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Agenda Departments

Retirement and Elder-care Planning Seminar

Feb. 3: A retirement and elder-care planning seminar will take place from 10 to 11:30 a.m. at the Church in the Acres, 1383 Wilbraham Road, Springfield. Presenters include David Fedor, certified financial planner, practitioner, and chartered retirement planning counselor from Commonwealth Financial Network; Sharon Connor from Choices Elder Support; Mary-Anne Schelb from JGS Lifecare; Jennifer Kinsman from Acti-Kare; and Lisa Beauvais, estate-planning attorney. This event is free and open to the public. Call (413) 726-9044 to RSVP.

Free Legal Help Hotline

Feb. 8: The Hampden County Bar Assoc. will hold a Legal Help Hotline in conjunction with Western New England University School of Law from 4 to 7 p.m. at Western New England University School of Law, 1215 Wilbraham Road, Springfield. The volunteers will provide legal advice on a variety of topics, including divorce and family law, bankruptcy, business, landlord/tenant, and real estate. Additionally, in light of recent immigration developments, attorneys with immigration-law experience will be available to answer questions. Spanish-speaking attorneys will also be available. Individuals needing advice should call (413) 796-2057 to speak to a volunteer.

40 Under Forty Nomination Deadline

Feb. 16: BusinessWest magazine will accept nominations for the 40 Under Forty Class of 2018 through the end of the work day (5 p.m.) on Friday, Feb 16. The annual program, now in its 12th year, recognizes rising stars within the Western Mass. community, which includes Berkshire, Franklin, Hampden, and Hampshire counties. This year’s group of 40 will be profiled in the magazine’s April 30 edition, then toasted at the June 21 gala at the Log Cabin Banquet & Meeting House in Holyoke (see below). The nomination form, which can be found online HERE, requests basic information and can be supported with other material, such as a résumé, testimonials, and even press clippings highlighting an individual’s achievements in their profession or service to their community.

Inclusive Sports Sampler

Feb. 17: For parents of young adults who have an IDD (intellectual or developmental disability), there is one challenge shared by all: identifying inclusive and accessible recreational experiences in their local community that offer opportunities for peer connections and fun, at low cost. Best Buddies, CHD Disability Resources, and Extra Innings understand this challenge firsthand and have combined resources to offer a solution. These organizations are teaming up to present the Young Adult Sports Sampler. This event gives members of the community who have an IDD, ages 14-22, an opportunity to sample several activities at once, in one location. The Young Adult Sampler takes place from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., at Extra Innings, 340 McKinstry Ave., #250, Chicopee. A wide range of accessible and inclusive activities will be offered, including dance and movement, martial arts, intro to sled hockey, Wiffle ball, baseball simulator, and intro to adaptive bikes. There is no cost to attend, but an RSVP is appreciated. Contact Jessica Levine at [email protected] by Saturday, Feb. 10.

EMT Training Program

March 5 to June 20: Holyoke Community College, in collaboration with the Quaboag Valley Community Development Corp. and Emergency Medical Training Solutions, is offering an EMT training program at the E2E: Quaboag Region Workforce Training and Community College Center at 79 Main St., Ware. The EMT-B Emergency Medical Technician Basic course meets on Mondays and Wednesdays from 6 to 10 p.m. and on select Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. The 13-week program consists of more than 170 hours of in-class lectures and additional online study, training, field trips, and workshops designed to prepare students for the state EMT certification exam. The course covers all aspects of emergency care, including patient handling, extrication, communication, working with law enforcement, legal issues, ethics, medical equipment, and safe transportation of patients. The course fee is $1,099 plus $200 for texts. For more information or to register, contact Ken White at (413) 552-2324 or [email protected], or visit www.hcc.edu/workforce.

Difference Makers

March 22: The 10th annual Difference Makers award program, staged by BusinessWest, will be held at the Log Cabin Banquet & Meeting House. The winners will be announced and profiled in the Jan. 22 issue. Difference Makers is a program, launched in 2009, that recognizes groups and individuals that are making a difference in this region. Tickets to the event cost $75 per person, with tables of 10 available. To order, call (413) 781-8600, ext. 100 or visit HERE. Sponsors to date include Sunshine Village and Royal, P.C. Sponsorship opportunities are still available by calling (413) 781-8600, ext. 100.

40 Under Forty Gala

June 21: BusinessWest’s 12th annual 40 Under Forty Gala is a celebration of 40 young business and civic leaders in Western Mass. The lavish cocktail party, to be held starting at 5:30 p.m. at the Log Cabin in Holyoke, will feature butlered hors d’oeuvres, food stations, and entertainment — and, of course, the presentation of the class of 2017. Also, the third Continued Excellence Award honoree will be announced. Tickets will go on sale soon at $75 per person (tables of 10 available), and the event always sells out quickly. For more information, call (413) 781-8600, ext. 100, or e-mail [email protected].

Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — A retirement and elder-care planning seminar will take place on Saturday, Feb. 3. Presenters include David Fedor, certified financial planner, practitioner, and chartered retirement planning counselor from Commonwealth Financial Network; Sharon Connor from Choices Elder Support; Mary-Anne Schelb from JGS Lifecare; Jennifer Kinsman from Acti-Kare; and Lisa Beauvais, estate-planning attorney.

This event will be held from 10 to 11:30 a.m. at the Church in the Acres, 1383 Wilbraham Road, Springfield. Although this event is free and open to the public, seating is limited, so call (413) 726-9044 to RSVP. In case of inclement weather, the event will be held on Feb. 10.

Accounting and Tax Planning Sections

Tax Incentives for Business Owners

By Brenden Healy, CPA

Brenden Healy, CPA

Brenden Healy, CPA

Whether we like it or not, taxes are a part of any business strategy. From the federal level on down, tax obligations go side-by-side with running a business. And while the economy is getting better for much of the country, business owners need to continue to improve their bottom line. One good way to strengthen business cash flow is by taking advantage of tax credits or tax incentives. Business owners sometimes do not harvest these opportunities, most often because they don’t know about all the options available to them or because they don’t fully understand the requirements.

Capturing these benefits requires knowing to look for them, which can be an issue in the diverse tax rules of the IRS or state taxing authorities. Here are some tax opportunities that every business owner should know about:

• Research and Development Tax Credit: This credit was introduced as an incentive to encourage new innovation in the U.S., but remains one of the most overlooked tax opportunities out there. There’s a lot of misconception that a research-driven credit must be limited to modern, large tech firms that are putting out new products. However, the purpose of this credit is to fuel innovation and development, which is relevant to a variety of industries, of all sizes. Recent changes in IRS regulations have opened up this tax credit to many industries. Manufacturing, investment-management services, software development, and even construction are major industries that can take advantage of this tax-savings opportunity, but it can be applied to other industries in certain scenarios.

• Export Sales: The IRS allows companies that produce goods in the U.S. and then export them outside the border to take advantage of a reduced tax rate for some of the profits relating to those export sales. This is accomplished by converting the business income related to the exports into long-term capital-gain income, which is usually taxed at about half the normal business tax rate.

• Write-Off of Asset Purchases: This incentive is one of the most beneficial ones for small businesses. The IRS continues to allow generous write-offs for purchasing equipment, machines, computers, etc. through the Section 179 tax-expensing election with a 2017 deduction limit of about $500,000, or the 50% ‘bonus’ depreciation deduction, which could be used after that spending cap is reached.

• New IRS Capitalization-policy Rules: Just by making a special election on the tax return, a small business can adopt a policy of expensing items purchased during the year, up to $2,500 for each item. As an example, if a business buys 10 computers for $1,500 each, it could expense the full $15,000 of computers under this capitalization policy rule.

• Roof Repairs and Other Building Maintenance Costs: The IRS is also allowing real-estate owners to take advantage of writeoffs relating to building maintenance items. Under new IRS rules, certain roof repairs and other building maintenance items can be expensed in the year they are completed, instead of capitalizing those costs and depreciating them over a 39-year period of time, which was the old requirement.

• ‘Segregation’ of Building Costs for Tax Expensing: When a business owner buys a new building or makes significant improvements to a building, there can be ways to expense those costs faster than the normal, 39-year depreciation life that the tax law allows. By identifying certain costs such as non-structural items, wall coverings, or specialty lighting, the IRS allows the building owner to expense these costs at a faster rate. Thus, performing a ‘cost-segregation study’ can create large tax writeoffs up front instead of waiting 39 years to recover the investment.

• Compensation and Retirement Planning: The IRS also allows business owners to put away large amounts towards their retirement as well as the retirement of key employees of the business. By properly designing a compensation strategy and deferred-compensation planning options, business owners can take care of their key employees while saving tax money.

Leveraging tax incentives can greatly help buffer a company’s bottom line, but more often than not, business owners don’t know what’s available to them. It’s crucial that business owners have open conversations with their accountant about the work of the company to see if there are opportunities available. While these programs can be complex and difficult to navigate, they can save a business a significant amount of money.

Brenden Healy, CPA, is a partner at Whittlesey with significant experience in consulting with business owners to identify tax incentives and strategic planning for their future.

Daily News

SOUTH HADLEY — Stephen Duval, a private wealth advisor with Ameriprise Financial Services Inc., recently announced he has moved his practice to a new location at 551 Newton St. and changed its name to Summit House Wealth Partners. Duval has also expanded his team of financial advisors by one.

A certified financial planner, Duval moved his office in June from 130 College St., and colleague Justin Osowiecki, a financial advisor, made the transition with him. At the same time, Duval partnered with Edward Boscher, who is also now serving clients as a Summit House Wealth Partners financial advisor.

The team will hold an open house for the public at the new Newton Street office on Thursday, Sept. 21 from 2 to 7 p.m.

Duval holds a bachelor’s degree from UMass in business administration and is a graduate of the College for Financial Planning. He has been with Ameriprise for 25 years. Boscher is also a certified financial planner and a certified investment management analyst. He has spent much of his career working with Voya Investment Management out of its Windsor, Conn. office. He holds a bachelor’s degree in business management from Westfield State University.

Boscher made the transition to Summit House Wealth Partners, he said, “to put my 23-plus years of asset-management experience to work for people around here, because I live here.”

Duval’s practice is an Ameriprise Financial franchise. Ameriprise Financial Services Inc. offers financial-advisory services, investments, insurance, and annuity products. For more information, or for details on upcoming workshops — on topics ranging from Social Security to identify theft to retirement planning — call (413) 540-0196.

Daily News

HADLEY — A recent study has discovered that 38% of financial advisors expect to retire over the next decade, which means a new wave of wealth managers are stepping up to the plate. In light of this demographic shift, Forbes has released its first-ever list of “America’s Top Next-Gen Wealth Advisors.”

Among those earning a place on this prestigious list is UMassFive College Federal Credit Union’s Nick Cantrell, a financial advisor registered through CUSO Financial Services, L.P., who specializes in retirement planning, investment management, socially responsible investing, insurance planning, and estate planning with Massachusetts State employees, healthcare professionals, and employees of colleges and universities.

In order to be considered for this honor, Cantrell was required to complete a lengthy performance survey covering areas such as compliance records, client retention, revenue production, and assets managed. He has been a financial advisor for more than 10 years, and has worked at UMassFive College Federal Credit Union since 2012. He maintains office hours both in Worcester and Northampton.

Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — Michael Matty, president of St. Germain Investment Management, announced the hiring of William Walthouse to the firm as vice president, financial advisor, and Tatyana Shut as client services associate.

Walthouse brings 30 years of experience and knowledge of the financial industry in areas of investments, insurance, and retirement planning. Over the last 15 years, his focus was on relationship management, an area of increased relevance in an industry that’s become more complex. He has Series 65 and Series 7 designations and is licensed in Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Florida as a registered financial advisor. Similarly, he is also licensed to provide life- and health-insurance solutions in those states.

Prior to joining St. Germain, Walthouse was an advisor with Key Investment Services. He also worked with MassMutual and Dowd Financial Services. He holds a bachelor’s degree in business management from Bryant College and an MBA from American International College.

Shut has significant experience in financial operations and reporting, international export logistics, business development, marketing, and client services. Prior to joining St. Germain, she held these and other responsibilities as the controller and export logistics manager at Gordon-Cross Corp. in Connecticut.

She is an active volunteer in her community, having organized two youth mission trips abroad with a group of 23 members. Similarly, she helps nonprofits at events and with fund-raising activities. A graduate of Westfield State College, she holds a bachelor’s degree in business management with a concentration in marketing. She also earned her MBA with a concentration in leadership from Western New England University.

Daily News

HADLEY — Jeffery Still, an Eagle Strategies financial adviser and registered representative since 2012, has opened an office at 2 Bay Road, Suite 100, in Hadley.

Still is a fiduciary in the capacity of financial adviser, focusing on core components for clients when planning for retirement. He helps his clients with retirement planning, estate planning, investments, and life-insurance planning. His office was previously located in Westborough and Holyoke.

“I really love Western Mass.,” Still said. “I grew up here, and I have a lot of family ties in the area. There’s nowhere else I’d rather be. I look forward to serving the needs of local consumers and businesses and to contributing to the area’s economic and civic vibrancy in a meaningful way. I’m passionate about financial education for my clients and making sure that they have the best possible options available to them across a wide range of retirement and insurance planning concerns.”

For the last four years, Still has been a member of New York Life’s Executive Council, members of which are among the most successful of the company’s sales force of 12,000 licensed agents. He is a member of the Northampton Chamber of Commerce.

Still earned a bachelor’s degree from American International College in Springfield and studied finance and business management at the University of Florida.

Agenda Departments

Seminars on Memory Loss

Nov. 1: Linda Manor Assisted Living will host seminars on early memory troubles and strategies for seniors at noon and again at 5:30 p.m. Lunch and dinner will be served. Dr. Beth Warner, a geriatrician and Linda Manor’s medical director, will discuss the early signs of memory problems, causes of memory loss, what a memory-loss evaluation should include, and strategies for discussing memory loss with loved ones. She is certified by the American Medical Directors Assoc. and has completed specialized education in care and management concerns specific to older populations and long-term care. She is board-certified in internal medicine, geriatrics, and hospice and palliative care. Seating is limited. Those wishing to attend are asked to register by calling (413) 588-3316.

