Craig Smith Sycamore Financial

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So far Sycamore Financial Group has created 53 blog entries.

Certified Financial Planner Achievements

Hello from Sycamore,

We are thrilled to announce the recent achievements of two outstanding members of our team, Allison Rumschik and Brent Yard. Both Allison and Brent have successfully completed the rigorous coursework, passed the comprehensive 6-hour final exam, and have now earned the prestigious marks of Certified Financial Planners™.

Allison-Rumschik-Sycamore-FinancialThe CFP® designation identifies individuals who have met the stringent experience and ethical standards set by the CFP Board. This includes the successful completion of financial planning coursework at an accredited college or university and passing an exam that covers a wide range of topics: Professional Conduct and Regulations, General Principles of Financial Planning, Risk Management and Insurance Planning, Investment Planning, Tax Planning, Retirement Savings and Income Planning, Estate Planning, and the Psychology of Financial Planning.

Certified Financial Planner™ professionals commit to acting as fiduciaries, which means they always act in the best interests of their clients when providing financial advice. Allison and Brent have demonstrated their dedication to this principle, showcasing their commitment to providing superior results for our clients, our industry, Sycamore, and themselves. We could not be prouder of the dedication and commitment they’ve demonstrated.

Brent-Yard-Sycamore-FinancialSycamore Financial Group understands that each individual has unique financial aspirations. Consistently achieving these goals hinges on a close relationship with a trusted, knowledgeable financial advisor. With decades of experience in investment management and financial planning, our team is dedicated to strategically safeguarding and enhancing the assets of our clients. We prioritize three objectives for our client’s portfolios: delivering solid returns, minimizing volatility, and optimizing tax efficiency.

Our enduring relationships attest to the quality of service and tangible investment outcomes we provide. By comprehensively understanding your financial goals and objectives, we collaborate to craft a tailored plan that aligns with your specific investing, retirement planning, or college savings strategies. At Sycamore Financial Group, we are committed to guiding you toward financial success with expertise, dedication, and personalized attention.

Please join us in congratulating Allison Rumschik and Brent Yard on their impressive accomplishments and their continued commitment to excellence in financial planning.

Sincerely,
The Sycamore Financial Group Team

By |2024-07-16T18:20:26-04:00July 16th, 2024|2024 Newsletters|0 Comments

Welcome Intern Adrianna Nojaim

Hello from Sycamore,

We are pleased to announce that Adrianna Nojaim has joined Sycamore as an incoming Investment Advisor. With a focus on financial analysis, strategic planning, and client relations, she is undergoing additional training to better help clients reach their financial goals. We are confident that Adrianna will be a valuable addition to our team at Sycamore. Adrianna brings us a blend of academic excellence and athletic grit.

Adrianna is a graduate of Le Moyne College in Syracuse, NY, where she earned a degree in Business Analytics & Finance and obtained her Master of Business Administration (MBA).

As a 5-year member of the Women’s Lacrosse Team at Le Moyne, she not only showed athletic excellence but also demonstrated strong teamwork and discipline, earning Academic All-American accolades. Adrianna’s ambition extends beyond academics and athletics. As a proud member of the Puerto Rico Women’s National Team, she is actively pursuing her dream of competing in the 2028 Olympics and securing an Olympic medal.

We are happy that Adrianna has joined the team at Sycamore and look forward to a long and prosperous working relationship that will benefit our clients. We are also looking forward to the 2028 Olympics!

Thank You,
Craig Smith

Sycamore Financial Group

By |2024-07-16T18:18:39-04:00July 16th, 2024|2024 Newsletters|0 Comments

The Low Down on Retirement Accounts 2024

Hello from Sycamore,

If you are 73 or older and haven’t taken your Required Minimum Distribution (RMD) for the 2024 tax year, you will likely need to by year’s end.

What is an RMD?

An RMD is the minimum distribution you must withdraw from your retirement account each year.

When do I have to begin taking RMDs?

You must begin taking your RMDs on April 1st of the year following the calendar year in which you reach age 73. What does this mean?

  1. Example: Your 73rd birthday was anytime in 2023. As long as you will reach age 73 by December 31, 2023, you must take your first RMD (for 2023) by April 1, 2024.

Then each year after this you must take your RMD by December 31 of that year.

Can I take more than my RMD amount?

You can withdraw more than the minimum amount required. The total amount you withdraw will be included in your taxable income.

Can I take withdrawals before 73?

Yes. Once you reach 59 ½ you may take withdrawals with no early withdrawal penalty. You will still be responsible for regular income tax on the complete amount withdrawn.

