CrossleyShear Wealth Management's Media

Make data privacy a priority in 2023

Make data privacy a priority in 2023

As our lives become more digitally integrated, our data becomes more valuable.

Often, data collectors say that the vast amount of information they take in is tightly secured or anonymized before it is packaged and resold. However, MIT researchers discovered in 2018 that individuals could be identified by combining two anonymized data sets covering the same population. A 2019 series from The New York Times went further, exposing the risk to privacy on a massive scale if a major tech firm’s anonymized location data was stolen and cross-referenced to publicly available property records.

As long as consumers’ concerns about privacy remain limited, there is little incentive for companies to cull their data collecting habits. When buying a new smart device such as a phone, tablet or computer or using a new service, look into its commitment to privacy. The market for such devices is growing, but at the moment they tend to be on the premium side of the product spectrum. Expect that to change as this topic gains traction.

In the meantime, here are some best practices to help minimize the amount of your information that data collectors can access.

Turn off personalized ads

Many of the largest ad space sellers, particularly those providing tech services like email and social media, now give the option to depersonalize your advertising experience. They’ll still collect the information, but there are some limits to how specifically targeted the ads can be. This is becoming a battleground topic in the tech industry, as companies that don’t rely on ad sales are finding privacy to be a strong selling point.

Skip the quiz

That silly online quiz to help you determine which fast food mascot you are may be mining serious information about you. Though it’s a bad practice, many online accounts rely on security questions to establish your identity, questions that are easily snuck into online quizzes.

Go digital and shred the rest

Your home or driveway may be advertising your wealth, making your mailbox and your trash a target. Despite the well-publicized thefts of user data in recent years, an online account is in many ways more secure than an unlocked mailbox, and generally less personal. Privacy experts recommend making the switch, and when you do get mail that contains information about your health, finances or family, make sure to shred it before you toss it.

Know what health data is being collected

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, or HIPAA, protects the information shared with your care provider. There is no similar regulation for health data you share with your fitness device manufacturer. It’s worth your while to make sure you understand what information is being collected and for what purposes. Go into the device settings to see what options you have. The EULA, or end-user license agreement, will have more information if you can read legalese.

Sources: The New York Times; Vox; The Washington Post; Fast Company; Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Consumer Reports; NPR; Goldman Sachs; ZDNet.com

 

Links are being provided for information purposes only. Raymond James is not affiliated with and does not endorse, authorize or sponsor any of the listed websites or their respective sponsors. Raymond James is not responsible for the content of any website or the collection or use of information regarding any website’s users and/or members. Raymond James does not provide tax or legal services. Please discuss these matters with the appropriate professional.

How to navigate inflation while in retirement

How to navigate inflation while in retirement

Top strategies for planning for and responding to inflation during retirement.

If you’re close to or in retirement, recent inflation has likely been unnerving, particularly given that stock markets have experienced significant volatility since early 2022. That is, you’re looking at higher prices while parts of your portfolio have lost value and your purchasing power has slipped. So, how should you respond to protect your retirement goals?

When it comes to investing, the best strategy generally is to think long term, develop a plan with your advisor and don’t panic. The long-term planning and diversification you and your financial professional have already done were designed to help you weather multiple scenarios, including rising inflation and zigzagging markets.

But what if you’re in or nearing retirement? Then do you have cause to panic? No. There’s still time to adjust your strategy and/or cut costs, and chances are your current retirement savings (paired with inflation-adjusted Social Security benefits) are already diversified enough to withstand inflation.

Maximize steady income

Social Security benefits and other annuitized income can help you keep pace with inflation during retirement. Most retirees, with a few exceptions, receive Social Security retirement benefits, which include a cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) designed to keep pace with inflation.

Because Social Security benefits are adjusted based on inflation, a portion of your retirement portfolio is already automatically protected from a significant erosion in purchasing power.