‘Being Mortal’ Documentary

Nov. 1: Hospice of Franklin County, in collaboration with Baystate Franklin Medical Center, is holding a free community screening of the documentary Being Mortal at 5:15 p.m. in hospital conference rooms A, B, and C. After the screening, audience members can participate in a guided conversation on how to take concrete steps to identify and communicate wishes about end-of-life goals and preferences. Being Mortal delves into the hopes of patients and families facing terminal illness. The film investigates the practice of caring for the dying and explores the relationships between patients and their doctors. It follows a surgeon, Dr. Atul Gawande, as he shares stories from the people and families he encounters. When Gawande’s own father gets cancer, his search for answers about how best to care for the dying becomes a personal quest. The film sheds light on how a medical system focused on a cure often leaves out the sensitive conversations that need to happen so a patient’s true wishes can be known and honored at the end. It underscores the importance of people planning ahead and talking with family members about end-of-life decisions. Seventy percent of Americans say they would prefer to die at home, but nearly 70% die in hospitals and institutions. Ninety percent of Americans know they should have conversations about end-of-life care, yet only 30% have done so. For more information about the free screening or to RSVP for the event, contact Andrea Johnston at (413) 773-2144 or [email protected]. The free screening is made possible by a grant from the John and Wauna Harman Foundation in partnership with the Hospice Foundation of America.

Real-estate Licensing Course

Nov. 2: Beginning Wednesday, Nov. 2, the Realtor Assoc. of Pioneer Valley will sponsor a 40-hour, 14-class sales licensing course to help individuals prepare for the Massachusetts real-estate salesperson license exam. The course will be completed on Dec. 7. Tuition is $359 and includes the book and materials. For an application, call the Realtor Assoc. of Pioneer Valley at (413) 785-1328.

Western Mass. Business Expo

Nov. 3: Comcast Business will present the sixth annual Western Mass. Business Expo at the MassMutual Center in downtown Springfield, produced by BusinessWest and the Healthcare News. The business-to-business show will feature more than 150 exhibitor booths, educational seminars, breakfast hosted by the Springfield Regional Chamber of Commerce, lunch hosted by BusinessWest, and a day-capping Expo Social. Current sponsors include Comcast Business (presenting sponsor), Express Employment Professionals, Health New England, the Isenberg School of Management at UMass Amherst, Johnson & Hill Staffing Services, MGM Springfield, Wild Apple Design, the Western Mass. Economic Development Council, Savage Arms, Meyers Brothers Kalicka, the Better Business Bureau, and the Regional Employment Board of Hampden County. The event’s media partners are WMAS, WHMP, and Rock 102/Laser 99.3. For more Expo details, see the special section in this issue or visit www.wmbexpo.com.

Bay Path University Cybersecurity Summit

Nov. 4: Cybersecurity is no longer just a technology problem — it has become a business differentiator. As the topic is discussed around the table of company boards and government task forces, the face of cybersecurity professionals is changing as well. At Bay Path University’s fourth annual Cybersecurity Summit, “The Business of Cybersecurity,” Jillian Munro will share her experiences and observations from throughout her career of the different facets of that new face, highlighting how non-traditional skills now apply in the area of cybersecurity. The summit takes place in Blake Student Commons on the university’s Longmeadow campus. Breakfast will be offered at 7:30 a.m. followed by the presentation at 8 a.m. Munro is senior vice president of Resiliency & Business Engagement for the Enterprise Cybersecurity (ECS) organization at Fidelity Investments. Fidelity is a leading provider of investment management, retirement planning, portfolio guidance, brokerage, benefits outsourcing, and other financial products and services to more than 20 million individuals, institutions, and financial intermediaries. Munro joined Fidelity in 2015 and is responsible for ensuring alignment between the firm’s business priorities and the cybersecurity agenda, as well as leading the enterprise technology resiliency program. The summit is presented by Bay Path’s Master of Science in Cybersecurity Management program, which was launched October 2013 as the first of its kind in New England. The summit is free and open to the public. To register, visit www.baypath.edu and click on ‘Events.’ For more information, e-mail Ann Cantin at [email protected].

LEEF Black and White Fund-raising Gala

Nov. 5: The Longmeadow Educational Excellence Foundation (LEEF) will host its 15th annual fund-raising gala from 6:30 to 11 p.m. at Twin Hills Country Club. The event, which will feature a black and white theme, includes food, entertainment, silent and live auctions, and raffles. This year’s entertainment will be provided by Boston’s premier party band, the Marsels. Funds raised through the gala are used to provide grants to Longmeadow teachers, providing opportunities for innovative educational and enrichment programs that go beyond the tax-supported budget. Since its founding in 2001 by a group of dedicated parents, LEEF has funded 330 teacher grant requests, totaling more than $1.2 million, to Longmeadow public schools. LEEF maintains both a sustaining fund and a permanent endowment with the Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts. “It is only through the generous support of our sponsors and donors that we are able to supply these grants that enhance our students’ education,” said Whitney Harrington, LEEF board member and co-chair of the gala. The platinum sponsor of the 2016 LEEF gala is North Star Recycling. Gold sponsors are Bay Path University and Green Earth Energy Photo Voltaic Group. Long-time supporters Advanced Vein Care and Collins Pipe are silver sponsors, with Playful Minds, Bacon Wilson, and Harry Grodsky & Co. as bronze sponsors. Tickets are available at $85 each. Donations for the live and silent auction are still being accepted. To donate or sign on as a sponsor or volunteer, e-mail Harrington at [email protected]. To purchase gala tickets, visit www.goleef.org or mail checks to LEEF, P.O. Box 60782, Longmeadow, MA 01106-0782.

Spaghetti Dinner to Benefit Alzheimer’s Assoc.

Nov. 8: Williamstown Commons will host a spaghetti supper from 5 to 7 p.m. at Williamstown Commons, 25 Adams Road, Williamstown. The cost is $8 per person at the door, and all proceeds from the dinner will benefit the Alzheimer’s Assoc. The supper will include spaghetti with meatballs, Italian sausage, garlic bread, dessert, and beverages. Diners may dine in or take their meal to go. Williamstown Commons, located at 25 Adams Road, Williamstown, is a nonprofit organization providing short-term rehabilitation, long-term skilled-nursing care, respite care, and hospice services.

‘Diversify Your Workforce’

Nov. 17: The Western Mass. Employment Collaborative (WMEC) will present a breakfast event called “Diversify Your Workforce” from 9 to 11 a.m., preceded by breakfast and networking at 8:30 a.m. at the Delaney House in Holyoke. WMEC partners work toward the common goal of increasing employment opportunities for individuals with disabilities. WMEC works across all disabilities and represents hundreds of job seekers who have the skills, commitment, and desire to enter the workforce and contribute positively to a local employer. To that end, it is partnering with the Mass. Down Syndrome Congress and its “Find Your Next Star” campaign. Attendees of the Nov. 17 event will learn ways to grow their business and meet their hiring needs. To register, visit www.mdsc.kintera.org/dywwest.

Joseph D. Freeman Bowl-a-Thon

Nov. 19: The Joseph D. Freedman Bowl-a-Thon will present its fifth annual event to benefit Camphill Village in Copake, N.Y. The event will be held from 12:30 to 3:30 p.m. at Chicopee AMF Lanes. Last year, more than 250 attended the event, and since its inaugural in 2011, the event has raised more than $220,000 for Camphill, which is a residential village where 95 special-needs residents reside. No one has ever been charged a fee to live at the Village, nor has anyone ever been turned away for lack of funds. To learn more about the event, visit www.camphillvillage.org/bowlathon.

Daily News

LONGMEADOW — Cybersecurity is no longer just a technology problem — it has become a business differentiator. As the topic is discussed around the table of company boards and government task forces, the face of cybersecurity professionals is changing as well.

At Bay Path University’s fourth annual Cybersecurity Summit, “The Business of Cybersecurity,” Jillian Munro will share her experiences and observations from throughout her career of the different facets of that new face, highlighting how non-traditional skills now apply in the area of cybersecurity. The summit takes place Friday, Nov. 4 in Blake Student Commons on the university’s Longmeadow campus. Breakfast will be offered at 7:30 a.m. followed by the presentation at 8 a.m.

Munro is senior vice president of Resiliency & Business Engagement for the Enterprise Cybersecurity (ECS) organization at Fidelity Investments. Fidelity is a leading provider of investment management, retirement planning, portfolio guidance, brokerage, benefits outsourcing, and other financial products and services to more than 20 million individuals, institutions, and financial intermediaries. Munro joined Fidelity in 2015 and is responsible for ensuring alignment between the firm’s business priorities and the cybersecurity agenda, as well as leading the enterprise technology resiliency program.

The summit is presented by Bay Path’s Master of Science in Cybersecurity Management program, which was launched October 2013 as the first of its kind in New England. The summit is free and open to the public. To register, visit www.baypath.edu and click on ‘Events.’ For more information, e-mail Ann Cantin at [email protected].

Daily News

MONSON — Monson Savings Bank will hold a complimentary workshop titled “Planning for Health Care in Retirement,” featuring Kevin Flynn, regional vice president for Nationwide.

The event is designed to help people plan for retirement and learn how healthcare costs can impact their retirement income. This can be an unknown area of retirement planning, and the workshop will help make it simpler to understand the ins and outs of healthcare costs, Medicare coverage, and available options to help people plan for these expenses when they retire. It will be held on Tuesday, Sept. 13, from 5:30 to 7 p.m. at the Hampden Senior Center, 104 Allen St., Hampden. Refreshments will be served.

“Too often, people don’t fully account for healthcare costs or understand what Medicare pays for when they decide to retire, and, unfortunately, they’re unpleasantly surprised at the adjustments they need to make to their budget and retirement plans when reality hits,” said Steve Lowell, president and CEO of Monson Savings Bank. “This workshop is designed to help people avoid that difficult scenario.”

The event is free and open to the public, but seating is limited, and reservations are required. To RSVP, contact Anna Calvanese at (413) 267-1221 or [email protected].

Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — Donald Mitchell, John Richards, and Darren James have all been appointed financial representatives by Northwestern Mutual in Springfield.

Before joining Northwestern Mutual, Mitchell was vice president of Facilities and Projects at the YMCA of Greater Springfield. He received a bachelor’s degree from American International College. Currently, he is an active member of Rick’s Place, a facility that provides support to grieving children and their families.

Prior to joining Northwestern Mutual, Richards was a sergeant major in the U.S. Marine Corps, and was active in the Marines for nearly 30 years. Currently, he volunteers for the Down Syndrome Assoc. and Awana, a global ministry committed to teaching children.

James was previously the Food Service Director for Aramark. Raised in St. Maarten, he developed a passion for helping people that he believes is inherent to being raised on an island where hospitality is the mainstay of the economy. He received a bachelor’s degree from American International College.

As financial representatives, Mitchell, Richards, and James will join a network of specialists offering a wide array of products, including comprehensive financial planning, retirement planning, life-insurance planning, and more. For more information on Northwestern Mutual Springfield, visit springfield-ma.nm.com.

Daily News

SOUTH HADLEY — Edward Garbacik has joined the team at Private Financial Design, LLC in South Hadley. For more than 30 years, he has been providing individuals and small-business owners with comprehensive financial planning as an advisor and planner, including investment-advisory services, retirement planning, estate planning, and other wealth-management needs.

He earned the certified financial planner designation through the CFP certificate program at Boston University and has also been awarded the accredited investment fiduciary (AIF) designation, widely considered the fiduciary standard for business retirement planning and plan-sponsor services.

Prior to joining Private Financial Design, Garbacik held the title of partner at a boutique investment firm specializing in retirement-income planning. He was also vice president and managing partner of investments at FSB Financial Group, where he led the group’s financial-planning and wealth-management team.

Private Financial Design offers comprehensive financial planning for both personal and business needs, including fee-based investment-advisory services, retirement plans, and other wealth-management services.

Retirement Planning Sections

For the Long Haul


Kate Kane

Kate Kane

Some people have a clear idea of how they want to live once they stop working. For many others, however, retirement is a step into the great unknown. The problem is, without a road map for turning your savings into a sustainable stream of income, it’s difficult to create the type of lifestyle you want for the future.

Planning for retirement is a lifelong process that should begin as soon as you start working and continue throughout your retirement years. Whether you are five years from retiring or 30, the following steps can help you achieve financial security for when the big day finally comes.

1. Practice Retirement

Like most people, you may spend years fantasizing about the day when you can finally stop working. But what will your retirement look like? Financial experts recommend that you think about what you want to do when you retire and then ‘practice’ some of it first.

For example, if you’d like to move to a warmer climate, try vacationing there several times to get a sense of what it might cost and how it feels not just in the winter, but in the heat of summer. Or, if you plan to watch your grandkids full time, take a week or two to do a test run. The goal is to try out your plans, determine whether you truly enjoy and can afford them, and make needed adjustments before you commit.

2. Match Your Expenses and Income

As you think about your lifestyle in retirement, your expenses will fall into two groups: essential expenses (your needs) and discretionary expenses (your wants). Within discretionary expenses, you also may have one-time expenditures, such as funding a grandchild’s education or adding a sunporch to your home. Whether you make a spreadsheet on your computer or simply list your expenses on a pad of paper, the goal is to create a retirement budget that captures as many anticipated costs as possible.

Next, consider the money you’ll have coming in. Typically, retirees draw from three categories of income in retirement: guaranteed sources of income (such as Social Security, pensions, and lifetime income annuities), savings and investments, and any employment income.

Once you know what you’re likely to have coming in, pair your income and expenses based on their priority, matching your needs with your guaranteed income sources first. If the predictable income you expect won’t cover all your essential expenses, you may want to either adjust your plans or consider converting a portion of your savings into a regular stream of income. Conversely, if you have a surplus, you can use the extra money to cover any discretionary expenses.

3. Decide Which Account to Tap First

One way to maximize the amount of money you may have in retirement is by planning the order in which you spend your different investment accounts. The starting point is to consider whether you plan to use your assets for ongoing expenses in retirement or to pass them along to your heirs or charities.

For many, it makes sense to draw from taxable accounts first in order to keep the assets in retirement accounts growing tax-deferred for as long as possible. Tax-exempt accounts, such as Roth IRAs, should be spent last. However, there is no rule of thumb when it comes to the order in which you should liquidate your assets.

If you plan to pass your assets along to your heirs or charities, you may want to spend tax-deferred assets with the intention of bequeathing taxable assets, which receive more favorable tax treatment when inherited.

The order in which you withdraw your retirement savings is an important decision that becomes even more complex once you reach age 70½. That’s when you must begin taking annual required minimum distributions from your IRAs and retirement plans.

Because each person’s situation is unique, you should include both your financial professional and tax advisor in these discussions.

