Category: Uncategorized

Critical Illness Insurance Can Aid in Business Continuation Planning

We all know people who have had cancer, a heart attack or a stroke. In fact, every 19 seconds, someone in the U.S. is diagnosed with cancer. Every 25 seconds, someone suffers a coronary event. Every 40 seconds, someone in the U.S. suffers a stroke.*

I have found that when it “hits home” for people is when it has happened to someone they love. So I’m upfront and direct about the seriousness of not having this protection. I explain to clients who are business owners: Are you prepared for how one of these illnesses might impact not only your future personal plans, but your future business plans? Whatever their answer may be, my main concern is to serve them by helping them get this protection. In doing so, I’ve done my job in bringing it to their attention and offering to help with this type of planning. Of course, the bottom line is that not many of us can afford to say, “It won’t happen to me.”

It is impossible to predict how we might react if diagnosed with a life-threatening condition. Some may choose to return to normalcy as soon as possible, while others may make drastic changes to life and work routines. Others, because of their medical circumstances, have no choice. Critical illness insurance, a specified disease policy that provides a lump-sum benefit amount upon diagnosis of certain medical conditions (as defined by the policy), benefits different individuals in different ways. The proceeds from a critical illness policy can provide needed funds for those wanting to change their lifestyles and financial security for those whose medical conditions prevent them from having much choice.

Have you ever thought about how you would pay your mortgage if you couldn’t work because of an illness?

Following are some business applications where critical illness insurance can help.

Critical Illness and Buy-Sell Planning

With buy-sell planning in the life insurance context, business owners enter into a legal agreement requiring the purchase of their ownership interest upon their death. The most common structures for these agreements are the entity purchase (the business buys the interest) and the cross purchase (the co-owners buy the interest). In these scenarios, life insurance proceeds are used to effectuate the agreement.

Firms also can set up an agreement that is triggered and funded upon the diagnosis of a critical illness. Which type of plan – the entity or cross purchase – is better for a critical illness buy-sell agreement? The answer: It depends.

A cross-purchase agreement using critical illness insurance has the same benefits as the cross-purchase agreement that uses life insurance. The remaining owners have the funds to purchase the shares without incurring precarious debt. Also, they receive an increase in basis equal to the amount they pay for the shares. All of the owners have the security of knowing that, should they be the one to incur a critical illness, they won’t have to accept installment payments or worry that the business will collapse before the purchase price is paid.

An entity-purchase agreement may be the solution if flexibility is the primary concern. With this option, the proceeds would be paid directly to the corporation. The shareholders can agree in advance under which circumstances the critically ill shareholder could or must be bought out. Further, they may also wish to include a “waiting period” to allow the critically ill shareholder the time to decide whether he or she wishes to remain in the business postdiagnosis.

The key to using this strategy effectively is to plan in advance who is to decide whether and when the purchase will be carried out.


FANG Stock: Be Diligent

fangOut of curiosity I just Googled, “FANG Stock”. Here’s what I got: Diamondback Energy Inc. NASDAQ: FANG – Sep 6, 4:40 PM EDT. That is not what I was looking for. What I was actually in search of was more details on FANG, the acronym for Facebook Inc.,, Inc., Netflix, Inc. and Google (which is now Alphabet Inc.). Because these are top-performing technology stocks, they get a disproportionately large amount of the headlines when it comes to stocks. And that’s for good reason, what they have created is smack-dab-in-the-middle of pop culture. All four companies are disrupters. You could say they run our tech world. Of course there are other major players that I like (i.e. Cisco, etc.). But with my brother, Milton, introducing me to “Narcos,” on Netflix, FANG has been on my mind. That doesn’t mean you should go out and mortgage the house (or short the farm), but to me it’s worthwhile to look at, if you have an interest. And I’m curious.

