Services provided by
Gierl Augustine:

Comprehensive Financial Planning
Retirement Planning
Income Tax Planning
Estate Planning
Charitable Giving
Investment Management
Education Funding
Risk Management
Portfolio Design and Implementation
Investment Research
Retirement Benefit Planning
Cash Flow Analysis
Business Planning
401K Rollovers / IRA Rollovers

COMPREHENSIVE
FINANCIAL PLANNING

Why Financial Planning Is So Important

A comprehensive financial plan serves as a framework for organizing all the different pieces of your financial picture. It is a written guideline to keep your family on course and organized in your quest to achieve your financial goals. A holistic, written plan which takes into account all of the “what-ifs” of life, like taxation, longevity, inflation and health care. Gierl Augustine Investment Management, Inc.’s financial planning methodology takes into account your income, your budget and expenses, your short- and long-term goals, your timeline to retirement, your potential risks, your retirement goals, and much, much more. Financial planning considers your entire financial life, and it changes through time as your needs and family dynamics change.

With a financial plan in place, you’ll be better able to focus on your objectives and understand what it will take to reach them. Your financial plan can help you balance competing financial priorities. A financial plan will clearly show you how your financial goals are related– for example, how saving for your children’s college education might impact your ability to save for retirement.

What a Financial Plan Can Do

Good financial planning can help you:

  • Organize your finances.
  • Focus on the big picture. Your financial plan considers everything from budgeting to managing your investments to minimizing your taxes.
  • Prioritize your financial goals. For example, if you buy a new home, will you have enough savings to pay for your kids’ education funding or retirement later?
  • Save money to achieve your objectives.
  • Worry less about money. With a plan, you’ll know where you are now, where you want to go, and have a plan in place to get there.

Education Funding

The cost of a college education is high, in some cases, second only to a home mortgage. Not only that, but student debt is the highest in history, with 42 million Americans bearing $1.3 trillion in student loan debt, according to Forbes. It’s important to put anticipated higher education expenses into your financial plan—the sooner or younger your children, the better.

Together we will find ways for you to tackle both education funding and retirement, using the solid principles of financial planning to incorporate your objectives and timelines. We will meet with you at least once every year to review and update your financial plan. By having a financial plan in place, we can help you support your children with education funding without compromising your own long-term financial goals.

Retirement Planning

Retirement Planning Relies On Income Planning

If the decision to retire isn’t the most difficult decision we make in our lifetime, it is certainly among the top few. A secure, comfortable retirement is every worker’s dream, but the days of pensions and healthcare for life are rapidly becoming a thing of the past. Not only do we have to secure our own income streams and healthcare solutions, but because we’re living longer, healthier lives, we must plan for more time in retirement than our parents and grandparents did–possibly a lot more. This extended timeframe comes with greatly-expanded challenges.

As baby boomers ourselves, the principals of Gierl Augustine Investment Management, Inc. have a vested interest in being experts in retirement planning challenges and solutions.

How much savings will be enough? When should I take my Social Security? How will I pay for health care? How do I budget for inflation?

These are just some of the very real questions that we are dedicated to helping our clients answer. From Social Security and retirement income analyzers to guaranteed income ideas and a bucket approach to managing retirement assets, we have the tools, experience and solutions to be your retirement planning partner.

When you sit down to make your retirement plans, think about building flexibility into your life.

  • How much money will you need to live comfortably to 90 or 95?
  • Should you be saving more than you are now?
  • Does it make sense to work a little longer and save a little more before you retire?
  • How can you reduce your living expenses, but still enjoy the life you want? A smaller home? Fewer toys? Less expensive hobbies?
  • What are the opportunities for you to continue earning money in retirement? (Keep in mind that the more you make, the less you get to keep of any Social Security payments.)
  • Given your current health and heredity, would you expect to need long-term care later in life?
  • What exactly do you want from retirement? Sometimes what we really need isn’t retirement but employment that we enjoy.

Retirement planning is one of those activities that is best done with others (particularly if you are married!). Sitting down with your financial advisor and your spouse or significant other and exploring not just the money, but what you want to do with your life, can help you gain a more objective outlook on the future. It can also make certain everyone is on the same game plan and looking at ways to make it a reality. Even if you are already retired, revisiting your plan, seeing how well it is working and where problems could crop up never hurts.

