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Questions to Ask if Building Wealth is the Task 05.28.2021

As we sit on the eve of 2021’s Memorial Day Weekend, 73% of those in a Quinnipiac poll said their plans are similar to the ones they had pre-pandemic. The light at the end of the pandemic tunnel is getting brighter and brighter by the day!

building Wealth Questions to Ask

We’re looking at plunging COVID-19 case and death rates and widening vaccination uptake rates here in the United States, in addition to an uptake in exuberance and economic optimism by investors that has driven the stock market to all time highs. And, as is typically true during periods of market extremes, the talking heads, market strategists, investment gurus, and even your brother-in-law Frank seem to have all the answers as to why this is happening, and what lies around the corner. Our advice to you: Ignore this nonsense, and ignore them all.

Rather than become enamored by these predictions and/or fall prey to a well-articulated story spun by a seemingly well-credentialed “expert,” we encourage you to tune out this noise, and not worry nor think too much or too hard about interest rates, cryptocurrencies, inflation, China, large caps and small caps, mask mandates, or the U.S. deficit. Don’t worry about what the “new normal” means, and don’t get too worked up about “getting your share” of the possible American Jobs Plan or the American Families Plan stimulus packages (we’re purposefully not even linking to any of these themes). Instead, let’s channel our energy and attention into things that we have control over.


While we do believe you should always be ready for the unexpected, we also feel it is way more important to understand and internalize a number of foundational investing and wealth building principles. Ask yourself if you can succinctly and confidently answer the following questions:

  • Can I remain objective and rational, and recognize when you are being fearful, greedy, and emotional about your money? Your worst investment enemy is usually found by looking in the mirror. The limbic system is a wonderfully complex set of brain structures that deal with emotions, but activating your fight or flight response in reaction to fear, greed, and anger is not conducive to successful investing or successful longer-term wealth building. 
  • Do I understand that my neighbors, friends, and co-workers are perhaps confused and delusional? Not only do they probably spend too much and boast too much about their portfolio, but the chances their financial decisions are rooted in any of the principles listed here are quite low.
  • Am I trying to simply make money, or am I working to build and protect my wealth? We equate the former to gambling, and the latter to investing. While anything can happen on a daily, weekly, monthly, and even annual basis, we believe your odds of success increase significantly if you establish and follow a disciplined longer-term wealth building plan.
  • What am I doing to proactively insulate my downside from a major catastrophe during a market correction? We believe this is way more important than hitting a home run during a period of market strength. While his two rules are a bit binary, the spirit of Warren Buffett’s quote should resonate:
  • Why am I investing, and do I have a plan? For obvious reasons, it is invaluable to not only think through, articulate, and quantify the goals and vision you have for your and your family’s future, but also to have a methodology for how you attend to your personal financial decision-making. And this methodology will be different than your friend’s, neighbor’s, or co-worker’s, as we all obviously have different things that motivate us and that we ultimately want out of life. This is assuming that your friend, neighbor, or co-worker even has a plan at all.
  • Do I recognize that costs, fees, expenses, and taxes matter? At Towerpoint Wealth, we call them “necessary evils” to helping clients grow and protect their net worth. And while we can never eliminate the drag that costs, fees, expenses, and taxes creates, we certainly can work to identify, and reduce, these friction points.
  • Am I aware that saving money is the single most effective way to build my wealth and to retire? While you need to have balance between saving for tomorrow and living your life today, the capital you spend today is capital no longer available to fund your retirement. Saving money equals peace of mind.

Towerpoint Wealth Turns Four!

On May 26, 2017, with zero clients and $0 in assets under management, we officially launched Towerpoint Wealth. Classified as a “bold,” “risky,” “fearless,” and “courageous” decision by our clients and colleagues, it fortunately turned out to be a prescient and extremely positive one based on the feedback we continue to receive and strategic growth we continue to experience.

Today, we are approaching $350 million in assets under management, and continue to be thrilled to serve YOU, always striving to expand your peace of mind by helping you remove the hassle of properly coordinating your financial affairs.

What’s Happening at TPW?

The Towerpoint Wealth crew recently spent some time in a professional photo shoot with Tim Engle, of Tim Engle Photography – below is one of our favorite shots from the session.

We hold our collective noses to the grindstone at Towerpoint Wealth ~ 97% of the time. However, the culture we have built at the firm is also predicated on spending time outside the office and having fun together as a work family, which is why we regularly schedule fun teambuilding events.

We had an enjoyable “hooky afternoon” earlier this month, pedaling through midtown Sacramento on the Sacramento Brew Bike, with pit stops at Public House DowntownKupros, and The Golden Bear. A well-behaved and fun afternoon!

TPW Service Highlight – RETIREMENT – Building wealth

We only semi-jokingly say that you can retire any time you want, but will you be able to with the lifestyle and income stream you desire?

At Towerpoint Wealth, we believe that everyone deserves a secure retirement, and we stand ready to help you with a myriad of retirement-specific tools and planning considerations. The cornerstone of this process is the development of a customized retirement and financial plan using our modeling software from RightCapital(R).

Click HERE to review a sample customized RightCapital financial plan.

Additional retirement-specific services include sustainable and tax-efficient retirement income planning, “black swan” event planning and modeling, customized Social Security benefit election optimization analysis, corporate pension modeling and optimization, fixed/variable/immediate annuity analysis, and optimal-retirement-age projections.

Chart of the Week

Real estate values continue to be on fire! Click HERE to watch an excellent video in which our President, Joseph Eschleman discusses the white hot Sacramento real estate market with long-time Sacramento realtor, Brian Kassis.

And while there is no question about the tremendous price increases homeowners have experienced over the past year and a half, the chart below makes an interesting comparison between the value of the stock market (using the S&P 500 as a proxy) and the value of residential real estate (using the Case Shiller U.S. National Home Price Index as a proxy) over the past 30 years.

Understanding the importance of owning both real estate AND equities when working to build net worth, and recognizing that people seem to be more relational to the increases in the value of their home, the chart below from Visual Capitalist is an eye-opener!

