Quarter 2 | June 30, 2020
2nd Quarter Newsletter
What Day Is It?
By Lance Gunkel, CFP®, CFA, Managing Director
“Are we in May, June, or July?”
This is now a common question in my household. Many things have changed since the pandemic hit its stride in mid-March. The time of day and days of the week have morphed into one long segment: pandemic time. 
The lines have also blurred between family time, my kids’ school and homework time, and time at the office. It simultaneously feels like I’m both always – and never – at the office.

I feel strongly, however, that it is times like this that our company can shine. In leading Syverson Strege through this period, I’ve tried to remind our team that the work we have done and we’re doing now for our clients is important. The plans we help create form the basis for establishing a financial foundation that enables clients to withstand and be strong during periods of tumult. It is our job to have a plan in place so that their finances can be one less thing to worry about.
I have also learned that I need to be cognizant that our team is facing the same blurred lines that are present in my home. It’s wonderful that we’re able to help clients through this period, but I need to make sure that we’re also taking care of each other and ourselves.
It is too easy to forget that we are all dealing with a new set of challenges:
  • Juggling the demands of kids at home – helping keep them entertained, educated, well fed, and on the right track
  • Stress and anxiety related to health concerns
  • Supporting a spouse, family member, or loved one who may have lost a job or is experiencing unexpected financial hardship
I am continually amazed at how well our team is doing in this volatile period. I owe it to them to create an environment where they are able to juggle competing responsibilities. Our team members are best able to help others when they feel secure and have a firm grip on their own personal situations.
Why It's Time to Hit the Reset Button: Planning Beyond the Pandemic
By Matt Roberts, MFM, CFP®, Chief Planning Officer
I think the pandemic has caused many of us to press the reset button on our lives. It seems the country is starting to reevaluate what’s important in life. It’s leading to questions like “where do I want to spend my time” and “what do I want to do.”
I know the pandemic has caused hardships financially and professionally for people close to me. For some, this means a loss of a job or a reduction in pay. In other situations, the outcomes could be more severe (eviction, food insecurity, etc.). I believe there is no better time than now to get your financial house in order.
The pandemic is like covering the elements of your financial plan with sand and then pouring the sand through a sieve. Prior to March, you couldn’t see if your plan had gaps or not, but then COVID-19 hit and your financial preparedness was put to the test. For those who lost a job, the plan (or lack thereof) was immediately stress tested.
All of the sudden, having an emergency cash reserve was more important than ever. Of course, this is just one component of a financial plan. To achieve more of what we want out of life, we need to start viewing money as a tool to obtain the things we value (i.e., freedom, peace of mind, contentment).
The elements of a comprehensive financial plan include cash flow management, tax planning, risk management, retirement planning, estate planning, investment planning, and philanthropic planning. While textbooks are written on each topic, the purpose of this article is to focus on the areas that I believe will be critically important as we continue through this pandemic and future financial crises.
Cash Flow Management
It has been written many times, but can’t be stressed enough. Everyone should have an emergency cash reserve of three to six months’ worth of living expenses on hand to cover unexpected events or expenditures. In addition, any known expenses (vacations, home renovations, car purchases, etc.) in the next 12 months need to be kept in cash as well.

In the midst of the pandemic, maintaining an emergency cash reserve can be challenging if you’ve lost a job or had your salary reduced. However, make this goal a priority. Use budgeting software, such as the one provided to our clients through our Client Portal , to begin tracking expenses and find areas where you can begin to cut back.
Risk Management
It can be tempting to cut or forgo insurance to make ends meet in tough times. However, being underinsured or uninsured can make tough times worse. Depending on the phase of life you’re in, you could be exposed to different types of risk.
For some, it is providing for a spouse in the event of a premature death. The average amount of life insurance needed is 10X your salary, but a more sophisticated analysis should be performed.