INVESTMENT MANAGEMENT

Investment Management Philosophy

We have developed several portfolios to fit every client’s needs and circumstances.

Income Portfolios

Our income generating portfolios are designed for investors looking for current income and growth potential, while minimizing volatility through diversification. This portfolio is constructed with high-dividend paying equity securities and fixed income instruments. By using this approach, the portfolio is structured to generate income through dividends and fixed income payments, while having growth potential from equity market exposure. When selecting individual stocks for the portfolio, we look for companies that have solid balance sheets, high cash flow, and a history of raising dividend payments. The portfolio is blended with companies from all sectors of the economy such as oil & gas, technology, and consumer staples. When paired with fixed income investments, we can achieve steady cash flow to the portfolio from dividends and interest payments. Through extensive research, Gierl Augustine tracks a company’s commitment to paying a dividend and, more importantly, to their financial ability to continue to do so. Our goal is to find those companies that we believe will provide us with increasing income over time.

Traditional Asset Allocation

We employ traditional asset allocation models that are designed to address the volatility that has historically been associated with many of the more commonly adopted asset allocation models. Our traditional asset allocation is unique in that it is comprised of managers that have shown to be successful in their respective categories. The portfolio has a diversified mix of asset classes such as U.S. equities, international equities, bonds, real estate and alternative investments. Each investment option is carefully chosen to be what we deem “best in class.” The selection process involves a study of several criteria including manager analysis, style consistency, performance, risk measurement and expenses. After an investment is made it is continually monitored and re-examined every quarter. This review process will result in a grade for each investment. Based on this review process, an investment can be put on a “watch list” and ultimately replaced by a superior candidate.

Active Portfolio Strategies

Our Active Portfolio Strategies “APS” are portfolios that are characterized by the goal of actively managing risk. We create “manager of managers” portfolios to accomplish this goal. By tracking over 50 active managers that utilize some form of an active risk management strategy, we can observe them over multiple time periods. Because these managers can use very different techniques to manage risk, they often behave very differently in the many different market conditions that an investor will experience.

We expect these portfolios to have a lower correlation to the equity and bond markets than the traditional passive investment portfolios. We believe that the single best way to grow long-term wealth is to avoid the worst of the inevitable serious market corrections. Our APS portfolios are designed can help to reduce volatility during market declines and result in a smoother ride overall.

 

Please Note: Different types of investments and investment strategies purchased and/or investment strategies devised by GAIM involve varying degrees of risk including the complete loss of principal invested, and there can be no assurance that the future performance of any specific investment, investment strategy, or product detailed in any report provide by GAIM will increase in value, will be profitable, or will equal any historical performance level(s). There is no assurance that any specific investment or investment strategy will be either suitable or profitable for a client’s or prospective client’s portfolio.

Income Tax Planning

Income Tax Planning Now

As a part of a comprehensive financial approach, Gierl Augustine Investment Management offers tax strategies and tax recommendations. Some taxes can be deferred, and others can be managed through tax-efficient investing. Additionally, we have partnered with numerous certified public accountants in Pennsylvania that can help you with specialized tax services, including tax return preparation. With careful and consistent preparation, you may be able to manage the impact of taxes on your wealth accumulation.

Income Tax Planning In Retirement

Some people are surprised to find that they owe taxes in retirement. Some even pay taxes on Social Security! That’s why tax planning—well in advance of retirement—is imperative for the retiree. At Gierl Augustine Investment Management, we strive to keep you in the lowest tax bracket possible every year. In order to do that, we have to take a look at what qualifies as “earned income,” and we have to take money out of your nest egg in a tax-advantaged manner.

RMDs / Required Minimum Distributions

When it comes to qualified, tax-deferred retirement money, like 401(k)s and traditional IRAs, RMDs (Required Minimum Distributions) come into play at age 70-1/2. You have to start taking money out of these accounts following strict guidelines, and those mandatory withdrawals have tax implications. We have specific strategies that we use to help reduce tax liability on distributions as part of our comprehensive financial and retirement planning services.

Estate Planning

Estate Planning Services

No one likes to think about what will happen after they are gone, but one of the most important and loving things you do for your family is put solid plans in place to protect them if you go before they do. Effective estate planning enables you to manage your affairs during your lifetime and helps ensure your legacy is efficiently passed on to the ones you love.

