Craig Smith Sycamore Financial

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So far Sycamore Financial Group has created 50 blog entries.

How to Accumulate Your First Million Dollars

Hello from Sycamore,

The looming question out there for many is how do I save a million dollars? Starting off it may seem impossible, but we are here to tell you that with dedication, a strict budget, and time it is possible. It is also important to note that you do not have to make “a lot” of money for this to be possible. The earlier you start investing, the easier it will be.

Three main factors influence how quickly this aspiration might be attained and they are investment time horizon, contribution amount, and investment rate of return. We realize that some of you reading this have already reached one million dollars of investment assets, but for those who have not, let us look at a few different scenarios to see what it takes to accumulate $1,000,000 in a portfolio.

To oversimplify, we will assume a 10% rate of return on your investment compounded weekly.

As you can see, the earlier you start the less you will need to save weekly. Other important factors will come into play and this should be discussed with a financial professional. Please feel free to call us with any questions or concerns!

As always, we would love to hear from you! Please reach out with any comments or concerns you may have.

Thank you for your business and trust,

Brent Yard
Sycamore Financial Group

*** Taxes and portfolio turnover are not accounted for in the above example. All investment strategies and investments involve the risk of loss. Actual investment returns may vary. This article is distributed for general informational and educational purposes and is not intended to constitute legal, tax, accounting, or investment advice. The information, opinions, and views contained herein have not been tailored to the investment objectives of any one individual, are only current as of the date hereof, and may be subject to change. Any ideas or strategies discussed herein should not be undertaken by any individual without prior consultation with a financial professional to assess where the ideas or strategies that are discussed are suitable based on your own personal financial objectives, needs, and risk tolerance. ***


By |2022-07-21T12:10:49-04:00May 12th, 2021|2021 Newsletters|0 Comments

Taking Care of Your Family

Hello from Sycamore,

Each year as we have our annual meetings with you, we revisit the question(s) do you have a last will and testament (will), living will, healthcare power (HCP), and/or power of attorney (POA) documents. Having these documents in place not only gives you peace of mind knowing that your future wishes will be carried out, but they can also help a worried family during difficult times.

Last Will and Testament

Your last will and testament provide instruction on how your assets will be distributed upon your death. You may assume that upon dying, your possessions that are part of your estate (i.e. non-beneficiary assets, possessions, etc.) would transfer to your spouse or next of kin if not married, but this may not be the case. Without a will, your estate may be distributed based on the laws of your state of residency when you pass. For example, in Indiana, if married with children, your spouse inherits half of your estate and your children split the second half.

Living Will

A living will provide instruction on life-sustaining/medical care for you should you become incapacitated or unable to answer questions regarding your medical care. You may understand what treatments you would prefer (i.e. do not resuscitate, donate organs, etc.), and having a living will in place serves as a directive to help those you love to understand your wishes.

Health Care Power & Power of Attorney (HCP & POA)

It is important to have a trusted individual who can legally make decisions on your behalf if you are unable. An HCP gives an individual the ability to make health care decisions on your behalf. A springing POA becomes effective if you become incapacitated. These documents typically become effective after it has been deemed that you require some help in making health decisions.

As opposed to a springing power of attorney you may consider implementing a durable POA, this becomes effective once you sign the document and continues to be in effect if you are incapacitated.

As always, we would love to hear from you! Please reach out with any comments or concerns you may have.

Thank you for your business and trust,

Brent Yard
Sycamore Financial Group

***The information contained in this article does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice. Instead, all information and content in this article are for general informational purposes only. Neither Sycamore Financial Group, nor any of its employees have a legal background, are trained in the law, or practice law. Please consult an attorney before making any decisions based upon the material presented in this commentary. Only your attorney can provide assurances that the information contained herein – and your interpretation of it – is applicable or appropriate to your situation.***

By |2022-07-21T12:25:26-04:00October 7th, 2020|2020 Newsletters|0 Comments

Sycamore Updates and Investment Decisions

Hello from Sycamore,

We admire everyone’s efforts to stay safe as we all continue to navigate through challenging times caused by COVID-19. At Sycamore, we take pride that during these times of uncertainty, there are quite a few things we can remain certain about:

  1. We are fully operational via phone or email for all questions, concerns, and account reviews.
  2. Our clients continue to be the most important asset to our business.
  3. Helping our clients achieve their financial goals, is our number 1 objective.

