Articles for October 2016

How Halloween is Celebrated in Different Cultures

halloween

As Halloween approaches, we want to share with you how other cultures celebrate this holiday.

  • In China, the Halloween festival is known as Teng Chieh. Food and water are placed in front of photographs of family members who have departed. Bonfires and lanterns are lit in order to light the paths of the spirits as they travel the earth on Halloween night.
  • In Germany, people put away their knives on Halloween night. The reason for this is they do not want to risk harm befalling the returning spirits.
  • The Halloween celebration in Hong Kong is know as “Yue Lan” (Festival of the Hungry Ghosts) and is a time when it is believed that spirits roam the world for twenty-four hours. Some people burn pictures of fruit or money at this time, believing these images would reach the spirit world and bring comfort to the ghosts.
  • Among Spanish-speaking nations, Halloween is known as “El Dia de los Muertos.” Translated to English, this is “The Day of the Dead.” It is a joyous and happy holiday – a time to remember friends and family who have died. In actuality, Dia De Los Muertos is not one, but two days spent in honor of the dead. The first day celebrates infants and children who have died. This is a group which is believed to have a special place in heaven and is referred to as “Angelitos” (little angels). The second day is in honor of adults who have passed away.

Michael Moffitt is a Registered Representative with and Securities are offered through LPL Financial, Member FINRA/SIPC.  Investments advice offered through Advantage Investment Management (AIM), a registered investment advisor.  Cornerstone Financial Group and AIM are separate entities from LPL Financial.

Medicare Open Enrollment for 2017

Stethoscope on doctor''s desk

If you want to change your Medicare coverage, now is the time to do it.

Medicare’s annual Open Enrollment Period begins October 15 and lasts through December 7.

During the Open Enrollment Period, you can choose to:

*Switch from Original Medicare (Parts A & B) to a Medicare Advantage (Part C) plan.
*Switch from a Medicare Advantage (Part C) plan to Original Medicare (Parts A & B).
*Switch from one Part C plan to another.
*Switch from one Part D plan (prescription drug plan) to another.
*Enroll in a Part D plan, if you didn’t when you first enrolled in Medicare.2

This is the time to review the materials that your plan sends you annually – the “Evidence of Coverage” (EOC) or “Annual Notice of Change” (ANOC) documents. Take a look at them to see if there are any changes that affect you. Pharmacy, premium, or coverage changes could prompt you to look for a new plan.1,2

If you are satisfied with your current coverage, you don’t need to do anything – it will remain in effect as long as the premiums are paid. If you aren’t, this is the time to compare features on plans and sign up for a new one for 2017. (You may want to look into having some Medigap coverage in place during the changeover.)

Two other time periods to note:
January 1-February 14: If you have enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan for 2017 and decide that you want to switch back to Original Medicare, this is the annual grace period in which you can do so. If you do this, your deadline to enroll in a Part D plan is February 14 with Part D coverage starting on the first day of the following month.
January 1-March 31: If you didn’t sign up for Original Medicare when you were first eligible to receive it, you can do so in this window – but you might face a late enrollment penalty. Your Part A & B coverage will start on July 1.2

Michael Moffitt is a Registered Representative with and Securities are offered through LPL Financial, Member FINRA/SIPC. Investments advice offered through Advan tage Investment Management (AIM), a registered investment advisor. Cornerstone Financial Group and AIM are separate entities from LPL Financial.

This material was prepared by MarketingPro, Inc., and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting party, nor their affiliates. This information has been derived from sources believed to be accurate. Please note – investing involves risk, and past performance is no guarantee of future results. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. This information should not be construed as investment, tax or legal advice and may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any Federal tax penalty. This is neither a solicitation nor recommendation to purchase or sell any investment or insurance product or service, and should not be relied upon as such. All indices are unmanaged and are not illustrative of any particular investment.

1 – cms.gov/Outreach-and-Education/Reach-Out/Find-tools-to-help-you-help-others/Medicare-Open-Enrollment.html [9/15/16]
2 – medicareresources.org/faqs/when-is-the-next-medicare-open-enrollment-period/ [5/3/16]

The Wells Fargo Scandal

The bank’s fake accounts come to light.

dollar-hide
Since the start of this decade, Wells Fargo employees have created millions of fake bank and credit card accounts to meet their sales goals. While those deemed at fault are being punished, the question is whether the consequences will equal the actions committed.

The details
. From 2011-16, Wells Fargo collected $2.6 million in customer fees as its employees set up more than 1.5 million unsanctioned deposit accounts and more than 500,000 unapproved credit card accounts.1

Some years ago, Wells Fargo CEO Dick Kovacevich introduced the idea that “eight is great” – meaning that any household banking with Wells Fargo should eventually be sold eight of its products. This longstanding cross-selling objective seems to have fostered dishonesty at Wells Fargo, at least under the leadership of current CEO John Stumpf.1,2

The Los Angeles Times uncovered elements of the bank’s misbehavior in 2013, but only now has this story gained national attention. Last year, the City of Los Angeles sued the bank, which will now pay out $185 million in fines to the city’s coffers and to federal regulators. California’s enormous state pension funds, CalSTRS and CalPERS, have a combined $2.3 billion of invested assets sitting in Wells Fargo investment vehicles; the State of California is suspending business with the bank for at least one year.1,3

How is Wells Fargo reacting? It has fired roughly 5,300 employees who engaged in these frauds, and it will abolish sales goals for retail banking employees starting in October. CEO Stumpf will forfeit roughly $41 million in unvested stock; Carrie Tolstedt, the senior executive who oversaw Wells Fargo’s retail banking unit, will give up $19 million in outstanding stock awards of her own. (Tolstedt retired earlier this year.) Stumpf will forego his salary while Wells Fargo conducts an internal investigation of its business practices.1,4,5

