Desiree Weppner Added to Client Services Team

PRESS RELEASE Amherst, NY: Level Financial Advisors has hired Desiree Weppner as a Client Services Specialist at the fee-only investment management and financial planning firm. She will assist the firm’s operations department with various administrative activities including working with clients on daily requests, deepening client relationships, and assisting the company’s financial advisors with meetings and paperwork. She will also assist the company with special projects related to finance and human resources. Ms. Weppner graduated from Gannon University, achieving a Bachelor of Science in Mental Health Counseling; she later received her Masters of Science in Elementary Education from Edinboro University. Prior to joining Level, Ms. Weppner worked as a School Counselor at St. Gregory the Great Catholic School for the past twelve years. She serves on the board of the Character Council of Western New York as its Vice President and is also the Co-Director of the Champions for CHANGE Youth Leadership Conference. She resides with...

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Taking the Long View: ROTH conversions and non-spouse beneficiaries after the SECURE Act:

In previous installments, we discussed the tax planning benefits associated with strategic ROTH conversions, especially prior to age 72 when Required Minimum Distributions begin.  As you will remember, these conversions may be done each year to convert pretax retirement accounts that have never been taxed, to tax free ROTH accounts. The conversion creates taxable income, but can be done in the years when you are in a lower marginal tax bracket. The goal is to intentionally fill up the lower tax brackets now with ROTH conversions, rather than waiting until age 72 and beyond when your marginal tax bracket may be much higher. But the recent SECURE Act provides another benefit of ROTH conversions, specifically to non spouse beneficiaries. The SECURE Act eliminated the very preferential stretch IRA treatment given to non-spouse beneficiaries of pretax retirement accounts. Prior to the law change, your beneficiary could receive an inherited IRA and “stretch”...

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Elections matter, but not so much to your investments

Election years can be fraught with uncertainty as developments surrounding the candidates, their platforms, and their predicted effects on the economy and markets dominate the news. But should you let this stream of political information influence how you and I manage your investment portfolio? A lengthy history of empirical research suggests not. Elections matter, just not in all the ways you might think to an investor. Of course, they hold great importance in upholding the U.S. tradition of democratic, representative government. However, their impact on market returns has historically proven to be negligible, as shown in the chart below. Given the horse race nature of political campaigns, you may think that in the months closest to an election, there is a noticeable uptick in volatility. Think again. In actuality, the opposite has been true. From January 1, 1964, to December 31, 2019, the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index’s annualized volatility was 13.8% in...

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The Key to Paying Less Tax in Retirement

In our last tax planning segment, we discussed the opportunity to maximize contributions to tax-favored retirement accounts.  Let me repeat my original premise: as a general rule, it is advisable to fill up each tax-favored retirement account for which you are eligible, to the maximum limit possible, given the amount of liquid funds available.  To do otherwise is to forgo a tax benefit and miss an opportunity that will increase your wealth over time. With that said, we are faced with the choice of contributing to pretax retirement accounts versus ROTH based accounts.  Many individuals select the pretax option during their highest earning years to find immediate tax relief.  However, this strategy, if pursued exclusively, creates a challenge in retirement.  We may find that our retirement income will be exposed to an equal or even higher marginal tax rate in the future.  Here are some of the contributing factors. While contributions...

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Level Financial Listed Again in National Ranking of Advisory Firms

PRESS RELEASE Amherst, NY: Financial Advisor Magazine’s annual ranking of large independent investment advisors listed Amherst-based Level Financial Advisors 475th out of 683 firms nationally, according to the publication’s August edition. Querying thousands of firms throughout the U.S., Level posted 22% growth in 2019, raising their managed assets to $425 million. Since the end of the year, the company has continued to grow, posting $432 million in managed assets and recovering from the drastic dip in markets experienced at the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic. "It's been a challenging 2020 and we've had to adapt quickly to a changing workplace and a stressed global economy," said the firm's Chief Operating Officer and Partner, Michael Heburn. "Over the years, our dedicated employees have risen to the occasion to keep our growth streak going.  It's inspirational and a real tribute to our team!" The results mark the third straight year of double digit growth for the locally-owned...

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James Smith Added to Financial Planning Team

PRESS RELEASE Amherst, NY: Level Financial Advisors has hired James Smith as a Financial Planning Associate at the fee-only investment management and financial planning firm. Mr. Smith graduated from the Utah State University in June, achieving a Bachelor of Arts in both Finance and Management Information Systems. He will assist in client meetings, preparing financial plans and researching strategies to help clients save money, reduce taxes, and improve their financial lives. He will also contribute to the firm’s financial planning and investment committees and work on special projects while preparing for his CFP® certification exam later this year. Prior to joining Level, Mr. Smith worked as a para-planner for Family First Financial Planning in Florida.   He is an Eagle Scout and recently completed a two-year missionary service trip to Buenos Aires, Argentina. Mr. Smith is a member of the Financial Planning Association of Western New York and also serves in the Church of Latter-Day Saints....

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Tax Planning Opportunities: Tax Favored Retirement Account Contributions

Back in February, we anticipated writing an ongoing series of articles on the measurable value of forward-looking tax planning, a topic that we spend a lot of time thinking about here at Level Financial Advisors.  We posted the first article, but then COVID 19 intervened in all of our lives and our attention turned to the more immediate topics resulting from the crisis. This article brings us back to the tax planning theme and focuses on the use of tax favored retirement accounts.  There are two distinct components to the planning function.  First, we must make decisions about new contributions during our working years and then, just as importantly, make decisions about how to best distribute the funds from the accounts in the future. This article will focus on contributions and the next in the series will address distributions. We must add a note of caution as some families are facing reduced...

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