In addition to home prices going up and U.S. COVID numbers going down, a number of trending and notable events have occurred over the past few weeks:

As always, we sincerely value our relationships and partnerships with each of you, as well as your trust and confidence in us here at Towerpoint Wealth. We encourage you to reach out to us at any time (916-405-9140, info@towerpointwealth.com) with any questions, concerns, or needs you may have. The world continues to be an extremely unsettled and complicated place, and we are here to help you properly plan for and make sense of it.

– Joseph, Jonathan, Steve, Lori, Nathan, and Michelle

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Is Your 401(k) in Disarray 03.29.2021

As a small business owner, we know that you are an “around the clock” grinder, with a myriad of responsibilities that often supersede the core responsibilities you have to the growth of your business. And understanding that a regular review of your business’s retirement plan may not be a top priority of yours, at Towerpoint Wealth we have created this 401(k) “healthcheck” for your benefit. We regularly come across 401(k) and other company-sponsored retirement plans that, as currently structured, are in serious need of attention and improvement, and we are experienced in helping you, as a trustee and fiduciary to your company’s retirement plan, minimize the hassle of giving your plan the attention it needs.

Is your 401(k) plan structured and optimized properly to help you and your employees maximize the myriad of economic, investment, and tax benefits? Are you properly managing your fiduciary responsibility? Ask yourself the questions found below to quickly gauge whether your 401(k) needs adjusting or improving.

 Does my plan have a safe harbor structure?

You want to ensure that your 401K) retirement plan passes the annual non-discrimination testing conducted by the IRS. In its simplest sense, non-discrimination testing ensures that an employer is making contributions to each employee’s retirement account that equals the same percentage of salary for everyone. Importantly, if a plan fails a non-discrimination test, the 401(k) may lose its tax-qualified status.1

Retirement Plan 401(k) Disarray Towerpoint Wealth White paper 2021

[1]The most common reason a 401(k) plan fails this non-discrimination testing is when one or more of the business owners make much greater 401(k) contributions compared to their employees.

A safe harbor 401(k) plan structure ensures that you meet the non-discrimination regulatory requirements by following strict guidelines specific-to employer plan contributions, participant disclosures, and much more. 

Does my plan have a profit-sharing component and if so, am I optimizing its structure?

For a business owner to maximize the personal net worth building benefits associated with sponsoring a company retirement plan and receive the maximum 401(k) annual contribution amount of $58,000 in 2021[1] (employee deferrals + employer contributions), pairing a profitsharing component in the plan’s design is essential.

All profit sharing plan structures – same dollar amount, comptocomp, new comparability, etc.[2] – are not created equal. In particular, the new comparability strategy is becoming increasingly more common in modern 401(k) plans as this type of profit-sharing plan allows for unique flexibility in allocating the profits among the business owner(s) and employees.

Is my investment fund lineup optimized?

401(k) investment fund lineups vary from basic to advanced and passive to active. And with employees having better and more diverse investment options outside of 401(k) plans, annually reviewing your company’s fund lineup for improvements is critical to ensure that employees do not look to invest their hard-earned dollars elsewhere, and also to meet your fiduciary responsibility as plan trustee.

It is also a requirement that a business owner (usually with help from an investment professional) formulate, and review at least annually, an investment policy statement (IPS) for their 401(k).

Is my ERISA fidelity bond fund amount appropriate?  

The Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) requires 401(k) plans to hold a fidelity bond, which protects the plan from losses resulting from improper handling of the funds.

While fidelity bonds are generally inexpensive for the coverage offered, we often see the amount protected as either 1.) inadequate or 2.) overkill.  

[1] Increased to $64,500 for business owners 50 years of age or older.

[2] There are often several different terms that refer to the exact same type of profit-sharing structure.

Does my plan currently allow for after-tax Roth contributions?

While changing for the better, many 401(k) plans still do not allow after-tax Roth contributions. 

For business owners and employees that are in a temporarily low income tax bracket –  a business owner “winding down” and closing in on retirement or a younger employee at the beginning of their career and earning curve – offering an after-tax Roth contribution option, particularly given it typically costs nothing to do so, is a valuable and often overlooked plan benefit.

Is my vesting schedule appropriate?

Retirement Plan 401(k) Disarray Towerpoint Wealth White paper 2021

In order to incentivize employees to stay with your company, having a vesting schedule for any  employer-matching profit sharing contributions that is not overly generous is important. For a number of Towerpoint Wealth’s clients who are business owners, a vesting schedule of six years (with 0% vesting in the first year of participation) is appropriate, but each business and retirement plan is unique.

Have I considered automatically distributing an employee’s 401(k) balance when they leave the company?

Many 401(k) plan administrators charge their fees based on the number of employees that the plan has. 

In order to keep fees to a minimum, it is advisable to consider automatically distributing account balances below a certain threshold when an employee separates from service.

Am I managing my fiduciary responsibility and minimizing my fiduciary liability?

All business owners who offer a 401(k) for themselves and their employees have a fiduciary responsibility to ensure that they are acting in the employees’ best interests, being prudent, diversifying plan investment assets, and adhering to all provisions of the retirement plan documents.

There are concrete steps that a business owner can take to uphold their fiduciary duty and at the same time, minimize their fiduciary liability.

Retirement Plan 401(k) Disarray Towerpoint Wealth White paper 2021

Wealth management firms that specialize in helping business owners optimize their retirement plans, such as Towerpoint Wealth, are able to help guide you through these murky waters.

Am I doing everything I can to maximize my own personal net worth within my company’s retirement plan?

Even if a small business owner has a well-structured plan that meets everyone’s needs, is it important to remember that 401(k)s, and other types of company-sponsored retirement plans, are uniquely customizable. And often, there are overlooked plan features that may help the business owner maximize their ability to accumulate wealth within the plan. 

One of these particularly powerful features is allowing for after-tax deferrals (not the same as after-tax Roth deferrals), which then affords the business owner to take advantage of the “Mega Backdoor” Roth IRA strategy.

Some other questions that are worth your thoughtful attention: Do I allow for hardship distributions and if not, should I? What about allowing rollovers from other retirement plans? Is it risky to offer loans to employees? Are my plan’s expenses and fees reasonable?

How Can We Help?

Steve Pitchford, CPA, CFP®
Director of Tax and Financial Planning

At Towerpoint Wealth, we are a legal fiduciary to you, and specialize in optimizing retirement plan structures for business owners.. If you would like to speak with us regarding any other tax questions you may have, we encourage you to call (916-405-9166) or email (spitchford@towerpointwealth.com) to open an objective dialogue.