The companies that make up FANG are popular for good reason. But what does analytics tell us about their past performance? Are they worthwhile investments? You bet they are and have been. Google it. How about moving forward? Your guess is as good as any. But before you pull the trigger, have a plan. Most new traders worry only about when to buy a stock. Experts tell us that we should have an exit strategy as well. That is, when you’ll sell. Investopedia says, “…while buying at the right price may ultimately determine the profit gained, selling at the right price guarantees the actual profit, if any.” (

Most recently (June 2016), headlines like, “US Equity Markets Plunge As ‘FANG’ Stocks Give Up 2016 Gains”, dominated. But today, other analysts are saying, “investors rushing into the safe haven of FANG stocks…all-time highs for Facebook and Amazon”. And course, no one person really knows what the future holds. So if you’re interested in dipping your toes into “FANG”, do your homework. That is, do your own due diligence, study it hard and go with what you know—not exactly like buying fine art, where some say one should buy what they enjoy looking at, aside from upside economic potential. The key to due diligence, I think, is the diligence part. You have to pay attention, be thorough and careful. And that takes time, interest and wherewithal. Right now, I plan to google and study Netflix. Because it’s been a stock that has been haunting me since I did not pull the trigger on a buy when Netflix shares hit a split-adjusted $2.56 per share during the crisis. And by the way, the stock has now risen 1,670 percent since. Ouch! But today Netflix is trading at a very high multiple and doesn’t generate positive cash flow. I think Netflix is good, yet it might be the least impressive FANG stock. As of today, Facebook and Alphabet seem most remarkable. So which FANG stock? Well, there are a lot of factors to consider, but for me the lower risk seems to be Google. But then again, you get to decide which FANG stock is worthy of your hard-earned dollars. Be diligent!

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I Just Learned Firsthand that We Need to Stay Vigilant Against “The Bogus”

IRSlogoLet me preface this by saying that my company (Mutual of Omaha) is based out of that same city in NE. So when I got a call early this morning here in Honolulu from a Lincoln, NE phone number; I took the call. It turns out that it was a scamming operation. On the line was a recorded voice impersonating the IRS. It mentioned a lawsuit and instructed me to call (402)601-5198.

To my frustration, that same number called me again one hour later. This time I wanted more information. So of course, I “G’d” them. As it turns out, this is a well-documented scam. But what escapes me is the fact that they can pull it off; or at least attempt to. With all of our advanced technologies to catch and to prosecute criminals (i.e. DNA testing, etc.), why in the world is this seemingly lower level tech fraud (a specific phone number) not being traced back to the slimy, callous scammer. It must be more involved than I realize. Or maybe, knowing our PC-generation, there are privacy measures at work–protections for the criminals, the very people trying to scam us. Wouldn’t surprise me.

As a businessperson, it’s mind boggling to me to think of this whole operational system being set-up, with the only intent and mission being to scam another person. We’ve all heard it said, “if they would only redirect their energies…” But heck, this is the reality of the world we live in, so watch out for the bogus, be vigilant and don’t give these criminals the pleasure of suckering you. When the hair on the back of your neck tells you that something is fishy (like, “I don’t owe the IRS!”) be smart, step back and stay vigilant against the “bogus” out there. Remain semper vigilans (always vigilant).

Finally, to be very clear: The real IRS will not initiate contact with you by phone.

2016 Cost of Living Adjustments

2016 Tax Data You Should Know

The tax law places limits on contributions to retirement plans and individual retirement arrangements.  These limits are adjusted annually for cost-of-living increases, but for 2016 most contribution limits are unchanged.

For example, the elective deferral limit for 401(k) plans remains at $18,000, the compensation cap for qualified retirement plans remains at $265,000, and the contribution limit for IRAs remains at $5,500.  Many other limits will remain unchanged as well.

NOTE: The Wheeler Group LLC agents or employees do not give tax or legal advice.  Clients must consult their own tax or legal advisors regarding their individual situations.

Weekly Market Recap from JP Morgan

Market Update 9-21-15

The week in review
Retail sales increased 0.2% m/m  Industrial production fell -0.4% m/m  Empire State survey weak at -14.7  Core CPI maintained 1.8% y/y growth  Housing starts fell to 1.126m saar  Philadelphia Fed survey fell to -6.0

The week ahead
Existing & new home sales  FHFA HPI  Flash Markit Mfg. and Non-Mfg. PMIs  Durable Goods  Consumer sentiment  Final statement of 2Q15 Real GDP

Can Money Buy Happiness?


