Are You and Your Business Covered?

If your business leases space from a commercial property manager, chances are you have sufficient business owner and umbrella insurance coverage.  Most landlords have extensive insurance requirements tenants must obtain prior to occupying their space.  If you are contemplating whether to start a business or if you already run a business out of your home or another piece of property, having the right insurance coverage is important. The Basics While specific coverage amounts requirements may vary depending on the type of business, tenants are generally required to maintain the following types of insurance coverage at their own cost. (1) Commercial general liability insurance applicable to the premises and its appurtenances. (2) Property insurance covering all above building standard leasehold improvements and tenant’s trade fixtures, equipment, furniture and other personal property within the premises. (3) Business income (formerly “business interruption”) insurance written on an actual loss sustained form or with sufficient limits to address reasonably anticipated business interruption losses. (4) Business automobile liability insurance to cover all owned, hired and non-owned automobiles owned or operated by tenant (5) Workers’ compensation insurance Read on! →

Do Small Cap Stocks Know Something We Don’t?

The Wall Street Journal reported this week the small-cap Russell 2000 closed below its 200-day moving average on Tuesday for the first time since November 2012, snapping a streak of 363 trading days above the closely watched technical indicator. That marked the index’s third longest streak dating back to its inception in 1978.  While history is not always an accurate predictor of the future, it can sometimes serve as a reference point, particularly when it comes to market cycles.  This technical indicator (the 200-day moving average) is often used as a benchmark to gauge a market’s long-term trend. When a stock or index trades above the 200-day, it is in an uptrend. But when it falls below, it is in a downtrend that could lead to more declines. The Russell 2000 dropped 1.6% Tuesday to 1108. It is down 7.1% from the record high hit in March and down almost 5% year-to-date. As the Wall Street Journal reports, “about half of the Russell’s components are down 20% or more from their respective 52-high weeks. Some 80% of them are down Read on! →

Tax Support for Small Business

As a small business owner there are many challenges that have to be addressed.  In addition to launching the service or product you dreamed of rolling out to a welcoming public, the small business owner is constantly inundated with the often mundane tasks of running the business.  If well-funded, the small business owner might have the luxury of hiring people to assist.  Engaging an accountant, lawyer or financial advisor to help with bookkeeping and payroll, business registration and filings or employee retirement plans is often money well spent.  Other jobs can be handled by the owner themselves or maybe by another employee of the company. Small business owners with employees and self-employed individuals know that tax obligations are with them year round.  Most also know there are important deadlines and specific rules to follow.  If unfamiliar with the tax calendar, a deadline is missed or a rule is misinterpreted, these failures can come with negative consequences, many of which are financial.  Regardless of whether a tax related job is outsourced or done in-house, it helps to be prepared and knowledgeable Read on! →

How well do you know your financial adviser?

Assuming you wouldn’t hand over your house key to a stranger on the street, why turn over critical financial decisions to someone you don’t know very well?  If you decide to hire a financial adviser based solely on “feel,” rather than their experience, expertise, and disciplinary background, you might as well have handed over the key to the next passerby. While personality, style and overall “fit” should play a role in choosing a financial adviser, make sure and do your research using a few key documents to fully understand the adviser’s business practices and avoid the regret that comes with making the wrong decision. Every year at this time, advisers across the country are reviewing and revising their Firm Brochure Part 2A Form ADV, Firm Brochure Supplement Part 2B Form ADV, Privacy, Confidentiality and Proxy Voting Disclosures.  These documents describe the firm’s business practices, its key employees and their credentials.  They also serve as annual updates to the various regulatory agencies that oversee the financial services industry. For individuals seeking an adviser or considering a change to a current relationship, Read on! →

Taking Comfort in Diversification

A recent client visit and January’s market drop reinforced a fundamental tenet of how I believe money should be invested.  An investment portfolio should be fully diversified.  It should contain a mix of equities and fixed income that balances growth with preservation, and levels out the peaks and valleys that accompany volatility.  This conviction has sometimes been difficult to support when it typically results in a lower rate of return relative to broad market growth seen in recent years. Experience has taught me that the angst of missing some equity market growth is mild compared to the pain of seeing a portfolio go down in lock step with declining equity markets.  While it is unreasonable to expect investment strategies to be shifted significantly in anticipation of market swings, it is very reasonable to expect to have a basket of different investments that smooth out volatility.  Only by having a mix of stocks and bonds can the investor trust a portfolio to ride market swings and not get derailed before achieving the desired results. There are many ways a portfolio can Read on! →