Towerpoint Wealth, LLC is a Registered Investment Adviser. This material is solely for informational purposes. Advisory services are only offered to clients or prospective clients where Towerpoint Wealth, LLC and its representatives are properly licensed or exempt from licensure. Past performance is no guarantee of future returns. Investing involves risk and possible loss of principal capital. No advice may be rendered by Towerpoint Wealth, LLC unless a client service agreement is in place.


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The Frustrations of Form 1099 : TPW White paper 03.08.2021

It’s Tax Time | What is the Form 1099?

What exactly is a Form 1099, why can they be so frustrating to process, and how do you manage the problem of receiving an amended one? Read on to find out!

What is the Form 1099?
A Form 1099 is any one of a series of documents that contains information on all transactions that occurred inside of a “taxable” account1 during a given tax year. Reporting this information on a taxpayer’s annual federal individual income tax return is required. Most investment custodians (e.g. Charles Schwab, Fidelity, Merrill Lynch, etc.) will consolidate the various Form 1099s into one consolidated document, known as a Composite Form 1099.

The most common transactions represented on a Form 1099 are:

• Dividends and Distributions (Form 1099-DIV): Typically generated by owning a stock/equity investment product.
• Interest Income
(Form 1099-INT): Typically generated by owning a bond/fixed-income investment product.
• Capital Transactions (Form 1099-B): Reflects gains/(losses) from the sale of a capital asset.

Towerpoint Tip:

A Form 1099 is not the same as a Form 1099-R. The latter form reports annual distributions from tax-advantaged retirement accounts, such as “regular” pre-tax IRAs, Roth IRAs, SEP IRAs, and 401(k)s.

What do I do with a Form 1099?

If you work with a CPA/tax advisor, you should provide this tax form to them for inclusion on your federal individual income tax return.

If you prepare your own tax returns, be sure to utilize the import function that many tax preparation software programs now provide. This will ensure accurate reporting to the IRS, which is particularly important for Form 1099s, as any reporting discrepancies in the information you input versus the information the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) receives from your custodian automatically “flags” your federal tax return for additional scrutiny.

Why do I receive my Form 1099 late or even worse, receive an amended Form 1099?

Generally, investment custodians have until February 15 to provide taxpayers with their Form 1099s, although more recently, custodians are requesting exceptions and extensions to, or even flat-out missing, this issuance deadline, so be aware that you may be waiting past this date to receive yours.

Why? Before completing Form 1099s, custodians must first receive and collect taxable income information from each of the underlying investments all of their clients were invested in during the prior year; and more often than not, 1099 issuance delays originate with the underlying companies themselves.

It is also common for custodians to have to restate the originally issued Form 1099, and reissue what are known as amended Form 1099s, when one or more of the underlying investment companies revise, update, or correct an error made in their initial reporting.

What do I do if I receive an amended Form 1099, and are there any steps I can take to make this less of a headache?

if you receive an amended Form 1099 after already filing your tax return, you may need to file an amended tax return. You should speak with your CPA/tax professional for guidance on this important consideration.

To put yourself in the best position to avoid this hassle, we recommend that taxpayers work with their CPA/tax professional to prepare their tax returns in full as early as possible in the filing season, but wait until later in March to actually file them. While we fully understand the desire for some of you to finish and file your tax return as soon as possible, waiting to file minimizes the likelihood that you’ll have to file an amended tax return after receiving an amended Form 1099. Additionally, this gives your tax professional adequate time to properly prepare and file your return should you receive amended 1099s.

Towerpoint Tip:

If the difference between the original Form 1099 and the amended Form 1099 is slight, and can be considered in your favor, the cost of amending the tax returns may outweigh doing nothing. However, we advise you file an amended return when the amended Form 1099 results in additional taxes owed.

How Can We Help?

Steve Pitchford, CPA, CFP®
Director of Tax and Financial Planning

At Towerpoint Wealth, we are a legal fiduciary to you, and embrace the professional obligation we have to work 100% in your best interests. If you would like to speak with us regarding any other tax questions you may have, we encourage you to call (916-405-9166) or email (spitchford@towerpointwealth.com) to open an objective dialogue.

Towerpoint Wealth, LLC is a Registered Investment Adviser. This material is solely for informational purposes. Advisory services are only offered to clients or prospective clients where Towerpoint Wealth, LLC and its representatives are properly licensed or exempt from licensure. Past performance is no guarantee of future returns. Investing involves risk and possible loss of principal capital. No advice may be rendered by Towerpoint Wealth, LLC unless a client service agreement is in place.

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Five Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Became A Founder 02.12.2021

Our President, Joseph F. Eschleman, CIMA®, was interviewed by Candice Georgiadis, a contributing writer to Authority Magazine, as part of her series about leadership lessons of accomplished business leaders. Joseph’s story and message does an excellent job of summarizing not only how passionate and driven he is as President and founder of Towerpoint Wealth, but also the grit, tenacity, and hard work it takes to build and grow an individual advisory practice, and to then pivot, and ultimately build and grow a $300 million boutique wealth management firm.

Click HERE to read the Joseph Eschleman / Towerpoint Wealth story!

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Cryptocurrency – Wait, I Have to Pay Taxes??!!

Do you own/trade cryptocurrency? Interested in investing in BitcoinEthereum, or any of the other 4,000 cryptocurrencies currently available to own and trade?

If so, it is important you understand the income tax consequences of owning crypto.

If you are thinking about buying, selling, or trading cryptocurrencies, watch this quick video from our Wealth Advisor, Matt Regan, to learn the tax consequences of doing so.


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Estate Planning

Planning for your death and the death of your spouse – not very pleasant to think about, but clearly very important when it comes to proper estate planning.

Click below and take 60 seconds to watch Matt Regan’s most recent One Minute Tax Tip, as he expands on the importance of making the disposition of your assets as easy, streamlined, and tax efficient as possible for the people we care about and ultimately will leave behind.



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“Will the Big Blue Wave Leave You Money to Save?”

