THE SAFE HARBOR ASSET MANAGEMENT BLOG

Submitted by Safe Harbor Asset Management Huntington, NY on October 2nd, 2018

The Importance of Personal Umbrella Policies

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What would happen if you or your child caused a car accident that resulted in serious injuries or the deaths of others?
How would you pay for the treatment and damages of someone who was hurt in your home and claimed negligence? What happens when they claim to have suffered greatly because of the injury?
What if your dog was attacked by a stranger on your property and bit the person in self-defense, but you were still sued?
These are questions that anyone could face. However, one component of a wealth protection plan that is often overlooked or underused, even by the affluent, is the umbrella policy.
Here's why an umbrella policy can make sense if you have significant assets.

The Benefits of Umbrellas
You have insurance policies on your house and vehicles. You might also insure other types of property you own (boats, airplanes, etc.). But do you have enough coverage, considering your personal wealth?
If you're financially successful, the answer may be a resounding no.
The reason is that most insurance policies top out at around $500,000 of liability coverage. That may not be enough if you find yourself involved in a serious accident. For example, people who get hurt on your property may seek much more than $500,000 in damages.
That's where an umbrella policy (also called an excess liability policy) can make a big difference. An umbrella policy kicks in when your other liability policies (such as your car insurance) hit their limit. For instance, let's say you are involved in an accident and are being sued for $1 Million, but your car insurance covers only $300,000. In that case, your umbrella policy could cover the difference so you don't have to use personal assets.
Clearly, then, an umbrella policy can be useful in helping to protect your assets from larger claims and lawsuits.
To have an umbrella policy, you need to have the other insurance policies, such as car or homeowner's insurance, already in place.
Make sure there isn't a gap between your other policies and your umbrella policy. Where your car insurance ends, for example, the umbrella should take over, otherwise you're on the hook for that gap. And if the underlying car insurance policy is not addressing certain risks, then the umbrella policy can also miss covering these risks.

A Big Enough Umbrella?
We find that most wealthy individuals and families don't have large enough umbrella policies to adequately protect their assets. If a legal judgment is greater than your liability coverage, you are going to have to come up with the difference, which may mean selling assets, possibly at fire-sale prices because of the bind you're in.
A general rule of thumb is that if your net-worth is $20 Million or less, make sure your umbrella policy covers what you're worth. If you are worth more than $20 Million, it becomes a question of how much risk you're comfortable taking on.
Many ultra-wealthy individuals, for instance, will get as large and comprehensive an umbrella policy as possible. While the odds of having to use it are in their favor and it's even more unlikely that they will reach the limits of the policy, the possible financial downside from a serious accident and substantial lawsuit is something they prefer not to even consider. As one person with a $10 Million umbrella policy told us, "it costs less than putting an attorney on retainer to defend you in the event of a suit."
That said, it can be challenging to insure up to the amount you wish. That's because some insurance companies cap the size of the policies they offer, usually at $5 Million. If you require more than $5 Million in coverage, you may need to enlist a specialty insurance company, which might be able to offer policies of up to $100 Million.

Coverage Above and Beyond
An umbrella policy usually covers bodily and psychological injuries, and can even include slander, libel and defamation. It can also cover damage caused by someone else for whom you're responsible, such as a child.

The Cost of Coverage
How much will a hefty umbrella policy set you back? A number of factors determine the cost of coverage, including:

  • Number of homes and where they are located
  • Number of cars and the number of people being covered (including their driving histories)
  • Number of boats and planes
  • Amount of existing liability coverage you have before adding the umbrella policy
  • The good news is that umbrella policies tend to be relatively inexpensive, because the severe occurrences that trigger them are uncommon.

  • The upshot? If you don't have an umbrella policy, run don't walk and get one. If you do have an umbrella policy, make sure you're sufficiently covered, and boost that coverage amount if you're not.

    ACKNOWLEDGMENT: This article was published by the BSW Inner Circle, a global financial concierge group working with affluent individuals and families and is distributed with its permission. Copyright 2018 by AES Nation, LLC


    Submitted by Safe Harbor Asset Management Huntington, NY on October 2nd, 2018

    The Super Rich's Three Big Fears-and How They Work to Overcome Them

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    Significant wealth can reduce many of life's trouble-but it can't eliminate them entirely. Even the richest among us have fears.

    What's more, they often share many of the same worries the rest of us have.

    But there is one difference. In our experience working with the Super Rich-people with a net worth of at least $500 million-we find that they frequently take some highly effective steps to address those worries and, quite often, overcome them. With that in mind, here's a look at three fears they tell us they struggle with-and some ways they combat those fears.

    If you share one or more of these fears, consider taking a page from the Super Rich playbook to tackle it.

    Health, family and wealth The Super Rich tell us that they struggle with three main fears about their lives and the lives of their families:

  • Severe health problems for themselves or loved ones
  • Dysfunctional family members doing substantial damage
  • Losing their wealth
  • Fear #1: Severe health problems

    Severe health concerns for you or the people your care most about can easily distract you and drain you-emotionally, physically and even financially. Dealing with them is a top priority for the Super Rich, as it is for most everyone else.

    Of course, the Super Rich are in a stronger position than many others to potentially mitigate the possibility of severe health problems-as well as very effectively deal with them when they arise. But the fact is, anyone can have heart disease or get cancer or contract a debilitating illness. Genetics can be a strong counterbalance to the power of personal wealth.

    To address health-related concerns, consider these Super Rich steps:

    1. Join a concierge medical practice. Concierge medicine is a membership model: For a fee, you get access to "boutique" medical practices with relatively small ratios of patients to physicians-enabling faster appointments, longer visits and significantly more personalized care given (in many cases) by physicians with far greater expertise than the typical care providers. Concierge practices might also offer tech-enabled care such as telemedicine through smartphones.

    2. Pursue a longer life. Concerns over possible severe health problems are prompting more people to work on ways to extend their longevity. One example is personal genome sequencing-a process that can reveal a person's specific future health risks so they can be addressed early on. Longevity-focused care providers are increasingly in demand, and common, as well.

    FAMILY AND WEALTH

    Fear #2: Dysfunctional family members

    Most families across the wealth spectrum have some conflicts. But family-related issues can get especially challenging when there's wealth involved.

    Consider "bad seed" family members who exploit their families (and sometimes their family businesses) for personal gain, to the detriment of other family members and the company. Bad seed family members can destroy family harmony as well as family wealth and the future prospects of that wealth.

    Another common problem is self-absorbed and entitled children. Some of these more hedonistic kids get themselves into jams such as being arrested or being center stage in lawsuits.

    The most forwarding-thinking Super Rich parents tend to combat these and similar problems in two ways:

    1. Financial solutions. Trusts with built-in oversight of an overprivileged child's inheritance can be an effective way to protect the child and other people. Such trusts might also help protect assets from creditors and others. Of course, the best way to use a trust will depend on the particular situation.

    2. Personal solutions. Crisis management and behavioral professionals are tapped to address any damages, provide counseling and rehabilitation, and help families take other steps to transition the child into more responsible behavioral patterns.

    Fear #3: Losing their wealth

    Despite their wealth-or perhaps because of it-the Super Rich worry about the emotional and financial pain of losing their affluence and all that accompanies it. That's especially true among the Super Rich who have the other two worries noted. After all, severe health problems and family dysfunction can certainly contribute to the Super Rich losing their wealth.

    That said, the Super Rich also worry about people who might maliciously try to take their wealth. Their affluence makes them targets, in many cases, of actual criminals-as well as targets of lawsuits, creditors, former spouses and others.

    Solutions that can help prevent the loss of wealth are many and various, and include:

    1. Finding and working with reliable financial professionals. Advisors with proven integrity and full operational transparency are crucial. Typically, such high-caliber advisors are found through referrals from trusted peers and other professionals.

    2. Implementing asset protection strategies. Various forms of insurance (such as an umbrella policy) and trusts can discourage others from attempting to take your wealth via unfounded lawsuits and similar attacks. Placing assets in the name of someone else, such as a spouse, may also help build a moat around wealth.

    3. Shoring up physical protections. The Super Rich often make use of advanced security and monitoring systems that employ technology such as infrared cameras and sensors. But even setting a realistic-looking fake security system can deter many thieves.

    Implications

    To varying degrees, families who are not Super Rich can use many of the same approaches to dealing with these types of fears and challenges.

    For example, concierge medicine is becoming increasingly cost-effective and available to a broader array of people. Likewise, many high-caliber financial professionals now serve the "merely affluent."

    Bringing Super Rich approaches to your issues can potentially allow you to conquer your fears and achieve results you never thought possible-enabling you and the people you care about most to live great lives.

    ACKNOWLEDGMENT: This article was published by the VFO Inner Circle, a global financial concierge group working with affluent individuals and families and is distributed with its permission. Copyright 2019 by AES Nation, LLC.


    Submitted by Safe Harbor Asset Management Huntington, NY on October 2nd, 2018

    Four Ways the Super Rich Manage Their Wealth

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    The self-made Super Rich-people with a net worth of at least $500 million that they built through their own hard work-often possess a treasure trove of knowledge, insights and actionable strategies that the rest of us can adopt in our own lives to enhance our success.

    Here are four ways the Super Rich manage their wealth.

    #1: Work with top-of-the-line experts*

    No one we know has ever said, "I want to work with an inferior advisor!" The Super Rich strive to work only with professionals who are recognized as experts by other professionals as well as by other wealthy, successful individuals and families.

    These prominent authorities are not famous because they say they are. They are renowned among their select wealthy cohorts and other high-quality professionals because they share meaningful insights, evidence-based methodologies and potent solutions with others. For these elite professionals, it's all about raising the bar for everyone.

    The upshot: Being methodical and thoughtful can help you find the top-of-the-line experts who can deliver the greatest value. Concentrate your search on experts who are prominent thought leaders in their fields. Very important, talk to other professionals and peers you trust. These actions can dramatically increase the probability of working with extremely talented, trustworthy professionals.

    #2: Make sure your experts are focused on the human element

    Attentiveness to the human element-the personal and emotional components of financial and wealth planning-is essential. That's because most, if not all, legal strategies and financial products have become commoditized. Focusing on the human element is what truly produces optimal results today. Therefore, you need to work with outstanding professionals who are intensely focused on you and your world-not simply on financial tools.

