There is a 1954 MGM movie starring William Holden, June Allyson, and Barbara Stanwyck that’s remarkably relevant to events that transpired in August 2019. Nominated for multiple Academy Awards, Executive Suite is a story about the internal struggle for control of a furniture manufacturing company after the unexpected death of the company’s CEO. The central conflict pits the interests of maximizing profits and shareholders’ gains against product quality, employee pride, and long-term growth. The last five minutes are riveting, something every newly minted MBA should take time to watch.
Fast-forward to what transpired this summer when 181 CEOs, including those from JP Morgan Chase, Johnson & Johnson, and Walmart, drafted a new Statement of Corporate Purpose focused on “social responsibility.” Social responsibility? This represents a very public rebuke of the Milton Friedman worldview that helped launch a half century of “shareholder capitalism.” In Friedman’s worldview, the business of business is business, and the sole focus of the CEO is to maximize the profits of that business.
The cynic in me conjures up all sorts of upshots: financial institutions quit pushing lousy products; big pharma takes responsibility for its role in the opioid epidemic; retailers limit sales of e-cigarettes … Wait! These things are actually happening. It dawns on me that the new paradigm of social responsibility was driven by consumer activism, not some altruistic effort cooked up by a Business Roundtable.
When a business fails to place the needs of its clients first, it loses sight of why it is in business. The realist in me understands that good business requires a balance between profitability and its offering(s) in order to be sustainable — otherwise, how can investments be made in elevating people and product?
PWA Wealth Management abides by this tenet: Place the client’s interests above your own, and everything will take care of itself. Our Statement of Corporate Purpose (“Mission”) has never wavered, reflecting this sentiment and more:
To be renown for our client-centric, problem-solving wealth management skills which provide unprecedented value for successful families, businesses, and institutions
that lasts for generations.
We are blessed and we give back.
This is our Company DNA.
Thank you for the privilege of serving as your Wealth Advisor. We never take it for granted and seek always – and in all ways – to assist you in achieving financial security and well-being.
Joesph A. Scarpo
Founder and CEO
This quarter’s edition of Why It Matters addresses the Spending & Budgeting capabilities within myQuest, your very own personal financial hub. Available to all PWA clients, myQuest is designed to provide you a Quantitative Understanding of Everything, yielding Stability and Trust. The Spending & Budgeting capabilities are foundational.
Do you work with more than one bank? Even if the answer is no, you probably have at least two accounts (checking and savings) with your bank. On top of that, according to data compiled by TransUnion from the first quarter of 2017, the average number of credit cards per person in the United States was 2.69. That means the average person needs to keep track of their transactions across 4-5 accounts.
Wouldn’t it be great if you could monitor all your transactions in one place? With the myQuest Spending & Budgeting tools, you can. Although you may not abide by a strict budget, knowing how and where you spend your money can be enlightening, and these tools enable you to do just that! These tools allow you to create monthly spending budgets while also tracking spending habits on your accounts. The Spending page comprises three sections: Overview, Budgets, and Transactions:
The Overview tab shows spending by category over a specific date range. MyQuest allows you to pick the date range, the categories, and the accounts. From there, the program populates a pie chart outlining exactly how much was spent in each category. You can also click into the category to see a list of transactions from the specified date range and accounts.
The Budgets tab enables you to effectively manage your expenses. You can either add budget items one at a time by category, or you can select “Create an Auto-Budget” to view your average spending from the past six months. Once you have added your budget, myQuest allows you to view a Budget History that lays out the amount budgeted, the amount spent, and whether you are over- or under-budget.
The Transactions tab displays every transaction within your established accounts. The number of transactions and the total amount spent are displayed at the top of your transactions list. Each transaction is automatically assigned a description and category, but you can make changes quickly by clicking the transaction’s row and typing a new description and/or selecting a new category from a dropdown list. Additionally, you can apply edits to types of similar transactions by creating a rule to automatically rename or re-categorize them. Subcategories can also be created for precise labeling of transactions.
There are other budgeting and spending tools on the market, but, generally, they are limited in scope. The many advantages of myQuest include its wide variety of features and advanced analytical tools. While tracking ALL your investments, reviewing your financial goals, running reports and projections, and securely storing your financial and personal documents, you can also start tracking and effectively track and manage your spending and budgets in ONE place with ONE login.
For an introduction to myQuest or to become more familiar with its robust capabilities, please contact your PWA Wealth Advisor.
Joseph (J.C.) Howard
PWA Wealth Advisor
Social Security is part of the retirement plan of almost every American. To be eligible, you or your spouse need to have worked – and paid Social Security taxes – for a minimum of ten years. Choosing the best way to utilize this resource may be critical to your retirement success.
The first factor to consider is what Social Security refers to as your Normal Retirement Age: the age at which you can receive retirement benefits without any reduction. Your Normal Retirement Age is determined by the year in which you were born and ranges from ages 65 to 67. This is important because your Normal Retirement Age governs how much more or less annual Social Security income you will receive if you begin your retirement benefits earlier or wait to take them later.
For example, if you begin receiving Social Security retirement benefits at the earliest age possible – 62, you will receive only about 70% of the benefit you would have received at your Normal Retirement Age. If, however, you delay beginning your benefits until later than your Normal Retirement Age, you receive an approximate 8% increase in your annual benefit for each year of delay up to age 70.
The timing issue gets more complex as you attempt to coordinate the starting date of both married partners. Does one spouse have very little benefit accrued while the other is significant? Is there a significant difference in age? How critical is the benefit to meeting cash flow needs? These issues and others, including assessing the tax impact and making estimates of life expectancy all need to be considered in the decision-making process.
Determining when to begin Social Security retirement benefits is unique to each individual. PWA Wealth Management regularly assists clients in this decision-making process, and we are happy to help you.
This financial topic and more are discussed in brief videos that are available in the Just Ask Ussection of the PWA website. Be sure to “tune in.”
PWA Wealth Advisor
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