You may also withdraw funds prior to age 59 ½ however, you will likely need to pay an extra 10% early withdrawal penalty in addition to the regular income tax.

Highlights for 2024

Retirement Savings Plan Contribution Limits have changed.

  1. 401(k), 403(b), 457 plans, and federal government Thrift Savings Plan contribution limits are $23,000.
    1. Catch-up contributions for those over age 50 are $7,500.
  2. IRA contribution limits increase to $7,000.
    1. Catch-up contributions for those over age 50 are $1,000.
  3. SIMPLE IRA contribution limits $16,000.
    1. Catch-up contributions for those over age 50 are $3,500.

As always, do not hesitate to reach out to our offices at (765) 455-1554 to discuss this.

Thank you for your continued trust and support,

Sycamore Financial Group

*Past performance does not assure future results. Investors cannot invest directly in the stock market indexes such as the S&P 500. Investment return and principal value of an investment will fluctuate. Investor value, when sold may be worth more or less than their original cost.

By |2024-07-16T17:02:20-04:00May 9th, 2024|2024 Newsletters|0 Comments

Second Quarter Commentary 2023

Hello from Sycamore,

Performance and the Markets

So far so good for 2023. Since the markets found a low point last fall, they have been steadily climbing. We are not back to the highs that we experienced at the end of 2021, but with the Dow Jones industrial average at about 34,000 now, we’re within shouting distance. From June 30th, 2022, our growth and income composite have gained more than 19%. We are pleased with these returns. We are also pleased that the pending recession – which according to many news outlets, has been just around the corner for about the last 18 months – still seems to be around that corner! That’s not to say that it isn’t coming, forecasting can be difficult. As Yogi Berra said, “It’s tough to make predictions, especially about the future”.

Because we do our own research and make individual stock selections for your portfolio(s), we are constantly evaluating several hundred individual securities based on their assets and profitability. Nothing is assured, but currently, we see most securities that we follow as being ‘reasonably’ priced. While we do not expect our composite to gain another 9% during the last half of 2023, we are comfortable with current valuations. We believe that in the long run share prices will follow the profitability of the company. With a few exceptions, the profits of the companies that we follow are progressing as we would expect.

The Economy

We recently received good news on the inflation front. The current annual rate has dropped to 3%, which is the lowest rate in more than two years. The federal reserve has recently slowed the pace of interest rate hikes, and they have indicated that one or two more .25% hikes will likely be all we’ll see in the near future. We feel the recent inflation news shows the rate hikes over the last year have been effective.

Producer prices, which at their peak in 2021 and 2022 were growing at nearly a 23% annualized rate, are now declining at about a 6% annualized rate. Generally, the producer price index is a good indicator of what to expect from the consumer price index. If history holds true, we could expect inflation to continue to subside.

In our March letter to you, we mentioned that the money supply in the economy (M2) was decreasing. That is still the case. This is another metric that leads us to believe inflation will continue to ease. The economy continues to create new jobs at a brisk pace and has created 1.67 million new jobs so far in 2023. The unemployment rate now stands at 3.6%.

We recently received good news about our first quarter gross domestic product (GDP). The estimate was revised up by .7% to 2%. It seems consumers are getting used to higher interest rates and sales of existing homes have bounced back a little while housing starts are showing signs of getting back on track.

Not everything is perfect, but the recent data showing the economy is growing more than expected and inflation is cooling faster than expected is not a bad combination. We’re optimistic.

Purchase and Sale Activity During Q-2

The second quarter had more activity than usual for our portfolios.

We bought Lincoln National, Bread Financial, Canadian Solar, Mednax Inc., Wintrust Financial, Generac Holdings, Verizon, M.D.C. Holdings, and Petmed Express.

We sold Neogen, Warner Brothers Discovery, Kaman, Organon & Co, ASGN Inc, China Automotive, New Orient Education, Consensus Cloud Solutions, Mueller IND, and Ziff Davis.

As always, do not hesitate to reach out to our offices at (765) 455-1554 to discuss this.

Thank you for your continued trust and support,

Sycamore Financial Group

*Data not audited
*Results reported gross fees
**Past performance does not assure future results. Investors cannot invest directly in the stock market indexes such as the S&P 500. Investment return and principal value of an investment will fluctuate. Investor value, when sold may be worth more or less than their original cost.

