One Financial Habit That Trumps All the Resolutions

By: Tana Gildea

01/22/2020

Most of us look to the new year as an opportunity to “start again,” clean up our bad habits, make big changes, and reach for the stars! We’ll exercise! Lose weight! Save more! And then Monday comes. It’s another start to another week that feels exactly like those that have come before it. The thrill of the promise crumbles when faced with the reality of packing a lunch, forgoing a latte, or passing up those great sales in favor of a workout.

According to James Clear (Atomic Habits), BJ Fogg (Tiny Habits), and Charles Duhigg (The Power of Habit), creating a habit is the clear path to lasting success regardless of what we are trying to change or improve in our lives. So what financial habit is the keystone habit? Track your spending.

When we work with clients, we occasionally help them create a pie chart called Live, Give, Owe, Grow, and Can’t Say No. It takes spending over some time period and divides it into these categories. By making a pie chart, everyone can see how the pie divides which can lead to some great discussions around how the client feels about where the money is going. That can be a great “look back” exercise to help you identify things you want to change. The categories should be those that are important for you but keep it to a few so as not to get overwhelmed.

Analyzing what happened provides some insight, but tracking problem areas “in the moment” is what creates awareness and change.

Here are some things to try:

  • Track a particular category of spending.
    • Identify your problem area and track it. Eating out tends to be a trouble spot for a lot of people so, for example, every time you eat out, get in the habit of writing it down. This could be the notes section on your phone, a little notepad, or the back of an envelope in the sun visor of the car. Whatever works for you is the best tool. When you know that you are writing it down, you are being accountable to yourself and perhaps to your significant other.
    • It may be helpful to jot down the circumstances like “left lunch in the fridge” or “traveling” or “overslept and went through the drive-through.” You might see patterns of when the spending is happening. This helps you develop strategies to counter these situations.
  • Learn from the data that you are collecting.
    • Have a spirit of curiosity and learning around what is happening instead of judgment and condemnation. We don’t thrive when we beat ourselves up mentally so seek understanding and solutions.
    • Don’t expect perfection! Developing a habit and changing behavior is a process and will have ups and downs.
    • Keep trying – knowing what doesn’t work helps us figure out what does work.
  • Identify behavior triggers that lead to certain types of spending.
    • Duhigg describes the “habit cycle,” and it’s clear that a trigger leads to a behavior. If we can identify the trigger and replace the undesirable behavior with a different behavior, we can change a bad habit into a good one or at least a neutral one. For example, if a frantic day at the office triggers the desire for a fast food fix on the way home, recognize that, and create a new “if I have a frantic day at the office” behavior: “then I’ll go to the gym” or “then I’ll call a friend on the way home.”

Whatever financial goal you have will benefit from having a clear picture of where the money is going. The backward look helps you see what happened and identify what you want to change.  Tracking helps you be mindful and aware as it is happening or about to happen. Developing this one habit and looking at it with curiosity and interest can lead you toward a lot of ways to make small, consistent changes that will last long after the resolution has been forgotten.

A Buyer For Your Business Is On The Line- Do You Answer The Call?

By: Tom Houle

01/14/2020

As a former business owner, I found myself on the receiving end of that phone call at least five times a week, so much so that I stopped answering any of the calls. But, what if there was an opportunity that would benefit my stakeholders, or would be advantageous for my family?

When determining whether to answer the call, I asked myself many of the questions that I am sure have crossed your mind. I hope my comments will help you with your answer.

How did they find me?

It is not hard to find a list of business owners, either by location, industry, or SIC code. Competitors and suppliers are also sources of information. If you are running a successful business, you are well known to those both in or outside of your industry.   The caller will usually not possess any information that is not in the public domain. Yet there is a treasure trove of information available.

Does the caller REALLY have a buyer?

Most likely, the caller does not have a specific buyer in hand. However, many business brokers and financial intermediaries have relationships, whether formally or informally, with private equity firms, serial acquirers or actual companies that are looking for opportunities. The easiest way to determine the legitimacy of the call is to ask the caller the specific entity they are representing. If they are not straightforward in identifying their firm and their affiliations, it would be best to leave them with a dial tone.

With the large amount of capital committed to private equity firms, the limiting factor is the lack of target companies willing to sell, not buyers lacking cash. Legitimate firms are calling companies to gauge interest. Before giving any information, check out the caller with your financial advisor, banker, lawyer or accountant.  Your professional team will be able to help in this area.

With these considerations in mind, most of your quality financial intermediaries will likely come from personal referrals, or industry relationships developed over a number of years. A friendly competitor might also inquire.