You can further strengthen your protection from inflation by including annuities with COLAs in your portfolio. Annuities are insurance contracts that pay out invested funds in defined, guaranteed monthly payments in the future (regardless of how the market is doing). When you choose an annuity, you can select one that includes a COLA to further strengthen this guaranteed source of income. Guarantees are based on the paying ability of the issuer.

Hurry up and wait

A diversified retirement portfolio may reduce inflation risks because some of the asset classes within it may perform well during times of high inflation, balancing out lost value from other asset classes.

But what if you’re in or near retirement and fear you don’t have enough time to make up for losses? That fear may drive action, but it’s likely better to do nothing at first. It’s time to use your sounding board. Before you make any changes to your financial plan, it’s critical that you consult with your family and financial professionals to temper heightened emotions. Because each person’s needs, goals and options are unique, a customized strategy based on your long-term goals is essential.

Next Steps

  • Work with your advisor to develop a long-term financial plan.
  • Examine your portfolio and research annuitized income sources to determine if they are right for you.
  • Avoid making emotionally driven or hasty investment decisions.
  • There is no assurance any investment strategy will be successful. Investing involves risk, including the possible loss of capital. Diversification does not guarantee a profit nor protect against loss.

Sources: investopedia.com; schwab.com; fidelity.com

Links are being provided for information purposes only. Raymond James is not affiliated with and does not endorse, authorize or sponsor any of the listed websites or their respective sponsors. Raymond James is not responsible for the content of any website or the collection or use of information regarding any website’s users and/or members. Raymond James does not provide tax or legal services. Please discuss these matters with the appropriate professional.

Pay off debt with a plan in mind

Pay off debt with a plan in mind

Strategies for minimizing interest payments and eliminating debt.

If you’ve accumulated more credit card debt than you can pay off in a few months, how can you quickly eliminate that debt while minimizing your interest payments?

The particular strategy you should follow will depend on many factors, including the total amount of debt, the nature of the debt, your credit score, your income and your financial plans. Because there are so many factors to consider, it’s best to talk to your advisor about the specifics of your situation, but below we share some general guidance.

A small amount of debt

If you’ve accrued a few thousand dollars in credit card debt, but you will be able to pay it off in 12 to 21 months, consider applying for a credit card with an introductory 0% APR period as well as a 0% balance transfer fee. The length of the 0% APR period can range from 15 to 21 months. If approved for the card, you could transfer your debt to it and pay it off during the 0% APR period, thereby avoiding any interest charges. The money you save can grow significantly, given the power of compounding.

However, before applying for the card, consider whether you plan on purchasing a home in the near future or applying for another type of loan. Applying for a new credit card might lower your credit score enough to negatively impact your loan application or the loan interest rate.

A significant amount of debt

If your debt is so substantial that you won’t be able to pay it off during the introductory period on a new credit card, you may want to seek a personal loan with a fixed interest rate. This interest rate is likely to be lower than the variable interest rate on your credit cards, and you can use the loan to pay off all the credit cards.

To choose the most favorable loan terms, you would want to use a debt consolidation calculator to compare different loan term options and the amount of savings each provides. Your advisor can also help you with the back-of-the-envelope calculations and parse your options (e.g., a securities-based line of credit).

Before seeking a loan, speak to your financial advisor about the specifics of your situation. They have likely helped others in the past who are battling debt issues and can help you find an objective way forward. If part of the debt is for medical bills, for example, your advisor may counsel you to first pursue having the medical debt forgiven. Your advisor may also recommend a nonprofit debt relief program, with counselors who will help you devise a debt reduction strategy for a small monthly service fee.

These counselors, along with other trusted financial professionals, can also recommend strategies that may help you avoid future debt problems.

Next steps

  • Speak to your advisor about the details of your debt situation.
  • Use online calculators to explore various debt reduction strategies.
  • Compare nonprofit debt management program offerings and fees.
  • Sources: incharge.org; debt.org; nerdwallet.com; bankrate.com

Links are being provided for information purposes only. Raymond James is not affiliated with and does not endorse, authorize or sponsor any of the listed websites or their respective sponsors. Raymond James is not responsible for the content of any website or the collection or use of information regarding any website’s users and/or members. Raymond James does not provide tax or legal services. Please discuss these matters with the appropriate professional.