    This means the professionals you work with should be taking five key action steps in their dealings with you:

  • Ask you what you want to accomplish.
  • Learn about you as an individual, as a member of a family-as everything you are in life.
  • Build bridges by becoming increasingly attuned to how you view the world.
  • Learn what really matters to you deep down-and what concerns wake you up at night.
  • Do what's in their power to help you achieve your most important goals.
  • *Always remember: There's no guarantee that simply working with a well-known expert will ensure that you achieve your financial goals. Keep in mind the other ways described here that the Super Rich vet their experts and the wealth management solutions they propose.

    MORE SMART WAYS TO MANAGE WEALTH

    #3: Make sure you understand what you're agreeing to

    The Super Rich make sure they have a good grasp of what they agree to when it comes to their financial and legal decisions. You should, too, of course!

    This doesn't mean being cognizant of every little technical aspect of your financial plan. Rather, it's about understanding the benefits, limitations and implications of the solutions you are using (or considering).

    Example: When people use irrevocable trusts, it means they cannot completely change their minds. For instance, when a person sets up a charitable trust, there are tax benefits. But he or she cannot, some years later, decide to just cancel the trust and take back the money.

    Too often, individuals and families with significant wealth don't really understand what they're signing up for when they agree to implement a particular financial solution, tool or strategy. It can be extremely problematic, of course, to not understand the assured, likely or even long-shot consequences of actions taken with your wealth.

    Pro tip: Be ready to be assertive. If you don't understand the big picture of a strategy or solution-such as why it's being proposed or how it might behave in a variety of possible scenarios-get the answers. It's perfectly fine to say that you can't move forward until you are comfortable that you understand the implications of a proposed strategy. The Super Rich have no problem being assertive in this way with their professionals.

    #4: Trust but verify

    The Super Rich are big proponents of Ronald Reagan's dictum "Trust but verify." If you're unsure or uncomfortable about a proposed wealth management solution, you should look for verification. This is especially true if the proposed solution comes from someone other than a trusted advisor you already work with. In such cases, it's often smart to get a second opinion from your trusted advisor.

    Along the same lines, it's generally a good idea to (when appropriate) stress test your wealth plan to determine whether it's still likely to deliver the results you want in the way you want. Stress testing can uncover issues before they become costly.

    Build and maintain great relationships

    Ultimately, the key is to adopt the best practices of the Super Rich if you seek to join their ranks-or even to just become significantly wealthier than you are today.

    Best practices are ways of thinking and approaching situations, including strategic and tactical activities that produce superior results. The ways the Super Rich find and work with professionals, for example, are best practices. They get enormous value from their relationships with their professionals not just because they hire talented experts, but because of how they structure and manage those relationships to achieve their agendas.

    The message is clear: To enjoy the same results the Super Rich enjoy, you have to think and act like the Super Rich. Applying these four lessons as you work with your financial and legal professionals can potentially help you maximize the probability of achieving all that is most important to you.

    ACKNOWLEDGMENT: This article was published by the VFO Inner Circle, a global financial concierge group working with affluent individuals and families and is distributed with its permission. Copyright 2019 by AES Nation, LLC.


    Submitted by Safe Harbor Asset Management Huntington, NY on October 2nd, 2018

    Elite Wealth Planning What it is and why it matters

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    Elite wealth planning often plays a key role in the lives of today's highly successful individuals and families-as well as those who are on the path toward great financial success.

    With that in mind, here's a closer look at just what elite wealth planning is-how it works and how it can potentially have a powerful impact on your life as you seek to build, preserve and protect your wealth.

    The key elements of elite wealth planning

    Before we can see what makes elite wealth planning so special, it's important to understand the various planning strategies that make up the core of most elite wealth planning efforts.

    Typically, elite wealth planning consists of seven main types of planning:

    1. Income tax planning focuses on mitigating taxes on money earned by working-potentially enabling you to keep more of the money you make.

    2. Estate planning involves using legal strategies and financial products to determine the future disposition of current and projected assets. Critically, it is important to determine who will own the assets and how they will be owned.

    3. Marital (and related relations) planning entails planning for disruptions in the relationships between spouses and other partners. The intent is to take actions that will protect your family's wealth.

    4. Asset protection planning entails employing legally accepted and transparent concepts, strategies and financial products that are designed to help ensure your wealth is not unjustly taken.

    5. Charitable tax planning addresses ways to be philanthropic in the most tax-efficient manner. The tax code fosters philanthropy, and charitable planning can help maximize the impact of your giving.

    6. Business succession planning principally deals with helping entrepreneurs tax-efficiently transition their businesses to others, whether they are family members or not.

    7. Life management planning addresses an array of concerns from a wealth management perspective-for example, structuring wealth to deal with longevity- and health-related concerns and actions.

    In practice, there can be great overlap between these areas of planning, as well as opportunities for them to work together to accomplish more than they could alone. Some examples:

  • By placing assets into an irrevocable trust for the primary purpose of transferring them to heirs-an estate planning strategy-elite wealth planning might pinpoint related strategies for protecting your assets.
  • Business succession planning can be entwined with estate planning and potentially other planning specialties to support your goals in multiple areas.
  • Clearly, elite wealth planning is designed to help address your needs, wants and preferences across a full spectrum of planning specialties-potentially enabling you to optimally structure all the areas of your financial life.

    PUTTING THE ELITE IN ELITE WEALTH MANAGEMENT

    These various types of wealth planning are not new, nor are they in any way restricted to the very wealthiest among us. Lots of people can seek help with their charitable giving, marital planning or income tax planning.

    Additionally, the level of technical expertise possessed by a professional wealth manager offering wealth planning isn't a major differentiator. Wealth managers who are "just" technically adept and elite wealth planners both can be considered state-of-the-art in terms of their expertise (see the table below). All technically skilled wealth planners should be able to deliver essentially the same menu of solutions to their clients.

    But there is one key characteristic that tends to make elite wealth management so-well, elite: the focus of the particular wealth manager.

    Specifically, elite wealth planners focus intently on the human element of the wealth planning process-understanding their clients on deep, personal levels that go beyond the numbers that appear on their tax returns or balance sheets.

    In contrast, technically adept wealth planners are generally more focused on the legal strategies and financial products such planners can offer. This doesn't mean that technically adept wealth planners are not concerned with interpersonal relationships with their clients and the psychology of the affluent. But from an objective standpoint, interpersonal relationships with clients are of much less concern to technically adept wealth planners than they are to elite wealth planners.

    While elite wealth planning can include some highly sophisticated thinking and solutions, we strongly believe the human element is much more important. In elite wealth planning, the client-be it an individual, a business owner or a family-takes center stage in all discussions and decisions. The elite wealth planner's technical capabilities and solutions exist only to serve the client and provide what he or she wants most as a person.

    That's why we define elite wealth management this way:

    Elite wealth planning is a comprehensive planning process that incorporates state-of-the-art technical expertise in legal strategies and financial products with the human element.

    Unfortunately, the human dynamic is too often overshadowed by legal and financial expertise. To get truly meaningful results, a wealth planner must be acutely attuned to both the rational side and the emotional side of a person-the logical and the illogical. It's this awareness of and sensitivity and responsiveness to the human element that we firmly believe makes wealth planning elite.

    Bonus: The comprehensive process at the core of elite wealth planning enables both the wealth planner and the client to reveal more about themselves (including the way they like to work, their aspirations and even their limitations). Along the way, elite wealth planning creates a level of security and comfort that is the foundation of a rewarding relationship.

    ACKNOWLEDGMENT: This article was published by the BSW Inner Circle, a global financial concierge group working with affluent individuals and families and is distributed with its permission. Copyright 2019 by AES Nation, LLC.


    Submitted by Safe Harbor Asset Management Huntington, NY on October 2nd, 2018

    The Super Rich Stress Test Their Financial Plans-and So Should You!

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    The Super Rich (those with a net worth of $500 million or more) who have family offices typically engage a sizable lineup of professional advisors to help them create and implement financial plans. To help ensure those plans are both state-of-the-art as well as in line with their needs and wants, many of them regularly "stress test" these plans.

    Here's why you should join them in that effort-even if you're not nearly as wealthy.

    Asking "What if?" Stress testing financial plans can be a very smart way to help make certain that the plan will deliver as promised. The fact is, financial plans that might look great on paper all too often prove to be much less impactful once they are implemented. It is not uncommon for there to be unintended consequences that can even derail one's agenda. At heart, stress testing is when you ask, "What if …?" about a variety of areas of a financial plan you have or are considering. When it comes to estate planning, for instance, a wealthy individual might ask questions like:

  • What will actually happen to my assets when I pass on?
  • How will my family be affected, precisely?
  • Who will be tracking the hard assets such as artwork and jewelry to make sure they go to the designated heirs-as opposed to vanishing?
  • Who is going to make sure my estate plan is being executed as it's supposed to be?
  • To be effective and informative, stress testing should be done in a systematic manner. While there are some variations, the basic process starts by determining your goals. Your goals, any problems to be addressed and opportunities to benefit should be the driving forces behind the financial and legal solutions you employ.

    STRESS TESTING FOR EVERYONE

    Once you clearly understand your goals, you can evaluate the specific existing or proposed financial services or products. There are numerous ways to dissect and critically assess financial services and products:

  • Work the assumptions. A plethora of assumptions underlie all services and products. In stress testing, these assumptions are modified to determine how the solutions will work when a given scenario changes.
  • Evaluate alignment with goals and objectives. A solution might prove to work extremely well, but still not achieve the desired results. It's essential to help ensure that the services and products will accomplish your goals.
  • Calculate cost structure. The intent here is to identify the best and most cost-effective solution possible. When calculating cost structures, all the expenses should be specified-including long-term costs.
  • Based on the stress test's evaluation of the existing or proposed solutions, you might consider alternative products or services. It can be very useful to do side-by-side comparisons between the solutions being considered or currently used and such alternatives, asking questions like:

  • How do the assumptions compare?
  • How do the alternatives rate when it comes to potentially achieving my goals?
  • Which solutions are more cost-effective?
  • The end result of the process: recommendations. Based on those recommendations, there are five courses of action to consider taking:

    1. Stay the course. If the stress testing found the solutions being used or proposed to be on target and of high quality, the recommended action is to stay the course.

    2. Choose different solutions. If the stress testing finds what may be described as a system failure- the financial products being used are not going to achieve the desired results and might even blow up, for instance-the right move is to take a different course of action.