Other questions to consider.

Is the business capable of keeping up with the changes occurring in the industry? These could be innovation, technology or compliance demands, all of which require management and financial resources.

Am I losing business to more efficient providers, or are we losing to a profit destructor?  Am I a mid-tier manufacturer taking price from larger more efficient organization, or am I a niche player who can set price?

If I expand, am I now competing with a different group of competitors?

Do I want to take on additional personal guarantees to expand facilities or add additional equipment?

Is our product or service part of a growing category, or are we competing in a flat or declining market?

Is there a family member or key employee that I am grooming to be part of the next generations of leadership?

Are my financial records accurate and up to date?

Am I ready to sell the business or am I having a bad day?

Do I have enough financial resources to retire, with or without the proceeds of the sale?

I have found that, as an owner, if you start listening some part of you wants to explore a sale. I would take a step back and give thought to your professional and personal reasons for exploring a sale. Your team should go through a thorough SWOT analysis, and answer these and other strategic questions.

The long term profitability of your business maybe out of your control, it might be the right time to maximize value.

So, do you answer that call from someone looking to buy your business? The answer, unfortunately, is maybe.  But understanding what you want and why you want it are critical before answering the call.

It is my experience that business owners can get caught up in the process of the sale, and overlook many important factors that will determine long term positive outcomes for themselves and their family. Also, going through the process of a sale can result in a lack of focus on the business itself, causing irreparable harm. I would make a rational decision to engage after consulting with my full financial and legal team. After you have made the informed decision, it might be time to answer that call.

 

Tom is the director of business development for Homrich Berg, an independent Registered Investment advisor based in Atlanta, Georgia. He successfully purchased and sold two manufacturing businesses based in Jacksonville, Fl.

Homrich Berg Names Michael D. Landsberg as Principal

ATLANTA – 1/10/2020 – Homrich Berg (HB) is pleased to announce the appointment of Michael (Mike) D. Landsberg, CPA, CFP®, CPWA, PFS, as the newest Principal for the firm. “Mike has consistently exhibited dedication to HB and his clients,” said Andy Berg, co-founder and CEO of Homrich Berg. “My partners and I are proud to welcome him as the newest owner of HB.”

Mike has been with Homrich Berg for over seven years, and holds a B.A. in Accountancy from the University of Notre Dame and went on to earn a Masters of Taxation from Arizona State University. Mike serves as a member of both the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants – Personal Financial Planning Division (AICPA PFP) and the Georgia Society of CPAs. He sits on the board of Ur Worth It! as Finance Chair and was selected to the AICPA PFP Executive Leadership Committee. He also volunteers as a Financial Coach for the Catholic Charities of Atlanta.

Homrich Berg Names Veteran Wealth Management Leader Thomas Carroll, CFP® As President

ATLANTA – January 8, 2020 – Homrich Berg is pleased to announce that veteran wealth management leader Thomas Carroll has joined the HB executive team as President.  Thomas joins HB after an extensive career at SunTrust Bank, where he held a wide range of leadership positions including leading Division Wealth Management and serving as CEO of GenSpring Family Offices, the multi-family office subsidiary of SunTrust Bank.

“As we continue to grow in metro Atlanta and across the country, we were excited to have the opportunity to add Thomas to our executive leadership team,” said Andy Berg, CEO and co-founder of Homrich Berg.  “I have known Thomas for many years and know that he shares our unwavering belief in our core values of providing innovative high touch client service while using our scale and growth to attract talent and gain leverage for the benefit of our clients.”

As President, Thomas will join the HB management team and assist with the leadership of a wide range of growth and client service initiatives.  “Andy and his partners have built a great firm, and I have always admired Homrich Berg and their focus on fiduciary, fee-only comprehensive wealth management services for their clients,” said Thomas.  “As HB wraps up celebrating their 30th anniversary, I am excited about the opportunity to join the Homrich Berg team and be part of the next 30 years of the HB success story.”

Prior to joining HB, Thomas was most recently the head of Division Wealth Management for SunTrust Bank. In that role he managed all of the core private wealth management sales and client service activities on a national basis across 9 SunTrust divisions. Prior to that role, Thomas was the Chief Executive Officer of GenSpring Family Offices, SunTrust’s multi-family office subsidiary, which provides independent advice to ultra-high net worth families. Before joining GenSpring, Thomas served as the Head of the Sports & Entertainment Specialty Group for SunTrust. In that capacity, Thomas managed a group of advisors who provided private wealth management services to sports and entertainment professionals. Thomas began his leadership career as the wealth services manager for the Atlanta region. Thomas has spent his entire career in the wealth management industry beginning as an advisor serving high net worth clients before transitioning into his leadership roles.