By |2023-07-22T01:38:42-04:00July 22nd, 2023|2023 Newsletters|0 Comments

Performance, Markets and The Economy

Hello from Sycamore,

Performance and the Markets

Our Growth and Income Composite gained just a bit less than 0.5% over the past year (gross of all fees). This is significantly better than the -7.7% by the S&P 500. Historically our strength has been to hold value better during market declines and it seems to be true again during this market cycle. We still expect the markets to do reasonably well in 2023. We know that there is a lot of concern about a pending recession, but we’ve now been hearing that for more than a year and we’ve not seen it yet.

As you already know, we do our own research and analysis to make security selections rather than send your money to a 3rd party manager or mutual fund to be managed. This means that we are ‘in the weeds’ each-and-every week. Currently, we see most companies growing earnings at a rate we’d normally expect. Of course, there are exceptions, but on the whole, we are still finding many bargains and we’re looking forward to an uneventful 2023.

The Economy

One of the primary reasons that we are in a higher interest rate environment is inflation. It continues to be a problem and the Federal Reserve is continuing to raise interest rates – although the rate of increase seems to be slowing and we believe we are near the top for now. Producer prices continue to drop, and we’ve found that the Consumer Price Index tends to follow. We’re hopeful that inflation will ease significantly this year. Also, the amount of money in our economy (M-2) is now shrinking. We believe that this will slow the inflation rate. Many economic indicators are performing well. Retail sales continue to be strong, and the consumer is a very large part of our economy. The unemployment rate remains at near record lows and our economy continues to create new jobs at a very good rate. New orders for durable goods are strong and even sales of existing homes and new starts are staging a nice recovery. We remain optimistic overall, and we believe that most companies can operate profitably in our current economic environment.

Purchase and Sale Activity During Q-1

During the 1st quarter of 2023, we bought Generac (GNRC), Paychecks (PAYX), IBM, ASGN, and ADP. We sold Sally Beauty (SBH).

As always, do not hesitate to reach out to our offices at (765) 455-1554 to discuss this.

Thank you for your continued trust and support,

Sycamore Financial Group

*Data not audited
*Results reported gross fees
**Past performance does not assure future results. Investors cannot invest directly in the stock market indexes such as the S&P 500. Investment return and principal value of an investment will fluctuate. Investor value, when sold may be worth more or less than their original cost.

By |2023-04-26T22:13:02-04:00April 26th, 2023|2023 Newsletters|0 Comments

Consider Reviewing Your Insurance Package

Hello from Sycamore,

Insurance is a way to transfer risk from you to a larger group of people through a firm, the insurance company. For example, many people choose to insure against potentially bad outcomes that could be catastrophic like the death of the family earner in the case of life insurance or large unexpected medical expense through medical insurance. On the other hand, you may not choose to have collision or “full coverage” insurance on your $3,000 extra vehicle. Assuming a collision in which you walk away just fine but the car is totaled, the $3,000 loss may be something you can live with.

There are many forms of insurance: life, medical, homeowners, auto, disability, malpractice, and many more. All insurance has a time and a place. For example, we often review what, if any, life insurance you may have during our annual reviews. Life insurance can be a handy tool that you purchase when you need it but at times, we find that there are still policies in force that may not be needed anymore. On the other hand, we sometimes see situations where people are not insured to the extent that possibly they should be in areas like long-term disability or personal liability insurance.

Having the necessary insurance for your individual circumstances can be an integral part of your overall financial plan. It’s important to meet with your insurance agent periodically to review your overall insurance package to see where you may be over or under-insured. Of course, we would be happy to give you some general insurance guidance as well if you have any questions as you review your coverage.

As always, do not hesitate to reach out to our offices at (765) 455-1554 to discuss this.

Thank you for your continued trust and support,

Sycamore Financial Group

***This article is distributed for general informational and educational purposes and is not intended to constitute legal, tax, accounting, or investment advice.***

By |2023-02-14T01:21:22-05:00February 14th, 2023|2023 Newsletters|0 Comments

Contribution Limits Changing

Hello from Sycamore,

Retirement and health savings plan contribution limits will be changing for the upcoming year. Here is an overview of what you need to know:

  1. 401(k), 403(b), 401(a), 457, and federal government Thrift Savings Plans contribution limits will be increased by almost 10% to $22,500.
    a. Catch-up contributions for those aged 50 and over will be increased to $7,500 making the total contribution limit $30,000 for the year.
  2. IRA contribution limits will be $500 higher and moved to $6,500.
    a. Catch-up contributions for those aged 50 and over will remain the same at $1,000 making the total contribution limit $7,500 for the year.
  3. SIMPLE IRA contribution limits will be raised by $1,500 to $15,500.
    a. Catch-up contributions for those aged 50 and over will be increased to $3,500 making the total contribution limit $19,000 for the year.
  4. SEP IRA contribution limits will be moved up to $66,000.
    a. SEP IRAs do not allow for catch-up contributions.
  5. Health savings account contribution limits will be higher at $3,850 for individuals and $7,750 for families.
    a. Catch-up contributions for those aged 55 and over will remain the same at $1,000 making the total contribution limit $4,850 and $8,750 for the year

We encourage you to forward this email or share this information with anybody that you feel it could benefit. And as always, do not hesitate to reach out with any questions or concerns.

