Winter 2018

IronPigs Baseball

A Decade of Hog Heaven “If you build it, they will come” is a paraphrase of one of the most famous baseball movie lines of all-time. This fairy tale also proved true for Allentown in 2008, when the Lehigh Valley received its Field of Dreams in the form of Coca-Cola Park – home of the […]

A Decade of Hog Heaven

“If you build it, they will come” is a paraphrase of one of the most famous baseball movie lines of all-time. This fairy tale also proved true for Allentown in 2008, when the Lehigh Valley received its Field of Dreams in the form of Coca-Cola Park – home of the IronPigs.
After going 47 years without affiliated Minor League Baseball, the Valley became home to the Philadelphia Phillies’ Triple-A affiliate for the 2008 season. Since that time, there’s not a minor league team in the nation that has drawn more fans.

Created with the motto of providing affordable family entertainment, the IronPigs have seen more than six million fans pass through the turnstiles at Bacon, USA, since inception. Some arrive excited to catch a glimpse of baseball’s top prospects and the future of their beloved Phillies. Many more come out looking for a fun way to spend an evening with family and friends.

Coca-Cola Park has also been a tremendous asset to the business community. Over 500 local businesses have found success strategically aligning with the IronPigs, whether to market their brand and products, to entertain prospects and clients or to reward employees.

All fans are treated to a nine-inning vacation.

“We are constantly challenging ourselves to be both unique and innovative,” said President/General Manager Kurt Landes. “Whether it’s a new feature at the stadium, a special promotion or a giveaway, we take pride in offering a memorable experience unlike any other in the Valley. At the home of the IronPigs, the sky’s the limit!”
And the proof is in the pork.

Although Coca-Cola Park is only ten years old, the IronPigs have already spent millions in reinvestment projects to offer a variety of additional group hospitality areas and one-of-a-kind seating options. Prior to this past season, they installed a brand-new video system that features the largest HD display in Minor League Baseball.

Between caps, T-shirts, bobbleheads and other novelties, no team in the minors schedules more giveaway nights – or postgame fireworks shows — than the IronPigs. The organization has also been the first in the country to provide interactive fan experiences such as a social media cave and a urinal video game system. It also remains the first and only to welcome fans with bubbles upon entering through the main gates.

The IronPigs commitment to the fan experience extends to their ever-evolving concessions menu. Fans are invited to “pig out” with unique signature items – many of which are pork inspired. There are options as zany as the Sweet & Sassy (BBQ pulled pork served on a glazed donut roll topped with bacon and candied jalapeños) to others that are as simply delightful as a quarter-pound slice of candied bacon on a skewer. No matter what you are hankering, you can always add bacon to any food item at Bacon, USA (naturally).

On the subject of pork, the nightly Pork Race is perhaps the most anticipated moment of every game. While players like Pedro Martinez, Maikel Franco Freddy Galvis, and Rhys Hoskins have all donned an IronPigs uniform, no quartet has been more popular than mascots Chris P. Bacon, Diggity, Barbie-Q, and Hambone.

IronPigs fans have now gone hog wild for a full decade, but nobody said it would be easy.
After two failed independent franchises (professional teams not affiliated with Major League Baseball) in the prior decade, there were many in the community that didn’t think there would be enough support to make the IronPigs a successful venture.

But with a state-of-the-art facility — completed at $50 M in 2008 — and the vision of principle owners Joe Finley and Craig Stein, the IronPigs were an instant success. Despite owning the worst record in the International League in their inaugural season, the IronPigs averaged 8,479 fans in 71 home games – selling out a remarkable 49 times.

Coca-Cola Park and the IronPigs aren’t just about baseball. The organization holds countess special events at the facility throughout the year, from shindigs like the Wine and Cider Festival and the Bacon and Brew Bash to private functions like weddings and holiday parties. Coca-Cola Park was designed to be a 365-days-per-year venue.

The franchise is also active in its support of the community through IronPigs Charities, which was created to provide educational and recreational opportunities for Lehigh Valley youth. Since its inception in 2007, IronPigs Charities has distributed more than $1 M to local non-profit organizations.

After celebrating their 10-year anniversary this past season, the IronPigs now look forward to another riveting decade at their Field of Dreams… or perhaps more appropriately, Hog Heaven.

