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Dec
22
December Commentary: Tax Reform is Here
With last night's Senate passage of the Tax Reform and Jobs Act, Americans woke up this morning faced with the reality of a brand new income tax code for 2018. There is plenty to dislike about this bill. And judging by the latest polls on its popularity, the majority of Americans do, in fact, dislike it. There is no rational argument that says this bill doesn't increase our Country's already large deficit. No rational argument that the vast majority of the tax relief proposed in the Tax Reform and Jobs Act is headed somewhere other than the corporate sector and the wealthiest Americans. That said, there is also no rational argument that our tax reform was not in need of reform after more than three decades without major legislation. Think...
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Sep
07
September Commentary: A True Story
If you have been a part of the Teplitz Financial Group family for a while, you are probably used to getting an email around this time of year talking about how September is Life Insurance Awareness Month. You probably have a chuckle and say to yourself, "Oh, Ari...that is not a thing." Well, in fact, it is a thing (visit www.lifehappens.org if you don't believe me) and this year, I want to tell you a true story to illustrate the importance of life insurance. Last year, when my daughter was in nursery school, I had to talk to my four-year-old about death. You would think that a career of helping protect people against life's catastrophes would have prepared me for that talk. After all, I routinely talk to families about what might happen....
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May
03
May Commentary: The Tax Reform Gauntlet
Last week Secretary of the Treasury Steve Mnuchin stepped into the White House Briefing Room and laid out the broad strokes of Trump Administration's much-hyped tax reform plan. Whether it was the ticking of the "100-day clock" or the first salvo towards delivering on a popular campaign promise, Wednesday gave us the first few drips about where this complex legislative negotiation will begin. The centerpiece of the Administration's proposed tax cut is a drastic decrease in the business tax rate, where corporations and small businesses alike would see their tax bill cut by more than half--from 35% to 15%. Moreover, this new 15% business tax rate would include "pass-through" entities (businesses formed as partnerships, LLCs, and even some...
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Nov
21
November Commentary: President-Elect Donald Trump
It has been almost two weeks since businessman Donald Trump became the President-Elect of the United States, which means it has been almost two weeks since our collective jaws dropped and we began trying to figure out what the next four years might look like. Given that prognostication has not exactly been an exact science of late, it is hard to tell where we are headed. Prior to election night, conventional wisdom had been that the U.S. investment markets would react more harshly to a Trump victory than to a Clinton win, simply based on the "unknown" factor of Donald Trump, and the anxiety the unknown always brings to the market. About halfway through poll closings, it looked like conventional wisdom would play out. As a Trump victory...
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Oct
27
October Commentary: Is it the AFFORDABLE Care Act?
It is the last week of October, and we are less than two weeks away from the end of this root canal of a Presidential election. But even before election day finally arrives, millions of Americans will sign up for health insurance during the fourth annual open enrollment of The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as Obamacare. Earlier this week, the Obama Administration released the 2017 rates for the 39 states that participate in the national health insurance exchange on healthcare.gov. To say these rates were met with resistance would be an understatement of epic proportions. There really is no way to sugarcoat it. On average, the 10 million people who are currently enrolled in ACA on-exchange plans will see a...
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Aug
05
August Commentary: The Tax Plans of Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton
After the longest election cycle in modern history, we are finally entering the stretch run. Less than 100 days separate us from knowing who the next President of the United States is going to be. Truth is, either way, history will be made. A victory by Secretary Hillary Clinton means the first time that we all get to say "Madam President". A win by Donald Trump will, for the first time since Dwight Eisenhower was elected more than 60 years ago, put a man in the Oval Office who has never held elected office. This election has been polarizing, if nothing else. Social media has been set aflame by constant political rhetoric, and the old adage of not talking politics has been all but retired. As all of us prepare to make our choice in...
