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Congratulations to Elaine Lee!

Congratulations to Elaine Lee!

We’re proud to share that Elaine Lee has earned her CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ certification!

The CFP® certification is the industry standard for professional financial advisors. To earn the designation, professionals must complete university-level financial coursework and pass a six-hour exam covering 72 topics – ranging from risk management to investments, tax laws to retirement planning. Though Elaine is an experienced advisor, we encouraged her to pursue the designation; she shares that she enjoyed the added curriculum and she feels the program has enhanced her expertise.

Elaine joined Summit Place in 2016 after spending several years with a nearby firm. Elaine was drawn to our unique approach to wealth management, offering our clients comprehensive financial expertise along with concierge service. This approach resonated with her as she looked back on her earlier executive career in which she saw so many executives missing the value of a qualified advisor.

Elaine shares, “As my parents came to the ‘land of opportunity,’ it was ingrained in me that obtaining a good education was paramount and delaying gratification was a virtue. With this mindset, I spent my first paycheck wisely but also saved for my future. Years later, as the president and chief operating officer working with global brands, I was executing strategic growth plans and managing multi-million dollar budgets. Looking back, I wish I had a trusted professional helping guide my personal financial decisions when I was an executive. I was strapped for time and didn’t have the expertise to understand or manage the full picture around my finances. There’s a huge opportunity cost associated with not taking advantage of all the financial planning disciplines as you are accumulating your wealth. Investments, risk management, taxation, retirement and estate planning all work together to make sure you are preparing for your long-term goals; I’ve realized this is essential for successful executives.”

As a former executive, Elaine understands the challenges of balancing a demanding career and family. She has always wanted to guide people to take intelligent next steps with matters they don’t have time or expertise to address but are critical in doing so. Today, Elaine helps them consider and execute strategies to achieve their long-term goals so they can focus on their daily demands. Now, as a CFP®, Elaine feels she adds even more value to clients by helping them make sound decisions on an even broader array of financial issues.

Elaine emigrated to the United States from Hong Kong when she was just three years old, eventually settling in New York City. She earned her B.S. in business administration and marketing from New York University’s Stern School of Business. Currently, Elaine resides in Morris County, with husband and two daughters.

Congratulations Elaine for adding this designation to your career accomplishments! If you’d like to reach Elaine, you can send her an email here:


Planning on retiring early? Use these three retirement savings strategies

Retirement savings

Retirement account rules are stacked against early retirees. People may face a 10 percent early withdrawal penalty if they take money out of their traditional IRAs before age 59½ and before age 55 with traditional 401(k) plans and other workplace retirement plans.

According to Tom Anderson, here are some strategies early retirees can use to maximize their retirement savings:

Rule 72(t) distributions

There is an exception to the early withdrawal penalty for IRAs. The IRS allows you to take “substantially equal periodic payments” under Rule 72(t).

To avoid the 10 percent penalty once you begin distributions, you must continue to take the required distribution for the longer of five years, or until you reach age 59½. Once distributions begin, if the series of payments is modified in any way, the 10 percent penalty will be imposed retroactively beginning with the first year of distribution.

Taxable accounts

In a taxable account, the money in the account is yours, minus capital gains taxes, without any strings attached to distributions.

Roth conversion

“[Roth conversions] require careful tax analysis each year, after the year is over, and before taxes are filed to determine the capacity for additional withdrawals or conversions,” said Pearce Landry-Wegener, a CFP at Summit Place Financial Advisors in Summit, New Jersey.

Converting to a Roth can be a bad idea if you live in a high-tax state and plan to move to a state with lower or no state income taxes later in retirement.

This article originally appeared on CNBC. If you’d like more information on retirement planning, contact us.


Summit Place Financial Advisors Honored by American Registry

american registry most honored businesses


We’re thrilled to announce that Summit Place Financial Advisors has been recognized as one of “America’s Most Honored Businesses – Top 10%” by American Registry. This recognition of excellence includes significant mentions in the press and honors by industry peers, trade groups and clients. Given to top businesses for their continuous professional recognition, we’re excited to receive this award for 2017.