Share This:

Three Tech Tools that Will Take your Video to the Next Level

Have you ever watched a film, music video or TV show and noticed all the little things? Do you want to stand high above all those iPhone videos dominating social media today?  Creating a video that captivates your business audience is a balance between good storytelling and good visuals.  There are a few tech tools […]

Have you ever watched a film, music video or TV show and noticed all the little things? Do you want to stand high above all those iPhone videos dominating social media today?  Creating a video that captivates your business audience is a balance between good storytelling and good visuals.  There are a few tech tools that can help your video stand out in what is fast becoming a crowded field.
Aerial photography creates buzz and helps you rise high, literally.  Whether it’s a simple flyover that shows your physical office or a hovering shot of your storefront, it’s visually interesting.  We’ve even used a drone to hover over a giant Mack dump truck coming into the shop for repairs.  Drones offer a vantage point you can’t get from a tall ladder.  It’s a “bird’s eye view” of your business.  Only a few years ago, you had to pay for a high-priced helicopter to get those amazing shots (admittedly, we still do for certain things).   Eventually, TV stations purchased or leased helicopters to get views they simply couldn’t get from the ground.  Then the drones came and conquered!
Technically, a “drone” refers to any unmanned aerial vehicle that can be operated from the ground.  Ours navigates with the help of a GPS tracking system.  The one we use is called a Phantom and boasts an onboard 4K camera.  Video companies like ours need a license from the Federal Aviation Administration to fly it and sell our video for profit.  I had to take what amounts to a private pilot license exam to allow me to fly legally.  More and more companies in the Lehigh Valley are getting this remote pilot license (called a Part 107). Make sure you ask your video company if they have one before they fly on your behalf.
DJI makes the drone we fly.  They also created another smooth moving technology we love, their handheld Osmo.  Think about it for a minute, have you ever watched a movie where there is a shot of people walking and talking and it’s perfectly steady and smooth? Big movies use railroad-like tracks that allow the camera to roll smoothly while the subjects move.  A jib, with a camera that can move up and down, works too.   Our DJI Osmo handheld gimbal and camera allows me to walk right along with the action, while the gimbal corrects for my movements.  The Osmo makes it possible to capture motion without blur or bumps in the road.
Speaking of bumps in the road, there’s nothing better than capturing live action on a GoPro.  The small, digital point-of-view cameras have been the favorites of action seekers for years. It was created by a surfer, turned billionaire, who wanted to share his water-loving exploits with his friends.  A GoPro can be mounted to a helmet or handle bar of a bike (among other places), to get great footage.  We use our GoPro to capture action video in our tourism videos.  They’re also fantastic gadgets to capture time lapse footage.  We used one to capture the Good Friday crowd at Josh Early Candies (the busiest day of their year), and the results were spectacular.
While “a picture is worth a thousand words” may sound like a tired cliché, in the case of marketing, the concept is still very true.  Putting a high-tech spin on your business videos will help separate you from the rest.

Share This:

It’s a Digital World After All

It is no surprise or fantasy anymore that our entire global economy is moving towards digital business, everything from grocery shopping, job interviews, logistics and even finding love does not require a physical transaction anymore. We all became so busy with our lives that we developed a need for simple and fast solutions to cater […]

It is no surprise or fantasy anymore that our entire global economy is moving towards digital business, everything from grocery shopping, job interviews, logistics and even finding love does not require a physical transaction anymore.
We all became so busy with our lives that we developed a need for simple and fast solutions to cater to our simple life duties. The result? Companies started to pop up on the horizon to solve that; we started to see dating apps, music streaming, and car service, just to mention a few examples.
The most surprising situation I have encountered lately is that there are still markets in the United States that are fighting this digital revolution, surprising? Not really…shocking? Absolutely! This article is to remind all business owners, small and large company owners to get digitalized! Whether you are providing spa services, catering, photography or distributing goods around the world, if you are not already making sure your company has the proper digital presence, operational tools, partnerships, marketing strategy and digital revenue streams you will be at a high risk of being overtaken by your competition in the next 3-5 years at the most.
This revolution is better known as “The Amazon Effect.” You blame technology and Millennials for the change in the economic market, but in reality, this was meant to happen, and many just decided to ignore it thinking it would just be a trend or a “bubble.” Do not get me wrong there are many companies with tangible products and businesses, but your internal operations, marketing, and expansion strategy should be 80% digital and 20% traditional methods. It is a very big world out there, why get comfortable with your local market when you can reach thousands or millions of potential clients/users with the simple touch of a button.
We have seen corporate empires in retail and other industries collapse within months because of the non-existence or lack of a proper digital business strategy. Stores closed, entire shopping malls abandoned, office buildings vacant, thousands of jobs disappeared in minutes, and unfortunately the only reason is, their company refused to understand the importance of the digital economy.
Companies and entrepreneurs are using digital growth strategies to penetrate new markets, create trends and multiple new sources of revenue from the comfort of their office and/or laptop.
The importance of social media, e-commerce, digital media solutions and strategic collaborations can take your business to a new level without breaking the bank. If you are not already looking into digital development solutions for your business, it is strongly suggested you look at how to before it’s too late and in fact, someone somewhere else will absorb your clientele and market in a click of a button.
Do not fight the digital revolution, join it. Get a digital business advisor on how to make important changes in your business strategy today, remember, tomorrow it may already be too late. Welcome to the future.
For digital business strategy consulting, please email us to:
digital@blacksquaregrp.com subject: MyNetworkMag Digital