    3. Choose a different professional. If the solutions are appropriate but the professionals involved are really not up to the task of implementing them (or they charge too much money), it will usually make sense to switch to more capable and/or cost-effective experts.

    4. Modify the approach with the original professional. If the solutions can be made more powerful with only slight modifications, the best route is often to stick with the original professionals and have them make the minor changes needed.

    5. Continue stress testing. There are occasions when the individual or family chooses a professional to conduct a stress test and that professional is not up to the task. This comes out often clearly in the process or results of the stress testing. The only viable course of action is to select a different professional to conduct the stress testing.

    Although stress tests are commonly used among the Super Rich, they should be a part of most people's due diligence process when vetting financial plans, financial products and financial services. Frequently, stress tests uncover flaws in financial plans as well as better ways to achieve desired outcomes. For those reasons, stress tests will likely benefit a great number of people-especially business owners and their families, who generally have so much of their future financial security riding on one asset: their business.

    Certainly there is a cost to stress testing estate, asset protection and income tax plans. That cost will depend greatly on the complexity of the testing involved and your situation. However, a stress test fee can be a whole lot cheaper than the costs-financially but also emotionally and psychologically-of a plan or solution that is fundamentally flawed or in conflict with your goals.

    ACKNOWLEDGMENT: This article was published by the VFO Inner Circle, a global financial concierge group working with affluent individuals and families and is distributed with its permission. Copyright 2018 by AES Nation, LLC.


    Submitted by Safe Harbor Asset Management Huntington, NY on October 2nd, 2017

    Smart Ways to Build a Moat Around Your Wealth

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    Have you taken steps to protect the assets you have worked so hard to build?

    Chances are, you know someone who has been sued. Maybe that someone is you.

    The fact is, your enviable position as a successful person comes with a major downside: You're a potential magnet for lawsuits-which may very well be frivolous and unfounded-and other attacks that can wreak havoc on your financial health.

    That means you need to take steps to protect the assets you've worked so hard to build. Otherwise, you may jeopardize the financial security of yourself and your family.

    Why you need asset protection

    The logic of asset protection planning is clear: You build a moat around your assets that is as difficult as legally possible for litigators, creditors and others to cross. Instead of trying to fight it out with you in court for months or years and risk losing, the litigant sees that the only reasonable option from a legal standpoint is to settle for pennies on the dollar-or, ideally, to leave empty-handed.

    You probably recognize the threats to your wealth from others. According to research, more than 86 percent of successful business owners say they are concerned about becoming the object of unjust lawsuits or being victimized in divorce proceedings.

    Source: AES Nation, LLC. N = 262 successful business owners.

    Here's the bad news: Only about a quarter (27.5 percent) of successful business owners have a formal asset protection plan in place. Whether you are a business owner or not, with the risk you face in our litigious culture, this number is likely far too low.

    Five key steps to protect assets

    If you're one of the many successful people who lack an asset protection plan-or you're curious whether your existing plan is up to snuff-consider these key steps.

    1. Get protected before a claim against you is made. You can do a lot to protect your wealth before a liability arises-but thanks to a concept known as "fraudulent conveyance," very little after. As with insurance, the time to have asset protection in place is well before you need it-or even think you might need it.

    2. Cover the basics. Evaluate your liabilities and other related insurances and maximize them as best you can. The fastest, easiest-and cheapest-move you can make is to take out a large umbrella policy to safeguard assets. Another simple but powerful strategy is to place your assets in someone else's name, such as your spouse's (assuming you have a great deal of trust in your spouse and your marriage). If you're sued, those spouse-controlled assets are often untouchable.

    3. Consider advanced asset protection strategies. The ultra-wealthy often take sophisticated steps to protect their wealth once they have covered the basics. Options to consider include:

  • Equity stripping. Some ultra-wealthy business owners protect their assets from unjust and frivolous lawsuits by using bank loans to strip out the equity in their businesses. Conceptually, it's simple. You take out a loan from a bank and secure the loan with the assets (such as equipment or real estate). This way, the bank has preference over judgments obtained by creditors. For creditors to get to the encumbered assets, they would first have to pay off the bank loan.
  • Captive insurance companies. A captive insurance company is a closely held insurance company set up to insure the risks of the parent company. The owner of the parent company wholly owns the captive insurance company. Therefore, the business owner controls the operations of the captive insurance company (including underwriting, claims decisions and the investment policy).
  • Onshore and offshore trusts. Currently, a number of states allow for domestic asset protection trusts, while countries such as the Bahamas, Belize, the Cook Islands and Nevis (among others) are good locations for offshore trusts. Assets placed in these are generally out of reach of creditors. That said, the rules governing these trusts vary greatly depending on the jurisdiction. Understanding the specifics of the jurisdiction is therefore critical.
  • 4. Be sure your attorney or other professionals are qualified to help you protect your assets. Far too many financial professionals are not in a position to provide guidance on and implementation of many asset protection solutions. Take equity stripping, for example. Our research has found that fewer than 10 percent of financial advisors or the specialists they work with are familiar with equity stripping and that less than 1 percent have ever provided it to a client.

    5. Avoid big mistakes that will trip up your asset protection efforts. Many of these more advanced asset protection strategies are complex and require a deep familiarity with and understanding of how they work to set up and execute them effectively. If poorly structured, asset protection strategies will have no "teeth" when they're needed most-and your assets many not be nearly as safe as you assume.

    ACKNOWLEDGEMENT: This article was published by the VFO Inner Circle, a global financial concierge group working with affluent individuals and families and is distributed with its permission. Copyright 2017 by AES Nation, LLC.


    Submitted by Safe Harbor Asset Management Huntington, NY on October 2nd, 2018

    What's Your High-Net-Worth Personality?

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    Here's why you need to know

    As a successful person with big goals, you require truly valuable financial advice that maximizes your ability to achieve your most important personal and professional financial objectives.

    That means you need to work with professionals who connect with you. Who relate to you. Who understand you well enough to really "get" what you want your money to accomplish and why.

    To get advice that works, it's important to understand your own high-net-worth personality so you can select and work with advisors who are an ideal match.

    What is a high-net-worth personality, anyway?

    High-net-worth (HNW) psychology is all about understanding what the affluent want from the professionals they work with, as well as the "how" and "why" behind their attitudes and decisions about their money. Developed in the late 1990s, HNW psychology has been verified through the study of thousands of wealthy individuals. It's also been adopted by elite, forward-thinking financial advisors and other professionals serving affluent individuals and families.

    The results of this work in HNW psychology have helped researchers identify nine HNW personality types. You almost certainly fall into one of the nine categories (see the description of each personality the following page).

    Why your high-net-worth personality matters

    It's important to partner with an advisor who either shares your particular HNW personality or knows how to work well with your type-and not just because it's nice to work with someone who thinks along the same lines as you.

    The fact is, working with an advisor who doesn't understand or appreciate your values can cost you financially. If you're a Mogul type seeking aggressive returns, for example, you'll be disappointed by an advisor who favors conservative investments. Likewise, if you're a Phobic and your advisor is constantly wanting to talk about the investment process and the gyrations of the markets, you'll likely have an unsuccessful-and unenjoyable-investment experience.

    The upshot: Your wealth needs to be positioned to support what you care about most in life. And you need to be able to trust the advice you're getting, and the source of that advice. If your advisor doesn't "play well in the sandbox" with someone like you, you'll enjoy none of those benefits-which, in turn, could mean you won't grow and protect your wealth according to your wishes and beliefs.

    THE NINE HIGH-NET-WORTH PERSONALITIES WHICH ONE ARE YOU?

    1. The Family Steward. Family Stewards' chief financial concern is taking good care of their loved ones. Their goals usually center on issues like paying for children's tuition or passing on wealth to heirs. Family Stewards are often conservative financially, and want financial advisors who make them feel that their goal of caring for family is protected.

    2. The Independent. This type of affluent investor wants the freedom that financial security ensures-freedom to do what they want, when they want to do it. To them, wealth is a means to a desired end. They want to work with financial advisors who can give advice that will allow them to attain-and maintain-financial freedom and flexibility.

    3. The Phobic. Phobics don't like investing, don't understand it and don't want to learn. They prefer to delegate investment duties to a financial advisor they trust and who demonstrates reliability and dedication.

    4. The Anonymous. These are extremely private investors who value confidentiality and don't want to disclose their financial information to anyone. They tend to work with only one or two advisors whom they trust deeply because of those advisors' focus on privacy.

    5. The Mogul. Moguls seek power, influence and control, and they tend to view investing as yet another arena where they can create those things.

    6. The VIP. VIPs value prestige, and usually want their investments to help them buy possessions and social respect. VIPs prefer to work with "marquee" firms that are prestigious and well-known among their peers.

    7. The Accumulator. These individuals save more than they spend, live below their means and don't show outward signs of affluence. They may have millions of dollars, but might wear only sale-priced clothes from discount stores. Their goal is capital appreciation, pure and simple. The more money they have, the better and more comfortable they feel.

    8. The Gambler. To Gamblers, investing is all about excitement and drama-and, of course, performance results. They are most likely to believe that they can consistently beat the market, and want to work with financial advisors who will aggressively try to do so.

    9. The Innovator. Innovators like new investment products, strategies, services and trading methods. They want advisors who are technically savvy and up to speed in their knowledge of and approach to investing-and who will offer them the newest and often most complex solutions.

    Keep in mind: There's nothing inherently good or bad about any of the personality types. Each one simply reflects someone's core beliefs and ideals about money and wealth.

    ACKNOWLEDGEMENT: This article was published by the VFO Inner Circle, a global financial concierge group working with affluent individuals and families and is distributed with its permission. Copyright 2017 by AES Nation, LLC.


    Submitted by Safe Harbor Asset Management Huntington, NY on December 17, 2019

    Charitable Giving, the Tax-Wise Way

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    Americans-especially the affluent-are some of the most charitable people in the world. Chances are, you use some of your wealth to support favorite causes or organizations that are important to you.

    But those contributions may not be having as big an impact as they could-and it's possible you're missing out on some valuable charitable tax benefits that could help both you and your favorite charities.

    Here's how to size up the effectiveness of your giving-along with some strategies that could potentially put some real power behind your philanthropy.

    The state of affluent giving

    A full 74 percent of the affluent say they make significant charitable contributions every year, according to an AES Nation survey of affluent individuals with investable assets of $500,000 or more. That strongly suggests the affluent are both willing and able to support causes they care about.