4. Protect Your Savings

Consider putting enough money into a savings or liquid money-market account to cover your withdrawal needs for at least two years. This can help prevent taking money out of your investments when the market and share prices are trending downward.

If you haven’t already, consider funding a long-term-care (LTC) plan as well. LTC funding can help protect your retirement nest egg from the financial impact of the costs of extended care either at a facility or in your home.

5. Fine-tune Along the Way

Spending retirement assets can be even more complex than building them. Your retirement savings need to provide reliable income to meet your ongoing expenses for the rest of your life. Reviewing your plan annually and keeping it current is vital to making this happen.

Consider just some of the things that can change in a year: your marital or health status could change, your investment returns and inflation rate could fluctuate, and your employment status and expected retirement date might shift. Each of these can have a profound impact on the amount of money you may have to spend in retirement.

That’s why it’s important to work with a financial professional who understands that retirement planning is an ongoing process — someone who knows what it takes to accumulate assets for retirement, mitigate the risks that can affect your retirement years, and turn your funds into a distribution plan designed to generate sufficient income to meet your lifestyle needs for as long as you need it to.

This article was prepared by Northwestern Mutual with the cooperation of Kate Kane. Kane is a wealth management advisor with Northwestern Mutual, the marketing name for the Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Co. (NM), Milwaukee, Wis., and its subsidiaries. Kane is an agent of NM based in Springfield; (413) 748-8700; [email protected]; springfield-ma.nm.com. This information is not intended as legal or tax advice.

Daily News

HAMPDEN — Monson Savings Bank is holding a complimentary workshop titled “Social Security: The Choice of a Lifetime.” It will be presented by Kevin Flynn, regional vice president of Nationwide Financial, and an expert on retirement planning and helping people to understand Social Security and how to optimize their benefits.

The event is designed to give people a comprehensive understanding of the rules and details regarding when and how to file for Social Security. It will be held Tuesday, June 16 from 5 to 6:30 p.m. at the Hampden Senior Center at 104 Allen St. in Hampden. The free event is open to the public.

“This workshop is back by popular demand,” said Steven Lowell, president of Monson Savings Bank. “Knowing when and how to file for Social Security can have a big impact on retirement income. We have offered this workshop before, and those who attended were very appreciative of the information.”

Those interested in attending should call Anna Driscoll at (413) 267-1221 or e-mail [email protected]. Seating is limited. Refreshments will be served.

Daily News

WESTFIELD — The Continuing Professional Education Forum, held at the Westfield Athenaeum, has announced its seven-week spring series. All programs are three hours in length and start at 3 p.m. on the following Tuesdays:

• April 21: “The Dollars and Cents of Divorce,” Attorney Julie Dialessi-Lafley, Bacon Wilson;
• April 28: “Social Security Questions Answered,” Tim Flynn, Edward Jones;
• May 5: “Dealing with IRS Collection Division,” Attorney Eric Green, Green & Sklarz;
• May 12: “Income T’s: Today, Tomorrow, and Taxes,” Garry Heiney, Income & Wealth Advisors;
• May 19: “Why Are We Afraid to Invest?” Michael Callahan, Retirement Plan Advisory Services;
• May 26: “Exchange-traded Funds in Retirement Planning,” Michael Callahan, Retirement Advisory Plan Services; and
• June 2: “Massachusetts Employment-law Update,” Attorney Karina Schrengohost, Royal LLP.

The CPE Forum was established in 1980 by Josephine Sarnelli, CPA. She continues to volunteer her services in organizing 40 hours of educational programming each year. “The CPE Forum’s mission is to provide high-quality educational programs at a low cost to business professionals, including certified public accountants, enrolled agents, and others seeking continuing professional educational credits for licensing purposes,” she said. “It is also open to the general community.”

The cost of attending the entire series is $50, which provides 21 hours of continuing professional education (CPE) credits. “Besides being an incredible value, the CPE Forum offers a place for business professionals to meet, exchange ideas, and network,” Sarnelli added.

All sessions are held at Lang Auditorium at the Westfield Athenaeum, 6 Elm St., Westfield. Payment to the CPE Forum is due at the time of attending. For more information, visit www.cpeforum.org or call (413) 746-9067.

Daily News

LUDLOW — PV Financial Group announce that Lou Curto, one of its top retirement-plan advisors, has earned the specialized designation of professional plan consultant (PPC).

Recent regulatory changes to the qualified-retirement-plan industry have made navigating through the process more difficult for business owners. These regulations have sparked an urgency to ensure that retirement-plan service professionals have specialized training and the resources to help sponsors meet their fiduciary and prudent-practice obligations. The PPC designation was developed by Financial Service Standards to help professionals who specialize in this increasingly regulated niche. Curto sat for a two-day training class, passed a comprehensive final exam, signed off on the FSS Code of Ethics, and committed to ongoing training in retirement-plan management.

Curto specializes in working with business owners to help develop retirement-savings-plan options that help ensure maximum benefit to employees. Recognizing that “many individuals do not participate in retirement planning because there is a lack of awareness and understanding around the process,” he utilizes a common-sense approach when working with business owners and employees, increasing plan participation and maximizing individual savings plans.

“We are proud and excited that Lou Curto has received this distinguished designation,” said PV Financial Group Managing Partner Edward Sokolowski. “It requires industry experience and a dedication to raising the service standards in the qualified-plan industry. PV Financial Group is proud to have the designation represented by a member of our firm.”

Ludlow-based PV Financial Group has been providing individuals and organizations with financial guidance since 2002. For more information, visit www.pvfinancial.com.

Daily News

NORTHAMPTON — Michael Sarsynski, CFP, vice president, Investments; Joseph Miller, CRPC, associate vice president, Investments; and Barbara Turcotte, senior registered client associate, have joined the Northampton office of Wells Fargo Advisors. The trio previously served with Merrill Lynch.

A certified financial-planning professional, Sarsynski has been helping clients and businesses reach their financial goals for more than 20 years. His formal education includes a bachelor’s degree from Amherst College and an MBA from the Wharton School. He is a trustee for the Brattleboro Retreat Board and is actively involved with the Hampshire Council of Governments.

A 20-year veteran of the industry, Miller is certified as a chartered retirement planning counselor by the College of Financial Planning. He is a Series 7, 63, and 65 registered representative and holds life, annuity, and long-term-care licenses.

“With Mike and Joe, we have found experienced financial advisors whose client-centric philosophy matches our own. We are pleased that their careful deliberation brought them to us. Their experience will provide significant value to our team members and clients,” said Pam Nichols, senior vice president, complex manager.

Agenda Departments

Planning for Healthcare in Retirement
July 30: Monson Savings Bank will hold a complimentary workshop titled “Planning for Healthcare in Retirement,” featuring Kevin Flynn, regional vice president for Nationwide, from 5 to 6:30 p.m. at La Cucina, 1 Allen St., Hampden. It is free and open to the public. The event is designed to help people plan for retirement and learn how healthcare costs can impact their retirement income. This can be an unfamiliar area of retirement planning, and the workshop will help make it simpler to understand the ins and outs of healthcare costs, Medicare coverage, and available options to help people plan for these expenses when they retire. “Too often, people don’t fully account for healthcare costs or understand what Medicare pays for when they decide to retire, and, unfortunately, they’re unpleasantly surprised at the adjustments they need to make to their budget and retirement plans when reality hits,” said Steven Lowell, president and CEO of Monson Savings Bank. “This workshop is designed to help people avoid that difficult scenario.” To RSVP, call Anna Driscoll at (413) 267-1221 or e-mail [email protected].

Wine & Canvas Event
Aug. 8: The board of directors for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Franklin County (BBBS-FC) is organizing a Wine & Canvas event, the second one this year. The first event was a sellout. Participants in this fun-filled evening, to take place at the Montague Elks Lodge in Turners Falls, can learn to paint a take-home work of art. The agency has teamed up with Wine & Canvas, a leading art-entertainment company. An art teacher from Wine & Canvas will lead the group in creating a rendering of our local Bridge of Flowers. The $45 cost includes dinner, all the art supplies, and the donation to BBBS-FC. A cash bar will be available at the event. The first such event was held on June 19, and the sold-out crowd of 100 painters created a cherry blossom scene. “We were overwhelmed by the interest. It was great to see so many new faces coming out to support our agency,” said board President Laurel Guy. Dinner include Hillside Pizza, salad, and dessert, sponsored by HitPoint in Amherst. Door prizes will be sponsored by Absolutely Fabulous Hair in Greenfield. To sign up, visit www.wineandcanvas.com/private-events-calendar-springfield-ma.html and click on Aug. 8, or call the BBBS-FC office at (413) 772-0915. Tickets must be purchased in advance, and sales will run until Aug. 1 or the event sells out, whichever comes first. Proceeds from this event will fund Big Brothers Big Sisters of Franklin County programs, which serve children facing adversity in Franklin County and the North Quabbin towns of Athol, Royalston, Petersham, and Phillipston.

Jazz & Roots Festival
Aug 9: Following in the footsteps of the Hoop City Jazz and Arts Festival, which drew more than 20,000 people to downtown Springfield, is the inaugural Springfield Jazz & Roots Festival, intended to celebrate the emergence of Springfield’s Cultural District and promote an arts-driven, community-oriented, and sustainable revitalization of the city. The free, outdoor festival, to be held in Court Square in downtown Springfield, will feature locally and internationally acclaimed musical artists, a variety of ethnic cuisines and local food producers, and more. This inclusive event aims to bring people from Springfield and the surrounding region together to foster connection, stimulate the local economy, and highlight positive initiatives contributing to the betterment of Springfield’s residents, and uniting the city with the rest of the Pioneer Valley. For more information, contact Stephanie Killian at (413) 303-0101, ext. 102, or [email protected].

Western Mass.Business Expo
Oct. 29: BusinessWest will present its fourth annual Western Mass. Business Expo at the MassMutual Center in downtown Springfield. The business-to-business show, which last year drew more than 2,000 visitors, will feature more than 100 booths, seminars, and Show Floor Theater presentations; breakfast and lunch programs; and a day-capping Expo Social. Details about specific events, programs, and featured speakers will be printed in future issues of BusinessWest. Comcast Business will again be Presenting Sponsor, while the social will be sponsored by Northwestern Mutual. Current Silver Sponsors are Health New England and DIF Design, and additional sponsorship opportunities are available. For more information on sponsorships or booth purchase, call (413) 781-8600.

Daily News

MONSON — Monson Savings Bank will hold a complimentary workshop titled “Planning for Healthcare in Retirement,” featuring Kevin Flynn, regional vice president for Nationwide. The event is slated for July 30 from 5 to 6:30 p.m. at La Cucina, 1 Allen St., Hampden. It is free and open to the public.

The event is designed to help people plan for retirement and learn how healthcare costs can impact their retirement income. This can be an unfamiliar area of retirement planning, and the workshop will help make it simpler to understand the ins and outs of healthcare costs, Medicare coverage, and available options to help people plan for these expenses when they retire.

“Too often, people don’t fully account for healthcare costs or understand what Medicare pays for when they decide to retire, and, unfortunately, they’re unpleasantly surprised at the adjustments they need to make to their budget and retirement plans when reality hits,” said Steve Lowell, president and CEO of Monson Savings Bank. “This workshop is designed to help people avoid that difficult scenario.”

To RSVP, call Anna Driscoll at (413) 267-1221 or e-mail [email protected].

Banking and Financial Services Sections
Deliso Financial Services Spans the Gap Between Present and Future

Jean Deliso, left, and Trina Moskal

Jean Deliso, left, and Trina Moskal take pride in educating people about measures they need to take to become financially secure.

Jean Deliso has always asked questions — lots of them.

The habit began in childhood during dinnertime conversations that revolved around her family’s business, and it continues today in her role as a comprehensive financial planner.

Queries are important to the president and founder of Deliso Financial and Insurance Services in Agawam because the answers she receives are key to creating individualized plans for clients.

But she says retirement planning is something many people fail to do, even though life expectancy is much greater than it was years ago and company pensions have all but disappeared.

This is especially true for business owners and women, who tend to put retirement planning on the back burner, citing lack of time, resources, or knowledge as excuses. And although Deliso has clients from all walks of life, she has chosen to focus on these two populations.

“I really enjoy empowering women and watching them gain a sense of accomplishment by taking steps to secure their financial future. This is especially true when I see women who have just come through a divorce or the loss of a spouse,” Deliso said, adding that she works with many women who are experiencing a life transition.

“The problem with women is that they become overwhelmed,” she went on. “They say they don’t understand finances and don’t have the time to meet with a financial planner. But they live seven to eight years longer than men and make less money, so it’s critical for them to take control of their financial lives.”

Deliso noted that 90% of people in nursing homes are female, and 36% of women 65 and older are widowed, compared with 12% of men 65 and older, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Women also make up half of the U.S. population, represent nearly two-thirds of the American workforce, and are the sole or primary breadwinner in 40% of households with children.

Deliso said a woman turning 65 today can expect to live to age 85. The 2010 Census counted 53,364 people age 100 and older in the United States, and for every 100 women who are centenarians, only 21 men have reached that age.

As for business owners, Deliso said many of them have their own reasons for failing to create a financial plan.

“Most think their business is their retirement. But quite often, something happens to that plan. They may not be able to sell it, or a child may not want to take over. And even if children do, they may not be as successful as the parent was. There are also industry changes and the fact that businesses go through cycles, and when the owner wants to retire, it may be in a down cycle.”

Other rationalizations include a lack of money or discretionary income. “But everyone can plan, and everyone can save. It’s a matter of priorities,” she added.

For this issue, BusinessWest examines how Deliso, by asking all those questions, helps clients establish priorities and, ultimately, plan effectively for both today and tomorrow.

Dollars and Sense

Deliso’s business education began in childhood. “My grandfather and parents were entrepreneurs who founded their own businesses, and I was washing windows at my parents’ company, ToolKraft, when I was about 7,” she explained.

She graduated to working after school at age 12, and says dinnertime conversations almost always focused on matters pertaining to Chicopee-based ToolKraft. “I worked in receivables, payables, and inventory as a teen. Being a hard-working entrepreneur is in my DNA, and I understand the challenges of owning a business.”

Deliso had always thought about starting a business herself, but the decision to take control of her life was cemented during her sophomore year in college. “I was visiting my mother, who was our company’s comptroller, when the CPA walked in and told her she had to do something. I wanted to know why, and realized I didn’t ever want that to happen to me.”

