The Verus Team

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"I'm Gen X. I just sit on the sidelines and watch the world burn."

Written by: Derek Majkowski, Partner. Any opinions are those of Derek Majkowski and not necessarily those of RJFS or Raymond James.

"I'm Gen X. I just sit on the sidelines and watch the world burn."

This was a line from Keenan Thompson who was playing a game show host on a SNL sketch called Millennial Millions. Here is the sketch for your viewing pleasure -
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Current Interest Rate Environment, Investing, and Framing the Risks

Written by: Derek Majkowski. Any opinions are those of Derek Majkowski and not necessarily those of RJFS or Raymond James.

As I write, the 10 year US Treasury Bond hovers around 1.7%. This is a modest move higher in yield from recently bottoming around 1.45% in August.
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Learning from the Earnings Life of an Athlete

Written by: Derek Majkowski. Any opinions are those of Derek Majkowski and not necessarily those of RJFS or Raymond James.

The average Major League Baseball player will play in the pros 5-6 years. The minimum annual salary is approximately $550K and the average annual salary is $4 to $5 million a year.In the NBA, and average player plays 4-5 years and on average earns $5.5 to $6.5 million in annual salary.
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Saving & Investing Wisely - Having a Tax-Free Bucket

Written by: Derek Majkowski. Any opinions are those of Derek Majkowski and not necessarily those of RJFS or Raymond James.

When we conduct a planning meeting, one area of focus we like to review is the balance sheet. The assets, less the liabilities.
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The Verus Team’s 2018 Predictions and Review & 2019 Expectations

Written by: The Verus Team. Any opinions are those of The Verus Team and not necessarily those of RJFS or Raymond James.

Back by popular request… Well maybe not by anyone’s request, but we do enjoy going back and reflecting on the year past, and laying out some fun 2019 predictions to handicap the year ahead.So without further delay, here we go…In 2018 we properly predicted: Stock markets will be higher, lower, or the same in 2018 The recently signed Tax Plan will help US stoc
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Priorities

Written by: Derek Majkowski. Any opinions are those of Derek Majkowski and not necessarily those of RJFS or Raymond James

What is most important to you? What are your Priorities? For some, these are easy questions to answer. For others, there may be some general thoughts, but no real clear determination or defined primacy. Also priorities are not necessarily constant, and can change over time. It is for these reasons that we spend time discussing and...
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Sell in May?

Written by: Derek Majkowski. Any opinions are those of Derek Majkowski and not necessarily those of RJFS or Raymond James

The old adage – “Sell in May and Go Away” was derived from the historical underperformance that the market showed during the months of May through October compared to those months of November through April.
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Spring Fever!

Written by: Derek Majkowski. Any opinions are those of Derek Majkowski and not necessarily those of RJFS or Raymond James

Spring fever has kicked into full effect this year as we were teased here in DC with a warmer than usual February, but a colder than usual March and early April. We had Nor’easters, snow, and the area’s beloved Cherry Blossoms were delayed by weeks due the below normal temperatures...
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Is This a Risk Asset?

Written by: Derek Majkowski. Any opinions are those of Derek Majkowski and not necessarily those of RJFS or Raymond James

We have been preparing for rising interest rates this year. (We will leave aside that we were also preparing for rising rates last year. And the year before. And the one before that. And the 8 years before that.) But a rising interest rate environment changes the math...
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Annuities – The Third Rail of Investment Products

Written by: Derek Majkowski. Any opinions are those of Derek Majkowski and not necessarily those of RJFS or Raymond James

As defined by Wikipedia – The third rail of a nation’s politics is a metaphor for any issue so controversial that it is “charged” and “untouchable” to the extent that any politician or public official who dares to broach the subject will invariably suffer politically...
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What Got You Here….

George Shirley.  Any opinions are those of George Shirley and not necessarily those of RJFS or Raymond James.

I look at your investing life as 4 different phases:  accumulation, protection, distribution and legacy.  Each one of these had its own challenges, but I find it can be difficult to switch your mentality from accumulation to protection and distribution. 
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The President and the Stock Market

Derek Majkowski. Any opinions are those of Derek Majkowski and not necessarily those of RJFS or Raymond James.

I recently came across an article that highlighted the President has tweeted over 60 times about the stock market since being elected in late 2016. 
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Interest Rates, Inflation, and Tariffs – Oh My!

Derek Majkowski. Any opinions are those of Derek Majkowski and not necessarily those of RJFS or Raymond James.

“Lions, and tigers, and bears, oh my!” – Dorothy, the Scarecrow and the Tin Man reacting to the noises they hear walking through the dark forest on the Yellow Brick Road.Drawing attention to this great movie classic is nothing new. 
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Welcome Back Volatility!

