Making a charitable donation through an IRA may be a good solution for taxes and investing.

How Charitable Donations Through an IRA Can Impact Taxes and Investing … Are You Familiar with These Tax Changes Toward Charitable Donations?

Changes in determining who will include itemized deductions on their tax returns will affect millions this tax year. The Tax Cut and Jobs Act of 2017 is expected to drastically reduce the number of people enjoying tax savings related to their charitable donations, with only 16 million in 2018 versus 37 million in 2017. The updates impact taxes and investing for many Americans.

The itemized tax deduction will be limited to $10,000 for state and local taxes and the standard deduction will go up, with single returns at $12,000 and those married filing joint returns receiving a $24,000 standard deduction. Head of household returns will have a standardized deduction of $18,000. The thresholds are higher for those over the age of 65.

The percentage of households that report itemized deductions on their tax returns is expected to drop 39% with only 15% itemizing.

The good news for seniors: While this news may make it seem that the benefits of contributing to charity will be drastically changed, and both taxes and investing will require some changes in order to absorb the impact, there is good news for seniors. The new law does not change the ability to make a charitable contribution from an individual retirement account (IRA) without recognizing taxable income.

In the past, the ability to include charitable donations on itemized deductions meant that many people over the age of 70 ½ never took advantage of this ability. With the new changes in place, everyone who meets the minimum age requirement might consider changing the way they make their charitable contributions. (Essentially, individuals over the age of 70 ½ with IRAs could leverage some tax savings while giving to a philanthropy).

How it works: The law is generally referred to as a “charitable IRA rollover,” and it allows seniors to make donations to eligible charities directly from their IRA, excluding the donations from their gross income.

For younger taxpayers: If an investor is under the age of 70 ½, they may still be able to capture some of the benefits of their charitable donations by “bunching” their contributions. Instead of making a donation of $5,000 each year for three years, they could give $15,000 once every three years, allowing them to itemize on that tax return. This method can be a bit challenging for the charity in question because of budgeting and planning, but there are options like a private foundation or donor-advised fund that can manage the donation flow to the charity.

To learn more about how recent laws have impacted investment strategies, contact us at Lawson Kroeker Investment Management. We can help guide you.

Why you won’t see much speculation in the investment advice offered by Lawson Kroeker.

Why Lawson Kroeker Favors Long-Term Investment Advice Over Speculation: And, Does Speculating Over Investment Advice Even Work?

As winter approaches the Midwest, some experts say the bear market is stirring from hibernation, ready to come out of its den. As the bull market continues an extensive run since March 2009, many investors wonder what investment advice should guide their decisions.

In truth, if you’ve ever worked with our team at Lawson Kroeker, you know that the headlines don’t have much impact on the steady focus of our Chartered Financial Analysts®. Read on as we share further insights on the topic.

“Is it different this time?” is a common question when talking of the current market conditions and working with those seeking investment advice. There are always variations in how the stock market plays out, and this time is no different. As discussed in one of our “As We See It” quarterly reflection pieces, the factor that differentiates this long bull market run is the speculative (or fast) money flowing in and out of the market.

Is the bull market aging? Peaks in speculation and momentum are telltale signals of an aging bull market. Investors, in a rush of fear of missing out (FOMO), often make purchases at a time when the prices should influence the opposite behavior. This often occurs with initial public offerings (IPOs), which entice investors with the hopes of investing in the next great thing. Unfortunately, many of these IPOs fail their investors, who watch their speculative money slip away quickly after it peaks.

What are areas of new speculation? One of the newest speculative types of investments has been in cryptocurrencies. Many investors jumped to acquire the Bitcoin, but there’s been no emergence of a single platform to support it or provide widespread acceptance of this currency. Those who purchased Bitcoins watched as their value increased from around $900 in early 2017 to around $19,000 in December of that year.

Given the anticipation that the value would significantly increase from there, investors continued to hold tight to Bitcoins as the value then dropped to around $4,400 in the fall of 2018.