So she earned a bachelor’s degree in accounting, moved to Florida, and worked for a CPA firm. Although Deliso was slated to become a partner, after eight years she made the decision to leave.

“I wanted to run my own business, and started an electronic-component distribution company,” she said, explaining that this was a division of a firm owned by her brother. “I knew nothing about electronics, but understood the guts of business because my specialty at the CPA firm had been financial planning for business owners.”

Seven years later, the two companies merged, and Deliso returned to Massachusetts. “I was in my 30s and wanted to start a family,” she explained.

Her next stint was selling long-term-care insurance. But she soon found the work unsatisfying. “I didn’t like the fact that I was just selling a product. I thrive on relationships and wanted something more comprehensive,” she explained.

So, when she received a job offer from New York Life Insurance, she accepted it, and discovered she enjoyed building relationships that helped people.

Then, in 2000, Deliso founded her own company. Deliso Financial and Insurance Services has prospered since that time, and three months ago, junior associate Trina Moskal was hired to help with the growing clientele.

Deliso said that, when her associate began working, she was surprised by the amount of time spent Deliso spent with clients. But she reiterated that it’s necessary to get to know them and understand their beliefs, expectations, needs, relationships with family members, job, attitude toward spending, as well as the amount of money they will need to live comfortably in retirement.

Deliso is passionate about financial education, and says many working adults allocate a percentage of their paycheck to a retirement fund, but don’t understand how it is being invested.

“People throw money at retirement like it’s going into a big, black box,” she said. “But they never look into the box and don’t calculate if there will be enough to pay their bills in the future. It’s important because people are living longer and can spend as many years in retirement as they did in the workforce.

“That requires a lot of money,” she went on, “especially since 50% will live past the life expectancy set up by actuarial tables.”

However, money evokes emotions, and financial decisions are not always rational. For example, a person’s primary goal may be to pay off their home mortgage by the time they retire.

“But if they don’t have cash in savings and have very little in a retirement plan, their house won’t provide them with the money they need to buy groceries,” she told BusinessWest. “Many people become too focused on one goal.”

In other instances, money is spent for purely emotional reasons, which Deliso says can be fine. “A person who has gone through a divorce may need to take a vacation or get away even though they can’t really afford it,” she explained.

But people do need to think about their future and plan for the unexpected.

She said she will never forget a client who called her hours after his wife died suddenly at age 32. “They had children, had just bought a home, and needed both incomes to make the payments. He told me he didn’t even have enough money to afford the funeral.”

Thankfully, the couple had taken out a life-insurance policy that allowed the man to meet his family’s financial needs. “He had a check two weeks later,” she said. “Although many people are afraid of life insurance, if this couple hadn’t purchased a policy, the man would have had to sell the house.”

Saving Grace

Early in her career, it became clear to Deliso that women were an underserved population in the financial world, and she was determined to do something about that.

“As I grew my business, it became apparent that women suffer from financial paralysis,” she said. “They’re afraid to make a mistake, and many don’t understand their 401(k) or retirement plans and their risks, as well as what a secure financial future looks like.”

And they need to understand these things, she went on, because statistics show clearly that people are living longer in general, and most women can expect to live longer than their husbands.

As a result, she goes above and beyond to educate women, and has conducted free seminars for this constituency for the past 10 years. Her next free talks, titled  “Creating Financial Independence,” are slated for June 5 and June 19 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the Delaney House in Holyoke; call (413) 785-1100 to register.

Overall, there are many facets connected to spending and saving, and Deliso says everyone has a relationship with money that stems from their own history — and often begins in childhood.

“It’s part of the reason I ask so many questions,” she said, adding that the answers help her guide clients so she can build a bridge between their present and future needs. “I need to understand the person, so I think carefully about what I can ask because everyone’s values and life experiences are different.”

She added that many people don’t understand the difference between a financial planner and an investment banker. “The planner looks at the overall picture and competing needs of a person, while the banker focuses more on the investments,” she told BusinessWest.

Her clientele includes many business owners who appreciate the fact that she can speak their language. “Because of my background, I understand cash flow, budgets, sales projections, payroll, receivables, and inventory,” she said, adding that she has helped develop succession plans as well as company-sponsored benefit plans. She also continues to devote time to education.

“As a comprehensive financial planner, I look at cash management, risk management, investment planning, retirement planning, and estate planning, and one of my strengths is that I can take complicated topics and make them easy to understand,” Deliso explained. “Financial planning is not complicated. It can involve complex topics, but if you go through a process, it can be handled easily.”

Her work has earned her many awards, which hang on the walls of her office and include an appointment to the Million Dollar Round Table, a benchmark of achievement for insurance agents. She is a registered representative with NYLIFE Securities and a registered investment adviser with Eagle Strategies LLC.

Deliso  — who was named Woman of the Year in 2013 by the Professional Women’s Chamber — also believes in giving back to the community. “It’s a value I was brought up with. I have been blessed and want to continue the legacy.”

To wit, she is chairman of the board at the Community Music School and a member of the board of Dakin Pioneer Valley Humane Society, the Baystate Health Foundation, AAA of Pioneer Valley, Pioneer Cold, the Hampden County Estate Planning Council, the National Assoc. of Life Underwriters, and the Assoc.for Advanced Underwriting. She is also a past chairman and board member of the YMCA of Greater Springfield, the Bay Path Advisory Council, the Executive Women’s Golf Assoc., and the Community Foundation.

Sense of Accomplishment

Deliso says she went into business so she could control her own destiny. “I was able to accomplish my goal, and today I want to help others control their finances,” she said. “People need a coach to help them understand what to do, how to reach their goals, and then hold them accountable. But just having a plan provides them with a real sense of accomplishment, and I enjoy making that happen.”

Which means Deliso will continue to ask questions so she can bridge the gap between the present and the future to ensure that clients achieve financial independence without having to sacrifice the things that matter most.

Banking and Financial Services Sections
You Can’t Start Too Early, but You Can Certainly Start Too Late


It’s highly likely that you started working sometime in your 20s with a retirement goal that was 40 years or so away. It’s also likely that you saved very little toward retirement in those years. For most Americans, that means they started too late.

But wait — you say you started saving in your 30s. Isn’t  that pretty good? Well, it’s certainly better than nothing, but it’s still late. Why do I say that? The numbers don’t lie, and to prove it, let’s see what happens to two savers, assuming an annual 8% return.

Both save $3,000 per year, but one starts at 25 and stops saving at 35. The other starts at 35 and continues to save for the next 30 years (see chart below).

Surprisingly, the early saver outpaces the later saver. Why? The magic of compound interest.

As a financial planner now approaching age 40, the implications of this data certainly resonate with me. It certainly doesn’t mean things are hopeless for those 40 and above, but it does mean you probably need to budget, dig deep, and find places to help you meet your retirement goals.

Understanding the best ways to start saving, including the need to start early, is key to saving enough for retirement. Here are some other points to consider:

• Contribute to your 401(k), as much as you can to the maximum, which will lower your current income taxes;
• Take full advantage of your company retirement plan;
• Create a monthly budget so that you fully understand where you are spending your money; and
• Within your budget, set aside a specific dollar amount for an emergency fund. You should have at least three to six months of savings set aside.

SavingsChartNo matter where you find yourself on the age spectrum, it’s essential to take a hard look at your finances. Yes, it’s daunting, but retirement will be the most expensive thing you ever do. With that said, I find that most people spend more time researching a new car purchase than they spend on retirement planning.

If it’s too overwhelming, call a planner and get some help. They will work with you to figure out where you stand now, establish your vision of a successful retirement goal, and formulate a plan to get you there. The work isn’t over, though — you still need to put the plan into action and monitor it for any deviations.

A good retirement plan will likely have a robust mix of investments, as well as insurance, pension plan/IRA/qualified funds, planning to maximize and integrate Social Security, and tax sensitivity.

Daunting? Sure, but with proper guidance it is manageable, giving you peace of mind that you are on the right track. A plan started late is better than no plan at all — but it really pays to start early.

Patricia M. Faginski is vice president and financial advisor at St. Germain Investment Management in Springfield; (413) 733-5111.


Editor’s Note: Again this year, five individuals have been chosen to score the nominations submitted for the 40 Under Forty Class of 2014. In keeping with past practice, BusinessWest has chosen two former winners to be part of this panel — in this case, members of the classes of 2011 and 2013. In addition, BusinessWest has sought out individuals with experience in business and entrepreneurship. This year’s judges are:

Jim Barrett

Jim Barrett

• Jim Barrett, CPA/PFS, MST is the managing partner of Meyers Brothers Kalicka, P.C., the largest regionally based public-accounting firm in Western Mass. He is a certified public accountant licensed in Massachusetts and Connecticut, and holds a personal financial specialist credential. In the taxation practice, he works with privately held commercial companies, partnerships, and individuals. In addition to tax compliance, his engagement experience includes consulting on accounting periods and methods, review of corporate tax provisions, computation of corporate earnings and profits, and mergers and acquisitions. In the financial-planning and wealth-management services practice, Barrett assists clients in integrating and managing issues concerning life and wealth. These issues include pre- and post-retirement planning, estate- and gift-tax planning, income-tax planning, investment planning, education planning, insurance planning, and charitable giving.
Barrett joined the firm in 2002. Prior to that, he was a senior tax manager for KPMG, LLP. He is a member of the AICPA and the MSCPA, and serves as treasurer of the Massachusetts Chamber of Commerce. He also serves as the treasurer of the Young Presidents Organization of Western New England.

Shonda Pettiford

Shonda Pettiford

• Shonda Pettiford, assistant director of Communications for Commonwealth Honors College, a program for academically talented students at UMass Amherst. A member of the 40 Under Forty class of 2013, Pettiford builds the brand of the Honors College through strategic communications, marketing, social media, website development, and event publicity. Before entering that role, she helped direct community-service learning at the university.
For more than 12 years, Pettiford has been involved with the Women’s Fund of Western Mass. She has channeled her passion for advancing social justice for women into myriad volunteer roles within the organization, from co-chairing the grant-making committee to participating on the development, governance, and executive committees, to serving as president of the board of directors.

Peter Rosskothen

Peter Rosskothen

• Peter Rosskothen, co-owner and president of the Log Cabin & Delaney House. A veteran of the hospitality industry, Rosskothen has also been a serial entrepreneur, and a former BusinessWest Top Entrepreneur. After working as restaurant manager at the Holiday Inn in Holyoke, food and beverage manager at Twin Hills Country Club, and director of food services at Classic Foods in Greenfield, he became owner and president of three Boston Chicken locations in Western Mass. and manager of 65 across the Northeast. Later, he was a partner in a venture to convert the former Log Cabin restaurant into a banquet and meeting facility, and, several years later, acquired the Delaney House restaurant. His most recent venture has been the opening of two Mt. Joe coffee shops.
Rosskothen has been involved with the Holyoke Chamber of Commerce, the Holyoke Rotary Club, the Greater Springfield Convention & Visitors Bureau, the Holyoke Health Center, the Economic Development Council of Western Mass., the Volleyball Hall of Fame, and other organizations.

Meghan Rothschild

Meghan Rothschild

• Meghan Rothschild, co-owner of the marketing and public relations firm chikmedia. A member of the 40 Under Forty class of 2011, she and chikmedia partner Emily Gaylord put an emphasis on female-run organizations and women business owners, and offer full design, strategic marketing planning, and creative PR. Current clients include SkinCatering and Papa John’s Pizza.
For the past seven years, Rothschild has worked closely with the Melanoma Foundation of New England as a board member and spokesperson. She is a 10-year melanoma survivor who started her own awareness organization, Surviving Skin, seven years ago. She advocates for skin health through interviews with media across the New England region and by appearing as a speaker at various engagements across the state. She also acts as host of Skin Talk, a local talk show focused on melanoma awareness and skin care. She was recently the keynote speaker at the Melanoma Foundation’s Shades of Hope event in Boston.

Jim Sheils

Jim Sheils

• Jim Sheils, partner at the Springfield-based law firm Shatz, Schwartz and Fentin, P.C., where he concentrates his practice in commercial finance, representing banks and private lenders in the Pioneer Valley and the Berkshires. He also represents clients in the acquisition or sale of businesses. Currently the town moderator of East Longmeadow, he has also served on a number of charitable and civic boards, including the Dunbar Community Center, the Mass. Moderators Assoc., Goodwill Industries of the Pioneer Valley, and the St. Vincent de Paul Society.
Sheils has also been a member of the Mass. Advisory Council for the U.S. Small Business Administration, a director of the Smaller Business Assoc. of New England (SBANE), and a member of the Commercial Law League of America. He was the first program director at WICN Radio, Worcester’s NPR radio station. Sheils is a graduate of the College of the Holy Cross, where he received the Presidential Service Award, and Boston College Law School.