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Jul
18
July Commentary: Brought to You by the Word Volatility
The first half of 2016 has certainly not had any shortage of headlines. From terrorist attacks in Dallas, Orlando, Paris, Istanbul and now Nice, to continued tensions between police departments and communities of color across the country, to Brexit and the most contentious Presidential primary campaign in at least 40 years, it is hard to feel something other than exhaustion when it comes to the world stage. It is therefore understandable that investment market performance has largely gone unnoticed. Despite being under the radar, there has been plenty to talk about. The year started with a mini-crash, which saw markets drop around 10% during the first six weeks of the year. That was followed by a rally of equal proportion. And after a...
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Jun
10
June Commentary: The Curious Incident of the May Jobs Report
The jobs report. The monthly stress test issued by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) that provides metrics to the central question of the current election cycle, "How is the US economy doing?" The dependent relationship between employment and our economic health cannot be denied, nor should it, but as pundits and candidates alike seem hell-bent on confusing the matter, it is important to look beyond the rhetoric to find out what the data actually tells us. The easiest conclusion to draw from May's report is to proclaim that the economy is going to hell in a hand basket. After all, it was the lowest job creation number issued by the BLS since 2010, underperforming its goal by nearly 70%. You might be asking yourself, as I did, how can...
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May
02
May Commentary: You Need a Will
It was just about two weeks ago when the world learned that Prince, one of the most beloved and creative artists of our time, had died at his Chanhassen, Minnesota home. For his legions of fans, myself included, his legacy will not be about his death, but rather his unique ability to make all of us see the world differently through the colorful lens of his music. Sadly, his legacy might become muddier for his closest loved ones, as it has now been reported that Prince died, like so many others, without a last will and testament. Over the course of my years in practice, I have seen my fair share of families torn apart because the deceased didn't take the steps necessary to ensure that their wishes were carried out. While each situation...
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Apr
11
April Commentary: The New Landscape for Retirement Advice
Let me ask you a question. How many things do you know of that have not been updated since 1974? Your grandmother's house? Sure. Your favorite song? OK. But would you be surprised to know that until yesterday, the major legislation regarding retirement plans and investment advice had not been changed? Given the speed at which the Federal Government operates, it is probably not much of a surprise, but that does not change the impact of the first major regulatory changes to our industry in more than four decades. The issuing of this week's Notice of Proposed Rule Making (NPRM) by the Department of Labor (DOL) brought to fruition changes that were first proposed in 2010. The basic issue that the Obama Administration was trying to address...
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Jan
15
Quarterly Commentary: What to Expect in 2016
For the first time since 2008, December ended a year where both the Dow Jones and S&P 500 finished with negative returns. Couple that with struggles in the international market and minimal gains in bond funds, and you have a year that saw many with results on the wrong side of the line.  Unfortunately, things didn't get better when we turned the page to 2016, as global markets, including the United States, have already seen more than a 7% decline this year (Source: Bloomberg Business). So where do we go from here? Honestly, the jury is out. Everything points towards a year not so dissimilar to the past two, which ended up slightly and down slightly, respectively. The major problem for most investors is finding spots to achieve gain and/or...
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Dec
28
December Commentary: The Wait is Over!
It finally happened! On December 16th, for the first time in nearly a decade, the Federal Reserve raised interest in what represents a hesitant, but real, vote of confidence for the United States economy. The rise amounts to a small but significant move, with rates ticking up from zero to a range of 0.25 and 0.50 percent. This begins the process of closing the books on an era of easy money which helped our nation avoid further consequence of the Great Recession. Truthfully, the move surprised no one. Short of actually tattooing the words on her forehead, Federal Reserve Board Chairwoman Janet Yellen did everything she could to let us know the move was coming. I would say she really did all of us a favor. The lack of surprise likely had a...
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Aug
28
Market Commentary: A Late Summer Harvest
The financial news over these last 10 days seems like a steady stream of negativity. Triple-digit market loss, after triple-digit market loss will certainly create some aches and pains for those of us who have money invested in equities here and around the globe. While a loss is a loss, and nothing, but time, will bring back the gains we saw in investment accounts as recently as earlier this month, there are strategies to take some of the sting out of these most recent injuries. One strategy that we are implementing here at the firm is called tax-loss harvesting. Simply put, it means selling a losing position for a loss while using those proceeds to purchase a similar position while it is low. The goal here is to create a current...