We use a ‘risk first analysis’ in our investment decisions. This means when considering an investment, we judge the stability of a company and its industry, and the longevity of that stock within its sector. Using this approach has helped us limit exposure to industries like airlines and entertainment that are not very predictable, and due to the uncertain nature of these businesses, we’ve kept most of them out of your portfolios.

This is not our first rodeo, we are no stranger to the fact that there will be good markets and volatile markets. Understanding this, when we put your individual financial plan into place, we consider this as we make the rate of return assumptions.

As we look back over 2019, we can proudly say Sycamore’s Growth & Income portfolios experienced gross returns above 27%. We also feel that it is important to point out that as we write this, the markets are currently sitting around 24,000 which also happens to be higher than where we began the 2019 year.

We continue to thank all of you for being great investors. Stay safe, wash your hands, and stay invested!

Thank you for your business and trust,

Brent Yard
Sycamore Financial Group

*Data not audited
**Results reported gross of fees
***Past performance does not assure future results. Investors cannot invest directly in the stock market indexes such as the S&P 500. The 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 |2022-07-21T12:23:17-04:00April 28th, 2020|2020 Newsletters|0 Comments

COVID-19 Stimulus Package

Hello from Sycamore,

On March 27th, 2020 congress passed and the President signed into law a roughly $2 trillion stimulus package to help individuals and businesses deal with the fall out due to COVID-19. We have not had a chance to learn the specifics of this bill but understand the basics. Here are some of the policies that we think are pertinent to investors.

  1. Required minimum distributions from IRA type accounts have been waived for 2020.
  2. If you have already taken your 2020 RMD it appears that you may be able to ‘roll’ that distribution back into the IRA but only if you can put the money back within 60 days of the distribution. If you took your distribution early in 2020, these monies cannot be put back into your IRA type account.
  3. The tax filing deadline has been moved to July 15th, 2020 and with this, so has the date to make contributions to IRAs and health savings accounts for 2019.
  4. The 10% tax penalty on withdraws from IRA type account for those not yet 59.5 years old is waived on withdraws up to $100,000.
  5. IRA distributions in 2020 will be allowed to be paid back in full within 3 years and not incur any tax as long as the distribution is due to disaster relief. If you elect not to repay this amount, the distribution is taxable as ordinary income. Additionally, you may have the ability to pay this tax liability over 3 years.
  6. Loans from your 401(k) etc. are now allowed up to $100,000 or 100% of the account balance.

If you currently take RMD’s from your account with Sycamore and do not need the money for living expenses, it may be wise to delay those payments. This would allow for a reduced tax bill and potential for having to liquidate assets at a reduced price.

We want to remind you that we are fully operational during these times but are conducting business only remotely. The health and safety of our community continue to be at the forefront of Sycamore’s mind.

Brent Yard
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 |2020-04-02T06:04:52-04:00April 2nd, 2020|2020 Newsletters|0 Comments

Surviving the “Bear”

Hello from Sycamore,

Sir John Templeton, founder of the Templeton funds, had some investment advice for us in August of 1958. “To buy when others are despondently selling and to sell when others are avidly buying requires the greatest fortitude and pays the greatest ultimate reward”. In March of 1994 Sir John had additional wisdom for us. “ This time is different are among the most costly four words in market history”.

I think we can all agree that talking about the last bear market (with the benefit of hindsight) and living through the current bear are two very different things.

All bear markets are different and also the same. Each time we have a sell-off based on emotion, there’s a different event/trigger that causes the sell-off. But each bear market is the same because they involve emotional investment decisions rather than rational  (based on the math or data) decision making. All bear markets are stressful because we are not able to see into the future but this one is more stressful than most because we are all dealing with the possibility of becoming infected with COVID-19 in addition to watching our accounts lose market value.

When you originally made your investment allocation decision, you were not being towed around by your emotions. Changing that original allocation decision based on the current market condition is usually a mistake.

History tells us that ‘bear’ markets generally serve up many wonderful investment opportunities for those that remain cool, calm and collected.

Thank you all for being great investors and for having ice water in your veins and for your business and trust!

Craig Smith
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 |2022-07-21T12:22:10-04:00March 30th, 2020|2020 Newsletters|0 Comments

This Cranky Market

Hello from Sycamore,

As I type this the market is down about 25% from its recent high and down about 9% today. The recent decline and wide daily fluctuations combined with the current media frenzy can make us all uneasy as investors. We wanted to review some points about your account(s) and let you know what we are thinking.