Derek Majkowski. Any opinions are those of Derek Majkowski and not necessarily those of RJFS or Raymond James.

According to Investopedia: The VIX is the ticker symbol for the Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE) Volatility Index, which shows the market's expectation of 30-day volatility.
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Welcome Sarah, Vera and Merit!

Written by: George Shirley.  Any opinions are those of George Shirley and not necessarily those of RJFS or Raymond James.

This past week, our firm welcomed some more former colleagues to our office:  Sarah Marks CFP®, and Sr. Registered Client Administrative Managers Vera Reich and Merit Kralovec.
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Age vs Life Stage

Written by: George Shirley - Any opinions are those of George Shirley and not necessarily those of RJFS or Raymond James.

Traditional financial planning often uses age as a key metric.  At this age you need this much saved; if you want to retire at this age you need to do this; financial goals to obtain in your 30s, 40s, 50s 60s; if you are this age, here is the amount of risk you should have in your portfolio. 
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Weighing the Impact of the Tax Bill

Written by: Derek Majkowski. Any opinions are those of Derek Majkowski and not necessarily those of RJFS or Raymond James.

The big news that came out of Washington, DC at the tail end of last year was the signing into law the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. 
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The Verus Team’s 2017 Predictions and Review & 2018 Expectations

Written by: The Verus Team. Any opinions are those of The Verus Team and not necessarily those of RJFS or Raymond James.

As we do each year, we dust off our annual predictions to see how close we were to what actually happened and share with our readers.   
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Crypto – Crazy!

Written by: Derek Majkowski. Any opinions are those of Derek Majkowski and not necessarily those of RJFS or Raymond James.

I was recently inspired to find the following commercial that was run in 2006: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zhnEjxsjjuA Aside from bringing a chuckle, I was reminded of the story around the Pets.com sock puppet and what it ultimately came to signify and represent for both pop-culture and stock market history – to some extent.
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The Inevitable, the Unknown, and Planning

Written by: Derek Majkowski. Any opinions are those of Derek Majkowski and not necessarily those of RJFS or Raymond James.

So there’s a pretty good chance we’re all going to die.  I know, I know, this is such a surprising and extremely enlightening (and rather morbid) observation. 
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Milestones and Reflections

Written by: George Shirley   Any opinions are those of George Shirley and not necessarily those of RJFS or Raymond James.

This Fall marked 20 years in the financial services industry for me.  As with many milestones, I took some time to reflect on my time in the business, where I have been, where I am and more importantly where I am going. 
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Locking in Profits vs. Missing Upside

Written by: Derek Majkowski. Any opinions are those of Derek Majkowski and not necessarily those of RJFS or Raymond James.

When posed with the question – Are you going to be more upset if you sell your equity assets while in a profit position and they keep going higher, or that you did not sell when things were up and they corrected or pulled back?
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When The Team Is Winning…

Written by: George Shirley. Any opinions are those of George Shirley and not necessarily those of RJFS or Raymond James

You often hear that in sports, winning can mask serious issues within a team. If your team wins, it is easy to look past some of the problems that could have impacted the result, especially if you got the result you wanted.
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Seeking Financial Advice

Written by: Derek Majkowski. Any opinions are those of Derek Majkowski and not necessarily those of RJFS or Raymond James.

What are you looking for when you seek financial and investment advice?Let’s assume that “great returns with no risk” is not a realistic answer.
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Liquidity and Flexibility

Written by: Derek Majkowski. Any opinions are those of Derek Majkowski and not necessarily those of RJFS or Raymond James.

To us, Liquidity – means cash. Flexibility – means pliable and with options.
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Separating Conservative from Boring

Written by: Derek Majkowski. Any opinions are those of Derek Majkowski and not necessarily those of RJFS or Raymond James.

Is it fair to be criticized for being conservative in providing financial modelling forecasts? When assessing the amount someone spends (choose a higher number), or measuring potential returns or outcomes (pick lower returns), is it wrong to be conservative? Does being conservative mean that your life or lifestyle will be boring?
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It All Starts with the Income Statement and Balance Sheet

Written by: Derek Majkowski. Any opinions are those of Derek Majkowski and not necessarily those of RJFS or Raymond James.

When it comes to beginning an engagement with a financial planner and embarking on the financial planning process…
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Good Habits

Written by:  George Shirley - Any opinions are those of George Shirley and not necessarily those of Raymond James or RJFS

In the past month, I have spoken to a number of college-aged children/grandchildren of current clients about investing.
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Trust

Written by George Shirley. Any opinions are those of George Shirley and not necessarily those of RJFS or Raymond James.