Speculative investing and trends come and go, but the investment philosophy at Lawson Kroeker remains consistent, focused and diligent. As we’ve done since our founding year, our team embraces a long-term view of investing that helps build success over time. Contact us today to learn more.

Are You a Thinker? So Are We.

With all you’ve got to do, there’s rarely enough time to really dig into what’s happening in the market. That’s why Lawson Kroeker publishes a quarterly reflection piece, written specifically for the Lawson Kroeker Community of Thinkers. That’s what we call people like you: smart investors who want to know what’s shaping the market and gain some insight into the current investing climate.

When you subscribe to the Lawson Kroeker Community of Thinkers, you’ll receive this piece, called “As We See It,” designed to cover some thought-provoking topics. Here are a few recent subjects that have been covered in recent issues:

Trade Wars: You’ve no doubt seen this phrase tossed around on news sites and in the papers, but what constitutes a trade war and what’s the impact on the global economy. This is your brief primer.

It’s Different This Time: Many investors fear that it’s “different this time,” that a maturing market is expected to tank in a spectacularly unprecedented way. Find out what really is unique about the current condition, and whether there’s any reason to be concerned about this market.

What to Expect When it’s Tax Time: Every year, there are changes to the tax law that affect personal and corporate returns. Find out how changes in how itemized deductions are handled and a changing corporate tax rate are expected to impact your tax return.

The Greenhouse Effect: Surprisingly, this post has nothing to do with the environment, but instead revisits the wisdom of the late Frank Lawson, co-founder of Lawson Kroeker. Find out how the maturing trajectory of an investment can be compared to the cultivation of plants.

The Difference Between Information and Insight: No matter how many gauges you put in the cockpit, information is only as good as the pilot that uses it. Learn how information and insight come together for a better investment strategy.

To access these, plus ongoing issues of “As We See It,” become a member of the Lawson Kroeker Community of Thinkers today!

Planning for Retirement: Good News. It’s Not Too Late.

For many Americans, planning for retirement hasn’t been a regular part of their financial planning. The causes are different for every household, but nearly half of all Americans have no retirement savings at all, and for those that have been able to save, the median balance is only $10,000. Currently, the average contribution rate to a retirement account is only around 3%.

Americans are feeling the expected impact of their inability to save, with only 17% feeling confident in experiencing a comfortable retirement in the future. These types of statistics lead advisors to counsel their clients to take drastic measures: either delay retirement by 10 years or learn to live on a smaller budget so that up to 60% of their income can be directed to saving for retirement.

For many Americans, these options aren’t realistic. Scaling back a budget to only 40% of what a household is accustomed to is a challenge but working an extra 10 years with potentially escalating age-related health challenges could also be unrealistic.

It’s important to note that strategies like these are not universally applicable. Each household has different needs and circumstances and requires a personalized and specific solution for retirement planning. With that in mind, there may be two reliable practices that could help many households get back on track for retirement planning:

Set aside six percent. This action particularly benefits younger investors, but it also helps those in their 40s and 50s who are behind in planning for retirement. It helps to begin this practice and then look every six months at how it is impacting their retirement savings. It won’t take long to see progress.

Investors may also be encouraged when they see how their retirement savings stack up to others in their age group. A little sense of competition with peers can spur more positive behaviors.

Best of all, increasing savings from three to six percent isn’t likely to force a household to put austerity measures in place. While there may be a bit of a cinch on the budget at first, this change is relatively easy to accommodate.

Delay retirement by two years. Working for another 10 years is a hard concept to consider when you’re reaching retirement age and beginning to count the years. Two years can help build up savings while still presenting a retirement date that allows time for plenty of leisure and fun. It’s also good to do your homework to see how a delay of two years impacts social security benefits. It might be worth a short delay.