Share This:

Did You Choose Your Title Agency?

When you bought your home, did you choose the title agency to handle the title transfer? More often than not, your realtor or sometimes the loan officer may suggest a company for you. You may wonder why does it even matter? It is against federal law for a service provider to insist that you must […]

When you bought your home, did you choose the title agency to handle the title transfer?

More often than not, your realtor or sometimes the loan officer may suggest a company for you. You may wonder why does it even matter? It is against federal law for a service provider to insist that you must use their title company. It is always the buyer’s choice. Here are some things to consider.

Pennsylvania is one of the few States where the title rate is all-inclusive. That means when you pay the premium it includes the cost of the search, title examination, escrowing the funds, conducting the settlement, issuing the title policies (lender’s policy and owner’s policy), and record the documents. In PA there are 17 title insurance companies that are members of TIRBOP. These title underwriters file their rates all the same with the PA Department of Insurance. The cost for the premium is based on the coverage amount. Title agents are licensed and are contracted with a title underwriter to issue their policies. Some agents are contracted with more than one underwriter.

If the cost of the premium is the same, then why does the cost differ between agencies?

Title agencies usually will have a menu of extra charges like bank/wire fees, notary fees, printing fees, tax certification fees, courier fees, settlement fee outside the office or after hours, and so on. Ask the agent for a title quote of all their fees.

Should I choose an independent agent or an affiliated company?

Many real estate offices have a title agency in their office. The broker may own or have an ownership interest in the agency. Some brokers even sell ownership shares to their agents. The hope is that the real estate agent will refer the consumer to the in-house company.  The real estate agent must disclose to the consumer any business affiliations with the title agency. An independent agent will probably get referrals through word of mouth, or by networking and marketing.

Should cost be the deciding factor when choosing a title agency?

The owner’s policy will ensure ownership as long as the owner or their heirs own the real estate. The hope is that you will never have to use the policy. The standard in the industry is to search the chain of title back 60 years. Some agents buy the search or production as it is called from the underwriter. Some underwriters may not go back as far when considering the cost of labor versus the cost of paying a claim. When you buy title insurance, you are also buying title assurance. Ask if the chain of title was examined back 60 years.

What is a title commitment?

The title commitment is the company’s promise to issue the title policy after settlement. It contains the same terms, conditions, and exclusions that will be in the actual insurance policy. It will show the parties to be insured, the vested owners, any liens, requirements, and exceptions. The lender will need this early in the transaction to do their part. It is best for you and your realtor to go over it with the title agent.

What other questions should I ask the title agent?

Do they have a presence in your area? Larger title agencies may service many states. Make sure they know the intricacies of the areas that they service. Do they have full-time employees to conduct the settlement or will they hire a notary to collect signatures? Are they able to handle last minute changes at the settlement table? Do they have the ability to reprint checks or even hand them out at settlement? An out of area agency may not be able to meet the challenges at the settlement table. Do an internet search on the title agency and make sure they have good customer reviews.

You have heard it many times, “buying a home is likely the largest purchase you will ever make.” You received recommendations for the best realtor. You shopped for the best lender. You did your research on where you want to live, and your offer on your dream home was accepted. Choosing a reputable title agent can be just as important. If you shop for title insurance, you can find the best value and save hundreds of dollars too. Remember, it is always the buyer’s choice.

Share This:

Proving the REALTOR® Value in the Digital Age

In a world ruled by technology and automation, today’s consumer is being turned into the “expert” on things like banking (there’s an app for that), healthcare (WebMD symptom checker, anyone?), and real estate (For Sale By Owner, FTW!). When it comes to real estate, though, nothing beats the human professional, and I wholeheartedly agree with […]

In a world ruled by technology and automation, today’s consumer is being turned into the “expert” on things like banking (there’s an app for that), healthcare (WebMD symptom checker, anyone?), and real estate (For Sale By Owner, FTW!).