    Unfortunately, few of those surveyed donors are using tax-efficient strategies as part of their annual giving efforts. In fact, as seen in the exhibit, only about one in five is doing more than writing checks to charitable organizations each year.

    Tax-efficient giving

    Simply put, tax-wise charitable planning is the process of making a significant charitable gift (either during the person's life or at death) that is part of a financial or estate plan-and doing so as tax-efficiently as possible.

    We believe tax-wise charitable planning is usually best accomplished as part of an overall wealth plan that addresses other key issues such as wealth transfer, wealth protection and cash flow needs. When affluent donors can take into account the various assets they have and how they are structured, there is the potential to make meaningful charitable gifts that also provide meaningful tax benefits. Generally, proactive wealth planning that takes an affluent donor's broader financial situation into account can lead to much better outcomes than can so-called checkbook philanthropy, in which charitable gifts are made out of cash flow.

    Important: Effective tax-wise charitable planning focuses first on a person's philanthropic agenda and then on how to be as tax-efficient as possible. The intention to use wealth to achieve charitable goals is the most important component of the process.

    DISCLOSURE: Tax laws are subject to change, which may affect how any given strategy may perform. Always consult with a tax advisor.

    TAX-WISE CHARITABLE PLANNING STRATEGIES

    There are many ways, beyond simply writing checks regularly, to make charitable gifts. Three commonly used approaches are:

  • Charitable trusts. There are different types of charitable trusts that have different tax and other benefits for the donors and the charities. Charitable trusts are often used as part of comprehensive wealth plans-especially estate plans-because they can potentially mitigate various taxes and move assets between the generations.
  • Donor-advised funds. A donor-advised fund is typically established by a financial services firm, community foundation or charitable group, which manages the fund's day-to-day operations. Donors make irrevocable contributions to the donor-advised fund, and those assets are invested and grow tax-free over time. Donors can then recommend which charities should receive their financial contributions, and the donor-advised fund makes the grants.
  • Private foundations. A private foundation is a not-for-profit organization that is funded primarily by a person, family or corporation. The assets in a private foundation, which are called the "endowment," are regularly invested to produce income used to make grants to other charities as well as to support the operation of the private foundation.
  • Some key points to keep in mind about private foundations and donor-advised funds-two of the more commonly used options used by philanthropically motivated individuals:

  • A private foundation gives the donor maximum control. This is not the case with a donor-advised fund, which technically allows the donor only to recommend which organizations receive money. That said, donor-advised funds in almost all cases honor these recommendations (assuming the recipient organization is a registered charity).
  • With a donor-advised fund, the assets are managed by the firm entrusted with the money (such as a mutual fund company or community foundation). With a private foundation, the donor (or his or her advisors) manages the assets.
  • From a cost perspective, a private foundation is more expensive to set up and manage than is a donor-advised fund.
  • In the case of a private foundation, there are unlimited succession possibilities. This enables a family to exercise control and instill the importance of philanthropy across many generations. In contrast, many donor-advised funds have limitations on succession. In situations where such limitations are reached, the assets in the donor-advised fund go into a general pool at the fund company, community foundation or other sponsoring organization.
  • Making a difference

    Making tax-wise charitable planning an integral part of your wealth planning efforts can be very beneficial. That said, the core of tax-wise charitable planning should be your desire to have an impact on one or more charities.

    For those who want to make a difference, charitable strategies such as those outlined here could be very powerful wealth management solutions-and some of the best ways to do well by doing good.

    Take some time to think about your own charitable intentions and goals, both what they are today and what they might look like down the road. Armed with that information, you can start to explore and assess various ways to pursue tax-efficient philanthropy.

    ACKNOWLEDGMENT: This article was published by the VFO Inner Circle, a global financial concierge group working with affluent individuals and families and is distributed with its permission. Copyright 2019 by AES Nation, LLC.


    Submitted by Safe Harbor Asset Management Huntington, NY on December 17, 2018

    The Power of Charitable Remainder Trusts

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    Do well by doing good

    A growing number of individuals and families want to use some of their wealth to support the causes and organizations they care about most. From helping those less fortunate to facilitating scientific breakthroughs, from providing safe habitats for wildlife to sharing the arts, philanthropy is a core value for many.

    Of course, it's important to engage in smart philanthropy by using certain tools and strategies that can help you have a much bigger charitable impact than you otherwise could-while simultaneously enhancing your own financial flexibility.

    In short, philanthropic planning can help you-as the old saying goes-"do well by doing good."

    With that in mind, here's a closer look at one philanthropic tool that many charitably minded people and families use: charitable remainder trusts. CRTs can be extremely useful and powerful wealth planning tools that allow you to have a major impact on a charity you value while also providing benefits like lower taxes and a regular income stream.

    The ABCs of a CRT

    Let's start with some CRT basics and benefits.

  • Income stream. You place money or appreciated assets in a CRT, which then provides an annual income stream. You can designate yourself or other people to receive that income. The income stream can last for your life or the lives of the people you designated. You can also have the income stream last for a term of years (within limits).
  • Tax-deferred growth. The assets in the CRT grow tax-deferred. You are taxed only on the income you receive from the CRT.
  • Charitable impact. Once the term of years is up or the last beneficiary dies, the income stream stops and the assets that remain in the trust go to one or more charities you selected.
  • Tax deduction. When you create and fund the CRT, you get an income tax deduction-the size of which is based on the actuarial value of the remainder that the charity should receive.
  • Capital gains tax avoidance. You can gift appreciated assets to a CRT without paying capital gains taxes. For example, say you have $1 million worth of stock that you bought 20 years ago for $200,000. You could sell that stock-and pay $160,000 in capital gains taxes (assuming a 20 percent rate)-leaving you with $840,000 to use for your philanthropy. Or you could gift the shares to the CRT and pay no capital gains taxes at all-funding the trust with the full $1 million.
  • TYPES OF CRTs

  • Charitable remainder annuity trusts. With a CRAT, you or your designated recipient receive a fixed dollar amount from the trust every year. However, once you set the amount, it cannot be changed. Say, for example, you set the annual amount at $15,000. That is all you can receive every year, even if the assets in the CRAT are growing at a tremendous rate. Additionally, you cannot add assets to a CRAT once it's set up and funded.
  • Charitable remainder unitrusts. With a CRUT, you (or the person you designate) receive a percentage of the current value of the assets in the CRUT. Example: You specify that you want to receive six percent of the assets in the trust annually. Every year, the assets are reappraised and you get six percent of that amount. Another difference: You can add more assets to a CRUT.
  • , revalued annually Allowed, if governing trust instrument permits and unitrust amount takes into account the additional contribution

    You can use a wide variety of assets to fund a CRT. Some examples include:

  • Cash
  • Stocks and bonds
  • Some types of closely held stock (such as limited liability corporations, but not S corporations)
  • Real estate
  • Artwork and collectibles
  • Case study

    To see the potential power of a CRT, consider this example of funding a CRT with appreciated stock:

    An investor in her 40s purchased $600,000 of stock in a new company. After a few years, those shares were worth $1.8 million. If she cashed out, she would have to pay capital gains taxes of 23.8 percent on the $1.2 million of appreciation-leaving her with a tax bill just shy of $300,000.

    Instead, she and her advisors set up a CRUT, which enables her to add more assets in the future. The CRUT will last the shorter of 20 years or her lifetime. She will receive 12 percent of the assets each year-or just over $200,000 the first year. Over the course of 20 years, using assumptions of a return of 8 percent annually, she will receive approximately $2.9 million. She will receive a $180,000 charitable deduction. And at the end of the 20-year term, the charitable organization she chose will receive approximately $700,000.

    Two caveats

    1. The right intention is crucial. If you use a CRT, you must have a genuine charitable intent. The reason: A CRT is an irrevocable trust-once you put assets in a CRT, you cannot get them back.

    2. It's not a personal piggy bank. At least 10 percent of the actuarial value of the CRT must go to charity. A CRT that does not meet the 10 percent remainder requirement is not a qualified charitable remainder trust and will lose its tax benefits.

    ACKNOWLEDGMENT: This article was published by the BSW Inner Circle, a global financial concierge group working with affluent individuals and families, and is distributed with its permission. Copyright 2019 by AES Nation, LLC.


    Submitted by Safe Harbor Asset Management Huntington, NY on December 18, 2018

    Qualified Opportunity Funds

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    The latest way to do well by doing good

    Impact investing-using wealth to create positive change in the world while also benefitting financially-has become increasingly popular, as the idea of "doing well by doing good" has gained traction among investors.

    Now there's a new type of impact investment-called Qualified Opportunity Funds-that is worth checking out if you're looking to build wealth, reduce a capital gains tax, and improve communities across the country. For investors with these goals, the funds can potentially be a powerful part of an overall wealth plan.

    Sparking economic growth

    Qualified Opportunity Funds invest in properties in economically distressed communities categorized as Qualified Opportunity Zones, which have been targeted for economic development.

    These funds, which are generally formed as partnerships or corporations, can own a broad range of properties-from apartment buildings to start-up businesses-that exist in Qualified Opportunity Zones. By investing in these funds, you can help give communities a much-needed economic boost.

    Big tax incentives

    Let's say you have a taxable capital gain from the sale of appreciated property (including investment assets, art, real estate, a business and so on). If you reinvest that gain in a Qualified Opportunity Fund within 180 days of the sale, you can potentially receive some intriguing tax breaks. For example, you can:

  • Defer capital gains taxes from the sale of the appreciated assets until December 31, 2026, or until the Opportunity Zone investment is sold (whichever comes first).
  • Reduce the capital gains tax you pay by up to 15 percent because of an increase in the basis of the appreciated assets used to buy the fund interest.
  • Important: The basis increases by 10 percent if you hold your interest in the Qualified Opportunity Fund for a minimum of five years. Hold it for seven or more years, and the basis rises to 15 percent.

    Bonus: You can eliminate the capital gains due on the appreciation in the Qualified Opportunity Fund if you hold the fund for ten years or longer.

    There are some important timing issues here. If you still hold the Qualified Opportunity Fund on December 31, 2026, you will recognize the gain on the deferred amount (taking into account any increases in basis). Therefore, to receive the 10 percent increase in basis, you would have to invest in a Qualified Opportunity Fund by 2021. To get the extra 5 percent increase in basis, you would have to invest by the end of 2019.