If you’re planning for retirement, don’t worry if you find that you’re a bit behind. Our team at Lawson Kroeker Investment Management can help you build an investment portfolio that will help ensure a secure future while allowing you to enjoy life right now. Contact us for an appointment. There’s no time like today!

Your investment portfolio benefits from your ability to buy when the market seems most terrifying.

Your Investment Portfolio May Thrive From a Shift in Perspective

“You make money buying when the world seems risky and lose money buying when the world seems safe.  When you’re really scared is the time to buy, not sell.” 

–Andrew Tobias

There are times when the headlines are full of words that may strike fear in the hearts of investors, like “bear” and “recession.”

Your instinct might be to sell and avoid the potential for further loss, but some investing principles say that this impulse is the opposite of action you should be taking. Rather than running away from the market in a downturn, some investors may try to get in deeper – and at the least, commit to stay the course – even if it seems against the grain.

Smart billionaires like Warren Buffett and George Soros have built their wealth by running the opposite direction of the crowd. For instance, in the winter of 2016, when oil was anything but a hot commodity, investors like Buffett and Soros disclosed stakes in the Houston pipeline company Kinder Morgan. The share price had fallen about two-thirds in a one-year period, but once it recovered, those investors smart enough to put their confidence in the company’s strengths made a great return. One of the reasons why investing in Kinder Morgan was a safe bet that only appeared to be risky is that their core business is in natural gas, which remains a strong business segment. (Read more in the Los Angeles Times article “Smart Billionaires Buy When Everyone Else is Selling.”)

No investor can eliminate risk, but you can choose companies that have a history of making money. These companies demonstrate an ability to navigate the competitive landscape and have a foundation that allows them to weather a market downturn without going out of business.

Here’s another way to look at it, from our October 2015 “As We See It” quarterly reflection piece:

“At the daily level, the stock market can seem like a roller coaster even though a purely financial calculation reveals that the gains have historically more than made up for the losses. If people perceive loss at twice the extent as they perceive gain, it’s the sort of ride one might decide to avoid. This is why human nature can be an investor’s worst enemy. The best remedy is a change in mental attitude.

When an investor thinks about stocks, they should be mentally buying a collection of private businesses, not wiggles on a chart. A private business owner does not ask for an appraisal on a daily, weekly, or even monthly basis but instead focuses on profits and long-term growth potential. As Benjamin Graham said, ‘Investing is most intelligent when it is most businesslike.’”

If you’d like to talk more about the importance of resisting the temptation to follow the crowd in your investments, contact us at Lawson Kroeker. We look forward to helping you create the future you want, based on timeless and focused investing principles.

Investment management should take into account personal preferences as well as classic principles for long-term success.

Investment Management: The Lawson Kroeker Difference

No two investors are alike, which is why no two portfolios should be identical. Sure, there may be resemblances here and there, but when you bring the right investment management firm aboard, you get professionals who know that each client deserves individualized attention.

This principle of one-on-one attention is something that smaller firms have the luxury to afford – and it’s what Lawson Kroeker Investment Management is set up to do. Rather than operating from the coasts or from the hectic pace of Wall Street, the professional advisors and team at Lawson Kroeker operate out of the Midwest (by choice, and gladly).

We’re different … and maybe a little bit “old-school.” We’re practicing a philosophy of patience, never letting emotions or media headlines get in the way of rational decision-making. We don’t chase fads, preferring instead to stay the course. This kind of “old school” helps guide clients toward success over time.

Our clients can talk to us about decisions at any time. When our clients reach out to us, they’re actually talking to the people who make the decisions regarding their investment future. We know exactly what they want and need, and we’re making those decisions –instead of an outside resource.

Diverse backgrounds create many solutions. Another aspect that makes us different is that our backgrounds are diverse among our investment professionals. Some come from the mutual fund industry, while others come up from banks and others from brokerage firms. It’s this diversity that helps us to come to the right solutions for our clients.

