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Love & Taxes
Many of us are focused on gathering information for filing the dreaded annual income tax return. This information begins streaming in mid January and wraps up by late February. Why not complete this task ahead of schedule this year? Waiting won't change the outcome, but could reduce your stress level.

This would leave time for matters of the heart. Attend to your personal health and extend this TLC to loved ones. Demonstrate you care by asking questions and really listening. Write a love letter and deliver it. We want to think that others understand their importance to us, but why not remove all doubt? Risk vulnerability to make connections. An investment here could pay big rewards!


  • All About Real Estate will be the topic of our spring program. Your home is often one of your largest assets. Have you thought about downsizing, aging in place, purchasing rental real estate, selling property, buying a vacation home? Round table discussions with an expert in these different topics is the idea. If you have any ideas, feel free to pass them along! Program planning is underway with the date to be determined for late April or early May. Please stay tuned for more details.

  • As a reminder for those that may be coming to our office. Construction on a multi-use building is beginning catty-corner to our office. Additionally, the school construction across the street has also commenced. There may be road closures periodically.

  • Teri and Tracey attended the TD Ameritrade Annual Conference in Orlando, FL in January. TD Ameritrade did not have a lot to say about Charles Schwab acquiring them but it was the topic among participants. The acquisition is still in the early stages and won't occur until the 2nd half of 2020 (if approved). It will then take an additional 1-3 years for the transition phase to be fully completed.
Scam Alert

Telephone scams are targeting older people (Source: The Columbus Dispatch)

  • Medicare beneficiaries are receiving recorded phone calls that appear on caller ID to be from the Social Security Administration. The message tells the person that his/her Social Security account has been suspended and to press 1 for more information. Doing so connects the person with a scammer ready to steal personal information. Beneficiaries who receive this call can call Social Security at 1-800-269-0271 to verify legitimacy of the call.

  • Ohio Public Employees Retirement System members are receiving phone calls from a scammer falsely claiming to be with VIA Benefits and looking for information to establish the member's prepaid funeral account. Members who receive this call can call VIA Benefits at 1-844-287-9945 or the retirement fund at 1-800-222-7377.

Tax Season Scams (Source: TD Ameritrade)

  • Tax season is a prime time for Internal Revenue Service (IRS) scammers to target senior citizens. The scam commonly involves an unsolicited telephone call, text message, or email from an imposter IRS agent who tells the targeted individual that they owe money to the IRS. The scammer then gives instructions on how and where to pay their debt. Clients can visit the IRS website to determine if a call is legitimate.

For clients impacted by the change in our Money Management Program

  • The Orion Portal launch continues. Please watch your email for details and a link to access the portal website. The link is good for only 24 hours so if you are outside of this window, please request a password reset. Thank you for your continued patience. If you receive an email outlining the portal details, but don't receive the link email, please check your spam/junk email folder.

  • Quarterly reports are complete with the exception of clients who own held away accounts. Held Away accounts require more intensive reconciliation procedures and review. These should be available soon.

  • The 2020 Required Minimum Distribution letters with forms and 2019 Realized Gain Loss Reports for Orion clients with taxable accounts have been mailed.

  • TD Ameritrade Consolidated 1099 forms were required to be sent out by February 15. Realized Gain Loss information for non-Orion clients with taxable accounts will be included on your 2019 Form 1099.
+ Teri's World
Like so many other people, February started out with a cold and for Teri, well she also did not have a voice for almost 7 days. It took a few weeks to get back to normal. Wednesday through Friday last week Teri attended the NAPFA Midwest Mixers group meeting. This is a group of 10 fee-only financial planners in the mid-west who have similar practices and they act somewhat as a board of directors. She has been with this group for 9 years and she always comes away with some great ideas and deeper insights of running a financial planning business. She is also getting back on track with working out and running. This past weekend she went hiking with her son, son-in-law and grandson. She also took in the OSU vs. Maryland basketball game with Gene. Great game! 
+ What about Bob
It has been a busy but good February for Bob & Christine. Their grandson Logan celebrated his first birthday in style! He had two different cake/icing options and took full advantage of both!