It seems ridiculous in times like these to write a newsletter about finances and money, but we feel it is our responsibility at Towerpoint Wealth to do so, even if only to provide some respite from politics to our growing family of readers and Trending Today subscribers. We have heard from a few clients that, for a number of good reasons, you already feel like this: 

And while we understand that it has been a tumultuous week, let’s not be too quick to throw in the towel on 2021!


2020 ended with a record close for both the the S&P 500 (3,756.07, representing a +16.3% price gain for the year) and the Dow Jones Industrial Average (30,606.48, representing a +7.2% price gain for the year). So far in 2021, equity prices have continued their upward trend, even with concerns including:

  1. The economic implications of the Democratic wins in both Georgia Senate runoff elections and the tumultuous events in our nation’s capital on January 6th
  2. The likely trajectory of a resurgent third coronavirus wave
  3. Expectations of additional public health-driven economic restrictions and/or lockdowns
  4. A deflation of the currently high levels of investor optimism
  5. Growing levels of speculative activity in some quarters of the market (high volumes of options trading, a robust IPO calendar, and the popularity of cryptocurrencies)  
  6. An interval of market consolidation following such an annus mirabilis as investors have experienced over the past 12 months in the financial markets.

While recognizing the cogency and reality of these concerns, at Towerpoint Wealth we have maintained an essentially constructive view of equity prices, based upon the following factors:

  • Continuing monetary stimulus from the Federal Reserve, with ultra-low policy interest rates and $120 billion per month in “Quantitative Easing” money printing, augmented by significant growth in the M-2 money supply, which tends to produce a stimulative environment for consumer prices, GDP, and financial assets (as shown below, over the past year, the U.S. M-2 money supply has increased at +25.2%, the highest rate of growth in four decades!);

Although we believe stock valuations are elevated and investor optimism is high, equity prices were well aware of and already somewhat discounting the possibility of the outcome of the Georgia Senatorial runoff elections tilting Democratic. Additionally, after a possible short-term pullback/correction, the stock market can continue to move higher, with extra caution and care called for, and perhaps even with some cash raised that can stand ready to be invested on a disciplined basis during a market retrenchment.

Implications of the Georgia Senatorial Elections

In our opinion, assuming no defections from party lines, a Democrat-controlled Senate appears likely to produce:

  1. Higher Taxes: Tax increases may not necessarily materialize to the degree that markets may have feared earlier, given that the Senate is likely to feature essentially a 50-50 Democratic-Republican tie — with Vice President-elect Kamala Harris in a position to cast a tie-breaking vote in favor of the Democrats, and with Senator Joseph Manchin III (D, WV) and/or others possibly voting to weaken or reject the tax increases. With some delays and/or dilutions, higher corporate, payroll, income, capital gains, and estate taxes may eventually be on the horizon for many taxpayers (the proposed levies in the Democratic platform amount to $4 trillion, with something in the neighborhood of half that amount deemed likely to be passed). The essential tie in political power in Congress may limit the extent of any changes in tax policy, and an important consideration to be kept in mind is the effective date of any tax increases, including the possible likelihood of retroactivity to January 1st, 2021. 
  2. More Spending: With proposed spending increases amounting to $7 trillion stretched out over a decade, the new Administration favors entitlement expansion, healthcare, climate, and green infrastructure initiatives (to accelerate the use of clean energy in the power sector, building construction, and transit); hiking the minimum hourly wage to $15 (which could support household incomes and augment growth in consumption); housing; education; and infrastructure. President-elect Biden has several times expressed support for drug price reforms. 
  3. Increased Regulation: Through job appointments, executive action, and legislation where feasible, the Biden administration may favor increased restraints on the financial sector and some portions of the healthcare sector, with continued antitrust and market dominance scrutiny applied toward mega-cap technology and social media companies. Statements by President-elect Biden have indicated that his administration might limit pipeline approvals and curtail drilling activity on federal lands.
  4. Spotlight on Relations with the Judiciary: Although we deem such actions unlikely, President-elect Biden may possibly favor certain proposals from within his party to attempt to curtail the Supreme Court’s authority over specific laws by attempting to: (i) impose term limits; (ii) expand the size of the Court; or (iii) through legislative action, divest the Court of its authority over contentious social issues (referred to in academic circles as “jurisdiction stripping”). Any proposed limitation of the Supreme Court’s own powers will very likely spark intense and determined pushback via lawsuits by the Supreme Court as well as by battling parties on either side of the issues involved. 

“Blue Wave” Affected Sectors

Democratic control of the White House, the House of Representatives, and (even if by the narrowest of margins) the Senate (a so-called “blue wave”) could be deemed favorable to large managed-care organizations, renewable energy firms, and the ESG space (companies reflecting and/or supporting Environmental, Social, and Governance initiatives and ideals). Other perceived sectoral beneficiaries of a “blue wave” include, among others: the weakening of the U.S. dollar versus foreign currencies; tax-exempt state and local government municipal bonds; high-yield bonds, small-cap stocks; construction and engineering, manufacturing, materials, industrial machinery, and related firms focusing on the U.S. transportation, maritime, and aviation infrastructure; renewable energy (including wind farms, solar projects, and high-voltage direct current transmission facilities); healthcare equipment and supplies; and cannabis-related companies.

Sectors perceived to be less favorably affected by a slim-margin “blue wave” include: large firms that benefited from the 2017 corporate tax cuts; large-cap pharmaceutical stocks; content liability-protected social network companies (currently shielded by Section 230 of the 1996 Communications Decency Act); dominant technology antitrust targets; the oil and gas sector; tobacco companies; aerospace and defense firms; health insurance companies; student loan servicing companies, asset managers, credit rating firms, and stock exchange operators; precious metals and precious metals mining shares; and labor-intensive enterprises sensitive to minimum wage increases (e.g., retail and grocery companies, restaurant and fast food chains, for-hire ride-sharing companies, and courier and package delivery firms).

What’s Happening at TPW?

Our Director of Research and Analytics, Nathan Billigmeier, and Partner, Wealth Advisor, Jonathan LaTurner, slipped away yesterday to play a round of golf at the #1 public golf course in America, Pebble Beach Golf Links!

Our President, Joseph Eschleman, found a good (albeit chilly) lockdown activity to do with his family last week, watching The Croods: A New Age at the West Wind Drive-In in Sacramento!

