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Level Ranked as One of WNY’s Top Financial Planning Firms

Buffalo Business First’s ranking of the largest financial planning firms in Western New York listed Level Financial Advisors 27th out of 54 firms locally. The publication ranks advisory firms based on local assets under management. Level serves 600 households and manages $380M in assets, with the vast majority of its client based in WNY.  The Amherst company employs six CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER® professionals.  Subscribers to Buffalo Business First can see the full list HERE....

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Chasing Investment Winners: Good intentions, Bad outcome

We often hear some variation of the following question: “Some of my investments outperformed all the others; why don’t I put more of my money in the investments that did really well?” For example, if we look at 2017, we see that large company growth stocks, especially those in the technology sector, performed exceptionally.  So why wouldn’t we overweight our portfolio with these types of investments? The Answer Is: if we could accurately predict this in advance and then concentrate all or more of our investments into the best performing investment type with a sufficient probability of success, we would.  But we can’t.  Lots of people try, but the historical evidence is clear.  It can’t be done in an efficient and predictable manner.  And here, with a minimum of investment jargon, is why: The investment performance of each type of investment (or asset class), relative to all the other types, is purely...

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Charitable Giving in the Wake of Tax Reform – Part 1

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) passed in December 2017 is the largest overhaul to tax law in over 30 years.  Tax experts and the IRS are still sorting out all of its implications and how to apply the new law, but it is clear the TCJA will have a significant impact on taxation of both individuals and businesses. Due to the effective doubling of the standard deduction and the elimination of many popular itemized deductions, The TCJA has reduced tax incentives for making charitable donations for many people.  Over my next few blogs I am going to explain the basics of three strategies that we are using much more often when discussing charitable gifting with our clients here at Level Financial Advisors.  These strategies all have unique benefits over simply gifting cash. Gifting of Long Term Appreciated Property One of the first tax-saving strategies we consider when we find out a...

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Cost Basis: What is it and Why Do I Need to Know?

Cost basis is certainly not something we think about on a regular basis, but it is critical to understand what it is when a loved one passes away.  Here are answers to common questions about cost basis rules and implications. What is cost basis? Simply put, the cost basis is the purchase price of your stock, bond, or mutual fund investment. For example: If you purchased ABC mutual fund for $10,000 in a brokerage (non-retirement) account, this purchase price becomes your cost basis. Why does this matter? When you later sell your mutual fund, the cost basis helps determine your gain or loss on your investment, and subsequently, your potential tax liability. For example: if you sold ABC mutual fund 2 years later for $12,000, your gain on the fund would be $2,000 and would be taxed at capital gains rates. Other items that effect the cost basis include stock splits, reinvested dividends, and return...

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Level Financial Listed Again in National Ranking for Advisory Firms

Financial Advisor Magazine’s annual ranking of large independent investment advisors listed Level Financial Advisors 470 out of 707 firms nationally, according to the publication’s July edition. Querying thousands of firms throughout the U.S., Level posted  17.5% growth to $360 million in AUM (assets under management), marking the second year in a row the firm posted a +17% growth rate. The firm has continued its 2017 trend with strong results in the first half of 2018. The company achieved a record $380 million in AUM in July. "We continue working our strategic plan, which includes aggressive marketing, development of our CFP® professionals, and innovating our service offering and operations through technology," said the firm's Chief Operating Officer and Partner, Michael Heburn.  "We are constantly looking for new ways to bring value to our clients and it shows in the results our team has achieved over the last three years." FA Magazine  performs the annual survey as...

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VIDEO: Does a Declining Number of Stocks Affect the Size Premium?

Marlena Lee, PhD, Co-Head of Research – Dimensional Fund Advisors

Over the past two decades, the number of US-listed, publicly traded companies has decreased by half.1 There are many theories about what might be driving the change, such as increasing mergers and acquisitions activity, competition from global exchanges for listings, or changes in public policy and the regulatory environment for listed companies.

Historically, small cap stocks have had higher average returns than large cap stocks. This return difference between small cap stocks and large cap stocks is known as the size premium. Investors may wonder whether fewer listed companies might impact the size premium.2 Our latest research shows that, historically, neither the existence nor magnitude of the size premium have been related to the number of listed stocks.3Moreover, we believe investors should continue to expect a positive size premium over the long term.

Don’t Get Distracted (or Greedy)

The stock and bond markets have had a bumpy start to 2018.  But one area of the stock market in particular is having a wonderful year so far: technology stocks.  The tech-heavy Nasdaq 100 is up 13.22% year to date (as represented by QQQ).  Meanwhile, the S&P 500 is only up 3.81% and the international stock market (represented by MSCI ACWI ex US) is down -3.52% for 2018. So what exactly is lifting the Nasdaq 100?  Big tech names we all know are crushing it so far this year: Amazon up 47.95% Apple up 10.39% Microsoft up 19.22% Google up 11.02% Facebook up 14.19% Netflix up 116.42% An investor with a diversified portfolio may be hearing this for the first time or, even worse, may have already heard/read about it from their co-worker, neighbor, or in-law.  It’s common for people who are overweight in an investment that is doing great to make sure everyone around them knows it. ...

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Level Dedicates Conference Rooms to Alan Vogt and Richard Schroeder

PRESS RELEASE Amherst, NY: Level Financial Advisors, Inc. announced today that three of its conference rooms will be renamed to honor two of the firm's long-time owners. The client meeting rooms in the company’s Amherst offices will be named after Alan Vogt and Richard Schroeder later this week. “Richard and Alan have contributed so much to our firm’s history. We wanted to ensure their names will be a part of our future for years to come,” said Level’s president Rosanne Braxton, CFP®. Alan Vogt founded the firm in 1980 under the name Paramount Planning.   Rosanne Braxton was hired as an assistant soon thereafter and Vogt mentored her over the years to one-day take over as president.  The company has decided to rename another of its meeting spaces the “Paramount Room” as a further tribute to the history of the company. Mr. Vogt retired in 2010 but still visits the office on a regular basis. Richard...

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Tuning Out the Noise

For investors, it can be easy to feel overwhelmed by the relentless stream of news about markets. Being bombarded with data and headlines presented as impactful to your financial well-being can evoke strong emotional responses from even the most experienced investors. Headlines from the ”lost decade”[1] can help illustrate several periods that may have led market participants to question their approach. May 1999: Dow Jones Industrial Average Closes Above 11,000 for the First Time March 2000: Nasdaq Stock Exchange Index Reaches an All-Time High of 5,048 April 2000: In Less Than a Month, Nearly a Trillion Dollars of Stock Value Evaporates October 2002: Nasdaq Hits a Bear-Market Low of 1,114 September 2005: Home Prices Post Record Gains September 2008: Lehman Files for Bankruptcy, Merrill Is Sold While these events are now a decade or more behind us, they can still serve as an important reminder for investors today. For many, feelings of...

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