We don’t follow a philosophy of “if you don’t look busy then you aren’t busy.” Our clients prefer thinkers – and that’s what we allow ourselves to do at Lawson Kroeker. We aren’t afraid to carefully reflect on the industry as we make decisions.

Why is this so important? Because your plans aren’t like anyone else’s plans. Contact us today and let’s talk about what’s possible for your unique future.

Understanding the Past is a Clear Strategy When Investing for Retirement

“To understand what is happening today or what will happen in the future, I look back.” – Oliver Wendell Holmes

Investing for retirement requires a solid measure of discipline. When you’re in the stage of life when you need to set aside money for retirement, it sometimes seems as if you can’t possibly squeak another dime into a 401(k) or another investment vehicle. You’re busy raising a family and building a career, so the discipline to designate money for retirement investing requires constant attention.

Besides this core discipline, investors preparing for retirement also need the ability to look back. As Oliver Wendell Holmes famously said, a focus on the events of the past is valuable for understanding the events of today, and that wisdom aligns with what the most successful investors share about their approach. In fact, you’ll find this famous quote about looking back in the extensive collection of our founder, Ken Kroeker, because it matches his approach to investing and serving clients.

When you focus on fundamentals, rather than chasing the latest Wall Street predictions, you imitate the discipline of some of the investing giants, from Warren Buffett and Peter Lynch to Benjamin Graham and Bill Miller. Each of these investors has built their wealth by using value-investing principles.

You can apply those same principles when investing for retirement. Investors like Warren Buffett may beat the average returns in the market by ignoring the latest headlines and, instead, focusing on the foundations of a company. In other words, when a company is going through a short-term challenge, but they are built on solid business principles, it may be a good investment.

A good current example is Wal-Mart. They’ve closed some stores and often appear to be playing catch-up with Amazon and Costco, but they’re still the most prominent leader in discount retailing in the world and have a history of delivering value over time. The overreaction of the market to Wal-Mart’s challenges make it look like the company is facing an overall decline, but the investor that looks back can see that companies with proven track records usually rebound from challenges.

When you objectively look at the history of a company, and you pair it with confidence that market downturns tend to sort themselves out eventually, you’ll be able to make investments that support your retirement planning.

Investing for retirement requires both discipline and an understanding of past events. It also requires the wisdom of a professional advisor to help guide your investment decisions. Make an appointment with the Lawson Kroeker team and find out why a combination of looking back – and carefully and strategically looking forward – can be part of your individual plan for retirement success.

The best investment planning strategies hold true to philosophies of old.

Invest Like It’s 1986: Investment Planning is an Ongoing Journey

“If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will take you there.” That sounds like sage advice for being spontaneous and in the moment, throwing caution to the wind – pull up a sail and let it take you wherever. Yet, when it comes to your investments, knowing where you want to go is vital, as is taking the right roads to get there. A newsletter we sent out in the 80s addresses this investment planning topic, and it’s still relevant today.

“In most instances,” our As We See It newsletter pointed out, “building up one’s assets is, if not a lifetime project, an endeavor that usually spans many years.” This investment concept still holds true today and is important to remember as you look to your future retirement plan.

However, it’s not a given that just because you have set goals that it will be exactly where you want it to be in the future. Diversification, weighing the risks and weathering volatile and down markets are all important philosophies that can affect the outcome of your investment portfolio. Here’s what we said in our newsletter on this topic:

“Diversification is one of the basic fundamentals of prudent investing. It means much more than just purchasing a wide variety of securities. It involves spreading risk among asset classes (i.e., stocks, bonds, real estate, etc.) as well as diversifying within each of those classes. In a broader sense, consideration should be given to one’s occupation when considering the question of diversification.”

Another aspect of investment planning that remains true today is that attempting to guess the short-term swings in individual stocks, the stock market, interest rates or the economy is not likely to produce consistently good results. “Short term developments are too unpredictable,” we wrote in our newsletter. “On the other hand, shares of well-chosen companies stand an excellent chance of providing above-average returns to investors who are patient and invest for the long term.”

