Weathering storms

April in Wisconsin offers countless opportunities to develop life skills like patience and adaptability. A single spring day could feature a romp through all four seasons, with a couple of extras like gnat and lake fly seasons rolled in. The same daily forecast that allows daffodils to bloom can include measurable snow and a wind so brisk it hurts your face. So, you adjust. You wear layers you can remove when the frost burns off, and boots that won’t wilt in the ensuing mud. You prepare for any weather on any given day. Investing is like that too. Days that begin with sunshine and optimism can end with headwinds and dramatic dips. As inflation updates or corporate report nuances swing sentiment, markets react accordingly. Sometimes, they even act inexplicably in their initial runs. So, we build layers into our portfolios, some conservative allocations designed to protect and some more aggressive positions to take advantage of growth opportunities. We mine sectors and industries for long-term investment opportunities. Our investment team members understand both the seasons they face as portfolio managers, and the seasons our clients move through as they make their way to and through retirement. That understanding informs the investment decisions they make. Harry Chapin wrote about the seasons spinning round again and years that keep rolling by. It’s our job and our privilege as investment managers based in Wisconsin to understand and appreciate the swift passage and specific beauty of each fickle season.

Five scams that target seniors

Due to their own diligence and good habits, senior citizens often find themselves targets of scams. Retired people generally have built up an attractive pool of financial resources through a lifetime of hard work. Those assets can attract nefarious people who haven’t been as responsible with their life choices. Additionally, senior citizens can be more trusting, and they may not be as adept with modern technology. All of this means they need to keep up with various financial and technological scams. Here are five scams listed by the U.S. Department of Justice: The Social Security Imposter Scam This is a telephone scam in which the caller claims the victim’s Social Security number has been suspended due to suspicious activity, or because it has been involved in a crime. They ask to confirm the victim’s Social Security number, or they may say they need to withdraw money from the victim’s bank and to store it on gift cards or in other unusual ways for “safekeeping.” Victims may be told their accounts will be seized or frozen if they fail to act quickly.  This can appear as a robocall during which victims may be told to “press 1” to speak to a government “support representative” for help reactivating their Social Security number. They also use caller ID spoofing to make it look like the Social Security Administration is calling. With such trickery, perpetrators convince victims to give up their Social Security numbers and other personal information. The Tech Support Scam Callers claim to be computer technicians associated with a well-known company or they may use internet pop-up messages to warn about non-existent computer problems. The scammers claim they have detected viruses, other malware, or hacking attempts on the victim’s computer. They pretend to be “tech support” and ask that the victim give them remote access to his or her computer. Eventually, they diagnose a non-existent problem and ask the victim to pay… | Read More »

Springtime in Wisconsin

Springtime in Wisconsin requires next-level planning, just like retirement. You can enjoy both a lot more when you’re prepared. So, you check the weather forecast and make your plans. But, you also throw an umbrella and a winter coat in the car, just in case. That’s the insurance aspect of retirement planning. Many people cheerfully set aside some of the more cumbersome details of retirement planning because they intend to work well past their full retirement age. They love their jobs, they enjoy their co-workers and they depend on that paycheck to meet their budget. While the work ethic is admirable, it is also not enough. Just like unexpected snow showers can wreak havoc on your golf game during what had been forecasted to be a lovely spring day in Wisconsin, unplanned shifts can impact your working life. You may become incapacitated by injury or illness, you might have to step in and care for a spouse, parent, or adult child, you could find your job outsourced or your company sold and your position redundant. Just like you dress in layers when you head out on an April morning, prepared for sunshine or snow, you can protect your retirement with careful planning. Have you purchased Long Term Care insurance? Today’s policies provide for far more than nursing home care and they are far less expensive if you can purchase a group plan through your employer. Are you maxing out your retirement plan options? Beyond your 401(k) or 403(b), are you investing in an individual retirement account? Have you considered a Roth IRA, in which you pay taxes upfront so you can withdraw tax free? Roth’s can be extremely helpful when it comes to meeting your budget in retirement, especially if you end up retiring sooner than you had planned. Are you meeting the employer match in your 401(k)? Those matches are part of your benefits and, if you don’t take… | Read More »

Faith, family, finance and a familiar face

Christina Winch never set out to be a pioneer in women’s finance. She was just happy to give advice when people asked. “I was teaching in high school and when somebody asked me a question about their money, I’d give them an answer. And then another person would ask and then another and it blossomed from there,” she said. Soon, the English teacher was hosting informal financial seminars after school in the lunchroom. She loved encouraging people to take control of their finances and saw a genuine need to help people who had no idea how to plan for their retirement. So, she earned her licenses and began a formal shift into the financial world. In 1981, Christina opened a financial advisory firm and, 40 years later, many of the teachers who attended those lunchroom sessions are still her clients, along with more than 800 other people from around the country. “Christina is an energetic, gregarious person who enjoys engaging others,” said Bev Underwood, a former teacher and current client who used to attend those lunchroom sessions. “Whether teaching or financial planning, one needs to connect with people; the skills overlap.” Bev and Christina used to carpool to the high school, along with two other teachers. “In addition to being economical, the camaraderie and laughs made the journey fun for all,” Bev said. “Before leaving for school Christina would make breakfast (often pancakes) for (her kids) and leave them in that new kitchen appliance, the microwave. She wanted them to be well fed and ready to learn when they headed out to school.” Today, all three of Christina’s adult children are licensed financial advisors working in the firm. In both teaching and financial planning, Christina has enjoyed offering conventional wisdom in unconventional ways. She designed and taught “the Bible as literature” to high-risk public high school students and they loved the class. In fact, they often stop in to catch… | Read More »

Grace Hyslop never balked at a challenge

Grace Hyslop began her historic career in finance by working with chicken farmers and she never balked at a challenge. Hyslop, who graduated high school at age 12 and immediately accepted a job as a teacher in a one-room schoolhouse, became the first woman to hold a seat on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. Later, in her 60s, she went to graduate school, earned a Master’s Degree in neuropsychology and began a fourth career working with people who had learning disabilities. All those paths crossed in Nebraska where she raised six children and had a stock ticker installed in her home library. She and her husband Mark launched their lucrative career in what is now known as derivatives by buying eggs and chickens from farmers and selling them to the military during World War II. At that time, egg futures offered a way for people working in the poultry business to hedge their risk. Mark began commuting once a week to the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, where he and Grace’s efforts as market hedgers provided him an in to buy a seat on the exchange. Meanwhile, Grace followed the action from their home, thanks to their home ticker. As the family made plans to move to Chicago, Mark suffered a fatal heart attack. Rather than selling his CME membership, Grace applied for his seat. Although the board eventually granted her the seat, they did not allow her to walk the floor. She bought and sold contracts, but had to do it through an intermediary, eventually her son Mark. They might not have wanted to see her on the floor, but exchange members were interested in using Grace in their marketing. A 1961 bulletin included this description of her, “The new member stated that she hopes to interest more women to trade in commodities handled on the C.M.E.” An additional report offered this assessment, “She has various women customers and feels that women… | Read More »