    BENEFITS OF QUALIFIED OPPORTUNITY FUNDS

    The following hypothetical case studies help show the benefits that Qualified Opportunity Funds can potentially bring to different types of investors.

    Case study 1: Business owner

    Charles sells his business for a $12 million capital gain in June 2018. He locates three properties in two Opportunity Zones with a total purchase price of $12 million. Charles creates his own Qualified Opportunity Fund as a limited partnership fund, and his attorney ensures the partnership agreement contains appropriate language.

    If Charles holds the Qualified Opportunity Fund until December 31, 2026, his tax bill the following April will be $2,040,000-$360,000 less than he would have paid in 2018.

    That big reduction stems from the 10 percent basis bump after holding the fund for five years and an additional 5 percent basis bump for holding the fund for seven years.

    Bonus: If Charles waits at least ten years to sell the three properties in the fund, any gain on those properties will escape taxes entirely.

    In the end, Charles would get these benefits:

  • Eight years of federal tax deferral
  • A 15 percent reduction on the deferred gain
  • Tax-free proceeds on the sale of the qualified Opportunity Zone property
  • Case study 2: Real estate investor

    Tony, a real estate developer who has been working on gentrifying neighborhoods in the Northeast, sold two successful projects for a $20 million gain in 2018. He wants to take on bigger projects, but is reluctant to use bank financing.

    Tony has a chance to buy two blocks of Qualified Opportunity Zone multifamily properties neighboring a major medical center. The purchase of the real estate and the development costs for the commercial project are beyond his means. Tony learns about the tax benefits of Qualified Opportunity Zones and commits his $20 million gain as initial capital for his Qualified Opportunity Fund.

    Tony wants to use his Qualified Opportunity Fund as a vehicle to attract outside investors to his project, so his lawyers set up the fund as a partnership. Tony and his investors will receive the tax benefits of a Qualified Opportunity Fund on their investment. Tony will be able to attract investors on good terms and tackle a project that would otherwise be out of his reach. Ultimately, Tony gets both tax and business benefits by utilizing a Qualified Opportunity Fund.

    Next steps

    Each state nominates communities as Qualified Opportunity Zones. They can be found by going to www.cdfifund.gov/Pages/Opportunity-Zones.aspx. You can invest in any of these zones-you're not limited to zones that are near you.

    To access Qualified Opportunity Funds, you have a few options. In general, interested investors tend to create their own funds and identify and buy the properties themselves-in part because this is a relatively new type of investment and there aren't that many commercial options from third-party providers yet. That may change, of course: If these funds catch fire with investors, we could see more providers enter the Qualified Opportunity Funds space with their own offerings.

    ACKNOWLEDGMENT: This article was published by the BSW Inner Circle, a global financial concierge group working with affluent individuals and families and is distributed with its permission. Copyright 2019 by AES Nation, LLC.


    Submitted by Safe Harbor Asset Management Huntington, NY on October 2nd, 2017

    Five Reasons to Make Philanthropy a Family Affair

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    Getting your family involved in charitable giving can create a powerful legacy

    A growing number of successful people have a strong urge to "pay it forward" by financially supporting causes and organizations that are near and dear to their hearts.

    Many of you already make regular and sizable charitable contributions. And we know from research that one key reason successful people like you want to become even wealthier is to help other people increase their own success and advance in the world.

    But have you gotten your family involved in philanthropy? If not, you could be missing a truly massive opportunity to teach your children and other loved ones about smart financial decision making and impart key financial values that can guide them throughout their lives.

    Round up the kids

    If you're like many people we work with, your deepest financial concerns are focused on taking care of your family and ensuring they enjoy lives that are financially stable and financially responsible.

    Family philanthropy is one great way to do this. There are five big reasons to engage your family in charitable giving:

  • 1. Working together to define your shared values around wealth, community and building a better world
  • 2. Helping individual family members identify their own specific charitable values and intentions
  • 3. Making financial decisions as a team
  • 4. Learning about the power and responsibilities of wealth-building it, growing it and using it to positively impact others-as well as critical financial management skills
  • 5. Developing important life and business skills-critical thinking and analysis, listening and communicating, and negotiating and compromising to reach a desired goal
  • The family office approach: private family foundations

    One tool that can both maximize your charitable giving options and engage family in philanthropy at a deep level is a private family foundation.

    A private foundation is a not-for-profit organization (i.e., charity) that's primarily funded by a person, family or corporation. The assets in a private foundation produce income, which is used to support the operation of the private foundation and, most importantly, make charitable grants to other non-profit organizations.

    While there are certainly costs associated with creating and managing a private foundation, there are distinct benefits for doing so. Three of the most important reasons family offices often go the private foundation route include:

  • Caring. Philanthropy is about caring. A private foundation is a very powerful way to convert caring into financial and related support for worthy causes. You need to care deeply about some charitable causes to justify establishing and running a private foundation.
  • Legacy. Many people create private foundations to honor loved ones. They're effective in binding a family together around something they consider meaningful. You should probably want to build a legacy-of one kind or another-if you choose to create a private foundation.
  • Permanence. You can establish your private foundation in perpetuity. This ensures that the charitable institutions and causes that are important to you will continue to be funded indefinitely.
  • To see why private foundations are especially compelling to wealthier families who are philanthropically inclined, consider the fundamental ways they differ from another, more commonly used charitable giving tool-the donor-advised fund-in two key areas:

    1. Control. A private foundation gives you significant control over the choice of charitable organizations you want to support. With a donor-advised fund, you're only making recommendations to a firm responsible for both managing and distributing the money. While it's unlikely that your suggestions will not be followed, there could be times when this will be the case.

    A private foundation enables you to make a wider array of grants than does a donor-advised fund. With a private foundation, for example, you can make pledge agreements to support one or more charitable causes over a period of time. The lack of personal control in a donor-advised fund makes that impossible. Private foundations also can make grants to specific individuals, something donor-advised funds cannot do.

    How the assets are managed also differs between the two. With a donor-advised fund, the assets are managed by the firm you entrusted with your money-often a mutual fund sponsor or similar investment firm, or a community foundation. In a private foundation, you-or the investment advisors you select-manage the assets as you see fit.

    2. Creating a legacy. Succession possibilities are unlimited in a private foundation. This enables the family to exercise control across the generations, helping them to pass philanthropic values and specific goals (as well as money aimed at those goals) to children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren and beyond. In contrast, many donor-advised funds have limitations on successions. When that limit is reached, the money no longer belongs to the donor or his or her family. Instead, it's transferred into a general pool of the organization sponsoring the donor-advised fund.

    ACKNOWLEDGEMENT: This article was published by the VFO Inner Circle, a global financial concierge group working with affluent individuals and families and is distributed with its permission. Copyright 2017 by AES Nation, LLC.


    Submitted by Safe Harbor Asset Management Huntington, NY on October 2nd, 2017

    The Value of Multigenerational Family Meetings

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    If you've amassed sizable wealth, or are on the right path and getting there, it may be time to consider how to pass on some of that money to children and grandchildren-without creating big problems that could harm their futures and destroy family harmony.

    The fact is, family wealth-how it's managed, transferred and used-can generate major drama among family members. As wealth grows, so does the potential for that money to foment conflicts and bad financial decisions that can reduce a family's financial position and even ruin intra-family relationships forever.

    The good news: We can look to the strategies used by today's ultra-wealthy families to avoid or mitigate such negative outcomes-and find ways to adopt similar strategies in our own families.

    One of the most effective tools harnessed by the ultra-affluent is the family meeting-which is used to educate heirs and potential heirs about sound financial decision-making, to identify shared family financial values and to maintain (and grow) family wealth in a unified manner.

    Family meeting benefits and advantages

    Family meetings can help avoid the thorny problems that can arise when inheritors who receive substantial assets lack the proper preparation and education to manage the money prudently.

    Regular family meetings can also help families keep their wealth together and intertwined, which can have major advantages such as:

  • Being able to access certain types of high-minimum investments
  • Leveraging a larger fortune to lower the cost of financial advice and services

    The underlying objectives are family cohesiveness, superior management of the family's future across the generations, and the preservation and growth of the family wealth.

    The family meeting principally provides a venue for multiple generations to discuss financial matters. Common topics covered at well-run family meetings include:

  • Promoting financial literacy in future inheritors
  • The family investment philosophy
  • Family philanthropic values and activities, and how they are financially supported
  • New business ventures and how to fund them
  • Family meetings are where a family's values and mission are discussed, debated and honed. Governance structures are often addressed and refined. In many cases, family meetings are great settings to plan the action steps needed to prepare the next generation for family leadership roles. Often, the end result is greater feelings of cohesiveness, trust and support among family members of various generations.

    FOUR STEPS TO A SUCCESSFUL FAMILY MEETING

    Step #1: Planning the meeting

    The starting point is specifying the goals for the family meeting. The more specific and refined the goals, the better. An agenda based on those goals should be created, delineating what is to be discussed and what decisions can hopefully be made. Based on the nature of the topics on the agenda, supporting material might be required (such as the financials of the family business or the performance of the family's investment portfolio).

    Often, the planning part will be shared and rotated among various members from meeting to meeting. When it's your turn, be sure to get input from all family members who will be involved. By taking suggestions from everyone into account, the family is more likely to achieve the desired group results.

    Add some fun: Many families also include fun activities as part of their family meetings-such as golfing, a family softball game or a wine-tasting event. These bonding moments are nice on their own, and also help promote a better meeting.

    Step #2: Conducting the meeting

    The focus of the family meeting should be the goals and agenda. Therefore, it is usually wise to mitigate day-to-day distractions-for example, by holding the meeting at a resort or a tucked-away family property.

    The most effective meetings we've seen tend to have an outside professional-a neutral third party-involved as a facilitator. This individual will help address the more complicated and difficult issues and keep the discussions on track and focused on the end goals and action steps. The facilitator also helps ensure that all family members are involved and contributing, and can help mitigate conflicts that may arise.

    The types of third-party professionals commonly serving in this role include:

  • Attorneys and accountants
  • Wealth managers and multifamily office senior executives
  • Family business consultants and life coaches
  • Step #3: Follow-up actions

    Typically, a set of action-based to-do steps results from a family meeting. These actions often need to be turned into formal projects, with milestones and clear expectations about who will be accountable for specific steps. The third-party facilitator or family members can be responsible for mapping out how to follow up after the family meeting. It is also worthwhile to specify how the subsequent actions will be tracked and reported back to the family.