In August, BusinessWest presented its 2011-2012 Resource Guide. What follows are needed additions and corrections to the charts that appeared in that issue:

Addition to Accounting Firms:
Pignatare & Sagan, LLC
1098 Elm St., West Springfield, MA 01089
(413) 746-9465; www.pignatareandsagan.com
Number of CPAs: 4
Number of Partners: 2
Total Staff: 18
Offices: 2
Managing Partner: Charles Sagan
Specialties: Certified public accountants; enrolled agents; tax planning and tax-return preparation; personal and business consulting; personal financial planning; retirement planning; business purchase, sale, and financing; financial-statement preparation; computerized accounting and bookkeeping; incorporating a business

Addition to Audio-Visual/Multimedia:
New York Sound and Motion
181 Doty Circle, West Springfield, MA 01089
(413) 734-3456; Fax: (413) 734-3457
Services: Full-service video production company; all forms of digital and audio media; specializes in high-definition production as well as post-production in two AVID suites; provides solutions to nonprofits, educational organizations, small-business owners, and others
Contact: Edward Brown III

Addition to Banquet Facilities:
Marriott Courtyard Hadley Amherst
423 Russell St., Hadley, MA 01035
(413) 362-8405; Fax: (413) 256-5422
Capacity: 200
Contact: Sean Welch
Services: Offers 2,880 square feet of meeting space; can accommodate meetings from two to 200 people; full catering capabilities on property

Change to Computer Network/IT Services:
Squad 16
16A Pasco Dr., East Windsor, CT 06088
(860) 758-7250; www.squad16.com

Additions to Financial Services/Brokerage Firms:
First Niagara Private Client Services
225 Park Avenue, 4th Floor, West Springfield, MA 01089
(413) 747-1465; www.fnfg.com
Licensed Brokers in Western Mass.: 4
Branch Manager: Michelle Hagan
Services: Full-service wealth, investment, and fiduciary services

New England Financial Group, LLC
17 North Main St., West Hartford, CT 06107
(860) 521-2250; Fax: (860) 521-2214; www.nefghartford.com
Licensed Brokers in Western Mass.: 15
Branch Manager: James Marlor Jr.
Services: Family protection; wealth accumulation and distribution strategies; business-continuation planning; tax-qualified retirement plans; employee benefit plans; executive benefit plans

Change to Financial Services/Brokerage Firms:
Charter Oak Insurance & Financial Services Co.
Licensed Brokers in Western Mass.: 80
Services: Personal and life insurance; employee benefits; investments

Change to Insurance Agencies:
Berkshire Insurance Group
66 West St., Pittsfield, MA 01201
(Local offices in Dalton, Greenfield, Great Barrington, Longmeadow, Pittsfield, Shelburne Falls, South Deerfield, Stockbridge, and Westfield)
(866) 636-0244; Fax: (413) 447-1977
Full-time Agents: 70
Full-time Employees: 80
Offices (Locally):  10
Type of Insurance:  Commercial, Personal, Life, Employee Benefits
Top Local Officers: James Herrick, Vice President, Personal Lines; Steven Cronin, Vice President, Commercial Lines

Change to Largest Employers and Largest Manufacturers:
Lenox Industrial Tools
Top Local Officer: Rich Wuerthele

Addition to Largest Manufacturers:
MicroTek Inc.
36 Justin Dr., Chicopee, MA 01022
(413) 593-1025
Total Employees: 120
Top Local Officer: Anne Paradis
Business: Custom cable assemblies and wire harnesses; control panels and boxes

Agenda Departments

Museums10 Focuses on Photography
Ongoing: Museums10, a collaboration of 10 college-affiliated museums in the Pioneer Valley, features seven photography exhibitions this fall, related lectures and discussions, and a symposium on Trans-Asia photography, all presenting a world that is at once far away and close at hand. With works of art from Asia, Africa, Europe, and the Americas, the exhibitions and events collectively reveal a globalized world and distinct styles of photography. Mount Holyoke College Art Museum (www.mtholyoke.edu/artmuseum) will present “World Documents,” works by international photographers, through Dec. 18, while the Smith College Museum (www.scma.smith.edu/artmuseum) will showcase the El Muro photography series by Cuban artist Eduardo Hernández Santos. “Cuba Seen Through Photographic Collages and Lithographs” will be on display through Oct. 6 at the Hampshire College Liebling Center Mann Gallery (www.hampshire.edu), while “Bagels & Grits: Exploring Jewish Life in the Deep South” will be featured at the Yiddish Book Center (www.yiddishbookcenter.org) through Sept. 30. Rounding out the exhibitions are “The Instant of Combustion: Barbara Morgan Dance Photography” at the University Museum of Contemporary Art (www.umass.edu/fac/umca) through Oct. 16, and “A Memorial Display in Honor of Jerome ‘Jerry’ Liebling, Photographer, Filmmaker, Educator,” at the Mead Art Museum (www.amherst.edu/museums/mead) through Oct. 23. Historic Deerfield will also host the Hallmark Institute of Photography exhibition through December (www.historic-deerfield.org). For more information on lectures and related events, visit www.museums10.org.

Retirement Planning Roundtable
September 29: The Affiliated Chambers of Commerce of Greater Springfield will present a roundtable discussion titled “Focus: Your Corporate Retirement Plan” from 8:30 to 10 a.m. at the Springfield Sheraton. A continental breakfast will be served from 8 to 8:30 a.m. Department of Labor representative Mary Rosen, associate regional director of the Boston office, will discuss the key provisions of recent legislation affecting defined contribution plans. Participants will gain insights from research on more than 1,000 U.S. plan sponsors to determine how one plan stacks up against another. A presentation by Alliance Bernstein, facilitated by the New England Wealth Management Group of Morgan Stanley Smith Barney, is also planned. Pre-registration is required for the free event. To register, e-mail Lynn Johnson at [email protected].

Patents Webinar
Oct. 4: Donald Holland, Esq. will present a webinar titled “The Basics of Patents” beginning at 11 a.m. for approximately 40 minutes. He is the senior partner at Holland & Bonzagni, P.C., based in Longmeadow. Webinar attendees will have the opportunity to ask specific questions at the end of the presentation. For more information or to register, visit www.hblaw.org/webinars or call (413) 567-2076.

Western Mass. Business Expo
Oct. 18: Businesses from throughout Hampden, Hampshire, Franklin, and Berkshire counties will come together for the premier trade show in the region, the Western Mass. Business Expo, produced by BusinessWest, and staged at the MassMutual Center in Springfield. The show will feature breakfast and lunch programs arranged by the Affilaited Chambers of Commerce of Greater Springfield, nearly two dozen seminars on the business issues of the day, several presentations in the Show Floor Floor Theater on timely topics, and the sophisticated networking program known as Mine Your Business. The day will conclude with a networking social from 2 to 4 p.m. The cost for a 10-by-10 booth is $700 for members of all area chambers, and $750 for non-members; corner booths are $800 for all chamber members and $850 for non-members, and a 10-by-20 booth is $1,200 for all chamber members and $1,250 for non-members. For more information, log onto www.businesswest.com or www.wmbexpo.com, or call (413) 781-8600, ext. 100.

Trade Secrecy Protection Webinar
Oct. 20: Donald Holland, Esq. will present a webinar titled “Trade Secrecy Protection” beginning at 11 a.m. for approximately 40 minutes. He is the senior partner at Holland & Bonzagni, P.C., based in Longmeadow. Webinar attendees will have the opportunity to ask specific questions at the end of the presentation. For more information or to register, visit www.hblaw.org/webinars or call (413) 567-2076.

Cartoonist Lecture
Oct. 21: Cartoonist Leigh Rubin, renowned for the comic strip Rubes, will be the featured speaker as the Ovations special-events series continues this fall at Springfield Technical Community College. Rubes is syndicated in more than 400 newspapers and publications worldwide. His presentations, at 10:10 a.m. and 11:15 a.m. in Scibelli Hall Theater, will cover art, satire, and communication. For more information or to bring a group, contact Ovations coordinator Phil O’Donoghue at (413) 755-4233 or [email protected].

We’ve Got Your Back
October 22: New England Neurosurgical Associates will sponsor its first We’ve Got Your Back 5K Run/Walk at Forest Park in Springfield, beginning at 9 a.m. The event, which will benefit the Spinal Research Foundation, will also include a spinal health fair beginning at 8 a.m. The certified 5K race begins at 9, followed by a one-mile run/walk. Winners of the race will receive cash prizes ranging from $50 to $300. All children who finish the one-mile run/walk will be given a commemorative medal. For more information, call (413) 781-2211.

Entrepreneurship Lecture
October 27: Sue Morelli, chief executive officer and president of ABP Corp., will be the guest speaker at Bay Path College’s Innovative Thinking & Entrepreneurship Lecture Series in Longmeadow. Since joining Au Bon Pain in 1988, Morelli has worked her way up the ranks of the Boston-based, fast-casual bakery and café to become president and CEO in 2006. Under her leadership, the company now has more than 300 store locations, with almost 200 in the U.S. and the remainder in Thailand, India, South Korea, and the Middle East. She is currently leading a redesign of store interiors, a major menu transformation, and the opening of more than 30 new cafés per year. The lecture begins at 8:15 a.m.; a networking continental breakfast starts at 7:30 a.m. For more information, visit www.baypath.edu.

Licensing Intellectual Property Webinar
November 1: Donald S. Holland, Esq. will present a webinar titled “Licensing Intellectual Property” beginning at 11 a.m. for approximately 40 minutes. He is the senior partner at Holland & Bonzagni, P.C., based in Longmeadow. Webinar attendees will have the opportunity to ask specific questions at the end of the presentation. For more information or to register, visit www.hblaw.org/webinars or call (413) 567-2076.

Serious Fun Event
Nov. 10: MassINC and CommonWealth magazine will host a seriously funny look back at the year in politics and media with pols, pundits, and the press. All proceeds will support MassINC’s CommonWealth Campaign for Civic Journalism as well as a scholarship program for those who are entering the field. The event is planned at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, with cocktails at 6 p.m. and dinner and the program starting at 7:30 p.m. For more information, visit www.
seriousfun2011.org or contact Lauren Louison at (617) 224-1613 or [email protected].

Author Lecture
November 11: Christina Asquith, author and journalist, will account her years in hiding in Iraq that resulted in her book, Sisters in War, as part of the Ovations special events series at Springfield Technical Community College. Her presentations are at 10:10 a.m. and 11:15 a.m. in Scibelli Hall Theater. For more information or to bring a group, contact Ovations coordinator Phil O’Donoghue at (413) 755-4233 or [email protected].


BMC Touted by Leapfrog Group

SPRINGFIELD — Baystate Medical Center is one of the top 45 hospitals in the U.S. for quality and efficiency, according to the Leapfrog Group’s 2009 survey of 1,206 hospitals across the country. Baystate is one of 34 urban hospitals to achieve this recognition, along with eight children’s hospitals and three rural hospitals, according to Dr. Evan Benjamin, vice president of Healthcare Quality for Baystate Health. Benjamin noted that the Leapfrog recognition is an affirmation of the hospital’s efforts to bring results to the best-practice level. Top hospitals in urban settings fulfilled criteria including meeting stringent performance standards for complex, high-risk procedures; meeting standards for staffing the ICU, shown to reduce mortality by 40% or more; meeting Leapfrog standards for implementing computer physician order-entry systems; and passing Leapfrog’s test of their system. The Leapfrog Hospital Recognition Program incorporates quality outcomes, length of stay, readmission rates, and incidence of hospital-acquired conditions and infections. The efficiency standard applies to heart-bypass surgery, heart angioplasty, heart attack, and pneumonia patients. The Leapfrog Group is a voluntary program aimed at mobilizing employer purchasing power to alert America’s health industry that big leaps in health care safety, quality, and customer value will be recognized and rewarded. In other news, Baystate Medical Center was recently honored in the Thomson Reuters Top 100 Cardiovascular Hospitals rankings.

MassMutual Attracts, Retains Call Center Employees

SPRINGFIELD — The MassMutual Retirement Services Division’s Call Center recently earned the ‘Gold Award’ for the Best Recruitment Campaign in the World by the North American arm of ContactCenterWorld.com. MassMutual’s call-center employee-recruiting campaign was selected from a global field of organizations from the Americas, Asia/Africa/Australia, and Europe. MassMutual’s program was distinguished for its partnership with local colleges near its headquarters in Springfield and its second site in Memphis, Tenn. MassMutual’s overall recruiting campaign also provides scholarship opportunities to local students and has co-developed a special college curriculum to help prepare students for new positions in all MassMutual call centers. The specially designed curriculum includes training on the topics of customer service and financial services as well as FINRA Series 6 test preparation. MassMutual’s call centers are staffed with professionals who are trained to assist individuals in managing a vast array of retirement planning and saving needs, from questions about investment options to taking full advantage of matching contributions. Call center associates also offer roll-in service so customers can consolidate savings from other qualifying retirement accounts to achieve a more holistic picture of their overall retirement savings.

DiGrigoli School Honored by Vets Council

WEST SPRINGFIELD — DiGrigoli School of Cosmetology was recently awarded the 2009 Business of the Year award by the West Springfield Veterans’ Council for its ongoing free hair services to area veterans. Since 2007, cosmetology students, under the supervision of licensed instructors, have provided more than 500 free haircuts to veterans at DiGrigoli School of Cosmetology on Riverdale Street. The school originally offered the free services on Veterans’ Day, but, because of an overwhelming response, increased the frequency to every eight weeks, according to Paul J. DiGrigoli, owner and president of DiGrigoli Salon and DiGrigoli School of Cosmetology. Six times per year, veterans visit the school by the busload and enjoy a morning or afternoon of pampering and conversation with students, added DiGrigoli. The DiGrigoli School of Cosmetology, offering hair, nail, and skin services to the public Tuesday through Saturday, is nationally accredited by the National Accrediting Commission of Cosmetology Arts & Sciences.

Baystate Rug and Flooring Recognized

CHICOPEE — Mohawk Floorscapes has named Baystate Rug and Flooring its Northeast Flooring Store of the Year. Mohawk awarded the local firm with the prestigious honor based on criteria including sales, growth, marketing techniques, and best practices. Baystate Rug and Flooring, a family-owned company, conducts both retail and commercial operations in the Western New England region.

Springfield Armor Launches Coaches Show, Partners With YMCA

SPRINGFIELD — The Springfield Armor recently launched a weekly coaches show with partner CBS 3 Springfield, called The Dee League, featuring head coach Dee Brown and NESN host John Chandler. Chandler is also the play-by-play announcer for all Armor home games, which are broadcast on ESPN Radio 1450 AM WHLL. The Dee League airs Sundays through April 4 at 11 a.m. Each week’s show includes highlights of the previous week’s games, as well as conversation about the upcoming games. Throughout the show, fans will meet members of the team and get to know the coaching staff. The Springfield Armor has a 50-game schedule through April 2, including 24 home dates at the MassMutual Center. In other Armor news, the organization teamed up with the YMCA of Greater Springfield and Playing It Forward on Dec. 10 to collect new and used sports equipment for disadvantaged children in Greater Springfield. The primary benefactor of all of the equipment donated that evening was the YMCA’s Youth & Teen Drop-In Centers, used by nearly 600 youth.

Windsor Federal Savings Named Box-office Sponsor

WINDSOR, CT — The SS&C SummerWind Performing Arts Center (SSCSPAC) has selected Windsor Federal Savings as the 2010 season box-office sponsor. The SSCSPAC is a 10-acre campus featuring a signature tent covering the stage and 1,500 luxury seats. A sloping lawn seats an additional 2,500 to 3,500 guests. SSCSPAC Board President Peter R. DeMallie thanked the staff of Windsor Federal Savings for their “outstanding commitment” to the rebirth of this cultural institution. DeMallie added that the nonprofit is embarking on a $1.3 million capital campaign in advance of its 2010 summer season, and recently received a $500,000 leadership grant from William and Mary Stone. William Stone is the CEO of SS&C Technologies.

