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Archive by author: William Laird, CFA®, CFP®Return

Bill, who is one of only 1,300 individuals nationwide to hold both the Certified Financial Planner (CFP®) certification and Chartered Financial Analyst® (CFA®) designation, joined our Jacksonville, FL office in August 2009. 

He has 17 years of hands-on experience in the wealth management industry including four years as a portfolio manager at a major commercial bank where he managed over $1 billion in equity and fixed income assets for trust, individual, charitable, and corporate clients and four years as a money manager research analyst. 

When not working or involved with family activities, Bill dedicates significant time to Rotary Club of Orange Park, Estate Planning Council of Northeast Florida, Economic Roundtable of Jacksonville, and CFA Society of Jacksonville. Bill is a 1999 graduate of Stetson University in Deland, Florida with a degree in finance. 

College Financial Aid Explained
College admissions has always been an important topic for American families. More recently it has been front page news as individuals have sought to game the system through connections, false narratives, or bribery.  While not as sensational as this spring’s scandal, we hope to provide interesting, concise, and timely insight into the college financial aid process. 
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Dollar Cost Averaging:  A Measured Approach to Investing
There are 2 ways to enter a swimming pool.  You can walk yourself in slowly.  Step by step. Inch by inch. Gradually edging yourself into the water so as not to be shocked by the cold. Or? You can dive right in without hesitation.  Putting money to work in the capital markets is no different, leaving investors faced with the decision: is it better to wade or plunge? 
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Tax Diversification - Proactive Steps to Reduce Taxation in Retirement
If you’ve worked with us for any length of time, you’ve certainly heard the term diversification once or twice as it relates to investments.  You may not be as familiar with the term “tax diversification” but know that it is a relevant concern that we consider when recommending your savings options.
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IRS increases qualified retirement plan limits for 2019
As you prepare for the new calendar year, one resolution that we often make it to is to take steps towards enhancing our financial future.  As we work with clients towards putting plans in place, we are often asked what are the biggest influencers on reaching retirement goals.  The number one influencer on achieving long term goals  is making regular savings a priority.  Achieving market-like returns along with regular savings is what helps achieve long term financial goals.  Regular savings, versus ad-hoc lump sum contributions to savings also helps smooth out the influence that timing has on the achievement of goals.Additionally, tax-deferred savings (IRA, 401k, 403b etc.) and tax free savings (Roth IRA, Roth 401k) also have significant benefits and are often the first priority for dollars allocated towards savings.The IRS reviews qualified plan limits each year and increases them periodically to keep up inflation.  Generally, the IRS will increase ...
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The Benefits of Company Sponsored Retirement Plans
As a business owner, establishing a retirement plan at your company can serve many purposes.    Having a plan will provide your employees an opportunity to reduce their taxes and save for retirement.   It can be an important tool in retention of existing employees as well as attracting new employees.It also has quantifiable benefits for the business and the business owner.  In particular, salary deferrals can be shielded from tax and employer contributions can be utilized as expenses for the business.   A business with a small number of employees can take particular advantage of these breaks and often has a wider array of feasible plans to choose from.   The establishment of a retirement plan has become particularly attractive given the reduction in deductible items for many high-earners brought about by the most recent tax legislation.Plans range from the SIMPLE IRA, which allows $12,500 annually to be deferred from tax ($15,500 those over 50), a 3% match...
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529 Savings Plans

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529 Savings Plans
529 Savings plans were introduced in 1996 as a convenient way to save for future college education expenses.   They are used widely, but misunderstandings about their design and use also exist widely.The primary benefit of 529 plans are that they provide tax free growth of contributions as long as the funds are used for qualified college expenses.  More recently, laws changed allowing for 529 plans to be used for k-12 education as well, with the limit annually per student being $10,000 for grades prior to college.  Setting up a 529 plan can be especially valuable if funds are deposited early and have time to benefit from tax-free growth.  Some states also allow for a reduction in state income tax during the year the funds are contributed.Potential asset growth within a 529 plan comes from a set list of mutual fund investments inside the plan.   The fact that the assets are permanently segregated from your spendable assets allows for the growth to occu...
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Should You Consider a Roth Conversion?
Roth IRA Conversions are a source of interest and confusion for many investors.   A Roth IRA conversion involves moving assets already in a Traditional IRA or other retirement account* into a Roth IRA.   The growth of assets in a Roth IRA and the distributions from a Roth IRA after age 59 ½ are tax free.   Some investors who have assets in a Traditional IRA may benefit from transferring their assets to a Roth IRA in a conversion.   Upon completion of this conversion an individual will have a tax liability related to the amount converted.  That amount will be taxed at ordinary income rates up to 37%, like your salary.  The 10% penalty applicable to early (before age 59 1/2) IRA distributions does not apply to Roth conversions, so they can be completed at any age. Normally contributions to a Roth IRA may be limited if income levels are too high.   However, there are no salary restrictions that would prevent someone from completing a Roth conversi...
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Donor-Advised Funds

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Donor-Advised Funds
In conjunction with our tax advisors at DHG, we have helped many clients over the years fulfill their goals for charitable giving while enjoying a reduction in their tax obligation during the calendar year of the donation.  A Donor-Advised Fund is one way to accomplish that goal.  It works particularly well during a year of a significant positive change in circumstances; such as an unexpected bonus or a large deferred compensation payment.  For example, an individual may make a regular donation to a specific charity each year.  In the year of a significant bonus, they may choose to fund 5-10 years of charitable intent at once, by making a deposit to a Donor-Advised Fund.  It allows an individual to take a deduction for the whole amount contributed; but doesn’t require the donor to distribute the funds to charity right away.  Instead, they’ve created a “charitable checkbook” allowing for the funds to be paid out to qualifie...
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Tax Reform

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Tax Reform
Congress recently passed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Acts in late December with most provisions being effective for tax year 2018. Our DHG Tax Advisory professionals have been following the legislative process and have recently outlined the most relevant provisions for individual taxpayers in the attached document below. In addition to these changes primarily affecting deductible items and tax rates, the estate tax threshold has almost doubled to $11.2 million for individuals and $22.3 million for married couples.Tax law remains a complex set of rules that affects all of us differently, thus requiring attention to your individual situation. As a firm focused on providing comprehensive financial planning advice, we are uniquely qualified to assist in this evaluation, alongside our DHG Tax Advisory professionals.We welcome a conversation in 2018 regarding these changes and how they may affect you.DHG Tax Advisory: How You Could Be Affected by Tax Reform DHG Tax Advisory Website (Save...
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Stretch IRAs

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An IRA in and of itself provides for the significant benefit of tax-deferred growth during the owner's lifetime.  The funds in the IRA are only taxed when they are removed.   They can be removed and used without penalty beginning the year the owner turns 59½.  Later on, during the year that the owner turns 70½, the IRS requires withdrawal of a Required Minimum Distribution.  For most participants, this first distribution is equal to 3.65% of the IRA’s value, with the percentage distribution required to be distributed by the IRS rising as they age.What many individuals don’t realize is that the benefits of tax-deferred growth can extend to an individuals’ heirs through a Stretch IRA (more formally called an Inherited IRA).  The IRA can become a Stretch IRA without significant effort on your part; it’s part of the tax law.   Upon death, the  specifically named heirs will inherit the IRA as an Inhe...
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