Contact us for more information.


A Memorable Trip to The Chautauqua Institution

A Memorable Trip to The Chautauqua Institution
By Pearce Landry-Wegener

For the past 14 years, our president Liz Miller has spent a few weeks of her summer teaching courses at The Chautauqua Institution in upstate New York. Equal parts education, performing arts appreciation and interfaith worship, this unique nonprofit community, founded in 1874, is both hard to describe and like nowhere else. A nine-week celebration dedicated to learning and discussion, each week at Chautauqua centers around topical theme of our time. It also features a variety of guest speakers, lectures, performances, and religious services. In addition to the featured theme of the week, guests are invited to enroll in additional courses that cover an array of topics. In recent years, Liz and I taught classes entitled “Family Legacy Planning” and “Where to Invest Today” – the format allows for both teaching and a sharing of experiences and ideas, attracting a wide variety of participants.

I’ve joined Liz for the past four years and gain something new with each trip. This summer, during the two weeks we taught at The Chautauqua Institution, we reconnected with old friends and formed new relationships. We also took the opportunity to consider the world and economy with a fresh perspective. While on site, Liz interviewed with Matt Warren of WJTN: a local radio station eager to inform their listeners about how to plan their legacy and where to invest in the stock market. Given the opportunity for us to discuss important topics with such a connected community, I continue to look forward to this journey year after year.

Take a look at the picture gallery below, and cheers to another unforgettable trip to Chautauqua.

Planning Your Legacy and Future Lifestyle? Check Out Our Learning Center

Planning your future lifestyle and eventual legacy isn’t easy and can be even more challenging for those unsure of where to begin. Whether thinking about a full retirement, transiting to the next phase in learning center, educationyour life, or considering how to fund your loved ones’ education, you are probably inundated with the wealth of information found on the internet. A handful of online resources provide solutions for financial planning but this common advice can apply to people in a wide range of circumstances. If you’re looking for strategic guidance that uniquely speaks to you on these topics (and many more), our learning papers can help.

The “Lifestyle and Legacy Planning” section of our Learning Center includes in-depth papers on a range of personal finance topics. The newest one is “Planning Your Next Move? Explore Renting.” This paper provides those entering the next phase of their lives a handful of reasons why renting may be better than buying.

If you’re looking for additional resources to plan your legacy and future lifestyle, here is an overview of our Learning Center:
  • Strategic Educational Funding for the Next Generation: As parents and grandparents, you only want to see your children succeed. But you might also worry about funding their future education. In this learning paper, we outline your options and our favorite choices to fund your loved ones’ education.
  • Thriving in Turbulent Times: We all know these good times can come to an end any moment. If you want to stay ahead of the damage of market declines, you should analyze the key steps in this paper.
  • Why Proper Accounting Titling and Beneficiary Designations are so Important in Estate Planning: Coordinating account titling and beneficiary designations are often overlooked elements of a successful estate plan. Many people unwittingly title accounts or designate beneficiaries in a way that undermines their estate plan. This paper can help you avoid errors by explaining the various account titling options and the use of beneficiary designations.
  • It’s Tax Time: Here are 5 Tax Management Tips: Tax season will be here before you know it. From saving for retirement to donating to charity, we highlight five strategies to help reduce your tax liability.

We will continue to add resources to the Learning Center to better help you manage your finances. In the meantime, you can click here to download all learning papers.


Personal Finance Mistakes Grads Make on Their First Job

personal finance, recent grads, young adultGraduation season is here and young adults will soon enter the workforce. Now, these professionals will need a strategic plan to stay ahead of their finances. In an interview with Financial Advisor Magazine, wealth management advisor Pearce Landry-Wegner recently shared his insights on common personal finance mistakes new grads make on their first job, and solutions for each. These include:

Not setting up a repayment plan for student loans

Recent grads can forgo student loan payments during a six-month grace period after graduation. During this time, it’s critical they review and set up a repayment plan. Also, there are options for student loan forgiveness through public service. But it is important they know which employers fall within this realm to ensure loan forgiveness.