We have had some college interns in our office this summer. It has been a fun dynamic with the different points of view and various degrees of understanding about the financial services industry.
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Risk Tolerance can be a moving target

Written By: George Shirley.  Any opinions are those of George Shirley and not necessarily Raymond James or RJFS.

Risk tolerance questionnaires that ask a series of questions in an effort to understand an investor’s tolerance of risk are a popular way to determine how to invest.  By classifying investors into a category,
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Fear, Greed, or Climbing the Wall?

Written by: Derek Majkowski. Any opinions are those of Derek Majkowski and not necessarily those of RJFS or Raymond James.

Fear and Greed - the two emotional states that have long been tied to the randomness, impulsiveness, and volatility connected to, and associated with, the stock market.
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Top Places to Work.

Written by: George Shirley - Opinions are those of George Shirley and not necessarily those of Raymond James or RJFS

Our firm was recently named one of the top places to work in Washington DC by the Washington Business Journal   https://finance.yahoo.com/news/steward-partners-awarded-best-place-185000722.html.
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Words of Wisdom From Our Office.

Written by: George Shirley. Opinions are those of George Shirley and not necessarily those of Raymond James or RJFS

I went around the office and asked everyone for their favorite bite-sized financial wisdom.  Here is a list of 10. Spend less than you earn.Pay off your debt as quickly as possible.Invest for the long term.Take a moment to think before acting.
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Preserving Your Wealth and Legacy by Educating Your Kids

Written by: Derek Majkowski. Any opinions are those of Derek Majkowski and not necessarily those of RJFS or Raymond James.

Over the next several decades, it is anticipated that as much as $30 trillion will transfer from the wealthiest generation in US history to Gen X and millennial children.  That is a lot of money, and a lot of change and preparation for all involved.
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What is your minimum?

Written by: George Shirley. Opinions are those of George Shirley and not necessarily those of RJFS or Raymond James.

I have gotten this question often over the years, and the answer to that has changed.  When I first started in the business, I was happy to talk to anyone and would have said $1.
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Things Seem Good – Time to Review Your Risk Profile?

Written by: The Verus Team. Opinions are those of the Verus Team and not necessarily those of RJFS or Raymond James.

We have recently been holding similar discussions with a number of our clients.  In each case, the value of their investments is as high as it has ever been, and lately, there has been no strong catalyst to change much of what we have been doing.
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Not all Collaboration is Created Equally – and it Matters!

Written by: Derek Majkowski. Any opinions are those of Derek Majkowski and not necessarily those of RJFS or Raymond James.

It seems simple to presume two heads are better than one, or that the idea of working with like-minded people can generate positive and leveraged results.
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The Search for Low Correlation

Written by: George Shirley Opinions are those of George Shirley and not necessarily RJFS or Raymond James

When evaluating a portfolio, most investors understand the concept of diversification.  What is less understood-- and can have a bigger impact on a portfolio performance and volatility-- is correlation. Correlation attempts to quantify the price movement of two securities as related to one another. 
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Are You a Fiduciary?

Written by: Derek Majkowski. Any opinions are those of Derek Majkowski and not necessarily those of RJFS or Raymond James.

That was a recent question asked of me by a longtime client.  I couldn’t help but smirk a little after reading the question - which was sent via email. 
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Welcome Bill!

Written by: George Shirley. Opinions are those of George Shirley and not necessarily those of RJFS and Raymond James.

A former colleague recently became a current colleague as Bill Blake, AIF®, Wealth Manager joined our firm.  I had the pleasure of working with Bill for more than 8 years, and was excited to have his vast experience and knowledge added to the collective wisdom of the office.
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Are You Considering All the Risks?

Written by: Derek Majkowski. Any opinions are those of Derek Majkowski and not necessarily those of RJFS or Raymond James.

Risk by definition is a situation involving exposure to danger.  In the world of finance and investments, risk can be broken down into several different categories. 
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What Is Your Top Financial Concern?

Written by: George Shirley. Opinions are those of George Shirley and not necessarily those of RJFS or Raymond James

What is your top financial concern and what have you done about it?  Two people who may fall into the same general category from a “profile” standpoint, can have very different feelings towards their personal financial situation and may answer these questions in very different ways.
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Financial Tips for New Parents

Written by: George Shirley    All opinions are those of George Shirley and not necessarily those of RJFS or Raymond James.

Congratulations!   As with any life change, the birth of a child brings a whole new series of things to deal with. 
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Checking In with your Fixed Income and Bond Allocation

Written by:  Derek Majkowski.  Any opinions are those of Derek Majkowski and not necessarily those of RJFS or Raymond James.