When it comes to real estate, though, nothing beats the human professional, and I wholeheartedly agree with a recent statement by William E. Brown, 2017 President of the National Association of REALTORS®: “There’s a human element to buying and selling a home that can’t be replaced.”

But today’s sellers are being wined and dined by the likes of OpenDoor.com and OfferPad.com, which offer attractive online platforms that promise a quick, hassle-free, cash sale. Zillow recently joined this fray, introducing its “Instant Offers” platform in Phoenix, Las Vegas, and Orlando. The platform enables sellers to receive and compare cash offers from selected investors, as well as obtain a CMA from a Zillow Premier Agent.
In addition to catching sellers’ attention, these online investor sales may be exacerbating an already tight inventory situation. Instant Offers, for example, connects sellers with a small group of investors who are partnering with Zillow. Sellers who go that route are taking their home out of the inventory for the average buyer.

A lack of inventory has plagued the Lehigh Valley housing market over the last two years. In July, the most recent statistics available as I write this article, saw inventory levels shrink 39.5 percent to 2,321 units. Months Supply of Inventory dropped 42.4 percent to 3.4 months (a severe lean in favor of sellers). Most economists consider a balanced market to be a five- to six-month supply.

In addition, sellers who choose direct sales aren’t listing their property on the Multiple Listing Service (MLS), which could affect the reliability of MLS data. Not just real estate professionals but also economists and governments use that data to spot market trends, determine fair market values, and make plans.

I’m not here to tell sellers (or buyers) to not utilize online platforms for their real estate needs because it’s none of my business and illegal. While our REALTOR® members may be unhappy with technological advancements that drive consumers in a different direction, it is unlawful for associations to encourage or facilitate the withholding of listings or business from any company.

Instead, I choose to educate on the value of a REALTOR®. To the seller who is considering the option of a direct, cash sale, I want you to keep a few things in mind:

REALTORS® work in your market and know the community better than any website could.

REALTORS® will help you get your house ready for sale.

REALTORS® will market your home to the widest possible audience, not just investors seeking to make a profit on your home.

REALTORS® will aim to get you the best offer possible and have the skills to help you negotiate the terms of the sale.

REALTORS® follow a Code of Ethics that includes a pledge to “protect and promote the

interests of their client” (Article 1). These online companies may facilitate your transaction, but not necessarily with your interests in mind.

I understand the importance of an online presence, especially in real estate. According to the National Association of REALTORS®’ 2016 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers, 51 percent of home buyers found the home they purchased online.

Just remember that Online + REALTOR® = Best Case Scenario and Biggest Return.

Share This:

What Homebuyers are Waiting For…

Most homeowners are content with their purchase. In a recent Bank of America survey, 95 percent of current homeowners reported that they feel proud of owning their home. And it looks like there may be more happy owners in the future soon. Twenty-five percent of prospective buyers said they plan to purchase in the next […]

Most homeowners are content with their purchase.
In a recent Bank of America survey, 95 percent of current homeowners reported that they feel proud of owning their home.
And it looks like there may be more happy owners in the future soon. Twenty-five percent of prospective buyers said they plan to purchase in the next two years. The majority (61 percent) are delaying purchasing to pay off bills and debts, while 47 percent are striving to improve their credit score. Forty-five percent are saving for a new home, while 39 percent are saving for retirement. Nearly one-third are still paying off student loans, while 28 percent are saving for their child’s education. However, 35 percent of buyers have started saving for a down payment, and 75 percent said their savings would pay for their down payment. Most aspiring buyers are not sure how much they have to put down for a down payment. Thirty-one percent said 10 percent, while 29 percent said 20 percent, and 15 percent said more than 20 percent.
So, what leads prospective homebuyers to become home buyers? According to the majority (52 percent), it’s having the financial means. Forty percent are ready to have their own place, while 35 percent want a reliable job with steady income.
For those who do already own, across all generations, 36 percent believe their current home is a stepping stone to their dream home. To 68 percent of millennials, that’s their plan.
About one-third of owners said that their home’s value is determined by how much they spent to purchase it. Ninety-one percent reported that they treasure the memories made there.
Homeownership has a positive impact on their long-term financial picture, according to 79 percent of millennials surveyed. For first-time buyers across generations, 72 percent believe that is true. Eighty-six percent of millennials believe buying a home is more affordable than renting, compared to 54 percent of first-time homebuyers of all generations.
With that being said, According to the fourth annual housing survey from Neighbor Works, more adults are struggling with their student loans, making homeownership more of a dream than a reality.
In 2016, 30 percent of respondents said they know someone whose student loans were delaying them from purchasing a home, up from 28 percent in 2015, and 24 percent in 2014. More than half of respondents this year (53 percent) said their student loans are at least somewhat of an obstacle to purchasing a home, down from 57 percent last year, but an increase from 49 percent in 2014.
Affordability continues to be an issue, as only 45 percent of respondents said their community is affordable for first-time homebuyers, but 56 percent believe that rent prices are too costly for someone to save enough to purchase a home.
Additionally, more than half of respondents said that they believed home buying is complicated, down 3 percent from 70 percent last year.
However, the positive outlook on home ownership has been growing for minorities, which are the fastest-growing segment of homebuyers, according to the survey. This year, 14 percent of African Americans, along with 12 percent of Hispanics said that homeownership is the most important part of their “American Dream,” compared to only 9 percent of whites. Last year, 16 percent of African Americans, 10 percent of Hispanics and 8 percent of whites reported that homeownership was the most important part of the “American Dream.” However, 52 percent of minorities reported that rent in their area is too high to save for a home, once again, delaying them from purchasing.