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Apr
22
April Commentary: A Review of the First Quarter
As we headed into 2015, many wondered if the stock market could achieve a seventh consecutive year of growth. With interest rates still at or near all-time lows, housing and job markets still in flux, and Europe in a state of disarray, there certainly was a lot of unknown as we set sail on the new year. Well, with one quarter in the books, the only thing that has become clear is...it is going to be quite a ride. Many, including yours truly, anticipated volatility on our way through the year, and that is exactly what we got. No matter how you look at the market results from the first quarter, there were ups and there were downs. As has become a trend, there were a number of occasions when the markets hit all-time highs, but those were...
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Mar
06
March Commentary: Some Last Minute Tax Tips!
It's that time of year again! Accountants are burning the midnight oil as they receive package after package, email after email, and phone call after phone call, from clients dreaming of large tax refunds or bracing themselves for the dreaded news of owing additional money to Uncle Sam. By now, I hope most of us have scheduled appointments with our accountants, or downloaded the latest version of TurboTax onto our computers. Or, at the very least, I hope all of us have said to ourselves, "I really need to get my taxes done." The truth is, April 15th will be here before you know it. So as we sit here, just over a month from Tax Day, here are some last-minute tips for you to consider. If you need more time, get an extension. Even...
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Jan
30
January Commentary: The New Year's Resolution
The New Year's Resolution. A commitment we make to ourselves—when we've had a few too many cookies, or cocktails, during the Holiday season—that we then spend twelve months trying desperately to hang on to. Many people don't even make it to month two. In fact, I would venture to say that some of the people reading this have probably already strayed from their goal. And the numbers don't lie. According to the Journal of Clinical Psychology, just 8% of people are successful in achieving one or more of their resolutions in any given year, and 24% of us never succeed in achieving any of our resolutions year after year after year. So why the high failure rate? It's not like we make insignificant resolutions. The Journal found that "losing...
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Dec
30
December Commentary: A Happy or Not So Happy New Year?
Well, we are here. The last three days of 2014. I am sure you, like me, have some wonderful memories of the past year, and some that you will be glad to bid farewell to as the calendar turns. From an economic perspective, 2014 has been as up and down as everything else this year. So as we seal the book on the current year and look forward to 2015, here are some of the measurables that will help determine how much we all enjoy the next 12 months. To 18,000 and Beyond! In a month that saw the biggest single day drop in the New York Stock Exchange since 2011, the Dow Jones rebounded for a Merry Christmas, hitting an all-time high of 18,024.17 on December 23rd, and creeping up a few more points in the days that followed. What does this mean?...
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Nov
26
November Commentary: The Result of the Mid-Term Elections
Now that the midterm elections are safely behind us, a lot of people are wondering how politics will impact their investment returns. The conventional wisdom is that divided government—where one party holds the White House while the other controls the House, the Senate or both—is good for the markets.  And while we recognize that when it comes to investment returns, there is never a magic formula, some of the statistics about the impact of mid-term elections and a divided White House are very interesting. For example, statistics tell us that the markets seem to like midterm elections regardless of who wins. If you look at the research done by the likes of Bloomberg and the BMO Capital Markets Investment Strategy Group, you will see that...
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Oct
29
October Commentary: Don't Lose Your Balance
I have always been a fan of this quote by Brian Tracy, a business development expert whose teaching have been instrumental to many in the financial industry. Brian says, "Just as your car runs more smoothly and requires less energy to go faster and farther when the wheels are in perfect alignment, you perform better when your thoughts, feelings, emotions, goals, and values are in balance." No matter what we are talking about, he could not be more right. Balance is an important issue, whether we are talking about parenting, work/life balance, psychological balance or even financial balance. Earlier this month, the S&P 500 was down 7.4% during a two-week selloff (Bob Veras, Client Article Why Losses Matter, 10-25-2014), and there was...
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 Securities offered through American Portfolios Financial Services, Inc. Member FINRA/SIPC (FINRA/SIPC). American Portfolios Financial Services, Inc. and American Portfolios Advisors, Inc. are not affiliated with any other named business entities mentioned.

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