Monthly Archives: February 2012

SOLD OUT: Women Wine Fashion & Finance Fundraiser

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Women, Wine, Fashion & Finance Fundraiser for the Food Bank of Eastern Michigan BackPack Program!

Weekly Market Commentary 2/21/12

The Markets

Valentine’s Day is over, but there’s still a “whole lotta love” swirling around the stock market these days.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed last week at its highest level since May 2008 while the S&P 500 is knocking on the door of its highest close in almost four years, according to The Wall Street Journal. The gains were driven by optimism that Greece will get another bailout and better-than-estimated data on jobless claims, manufacturing, and housing, according to Bloomberg.

Even though the market has been rising, potential party spoilers abound.

You may have noticed the last time you filled your car gas prices are on the rise again. In fact, CNBC reported gas prices are at a record high for this time of year. The report says gas prices could hit an all-time record high this spring.

Gas prices aren’t the only thing on the rise. Tensions inIranand theMiddle Eastare stoking a rise in oil prices. Together, higher gas and oil prices could take a bite out of consumer and corporate wallets.

Over the weekend in Asia,Chinaannounced a change in its banking system reserve ratio in an effort to spur lending and economic growth. This monetary easing comes on the heels of a report that shows housing prices declined in 47 out of 70 major Chinese cities in January. Housing has been a strong economic engine for China for years and any slowdown there could cause problems.

Across the pond, new numbers show that Italy, Greece, Portugal, the Netherlands, and Belgiumare now officially in recession, according to The Wall Street Journal. Even mighty Germany saw its economy slightly contract in the fourth quarter of 2011 compared to the third quarter.

Despite these negatives, the market seems to be climbing the proverbial “wall of worry.” Whether it will scale this wall and stay on top or fail to reach the top and retreat remains to be seen.


Data as of 2/17/12







Standard & Poor’s 500 (Domestic Stocks)







DJ Global ex US (Foreign Stocks)







10-year Treasury Note (Yield Only)







Gold (per ounce)







DJ-UBS Commodity Index







DJ Equity All REIT TR Index







Notes: S&P 500, DJ Global ex US, Gold, DJ-UBS Commodity Index returns exclude reinvested dividends (gold does not pay a dividend) and the three-, five-, and 10-year returns are annualized; the DJ Equity All REIT TR Index does include reinvested dividends and the three-, five-, and 10-year returns are annualized; and the 10-year Treasury Note is simply the yield at the close of the day on each of the historical time periods.

Sources: Yahoo! Finance, Barron’s,, London Bullion Market Association.

Past performance is no guarantee of future results.  Indices are unmanaged and cannot be invested into directly.  N/A means not applicable.

HOW MUCH INCOME WOULD YOU NEED to feel “rich?”Gallup recently conducted a poll and discovered that the median income needed by Americans to feel rich was $150,000. That is three times the roughly $50,000 median annual household income of Americans.

Probing a little deeper, the survey results revealed the following interesting points:

1)   15 percent of the respondents said they needed to earn $1 million or more to feel rich while 30 percent said $100,000 or less would make them feel rich.

2)   Women said they needed $100,000 per year to feel rich while men needed $150,000.

3)   College graduates needed $200,000 to feel rich while non-college graduates needed $100,000.

In a separate question,Gallupasked Americans how much net worth they would need to feel rich. The median response was $1 million.

So there you have it – to feel rich in America the average American needs either $150,000 in annual income or $1 million in net worth.

Now, let’s contrast that with our tax laws. The highest marginal tax rate starts when single filers or married couples filing jointly reach $379,150 in taxable income. That’s quite a bit above the median $150,000 number that was reported by Americans to make them feel rich.

According toGallup, “The question of the point at which someone becomes rich certainly has policy implications in theUnited States. Gallup finds Americans now about evenly divided on whether the rich, broadly speaking, should be heavily taxed.”

You can expect to hear a lot more about tax policy during the upcoming elections later this year.

Weekly Focus – Think About It

Did you ever notice that when you put the words “The” and “IRS” together, it spells “THEIRS?”

Author Unknown

Best regards,

Margie Shard, CFP

President & Wealth Advisor

Securities offered through LPL Financial Member FINRA/SIPC, Member FINRA/SIPC.