With the recent announcement by the FOMC to raise target interest rates for the second time in 3 months, and the expectations of further gradual hikes over the course of the year.
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Tax Diversification

By: George Shirley. Opinions are those of George Shirley and not necessarily those of RJFS or Raymond James.

In the context of investing, diversification usually refers to owning different assets in an attempt to reduce the exposure to any one particular risk.
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The 401K or the 401K Roth?

Written by: Derek Majkowski. Any opinions are those of Derek Majkowski and not necessarily those of RJFS or Raymond James.

Every financial advisor has to disclose that they do not give tax advice, and I don’t.  That said, every financial advisor also has to be aware of the tax features when it comes to a particular investment or investment strategy.
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Getting Organized

Written by: George Shirley  Any opinions are those of George Shirley and not necessarily those of RJFS or Raymond James. 

February 16, 2017 The process of getting your financial house in order really starts with getting organized. 
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Taking Care of Yourself – Because we Never Know.

Written by: Derek Majkowski. Any opinions are those of Derek Majkowski and not necessarily those of RJFS or Raymond James.

“The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.” – Eleanor Roosevelt
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Be Kind to Yourself

Written by: Derek Majkowski. Any opinions are those of Derek Majkowski and not necessarily those of RJFS or Raymond James.

“Be Kind to Yourself” – a recent comment made to me at the end of 2016 when I was reflecting on the past year, and considering all the goals I wanted to accomplish on the year ahead. 
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Invest in Yourself

By:  George Shirley.  Opinions expressed are those of George Shirley and not necessarily those of RJFS or Raymond James.

In the first class of the Executive Certificate in Financial Planning program that I took, the professor asked everyone to describe their most valuable asset. 
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I Am Going to Start Investing…

By: George Shirley Opinions expressed are those of George Shirley and not necessarily those of RJFS or Raymond James

When investing and organizing your financial life is not a top priority, it can take a back seat to other things. 
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The Timing Matters

Written by: Derek Majkowski. Any opinions are those of Derek Majkowski and not necessarily those of RJFS or Raymond James.

Recently I sat with two sets of clients that are both affluent and successful in their respective lives and careers.  One couple is in their mid-forties, and the other is in their mid-sixties.
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Investing in What You Know

By: George Shirley   Opinions are those of George Shirley and not necessarily those of RJFS or Raymond James

I recently attended a funeral of a long-time client at Arlington National Cemetery.  Even though I am a native or Arlington VA, this was the first time I had witnessed a ceremony at the cemetery.
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Election’s Over – Handicapping 2017 and the Opportunist?

Written by: Derek Majkowski. Any opinions are those of Derek Majkowski and not necessarily those of RJFS or Raymond James.

As we kick off 2017 and approach the much discussed upcoming Inauguration and change in Washington, many are left pondering how the year ahead will unfold. 
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Verus Team 2016 Year in Review and 2017 Predictions

Written by: The Verus Team  Opinions are those of the Verus Team and not necessarily those of RJFS or Raymond James.

January is a time to reflect on the previous year and look forward into the next.  Prior to 2016, we did not have the platform to publish our previous year’s predictions. 
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Trying to Simplify the Complicated.

Written by: Derek Majkowski. Any opinions are those of Derek Majkowski and not necessarily those of RJFS or Raymond James.

With further reference to our diagram, even it does not go far enough to properly visualize the complexities and nuances to crafting a financial or investment plan. 
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What makes up the Financial Playing Field and does it matter?

Written by: Derek Majkowski. Any opinions are those of Derek Majkowski and not necessarily those of RJFS or Raymond James.

When discussing all the things to consider with one’s investment plan and finances, one has to consider a large number of inputs and variables.
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Avoiding your “Edging Incident” - How do you Use and Engage Professional Service

Written by: Derek Majkowski. Any opinions are those of Derek Majkowski and not necessarily those of RJFS or Raymond James.

When my wife and I first bought our house in the Washington, DC suburbs, I was met with my first yard since I lived at home as a teen, pre-college.  I swelled with pride one Saturday spring morning as I hopped out of bed and prepared to go out back to the shed in the yard.
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Sell? But it pays a good Dividend.

Written by: Derek Majkowski. Any opinions are those of Derek Majkowski and not necessarily those of RJFS or Raymond James.

Total return is measured by both capital appreciation and dividend payments over time.  If a stock does not pay a dividend, then obviously return is only measured by growth.
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How Much Cash Do I Need?

By: George Shirley    Opinions expressed are those of George Shirley and not necessarily those of RJFS or Raymond James.