Not keeping fixed expenses as low as possible (e.g., rent, car, gym, cable)

Additionally, to avoid debt, recent grads should keep living expenses to 25 percent of a paycheck. If necessary, there are ways to negotiate pricing with some cable and internet providers to keep these costs low.

Not saving enough

Recent grads can work with their bank to schedule a recurring payment deposited directly into a savings account. This helps with the overall saving process. To make it easy for the employee, most companies can divide a paycheck and deposit the funds into different accounts. Also, to help build an emergency fund and pay down debt (student loans, credit cards, etc.), it’s important to put half of all bonuses directly into the bank.

Not signing up for the 401k/retirement plan at work

Often times, recent grads don’t understand how to plan for their retirement. As a first step, there are many forms that allocate a percent or fixed dollar amount for retirement from each paycheck. This allows for retirement funds to grow steadily, and the percent option can automatically increase with every raise.

Not reading the benefits package and understanding new medical coverage

By reading the medical coverage thoroughly, recent grads can tell whether their primary doctors are covered and whether they’ll have an increased co-pay. From here, they can take the necessary steps to either switch physicians or explore their options for independent health plans.

Not checking the job’s disability insurance

If disability insurance is offered by the new employer, recent grads should pay the premium after taxes so that the benefits will be tax-free (if they’re needed).

To read about more personal finance mistakes recent grads make, click here.


Is Amazon’s Stock Too Expensive?

Is Amazon’s Stock Too Expensive?
Amazon recently reached $1,000-per-share – even before Amazon announced its intention to buy Whole Foods, the company was a standout beneficiary of a struggling retail sector. While Target, Macy’s and Kohl’s were down over 20 percent this year, Amazon was growing its retail dominance.

In an interview with U.S. News & World Report, Liz Miller explained that many may continue to think of Amazon as a technology stock but it is more appropriately the leading retail stock in the S&P 500. What is abundantly clear this year is that traditional retail is nearly crumbling but consumers have not reduced their discretionary spending. They are increasingly transitioning to shopping exclusively on the internet. Amazon is a prime beneficiary of this growth because the company almost single-handedly created this trend. Perhaps it is not surprising that the stock appreciated as much (and more) as traditional retailers declined.

It is also never easy to value Amazon as a stock; traditional valuation metrics look very expensive. Yet the valuation has perpetually reflected the future upside potential of internet purchasers. And by any growth measure, the online retailer has exceeded expectations.

Is the stock too expensive? Any stock that temporarily outperforms the broad averages can easily have a correction. If a correction were to occur, though, it would likely indicate a buying opportunity for the leading retailer of our time and the primary beneficiary of every positive consumer economic indicator.

Read Liz Miller’s interview in U.S. News & World Report.


What You Need to Know About ESG Investing

ESG investing, impact investing, environment, social, governanceOver the past twenty years, there has been a slow but steady trend emerging among financial services: An ESG investing approach where investors seek long-term competitive returns while simultaneously creating positive societal impact.

Being a “socially responsible” investor in previous years meant avoiding investments in companies whose products or services were “unethical.” This includes companies that produced alcohol or tobacco, advocated gambling, manufactured weapons or burned fossil fuels and harmed the environment. Continuing with this trend, investment managers now proactively screen for a wide range of ESG factors for potential long-term advantages. According to a new survey by BNP Paribas, nearly 80 percent of institutional investors incorporate ESG factors into their decision-making. Therefore, “socially responsible” investors increasingly seek opportunities that contribute positively to society to generate sustainable and financial value.

This approach also received a major vote of confidence in October 2015. The Department of Labor issued a bulletin that allowed private sector employers to add ESG fund options to retirement plans. Consequently, this ruling led to an explosion of funds offering such strategies. U.S. assets invested in ESG strategies grew from $6.57 trillion at the start of 2014 to $8.72 trillion at the start of 2016 – an increase of 33 percent.

Given this spike in interest and demand, here’s what investors need to know about ESG investing today:

ESG investing’s primary benefit:

Investors aim to achieve positive impact through corporate engagement or an emphasis on community, sustainability or the advancement of women. Therefore, ESG investing means different things to different people. However, a common thread is investors using a portion of their investments to provide future portfolio growth and to support issues, causes and practices that may lead to a better society.