* This newsletter was prepared by Peak Advisor Alliance. Peak Advisor Alliance is not affiliated with the named broker/dealer.

* The Standard & Poor’s 500 (S&P 500) is an unmanaged group of securities considered to be representative of the stock market in general.

* The DJ Global ex US is an unmanaged group of non-U.S. securities designed to reflect the performance of the global equity securities that have readily available prices.

* The 10-year Treasury Note represents debt owed by the United States Treasury to the public. Since the U.S. Government is seen as a risk-free borrower, investors use the 10-year Treasury Note as a benchmark for the long-term bond market.

* Gold represents the London afternoon gold price fix as reported by the London Bullion Market Association.

* The DJ Commodity Index is designed to be a highly liquid and diversified benchmark for the commodity futures market. The Index is composed of futures contracts on 19 physical commodities and was launched on July 14, 1998.

* The DJ Equity All REIT TR Index measures the total return performance of the equity subcategory of the Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT) industry as calculated by Dow Jones.

* Yahoo! Finance is the source for any reference to the performance of an index between two specific periods.

* Opinions expressed are subject to change without notice and are not intended as investment advice or to predict future performance.

* Past performance does not guarantee future results.

* You cannot invest directly in an index.

* Consult your financial professional before making any investment decision.



Shard helps clients pass more money to their families

Margie Shard, CFP® is the President & Wealth Advisor at Shard Financial Services, Inc., a boutique firm that specializes in looking at clients financial problems and finding solutions that fit. One area of specialization that Shard brings to the table is often overlooked by clients – how they can pass money to their families without having Uncle Sam take a big chunk out of their lifelong accumulation of wealth.

“Clients are often unaware of how estate tax gets calculated and what the ramifications are. They aren’t aware that when a person dies, there are several types of taxes that can occur based on the type of asset and how a beneficiary is able to acquire it. An estate may be looking at having to pay gift and estate taxes and a beneficiary may have to pay income taxes based on how they take over the asset. Proper planning can help eliminate or reduce these taxes.”

Current estate tax laws are set to expire in 2012 and reduce the current 35% tax rate on anything over $5.12 million back to 2001/2002 rates, meaning 55% estate tax on anything over $1 million. This doesn’t include any possible gift or income taxes that may be due as well.

“Clients who face these issues are often times unaware of how an estate gets valued. They aren’t educated on the differences between estate, gift and income tax. For example, a big misconception is that your life insurance isn’t calculated in your estate because it is income tax free to your beneficiaries. While this may be true, it is included in the overall value of your estate. So if you have a $1 million life insurance policy, $1 million will be added to your estate value to be determined if your estate has to pay estate tax.”

Another issue that Shard commonly advises clients on is how to pass on closely held business stock. “Business owners don’t realize that the IRS will assess a value on their company stock when they die. If your stock throws the value of your estate over the exemption amount, estate taxes will be due. With the annual gifting exemption at $13,000 a year, it doesn’t allow an owner to start passing a big dollar amount of stock to other members of the family. Plus, the owner may not be ready to give up control of the company or stock. For those owners without a proper plan in place, they risk their business being liquidated and their families having no future income/ownership. I have literally seen businesses be financially ruined when an owner dies due to estate tax issues – even though their families are competent and have been groomed to take over the family business. It’s sad because a lifetime of building a company is destroyed and it is something that can be prevented.”

With a staff of three, full-time employees, Shard Financial Services is a full-service financial planning and investment services office. “It has been my goal to hire talented people who can contribute to our team, so that we can exceed our clients’ expectations,” said Shard. As an independent Wealth Advisor with LPL Financial, she recognizes the importance of getting to know her clients — their financial needs, goals and lifestyle. “Together, we can help customize a plan for you that will support your particular lifetime goals,” said Shard. “We will also provide strategies that will keep your plan on track throughout the changing economic climate and when life changing events occur.”

Shard Financial Services, Inc. is located at1537 N. Leroy St., Ste. D, in Fenton, telephone (810) 714-5566.  Securities and Advisory services offered through LPL Financial, a registered Investment Advisor.  Member FINRA/SIPC.

This information is not intended to be a substitute for specific individualized tax or legal advice. We suggest that you discuss your specific situation with a qualified tax or legal advisor.