They were able to enjoy a bit of warm weather and sunshine on a quick weekend trip to Houston Texas for a retreat with several couples from the Columbus Diocese as well as couples from Baton Rouge, Kansas City and Houston. 

Christine has been doing a good bit of traveling for her job with trips to Pittsburgh and to California right before the Houston trip. 
+ Tracey's Time
Tracey spent a couple days in sunny Orlando with her mom. Nothing extravagant but just time together. The office has been busy over the past several months and a short break was needed.

The following weekend the family traveled to Erie, PA for a girls hockey tournament. It had been a long time since they had experienced lake effect snow. Such a short distance from Cbus, but a world away. Head this way if you want to go skiing.

Andy and Tracey have commenced a living room remodel. In order to achieve this, they had to start with a bedroom. Next, they needed to clear the living room for demolition and floor refinishing. Essentially, the whole house is now in disarray. In the past, they've been accustomed to living in drywall dust. The target completion date is the 1st of May.
+ Maria's Moments
Maria has continued to spend time with her grandma throughout the month of February as her grandma is still recovering from her stroke. Her brother came home this month for his second ACL surgery and is recovering well so he will return to Saint Francis this week. He will come home the first week of March for spring break. Bouncing around, from helping with her grandma to helping with her brother has been exhausting. Maria went to get a facial to give herself some much needed relaxation time. 

The last week of February, Maria will be taking her finals and then starting two new classes in the second week of March. Getting close to graduation! 
Current Economic and Investment Information
CORONAVIRUS IMPACT - China is forecasted to use 25% less oil per day in February 2020 when compared to its actual usage in February 2019, a drop of 3.2 million barrels a day, i.e., from a consumption of 12.9 million barrels a day to 9.7 million barrels a day (source: International Energy Agency).
OIL DEMAND - The price of West Texas Intermediate crude oil closed at $63.27 a barrel on Monday 1/06/20 but has since fallen 18% to $52.05 a barrel as of the close of trading last Friday 2/14/20(source: NYMEX). 
NEW HOMES - The construction of 888,100 new single family homes began in 2019, the 8th consecutive year of increasing home building. In the decade of the 2010s, 6.8 million new homes began construction, down 44%from the 12.3 million new homes that were started in the decade of the 2000s(source: Census Bureau). 
HARD TO ENJOY RETIREMENT - More than half of American workers (54%) have not started a defined contribution retirement plan at work (e.g., a 401(k) plan) or have access to a defined benefit pension plan funded exclusively by their employer (source: Center for Retirement Research at Boston College).

FINANCIALLY READY? - The life expectancy of a 65-year old American is 19 ½ years or 234 months(source: Center for Disease Control). 

FISCAL YEAR 2021 - The White House released on Monday 2/10/20 their blueprint for the government’s budget for fiscal year 2021, i.e., the 12 months from 10/01/20 to 9/30/21. The plan calls for $3.863 trillion of tax receipts and $4.829 trillion of outlays, resulting in a $966 billion deficit. Congress, the ultimate decisionmakers with regard to our country’s finances, is not required to follow any of the suggested numbers from the White House plan (source: Office of Management and Budget). 

EXPENSIVE EDUCATION - Outstanding student loan debt in the USA was $1.51 trillion as of 12/31/19, up +110% from $720 billion as of 12/31/09 (source: Federal Reserve Bank of New York). 

EVERY DAY - An estimated 10,800 Americans will turn 65 years old each day this year (2020). This group represents the 10th year of 19 years of “Baby Boomers” turning age 65. An estimated 11,500 Americans will turn 65 years old each day in the year 2029 (source: Government Accountability Office). 

LONGEST BULL - The current bull market for the S&P 500 will reach 11 years in length in just 2 weeks on Monday 3/09/20, the longest bull market for the stock index since the end of WWII. The next longest bull market lasted just under 9 ½ years from 10/11/90 to 3/24/00. The S&P 500 consists of 500 stocks chosen for market size, liquidity and industry group representation. It is a market (source: BTN Research).  

U.S. RETIREMENT - American workers today are retiring 3 years later on average than they did in the 1980s (source: Boston College’s Center for Retirement Research). 