A native of Atlanta, Thomas holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Business from Wake Forest University, and is a Certified Financial Planner™ professional. He is active in the community, having served on the Leadership Council of Zoo Atlanta and on the Board of Trustees for the Atlanta Sports Council, the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce, the Atlanta Botanical Gardens, the Atlanta Children’s Shelter, the Atlanta Police Foundation and Young Harris College.

 

About Homrich Berg

Founded in 1989, Atlanta-based Homrich Berg is a national independent wealth management firm that provides fiduciary, fee-only investment management and financial planning services, serving as the leader of the financial team for our clients including high-net-worth individuals, families, and not-for-profits. Homrich Berg manages over $6 billion for over 1800 family relationships nationwide

Director Mike Landsberg Spoke With MONEY On Five Of The Biggest Tax-Saving Strategies

HB Director Mike Landsberg spoke with MONEY on five of the biggest tax-saving strategies you can still do before the end of the year. Click here to read the article.

Principal Tana Gildea Spoke With WSBTV About Smart Holiday Shopping

HB Principal Tana Gildea, CFP®, CPA, CCFS spoke with WSBTV about taking a new, thoughtful, and budget friendly approach to gift giving this year. Click here to watch.

 

Homrich Berg Crosses $6 Billion AUM Mark And Will Add Sandy Springs Office Via Planned Merger With Cedar Rowe Partners

ATLANTA – November 20, 2019 – Homrich Berg is pleased to announce that Cedar Rowe Partners has signed an agreement to join Homrich Berg, giving HB a Sandy Springs office location and an addition of talent and clients. Under the terms of the agreement, Sean Cook will join HB as a Principal along with three other client service professionals.  The deal is expected to close on December 31 of this year.

This event is part of the continuing growth story at HB, which will soon have twenty-four principals and four offices in metro Atlanta including Buckhead, Alpharetta, Cobb, and now Sandy Springs.  Recent firm growth has resulted in Homrich Berg now managing assets of over $6 billion for clients in 45 states even before this merger event. HB continues to build a regional presence, with the scale and expertise of a large firm combined with the high touch client service of a boutique firm.

“We are very pleased to have Sean and his fine firm join HB,” stated Andy Berg, co-founder and CEO of Homrich Berg. “We feel comfortable knowing that we share common core values with a clear focus on serving our clients. We are highly confident that this merger will be additive for clients and employees.”

“Homrich Berg has a reputation as a leading firm in the Southeast, and we felt joining HB was the best fit for our team to allow us to continue to grow while serving our clients,” said Sean Cook. “Through this partnership, we look forward to leveraging the expertise of Homrich Berg to offer our clients enhanced services while continuing to guide them to their financial goals.”

About Homrich Berg

Founded in 1989, Atlanta-based Homrich Berg is a national independent wealth management firm that provides fiduciary, fee-only investment management and financial planning services, serving as the leader of the financial team for our clients including high-net-worth individuals, families, and not-for-profits. Homrich Berg manages over $6 billion for over 1800 family relationships nationwide. For more information, please visit www.HomrichBerg.com.

Andy Berg Named to Barron’s Hall of Fame

Congratulations to Andy Berg for being apart of Barron’s Hall of Fame for Financial Advisors. This is an award honoring a group of advisors who exemplify long-term success and commitment to their clients. Each member of the Hall of Fame has appeared in 10 or more of Barron’s annual Top 100 Advisor rankings, and their long-looking commitment to excellence is a hopeful example for the industry to follow.

Annual Open Enrollment Tips to Save on 2020 Taxes

by David Kochamba

10/31/19

2019 is flying by, temperatures are cooling down (finally), college football is in full swing and the holidays are rapidly approaching. This also means that the annual open enrollment benefit period will commence soon for those who are currently working.  Many workers dread receiving the annual enrollment email from their human resources team with multiple attachments detailing their benefit options for the upcoming year.  However, a little short-term pain in reviewing your options and determining the benefits appropriate for you and your family can yield tax savings in 2020.

Many employers offer employees a high deductible health care plan (HDHP) and a health maintenance organization (HMO) or preferred provider organization (PPO) plan.  Two benefit accounts that can help pay for medical expenses depending on the medical plan you choose are a Health Savings Account (HSA) and a Flexible Savings Account (FSA).  Those choosing a high deductible health care plan have the option to contribute to a HSA. This is an account that lets you save for future medical costs. Money put in the account is not subject to federal income tax when deposited. Funds can accrue and be used in the year saved or in future years when medical expenses occur.  HSAs must be paired with the High Deductible Health Plan only.  In 2020, an individual with self-only coverage under a HDHP plan can contribute a maximum of $ 3,550 and those will family coverage can contribute a maximum of $ 7,100 to a HSA.

