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

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.

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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@grwealthplan.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!