TPW Service Highlight – Client Family and Culture

In addition to providing them with the economic peace of mind that comes with the suite of comprehensive wealth management services we provide, as “family members” Towerpoint Wealth clients have also come to expect us to host regular, fun, and unique client appreciation and education events, which we happily deliver on. If you aren’t currently a client, here is what you have been missing out on (!):

Chart of the Week

As mentioned above, the news yesterday of the Democrats taking control of the Senate led investors to believe that the government will boost fiscal stimulus, which would in theory boost consumption and economic growth, and in turn, inflation.

The chart below compares the relative performance of stocks that benefit from inflation (blue) vs. those that benefit from deflation (black).

Trending Today

In addition to history making and money making, a number of trending and notable events have occurred over the past few weeks:

As always, we sincerely value our relationships and partnerships with you, as well as your trust and confidence in us here at Towerpoint Wealth. We encourage you to reach out to us at any time (916-405-9140, info@towerpointwealth.com) with any questions, concerns, or needs you may have. The world continues to be an extremely complicated place, and we are here to help you properly plan for and make sense of it.

– Joseph, Jonathan, Steve, Lori, Nathan, Matt, and Michelle

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The Donald vs. Joe – Which Way Will Your Income Taxes Go?

As of yesterday, more than 17 million people across 44 states and Washington D.C. have already voted. It is projected that a record-setting 150 million people will vote in 2020’s presidential election, representing approximately 65% of eligible voters, which would be the highest rate since 1908! As a country, we are truly rocking the vote this year!

For many voters, considering and sorting through all of the complicated issues can sometimes be a confusing and overwhelming responsibility:

As is typically the case, income taxes rank highly on the list of topics important to voters. According to a mid-September Gallup poll, 61% of voters said that the presidential candidates’ position on income taxes was either an extremely important or very important influence on who they vote for.

Understanding the upcoming election will be pivotal when it comes to tax policy, as well as how divergent the two candidates are regarding virtually every single issue, the dichotomy between Trump and Biden in tax policy and philosophy should come as no surprise. Both candidates have a plan, each with far-reaching consequences, for the following:

  • Individual tax rates
  • Capital gains and dividends
  • Individual tax credits and deductions
  • Education tax credits
  • Corporate taxes
  • Payroll taxes
  • Estate taxes

Hungry for more information?

  1. Click HERE for a concise “low down” on each candidate’s position on the major tax issues, courtesy of Grant Thornton.
  2. Click HERE For a fresh (filmed just this morning) take from Michael Zezas, Head of U.S. Public Policy Research at Morgan Stanley, on what Biden and Trump’s tax policy proposals mean for investors, the markets, and the election.

What seems to be clear is that who wins in November could very well spell the difference between cementing the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 as a permanentshift in U.S. tax policy, or instead, reversing major portions of this three-year-old legislation in favor of more progressive tax policies.

Either way, let’s not forget that there almost assuredly will be a substantial difference between what is promised on the campaign trail and what actually passes into law!

What’s Happening at TPW?


Lori and Raquel. On Tuesday. Together. With Bob Ross (on the right)! That’s all. 

Our President, Joseph Eschleman (and his wife, Megan Eschleman), and our Partner, Wealth Advisor, Jonathan LaTurner (and his fiancée, Katie McDonald), escaped to Oregon to do some wine tasting in the Willamette Valley this past weekend!

TPW Service Highlight – Tax Minimization Planning

Keeping with the theme of today’s newsletter, we at Towerpoint Wealth believe our energy is best spent helping our clients plan for things we have some control over, while being aware of, but not reactionary to, things we do not. And while paying taxes is as exacting and constant today as it was the day Benjamin Franklin penned his famous Death and Taxes quote in 1789, that doesn’t mean it can’t be planned around and minimized.

We are fortunate to have two team members who are licensed CPAs here at TPW, our Director of Tax and Financial Planning, Steve Pitchford, and our new Wealth Advisor, Matt Regan. Fortunately for us (and our clients!), both Steve and Matt are extremely well-versed and experienced in helping TPW clients reduce the income tax “drag” on their net worth and investments, specifically monitoring and focusing on the following areas:

  • Tax efficient investing
  • Tax loss harvesting
  • Tax legislation updates and changes
  • Asset/investment account drawdown
  • Account withdrawal tax optimization
  • Charitable trust planning
  • Charitable giving planning and analysis
  • Income tax credit and deduction analysis
  • Direct coordination and planning with your CPA/tax advisor
  • Tax return analysis
Steve Pitchford, CPA, CFP®
Director of Tax and Financial Planning
(916) 405-9166
spitchford@towerpointwealth.com
Matt Regan, CPA
Wealth Advisor
(916) 405-9164
mregan@towerpointwealth.com

Graph of the Week

Will it be a landslide, or will it be close? Will it be contested, or will it go smoothly? Reply to this email and let us know what you think!

As always, we sincerely value our relationships and partnerships with each of you, as well as your trust and confidence in us here at Towerpoint Wealth. We encourage you to reach out to us at any time (916-405-9140, info@towerpointwealth.com) with any questions, concerns, or needs you may have. The world continues to be an extremely complicated place, and we are here to help you properly plan for and make sense of it.

– Steve, Jonathan, Lori, Joseph, Raquel, Nathan, and Matt

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A Ben Franklin Redux

An Attorney’s Guide to Building and Protecting Personal Net Worth 

By: Matthew Regan, Wealth Advisor

Remember how you felt the day you said “I passed the bar!”?

That day, you no doubt celebrated your great accomplishment. It marked not only the closing chapter of your law school career, but the opening of an important new chapter in your personal and professional life, one with tremendous economic upside if properly harnessed. 

In his essay Advice to a Young Tradesman, Benjamin Franklin famously states, “Time is money.” This phrase, which he wrote in 1748, still rings true today, especially for busy attorneys and law-firm partners like yourself, who earn a living primarily from billable hours. 

As the numbers increase on your net worth statement, so does the responsibility of managing them correctly. As you accumulate wealth, have you achieved economic peace of mind? Not having the time, expertise, or patience, to establish and execute on a customized wealth-building and retirement strategy is neither a failing nor a flaw – it is a very common problem.