Well, it turns out that the answer is…KIND OF. HAPPINESS ONLY INCREASES WITH WEALTH  UP TO A POINT…

But whatever the number, the truth is that money’s ability to provide happiness has a great deal to do with how it is spent. KEEPING THIS IN MIND, CONSIDER THE FOLLOWING TIPS FOR SPENDING FOR MAXIMUM HAPPINESS!

So, while this infographic (money) won’t make you any wealthier, it can teach you to spend your money in ways that matter to and through retirement. AND ISN’T THAT WHAT IT’S ALL ABOUT?

Check out this strongly-researched material. The findings in this well-designed PDF infographic is intended to potentially assist and help you in planning for your future.

So You Want to Start a Business: 10 Things to Think About

According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, over the last few years, more than a half million new businesses are formed each month, but just as many, if not more, close down each month. Obviously, not all are successful or make it big. If you’re an entrepreneur and want to start up your own business, there are several common themes for you to remember if you want to ensure success. The following is a non-exclusive list of ten things, in no particular order of importance, to remember and think about, compiled from various interviews of well-known or highly successful entrepreneurs in various publications.

  1. Passion. Unquestionably, having passion is universally recognized as a must-have by all successful entrepreneurs. Mark Cuban, the current owner of the Dallas Mavericks, an NBA basketball team, and AXS TV, stated: “Don’t start a company unless it’s an obsession and something you love.”[1] He goes on to say that “if you have an exit strategy, it’s not an obsession.” Undoubtedly, he means thinking about an exit when you’re just starting out. Similarly, Susan Gregg Koger, founder of ModCloth, a women’s online retro and vintage clothing retailer, said: “Do what you know and love it! It will resonate with your customers, employees, and potential investors. And make all the hard work worthwhile.”[2] Jamail Larkins, founder of Ascension Aircraft, adds: “It’s a common saying, but vitally important. The more you enjoy your job, the easier it is to work, and that’s important, especially when starting up your own company.”2
  2. Find a Niche. In order to have a successful company, you must have a product or service that is different, better, or cheaper than everyone else because that’s the only way to make money. As Jim Koch, founder of Boston Beer Co. and Sam Adams Boston Lager, stated: “You have a viable business only if your product is either better or cheaper than the alternatives. If it’s not one or the other, you might make some money at first, but it’s not a sustainable business.”[3] Caterina Fake, co-founder of Flickr and Hunch, confirms: “Pick a good market. The idea for approaching that market may change, but find a meaty problem to solve. You can try to attack it a bunch of different ways. Don’t be too narrow.”3
  3. Having the Right Team. Mark Cuban believes that you have to hire people who will love working at your company, so that it’s not just a job. A physical and cultural environment of openness and transparency is key because “there is nothing private in a startup.” Shamir Karkal, co-founder of Simple, an online banking tool, believes that you have to “hire great people . . . then get out of their way. You should strive to hire people who are smarter than you . . . .” “Delegate and keep your eye on the important stuff.”[4]
  4. Execution. According to Brian Sharples, the founder of HomeAway, a vacation rental website, “a good idea is not enough. Businesses aren’t just about ideas, businesses are about execution . . . . Other people are going to have that same idea or something similar. You have to build a better team to execute it.”3 Execution also means learning from mistakes and not repeating them. It includes constant learning about everything associated with your business. Execution also means exceeding the expectations of your clients, customers, suppliers, distributors, and even employees. No marketing effort is going to be as effective as being really good at what you do.
  5. Don’t Drink Your Own Kool-Aid. Brian Sharples also said: “Don’t get too enamored with your own idea. Other people are going to have that same idea or something similar.”3 One of the cautions from successful entrepreneurs is to not be too narrow-minded or narrow-focused. You have to listen to the voices of your customers, competitors, and even employees. You do not have a monopoly on good ideas and if you drink too much of your own Kool-Aid, you may be missing opportunities to adapt and change for the better.
  6. Have Fun. Mark Cuban believes that you have to “make the job fun for employees. Keep a pulse on the stress levels and accomplishments of your people and reward them.”1 Similarly, Barbara Corcoran, founder of the New York real estate company, Corcoran Group, tells us: “The joy is in the getting there. The beginning years of starting your business, the camaraderie when you’re in the pit together, are the best years of your life. So rather than being so focused on when you get big and powerful, if you can just get the juice out of that . . . don’t miss it.”3
  7. Commitment. “Start-ups don’t die, they commit suicide. In other words, 90 percent of start-ups fail because the founders get bored, discouraged, or something else, and they move on to other things, not because of some catastrophe. No matter how dark it is today, things will always be better tomorrow.” These wise words of wisdom come from Justin Kan, the founder of Justin.TV, which is now known as Twitch Interactive.2
  8. Embrace the Possibility of Failure. “Don’t be afraid to fail . . . . It changed my mindset at an early age that failure is not the outcome, failure is not trying.” Sara Blakely, inventor and founder of Spanx.3
  9. Measure Performance. Bob Parsons, the founder of GoDaddy, sums it up the best: “You need to know exactly where you stand in a business at all times. Measure everything, because everything that is measured and watched improves.”3
  10. Plan But Get Busy. Formal, written business plans are a necessary evil because it summarizes why a financial institution should lend money to you; why an investor should risk his or her money with your company; why a supplier should provide you with goods even though you don’t have a track record; and more. Yet, many successful entrepreneurs caution against getting bogged down in the process of creating a business plan and getting it all “just right.” According to Gurbaksh Chahal, founder of RadiumOne, a digital advertising company, “a business process can be defined better. A business model can be copied. But the speed of execution is dynamic within you and can never be copied. When you have an idea, figure out the pieces you need quickly, go to market, believe in it, and continue to iterate.”3 Levi Cooperman, co-founder of Freshbooks, an accounting and billing software system, concurs: “Planning and modeling out your business is always a good idea, but don’t get stuck planning too long, build something and push it out to your users as fast as you possibly can. If your product is getting good reviews and people are willing to pay for it, you’ve got something.”4 However, don’t misunderstand – planning is still required. Collis and Cyna Ta’eed, founders of Envato, an online creativity ecosystem, said: “Probably the biggest mistake we made early on was not believing the business was going to be a big success. So we did next to no planning ahead, instead just making decisions as they were convenient.”4