Quality Printing Co. Wins Awards

PITTSFIELD — The Printing Industries of New England (PINE) recently announced that Quality Printing Co. won a Pinnacle Award for its 25th annual full-color calendar, “A Closer Look at the Berkshires.” The firm also won an Award of Recognition for a full-color brochure it printed for Bard College of New York. PINE’s annual Awards of Excellence competition attracted more than 200 entries from 34 printing and imaging companies in New England. PINE is the largest trade association to serve printing and graphic communications companies throughout New England.


MassMutual Honored for Benefits to Working Moms

SPRINGFIELD — Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual) has been named one of the 2009 Working Mother 100 Best Companies, a recognition of its commitment to provide programs and services to help ensure the retention and advancement of working mothers. The Working Mother 100 Best Companies is a 24-year-old research initiative by Working Mother Media that has become one of the most important benchmarks for work-life practices in corporate America. Profiles of the 100 Best Companies are in the October issue of Working Mother magazine and will be available at workingmother.com. Companies were selected based on an extensive application with more than 500 questions on workforce, compensation, child care, flexibility programs, leave policies, and more. For this year’s 100 Best, particular weight was given to benefits, flexibility, and parental leave. According to Working Mother Media, MassMutual and the other companies on the list are leading the way in pioneering programs that support families, with 100% of the companies on the list offering flex time, on-site lactation areas, and telecommuting; and 98% offering job-sharing and wellness programs. Financial programs — including tuition reimbursement, retirement planning, and pre-tax flexible spending accounts for child care — available to employees of the 100 Best are on the rise, a much-needed boost for families in today’s economy, according to Working Mother Media.

Atlantic Fasteners Receives STAR Award

WEST SPRINGFIELD — Lockheed Martin-Electronic Systems formally presented the STAR Supplier Award recently to officials at Atlantic Fasteners. The award recognizes high-performing suppliers of electronic systems and Lockheed’s other three business areas. Atlantic Fasteners met the quality, delivery, and other business requirements set and evaluated by Electronic Systems for at least 12 months. Of the Lockheed division’s 4,625 vendors, only 36 received the award, placing Atlantic Fasteners in the top 1% of suppliers. Companies are re-evaluated annually to ensure they remain worthy of keeping the STAR Supplier status. Marc Dionne, military-aerospace division leader at Atlantic Fasteners, noted that the award is an honor and a great motivator for all employees in the aerospace division. Atlantic Fasteners is a worldwide, ISO 9001:2000-certified supplier of commercial and military-aerospace fasteners.

Foundation Awards $80,000

WEST SPRINGFIELD — The United Bank Foundation recently awarded grants totaling $79,535 to a variety of initiatives designed to enrich life in communities served by the bank. Several of the awards were directed to education-related endeavors, including a $5,000 grant to Junior Achievement of Western Massachusetts to fund economic education and financial literacy programs for youngsters in East Longmeadow, Agawam, and Northampton; and $5,000 to the Science, Math and Reading Tutoring (SMART) program offered by the Springfield School Volunteers. Holyoke Community College received $10,000 for its ENLACE program, which promotes the increase of high-school-graduation and college-enrollment rates among Latino students in Holyoke. Also, education services provided by the Gray House Inc. in Springfield for adults living in poverty will benefit from a $7,500 grant. The Foundation awarded $2,000 to Westfield High School for the high school and middle school science fair, and $1,000 to Homework House Inc. for tutoring low-income families in Holyoke. The Foundation also supported efforts underway to improve the physical infrastructure of organizations that deliver vital services in the community. A $10,000 grant was made to American International College for capital improvements to the Schwartz Campus Center and renovation of the school’s athletic stadium and fields. Forum House, Human Resources Unlimited Inc.’s Westfield-based program for adults with mental illness, will use its $5,000 award to install new, energy-efficient windows and lighting. A $15,000 award to support renovations in the Emergency Department of Noble Hospital will be made over the course of two years.

Bay Path Ranks in Top Tier of Report

LONGMEADOW — Bay Path College earned the #31 spot among Best Baccalaureate Colleges in the North in the 2010 edition of “America’s Best Colleges” by U.S. News & World Report. This is the sixth year in a row that Bay Path has been included in the top tier. The exclusive rankings were published in the magazine’s September issue. The annual rankings represent the most comprehensive look at how schools stack up based on a set of 15 indicators, and help consumers evaluate and compare data compiled from more than 1,400 accredited four-year schools. For more information on the magazine’s rankings, visit www.usnews.com/sections/rankings..

Sections Supplements
Shielding Your Estate from Taxes Using Annuities and Life Insurance

The growth of IRA funds accumulated for retirement now exceeds more than $4.75 trillion in the U.S. This figure is sure to increase over the coming years as age and retirement planning come to the forefront for a larger segment of the population.

In many cases, people who have no use of an IRA account for retirement income may have the intention of passing these funds onto their heirs, but are unaware of the tax consequences that may ensue.

While the initial contributions and earnings growth are tax deferred, the distribution is another matter entirely. Because the money used to create the IRA was never taxed, an IRA distribution is subject to income tax and, as a large portion of a person’s estate, may also be subject to estate taxes, increasing the tax burden. This is where a knowledgeable adviser can be a real asset.

Additional Advantages with

Life Insurance

The easiest way to pass wealth on to the next generation is through the use of life insurance. This vehicle carries two main advantages in the transfer of wealth; first, life insurance benefits are tax-free to the beneficiary, and second, the increase of cash value is tax-deferred.

Taking Advantage of Your IRA

One way in which you can pass more of your estate on to your heirs is by using your IRA. You can use the funds in the IRA to purchase a fixed annuity, and then use the income stream from the annuity to purchase life insurance. The annuity is set up for guaranteed lifetime income in order to assure the ongoing maintenance of the life-insurance policy.

Calculate the amount of income needed to purchase the insurance, taking into account the affects of taxation. The after-tax income is used to pay the policy premiums, with the heirs named as the beneficiary for the life-insurance policy.

At the time of death, the annuity has no value; therefore there are no taxes due. The death benefits are paid to the beneficiary tax-free. Compare this to a situation with no planning, and the IRA being fully taxable at death, and it’s easy to see the benefits.

You will, of course, be paying income taxes on the annuity income, but with the estate taxes eliminated, the end result should be a tax burden much lower than the combined income tax and estate tax that would be in effect without the proper planning.

Create a Trust Account

Finally, the establishment of the insurance policy should be done within a trust in order to avoid the inclusion of the death benefits as part of one’s estate.  There are additional tax and legal issues that should be considered.

If you are interested in this concept, you should consult an attorney and tax advisor specializing in estate planning to ensure that your financial plan is structured to meet your particular situation and objectives.

Marco Amato is the President of Dowd Financial Services, LLC and has been in the financial-service business for more than 30 years. Dowd Financial Services is a full-service financial division of the Dowd Agencies, with more than 50 years of combined monetary experience. The Dowd Agencies has four offices in Western Mass. Amato can be reached at (413) 538-7444;[email protected]

Sections Supplements
One Source Financial Focuses on Dollars and Sense

When asked to describe what his company does and how it does it, Robert Berriman talked at length about wealth management, retirement planning, insurance, benefits packages, and how One Source Financial works to educate clients about making smart choices within each realm. He then summed it all up in a different but decidedly more economical fashion: “We do the right thing — even when no one is looking.”

Robert Berriman likes to say that he works in the “trust business.”
Not in a literal sense, although he can certainly help someone set up virtually any kind of trust product, but figuratively speaking, as in an industry where he must earn and then maintain the trust of the clients with whom he works.

And this subject of trust is no small concern in this broad sector, he explained, because the matter at hand is someone’s money — or, looking at things a different way, their future.
That’s why Berriman, president of East Longmeadow-based One Source Financial Group Inc. and a 30-year veteran of the wealth management and retirement-planning business, has, as an unofficial company slogan — it’s not printed on any literature that he’s aware of — “we do the right thing … even when no one is looking.”

Of course, with the Internet and instant availability to information, people can be looking all the time, he continued, but that’s another very literal interpretation of his thoughts. The truth is, people aren’t looking all the time, and thus they need the trust factor, he said, stressing again that such trust has to be earned.

The fact that Berriman is accomplished in this regard is reflected in his large and diverse client list, which includes everything from high-net-worth individuals to small companies to firms with 500 employees. He and his staff have assembled that clientele by effectively focusing not on individual products, but on the concept of creating plans.

“Planning is more important today than it ever has been,” he explained, adding that people are more sophisticated about investing and overall financial planning than they were 20 or even 10 years ago, but still need help understanding products and services and forging a plan. “People are concerned about their future, and they’re being told every day by the federal to be concerned about their future. So more people are doing things, but they need help doing them.”

Berriman’s company recently instituted a name change — he followed the advice of some colleagues in his sector and “took my name off the business” — but everything else about it has been a constant, he said. And by that, he meant that the firm, now celebrating its 20th anniversary, has always been in the business of finding solutions, and not simply selling products or services.

And this has been the case whether the client, be it an individual or business owner, was interested in retirement plans, wealth management, asset allocation, or one or more types of insurance, including life, health, disability, property, and long-term care.

Berriman has a few quantitative measures of success on his resume — especially inclusion in something called the Top of the Table; Million Dollar Round Table, or MDRT. This is an organization that recognizes only the top 1% of financial producers — not only in this country, but worldwide — and Berriman has been a member in good standing for many years now.

But he prefers the more qualitative benchmarks for achievement in this sector, especially the clients that have been with him for decades, as well as different generations within many families that are on the client list — constituencies that have slightly different needs and approaches when it comes to accumulating wealth and managing it.

“One of the things that I’m most proud of is that I have a number of clients — retirement plan clients, 401(k) clients, and others, who have been with me for more than 25 years,” he explained. “Through all the gyrations and transitions with those companies and those people, they stayed here, and there’s a reason — we look after their interests.”

This track record bodes well for Berriman as he takes stock of the company at 20 and continues down a path toward strong but controlled growth.

In this issue, BusinessWest looks at how One Source lives up to its new name, and how it has responded to the many changes within this sector to provide bits of advice — and those solutions — that are, to borrow an industry term, on the money.

Stock and Trade

Considerable time and effort went into the company’s name-change exercise, said Berriman, noting that it was undertaken late last year as part of the ongoing, broad strategic initiative to grow the firm.

He didn’t engage the services of a marketing consultant, but instead put his staff — many of whom have been with him for many years — to work on the matter. In other words, he took the team approach, which is how the company goes about everything it handles.

Starting with the simple goal of retiring ‘Berriman & Associates’ — the name put on the business in 1996 after a previous partnership was discontinued — “because that doesn’t say anything about who we are or what we do,” the staff looked at a number of options, said Berriman, and decided, in rather democratic fashion, on One Source Financial Group.

The proposed new name was run by clients (there were four different mailers on the subject) to make sure they were comfortable with it and understood that nothing else was changing, and eventually chosen because it does say at least something about what the company does. It also connotes a little about how it does business, as it basically invites clients to think about the firm as a single source for a host of needs — retirement planning, benefits, and others — rather than using several sources.

“It’s not about one-stop shopping, really,” said Berriman, “but to indicate that this a place, one source, for expertise on a wide range of products and services.”

This has been Berriman’s approach since he first started working in this sector in 1975.

He started as a broker/agent with Travelers Insurance in Hartford, and decided after a few years that this was not a career path he wished to stay on. He went into retirement plan marketing for the company, essentially traveling around the country teaching agents and brokers how to sell and design qualified retirement plans, before going to work for Springfield-based Palmer Goodell Insurance in the early ’80s.

There, he handled advanced sales, estate planning, and deferred compensation. After seven years with PG, he partnered with John Caulkins to form Berriman & Caulkins, a collaboration that lasted nearly a decade before the two parted ways and Berriman created Berriman & Associates.

The company has grown steadily over the years, in terms of everything from assets under management (that number is now $150 million) to the size of the staff; from the the portfolio of clients to the roster of services. To continue and accelerate that growth pattern, the company intends to emphasize its strengths, especially experience and diversity, market itself aggressively, and demonstate its ability to respond to changes within the industry.

Achieving Balance

Elaborating, Berriman told Business-West that while the roster of products and services offered by wealth-management and retirement-planning companies has been fairly constant over the years — they now come in more flavors than ever before — there have been a host of changes within this sector, many of them fueled by technology.

When the Internet first came into prominence, he explained, many predicted that the instant access to untold volumes of information that it provided would spell trouble for professionals in this sector because individuals and companies could, in theory, become do-it-yourselfers.

Instead, those in this business, as in others, like insurance, have found that the opposite is true. They’ve discovered that the Internet gives people information, but also (usually, at least) an understanding that they need someone to help them to make educated decisions about what to do with all that information.

“What the Internet has done is open up the investment world to more people, and made people more knowledgeable about the investment side than they were years ago,” Berriman explained. “But when it gets to the point where they’ve accumulated a little money, they want someone to help them. People came to understand that this wasn’t about just going out and buying and selling things, but having a real plan, and for that, people do need help.

“The industry has changed dramatically, especially with the communication we have and all the information we have, and the need to help people make sense of that information,” he continued. “When I started in this business, the interest rates didn’t change for three years — it wasn’t even something we thought about. Now, they change every day.”

Beyond technology, this field has changed to the extent that there are now many more players in it, said Berriman, all of them vying for the rights to help people create and then manage wealth and retirement savings.

To stand out, companies have to do more than offer a large suite of products and services — although that certainly helps. They also have to serve the client, said Berriman, who noted that this often comes down to efforts to advise and educate them about choices and which ones make the most sense for them.

Education also comes in the subjects of why people are investing and accumulating wealth for the future, and how this is a long-term exercise, he continued. This helps cut down on the number of calls that come in when the Dow is down 200 points (there have been several of those days already this year) and when the monthly and quarterly IRA statements come in the mail.

“It’s all a product of how you explain things to people up front — that retirement is a long-term process,” he said. “We’re not spending a lot of time on the phones these days talking to people because of the work we did up front; if you’re explaining the process effectively at the start, then you don’t have to jump through hoops and re-educate people during times like this.”

But more importantly, education creates more-informed clients who are thus able to take the information available to them, as well as consulting services from a professional, and chart an effective course.

“I have a new salesperson, and one of the things that I keep telling her is that this is not a product business, it’s a service business,” he explained. “If you do the right service for the client, whatever the product is just fits.”

The Bottom Line

Berriman told BusinessWest that he’s proud of his standing within the Million Dollar Round Table. It’s an indicator of success within this sector and, by his way of thinking, a barometer of that all-important intangible known as trust.

Without it, the numbers wouldn’t be there, he explained, and nor would the clients that have been with him for decades or succeeding generations of members within many families.