The risk and limitations:

Many managers incorporate ESG criteria into their investment selections to build portfolios that reflect an impact strategy. While different approaches appeal to different investors, such strategic initiatives include:

  • Positive ESG investing: Here managers invest in a diversified portfolio – with sectors or companies selected for positive ESG performance – relative to industry peers. This approach usually includes avoiding companies or sectors that do not meet certain ESG performance targets. With this option, investors choose a fully diversified portfolio approach for their overall investment strategy. The portfolio does not involve measurably more risk than other fully diversified funds.
  • Impact investing: Here managers use ESG criteria to build focused portfolios, with targeted investments aimed at solving social or environmental problems. The investment funds are more focused and may carry more risk. Choices might include funds that select companies promoting women on boards, or those focusing solely on alternative and clean energy. These will reflect an investors’ personal passions and should be integrated into portfolios by reviewing the specific investment risk of the fund. The rest of the portfolio investments should balance this specific risk.
  • Sustainability investing: Here managers use ESG criteria to select investments specifically related to global sustainability. This approach is a hybrid of the two above. Many of these funds will be fully diversified and fit easily into a total portfolio allocation. Others might emphasize areas that bring a higher level of specific risk that needs to be balanced by other investments.

The future of ESG investing:

More investors are understanding that the ways we spend and invest can influence the fabric and consciousness of society. Even millennials are looking for ways to achieve their social impact goals. As society embraces ESG investing, it has the potential to become mainstream and an essential part of investor portfolios.

All in all, ESG investing has a bright future among investors. There are several seasoned approaches to implementing this into portfolios – as a core part of an overall portfolio or a specifically focused allocation. If you’d like to learn more about the benefits of investing to positively impact society, contact us.


The Future of the U.S. Equity Market: Prediction for Investors

prediction for investors on U.S. equity market

There’s one thing investors need to know about the future of the U.S. equity market: Our prediction is that it will likely hold tight to the economic trends that always break through market uncertainty.

While the Trump administration unveils new tax reforms – met with skepticism from lawmakers, economists, government officials, etc. – investors may rest assured that markets can move higher.

In a recent interview with Business News Network, Liz Miller, president of Summit Place Financial Advisors, discussed the future of the equity markets. In her discussion, she emphasized that more volatility is likely as analysts continuously assess the future success of various fiscal initiatives. She also welcomed viewer questions on how to navigate the current investing landscape in U.S. equities.

Check out the full interview – with Liz’s prediction – below:

For more information on the future of U.S. equity markets and advice on your investment strategies, contact us.


Celebrating Literacy Day

Celebrating Literacy Day

5 Steps to Passing on Money Know-How

Contributed today by Robyn Ulrich:


Pass the Cake

Of all the holidays or special interest days to celebrate, Financial Literacy Day is probably not at the top of your list. For many people, money or finance can be an uncomfortable subject to talk about, so it’s really not that surprising people would rather focus on the upcoming Passover and Easter holidays than the fact that taxes are due a few days later.

Do you ever wonder about where you would be in life, if you had been raised with a strong personal finance education underfoot? Or perhaps you were among the fortunate ones to have a solid financial upbringing; do you ever wonder about where the state of our economy would be if more people had a better understanding and plan for their personal finances?


Pass the Kleenex

Like a lot of people, I was not raised in a household that taught me very much about money. To my parent’s credit, their own parents never taught them either and as the saying goes, “You don’t know, what you don’t know”.

I can remember my very first day at college freshman orientation. Booths upon booths of creditors, eager to help students build their credit history by offering a credit card. While good intentioned, I hope, I can’t help but wonder if they ever considered the ramifications of signing up financially clueless teenagers. Needless to say, I fell victim to the wonderful world of “free money” and high interest rates. It was a tough lesson to learn, and had I been given the tools to manage my financial life starting at an earlier age, I might never have found myself with a mountain of debt in addition to my student loans.