In summary, if you want to start up your own business, there are a lot of lessons to be learned, but you can learn some of them from the best – those that have already tried it, made some mistakes, but ultimately succeeded.


Please consult Garrett Wheeler if you have any questions concerning this document.


The foregoing information regarding personal, estate, charitable and/or business planning techniques is not intended to be tax, legal or investment advice and is provided for general educational purposes only. Neither Guardian, nor its subsidiaries, agents or employees provide tax or legal advice. You should consult with your tax and legal advisor regarding your individual situation.

GEAR # 2015-8158                                                                                                                                                               Expiration: 7/01/2017

[1], December 24, 2014.

[2], September 28, 2009.

[3], March 20, 2012.

[4] .

Slideshow : What Retirement Calculator to Use for Your Situation

By Dr. Daniel Crosby

If you are approaching retirement, you’re likely to have spent time trying to determine just how much money you will need to save for it. Accounting for every cent saved and every financial hiccup you may experience during your retirement years is all but impossible.

If you struggle with calculating your retirement savings goals, a retirement planning calculator may help you better understand your retirement savings and investment goals. A retirement calculator may help provide you with a personalized snapshot of your retirement savings and help make sure that you are on track with your road to retirement. There are a variety of retirement planning calculators available, so make sure you are using each to help best prepare for retirement.

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Calculating Your Retirement Living Expenses

Throughout your retirement years, your cost of living is sure to fluctuate. While you may be able to cut down on some extra expenses by moving into a smaller home or cutting back on your daily transportation, you may need to invest more in your healthcare and travel needs.