Share This:

Valuation of Closely Held Businesses: Part I

A successful small business enterprise may be the culmination of a life’s work for a small business owner. A small business may even have successfully transitioned to the second or third generation of a family. Inevitably, the question often arises, “What is my business worth?” It is the role of the business valuation specialist to […]

A successful small business enterprise may be the culmination of a life’s work for a small business owner. A small business may even have successfully transitioned to the second or third generation of a family. Inevitably, the question often arises, “What is my business worth?” It is the role of the business valuation specialist to assist the client in helping to understand the approximate value of their closely held business. The need to value the business may arise from a buyout of a current owner, a family gifting strategy, estate settlement resulting from the death of an owner, marital dissolution, or a first step toward the eventual sale of the company in accordance with a succession plan. In this first of a two-part introduction to business valuation, we will take a look at the primary approaches utilized by business valuation experts to estimate the value of a small closely-held business.

Business valuation principles rely upon a number of recognized techniques widely accepted by experts in the field. The methods utilized to evaluate business enterprises are broken down into three distinct approaches; asset based, income based, and market-based. This article is intended to examine the three separate approaches briefly, but the reader should keep in mind that there are numerous methodologies contained within each approach that go well beyond the scope of this article.

The first, and probably best-understood approach, is the asset based approach. Included in the asset based approach are both going concern and liquidation methods; whereby the going concern value is predicated on the market value of the net assets and assumes the company continues as a going concern, whereas the liquidation method considers the market value of the net assets in contemplation of liquidation of the enterprise. These methods often require an independent third party to appraise the market value of specific assets.

The market-based approaches incorporate a number of methodologies as well. Among those is the company guideline method. The market-based approaches to valuation assume that if you can ascertain the value of a company with similar attributes to the one being valued, then you should be able to apply those same metrics to the subject company. For example, an analysis of closely held businesses recently sold with the same standard industrial classification code as the subject company and of similar size may yield important ratios that can be applied to the subject company including multiples of revenue, price to company earnings, price to seller’s discretionary earnings, etc. Those metrics can then be applied to the subject company to approximate value.

There are limitations in using market-based methods. Many closely held businesses are quite unique and are very difficult to compare to other companies. Some of the comparisons may result from transactions that are significantly older and less relevant.

Transactions may have taken place in other parts of the country that experience different market conditions than that of the subject company. Finally, it may be that the availability of companies that are comparable in many of the commercially available databases are quite limited, and therefore although seemingly a worthwhile tool, market-based methods can have a very limited application.

The third and most common approach to valuing a small business enterprise falls under the category of income based approaches. Income based approaches are based on the theory that a company is worth an amount that will yield the expected return on investment given an interest rate that allows for risk. By way of example, an investment of $100,000 at 5% will earn $5,000. Therefore, it holds that if you anticipate earning $5,000 with an expected 5% yield on the investment, you would need to invest $100,000, i.e., the business value. That is the underlying rationale behind an income based approach. Of course, the challenge in utilizing an income based approach is twofold. The first is to determine the appropriate risk-based return on investment. Second, the valuation analyst needs to understand the potential income and cash flow that the company will yield in the future.