Finding an expert, trustworthy partner to help you manage and coordinate much of this “financial heavy lifting” can lead you closer to the economic peace of mind you have been working so long and hard for. 

Emotional Awareness – Your Strength and Your Weakness?

As a successful attorney, you are committed and laser focused on helping your clients, managing and collaborating with colleagues, and balancing the administrative obligations of running your practice.

You are working to strike the appropriate balance between your career and your family life. It is challenging — and stressful — to properly coordinate all of this. Consider too, that you have a responsibility to develop and execute on a well-thought-out and disciplined plan to grow and protect your personal wealth. It’s no wonder this task often gets back-burnered until you “aren’t so busy.”

Unfortunately, for many lawyers, “not so busy” only becomes a reality once retirement does, and by that time, many critical economic decisions, key financial and investment planning opportunities, and basic compounding benefits have come and gone.

Get Help, and Don’t Get Burned!

If you haven’t yet hired a professional to help, it might be because you’ve heard about uninspiring, unsettling, or even outright illicit experiences with so-called “financial-advisors.” Certainly, what tends to be the most challenging aspect of hiring an advisor is finding one who cultivates your trust.

An important part of the wealth building journey is partnering with the right financial advisor. The first step you can take is to ask friends and colleagues to share their successful experiences with advisors. The advisor is providing a service that will have a lasting impact on your financial future, so you need to be sure you are hiring the right person to meet your specific goals.

Your advisor will need to know every single aspect of your financial life, and oftentimes many aspects of your personal life as well, in order to provide the most appropriate advice and customized solutions. Each member of your family, especially your significant other, must have confidence the advisor will always hold your family’s best interests above their own. Because most attorneys have uneven cash flow throughout the year, complicated tax issues, and complex retirements, your advisor will be able to best serve you when they have a strong understanding of how you are compensated and the complexities of it. These things that make financial planning difficult for you, are well inside a fiduciary advisor’s wheelhouse.

“Suitable” versus “Fiduciary”

A second extremely important step when searching for an advisor is to assure they are bound to a legal fiduciary standard. As a legal fiduciary, a financial advisor is typically regulated by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), and is legally held to the highest standard in the industry, the fiduciary standard. They are required to discharge their planning, counsel, and advice solely in the best interests of the client, even if it means placing the client’s interests ahead of the advisor’s.

Starkly contrasting the fiduciary standard and obligation is suitability standard, which simply requires a financial advisor to make recommendations that are “suitable” for a client. Importantly, the suitability standard does not legally require an advisor to act solely in a client’s best interests. Another significant distinction between these two very different professional standards is how an advisor is compensated. A fiduciary advisor’s compensation generally is via an annual, asset-based fee, computed based on a percentage of the client’s assets under management. A financial advisor who is not a fiduciary oftentimes receives hidden compensation from products with higher fees and lower returns that they’ve steered you into. Recently, theWhite House Council on Economic Advisers found that non-fiduciary advice costs investors $17 billion a year! And, as Franklin said in his aforementioned essay:

“You will discover how…small, trifling expenses mount up to large sums, and will discern what might have been…saved.”

With a commission-based compensation structure, there is the possibility for conflicts of interest. If a prospective advisor is not 100% transparent about how he or she answers the question, “How do you get paid?” look elsewhere. A true fiduciary will be quick to point out how, and wherefrom, they derive professional compensation for their time, service, and planning. How do I know if a financial advisor is a legal fiduciary?

The simple answer – ask! You will quickly find out which standard a prospective financial advisor adheres to when you ask:

“As my prospective financial advisor, would you be a legal fiduciary to me, and are you willing to attest to that in writing?”

What Can I Expect From a Good Financial Advisor

Because every individual has a unique set of personal and financial circumstances, it is a crucial first step for your financial advisor to help you determine and set your financial goals. Sounds easy, right? Maybe — until you seriously consider your responses to the following questions:

  • What money concerns keep you up at night, and how would you like me to work with you so you can rest soundly?
  • What are you doing now, and what do you want to accomplish in life?
  • What decline in your overall investment portfolio, in hard dollars, would cause you great personal discomfort such as lack of sleep, anxiety, worry, or even despair?
  • Why do you think you need financial help and guidance?
  • What changes do you expect to occur in the future?
  • How do you picture your ideal life five years from now? Ten? Fifteen?
  • How would you describe the emotions you had about money growing up?
  • What are three financial milestones you hope to accomplish?

By no means all-encompassing, this list of questions is meant to illustrate the depth and sincere interest in you that the right financial advisor will demonstrate during the discovery phase of your relationship. In addition to asking, listening to, and considering your answers to thoughtful questions such as these, any good advisor will dedicate their time and energy to you in order to develop a rapport, and ultimately, trust.

Investing, coordinating, and managing your wealth and assets is a challenge that increases as your net worth does, and just like in law, where having a good lawyer when entering the courtroom should yield the highest probability of success, the same holds true for wealth management and working with a qualified financial advisor.

Financial Emotional Awareness

Managing emotions and remaining objective when making financial decisions is an essential component of longer-term success in building, and protecting, one’s wealth. Every day, individuals are bombarded with information that can make them question whether or not they are making the right choices with their finances. A quality, trustworthy financial advisor will help guide you through the noise and protect you from making emotional or irrational decisions to ensure you stay on your path to financial freedom.

My Lawyer Does the Same Thing…

When working with an attorney, a client should expect to receive custom-tailored planning, advice, and counsel only after a myriad of different possibilities and probabilities about the future have been considered. This construct of a financial advisor-client partnership differs little, as this same process holds true in finance as it does in law.

A quality financial advisor will leverage a broad-based array of resources to provide solutions and advice, much of which you may never have heard of, thought about, or had access to.

They will help you identify your level of acceptable risk, and a target rate of return to be able to meet your personal and economic goals. As is true in the courtroom, there is a direct correlation between taking risk and the potential for obtaining the desired results. The financial relationship between risk and return is inextricable, and needs to be consistently monitored due to the ever-evolving landscape of the economy, politics, the financial markets, and most importantly, your own personal circumstances. Having a professional help you manage this balance between risk and reward increases the probability of your achieving financial success.

Reducing Drag and the “Necessary Evils”

Keeping what you have saved and earned is just as important as growing it.