How much you spend during your retirement years is ultimately up to you, but you can better prepare yourself for your living expenses during retirement by taking a look at your living expenses now. Keeping track of your expenses will help you gain a better sense of just where your money is going and help you determine areas where you can afford to cut or add to your monthly spending during retirement. Knowing How Much to Save for Retirement

Most of us look towards our retirement years with a mix of excitement and anxiety. While retirement has been built up to be a major stepping stone towards enjoying the later years of our life, it’s not that enjoyable for all. By adequately planning for your retirement you are taking the steps needed to help you enjoy your desired retirement lifestyle. .

While there are many ways to help you plan for how much money you will need to retire, a pre-retirement calculator is an easy way to determine how well you’ve prepared your finances for retirement, as well as provide you with some insight on areas you may want to re-evaluate. Even if your savings seem to be on track, make sure you are constantly monitoring your progress as the economic climate and your personal retirement plan change over the years.

Calculating Social Security Benefits

Depending on your earnings and savings, your Social Security benefit may play a big role in helping you meet your living expenses during your retirement years. There are many factors that play into how much Social Security benefits you will receive over time. Calculating Social Security benefit amounts is no easy task, but using a Social Security retirement income calculator can help you plan for the approximate amount of Social Security benefits you will receive.

How Will Inflation Impact Your Retirement

If you are still a few years away from your retirement, you may be surprised by just how much inflation will affect your retirement costs. While inflation may not have a direct effect on the amount you save, it will impact your retirement living expenses and the purchase powering of your retirement savings.

Inflation typically affects the cost of food, housing, fuel and medical care. Using an inflation calculator can help you gain a better sense of your financial standing, adjusted to reflect any anticipated inflation rates, and prepare your finances accordingly.

Properly planning for retirement can help you take control of the later years of your life. Everyone has a different view of what their retirement will include. Make sure you’re properly prepared for the years ahead with the resources available from My Retirement WalkTM by The Guardian Life Insurance Company of America. Having a personal retirement plan in place allows you to prepare for the unexpected to help you enjoy your years in rest and relaxation. And you may find that using retirement calculators will help you plan for Your Next NowTM.

Visit My Retirement Walk site today:

Disclaimers: 2015-0334

This material is intended to potentially assist you in planning for your future. The Guardian Life Insurance Company of America (Guardian) and its affiliates, subsidiaries, employees, agents, and outside contributors, are not authorized to provide legal, tax, or investment advice in the materials of this website including but not limited to any blogs. The information provided does not constitute a solicitation of an offer to buy or an offer to sell financial or insurance products. Please note that individual situations can vary, and you should consult your tax, investment or legal advisor for guidance and information specific to your situation. Guardian is not responsible for the consequences of any decisions or actions taken in reliance upon or as a result of the information provided by this material. To learn more about Guardian, visit

Income is an Asset Worth Protecting

Think about it. What would happen if suddenly, due to an illness or injury, you were unable to work?

View Video Here

Without your paycheck, how long would you be able to make your mortgage or rent payment, buy groceries or pay your credit card bills without feeling the pinch? If you’re like most, it wouldn’t be long at all: Half of working Americans couldn’t make it a month before financial difficulties would set in, and almost one in four would have problems immediately, according to a Life Happens survey.¹

That’s where disability insurance comes in. Think of it as insurance for your paycheck. It ensures that if you are unable to work because of illness or injury, you will continue to receive an income and make ends meet until you’re able to return to work.

You don’t hesitate to insure your home, car and other valuable possessions, so why wouldn’t you also protect what pays for all those things—your paycheck.

May is Disability Insurance Awareness Month (DIAM), a national industry-wide campaign to help build awareness about the need for income protection. Helping my clients be prepared – and protected – with a disability income insurance policy starts with a personal conversation. Statistics show that just over 1 in 4 of today’s 20-year-old’s will experience a disability before they retire2 and when asked, consumers who don’t have disability insurance say that the reason is that their advisor never brought it up.3 I do bring it up with my clients because I personally experienced a life-changing disability and can provide different sources of disability income protection. Don’t wait until Life Happens, take action today to protect your most valuable asset, your income.

¹The Disability Survey conducted by Kelton Research on behalf of Life Happens, April 2012

2U.S. Social Security Administration Fact Sheet, January 2015.

3Confused and Uninsured: Consumer Understanding of Disability Insurance, LIMRA 2013.