What is the federal government doing to punish Wells Fargo? In the eyes of some lawmakers, not enough. On September 28, Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen testified on banking regulation before the House Financial Services Committee.5

Yellen conceded that there has been “a very disturbing pattern of violations” not only in retail banking recently, but also in foreign exchange trading and mortgage lending conducted by financial institutions. She noted that regulators are subjecting banks to “exceptionally high standards of risk management, internal controls, [and] consumer protection,” adding that “we believe it is possible, even though it is extremely challenging, for organizations to comply.”5

Whether Stumpf stays or goes, the damage to the bank’s brand could be huge. If Stumpf is fired in the wake of this fiasco, that would be a landmark of sorts; it’s unusual for executives to be fired, even under circumstances like these. Wall Street analysts have noted the “superior” returns Wells Fargo has achieved under his leadership, and that praise may work in his favor.1

The trust of the consumer is priceless, and if the bank’s leaders try to shift blame for the scandal onto rogue branch managers and low-level employees, it could deepen the public relations fiasco for Wells Fargo.

Mike Moffitt may be reached at ph. 641-782-5577 or email: mikem@cfgiowa.com
Website: www.cfgiowa.com

This material was prepared by MarketingPro, Inc., and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting party, nor their affiliates. This information has been derived from sources believed to be accurate. Please note – investing involves risk, and past performance is no guarantee of future results. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. This information should not be construed as investment, tax or legal advice and may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any Federal tax penalty. This is neither a solicitation nor recommendation to purchase or sell any investment or insurance product or service, and should not be relied upon as such. All indices are unmanaged and are not illustrative of any particular investment.

Michael Moffitt is a Registered Representative with and Securities are offered through LPL Financial, Member FINRA/SIPC. Investments advice offered through Advantage Investment Management (AIM), a registered investment advisor. Cornerstone Financial Group and AIM are separate entities from LPL Financial.

Citations.
1 – forbes.com/sites/maggiemcgrath/2016/09/23/the-9-most-important-things-you-need-to-know-about-the-well-fargo-fiasco/ [9/23/16]
2 – bai.org/banking-strategies/article-detail/cross-selling-as-secret-sauce-for-success [11/21/14]
3 – nytimes.com/2016/09/29/business/dealbook/california-wells-fargo-john-stumpf.html [9/29/16]
4 – reuters.com/article/us-wells-fargo-accounts-idUSKCN11X2NW [9/28/16]
5 – nytimes.com/2016/09/29/business/dealbook/house-panel-questions-fed-chief-on-wells-fargo-scandal.html [9/29/16]

October is National Financial Planning Month

Saving is a great start, but planning to reach your financial goals is even better.

planning
Are you saving for retirement? Great. Are you planning for retirement? That is even better. Planning for your retirement and other long-range financial goals is an essential step – one that could make achieving those goals easier.

Saving without investing isn’t enough. Since interest rates are so low today, money in a typical savings account barely grows. It may not even grow enough to keep up with inflation, leaving the saver at a long-term financial disadvantage.

Very few Americans retire on savings alone. Rather, they invest some of their savings and retire mostly on the accumulated earnings those invested dollars generate over time.

Investing without planning usually isn’t enough. Most people invest with a general idea of building wealth, particularly for retirement. The problem is that too many of them invest without a plan. They are guessing how much money they will need once they leave work, and that guess may be way off. Some have no idea at all.

Growing and retaining wealth takes more than just investing. Along the way, you must plan to manage risk and defer or reduce taxes. A good financial plan – created with the assistance of an experienced financial professional – addresses those priorities while defining your investment approach. It changes over time, to reflect changes in your life and your financial objectives.

With a plan, you can set short-term and long-term goals and benchmarks. You can estimate the amount of money you will likely need to meet retirement, college, and health care expenses. You can plot a way to wind down your business or exit your career with confidence. You can also get a good look at your present financial situation – where you stand in terms of your assets and liabilities, the distance between where you are financially and where you would like to be.

Last year, a Gallup poll found that just 38% of investors had a written financial plan. Gallup asked those with no written financial strategy why they lacked one. The top two reasons? They just hadn’t taken the time (29%) or they simply hadn’t thought about it (27%).1

October is National Financial Planning Month – an ideal time to plan your financial future. The end of the year is approaching and a new one will soon begin, so this is the right time to think about what you have done in 2016 and what you could do in 2017. You might want to do something new; you may want to do some things differently. Your financial future is in your hands, so be proactive and plan.

Mike Moffitt may be reached at ph# 641-782-5577 or email: mikem@cfgiowa.com
Website: www.cfgiowa.com

This material was prepared by MarketingPro, Inc., and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting party, nor their affiliates. This information has been derived from sources believed to be accurate. Please note – investing involves risk, and past performance is no guarantee of future results. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. This information should not be construed as investment, tax or legal advice and may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any Federal tax penalty. This is neither a solicitation nor recommendation to purchase or sell any investment or insurance product or service, and should not be relied upon as such. All indices are unmanaged and are not illustrative of any particular investment.

Michael Moffitt is a Registered Representative with and Securities are offered through LPL Financial, Member FINRA/SIPC. Investments advice offered through Advantage Investment Management (AIM), a registered investment advisor. Cornerstone Financial Group and AIM are separate entities from LPL Financial.

Citations.
1 – gallup.com/poll/184421/nonretired-investors-written-financial-plan.aspx [7/31/15]