Those measures of success are also the byproduct of trust — and doing the right thing, even when no one is looking.

Sections Supplements
401k Coach Program is a Nationwide Resource for Financial Professionals
Charlie Epstein and 401k Coach Program

The 401k Coach Program team in its Springfield offices.

Charlie Epstein, a financial advisor based in Springfield and owner of the 401k Coach program, isn’t looking for fame (necessarily), but he is selling his message on a national stage.

“I love getting out there and doing a little ‘edutainment,’” he said, noting that in the five years since he launched the 401k Coach program, which works with retirement-planning professionals to help them strengthen their business practices and, ultimately, their bottom lines, he’s traveled around the country sharing a detailed plan of action.

Americans have some real issues with saving money for retirement, he said, and moreover the financial-advising profession is one that is more complex and competitive than ever before, currently handling about $4 trillion in 401(k) assets. But before he gets to the nitty-gritty, Epstein is careful to break the tension with a story or two — he reminds his pupils that Mick Jagger is the new face of retirement, for instance, and at 64, even Jagger is still hard at work.

Epstein’s audiences have included advisors working with Nationwide, ING, MassMutual, and other firms, and the 401k Coach program’s unique approach to explaining often-tough concepts is garnering some great reviews.

Among other accolades, Epstein was recently included in 401k Wire’s list of the 50 top influencers in the industry for 2007. The news service, an affiliate of InvestmentWires, one of the most well-respected financial-services publications in the country, placed Epstein at No. 28 not only for his success as a financial advisor, but for his latest contributions to the sector.

And with a little bit of creativity, Epstein, who has a background in acting as well as financial services, is positioning 401k Coach for further ovations.

Encore Performances

Epstein created the 401k Coach program in 2002 as a means to train financial advisors across the country to optimize their businesses, in turn strengthening the investments and saving habits of their clients.

The program was designed specifically for financial professionals such as insurance agents, brokers, financial planners, CPAs, third-party administrators (TPAs), and plan providers — companies hoping to introduce their own retirement products to new audiences. Participants must commit to at least one year of membership in the three-year program, and sessions occur every 90 days, so key concepts and skills can be repeatedly revisited and reinforced.

Epstein has boiled these tenets down to 10 components he says are critical to building any retirement-planning business. Four of these, plus the 10-point system itself, are trademarked, and include the 401k Business Development Matrix, which deals specifically with pricing services; the 401k Coach Retirement Plan Solution, a six-step sales and service process; and the Quantum Leap, which introduces various management tools and systems aimed at spurring growth within a 401(k) business.

Many of these tools and systems are also trademarked properties of 401k Coach, and are designed to further assist financial professionals in initiating change. But there are other, broader attitudes Epstein tries to instill as well, such as taking the ‘old’ thinking, figuratively and literally, out of the retirement-planning equation. He refers to retirement plans as ‘desirement plans,’ which better reflects why people must save, and how financial advisors can help make the things their clients have worked for in life reality.

The first year of the program focuses on sales, including creation of a marketing system, developing and packaging an advising process, and mastering practice management, while in the second year, members learn to employ ‘repeatable systems’ for leveraging alliances in the marketplace and generating recurring opportunities, among other topics. Finally, in the third year, participants explore ways to create entrepreneurial capital, from branding a practice to acquiring the competition.

Epstein said the genesis of the multi-faceted program was his frustration with the financial advising industry, of which he’s been a part for 26 years.

“There was no one source to which practitioners could go to create success,” he said. “No one was teaching us how to be entrepreneurs, and people, my peers, needed to know their value. Financial professionals give away so much of their knowledge for free, in hopes of one day selling a product. But individuals don’t approach us for products — they approach us to learn from what we know.”

Epstein explained that there are several standards of service that all fiduciaries must adhere to legally and ethically, including disclosing fees, educating plan participants, and monitoring trends, but a financial advisor can meet all of these requirements and still fall behind in terms of business development and assembling a strong base of clients and referrals.

“This is a business in which we’re always asking ‘why?’” he said. “Why should I partner with this company or that? Why should I choose a certain product over another? We have to keep recreating the tools we use and how we assist our clients.”

What’s more, Epstein added, the financial marketplace is more saturated than ever before; entities that were once sources of referrals for fiduciaries, such as banks and credit unions, are now competitors.

“We’ve never had to market ourselves before,” he said. “This industry is being turned inside-out, and there’s $14 trillion in retirement plans out there. That means not only is this profession a full-time specialty, but it’s also one that requires incredible rigor.”

The Biggest Piece of the Pie

But beyond the challenges facing financial professionals today, there’s another, broader issue at hand that Epstein said plays a large role in moving 401k Coach forward, and that is the state of saving in the U.S.

Drawing a pie on a notepad in front of him, Epstein illustrated the problem.

“This here,” he said, carving out a slice, “is what you know.”

Then, carving out a second, similarly sized slice, Epstein pointed out that just as much of that pie is devoted to what people don’t know about financial planning.

“But that still leaves half of the pie, and that half is what we don’t know we don’t know,” he explained. “Therein lies the importance of the financial advisor: the people who are in the trenches, identifying what people don’t know, every day.”

But it’s not just financial professionals who need to step up their game. While Epstein focuses on training his peers through 401k Coach, there’s a marked trickle-down effect to business owners and individuals, who gain a better understanding and appreciation for retirement planning from their advisors.

“There is a huge savings problem in this country right now, and I want to inspire people to save,” he said. “People need to get responsible, and 401k Coach is well-positioned to make an impact. We’ve worked with 500 financial advisors, and I’m just getting started. Our goal is to work with 5,000.”

As the program continues to evolve, Epstein said a sort of master class is being added for members who have completed two years of coaching. The first session will be held in March on a dude ranch in Arizona, and its central theme will prompt financial advising companies to evaluate where their businesses will be, or could be, in three years.

Other opportunities are surfacing as well, as a greater number of industry players get acquainted with the 401k Coach model and approach Epstein with new proposals. These include coaching in more specific arenas, including marketing and hiring.

“I expect that we’re going to keep going in that direction, offering more specific advice and firm consulting,” he said, adding that he’s also working on a book that will help advisors and laymen alike think more deeply about long-term planning.

Fame: I’m Gonna Save Forever

“Maybe then I can be on Oprah!” Epstein joked, adding quickly that, while his primary mission is not to secure his 15 minutes of fame, any extra exposure does plenty to drive the central theme of the 401k Coach program home: that a retirement plan is successful only if it leaves individuals with enough money to actually retire.

Today, said Epstein, this dictum applies to virtually everyone, and requires everyone’s involvement.

“Pension plans are dead — it’s a global economy now, and the 401(k) plan is America’s savings plan,” he said. “But everyone has to take it upon themselves to make it work, and I want to inspire people to save.”

Jaclyn Stevenson can be reached at[email protected]

Cover Story
Northwestern Mutual’s Kate Kane Sets an Aggressive Growth Policy
April 16, 2007 Cover

April 16, 2007 Cover

For years, the Northwestern Mutual Financial Network has marketed itself as the “Quiet Company.” It is still that, at least when compared to other giants in this industry, says Kate Kane, who nonetheless plans to make some noise as the new managing director of the company’s Springfield office. She has some ambitious plans for growing that facility and its market share — and possesses a background in talent recruitment and development she believes will help her achieve them.

Kathleen Kane was just looking for something to do between her graduation from Vassar and the projected start of her quest for a doctorate at the University of Chicago, the next step down a path toward a long-planned career teaching English.

That was the thought process as she took a job in 1986 in the Worcester County office of what is now known as the Northwestern Mutual Financial Network. But it only took a few months with the firm for her to adjust her thinking and her career plans and become, in her words, a ‘Northwestern lifer.’

“Ultimately, I decided I would rather be making money than spending more money to become a college professor, which I was no longer sure I wanted to do,” she explained, adding that both her parents were college professors, and early on, she had little doubt she would become an academic. There have been no regrets about not taking that road, she said, describing the academic scene, or the tenure track, as it’s called, as “almost a feudalistic system,” in which time served, and not necessarily performance, are the basis for advancement and reward.

That’s a far cry from the system she now administers as managing director of Northwestern Mutual’s Springfield office, which recently merged with the Hartford facility (more on that later). Here, performance is what matters, and driving agents to reach their top potential (teaching, in plain and simple terms) has been something Kane has been doing for most of her life with the company.

Indeed, after working as an office administrator in Worcester, she was lured to Northwestern’s Springfield office by the man she would eventually succeed, then-Managing Director Paul Steffan, to be his recruiter. The official title would become ‘director of recruitment and training,’ and, later, ‘field director.’

That role involved recruiting, developing, mentoring, coaching, and joint sales work with new agents. She served in it for three years, becoming quite proficient and rather comfortable.

But Steffan, recently promoted to regional vice president for the Midwest Region and now working in Northwestern’s home office in Milwaukee, always had a thing about people becoming too settled.

“He would always say, ‘now that you’re comfortable, let’s see if we can make you uncomfortable and move on to something else,’” Kane recalled. “He would say that someone was either green and growing or ripe and rotting, and he wanted people to keep growing.”

So, at Steffan’s urging, Kane became managing director of the company’s Worcester office, now part of the Boston facility, and quietly grew that branch. But deep down, she desired a return to Springfield, where she had built what she called a “connection,” and seized upon the opportunity to lead the office housed at 1351 Main St. last fall when Steffan moved on and up.

Looking forward — she said she doesn’t waste any time looking back — Kane has ambitious plans to grow the office, in terms of volume and agents. “There’s a lot of room in here,” she said glancing around the former bank headquarters facility now housing the Springfield office. “I can add 10 agents a year for a decade and still not fill the place.”

Securing top talent to fill available office space is obviously Kane’s biggest challenge, but one she approaches with abundant energy and years of experience in both recruiting and training. She approaches her assignment with the philosophy that she’s not looking for people who can merely sell, but individuals who are entrepreneurs in the purest sense of the word.

“And entrepreneurship is hard,” she said, adding that it takes a certain type of individual to succeed in this field. “It takes a special person to bang on doors and talk about things that people just don’t want to talk about.”

Policy Statement

There are a great many things that fall into that category, she continued, starting with life insurance, the product this company and others like it is most associated with, but also such things as long-term care insurance, retirement planning, and other products and realms that are now part of the broad package now offered by Northwestern.

And by Kane’s estimate, probably nine out of 10 individuals — across all income levels — can use help of some kind.

“It’s a common misperception that successful people have their finances all sewn up,” she said. “They don’t … I see it every day. I have many clients who are outwardly very successful. They have a nice house, lots of nice stuff in the house, a very nice income. But when you dig in and look at what they’ve got, where it is, and how it’s doing, nine times out of 10 there’s plenty of room for improvement.

“I have some clients making $500,000 or $700,000 a year and they haven’t paid attention to what they need to pay attention to,” she continued. “They’re living the life, but they’re not thinking about what life in the future is going to look like.”

Helping people realize they need some kind of help, and then effectively providing it, are, in very simplified terms, the keys to success in this industry, said Kane, who was quickly attracted to the business and the life, as she called it, and thus abandoned those plans to teach English Lit.

Instead, she merely went into a different kind of teaching.

Specifically, it was within a company-wide program called RACE — Record Activity, Coach to Expectations — for which she was a coordinator.

“The new reps would come in sit down and talk about how their day before went, what they got accomplished, and what they didn’t get accomplished,” she explained, adding that young agents would often leave her office with steam coming out of their ears. “I would then coach them, or yell at them, about what they did and didn’t accomplish.”

Her RACE work was part of what Kane described as one of the more unusual routes to a managing director’s position with Northwestern — most start and stay in sales — but one she believes has effectively prepared for that role. Elaborating, she said her work as a field director for the Springfield office gave her the direct work in sales that she would need to make the leap to the highly entrepreneurial managing director’s post.

“I knew that if I didn’t take that step and gain that experience, I would never move beyond being someone else’s employee, which I was with Paul, and move into an entrepreneurial role,” she explained, adding that, in effect, managing directors, like top agents, are independent contractors.

Steffan thought she was ready to take that step, and be uncomfortable again, in late 2001. That’s when she was assigned the Worcester County office, in Westboro, a facility that had been doing business since the late 1800s, but was, by most accounts, undeveloped territory.

She managed to achieve some growth there, but when the Springfield managing director’s position became available, she sought a return to that office. Part of the reason was the connection to the business community here — she had served on a number of non-profit groups, including Dress for Success, the Women’s Partnership, the Springfield Mentoring Project, and others — but there was also the entrepreneurial drive that Steffan had helped coax.

“He was good at thinking big for us,” she told BusinessWest, adding that the Springfield office was and is much bigger than Worcester’s and possessed, by her estimation, stronger and more attainable growth potential.

And in the six months she’s been at the helm, she’s been hard at work developing strategies to achieve it.

By the Numbers

Most all of them come back to that art and science known as recruiting, she said, adding that in this business, such activity is constant. “It never ends.”

The reason is because of the difficult nature of the work, she continued, adding that if it was easy everyone would want to do it because the rewards can be considerable.

“But it’s not easy … our type of entrepreneurship is particularly difficult because no one wants to talk about the issues we raise,” she said. “Individuals have to be willing, as I like to tell new reps, to acknowledge that they’ll be constantly dealing with other people’s baggage.

“And you have to learn how to be really good at helping when you can help and leading when you can lead, but also identify when ‘that’s their issue’ and leave it on that side of the table and not get crushed and emotionally battered by that,” she said, adding that sales don’t come easily or quickly, and sometimes they don’t come at all.

Identifying individuals with the personality and talent to handle all this is a challenge for all players in this industry, said Kane, noting that changing demographics, specifically the aging of the Baby Boom generation, is adding additional hurdles. Indeed, the average age of agents in this field is 54, she said, noting that the need to replace top talent prompts many companies to rely on essentially taking it from competitors.

Northwestern, which has a younger demographic (the average age of its agents is 42), is one of the few companies left that will devote the time, money, and energy needed to recruit and development young talent.

“We’ll take green kids and groom them,” said Kane, noting that the company has one of the most extensive, and successful, internship programs in the country.
“That’s our secret weapon,” she said, noting that locally, the program involves UMass-Amherst and Western New England College. By the time individuals graduate, they are licensed to sell and have started a book of business.

The company’s approach is obviously effective, she said, noting that, industry-wide, for every 100 individuals recruited, 11 will be retained five years later. For Northwestern, that number is 20, and 30 when its comes to a field of 100 interns.And as she goes about recruiting and developing her team, Kane says she will take a page or two from Steffan’s playbook, but also adopt some of her own insights into professional development.