In a future edition of this publication, we will look more in depth at the process by which the income based approaches to business valuation are utilized by business valuation specialists.

*Part 2 Coming Soon in the next edition of Network Magazine*

Share This:

Health Is Your True Wealth

Why would someone who does Financial Planning be so concerned with their client’s health?  Beyond the obvious reason, that we deeply care about our clients and want them to live a long and healthy life, health care costs can have a dramatic effect on a person’s finances.  They present a particular challenge for retirees.   Not […]

Why would someone who does Financial Planning be so concerned with their client’s health?  Beyond the obvious reason, that we deeply care about our clients and want them to live a long and healthy life, health care costs can have a dramatic effect on a person’s finances.  They present a particular challenge for retirees.   Not retiring yet?  This still applies to you, since the more time you have to prepare, the better off you’ll be!

Missed Opportunities and “Fun Facts”

Young Professionals

  • Not having a power of attorney, medical directives, and a will. Should something happen to you, even if temporary, you’ll want someone to be able to take care of your expenses, and receive the information on your illness.  If married, perhaps your spouse.  If single, maybe one of your parents.
  • If there are people dependent on your income, you need to have your income insured.  You’ll want it to be a multiple of your annual salary.  Term insurance is the most cost effective solution for this purpose.
  • Take advantage of your employer offered benefits such as disability, long term care, and additional life insurance.  They’re usually cost effective but may not transfer with you if you leave.
  • If your health plan offers an HSA (health savings account), this may be very beneficial for you, particularly if you’re in reasonably good health.  Your contributions are tax deductible, and if you don’t use the money before you retire, you can withdraw from it like an IRA.

Pre-Retirees

  • Don’t wait until you retire to think about getting long-term-care insurance.  The longer you wait, the more expensive it may be, and as we age, some health problems start to arrive, and we may no longer be eligible to purchase this coverage.
  • Life insurance that was purchased when we were younger may no longer be needed.  In many cases, the premiums rise significantly, and those funds may be put to better use for long term care insurance.
  • Educate yourself on all of the rules of COBRA.  This is the law that allows you to purchase medical insurance from an employer under certain circumstances.  These may include a layoff, divorce, death, or a child being over the age of 26.
  • Understand the difference between Medicare and Medicaid.  One of the main differences is that if your income is at poverty level, Medicaid could pay for your long-term care needs.  Know all of your options before there is a medical emergency.

Retirees

  • Out of pocket healthcare cost for a 65-year-old couple is $259,000 to $395,000.  This does not include long-term care costs over 100 days, such as assisted living or nursing home care.  This also assumes you’re on Medicare. 1
  • The Medicare Part B premium is based on your retirement income.  Keep in mind that withdrawals from your IRA or 401K increase your taxable income.
  • Medicare covers about 60% of retiree healthcare costs.  The consumer is still responsible for co-pays, premiums, and deductibles.  Also, Medicare doesn’t cover dental, vision, hearing or long-term care costs. 2
  • Healthcare has historically increased at a higher inflation rate than most other expenses, so you should plan for that. 3
  • A person at age 65 has a 70% chance of needing some type of long-term care during retirement. 4
  • If you are still working or covered by a group plan past the age of 65, you can delay paying for Medicare part B, but you will need to maintain continuous coverage to avoid a penalty.

I would love to tell you that there are easy solutions to this challenge, but there aren’t.  This doesn’t mean there’s nothing you can do. Here are some steps to take:
If you haven’t already, talk with your financial advisor to:

  • Estimate your health care costs
  • Develop a retirement income plan to help cover the health care costs
  • Evaluate long-term care funding options
  • Revisit your plan regularly, and make necessary changes

If you have a financial advisor that does full financial planning, they can help you with all of this.  If not, you can do the research on your own.   Some useful sites for information would be:

  • Official Medicare Site
    www.Medicare.gov
  • Employee Benefit Research Institute
    www.ebri.org
  • Affordable Care Act
    www.healthcare.gov
  • Retirement Planning Calculator find one at
    www.raymondjames.com/wealth-management

As a word of caution, don’t spend your health to make money, and then spend your money to try to buy your health back.