For others, it could be having a plan to cover the cost of a long-term care event (see my article on long-term care planning). Make sure you are working with your team at Syverson Strege, or a licensed insurance agent, to evaluate and plan around the risks to which you are exposed.  
Estate Planning
You may be asking yourself why estate planning is so important right now. I can assure you that it is. I have had two clients pass away since March and know that planning a funeral through the pandemic is stressful even with the proper documents in place.
Meet with an attorney to determine the types of documents that make sense based on your situation. An attorney will typically provide you with a package of estate documents that includes a will, financial power of attorney, medical power of attorney, and living will. It is also important to ensure that you have named the proper people to help make financial and medical decisions for you. In light of the pandemic, I think you need to pay close attention to where your executor or power of attorney is located.
I encourage you to take this extra time at home to ensure that you feel comfortable with these areas of your plan. Please contact your team at Syverson Strege if you have any questions. Also, please forward this article to anyone who may benefit from this information.
How Johnne Syverson Was Involved in Making History
By Julie Summa, Director of Marketing and Communications
Sometimes scanning a whole string of credentials behind a financial advisor’s name can be puzzling.
Yet, in the world of financial planning, each one of the hard-earned credentials means an advisor has received education in a specific area to better help the clients they serve.
In this article, you’ll learn how Johnne Syverson was a sounding board in the creation of the education curriculum for one of the credentials and how he made history as part of the inaugural graduating class.
Most clients are encouraged when their financial planner has the credentials of CFP ® , CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ practitioner, or CFA ® , Chartered Financial Analyst charterholder. These designations indicate that the advisor has met extensive education requirements in the area of financial planning and investment management.
According to the American College of Financial Services, CFP ® CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ practitioners are rigorously trained in 72 areas of financial expertise and accrue thousands of hours of experience prior to earning their certification.
According to the CFA Institute, to become a CFA ® , a person must complete three levels of curriculum, each with its own exam. He or she must also complete work experience that is directly involved with the investment decision-making process.
One of the lesser known credentials is CAP ® , Chartered Advisor in Philanthropy. A CAP ® is trained in philanthropic giving and helps clients with effective charitable giving as part of their larger financial or estate plan.
Cofounder Johnne Syverson was among the first in the nation to attain the Chartered Advisor in Philanthropy (CAP ® ) designation from the American College of Financial Services. The CAP ® program is a three-course, graduate-level program focused on the best strategies for philanthropic planning.
On June 8, I visited with the manager of the CAP® Program and Academics at the American College of Financial Services. At that time, she informed me that Johnne is one of only 40 CAP ® professionals in the state of Iowa and one of 2,073 nationwide. Because Syverson Strege has three CAP ® professionals on staff, the firm is positioned to educate and help clients with their charitable endeavors.
Johnne was part of the first graduating class of 35 students to receive the designation in 2005. Not only was he in the inaugural graduating class, he was also a sounding board for the Chair of Philanthropy for the College when they were just getting the CAP ® designation up and running.
Johnne’s input helped in the development of the original curriculum for the CAP ® study materials. To this day, Johnne’s name is still mentioned in the video curriculum referencing him as an early adopter of the CAP ® designation.
Johnne has also been an encourager of other professionals receiving the designation. He formed a local study group in 2004 and invited eight other local attorneys, fundraisers, and planners to join him every other week for a 12-week period in preparation for the three graduate-level courses and exams.
Johnne effectively uses his CAP ® education not only with clients, but also in his work with Syverson Strege’s PEP (Planning for Effective Philanthropy) program. In the PEP program, Syverson Strege works directly with nonprofits to provide donor education on charitable giving tools. 

It is wise to pay attention to credentials and what they mean. If you know of someone who already has an advisor, encourage them them to check out their advisor's credentials. If they are looking for an advisor, encourage them to find one who has the proper credentials to help them create a successful financial plan. 
Philanthropy and Service Highlight
Although the pandemic has altered the way we serve our community, it certainly hasn’t changed Syverson Strege’s philanthropic spirit. We have continued to make a monthly donation to an employees’ favorite charity.

The office organized a food drive in March and made a financial donation to the food bank sponsored by The Des Moines Area Religious Council (DMARC).

Unfortunately, we cancelled the Giving Club this quarter and a company-wide day scheduled to help Greater Des Moines Habitat for Humanity, but plan to reschedule soon.

To support local businesses, each week an employee receives a gift card to their favorite restaurant or local business. Our mindset is to continue to serve even though it might not look quite the same as pre-pandemic times.

Individual employees continue to serve and volunteer on boards and for organizations. Click here to see a full list of organizations with which Syverson Strege or its employees are involved.

“We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.”
Winston Churchill
Check out our YouTube Channel for all the Syverson Strege videos. 
Coronavirus - Update
As COVID-19 restrictions are lifted in Iowa and around the nation, we are encouraged and are beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel. We are committed to protecting the safety of our clients and employees.

We will carefully monitor the CDC and local guidelines and implement protocol necessary for the well-being of our clients and employees. We will continue to proactively send out information via email and social media as any pandemic updates are needed.

In case you missed Chief Investment Officer Jason Gunkel’s bi-weekly coronavirus market updates, click on the blog page here and scroll down to read each Coronavirus Market Update.
Please note that Syverson Strege employees will be off on Friday, July 3 in observance of Independence Day. Employees will resume work on Monday, July 6. Have a safe holiday!
Quarterly Market Update Videos
Syverson Strege’s quarterly market updates help you be “in the know” about the market’s behavior and performance. Our investment professionals are dedicated to reviewing and understanding the market to develop and maintain an investment strategy that fits your needs. 1st Quarter 2020
Announcing… This Story Needs to Be Heard
Syverson Strege’s Lance Gunkel and Adam Steen have been working on an exciting podcast project that will be rolled out this summer! It’s called This Story Needs to Be Heard .

Imagine you were given 30 minutes to share the most important information about your life. What would you say? What details of your life would you want people to know? Ultimately, that’s your life message.

The goal of the This Story Needs to Be Heard podcasts will be to highlight stories of unsung heroes who are living a life of impact within Central Iowa and the surrounding area. We feel the podcasts will capture the most important moments of our guests’ lives so that future generations can know their values, purpose, and the “why” of their legacy…their life message. 

Our podcasts will capture these messages in audio and video format. Managing Director Lance Gunkel and Business Development Director Adam Steen will serve as hosts of the podcasts.

Have you thought about your life message? Your life message is not just your life story and it is not your legacy, which is actually defined as the amount of money or property left behind in your will. Instead, it is your forever message: a clear, concise, inspirational dose of wisdom. Those who hear it will want to hold on to, emulate, and embrace it. It is a testimony to a life well lived and a life lived with maximum impact.

The best messages live long after the life of the author and storyteller. Our past experiences shape who we are as individuals. Our experiences teach us, guide us, and lay the foundation for future generations. Far too often, these critical life experiences are not captured in written form, on audio, or on video. Perhaps This Story Needs to Be Heard will inspire you to record your life story!

Stay tuned…we’ll keep you posted as details about This Story Needs to Be Heard unfold.
Syverson Strege
4125 Westown Parkway, Suite 104
West Des Moines, IA 50266