CONSUMER DEBT - Student loan debt in the USA was +62% larger than credit card debt as of 12/31/19, i.e., $1.51 trillion to $930 billion. Both totals are all-time record highs (source: Federal Reserve Bank of NY). 

SMALLER HOUSEHOLD SIZE - There were 2.52 people on average living in every American household in 2019, the lowest average household size in US history. There were 3.33 people on average per household in 1960 (source: Census Bureau). 

U.S. MANUFACTURING - Manufacturing output makes up just 11% of the USA’s $22 trillion economy, the lowest percentage for our nation’s manufacturing sector since 1947 (source: Commerce Department). 

TOURISM - Chinese travelers accounted for 20% of total tourism dollars spent globally in calendar year 2018 (source: United Nations World Tourism Organization). 

HEALTH RELATED - The most lethal health epidemic in the last 500 years was the worldwide flu outbreak that occurred in the fall of 1918 that killed 50 million people globally, including 675,000 Americans. 195,000 Americans died in October 1918, the deadliest month in our nation’s history (source: Center for Disease Control). 
The Dominance of U.S. Companies in Global Markets

By Jenna Ross
Visaul Capitalist

U.S. Companies Dominate Global Markets

Are global indexes as “global” as you think they are?

With the aim of tracking market performance around the world, these indexes incorporate securities from various regions. However, while the number of securities may be relatively well diversified across countries, a dollar perspective tells a different story. When market capitalization is taken into account, country weightings may become much more unbalanced.

Today’s visualization is based on a concept by S&P Dow Jones Indices that shows the percentage of U.S.-based companies in global sectors and industries as of December 31, 2019. The calculations reflect the market capitalization of companies in the S&P Global Broad Market Index (BMI), an index that tracks over 11,000 stocks across 50 developed and emerging economies.

Spreading Global Virus Cases Shock the Stock Market

By Schwab Center for Financial Research

How contained is the coronavirus outbreak? That’s the question that rattled markets on Monday, sending the Dow industrials down more than 1,000 points, or 3.6%. The S&P 500 index declined by 3.4%.

While coronavirus, or COVID-19, has been in the news for weeks, until recently stock investors seemed confident it would be contained. After a brief market drop in late January, the S&P quickly resumed its upward climb, reaching new record highs in February.

“Complacency has been evident with regard to the stock market’s behavior and the impact of the coronavirus on global growth,” says Schwab Chief Investment Strategist Liz Ann Sonders. “The initial outbreak of the virus conspired to shake that optimism, but after a mild 3.3% pullback in late January, complacency built yet again on hopes of a containment of the virus.”

Containment is key
On Monday, the World Health Organization said the virus had infected more than 79,000 people worldwide and killed at least 2,600, mostly in mainland China. However, outbreaks also have been reported in other countries, including South Korea, Italy and Japan; there have been 35 confirmed cases in the United States.

“Other than during wars, the scope of the shutting down huge swaths of the world, associated with the virus, is unprecedented,” Liz Ann says. “There are about 60 million people in China alone that are quarantined.”

Many comparisons have been analyzed between the coronavirus and the SARS outbreak in 2003. However, in the years since that outbreak, China has become a much greater global economic force. It’s now the world’s second-largest economy, behind the United States. Not only is China a key player in the global supply chain, Chinese consumers play a big role in global demand.

And the virus is no longer just China’s problem. “Italy and South Korea—the eighth- and 12th-largest economies in the world, respectively—have shut down public buildings, sporting events and schools in parts of those countries. In the case of Italy, at least 10 towns around Milan have gone under lockdown,” Liz Ann says.

Beginning late last week, investors accelerated their embrace of “risk-off” investments, flocking into defensive equity sectors such as utilities, and to perceived “safe haven” investments such as Treasury bonds.

However, long-term investors should not overreact, Liz Ann says.

“We continue to recommend that investors focus on diversification and rebalancing, and an emphasis on quality growth at reasonable prices, with a bias toward more defensive larger-cap stocks at the expense of more-cyclical smaller cap stocks,” Liz Ann says.