What remains true today is that successful investment results occur for those who set their objective, stay true to their investment planning scenario, diversify investments and look ahead to the long-haul approach.

If you like the sound of following a consistent path to retirement success, contact Lawson Kroeker today – and find out why staying the course and remaining focused over the long-term are some of our favorite phrases.

Fine Tuned: The Art of Investing at Lawson Kroeker

Like fine art, your investment portfolio should reflect the creative and personalized aspects that make it your masterpiece.

At Lawson Kroeker, we believe in the fine art of investing. Like the colors and styles in a commissioned piece, your investments are designed for who you are as an individual.

This approach takes diligence. It takes time. It requires careful focus – but this is the philosophy our founders built our firm upon, and it’s how we continue to move forward.

 

Our team at Lawson Kroeker isn’t afraid to be unique, and even contrarian, because we stand by our core philosophies. As a smaller firm, our clients receive an authentic, trustworthy experience from an intelligent, thoughtful team.  

 

The result is a consistent approach that builds confidence for clients and success across an ongoing relationship. This means not getting caught up in the drama of the headlines that come out of Wall Street, but using long-term investment strategies that help build and protect your wealth for the future.

Lawson Kroeker doesn’t just implement a fine art perspective into investing. We proudly remain in tune with the local Omaha community, believing in the people, the art and culture that make our region great. Our team chooses to live in Omaha to serve individuals and families because we appreciate the Midwestern lifestyle and values. While many of our team members have lived and worked in major cities, we call Omaha home, and we value the pace of life here that lets us curate each client’s path to success.

Our employees actively participate in local artistic initiatives, from the Symphony to Omaha Performing Arts, among other local art venues. Sharing success this way promotes the fine-tuned harmony that makes Omaha a wonderful place to live.

 

Ready to get started creating your own investment masterpiece? So are we. Let’s get started today.

How contrarian methods work in investment planning.

Invest Like It’s 1986: Investment Planning for Contrarians Means Taking the Alternate Route

How much of what you do today is similar to what you did in the mid-1980s? Are you embracing the same fashion trends or hairstyle? Is your car from that era and are you watching Cheers and Knight Rider for entertainment? We might be holding on to only a fraction of what we held dear in the mid-80s, but there is one thing that hasn’t changed – a savvy approach to investment planning.

Go ahead and invest like it’s 1986. Why? Because the tried and true, classic investment principles from 1986 still apply. This is true of the contrarian approach to investment planning. The contrarian approach takes a different path than what is expected – it’s going against the grain and not following the crowd. Going against market trends to focus on shares and sectors is really what it’s all about, and it’s something that worked all the way back when Top Gun was the biggest hit of the summer.

At Lawson Kroeker, we published a newsletter in the 80s that discussed the contrarian approach. We quoted James Fraser, the founder and president of Fraser Management, who said a contrarian is one who “is early though he is not a forecaster and rather works toward thought-out conclusions. We have to think through a given problem before we gain a fresh and different approach to a solution.”

So, how does investment planning that focuses on the contrarian approach work? Contrarian investors take a long-term view for picking stocks. They will make choices that go against the crowd as they buy into under-appreciated assets and sectors because they believe following the crowd isn’t always a good idea.

For example, when the market is volatile, the crowd usually begins steering away from “risky” investments and heads toward calmer waters, like bonds. The contrarian response is – “hey, you’re missing out on some opportunities that could be highly valuable.” Think about all the people who jumped on the bandwagon during booms, only to feel the crushing defeat when the bust occurred.

Contrarian investing may not be for everyone, but the principles seem to stand the test of time and rise above come-and-go investing trends. When a professional advisor is helping you guide your course and remain focused on the long-term, this style of investing can bring its own unique level of confidence and success.

At Lawson Kroeker, we aren’t afraid to be “delightfully contrarian,” and we invite you to sit down at our table and find out what this approach could mean to you and your goals.