    Step #4: Assessment of outcomes

    After starting with particular goals and then identifying what actions need to be taken to achieve those goals, the final step entails determining the degree of success attained.

    Based on the assessment of the outcomes, new actions to help reach the stated goals are identified. These can be a refinement of current actions or a different approach entirely. Moreover, the results achieved always factor into the goals and agenda for the next family meeting.

    Keep in mind: Every family has its own special dynamics and traits. Thus, the process described here can be modified depending on the aims of the family.

    ACKNOWLEDGMENT: This article was published by the VFO Inner Circle, a global financial concierge group working with affluent individuals and families and is distributed with its permission. Copyright 2018 by AES Nation, LLC.

    Submitted by Safe Harbor Asset Management Huntington, NY on October 22nd, 2018

    Insightful Questions That Can Ramp Up Your Success

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    Want to see some amazing results in your life? Ask questions and then listen well. We have discovered that a disproportionate number of the most successful people consistently and systematically use an approach known as insightful questioning to build rapport with other people in ways that generate much better outcomes.

    Here's how they engage in insightful questioning-and use it to generate truly impressive success.

    The importance of insightful questioning

    Being adept at using carefully chosen insightful questions serves a number of purposes:

  • It enables you to be more effective at garnering useful and important information from other people-such as their goals and the drivers behind those goals. Armed with that information, you can potentially find ways to work together that might not have been obvious otherwise.
  • It facilitates rapport between you and other people because it seeks to create deeper levels of understanding of all those involved.
  • It's a powerful way to connect with other people and provide you with information that you can use to further your own agenda-often while simultaneously helping them, too.
  • Be an engaged listener, too

    Asking insightful and thought-provoking questions ultimately won't help you learn new information or build rapport if you tune out when the other person answers. You must also be adept at deep listening-focusing intently on the person talking through fully present, nonjudgmental listening.

    When you deeply listen to someone, it's almost as though you are suddenly standing next to the person and seeing the world as he or she sees it. You become a comrade or partner. Since most people rarely have the experience of being deeply listened to, this experience of camaraderie is equally rare. The person you're interacting with will feel more bonded to you as a result.

    How do you do it? Start by creating by saying to yourself, "I am going to have a great conversation with this person, and we will both have a great experience." With so many thoughts buzzing around in your head all day, you must intentionally commit to being as present as possible with the person in front of you. By keeping this intention foremost in your mind, you will greatly increase your odds of success.

    Then listen on the surface to the information that the person provides. It's important that you capture this surface information as accurately as possible. But also listen for the person's thoughts, feelings, values and needs-which he or she might not come right out and say directly.

    THE TOP INSIGHTFUL QUESTIONS TO ASK

    Consider the following insightful questions that many successful people tell us they regularly use in their conversations and dealings with others who are (or may be) important to them.

    What do you think?

    People are very willing to share their opinions and insights if prompted. They want to be recognized for their views and ensure you understand their positions on important matters. Any time you need to act, it's usually very useful to know where the other person stands.

    Gathering intelligence and gaining perspective into the thinking and preferences of the people you are dealing with is always beneficial. Furthermore, this question helps you foster involvement in the process at hand-thereby building rapport and ensuring closure.

    What do you want to accomplish?

    Knowing what a person really wants to accomplish informs you of the degree of overlap-or conflict-among your and that person's various agendas. It also helps you frame your desires in ways that best resonate with the other person. This can result in a deeper level of rapport and trust-resulting in a greater willingness to work with you.

    What's the most important thing we should be discussing today?

    It's normal for people to go into any meeting with an agenda. However, your objectives for the meeting may not coincide with that of the other person, which can lead to wasted time and effort and adversely impact the relationship. Use this question at the start of every meeting or when a meeting is going off track because the other person is not meaningfully engaged.

    To be truly responsive while moving your agenda along requires you to be in synch with what is important to the other person at that time. This question demonstrates concern and is very useful in addressing critical needs and wants.

    Can you tell me more?

    It's quite common for someone to put forth a position that you might not find completely clear. Many people err by making presumptions that may be inaccurate and, consequently, detrimental to the relationship.

    The better you understand the other party's thinking, the more successful you will be. By prompting the other person to go deeper, you increase your knowledge of his or her worldview. The result is superior understanding that can readily translate into superior deliverables and greater rapport.

    How can I be of greatest help to you?

    Most of the time, people are seeking ways they can benefit themselves. The aim of this question is to determine how you can be supportive of and deliver value to the other person. Ask it whenever there's an impasse in a discussion, or when the other person is dealing with some difficulties.

    From basic caring and concern to helping facilitate success to building meaningful rapport, your willingness to help the other person can pay enormous dividends. Whether or not you are ultimately able to assist someone, your determination to try to address the matter is a powerful bridge builder. What's more, when you voluntarily help someone, that person usually feels a natural inclination to want to return the favor and help you down the line.

    ACKNOWLEDGMENT: This article was published by the VFO Inner Circle, a global financial concierge group working with affluent individuals and families and is distributed with its permission. Copyright 2018 by AES Nation, LLC.

    Submitted by Safe Harbor Asset Management Huntington, NY on October 3rd, 2019

    Work Smarter-Not Harder!

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    Reclaim your time and energy to live your best life

    Each of us has just 168 hours per week to accomplish our tasks and goals-at work, at home and out in the world. If you feel like you spend too much of that time on things that don't add value to your life, you're not alone.

    The good news: It's easier than ever to generate stronger results, both personally and professionally, while actually making less effort.

    The key: Work smarter, not harder, by taking steps that can make you significantly more efficient and effective-freeing up precious hours each day that you can reclaim to live a better life.

    So says Ari Meisel, founder of Less Doing and a world-renowned productivity consultant to businesses and individuals. Meisel highlights a three-part framework of optimizing, automating and outsourcing to achieve better results faster.

    OPTIMIZE: Streamline how you do your tasks

    Break down any task to its bare minimum and eliminate any step that's not necessary. The goal is to take the smallest number of actions that will produce your desired outcome.

    Optimizing your time, energy and resources requires you to take two actions:

    1. Identify your current patterns. Start by tracking habitual tasks or behaviors that you're interested in changing or getting rid of-what you're working on, how long those tasks take, how many things you are doing at once, etc. Assigning data to your daily routine shows you where you can improve.

    You can track behaviors and time in a journal or notebook, or use technology. There are apps that track your time, that automatically tell you if you're headed toward a traffic jam, that track your spending and net worth-practically anything!

    2. Implement the 80/20 rule in all you do. Typically, only about 20 percent of your actions drive 80 percent of your results. Once you identify the steps you take to complete various tasks, you can focus on doing the 20 percent that really have an impact-and jettison or reorganize the other 80 percent. Some examples:

  • Emails: Set a filter to immediately file every email with the word "unsubscribe" in it to an optional folder. This move makes your inbox a place for productivity and getting things done. Later, you can fly through the unessential emails much faster when you address them at a time of your choosing.
  • Clients: It's likely in business that about 20 percent of your clients account for about 80 percent of your revenue. Once you've tracked your client base and know which ones make up that 20 percent, focus the bulk of your time on them.
  • NEXT STEPS

    AUTOMATE: Set it and forget it

    Once you've streamlined tasks, automate all you possibly can. Examine all the bite-size tasks left over after optimizing and determine how they can be accomplished without human interaction.

    Example: There are lots of ways to automate activities around the house to save time, such as the subscription services offered by online retailers. You can, for example, arrange to automatically purchase many of the items you regularly need and have them mailed to you every few weeks or months. Once you've automated such tasks-"set it"-you can then "forget it" and spend your time focused on things that are more productive, fun or both.

    Likewise, tech-enabled appliances can make mundane tasks such as grocery shopping more automated. One example: Smart refrigerators often come with super-wide-angle cameras mounted inside the fridge-allowing you to see your inventory from your smartphone while you're at the grocery store.

    Bonus: Automating tasks not only frees up time and mental energy, but also helps to ensure you make fewer mistakes. If you automate actions that need to be taken, you can greatly lower the risk of frustrating human errors-such as not paying an important bill.

    OUTSOURCE: Take it off your plate

    Can't automate it? Pass it off to someone else.

    Outsourcing means delegating-which can require a big mental shift if you believe you're the only person in your life capable of performing certain tasks and that your fingerprints must be on virtually every activity within your company (or department or family). But remember: You want to focus on the 20 percent of your actions that yield 80 percent of the results. Taking the bulk of your daily tasks off your plate can free up the time and energy to do so.

    One great way to outsource: Hire a virtual assistant to perform tasks, do research into topics you need to know more about and so on. A virtual assistant can make a dinner reservation or doctor's appointment, find and send the perfect gift, gather information and medical reports on a health condition a family member is experiencing, and even manage projects (on the high end).

    Example: You're lying in bed at the end of the day, when you suddenly remember that you need to make an appointment to see the dentist. So you alert your virtual assistant. He or she is obviously not going to make the appointment immediately, at 11 p.m. But the fact is, you are done as soon as you send that request-done worrying about it, thinking about it and even doing it. All you have to do is show up.

    Best advice: Start small, on tasks that you feel aren't mission-critical. A few good outsourcing experiences may very well encourage you to farm out bigger tasks that free up serious extra time and energy.

    Conclusion

    Your time is a rare and valuable resource-so start using it to your full advantage. These three strategies can help you do tasks more efficiently or eliminate them entirely, leaving you with more bandwidth to focus on building a great life for yourself and the people you care about most.

    ACKNOWLEDGMENT: This article was published by the VFO Inner Circle, a global financial concierge group working with affluent individuals and families and is distributed with its permission. Copyright 2019 by AES Nation, LLC.

    Submitted by Safe Harbor Asset Management Huntington, NY on October 5th, 2017

    Three 'Spy Secrets' That Can Protect You, Your Family and Your Business

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    Imagine yourself in a vintage tuxedo, sipping a "shaken, not stirred" martini as you make eye contact across the bar with a beautiful secret agent who is about to covertly hand you a dossier with information that will help prevent World War III.

    Okay-that's almost certainly never going to happen to you. But you can use some of the same strategies employed by professional spies and operatives to prevent criminals from harming you, your family and your company.

    These strategies come courtesy of Jason Hanson-a former CIA officer who spent nearly a decade at the agency. He then founded a business, Spy Escape & Evasion, to teach people how to be safe using insider spy tactics and wrote The New York Times best-selling book Spy Secrets That Can Save Your Life.