  1. Pass the Awareness

The average household debt in America last year, was roughly $134,643. If you couple that with the amount you are paying in interest, it’s kind of a scary number considering the median household income for the US in 2015, was $55,775. From $1.3 trillion in student loan debt, to credit card debt averaging $16,048 per household, it’s clear I’m not the only one who has struggled to manage or understand money.


Although we can’t go back in time to educate our younger selves, we can certainly prevent future generations from repeating our own mistakes and even learn a little something along the way. The basis for a brighter financial future, starts early. It’s important to give our kids the tools to make good choices with their money, long before we launch them on a college campus to roam free with their credit cards.


  1. Pass the Piggy Banks

So, how much earlier than college is the best time to teach your kids how to navigate through the complexities of personal finance? Well, let’s start with the basics like saving and spending:

Some experts suggest as early as age 3, is the perfect time to teach your kids one of the most important financial tools out there: delayed gratification.

If you’re brave enough to get through a toddler temper tantrum in the candy aisle, or are able to forgo that pair of shoes you really want, you’re already familiar with how challenging this concept really is.

A great way to turn the concept of delayed gratification into a positive feeling rather than a restrictive one, is by offering separate piggy banks. One for saving and one for spending and perhaps even a third for charitable giving, will give younger kids a visual way to understand how to separate their money to achieve a future goal without feeling deprived. They can see that by splitting up the money they receive, they can save for a future goal while at the same time having a little bit of money to spend sooner.


  1. Pass the Motivation

Once kids have the ability to generate more than the few dimes they once found in their car seat, it’s time to build beyond the simple concepts of a separating their money into different categories.

Having the opportunity to earn money, whether that’s from allowance, babysitting or helping the neighbor shovel snow, kids can begin to learn how a little motivation can increase how much they have to contribute towards those different piggy banks.

Not only will they see how a little bit of elbow grease is an option for increasing their earnings, a simple exercise in investing can also put a motivating spin on growing their funds. For example, cash gifts received for birthdays or holidays can take on a whole new meaning, if they are given more choices. Instead of using their allowance or birthday cash to buy something now, offer to match 25% or 50% of what they were given if they wait a month. Get them used to having the choice to either spend right away….or to receive a larger benefit by waiting.  Later in life this lesson can turn into the very real gift of compounding their savings in retirement and investment accounts.


  1. Pass the Responsibility

As kids reach high school, and perhaps their first job, there’s no better time to introduce a checking account with a debit card, and perhaps even a joint credit card with a low credit limit of $200.

You might also consider helping them open a ROTH IRA as long as they have earned income from a job, to prepare them for a future that teens normally find too far in the distance to bother with.

Through teaching them the basics of balancing their new checkbook, monitoring their spending habits by analyzing monthly statements or using a phone app such as Mint, young adults can begin to understand the value of credit and how their choices today will affect the options they have down the road.

Although these steps seem relatively small, they are important building blocks that can create a strong foundation for your child’s financial future.


  1. Pass the Tools

Unfortunately, awareness for a single day of the year won’t be enough to ensure our high school graduates will be equipped with the financial tools they need to be successful adults. Did you know that only 5 states require a finance course as a graduation requirement? If kids do not receive this essential part of education at home or at school, they will continue to be left on their own to figure it out.  Generation after generation will continue to repeat many of the same basic mistakes.

Thankfully, efforts to improve financial literacy are indeed gaining traction. Although we are simply celebrating Financial Literacy Day, it is actually the full month of April and shows that people are starting to pay attention to a long overlooked need.   More and more financial professionals, educators and corporations are filling the void by volunteering their personal time or creating websites, social media pages, and community programs to provide the resources necessary to assist everyone who may be navigating financial challenges.  Other resources are springing up to help jump-start conversations with kids and teens before they learn bad habits.

The earlier we teach our kids about money and the more we talk about financial issues, the less uncomfortable it becomes, and the wiser future generations will be. Then, we will be able to pass them cake instead of Kleenex.

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Summit Place Financial Advisors, LLC

18 Bank Street, Suite 200
Summit, NJ 07901

Ph. 908.517.5880