Evans Wealth Management Blog

Articles written by Evans Wealth Management are designed to educate clients & potential clients on concepts important to their financial future.

The Social Security Admin Announces Its New Portal

Social Security plays a large role in funding retirement for many Americans. However, many struggle to find information relevant to their retirement and are often left on hold for hours when they call. Fortunately, the Social Security Administration introduced a portal in June making the website easier to navigate and locate crucial information. It can be found at https://www.ssa.gov/benefits/retirement/.

The website was redesigned to share more condensed and summarized information. It has been adapted to be more accessible on mobile devices. From the portal, you can apply for Social Security easily and sign up for updates from the SSA.

The Social Security portal allows one to name a representative payee, an individual or organization that manages one’s Social Security payments on their behalf (if one becomes unable to do so). One can add up to three representative payees and adjust them through the portal at any time.

This is just one of the updates the SSA will be introducing throughout 2020 to simplify the process of applying for Social Security benefits. For more information, the SSA press release is located at https://www.ssa.gov/news/press/releases/2020/#6-2020-1.

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Cybersecurity Threats and Best Practices

During a recent conference, a session was held on cybersecurity threats and best practices. The following is a summary of several points likely to benefit you.

  • Strong Passwords. Many of the more famous hackers were perpetrated because the passwords were easy to guess. Many custodians now offer voice-passwords and 2-factor authentication to better secure your accounts. Contact them to take advantage of either opportunity.
  • Email isn't safe. Don’t send anything in an email that you wouldn't want on a postcard. In other words, don't send sensitive documents via email. Using a firm’s document vault or secure email are ideal alternatives.
  • Phishing awareness. The latest scam is sending an email looking like it is from your custodian stating they detected unusual activity on your account. You are asked to login to confirm certain transactions. The next screen is a duplicate of the custodian’s website except all it is doing is capturing your login information. Just be aware.
  • Install updates timely. Frequently, security patches are part of Windows / Apple updates. Most hacks happen on devices with outdated versions of software.
  • Destroy completely or wipe clean hard drives of old pcs. People are replacing devices at faster rates than in the past leading to more being thrown away. Make sure the hard drive can't be recovered potentially exposing confidential financial information enabling a hack of your accounts.

Even at our firm, two families' email accounts have been hacked, the hacker discovered I was the family’s advisor and sent me an email requesting money. Fortunately, I know them too well so action was taken immediately to secure their accounts, but the threat is real.

Hope you will take one step to secure your information beyond what it is today.

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Mid-Year Economic and Market Review Presentation

We live in a very unusual time. With the pandemic causing significant economic uncertainty, many are wondering what is next. Below is a video reviewing the market performance to date and analyzes the most recent data to determine the state of the economy.  This is for anyone who appreciates a fact-filled assessment of the current environment.

 

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Mid-Year Market Review

The first half of 2020 was quite a roller coaster ride for the financial markets. The S&P 500 reflected the unparalleled drop in economic activity during the first quarter with a sharp decline (-19.5%). It was the fastest peak to bear market drop in history. Fortunately, the country began moving out of lockdown in the 2nd quarter resulting in the sharpest quarterly rally in 20 years. Overall, the S&P 500 ended June nearly breaking even with a -3.3% return. The following are trends that stood out in the first half of the year:

  • The 5 largest stocks by market cap delivered the bulk of the return for the period.
  • Growth stocks are now ahead of value by over 25% representing the largest margin between the two in 21 years.
  • Gold, a frequent safe haven during volatile times, surged throughout this year with a solid first half performance (17%), topping $1,800 per ounce. It was the best performing asset-class for the period.

  • Only three sectors (technology, consumer discretionary and communication services) recorded gains by the end of June, reflecting the overall lack of market breadth in the rally.
  • The economic roller coaster experienced in the US was also felt overseas. In terms of international stock performance, the emerging markets have held up the best outperforming the developed country index modestly. Among the larger economies of the world, China, Japan and Germany performed the best.
  • The Federal Reserve’s lowering of interest rates caused a bond market rally. Longer duration and higher credit quality bonds outperformed in what was generally a broad-based rally.
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Recent IRS Change Regarding 2020 RMD Rules

If the Secure Act and CARES Act RMD changes weren’t enough to confuse you, the IRS recently issued further guidance related to 2020 RMDs. This is the second notice issued by the IRS related to RMDs this year. Let’s begin with some background.

On March 27, the CARES Act eliminated RMD’s for 2020. However, many had already taken RMDs prior to its passage. The bill and a subsequent IRS notice allowed certain individuals meeting certain criteria to return the RMDs to the account if they desired. A recent IRS notice extends RMD benefits to a broader audience.

Below is a brief overview of the changes made by IRS Notice 2020-51:

  • It extended the 2020 rollover window to August 31, 2020 and allowed anyone taking an RMD to roll it back into the account.
  • Non-spouse beneficiaries were granted the ability to rollover the RMDs also and the once-per-year rollover rule was suspended for the nonrequired “RMDs.”

The above indicates the IRS has become increasingly relaxed over RMD’s for 2020. If you took RMDs early in the year and don’t need the funds, a short window remains to return the funds to the account reducing your current year tax bill. The deadline to rollover RMDs into the originating account is August 31st.

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Call Us: 770 828 8303
Email: admin@evanswealthmanagement.com 6340 Sugarloaf Parkway, Suite 200
Duluth, GA  30097