First, at the core of our stock selection process is the business of the corporation and its ability to consistently grow earnings. We work hard to try to reduce risk by not paying too much for those earnings. Companies or industries that we feel are not consistent profit generators or are in a business that we feel may have a limited future are not in your portfolio. For instance, we do not own any airline stocks and about two years ago we sold out of oil and gas securities as well as oilfield service companies.  We also broadly diversify to try and limit the exposure to any single industry or company. Currently, we believe that the fundamental health of the companies in your portfolio(s) is good.

We do not do any market timing. While we are no happier with the current decline than anyone else, we will not be making any adjustments in your portfolio based on that decline.

Second, this market decline has been quick and volatile, but it doesn’t seem too bad when we compare it to other declines. Stock market declines are fairly common though certainly not much fun. The link below will take you to a communication we sent to our clients in 2010.   While this information is a bit dated…it represents the big picture and we believe is pertinent today.

We cannot see into the future so we are not certain of the best path to take but history has taught us many times that share prices will follow corporate profitability over the long run. That is how we select investment holdings for you and why we continue to advise holding those investments over long periods.

One final thought. This may be a good time to put any idle cash to work. We’re finding several bargains.

Thanks for your business and trust!
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 |2022-07-21T12:29:03-04:00March 12th, 2020|2020 Newsletters|0 Comments

Could the Saver’s Credit Help You Save More?

Hello from Sycamore,

The ‘Saver’s Credit’ may make it possible for you to receive a tax credit on your eligible contributions to your IRA or employer-sponsored retirement plan. Depending on your adjusted gross income, you may be eligible to receive a tax credit of up to 50% on the first $2,000 of contributions you make to a qualified retirement plan or IRA. These savings are in addition to any tax deferral that may be available on the contribution.

Limitations do apply – you must be 18 or older, cannot be a full-time student and may not be claimed as a dependent on anyone’s tax returns. The table below  help you understand if you might qualify.

What does this really mean?

If you are married filing jointly and your adjusted gross income is $50,000 you could receive up to 10% tax credit on the first $2,000 you contribute to your retirement accounts. $2,000 x 10% = $200 tax credit.

If you are single with an adjusted gross income of $20,000 you could receive up to 20% back on the first $2,000 you contribute. $2000 x 20% = $400 tax credit.

If you fall into one of these categories, what should you do?

  1. Maximize your contributions to your IRA or retirement plans.
  2. Increase your contribution to maximize your credit.
  3. Bring this piece of paper to your tax preparer.
  4. Call Sycamore for more information or with questions.

Thanks for your business and trust!
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 |2022-07-21T12:20:42-04:00March 3rd, 2020|2020 Newsletters|0 Comments

Reevaluate Your Beneficiary Designations

Hello from Sycamore,

Are your beneficiary designations current?

Over time, events may arise that necessitate a change in beneficiary information for your qualified & taxable brokerage accounts. It’s important to periodically check the beneficiary status of your investment accounts. Accounts that are lacking beneficiary information, or contain information that is not up to date, could create an issue for your survivors. It’s important to note that a beneficiary change to an account will only affect that account. Should you have multiple accounts (including 401(k)’s, life insurance policies, annuities, etc. from other vendors), you will need to update each one individually.  If you feel changes may be needed or are uncertain of your current beneficiary selection feel free to contact us.

If your accounts are held with Folio investments, you can check your beneficiary designations by logging in and selecting account settings then either the – ‘TOD beneficiary’ on taxable accounts or ‘beneficiary’ for IRA type accounts – section of each separate account.

Thanks for your business and trust,

Sycamore Financial Group

By |2022-07-21T12:18:38-04:00October 31st, 2019|2019 Newsletters|0 Comments

Maximizing your 401(k) Match

Hello from Sycamore,

Retirement accounts such as a 401(k), 403(b), 457(b), etc., can be useful wealth building tools. These plans can help you achieve your dreams of retirement. Choosing to sign up and contribute to a retirement plan is step number one, ensuring you are getting the full benefits of the plan is step two.

Retirement plans are typically set up in a way that the employee is rewarded for saving their money. For example, many 401(k) plans offer a matching contribution feature to where the employer has elected to match some or all your contributions.