Protecting your Social Security payout

Protecting your Social Security payout

To handle payments for a disabled senior, it's not enough to put powers of attorney, medical directives or guardianship arrangements in place.

One in three seniors will die with dementia.1 It’s a sobering statistic, and when you consider it alongside increasing longevity, it’s easy to see why planning for the potential impact of diminished capacity on your or a loved one’s future finances is critical.

An estimated 6.5 million Americans ages 65 and older are living with Alzheimer’s, and more than 11 million Americans are providing unpaid care for someone struggling with dementia.1 Numbers like these prove that planning for the possibility of long-term care and considering who will make decisions if you can’t is not simply smart, it is necessary. And that planning now – before you have the need or are unable to share your wishes – is essential.

Protecting yourself

When it comes to handling Social Security payments for a disabled senior, establishing powers of attorney, medical directives or guardianship arrangements may not be enough. The Social Security Administration (SSA) requires a special designation known as representative payee.

A representative payee is someone who acts on behalf of another person who is incapable of representing themselves and is responsible for directing payouts exclusively to meet a beneficiary’s needs. The SSA may determine that an individual is incapable of managing or directing someone else to manage his or her benefits and would then appoint a representative payee. Family members may also consult the SSA if they believe their family member necessitates a representative payee. Generally, a family member or friend serves as representative payee. If friends or family are not able to serve as payees, the SSA will look for qualified organizations to be representative payees.

The SSA requires that all legally incompetent adults and most minor children (a disabled child or young adult entitled to Supplemental Security Income, for example) have a representative payee. In most cases, the person in this role cannot be paid for the work they do on behalf of the incapacitated person. And the SSA requires them to keep careful records.

A critical thing to keep in mind about the responsibilities of acting as a representative payee is that the permissions that accompany the role do not extend to other facets of your affairs. Making medical decisions or signing legal documents on your behalf will still require that someone be granted powers of attorney or guardianship.

Protecting a loved one

If you assume the role of representative payee, the SSA offers a range of resources via ssa.gov, including a series of training videos, a downloadable guide and a frequently asked questions page. The process will likely require a trip to a Social Security office and a completed SSA-11 form explaining why the beneficiary needs assistance and why they have selected you for the job. Recall, too, that this designation will be in addition to any other legal or medical role you might be playing for your loved one. It’s one piece of the larger whole that, with forethought and planning, can help ensure your loved one’s – or your own – future is secure.

1 Alzheimer’s Association, “2022 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures”

Links are being provided for information purposes only. Raymond James is not affiliated with and does not endorse, authorize or sponsor any of the listed websites or their respective sponsors. Raymond James is not responsible for the content of any website or the collection or use of information regarding any website’s users and/or members. Raymond James does not provide tax or legal services. Please discuss these matters with the appropriate professional.

From the Desk of Dale Crossley and Evan Shear

From the Desk of Dale Crossley and Evan Shear

Is a Recession in 2023 Likely?: 7 Indicators to Watch

"You get recessions, you have stock market declines. If you don't understand that's going to happen, then you're not ready, you won't do well in the markets." — Peter Lynch

As the ups and downs of the markets continue, we receive questions daily on whether we think that a recession in 2023 is likely. As you know, a healthy economy experiences recessions from time to time. Since 1945, the U.S. economy has experienced 13 different recessions. Most downward turns have lasted only about ten months, while periods of economic growth typically last about 57 months. Even the Great Recession of 2008 lasted only about 18 months.

Chatter about the possibility of a recession has been going on for months since the U.S. Gross Domestic Product (GDP) for the first and second quarters of 2022 turned negative. However, there's no official announcement, even after two consecutive quarters of negative GDP, because other economic indicators were strong in the same time frame. So, although we can’t predict a recession, here are the indicators to watch.