“People are their own, unique individual selves, and if you don’t honor that, you’re going to drive them away,” she said. “So it can’t be about making them fit your vision of who they should be; it has to be about helping them discover who it is they want to be and then not letting them be comfortable.”

Both current and future agents should benefit from an office-consolidation initiative ongoing at Northwestern, said Kane, noting that people will often use the word satellite to describe the Springfield office, and also the district offices in Greenfield, which became part of the Albany facility, and the Northampton office, which also became part of West Hartford. But that is a bit of a misnomer.

“That’s the wrong word, because the managing director is an independent, solo practitioner,” she explained, adding that some in the Springfield area mistakenly believe her office lost something in the translation when it was joined with West Hartford. “I make my own decisions, and I can grow this office as big as I want to.”

Agents in all the company’s offices should have healthy markets in which to sell, Kane explained, because the need for such products and services will only continue to grow — even if existing and prospective clients don’t know they need them.

“Our industry is so secure in so many ways because of the fact that people’s need for advice, people’s need for a disembodied but yet still-involved third party to look at what they’re doing and help them make good decisions isn’t going away,” she said. “It’s always going to be there.”

Lessons Learned

Kane never made it to the University of Chicago, or the front of a college classroom.

But in her mind, she’s doing what she thought she’d be doing for a living — teaching. Just not in a feudalistic system.

“I teach every day, I explain things to people every day,” she told BusinessWest. “But I’m doing it in an environment where it is all based on merit, and on what you can accomplish — and here, there is no limit to what you can achieve for yourself.

Especially if you get that needed kick when you start to feel comfortable.

George O’Brien can be reached at[email protected]

Sections Supplements
Younger Generations Show Savvy and Spunk When It Comes to Money and Managing It
Pat Grenier

Financial Planner Pat Grenier said many people under 40 are taking the precaution of saving earlier, but aren’t afraid to take risks, either.

On the whole, financial planners say younger investors are savvier and more willing to take charge of their own finances than any previous generation. This group, like those that came before it, will certainly face challenges. But it is in many ways better-suited to meet them, say the experts, because it is better-informed and has, for the most part, a no-fear attitude when it comes to wealth.

Pat Grenier, a financial planner with BRP Grenier based in Springfield, has been practicing for 22 years and said she’s seen a notable shift in how people approach money, and the saving thereof, in that time.

“Twenty years ago, if a young couple came to see me — which was rare — their outlook was much different,” she said. “They were looking at specific investment ideas, because the wide variety of options that we have today wasn’t available.

“Now,” she continued, “people are looking not for a product, but a plan, to create the financial future that they envision.”

Several factors contribute to this shift in financial planning trends among younger clients, said Grenier, among them a lack of confidence in Social Security and an increased awareness of money-management issues, thanks in part to the preponderance of free information now available on the Internet.

“Many people don’t believe Social Security will be in place when they reach retirement age,” Grenier said. “They have some knowledge, and usually have retirement plans at work, and many of them have also learned what not to do because their parents haven’t saved enough. They’re seeing firsthand the costs that can be incurred at an older age, especially when a parent is sick, and that’s prompting them to take action.”

Grenier isn’t alone in this assessment; many financial planners see the under-40 set, and Generation X in particular, as the most savvy of all constituencies when it comes to saving and investing, and also a group that is moving to the forefront of the country’s financial picture.

See How, Know How

Jeff Tomaneng is a financial planner affiliated with the Waltham-based Financial Planning Assoc. of Mass. (FPA), who, at 36, sees saving and investing trends developing among his peers as well as his clients.

“In general, there is a greater awareness of financial planning issues such as asset protection, insurance, retirement planning, and estate planning,” he said, adding that as recently as three or four years ago, if he attempted to address those issues with many of his younger clients, most would react with skepticism.

“Many would have thought I was trying to sell them something,” he said. “But now, there’s enough press out there to make people aware of the diversity of financial issues. Five or 10 years ago, specific financial information was only easily available to people with high net worth. Now, just about every type of information is available to everyone.”

Online resources such as Yahoo! Finance and Fidelity’s MyPlan are largely responsible for that new level of awareness, said Tomaneng, and for the younger set’s comfort level with finding and processing that information. It’s an awareness that wasn’t there for Baby Boomers during their earlier years, he noted.

“Baby Boomers didn’t see financial planning as important early on, and many figured it out during a mid-life career change,” he said, noting, however, that Generation Xers, those born roughly between 1963 and 1979 (the parameters have never been specifically defined), started investing, saving, or researching one or both earlier. “I find it easier to speak with Gen-X clients because of that awareness. They’re comfortable finding information on their own and presenting their ideas to me, and they’re more comfortable with the various software programs that can help them implement their own financial planning.

“As early as five years ago, people were still saying ‘I can do this later,’ but I’m not hearing that as much,” he continued. “Today, I’m starting to see college students opening their own IRAs.”

Tomaneng agreed with Grenier that there are social as well as political and economic reasons for the shift. But he said a common thread among many of his clients is that they’ve received somewhat of an early wake-up call, by seeing their older relatives struggling.

“It’s less about lessons learned than it is about learning what not to do,” he said. “Many people under 40 see their grandparents with nothing, and that, in turn, has led them to understand the importance of having a nest egg, and also having legal documents in place.”

Risk Takers

That’s not to say there aren’t some challenges for people under 40 in addition to this new mindset.

Molly Keegan, a registered representative and CPA with New York Life in Northampton, said this group has grown up largely in healthy economic times, and while that allows them to see the benefits of capitalism in general, it also leads them to spend more.

“These people have grown up in wonderful economic times, so they want nice stuff,” she said. “Their life costs are much different than those of older people, and therefore it’s easier for them to get trapped in a debt cycle.”

But Keegan added that Gen-Xers are also more prone to take financial risks than their parents and grandparents, and while debt coupled with risk is a real danger for many, she said those who are actively taking charge of their own financial futures by managing their cash flow and saving both pre-tax dollars — through a Roth IRA, for instance — and after-tax dollars are doing well.

“It boils down to behavior management,” she said. “These people are in their building years, and high-wage earners and good savers are not always the same thing. Those who will be financially secure in the long run are those who will practice cash-flow management, save early and often, save for the long term and the short term, and avoid debt.”

That advice resonates even more when some of the lifestyle choices of this age group are further examined, said Grenier. In addition to noting the effects of poor or tardy planning among older investors, other societal trends factor into the financial planning decisions of people under 40, such as having children later in life.

In that case, Grenier said, more people than ever are saving for college and retirement at the same time, a scenario that serves as an apt example of the financial pressures that could emerge as people age, but may be alleviated by making saving and investment decisions earlier.

“I approach it like building a house,” said Grenier of her work with younger clients. “I tell people to take care of their basic needs first — look at your cash flow, determine what any liabilities are, contribute to a retirement plan, and increase those contributions over time.”

She also recommends investing in life and disability insurance, “so the other plans don’t fail because of catastrophe,” and accruing and saving at least four months of living expenses as a general rule of thumb.

Beyond those steps, she said, the bulk of young professionals will then ask for assistance with creating a strategy to save for retirement, and for the most part are reaching that point armed with more knowledge — and wealth — than previous generations.

A Matter of Trust

But there are also some specific changes to the financial planning landscape in this country that specifically affect the under-40 set, among them the advent of one of the largest wealth transfers in history.

Boston College’s Social Welfare Research Institute (SWRI) estimates that $41 trillion is expected to change hands in the U.S. between 1998 and 2052; $25 trillion of that is expected to pass from decedents’ estates to their heirs, while the remainder will go to estate taxes, charitable bequests, and estate-settlement expenses, according to the SWRI’s findings. Of the $25 trillion slated to move from one generation to the next, the majority is expected to pass to the children and grandchildren of Baby Boomers.

That phenomenon, which was first reported by the SWRI in 1999 and updated in 2003 following a downturn of the economy, joins other variables that will impact younger investors, such as complicated tax law changes, dwindling numbers of defined benefit plans (being replaced by more versatile defined contribution plans), and the ever-fragile future of Social Security.

Together, they create a climate in which younger investors are more likely to take charge of their own destiny, rather than depend on employers or governmental bodies.

Robert Ostberg, a registered investment adviser with Eagle Strategies Corp. in Northampton, agreed with the notion that people under 40 are, in general, more financially literate and more willing to take risks than other generations, and that has an impact on their saving and investment habits.

“The impact of the tools available today is significant,” he said. “Generation X is comfortable doing research, they’re self-reliant, and the information available to them, often for free, is more substantive than ever before.”

Ostberg added, however, that the increase across the board in financial education also puts the onus on financial planners to be more progressive, in order to meet a new set of demands.

“People under 40 are generally interested, and want to participate,” he said. “They’re more sophisticated in their demands, and they want more for less — they’ll shop price and will pay for personal service, so there’s an entrepreneurial challenge for us there.”

Have No Fear

But overall, most financial planners who spoke with BusinessWest agreed that the higher level of awareness concerning financial issues among clients is a positive. And even with all of the pressures and changes affecting those clients, Grenier concluded that, for the most part, these investors are not afraid of the mighty dollar, or of using it to their advantage.

“People under 40 aren’t afraid of wealth,” she said. “They’re not embarrassed or apologetic. Most work to aspire to a lifestyle, they remain philanthropic, and to them, that’s the purpose of business.”

Jaclyn Stevenson can be reached at[email protected]

Sections Supplements
Because They Live Longer, Women Must Be Better Prepared
Retirement planning

Retirement planning

Retirement planning is an important issue for everyone. Unfortunately, most people aren’t as prepared as they should be. According to Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI) in Washington, DC, 45% of all American workers over the age of 55 have less than $25,000 in savings. Women, especially, don’t save enough for retirement.

But, in reality, they are the ones who should be most concerned.

Women need to be even more concerned about their retirement planning than men for a number of reasons. According to the Bureau of Statistics, women live an average of four years longer than men. Seventy-one percent of women will live past the age of 85. Second, most women over the age of 65 are single, so they have to support themselves.

Because of their longer life expectancy, women should save more for retirement than men. But saving and retirement planning seem to be more difficult for women. They still bring home 76% less than men, according to EBRI. In fact, from 1983 to 1998 women, ages 26 to 59, made 38% of what men made, according to the Institute for Women’s Research.

Women also generally spend more time out of the workforce, taking care of children and elderly parents. The shorter length of time spent in the workforce, compounded by the fact that women are more likely to hold jobs that pay lower wages, means fewer retirement benefits. Social Security benefits are based on earnings and total years of employment, and a shorter lifetime of earnings translates into lower Social Security benefits.

According to the Social Security Administration, the average man received $1,008 a month while the average woman received $774 in 2003.

Pensions, like Social Security, are based on total years of service and earnings while you work at the company. Again, women are probably going to receive a lower pension benefit. According to the Women’s Institute for Secure etirement, women are half as likely as men to have pensions, and if they do, their accounts are half the size of men’s.If any of these situations sound familiar,you are robably asking yourself, “Will I have enough money?” “What happens when my savings runs out?” and “Am I prepared for the unexpected?” These questions are common for many women. In fact, the EBRI Retirement Conference Survey found that women are less assured than men that their savings will last through retirement.

The good news is you can take charge of your finances and build confidence in your retirement plans by using the following tips:

Don’t be Afraid to Invest

When women invest, they are often afraid they will lose what they have. In general,women tend to be more cautious in many areas of life. For example, women often make excellent pilots because they are less likely to take irresponsible risks. But when it comes to investing, women need to take on some level of risk to get the most out of their efforts.

The real risk of retirement is not loss of money, but rather not planning to have enough. Therefore, women need to develop an asset allocation plan that will meet their future needs. An Asset Allocation Plan is designed to suit an individual’s goals and personality. If you are a conservative investor, your financial advisor will develop a plan appropriate for you. Find a trusted financial advisor and a CPA and work with them to develop a plan.

Force Yourself to Save More

Most people like to live for today. They don’t like to think about the future and retirement. So people put off saving until they are in their 40s and realize they want to retire early, but you can’t retire unless you have money saved. Use your 401(k) or 403 (b) at work to force yourself to save for retirement. Start small and increase the percent you add every year. Your goal should be generally 10% of your income every year.

And do not forget your IRA. Even if you work from home, you can still add to IRAs.IRAs grow tax deferred, while Roth IRA s grow tax free. Talk to your financial advisor or CPA to see which works best for you.

Plan With Your Spouse

Too often women let their husbands handle all the investments. They either take the backburner on investment issues, or they don’t feel confident handling them. As a result, many women have no clue where their money is. You need to ask your husband what you are saving and where it is being invested.

When your husband retires, make sure you fully understand what he is doing with his pension and 401(k). Often men roll over their accounts with a short-term horizon.During this planning phase you should always be involved in meetings with your

Financial Advisor. When your husband is getting ready to retire, you need to consider your survivor benefit, life insurance, and your life expectancy. Does your husband have the option to choose from a survivor benefit and a single life expectancy on anannuity? If he takes the single-life-expectancy option and dies a few years later, his pension benefits will cease. You’ll be used to living off his pension with him, and be left with no income from his pension at all.

Many husbands take the single-lifexpectancy option because they get a higher income from their pension, but taking a survivor benefit option gives the wife the full amount or portion of his benefit until her death. While many couples take the singlelife-expectancy pension and supplement it with a life insurance policy, this may not be the most beneficial route. A survivor benefit is usually the better way to go.

Also, if your husband is taking a 401(k)or pension rollover, you need to know where the money is going. Women who are going through a divorce need to work with lawyers who have experience in evaluating pensions and tax consequences.The real risk of retirement is not loss of money, but rather not planning to have enough.

Plan for the Unexpected

Many people dip into their retirement savings when something unexpected happens.This can result in a 10% penalty for early withdrawal if you’re under 59 1/2 years old, plus state and federal income taxes. So don’t forget to put three to six months’ income aside in case of the unexpected,such as a job loss, divorce, or death of a spouse.

Secure the Future

While retirement requires major planning for everyone, women need to most concerned about their finances. A longer life expectancy, less time in the workforce and lower wages make it more difficult for women to save enough money to last for a retirement lifetime. However, by following prudent measures to take charge of your finances, you can help secure your future and live your retirement years with confidence.

Doug Charney is a financial advisor,with the Harrisburg office of Wachovia Securities; (888) 529-2973.