outlooks had missed some of the positives in the economy and market.  What followed was a manic rise in the markets in the month of November.

November and December are historically strong months.  Sometimes dubbed “the Santa rally”, we tend to see stocks drift higher into the end of the year.  This is not always the case, but with some big technical reversals in the markets in the last 2 months, odds favor a rally into the new year.

One important reversal to be aware of is in the 10-year Treasury Bond.  Considered a benchmark for prevailing rates, the 10-year yield started the month at over 4.9% and ended the month close to 4.3%.  That is a big decline in interest rates in a very short time!

While some of the data supports the decline in interest rates, the size of the decline is probably better described by the market's persistence on the Federal Reserve to cut interest rates in 2024, and cut them significantly!  This is a reasonable assumption if we were to remove politics and sentiment from the equation; but when have politics and sentiment not been a factor!?!?  The more likely outcome is that the Federal Reserve will cut rates later than they should, just like they resisted raising rates until inflation had taken a strong hold.  It is likely that they will need to see either inflation below their 2% target or a significant change in the labor market and GDP growth to budge from their current interest rate target.  While they may be late to cut, it also seems that the chances of another hike are remote.

“Be curious, not judgemental.” – Ted Lasso

While predicting interest rates can be fun and make for good cocktail conversation, we encourage investors to spend more time being observant.  With such incredible outperformance of the top 7 largest technology stocks this year, it begs the question if that fantastic run can continue.  January will be an interesting month to watch, and will likely indicate if there is going to be leadership change.  Will the other 493 stocks in the S&P 500 catch up?  The first month of 2024 will give a strong hint of whether or not that will be the case as institutional investors will certainly be making positioning changes.  No need to guess or predict what they will do, as their ships turn slow.  We will get a glimpse in January where they want to steer the boat, and our more nimble schooners can change course and pull ahead.

But enough of all this market talk and worry about the year to come.  Tis the season!