A FSA is a way for employees to set aside pre-tax dollars directly from their paycheck to pay for medical expenses (Medical FSA).  With a HMO or PPO health care plan, individuals were able to contribute a maximum of $ 2,700 to a flexible savings account (FSA) in 2019.  2020 FSA contribution limits have not been announced yet.   It’s important to remember that contributions into a HSA account are not required to be spent in the calendar year made unlike a FSA, where if the funds aren’t spent, you could potentially lose whatever is left in the account at year-end.  If an employer’s health FSA plan has a carryover feature, participants can roll over up to $500 of unused FSA dollars to the next year but will forfeit any excess over $500 at year-end. An optional grace period gives employees an additional two-and-a-half months to incur new expenses using prior-year FSA funds. At the end of the grace period, all unspent funds must be forfeited.  Plans can offer either the carryover feature or a grace period, but not both.  As a result, it’s important to carefully estimate your out of pocket medical expenses before submitting your contribution amount.   Both HSA and FSA contributions are funded with pre-tax dollars and are exempt from the 7.65% Social Security and Medicare tax, reducing your taxable income.

Many employers will also offer their employees a dependent care FSA.  This is a pre-tax benefit account used to pay for dependent care services while you are working.  For 2019, the maximum contribution amount is $ 5,000. To be eligible for a dependent care FSA, you and your spouse (if applicable) must be employed, or your spouse must be a full-time student or looking for employment.  Funds can be used to pay for care of children under age 13 when they’re claimed as qualifying dependents.  A dependent care account covers a number of services, such as preschool, summer day camp, before- and after-school programs, and childcare.  It’s important to note that like a flexible savings account for healthcare, any balance remaining in the dependent care account at year-end will be lost if not spent.

It’s not too early to start thinking about what benefits are most suitable for you and your family.  Planning now will enable you to be a little less stressed when you are given your deadline to make your final benefit decisions for 2020. Knowing you will be saving money on your 2020 taxes may just change your mindset on receiving your annual open enrollment e-mail in future years.  Below, please find a summary chart of HSA and FSA plans.  Here’s to you saving money in 2020.

 

Health Savings Account (HSA) Flexible Spending Account (FSA)
Who owns? Employee Employer
Who contributes? Employee and/or employer Employee and/or employer
Contributions Via payroll deduction, check, or transfer Via payroll deduction only
Must be enrolled in a HDHP? Yes No
Can funds rollover from year over year? Yes Up to $500 can be rolled over depending on the plan
Are funds portable if you change jobs? Yes No
Do funds accrue interest? Yes, depending on the plan No
Can funds be invested? Yes No
Do I have to submit receipts or documentation? No, but the account holder should keep receipts in the event of an audit Yes, receipts are typically needed for reimbursement
Contribution limit For 2019 – Self-only: $ 3,500; Family: $ 7,000; Catch-up contributions $ 1,000 (age 55 and older) For 2019 – Health FSA: $ 2,700; Dependent Care FSA: $ 2,500 or  $ 5,000 depending on tax filing status

Andy Berg Ranked As 2019 Forbes Top 250 Wealth Advisor

Andy-Berg

ATLANTA – October 4, 2019 – Homrich Berg is pleased to announce that CEO Andy Berg has been ranked 45th on the 2019 Forbes Top 250 Advisors list. Advisors were ranked based on assets under management, revenue produced for the firm, years of experience and regulatory and compliance records.

Andy is co-founder and chief executive officer of Homrich Berg. He founded the firm with the belief that high-net-worth individuals needed access to conflict-free financial planning and investment advice. He developed HB’s model for serving clients’ wealth management needs on a fiduciary, fee-only basis.  Andy offers his diverse clientele hands-on counsel and oversees the management and operations of the firm. Andy’s expertise spans the wealth management profession and includes financial and estate planning, taxation, and investment strategy.

About Homrich Berg

Founded in 1989, Atlanta-based Homrich Berg is a national independent wealth management firm that provides fiduciary, fee-only investment management and financial planning services, serving as the leader of the financial team for our clients including high-net-worth individuals, families, and not-for-profits. Homrich Berg manages over $6 billion for over 1800 family relationships nationwide. For more information, please visit www.HomrichBerg.com.