First, What Is a Recession?

A recession is a significant drop in economic activity generally identified by negative GDP in two consecutive quarters. Other leading economic indicators include:

  • A drop in employment levels
  • A decrease in consumer spending
  • A reduction in industrial output

These indicators have to be significant, widespread, and prolonged for an official announcement to be made.

Review of Current Economic Indicators

The National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) announces a recession when economic indicators show signs of a continued slowdown. Here's a review of the current economic indicators.

  1. Gross Domestic Product (GDP)

The U.S. GDP had a positive growth of 2.9 percent in the final quarter of 2022. This was after a 3.2 percent growth in GDP in the third quarter. If two consecutive quarters with a negative GDP define a recession, the U.S. is not currently experiencing one.

  1. Unemployment Rate

The U.S. labor market remains strong despite concerns for further slowdown and economic unsteadiness. The unemployment rate in December was 3.5 percent, lower than in December 2021. The job market was tight toward the end of the year, with the employment rate hitting a half-century low.

  1. Consumer Price Index (CPI)

The inflation rate remains above the Federal Reserve's two to three percent target. This has a significant effect on purchasing power. In December 2022, CPI was at a positive 6.5 percent, down from 7.1 percent in November.

  1. The Stock Market

The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) fell into a bear market in September 2022. This means it fell by more than 20 percent since its previous highest.

  1. ISM Manufacturing Index

December 2022 was the second consecutive month that the manufacturing index fell in more than 29 months. The manufacturing PMI dropped from 49 percent in November to 48.4 percent in December 2022. This shows lower economic activity in the sector.

  1. Industrial Production

Although industrial production in December 2022 was down 0.7 percent from the previous month, it was up 1.6 percent from 2021. This means that industrial output might appear stronger than a year ago.

  1. Retail Sales

December 2022 retail sales were down 1.1 percent since the previous month but up six percent from 2021. This shows that the average consumer is careful about spending.

What Experts Are Saying

The Chief Economists of the World Economic Forum's Community expect a recession in 2023. Seventy-five percent of those surveyed for the Chief Economist Outlook believe this. According to the survey, 18 percent consider a recession extremely likely, compared to nine percent in the previous September 2022 survey.

They further anticipate monetary tightening in Europe and the U.S. as geopolitical tensions continue to affect the global economy. All the respondents expect weak economic growth in Europe, while 91 percent expect weak growth in the U.S. This is a significant increase compared to the previous survey, where 86 percent expected weak growth in Europe and 64 percent expected it in America.

How Long and Severe Will a Recession in 2023 Potentially Be?

Since recessions have many indicators, NBER, the agency that officially calls them, has difficulty predicting their length and severity. Although the GDP is a significant indicator and was negative for two consecutive quarters, the agency couldn't announce a recession because other indicators didn't confirm a recession.

Final Thoughts on the Likelihood of a Recession in 2023

Recessions are an inherent part of an economy and, unfortunately, affect the markets and investments. However, history tells us that markets recover over time. Staying invested and using a sound investment strategy, such as Voyage, is the best defense against times of economic downturn. We can’t predict whether a recession will be a reality in the coming year, but we can help prepare your portfolio to best weather 2023, with or without a recession.

Please do not hesitate to reach out with questions or concerns about your financial plan.

Links are being provided for information purposes only. Raymond James is not affiliated with and does not endorse, authorize or sponsor any of the listed websites or their respective sponsors. Raymond James is not responsible for the content of any website or the collection or use of information regarding any website’s users and/or members. Raymond James does not provide tax or legal services. Please discuss these matters with the appropriate professional.

There is no guarantee that these statements, opinions or forecasts provided herein will prove to be correct. All opinions are as of this date and are subject to change without notice. Past performance is not a guarantee of future results.

Find us on Facebook