Ensuring that your contribution rate is high enough to receive the full employer match is important. All monies deposited into your account by the employer are in essence, a pre-tax raise. Over time, the additional monies that find their way into your retirement plan could amount to an earlier retirement and/or a higher income in retirement. Check with your plan sponsor to find out if your account is receiving the maximum match so that you are not “leaving money on the table”.

As always, please reach out should you have any questions.

Thanks for your business and trust,


Brent Yard
Investment Adviser
Sycamore Financial Group

By |2022-07-21T12:14:05-04:00June 27th, 2019|2019 Newsletters|0 Comments

Performance Update – January 2018

Hello from Sycamore,

“Well 2017 has come to a close and we think you’ll agree that it was a very good year.  Our Growth and Income Composite gained a bit more than 21% for the year. In fact we had enough gain in 2017 to equal two very good years so we’d not be surprised to see the pace slow significantly over the next year or so.”

You’ve just re-read the first sentence in our year end letter for 2017. With the recent volatility it’s easy to forget how much the market advanced in 2017. Generally speaking we are pleased with 2018 and it has turned out about as we expected. FYI – don’t be concerned…we are not turning into market timers! We don’t like the market’s overall decline of more than 4% but when you sprinkle in the advance in corporate profits and the tax decreases…2018 shapes up pretty well and certainly leaves us optimistic about 2019. The economy continues to chug along and generally ‘weak markets’ are followed by ‘strong markets’. Unless the economy weakens significantly, we feel 2019 could be a good year for investors. Sycamore’s Growth and Income composite performance is listed below. Your individual performance can be found on your individual performance reports which are enclosed. The chart below compares the return of Sycamore’s Growth and Income Composite (gross of expenses) to the S&P 500 index including dividends. All returns are annualized through 12/31/2018.

Sycamore Growth & Income Composite*-5.769.498.2813.128.867.84
S&P 500 **-4.389.268.4913.127.775.62

The Economy As We See It

We think the basics of the economy look good. Our rate of growth (expansion of our economy) was about 3%. This is somewhat better than we’ve been averaging for the last few years and the last few years have been giving us good results. There is a pile  of data that tell us the economy is doing well and that last year’s tax decrease for corporations was a win for shareholders. Let’s look at just a couple…unemployment now stands at 3.7% and continues to decline. In fact the recent employment report shows that our nation created 312,000 jobs in December dwarfing an expected 184,000. The federal Reserve Bank continues to raise interest rates which we feel indicates the economy is still on track. At a glance, new orders for durable goods, retail sales, consumer confidence, industrial production and housing starts continue to trend higher. We’ve stated several times over the last few years that we are pleased with the economic “big picture” and that we feel it will provide the platform for growing corporate earnings. We see no reason to change that outlook. Oh…one last thing. We believe that in the long run share prices are driven by profits. Of course, as we’ve seen recently, the market is emotional and anything can happen in the short run.

Recent Securities Transactions

We had a request recently (thanks George) to add a couple of lines each quarter summarizing some of the activity in our portfolios. Keep in mind that not all portfolios contain the same holdings so your individual portfolio may or may not have had the activity that follows.

  • SCANA is being purchased by Dominion Resources and we choose to sell the SCANA rather than accept shares of Dominion.
  • We elected to sell both Harsco and World Fuel Services. We feel that the recent deterioration of the fundamentals on both of these companies will continue.
  • Express Scripts was purchased by Cigna. Our decision was to not hold Cigna at its current valuation.
  • We liquidated all holdings of Lamb Weston. This stock simply has increased in price so much that we feel the funds can be put to better use elsewhere – this is what we’d always prefer.
  • Praxair was merged int Linde. We expect to continue to hold Linde shares.
  • Looking ahead, Harris Corp is buying L-3 Technologies. We like and currently own both companies and intend to maintain that position through Harris. United Technologies has purchase Rockwell Collins and is spinning off their Otis elevator and Climate and controls divisions. We currently own Rockwell and United Tech and expect to keep the shares of United Tech issued for Rockwell and the spin off units at this time.

We’re looking forward to 2019 and hope you are as well. For questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to contact us with any questions.

Thanks for your business and trust!

Sycamore Financial Group

*Data not audited. *Results reported gross of 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 |2022-07-21T12:15:13-04:00January 25th, 2019|2018 Newsletters|0 Comments
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