We often get asked “how much should I keep in cash?”  Conventional wisdom usually gives a number of months (3,6,12) times your regular expenses as an appropriate amount.
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The 529 Account vs Custodial Accounts for Education – Which to choose?

Written by: Derek Majkowski. Any opinions are those of Derek Majkowski and not necessarily those of RJFS or Raymond James.

Often I’m asked to explain the differences between using a 529 account vs. that of a Custodial account, and if I have any preference over which one I like better.
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Valuing Your Clients

Written by: George Shirley - Any opinions expressed are those of George Shirley and not necessarily those of RJFS or Raymond James

There is a bakery a few miles from our house that sells breads, scones, muffins etc. The quality of the items is good, but the reason we continue to return is the wonderful women who have worked at the store.   
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Too Big to Care – Until Proven Otherwise.

Written by: Derek Majkowski. Any opinions are those of Derek Majkowski and not necessarily those of RJFS or Raymond James.

The recent news and scandal at one of the large financial services firms has shed light publicly on a situation that has long been felt behind-the-scenes by many advisors for years.
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Focus on Results—to your detriment

By: George Shirley - Any opinions are those of George Shirley and not necessarily those of RJFS or Raymond James.

I have spent the better part of the last 15 years involved in youth sports…primarily as a soccer coach.  At the beginning of each season, I stress to the parents and players that I will be focusing on being competitive, individual and team improvement, and our performance to evaluate the team, not results of the games.
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When You Have a Plan – You Control Current Events

Written by: Derek Majkowski. Any opinions are those of Derek Majkowski and not necessarily those of RJFS or Raymond James.

Over the course of the last several months, I have been having a number of nervous conversations with clients on what to do based on the next important upcoming “event” that can impact the market. 
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Is this a good investment?

By: George Shirley  Any opinions are those of George Shirley and not necessarily those of RJFS or Raymond James.

October 5, 2016 I often get asked by clients for an opinion on investment opportunities that fall outside the scope of registered securities. 
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What makes you wealthy?

Written by: George Shirley.  Any opinions are those of George Shirley and not necessarily those of RJFS or Raymond James.

During a meeting with a client a number of years ago, I was discussing the impact of possible rising interest rates on his portfolio and what allocation would likely hold its value better. 
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Characteristics of Successful Investors

Written by: George Shirley. Any opinions are those of George Shirley and not necessarily those of RJFS or Raymond James.

I have worked with many clients with very different investing goals and strategies to and the ones who have had the most success in the markets share a number of similarities.
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When it comes to your money, are you a Client or a Customer?

Written by: Derek Majkowski. Any opinions are those of Derek Majkowski and not necessarily those of RJFS or Raymond James.

A client wants personal attention.A customer needs a transaction fulfilled.A client wants to be engaged in the process and feel they are being heard.A customer needs a product or service, and requires very little personal interaction.
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Core and Satellite Investing – The Science and the Art.

Written by: Derek Majkowski. Any opinions are those of Derek Majkowski and not necessarily those of RJFS or Raymond James.

When I think of the word “Core”, several things come to mind.  One is the root or definition which defines it as the strong, center, or the foundation of something.
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Robo-Advisors Part II

Written by: George Shirley. Any opinions are those of George Shirley and not necessarily those of RJFS or Raymond James.

While some are predicting the demise of traditional asset management from robo-advisors, I think some of that stems from the stodgy, outdated asset management strategies that many firms still use.
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An Advisor’s Take on the “Robo-Advisor” Phenomenon

Written by: Derek Majkowski. Any opinions are those of Derek Majkowski and not necessarily those of RJFS or Raymond James.

It is without a doubt important to utilize all of the great tools offered by and through the advancements of technology.  As a 22 year veteran in providing investment and financial services, I have seen the advent of many online tools and technological advancements in this industry.
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Leave or Stay?

Recently the majority of Great Britain’s people voted to leave the European Union. The outcome of the referendum caught many by surprise and set the stage for a market pullback that immediately injected uncertainty around the world.
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Why Does My Organization Need an IPS?

Written by: George Shirley. Any opinions are those of George Shirley and not necessarily those of RJFS or Raymond James.

One of the gratifying aspects of this job is to help people with philanthropic and charitable endeavors.  I have found that being able to give time and financial support to causes that are important to people is extremely rewarding and can provide almost a renewed sense of purpose, especially for retirees.
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A New Chapter Begins

Welcome to 1776i, our blog about financial topics and our thoughts surrounding them. With this blog, we hope to give a window into our thinking about many different issues that arise every day in the ever-changing landscape that is investing and personal finance.
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