FOOTNOTES:
1. Savings Needed for Medigap Premiums, Medicare Part B Premiums, Medicare Part D Premiums and Out-of-Pocket Drug Expenses for Retirement at Age 65 in 2015. Assuming a 90% chance of having enough savings. “Amount of Savings Needed for Health Expenses for People Eligible for Medicare: Unlike the Last Few Years, the News Is Not Good,” by Paul Fronstin, Dallas Salisbury, and Jack VanDerhei, EBRI. October 2015.
2. Employee Benefit Research Institute
3. Bureau of Labor Statistics, June 16, 2016. The annual inflation rate for the United States was 1.0% through May 2016.  PwC Health Research Institute, “Behind the Numbers,” 2016.
4. “Medicare & You 2016,” Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.
Mary Evans, CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™
Evans Wealth Strategies 902 Chestnut Street Emmaus, PA 18049
“Securities offered through Raymond James Financial Services, Inc. Member FINRA/SIPC. Investment advisory services are offered through Raymond James Financial Services Advisors, Inc. Evans Wealth Strategies is Independent from Raymond James Financial Services.”
The information contained in this article does not purport to be a complete description of the securities, markets, or developments referred to in this material. The information has been obtained from sources considered to be reliable, but we do not guarantee that the foregoing material is accurate or complete. Any information is not a complete summary or statement of all available data necessary for making an investment decision and does not constitute a recommendation. Any opinions are those of Mary Evans and not necessarily those of Raymond James. Expressions of opinion are as of this date and are subject to change without notice. There is no guarantee that these statements, opinions or forecasts provided herein will prove to be correct. Investments mentioned may not be suitable for all investors. The cost and availability of Long Term Care insurance depend on factors such as age, health, and the type and amount of insurance purchased. These policies have exclusions and/or limitations. As with most financial decisions, there are expenses associated with the purchase of Long Term Care insurance. Guarantees are based on the claims paying ability of the insurance company. Every investor’s situation is unique, and you should consider your investment goals, risk tolerance, and time horizon before making any investment. Prior to making an investment decision, please consult with your financial advisor about your individual situation. Links are being provided for information purposes only. Raymond James is not affiliated with and does not endorse, authorize or sponsor any of the listed websites or their respective sponsors. Raymond James is not responsible for the content of any website or the collection or use of information regarding any website’s users and/or members.

Share This:

Finding the Best Financial Institution for Your Small Business

There are numerous options when looking for commercial financing. Large national and regional banks can certainly fit the bill if you’re looking for large amounts of capital and a wide array of services. But do the large banks want your business bad enough to be responsive? If your business is like the vast majority of […]

There are numerous options when looking for commercial financing. Large national and regional banks can certainly fit the bill if you’re looking for large amounts of capital and a wide array of services. But do the large banks want your business bad enough to be responsive? If your business is like the vast majority of small businesses that drive the US economy, you will likely do best with a local community bank or credit union that is responsive to your needs without crushing you with fees and red tape.

The Lehigh Valley Market

The latest U.S. Census Bureau statistics state that there were 5.73 million employer firms with less than 500 employees in the nation. Businesses with less than 20 workers accounted for 89 percent of the small business workforce category. Locally, research done by the Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corporation indicates that the Lehigh Valley Region has 14,645 businesses and that just 114 of those businesses have more than 250 employees. In addition, data from the U.S. Small Business Administration shows that 99% of the people employed in the Lehigh Valley work for small businesses. Eighty-four percent of employee locations in the region have less than 20 workers. The economic impact that small businesses have upon the region is large and undeniable.

Need For Capital

What do all these businesses have in common? They all need capital to survive and grow. For businesses large and small, access to capital is the engine of growth. In today’s financial markets, there are numerous sources of funding. The most common sources are commercial banks. Since the easy money days of the Great Recession, commercial banks have been under new regulations designed to prevent another needless downturn like the one we recently faced. At the same time, many of these new regulations have put undue strain on the banking system, especially on the larger banks with over $10 billion in assets. As a result, the relative cost of serving the small business community has presented a challenge for larger banks.

The small business customer will likely find a better home with smaller community institutions that have a vested interest in the communities they serve.  After all, these institutions live and die by the financial health of these communities.

Credit Unions

One of the often overlooked sources of business capital is the Credit Union. Credit Unions are unique in that they are not-for-profit entities. They do not issue stock and have no investors other than their members. Credit Unions are the quintessential community bank, literally owned by the community. As such, they are relationship driven as opposed to profit driven.  The member is the focus of the institution, not the need to provide higher dividends to the stockholders.

Credit Unions are regulated and insured by the National Credit Union Administration of the US government. Being member owned and federally insured translates to higher interest rates for savings and lower interest rates on debt. The organizations typically operate with less red tape, lower fees, and quicker decisions. It is not unusual to get a commercial loan decision in a matter of days.