The yield curve has inverted
Although stocks rallied in February, bond investors have been steadily concerned about the virus, says Kathy Jones, Chief Fixed Income Strategist for the Schwab Center for Financial Research.

“Yields have been falling since early January when news of the spreading virus first surfaced, and they have headed steeply lower ever since,” Kathy says. “Ten-year Treasury yields fell by 11 basis points1 last week alone, falling through the 1.50% support level, while the 3-month/10-year yield curve inverted again.”

An “inverted” yield curve is when short-term Treasury yields are higher than long-term yields. Historically, a yield curve inversion often—although not always—has signaled a recession in the next 12 months or so. Because of recession concerns, the Federal Reserve is likely to cut short-term interest rates in an attempt to stimulate economic activity and offset the impact of the virus on global growth, Kathy says.

“The market is discounting two rate cuts of 0.25% each this year, which seems likely if economic conditions worsen,” Kathy says. “The Fed may wait a bit longer to see if the situation improves, but rate cuts seems more likely now that economic growth abroad is slowing.”

However, even if the Fed cuts rates, it may have a limited impact, Kathy says.

“There is only so much central banks can do when a supply shock hits the economy,” Kathy says. “Central banks are adept at handling demand problems. When the economy falters, the prescription is to cut interest rates, make money cheap and widely available, and eventually people will begin to spend, invest and lend. Supply shocks are different. Monetary policy can’t restore output and production.”

What if the epidemic is contained?
If governments can manage to contain the coronavirus, and it follows a pattern similar to other epidemics tracked by the World Health Organization in the past, the effect on markets could be relatively short-lived, says Jeffrey Kleintop, Chief Global Investment Strategist at Schwab.

Historically, the number of confirmed cases in various epidemics typically has risen sharply for eight to 10 weeks, then peaked. A short-term dip in stocks has tended to be followed, after the peak, by continuation of the upward trend.

Past epidemics have tended to have a short-term impact on stocks
Again, containment is key. If national governments and health experts can manage the outbreaks, it’s possible that growth will be less negatively affected than feared, Jeffrey says.

“The potential for a delayed, but not derailed, manufacturing recovery in the coming quarters could fuel a rebound in commodity demand and the relative outperformance by emerging-market stocks,” Jeffrey says. “However, there are still a lot of unknowns, and the extent of the near-term impact on economic data has yet to be assessed.”

What to do now
Market drops are an unavoidable feature of investing. What matters is how you respond—or, more to the point, don’t respond. Sometimes the best action to take is no action at all. If you’ve built a portfolio that matches your time horizon and risk tolerance when markets are calm, then a surge in turbulence may not feel so rough to you.

However, if you’re looking for something specific to do now, check out some steps that every investor should consider. What if you’re near retirement, or have a short investing horizon? Here are some things to consider if you don’t have much time to recover from market volatility.

1 A basis point is one hundredth of one percent, or 0.01%.
Below is a link to track Coronavirus Global Cases provided by Johns Hopkins CSSE.

The Surprising Science Behind Friendship

By Andrea Petersen
The Wall Street Journal
For many of us, the top of our life priority list might look something like this: family, work—maybe exercise. Time with friends can sometimes end up near the bottom.

That’s a mistake, says Lydia Denworth, a science journalist and the author of the new book “Friendship,” which was published last month by W.W. Norton & Co. Ms. Denworth interviews animal biologists studying baboons and rhesus macaque monkeys, anthropologists and neuroscientists to uncover just how important friendship is not only for happiness and emotional health, but, she argues, physical health, too. In fact, friends are key to our very survival, Ms. Denworth asserts.

Here are edited excerpts from an interview.

What does studying how animals relate to each other tell us about human friendships?

At its simplest, it’s just how critical quality social bonds and friendships are. In animals, the big measures that evolutionary biologists study are reproductive success, which they count as either how many babies you have or how long those babies live, and longevity, or how long you survive. Nonhuman primates have very structured hierarchies that they exist in, and everyone assumed that that must have more importance for how long you live and how many babies you have and how healthy they are. And it wasn’t. The most important thing was the strength of the social bonds, how positively and well and regularly an individual animal interacted with other animals. Scientists really couldn’t believe it.