    Secret #1: Run an SDR-a surveillance detection route

    The SDR is a powerful way to make sure that you're not being followed by a predator.

    Here's how it works for intelligence operatives. Because they are almost always being watched, they can't simply drive to a meeting with someone and get handed an envelope of secrets. So an operative might go to Starbucks, go to the gym, go shopping and do other tasks hours before the scheduled meetup. "If I saw the same person or same car in all those spots, I knew I was being surveilled and I would abort the meeting," says Hanson.

    To see how you can apply that technique in your day-to-day life, Hanson offers a few examples:

  • "My wife was at a home improvement store one day and got a strange vibe from a guy near her. So she ran a five-minute SDR: She walked from the garden section, where the guy was staring at her, to the washers and dryers section-and sure enough, he followed her. She walked across the entire store to the lumber section-and he showed up there too. She wandered over to plumbing, and there he was a few minutes later. Ultimately, she got a store manager to walk her to her car."
  • "A woman I trained was in a department store shopping for shoes when she noticed an odd man staring at her. She ran an SDR by walking over to perfume-and he showed up a few seconds later. Then she left and went to women's clothes-and he showed up there too. She found a security guard and pointed out the man-who immediately ran out of the store into the parking lot."
  • Secret #2: Become a human lie detector

    To size up someone's honesty, ask them a question they're not expecting and watch how they react. Hanson suggests the following:

  • "Tell me the last time you stole something." Phrase it this way because, let's face it: Most of us have stolen something in our lives-even if it was a pack of gum as a kid. Most people will answer with a chuckle as they remember a minor transgression-and very willingly tell you about, for example, that time they accidentally walked out of the grocery store with a gallon of milk on the bottom of their cart. But if this question makes someone really nervous, you can bet you're dealing with somebody who isn't remembering a small incident from childhood!
  • "Tell me the last time you did drugs." A lot of people smoked pot in high school or college but not since then, notes Hanson. People who did will say so. But others who have smoked more regularly or recently will stumble as their brains try to assess on the fly what they should reveal.
  • "So, how many vacuums have you sold today?" Would-be thieves will sometimes pose as salespeople. When you open the door to them, they get to see who lives in your house and if you have anything nice they'd like to steal. As you chat with a salesperson, ask them "So, how many (type of product they're offering) have you sold today?" A legit salesperson will answer right away. A thief will look confused or act nervous in some way.
  • Secret #3: Prevent home break-ins

    Most home invasions and robberies are planned. It doesn't matter where you live-criminals walk around looking for houses with the path of least resistance to break-ins. Hanson suggests the following safeguards:

  • Put up alarm signs. You probably should have a working alarm system, says Hanson, but you can also go online and buy stickers for your doors and windows that suggest you have one.
  • Get a dog-or even a dog bowl. If a guard dog isn't your thing, just buy a dog bowl and dog toys and leave them by your doors. "Criminals are very scared of dogs. They will choose another house if they see dog items at your place-they don't even need to see an actual dog," says Hanson.
  • Install security cameras-real or fake ones. If a thief sees a camera, he will avoid your house-and Amazon sells fake security cams that look incredibly real.
  • ACKNOWLEDGMENT: This article was published by the VFO Inner Circle, a global financial concierge group working with affluent individuals and families and is distributed with its permission. Copyright 2017 by AES Nation, LLC.

    Submitted by Safe Harbor Asset Management Huntington, NY on October 18th, 2017

    Savvy Negotiating: To Get the Moon, Ask for the Stars

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    One key way to build serious wealth-whether in a business or your everyday life-is to effectively and consistently negotiate deals that are good for you and your bottom line. Ideally, everyone walks away from a negotiation feeling good about the outcome-a win-win scenario. But ultimately, to be successful you must achieve your minimum goals and preferably a whole lot more.

    Trouble is, it's common for people to end up failing to get what they want due to how they approach negotiations right from the start-from the first declarations of their terms. Here's how you can avoid that negative outcome and get the results you truly want when hashing out a deal or arrangement with another party.

    Start with your goals

    Clarity about goals is job one. In any negotiation, you will be well-served by being quite clear about what you want to walk away with. Most people in negotiations have a range of goals, and it's important you specify the top and bottom of the range. For example:

  • High-end goals. These are the results you would achieve if the negotiations went extraordinarily well for you. Achieving these goals would make you exceptionally satisfied.
  • Minimally acceptable goals. These goals will close the deal if you achieve them, but you'll walk away from the bargaining table feeling far from thrilled. If you don't achieve these goals, there is no deal.

    By spelling out your range of goals, you are more likely to not get caught up in the negotiations themselves and make a deal that doesn't work for you.

    Take your initial position-and make it big

    When bargaining, self-made billionaires commonly make demands they do not expect the people they are negotiating with to accept. Often these are terms and conditions that many would consider extreme or even outrageous. They are, in effect, asking for the stars-a whole lot more than just about anyone would give them.

    These billionaires recognize that they will give a little or even a lot along the way, which is both expected and perfectly acceptable. However, they are using the anchoring effect to better their bargaining position and come away with a deal that works well for them.

    The anchoring effect is a type of cognitive bias that occurs when people make decisions and act on the initial information they receive-the anchor. Once the anchor is set, people tend to be biased toward interpreting other information around the anchor.

    There are a number of ways to create an anchor. The easiest is to ask for an outsize outcome at the start of the negotiation. This will usually influence the perception of value for the other party throughout the negotiations.

    The anchoring effect also sets the stage for you to implement your concession strategies. This is how you methodically go from asking for the stars to getting the moon-your acceptable result.

    STEPS FOR SAVVY NEGOTIATING

    Haggling is an integral part of good negotiation, and most people go into negotiations expecting some back-and-forth around numbers and terms. When both sides make concessions, both will more likely walk away satisfied.

    By using the anchoring effect, your goal is to give yourself as much room as possible to make concessions and walk away with at least the minimum results you are looking for.

    In every negotiation, the concessions you make are based on a combination of art and science. You can't concede too much or act too quickly, nor can you be inflexible.

    To optimize results, there is a delicate balance of give and take that you can strike by keeping these ideas top of mind:

  • Know what you can give up easily and what is very hard to give up. In business negotiations, there are regularly multiple issues, values and conditions. Some will be more important to you, and some less. You will be well-served if you know what really matters and what does not before going into a negotiation.
  • When you give, make sure you get. Concessions should be reciprocal. If you make a concession, you should be looking to get a concession you see as equally valuable. If you make a unilateral concession, you are negotiating with yourself-and are absolutely losing.
  • Incremental concessions are best. If you ask for the stars at the start and too quickly give up a great deal of ground, you will likely lose all credibility and power. Making a large concession willingly tells the other party that there is a lot more you will give up.
  • Make concessions slowly. You want to communicate that these concessions are tough decisions. Tough decisions are ones you usually have to think long and hard about. Therefore, take your time and pace out making concessions.
  • Have a final concession ready to close the deal. Many negotiations-especially complex business deals-are just about there after a lot of back-and-forth, but still do not close. You want something in your back pocket to push negotiations to an acceptable conclusion. It's therefore often helpful to have a "final" concession you can offer to close the deal you like.
  • Possible results

    By shrewdly asking for outsize terms that the people you're negotiating with cannot (or should not) take seriously, you arrange the pieces on the chessboard to your advantage. Then, by skillfully making concessions and getting concessions in return, you meaningfully increase the probability of getting the results you really desire.

    These are a few possible outcomes of "asking for the stars":

  • You get the stars. While you might think your requests are outrageous, that does not necessarily mean the people you are negotiating with won't give them to you. Your counterparties might, for reasons you are unaware of, be so motivated to make the deal that they will accept your over-the-top numbers, terms and conditions. While this outcome generally has a low probability, it is a possibility.
  • You induce the other person to discontinue negotiations. Your requests might be so extreme that the counterparty does not believe you can ever come to an understanding. Consequently, the counterparty might end the negotiations. Like the previous outcome, this one has a low probability of occurring.
  • You get the moon. The moon is your high-end negotiating goal, and you end up making smart concessions and getting good concessions that result in you getting it.
  • ACKNOWLEDGMENT: This article was published by the VFO Inner Circle, a global financial concierge group working with affluent individuals and families and is distributed with its permission. Copyright 2018 by AES Nation, LLC.


    Submitted by Safe Harbor Asset Management Huntington, NY on October 2nd, 2018

    What to Do When Your Doctor Has Bad News

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    It's what no one ever wants to hear: "The test results have come back positive."

    And yet it's quite likely that you, a loved one or both will one day be given a serious health diagnosis that throws your world into uncertainty, confusion and fear. That means you have two choices:

  • Wish and hope that you or someone you care about never gets really bad news from a physician-and be forced to react quickly and emotionally if that does happen.
  • Be proactive and get a handle now on the best steps to take if you're faced with a major medical diagnosis.
  • You can likely guess which approach we recommend. With that in mind, we asked one of the nation's top concierge physicians-Dr. Dan Carlin of WorldClinic-for his best advice on what to do (and not do) when the news about your health is really bad.

    Get grounded

    When faced with a shocking medical diagnosis, it's natural to let emotions-sadness, anger, depression-take over. Another common emotional response, fear, causes many people in these situations to want to immediately hit the ground running and take action for action's sake-for example, by starting whatever treatment is most readily available.

    Carlin's advice: Slow down. Start by internalizing two foundational concepts that will help guide you through this process more successfully.

  • Don't play good day, bad day. People tend to respond too strongly to the latest bit of news (good or bad) about their health and treatments. Start the process by recognizing there will be a lot of ups and downs along the way so you're not tempted to put too much weight on any one moment or development. "The downs aren't as horrible as you think they are-and the ups aren't as miraculous as they might seem," says Carlin.
  • Get ready to be tougher, more patient and more emotionally disciplined than you've ever been. Treating cancer or another serious disease can be a long road. It requires stamina that won't be there unless you can find ways to manage your emotions at each step. That will help you stay rational and thoughtful so you can make the best decisions that lead to the best outcomes. Something else you'll need more than ever before is patience. Says Carlin: "If you lash out at those around you, you end up creating a bad dynamic with the members of your care team and even your family members. A little bit of information can cause you to become hypercritical-but you don't want to do that, because it hurts your efforts and outcomes. Emotional maturity will maximize your outcome and help your team perform optimally for you."
  • FINDING THE HELP YOU NEED

    Consider finding a physician who has the skills and the resources to act essentially as your traffic cop-an interpreter, advocate and navigator who can evaluate and coordinate the efforts of the entire team that will work with you on the road to recovery.