Specifically, a good financial advisor will work with you to manage and minimize the two major necessary evils:

  1. Income taxes
  2. Costs/fees/expenses

Understanding almost all financial transactions incorporate a tax and a cost component, your financial advisor and your tax advisor should consistently interface with each other to develop and implement effective tax mitigation strategies to help you keep as much of your hard- earned dollars in your pocket as possible. For most attorneys, current self-employment and income tax rates are high, and will likely only increase in the future. The efficiency of growth in your net worth can be directly affected by lackluster tax planning, not only by the choices you make in how you receive and allocate your ordinary income as you save and invest, but also in how and where you derive investment income. This is especially true when it comes to your

retirement planning. As you accumulate wealth, it is imperative for your financial and tax advisors to work together to maximize how and where you are making retirement contributions, and how and where to leverage the multitude of tax benefits that are available.

During retirement, as you begin strategic withdrawals from your nest egg, your advisors should regularly analyze not only the sustainability of how much you are taking, but should also weigh in on how and where to make withdrawals, based largely on your current tax bracket as well as the expected future tax environment. For attorneys

fortunate enough to have a retirement pension, an analysis should be done to determine whether it is better to take as a single-life or joint-life annuity or as a lump sum in order to maximize your net dollars.

Lastly, to enhance the longer-term growth of your wealth, your financial advisor should work with your investment managers to methodically select the right investment vehicles that produce the greatest after-tax returns for both your managed and unmanaged assets. After all, it is not what you make but what you keep that is important. 

Time to Enjoy!

Planning your financial future in addition to all your other professional and personal responsibilities is a daunting task, but you don’t want to wake up one day and ask yourself why your colleagues are retired while you are still working. Being a lawyer is rewarding job, but it can be very stressful and requires long hours. Thirty or more years of this lifestyle can take quite a

toll on the body and mind, and you deserve a rewarding financial future and economic peace of mind. Time is money. Beginning a succinct and custom-tailored wealth management plan now will help you achieve your goals, and ultimately, help you retire on your schedule. Partnering with an advisor that not only understands you, but also the unique financial challenges that attorneys face, means you may spend less time worrying about this aspect of your life.

You wouldn’t hesitate to hire a legal expert to help you win a case or strengthen a lawsuit, and the same can certainly be said about hiring a financial expert advisor to help you properly coordinate all of your financial affairs and ideally, build economic peace of mind.

How Can We Help?

At Towerpoint Wealth, we are a legal fiduciary to you, and embrace the professional obligation we have to work 100% in your best interests. If you would like to learn more about Towerpoint Wealth and how we can help you achieve your financial goals, we encourage you to call (916-405-9164) or email (mregan@towerpointwealth.com) to open an objective dialogue.

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Will Who We Elect Make the Market Correct

It’s right around the corner, and it isn’t going to be pretty, so let’s discuss the election’s impact on the stock market now and get it out of the way.

For a good part of this calendar year, we have counseled you that it is prudent to give advance thought to the range of potential economic, regulatory, taxation, spending, budget deficit, societal, and financial market implications of the national election results, depending on whether Republicans or Democrats win one or more of the White House, the House of Representatives, and the Senate

After Labor Day, the campaign is likely to reflect increased amounts of political vociferousness, perhaps some degree of vehemence, and even apportionments of vitriol (we hope and pray not too much), with the potential to cause meaningful shorter-term shifts in financial asset prices. That is precisely why we recommend forming beforehand, and sticking to, a well-reasoned and disciplined asset allocation plan and investment strategy tailored to your personal and financial circumstances, time horizon, objectives, and temperament.

November 2020: The 59th Quadrennial Presidential Election

September, October, and then, the Election: With the VIX volatility index (see the Graph of the Week below) having risen an average of four points ahead of each of the last seven presidential elections since this measure was created, important issues to consider in the upcoming weeks ahead include:

  • How clearly (and energetically) each political party’s convention message was received, perceived by, and responded to by their respective loyal voter bases;
  • The nation’s reactions to the anticipated three presidential debates and one vice presidential debate;
  • Assessments of the strength of party identification among various segments of the voting population, as well as in the composition of the overall electorate; at the same time, taking into account the ability of each ticket to generate serious backing from less-supportive voter populations; 
  • Which candidate voters (considering demographic attributes, where they live, how they classify themselves on the political spectrum, and other characteristics) think can better confront America’s broad challenges, including the coronavirus pandemic, the economy, social issues, and pressing global concerns;  
  • The effectiveness of voting procedures, trust in mail-in balloting, the degree of putative social media and foreign-based election interference, actual voter participation, and the perceived veracity and legitimacy of the results; and 
  • The potential consequences of prolonged uncertainty associated with a contested election (should it occur) for social order and the financial markets.

Some Implications of Potential Scenarios

Roughly one in five workers are currently receiving jobless benefits, and early expectations of a V-shaped recovery have been hindered by renewed coronavirus outbreaks. Regardless of who wins the 2020 election and in what manner, financial asset valuations appear to be reflecting expectations that whenever the coronavirus pandemic ends, some degree of economic acceleration is likely to take place in the U.S.

As we have counseled for some time, it is important to devote thought and attention to the taxation, regulatory, economic, asset allocation, and investment strategy implications of the three leading potential electoral outcomes outlined below (while noting that both political parties have expressed interest in promoting the development of generic drugs, lowering drug prices, and containing healthcare costs; and the two parties have also been focusing on antitrust, platform liability, and privacy issues relating to many of America’s biggest technology enterprises):

  1. If President Trump is re-elected and wins the White House, Democrats keep control of the House of Representatives, and Republicans keep control of the Senate, such an outcome would likely favor securities in the following sectors: technology, defense, finance, healthcare, and energy, while potentially putting pressure on sectors and companies that could be harmed by further deterioration in  U.S-China relations;
  2. If Vice President Biden wins the White House, Democrats keep control of the House of Representatives, and Republicans keep control of the Senate, such an outcome would likely favor companies and sectors that would be deemed to have thereby avoided increased taxes and a heavier regulatory burden;
  3. If Vice President Biden wins the White House, Democrats keep control of the House of Representatives, and Democrats take control of the Senate(sometimes referred to in the media as a “blue wave”), such results would substantially raise the odds of higher taxes. Offsets to the latter outcome could come in the form of substantial additional spending on infrastructure, education, and healthcare. Securities in the following sectors, among others, are perceived to be disadvantaged by a “blue wave” Democratic sweep: defense, healthcare, financials (via increased regulation) and energy (with expectations of restricting fracking and limiting drilling on federal lands in Texas/New Mexico’s Delaware Basin and Southeast Montana/Northeast Wyoming’s Powder River Basin), while giving a lift to sectors and companies that could be helped by improving U.S-China relations.