In order to do business with a credit union, you will need to become a member. The easiest to join are those that have a Community Charter. In this case, the organization accepts members who live, work, or worship in a given geography. Other credit unions accept members based on their affiliation with a specific employer or group, or for members of a given trade, industry or profession. There are two major credit unions in the Lehigh Valley offering commercial loans; People First Federal Credit Union is one of them. People First is a Community Chartered credit union and accepts members who live, work, or worship in Lehigh and Northampton Counties. People First currently has 66,000 members or roughly 10% of the population of the Lehigh Valley! There’s nothing better than banking where you own the place.

For more information, contact John Orsini, Business Loan Officer at People First Federal Credit Union 610-797-7440 x 120, or orsinij@peoplefirstcu.org

Share This:

The Future of Health Insurance

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act passed on March 23, 2010. The underlying philosophy was to make coverage available and affordable to all Americans.  At the time, there were approximately 45 million uninsured individuals in the US. Today, that number is about 28 million. The tax credits or subsidies have helped many to afford […]

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act passed on March 23, 2010. The underlying philosophy was to make coverage available and affordable to all Americans.  At the time, there were approximately 45 million uninsured individuals in the US. Today, that number is about 28 million. The tax credits or subsidies have helped many to afford health insurance coverage. The expansion of Medicaid in Pennsylvania has also allowed more to find the coverage they need. Yet health insurance rates have been on a steady increase for both employers purchasing health insurance coverage and for individuals. The ACA has imposed a myriad of regulations on health insurance carriers and the Federally Facilitated Marketplace in Pennsylvania; also known as the Exchange.

President Trump campaigned on repeal and replacement of the ACA, but that has not yet come to fruition. The House passed the AHCA, American Health Care Act. The Senate created its own bill, BCRA, the Better Care Reconciliation Act. Versions of each, with necessary updates, continue to be discussed among the Legislators.  There is a bipartisan group of 43 in the House, the Problem Solvers Caucus. They want to discuss the reforms needed within the ACA. Their main concerns are: to continue the Cost Sharing Reduction subsidies for individuals below 250% of the Federal Poverty Limit; a dedicated stability fund to help states to keep costs down (reinsurance); exempt “small” businesses from the employer mandate by raising the definition to those businesses with more than 500 employees; repeal of the medical device tax, a 2.3% tax on items like pacemakers and knee replacements; and the ability to sell insurance across state lines.

There are a few other ideas that have continued to garner support as a way to fix the ACA. One of those is to increase the rating ratio from 3:1 to 5:1. Currently, a 64-year-old cannot be charged more than three times the 21-year-old. Along with this comes the suggestion to give more generous subsidies to older Americans. There are discussions of price controls on prescriptions drugs, allowing Medicare to negotiate pricing, and reviewing how other countries control the prices of pharmaceuticals. The use of bundled payments for care versus episodic payments has helped to reduce costs. A knee replacement, as an example, would be one payment to the Hospital and another to the Doctor for pre-operation, operation, and post-operative care.  Antitrust reform to control the hospital mergers; the consolidation of services can be positive, but the elimination of competition often drives prices higher. Tort reform has always been debated as a way to reduce costs. The abuse of malpractice suits means that hospitals and doctors over-treat and over-test.

The idea of “Medicare for All” was a campaign highlight for the Democrats in the last presidential election process. There has been talk about reducing the eligibility to age 55, instead of 65, to enroll in Medicare. Of course, this would require some changes in the type of plans offered. Those 55 and older and still actively at work have demands for health care that are different from those who are retired.

There is not much language available now to show how we would transition from our current system to a “Medicare for All” system. Private insurance companies have no role in the Sanders version of single-payer, other than providing supplemental insurance. The biggest concern is how to pay for it. Vermont studied the viability of a single-payer Exchange for their state, before scrapping the idea, in part, because of cost. It was on the ballot for Colorado voters, who turned it down. California continues to debate the idea of a state single-payer Marketplace. Financing has been a stumbling block. Rep. Conyers has over 100 backers in the House for his version of a single-payer legislation. It will be a tough road ahead with a Republican-controlled House, Senate, and President.

A recent Pew Research Center poll shows that overall, 33% of Americans believe health care should be a single-payer setup. The poll also found that roughly 60% of Americans believe the government is responsible for making sure all Americans have health insurance. Where do you stand on the issue? Use your vote in the upcoming 2018 elections to make your voice heard.

Share This: