Quarter 1 | March 20, 2020
1st Quarter Newsletter
Special Note: Although we can agree it is not exactly “business as usual,” we want to share our 1st Quarter newsletter with you. Many of these articles were written a couple of weeks ago, yet they offer great insight regardless of the circumstances our nation is experiencing. Perhaps sharing some “normal” content, especially when many of you will have extra time at home to read, might be a welcome relief. Enjoy our newsletter!
Planning for Purpose: A Young Father's Perspective
By Lance Gunkel, CFP®, CFA, Managing Director
I recently escaped the Iowa winter by taking a trip with my family and dad on a Caribbean cruise. We enjoyed all of the typical cruise amenities: a wide array of food, evening entertainment, days spent reading by the pool or beach. My favorite moment was ziplining from a high perch across the ocean and landing on the beach. It was nice to see my dad enjoy this time spent with my family, and particularly his grandsons. While Dad wasn’t able to participate in all activities – a bum shoulder prevented him from ziplining – my dad was active for most of the cruise.
I see that relationships with my parents and in-laws have reached a new version – 2.0. This trip – and others we’ve taken in recent years – gives me a chance to experience life with them in new and exciting ways. We are now three generations who talk, laugh, and participate in life together. 
Enjoying life together with three generations shows a great example of Syverson Strege’s theme for 2020 – Planning for Purpose. I am grateful my parents have been intentional about taking care of their bodies and minds in order to fulfill one of their purposes…spending meaningful time with their family.
This has shown me the importance of taking care of one’s health for the long run. I’m thankful my parents took care of themselves so that they continue to be active, both individually and as a family. We are taught to be good stewards of our resources, and we tend to think of that from only a financial standpoint. It also applies to our physical and mental resources. My grandma Luella taught me this by example: she fanatically read novels, completed crosswords, and played Scrabble all through her 94 years. She kept her mental sharpness (and wit) until her death last year.
Becky Parrish, 60, was a member of the Air Force when at age 30, she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. As a result of the diagnosis, she was given a medical leave from service, but continued working as a nurse. Her mentality became one of “keeping what I have” in order to keep MS at bay.
Becky got into weightlifting, hitting the gym at 6:30 in the morning four times each week. While she found it hard to start, once it became routine, it was easy. The easiness comes because she feels her best on days that she’s at the gym.
Despite her MS, as well as hip and knee replacements, Becky provides a great example of how to embrace active aging. She travels with her six grandchildren to Hawaii each spring; every other year she and her husband go to the African safari; and she volunteers as a zookeeper. This fun and active lifestyle is possible because Becky had the foresight to stay active and eat healthy.
This year I’m “planning for purpose” and renewing my personal commitment to lay the groundwork so I can be healthy and active as I age. I’m going to take a lifespan approach in the hopes of not just living longer, but also making the years more rewarding through engagement, participation, and interconnectedness.
Why Planning for Long-Term Care is More Important than Ever
By Matt Roberts, MFM, CFP®, Chief Planning Officer
Last year I was inundated with questions about how to help with planning for a parent’s long-term care needs. As I presented at conferences, I would frequently get questions about how to pay for the rising costs for assisted living or skilled nursing care.

Unfortunately, in many of these cases, the solutions were not easy and often not what they wanted to hear. With the average cost of care over $250/day ($90,000+/year) and rising, it’s easy to understand why it’s such a hot topic.
In the U.S., there are three categories when it comes to preparedness for a long-term care event. These categories consist of people who 1) will need Medicaid, 2) have enough resources for retirement, but not quite enough for long-term care, or 3) have enough to self-insure any type of long-term care need.
According to research conducted by the AARP Public Policy Institute, approximately 65% of nursing home residents are supported primarily through Medicaid. This number will undoubtedly rise over time with an aging population.
No matter which group you fall into, having a plan is imperative.
For those seeking assistance through Medicaid for skilled nursing care, it’s important to understand the rules in the state where you reside. It’s critical to seek legal advice from an attorney specializing in elder care before taking action to qualify for Medicaid. In Iowa, in order to qualify for Medicaid, an individual must have $2,000 or less in “countable” assets and $2,349 or less in monthly income. For married couples where one spouse does not need care, $128,640 of assets can be kept in the non-applicant’s name. In discussions about Medicaid, I often get the question about gifting assets to family in order to qualify. In Iowa (and many other states), there is a five-year “look-back” period for gifts that could have otherwise been used to pay for care. Such a gift may result in the applicant being deemed ineligible for Medicaid.
Long-Term Care Insurance
If you have the time and resources to prepare for a long-term care event, there are often better solutions than spending down assets in order to qualify for Medicaid. A common solution is to purchase some type of long-term care insurance.
There are a variety of products that can help insure this risk. These include traditional long-term care insurance policies or a hybrid product (life insurance or annuity + long-term care insurance). The products being issued today are much different than the “old nursing home insurance.”
Newer policies commonly cover in-home care, assisted living, skilled nursing care, and memory care. The requirements for benefits are also more consistent. Policies written today will pay benefits if you are unable to do two out of the six activities of daily living (eating, bathing, dressing, transferring, using the bathroom, and continence). In my experience, people begin considering long-term care insurance in their 50’s and will purchase the insurance in their 60’s if they do at all. If it hasn’t been purchased by the time you reach 70, it’s typically cost prohibitive or you will no longer qualify for coverage due to health or age. Insurance isn’t always the answer, but it’s important to keep age in mind so that you can plan accordingly.
In certain, albeit rare, situations, it can make sense to self-insure. In essence, you are in a position to be your own insurance company. However, that doesn’t mean you don’t need a plan. First, it’s important to quantify the risk. To be conservative, I would plan on needing $250/day for five years. Without accounting for inflation, today’s cost would be approximately $450,000! With inflation, the numbers get too large to comprehend. Second, begin setting aside the funds now. Someone at age 50 should have around $300,000 of resources set aside just for this risk. Lastly, ensure that investing is according to the proper time horizon.
As always, your team at Syverson Strege is here to help you navigate all of life’s events. Please don’t hesitate to contact us if you are having concerns regarding your own situation or the situation of someone you care about.
Client Orientation Workshops
With the health of our clients and employees in mind, we have postponed the first Client Orientation Workshop on March 26 due to the suggested guidelines by the U.S. Coronavirus Task Force, the CDC, and Iowa’s Governor Reynolds. The remaining workshops are still on the schedule and we’ll keep you updated on any new postponements.

We care about you and what you think. We always have and we always will. We listen to what you say about your financial plan, your personal life goals, and your important feedback.  
We know that listening, asking good questions, and learning is the key to discovering your true needs. Listening and learning is also a great way to put forth the best financial plan for you. We recognize the importance, and are dedicated to, the task of presenting information to clients so they can understand and have peace of mind.
Because we care, and as a result of listening to your requests and needs, Syverson Strege will be offering Client Orientation Workshops for all clients, whether new or established, who want to learn more about being a Syverson Strege client.
If you attend, you’ll learn about the new Client Orientation Manual, recordkeeping tips, how to read your financial statements, how to use the Client Portal, the qualified charitable distributions (QCD) process, how to use DocuSign, and more. We’ll ask you to bring your devices (laptop, phone, iPad, etc.) so we can carefully walk you through the technical aspects of being a client at Syverson Strege.
We’re offering three different workshop dates in order to accommodate your schedule. The Client Orientation Workshops are scheduled, as of now, at the Syverson Strege office on the following dates and times.

Thursday, April 16 - 3:00-4:30 PM
Thursday, April 30 - 3:00-4:30 PM
Tuesday, May 12 - 3:00-4:30 PM
To register, click here or call Deb Longseth at 515-225-6000, or email her here . If you have an interest in joining remotely, contact Deb Longseth. 
How Syverson Strege Celebrated Random Acts of Kindness Day
Would you like an inside glimpse of the heart and soul of Syverson Strege and its employees? Read on.

Every Monday morning at 8:15, Syverson Strege employees gather for a short team meeting to start off the week. On Monday, February 10, the usual high fives, successes, and weekly schedule were discussed, but something unconventional happened. Lance Gunkel, Managing Director and leader of the team meetings, stood up with a fistful of $20 bills. What comes next is remarkable!

Lance proceeded to hand out a $20 bill to each employee. Lance told everyone that Monday, February 17 is Random Acts of Kindness Day and employees were encouraged to use the $20 to generate a random act of kindness. The wheels were turning in the minds of the employees figuring out what type of random act of kindness they would put into action. The employees loved this opportunity to give back!

With compassion as one of Syverson Strege’s core values, Random Acts of Kindness Day with action is a natural fit.

Here are a few of the stories, in the employees’ own words, that came from the random acts of kindness activity:

Employee #1
I asked my four-year-old grandson to help me think of who we could help with $20. He was a little confused, but he thought that helping feed kids who didn’t have food or couldn’t go to school because they didn’t have enough money for lunch, was a good idea. Then we thought of a family friend who was raising funds to go on a mission trip to an orphan school in Mali. We agreed that this is where we wanted to use the money. Thanks for the great opportunity to start teaching what money is really for!

Employee #2:
I had a great experience! I singled out a young woman in the produce section of the grocery store. When I explained that it was Random Acts of Kindness Day and gave her the $20, she had tears of happiness (and so did I). She said she just moved to town and was due with a baby in four weeks. I got the impression the $20 was really going to help her. We ended up hugging!

Employee #3:
I used the money to buy food to prepare a meal for a friend who is going through chemotherapy. I also had enough money left over to pay for a woman’s candy bar at Target since she was having a hard time finding $2 in her purse.

Employee #4:
I headed out this morning to take my tax paperwork to our CPA. I drove through downtown Des Moines thinking about how I would use my $20. I stopped by Highland Bakery on 6th Avenue and picked up doughnuts for the people at the tax preparer’s office. There was a woman in front of me with three small children and I paid for her order as well. The look on her face was priceless! So fun to do! My total came to $19.99 (no joke)!

Employee #5:
My wife is homeschooling a 7th grade boy who is from a low-income family. The mom is a single parent and she has six kids. When I asked my wife what we should do with our $20 Random Act of Kindness money, she mentioned that the young boy had just told her that his TracFone was out of minutes and his mom did not get paid for another two weeks. My wife gave him the $20 and he was elated and very thankful! He only uses his TracFone for family communication, so it’s not like he was using the minutes to play video games. He needed it for safety and we both felt good about bestowing kindness on this boy.

Employee #6:
For my random act of kindness, I bought breakfast for a stranger at Perkins in Orlando, Florida and the rest went for a large tip to the server.

As you reflect on some of these examples, what does spreading kindness look like for you? Join us in spreading kindness far beyond just one awareness day on February 17. As Roy T. Bennett said, “Be the reason someone smiles today. Be the reason someone feels loved and believes in the goodness in people.” 
Special Note: Shred-It event will be postponed due to the spread of the coronavirus, but in the meantime, you can use your extra time at home to search for documents that may eventually need to be shredded.
Welcome Julie Summa
Julie joined the Syverson Strege team in January 2020 as Director of Marketing & Communications. She has worked in product management at Briggs Corporation, print production management at Meredith Corporation, marketing and donor development for several nonprofits, and experienced being a stay-at-home Mom. Born and raised in Ft. Madison, Iowa, Julie earned her BSA from the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville.
I have a curious and overactive mind, often observing the world from unconventional angles. In my spare time, I enjoy walking on the trails around Polk City, hiking, bass fishing, playing racquetball, and reading. I find great joy in volunteering, serving on boards, leading Bible studies, serving on my church’s women’s ministry team, and mentoring young moms. I am married to my soul mate and husband, Dean, and we have two adult sons who live in the Des Moines area.
“Commit your works to the Lord, and your plans will be established.” Proverbs 16:3
FAQ Videos
Syverson Strege has launched a new FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) video series to help viewers understand fee-only planning and the products and services Syverson Strege offers.
Each video highlights one of our Syverson Strege employees. The employees did a fantastic job in front of the camera! For example, Cofounder David Strege answered the question, “What is the difference between financial planning and investment management?”
As you have more time at home, visit here to view the videos and see if your Financial Planner or Associate Planner was featured. 
New Email Communication
News & Views
On the 25 th of every month, you’ll be receiving a new email communication called News & Views . Normally, it will include important updates, links to interesting blog articles, information about Syverson Strege activities, philanthropy highlights, and news about upcoming events. Goals of this communication are to streamline the number of individual emails you receive from us and share an “inside look” of Syverson Strege. 
Coronavirus - Syverson Strege Client Plan
Thank you for your patience as we strive to serve you well during these ever-changing times. We are doing our best to keep you informed on any new business developments related to the coronavirus pandemic. The leadership team at Syverson Strege is doing its best to make decisions on a day-by-day basis to keep our employees, clients, and communities safe, while also moving our business forward.

In order to follow the recommendations by the U.S. Coronavirus Task Force, the CDC, and Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds:
  1. The Syverson Strege office will be closed and we will keep you updated as to when the office will reopen. All employees have confidential remote access to client information and can continue to help clients with questions and concerns.
  2. We will continue to process checks as normal; if you have checks, please send them by mail. We will have one person designated to receive the mail.
  3. Please feel free to continue to reach out via phone at 515-225-6000 or email. All phone and email systems will operate as normal.

We will continue to send out information proactively via email and social media as pertinent information arises and updates are needed.
Here are three blog articles that Chief Investment Officer Jason Gunkel has written each of the last three Fridays.
Friday, February 28: Click here
Friday, March 6: Click here
Friday, March 13: Click here
Syverson Strege
4125 Westown Parkway, Suite 104
West Des Moines, IA 50266