  • They either know the top specialists in your disease or have the resources to find them, as well as the ability to access them and get them working with you.
  • They have the expertise needed to interpret treatment recommendations and plans from various specialists and ensure that all actions taken are coordinated and working in concert for optimal outcomes.
  • They can act objectively to ensure that no one member of your health care team exerts too much control or ignores other specialists.
  • That said, not all physicians are created equal-and in today's world, identifying a doctor who can and will do these things well is far from easy. Carlin recommends looking for a few key characteristics in a physician:

  • Trust and communication. Is the doctor someone with whom you feel comfortable being open? With a major medical diagnosis, you can experience a long and often bumpy journey with a lot of moving parts. You want a provider you can talk with frankly about technical and medical matters, but also about your emotions and personal concerns.
  • Expertise. Trust your gut about the doctor-but then verify. Carlin points out that many doctors with great bedside manner lack the skills and qualifications to coordinate an advanced team of experts meant to help you navigate your illness and get better. To avoid doctors who just don't measure up, look for ones who are board-certified and who run independent community practices-i.e., they are not part of a large medical center that may be unwilling to look for specialists and other resources outside its network.
  • Fee-based. A truly independent physician's income will not rely on insurance company reimbursements or payments from a corporate parent. You want to work with a doctor to whom you write a check. That way, you can be confident that the physician is sitting on the same side of the table as you at every stage. "The idea is to work with someone who has no conflicts, whose only job is to advocate for you and what's best for your health," says Carlin.
  • References from other physicians. The whole point of working with this type of physician is to have one point of contact who can coordinate the efforts of other doctors. One of the best ways to find out if a physician can do that is to ask for references from other doctors and health care specialists. A great primary care physician should be able to demonstrate that he or she has lots of high-quality relationships.
  • Obviously, your best bet is to be as ready as you reasonably can for a bad diagnosis before it comes. The good news is that concierge medical practices are becoming increasingly common. Many of these practices are designed to provide a higher level of care than traditional doctors do-and the best can serve as care coordinators and advocates for patients facing difficult diagnoses.

    ACKNOWLEDGMENT: This article was published by the VFO Inner Circle, a global financial concierge group working with affluent individuals and families and is distributed with its permission. Copyright 2018 by AES Nation, LLC.


    Submitted by Safe Harbor Asset Management Huntington, NY on September 10th, 2018

    It's Time to Get Serious About Your Happiness

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    There's a great quote by Jean-Paul Sartre: "We are our choices." When it comes to our happiness and our overall success in life, that's truer than you might have realized.

    Taking time to examine the choices you make in your life and work each day and over the long term to make sure they are enhancing your well-being can do more than just make you happier. Working on enhancing happiness has actually been shown to have a tangible return on investment and can make you more successful.

    Here's one example from the business world. According to positive psychology researcher Shawn Achor, if you are happy and you have happy people around you in your organization, you can improve your organization's performance and productivity by anywhere from 10 percent to 30 percent. And if your team is happier, you will take better care of your clients and have greater impact on them-which in turn will enable your team to do well financially.

    With that in mind, here are steps for increasing your happiness in ways that will lead to better results in your work and in your life. These come courtesy of Henry Miller-a truly exceptional trainer, coach and consultant who helps companies and organizations improve their performance and productivity. He spent years analyzing the growing research on well-being and synthesizing it into his book The Serious Pursuit of Happiness-an essential road map to greater happiness.

    Understand the basics

    Some people think they are predisposed to be happy or unhappy and that's just how it goes. Not so. You can take steps to enhance your happiness and that of the people around you. Research using data from the Minnesota Twin Registry shows that around 50 percent of our level of happiness depends on our deliberate thoughts, attitudes and actions-great news for those of you who assumed your level of happiness is hard-wired.

    To improve the drivers of happiness that are within our control, start with some basic ideas to guide you:

  • Happiness takes effort. Creating and enhancing happiness in your life, your family and your workplace is just like any other major initiative you undertake-it requires time and effort to get up and running smoothly.
  • Happiness is a numbers game. The frequency of positive events in your life matters more than the intensity of those events. You'll have better results if you boost the number of small positive moments in your day instead of trying to have just a few instances that are hugely positive.
  • Happiness is a habit. Make happiness habitual-if you are not as naturally happy as other people, incorporate happy habits into your life while removing other habits.
  • Do more for other people. When you spend time doing things for other people and trying to make them happy, you actually end up happier than when you do things to please just yourself.
  • PROVEN PATHS TO HAPPINESS

    Research has shown that basing your decisions on several imperatives will increase your happiness

    1. Seek pleasure within limits. Real, lasting happiness doesn't come by chasing lots of short-term pleasures. Happiness is not hedonism or doing your best to avoid all pain. The "high" from short-term pleasures doesn't tend to stick with us very long, and if you keep doing nothing but those activities, the moments when you do feel down tend to overwhelm you.

    2. Intentionally think happy. Avoid excessive self-focused rumination on the minutiae of your life. Focus on building resilience and taking control. A feeling of well-being arises when you do these things. There's a quote often attributed to William James, the father of psychology: "The greatest discovery of my generation is that human beings can alter their moods by altering their states of mind."

    3. Intentionally act happy. Expressing gratitude for the good things you have shuts down feelings of envy and jealousy that block your path to more happiness. If you buy yourself a "gratitude journal" and write in it every Sunday night, you can increase your happiness by 25 percent, and the positive effects can last for six months. Other happiness-building actions to work on include forgiving people who have wronged you, staying fit through exercise and diet, and getting enough sleep.

    4. Cultivate positive personality traits. Honesty, courage, perseverance, tolerance, generosity-all are universally seen as good character traits. Consider the best possible future for yourself as a person at home, at work and at play. Imagine yourself in a future where everything has gone as well as it could go. What might your best possible self and best possible future look like?

    5. Embrace deep connections. Close relationships are vital-Facebook friends and watercooler buddies aren't enough.

    Plan and act

    Ultimately you need to act to achieve results. Here are three proven happiness-enhancing action steps you can start doing immediately.

    1. Savor the future. Write a description of what your life will ideally look like five years from today. Your vision of your ideal future will actually act like a beacon, drawing you to it. But don't just take this step-also notice how it makes you feel when you envision a great future. This is how you savor the future, and in doing so you will elevate your positivity.

    2. Express gratitude for your past. Think of someone who has positively impacted your life and whom you have never properly thanked. Write down what they did for you and all the ways you are thankful to them for what they have meant to you over the years. The mere act of writing this type of letter has been shown to boost levels of happiness.

    3. Demonstrate love. If you can, go out immediately after reading this report and get a flower or card for someone you love and give it to them, saying, "Just because I was thinking about you and what you mean to me." You can also simply call someone you love-your spouse, a best friend-and tell them how happy you are that they're in your life. Try to do more of these types of acts every week or month, and cut down on other activities to do so if necessary. Remember that habits and frequency of actions play big roles in elevating happiness.

    ACKNOWLEDGMENT: This article was published by the VFO Inner Circle, a global financial concierge group working with affluent individuals and families and is distributed with its permission. Copyright 2018 by AES Nation, LLC.


    Submitted by Safe Harbor Asset Management Huntington, NY on September 10th, 2017

    The Road to Longevity: Living to 120-and Beyond?

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    Medical technology can now identify risk factors in the human body long before they impact your health

    A medical revolution is underway-one that's making it possible for us to extend our lives for decades by stopping now-fatal diseases before they can take hold of our bodies. In the coming years, we'll not only be able to live longer, but also have fuller lives characterized by enduring physical mobility and mental sharpness.

    Here's a closer look at the personal longevity revolution-and what it could mean to you and your family as you seek to live your best life.

    Stop disease before it starts: the power of biomarkers and genomes

    Perhaps the most interesting component of longevity care is the role of biomarkers in understanding genomic risk and promoting long-term health.

    Biomarkers are biological data points that reveal the current physical state of affairs of a particular condition. Most biomarkers are blood tests for future risk, but they also might include other health data points like a calcium score or even simpler values like heart rhythm and blood pressure.

    Biomarkers are nothing new, but they can now be used in advanced ways thanks to personal genome sequencing-a process that can reveal a specific future health risk you face so you can stop it in its tracks. What's more, new health biomarkers are being identified regularly-giving doctors more data points to examine and track in the pursuit of longevity. (Bonus: The costs of gene sequencing and biomarker analysis are also coming down.)

    A person's unique genome is just that-unique. Genomic mapping and analysis enables doctors to identify the specific processes that lead to the creation of a future disease state. Once a biomarker corresponding to that future disease is identified, a detailed protocol can be developed to track and manage it.

    Bottom line: You can know if you have specific risk factors in your body that could lead to major health problems, long before those health problems ever rear their ugly heads. Armed with that almost predictive insight, you can take steps to stop those problems before they have a chance to do damage.

    The choice is yours

    It's a given that you want to live a long, healthy and active life-and that you want the same for your loved ones.

    The question therefore is "What are you doing about it?"

    Basically, you have two options:

    1. Manage the process yourself using available medical resources. For example, you can have your genome mapped by any number of health service providers. The question, however, is how to use the genomic information effectively once you have it. You can adjust your diet and exercise more-but that's not really comprehensive longevity care.

    2. Work with longevity care experts. You can work with physician and care teams who have a deep understanding of longevity care and are actively staying abreast of the latest developments in the field. These experts will regularly monitor developments with your particular biomarkers, with the goal of staying out in front of any illnesses, diseases or other negative health outcomes. They will also provide you with a range of options to address any issues that do crop up, often using more advanced and less invasive health care methods.

    Longevity care like this is often available through high-quality concierge medical practices. There are a number of different types of concierge medical practices, but two major types typically provide longevity planning:

  • Physician concierge practices, which a provide a high-level patient experience by ensuring greater access through rapid callbacks, extended office hours and shorter wait times
  • Continuous connected care practices, which use the connectivity provided by technology to deliver care and ensure continuity in the patient experience, regardless of their location or time of day
  • ACKNOWLEDGEMENT: This article was published by the VFO Inner Circle, a global financial concierge group working with affluent individuals and families and is distributed with its permission. Copyright 2017 by AES Nation, LLC.