As always, never hesitate to contact us with any questions or concerns.

Thank you for your continued trust and support,

Sycamore Financial Group

***This article is distributed for general informational and educational purposes and is not intended to constitute legal, tax, accounting, or investment advice.***

By |2023-04-26T22:14:42-04:00November 18th, 2022|2022 Newsletters|0 Comments

Volatile and Unpredictable

Hello from Sycamore,

As I write this post, the market is down ~10% from its recent high. The beginning of 2022 has been a bit volatile and unpredictable. When we read the news, we see headlines that stop us in our tracks: Inflation, War, Stagflation, Market Correction, Possible Recession.

Realistically, most news these days is created to grab our attention, pull us in. Reporting tends to be negative because negative news sells. It brings people back; it gets more people to click on the headlines. Media is a for-profit industry.

The volatility you are seeing is real. Inflation is normal. Market corrections are normal. Recessions are normal. We are not saying these feel good, or we need to be excited about them, but they are a normal course of business. The market has performed better than expected for the past 12 years – except for a flash recession in 2020. It is not surprising that as we enter the endemic phase of the pandemic and Russia invades Ukraine we might see some volatility.

Here are some facts:

  • Unemployment is down from its high of ~14.7% in 2020 and currently is at 3.8%.
  • Wages have been increasing more rapidly than prices. The average income for the bottom 50% of wage earners in the US were up over 11% in 2021.
  • In 1973 when Craig began in the industry the Dow Jones was just over 500 and today (3/9/22) it’s over 33,000.

From our research, the economy and corporate America appear to be in good shape. We still believe that the best course of action is to stay the course.

Thank you for your business and trust,

Sycamore Financial Group

***This article is distributed for general informational and educational purposes and is not intended to constitute legal, tax, accounting, or investment advice.***

By |2022-07-21T12:30:07-04:00March 10th, 2022|2022 Newsletters|0 Comments

Thoughts on the Economy

Hello from Sycamore,

COVID-19 has been a shock to our economy and our lives. As a result, the Federal Reserve Bank had to implement swift and significant monetary policy changes. During the onset of the pandemic (March/April 2020), there were worldwide shutdowns that caused many to lose their jobs, miss paychecks that were necessary to pay bills, and companies shuttered. The Fed knew that they needed to take an approach that would spur the economy as much as possible as the country started to reopen. They did this by reducing the reserve requirements for depository institutions, they bought bonds in the open market, and they reduced the interest rate to nearly zero. All these measures made the economy flush with cash, borrowing cheap, and saving not lucrative.

The extra cash that these changes have generated has spurred inflation, but inflation is not always a bad thing. The Federal Reserve has a long-term target inflation rate of 2%. The right amount of inflation in a stable economy can influence expansion. While ongoing inflation issues are certainly possible short-term, we think prolonged inflation or hyperinflation seems unlikely.

If inflation would persist, however, there are a few ways that the Fed can help slow economic activity. These are through changing reserve requirements at depository institutions, open market operations, and setting the discount rate.

  1. Reserve requirements refer to how much of a bank’s total deposits must be kept at the bank at the close of business every day. For example, if a bank has just $500 in deposits and the reserve requirements were 10% then they would only be able to loan out $450. Changing the requirement changes the money supply.
  2. Open market operations are when the Fed either buys or sells government securities in the open market. If they sell securities, they are removing money from the economy by exchanging securities for cash. If they buy securities, they are adding money to the economy by exchanging cash for securities.
  3. The discount rate is the rate that the Federal Reserve would pay to banks for depositing funds with the Fed overnight. This effectively sets a floor on the interest rate and the rate trickles down and influences other interest rates on loans such as car loans, personal loans, mortgages, business loans, etc.

All these measures can be used in different proportions to influence the economy and at various times or simultaneously.

Thank you for your business and trust,

Sycamore Financial Group

***This article is distributed for general informational and educational purposes and is not intended to constitute legal, tax, accounting, or investment advice.***

By |2022-07-21T12:29:41-04:00February 14th, 2022|2022 Newsletters|0 Comments
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