How does friendship affect physical health?

Friendship literally improves your body’s cardiovascular functioning, how your immune system works, how you sleep. You can imagine the food you put in your body makes you healthy or not. But sitting in a coffee shop with someone and just chatting about what’s going on with your life, we always thought emotionally that made you feel good. But actually it really is doing much more.

A big study at Harvard of men across their lives from 20 to 80 found that the single best predictor of your health and happiness at 80 was not your wealth or your professional success. It was your relationships at 50.

What makes a good friendship?

The simple definition that biologists use is a friendship is positive, it makes you feel good, it is long-lasting and stable and it has reciprocity and cooperation in it. So there’s a little give and take. Friendship is about setting up your life so you have people you can rely on when you need them. Literally, it was for when the lions came hunting for your friends. Baboons and monkeys do better when they are together. It’s why humans were never really alone.

There’s not one way to do friendship. Some people are introverts and that’s fine. The difference between not having any close friends and having one is enormous in terms of your emotional health and physical health. Quality matters so much more than quantity. Most people only have an average of four really close friends.

Why do we become friends with one person and not another?

There’s this interesting chemistry to friendship. Just like in romance, you are more drawn to some people than you are others. Some of it is very straightforward: You are interested in the same things, you spend time in the same place. That’s one reason why we are close to relatives, because you have a head start, you spend more time with them than you do anyone else. We do tend to be better friends with people who are more like us.

Having a shared world-view turns out to be important. Scientists looked at all these people in a social network, showed them the same sets of videos and looked at how their brains responded to these videos. They could predict just by looking at the brain processing who was friends with whom. Literally, you hear and see the world more like the people you are friends with. The big question is: Is it cause or effect? Are you drawn to people who already see and process the world more similarly from the start or do you become more similar? Of course, as with so many things, the answer is probably both.

What impact is digital communication and social media having on friendships?

With relationships, it usually is net positive. One reason is just because people who are active on social media tend to have wider, bigger, more diverse social networks. What the research is showing is we tend to use social media as just an extra way to communicate with your good friends. And older adults, relationally, they absolutely benefit from social media because they have a harder time getting out or getting around or they’re further from their families. It really has opened up a new channel for people.

That doesn’t mean if you only operate online, you get all those benefits. You don’t. You need a lot of face-to-face time to get the health benefits. But it’s just not true that being online is automatically this big negative. The people for whom social media has a clearer negative effect seem to be people who are already suffering from depression maybe or loneliness.

How long does it take to make a friend?

The professor Jeff Hall at Kansas looked at college students new to college and followed them over time. He also looked at adults who just moved for a job. He found that it takes about 50 hours to go from considering someone an acquaintance to a friend and as many as 200 hours to consider somebody a best friend. You still need extra things, you also need that affinity for someone or that chemistry or that shared worldview. Sometimes we don’t appreciate how much time we have to put in.

Does it matter what you’re doing during that time?

It does. If you’re engaging in what’s called self disclosure—otherwise known as intense conversations about what’s really going on in your life and how you feel about it—that will bring you closer. It can also be catching up or joking around. If you ask someone to catch you up on their life, you are signaling that you care, that you value them enough to spend some time listening. It doesn’t have to be a heavy emotional conversation.

What do you want people to take away from your research?

We need to make friendship a priority in our lives. I hope people will take this not as something else to add to their to-do list but as permission to go hang out with your friends.
"Caring - about people, about things, about life -
is an act of maturity. "

- Tracy McMillan

Alexander Financial Planning
1621 W. First Avenue
Grandview Heights, OH 43212

Registered Investment Advisor
This material is distributed by Alexander Financial Planning, Inc., (AFPI) and is for information purposes only. Although information has been obtained from sources to be reliable, we do not guarantee its accuracy. It is provided with the understanding that no fiduciary relationship exists because of this report. Opinions expressed in this report are not necessarily the opinions of AFPI and are subject to change without notice. AFPI assumes no liability for the interpretation or use of this report. Financial planning, investment conclusions and strategies suggested in this report may not be suitable for all investors and consultation with a qualified advisor is recommended prior to executing any investment strategy. All rights reserved.