The Pre- and Post-Election Tax and Spending Outlook

As shown in the panel below, the current taxation and spending policy positions of Vice President Biden contain numerous base-broadening elements that increase taxes by approximately $4 trillion, while increasing spending to the tune of approximately $6 trillion in areas including healthcare, infrastructure, education, energy research, and other initiatives.

Released on Wednesday, July 9, the 110-page report of the Unity Task Forces (created and staffed by individuals designated by Vice President Joe Biden and Senator Bernie Sanders) contains a detailed set of policy recommendations in six domestic policy areas: 

  1. Health care (while not supporting Medicare for All, the report proposes a public option, a government-administered plan “like Medicare” that would be available to all Americans; on drug pricing, the report recommends appointing a government board to set prices that Medicare would pay for new drugs);
  2. The economy (with $400 billion pledged for procurement of domestically made goods and $300 billion to support high-tech research);
  3. Climate change (here, a total of $2.0 trillion over four years is earmarked to shift millions of jobs into clean energy, with the goal of cutting emissions from power generation to zero by 2030, having net zero emissions by 2050, and introducing new fuel-economy standards);
  4. Criminal justice (proposing reforms to law enforcement and policing practices);
  5. Education (including universal preschool for three- and four-year-olds, at a cost of $775 billion over a decade), and 
  6. Immigration (proposing to end travel restrictions against 13 countries, and to maintain protections from deportation for approximately 700,000 young immigrants known as “Dreamers”).

Should Vice President Biden win the White House, financial asset prices in general, as well as specific industries and companies, are likely to be affected by the speed and degree to which the new Administration and Congress (whose degree of support depends on which party controls the House of Representatives and which party controls the Senate) might be able to implement priorities in these and other areas.

For further granularity, the following panel sets forth eight elements of personal taxes and four elements of corporate taxes: (i) under the current U.S. tax regime, which would not currently be expected to change much under President Trump (although the President has endorsed the idea of payroll tax reductions; tweeted about a potential capital gains cut; and vowed to extend the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, which capped the so-called SALT (State and Local Tax) deduction at $10,000); and (ii) as currently outlined as taxation policy under a Biden administration.

Given that the process of turning taxation proposals into law takes time, it is likely to be at least June 2021 for new tax legislation to be enacted. On several aspects of tax planning (including the timing and forms of income and expenditures; tax gain-loss harvesting; and retirement, estate, and gifting strategies), it may be sensible to postpone any major moves until a judicious assessment can be made of the makeup of the post-election government and its specifically-expressed legislative agenda.

Regardless of the fireworks, and ultimate outcome, of the election, we will always believe that good, well-run, profitable companies will remain good, well-run, profitable companies, independent of a Trump or Biden win.

What’s Happening at TPW?

Happy to have him aboard, contributing, and part of the Towerpoint Wealth family, the TPW team has been indoctrinating Matt Regan, a.k.a. “the new guy,” over the past two weeks:

Our new Wealth Advisor, Matt Regan, connected with our President, Joseph Eschleman, and our Partner, Wealth Advisor, Jonathan LaTurner, for an enjoyable business lunch at the historic Sutter Club in downtown Sacramento earlier this week.

Our President, Joseph Eschleman, and his wife, Megan Eschleman, hosted Matt and his lovely wife Alyssa for an enjoyable evening of tri-tip, corn on the cob, chicken skewers, and Frank Familycabernet.

TPW Service Highlight – Social Security Optimization

Many investors are not prepared for retirement, and have not properly planned for how to structure their post-retirement income. With the popularity and availability of pension plans quickly waning, and rock bottom interest rates making it difficult to derive enough interest income from bonds, the importance of Social Security has never been greater.

Through careful planning and the development and utilization of a custom Social Security optimization analysis, our aim at Towerpoint Wealth is to help our clients structure a plan to ensure that they are not leaving any money on table when it comes to their Social Security benefits. According to the Annual Statistical Supplement to the Social Security Bulletin, 70% (!) of all retired workers started taking benefits before their normal retirement age. For some this may make sense, but for many, this will result in the forfeiture of tens, if not hundreds of thousands of dollars over their lifetime.

Let us help you scientifically analyze the myriad of Social Security claiming strategies available to you, and develop a customized plan to ensure you have properly maximized this hugely important retirement income benefit.

Graph of the Week

The market anticipates some pretty incredible fireworks (as we probably all do) leading up to November’s elections. With Joe Biden’s lead over President Trump drifting lower since the late summer, there is now even more expected volatility around Election Day, and things almost assuredly will only heat up further as we get closer to November.

The graph below reflects the historical activity and pricing of the VIX, a popular index that measures future stock market volatility, used by investors to hedge against it. Currently, November’s election is the most expensive event risk on record. With many more absentee and mail-in ballots expected to be cast in this election, the possibility certainly exists that we do not know who the winner is on Wednesday, November 4.

Quoting Cameron Crise, Bloomberg macro strategist, “In the history of VIX futures contracts, we’ve never had an event risk command this sort of premium… That obviously suggests that markets anticipate some pretty incredible fireworks.”

Don’t say you haven’t been warned, keep your seatbelt firmly buckled, and most importantly, don’t be surprised nor overreact to the upcoming craziness!

As always, we sincerely value our relationships and partnerships with each of you, as well as your trust and confidence in us here at Towerpoint Wealth. We encourage you to reach out to us at any time (916-405-9140, info@towerpointwealth.com) with any questions, concerns, or needs you may have. The world continues to be an extremely complicated place, and we are here to help you properly plan for and make sense of it.

– Nathan, Raquel, Steve, Joseph, Lori, Jonathan, and Matt

Towerpoint Wealth Team : Sacramento Financial Advisor