Our estate planning services include helping facilitate and put in place all of the structure and legal documents necessary to protect your estate against probate, legal expenses and taxation, as well as spelling out your wishes and designating who will carry them out. We work with a network of attorneys in Pennsylvania to help create all the legal documents you need.

Gierl Augustine can help you understand the differences between wills and trusts. (Trusts can often help you keep your financial affairs private, avoid probate and transfer the maximum amount of wealth to your heirs, and they don’t have to be expensive.) With proper estate planning, you can also outline your health care wishes and ensure that they’re carried out – even if you are unable to communicate. You can also designate someone to manage your financial affairs should you be unable to do so.

Charitable Giving

In addition to estate documents, as part of our estate planning service we will help you analyze what insurance may be of benefit to you in transferring wealth with tax-efficiency. While it may seem time-consuming and complicated to list all your assets–like homes, cars, possessions and investments–and divide them up between your family members, friends or charities, remember that if there is no will and/or trust in place for your estate, then it will go through probate court, an often costly and lengthy hassle for the people you’ve left behind. Not only that, but the courts will decide who gets what—including your minor children in some cases. We can help you avoid this through advance estate planning.

Once you have taken care of your family, charitable giving can often be used not only to help satisfy your desire to leave a legacy behind, but to confer tax-advantaged wealth strategies for the charities or causes you would like to support. In other words, in conjunction with attorneys, we will help you devise a plan that’s a win-win for all concerned.

The Importance of Beneficiary Updates

And remember, estate planning requires ongoing review and updates. We’ll help you get—and keep—your final documents up-to-date through the years in partnership with your legal team. It’s important to know that your beneficiaries on individual policies and assets take precedence over your trust or will documents, and we will meet with you regularly to help update your estate in its entirety as your family and goals change through time.

Risk Management

Managing the Risks of a Longer Life

For many people, retiring in one’s 50s or early 60s sounds like a dream come true. Imagine years of health and time to achieve one’s goals, whether traveling the world, spending more time with family and friends, developing the perfect golf game or looking for volunteer opportunities where you can make a difference. There’s just one catch. Will your money last 40+ years?

Before you start planning your finances around a projected average life span of 84 (men) or 86 (women) years, remember that you could be among the 50% that live much longer than that. About one out of every four 65-year olds today will live past age 90, and one out of 10 will live past age 95. And therein lies the peril of retirement planning.

Life Insurance and Annuities

New permanent life insurance products as well as new annuities and annuity product designs have been introduced in the last two decades to address the specific risks facing the approximately 10,000 people every single day who are turning 65 in America. These can function like a monthly pension plan that will last as long as you live, or they can contain different options to help cover contingencies specific to your situation.

In addition to longevity and lifetime income, life insurance strategies can also address other retirement risks, like the risk of one spouse dying before the other one. Many people don’t understand the impact of losing their spouse’s monthly Social Security check (only one check—the larger one, will continue) or pension without survivorship. We will explore the many types of products which may or may not make sense for you to replace lost income.

Long Term Care and Disability

A long life can mean more time to enjoy the activities and people we love. Combined with good health, it can mean a more adventurous, busier life than generations before have experienced. Access to more expensive health care may be part of the reason, but the more money people have over their lifetimes, the more likely they have taken better care of their health, eaten better diets, exercised more, etc.

But no matter how well we have lived, there is always the possibility that an unwelcome surprise in the form of a health challenge can strike our bodies or minds. That’s why we incorporate contingency plans. Putting in place strategies to help cover multiple possibilities is the most loving thing you can do for your spouse and family members. Together we can find ways to plan ahead to address many risks, and find ways to help you benefit whether you end up needing help or not.

401k ROLLOVERS / IRA
ROLLOVERS

401k Services

Since the 1970s in America, increasingly fewer people have pensions from their employers, while more have 401k plans. A 401k retirement savings plan provided by an employer allows you to save and invest pre-tax money out of your paycheck for retirement. Even if your employer doesn’t offer a matching amount, because 401k investment dollars are taken out of your paycheck before the taxes are deducted, your taxable income may go down and potentially lower your overall tax bill while you’re working. However, taxes will be due when you take the money out.

While it’s great to have a 401k plan available, you still have to make choices and begin investing. Most plans offer employees different types of mutual funds that can be comprised of a mix of stocks, bonds, and money market investments. Gierl Augustine Investment Management can help individual 401k investors by assessing historic performance, analyzing the underlying fee structure as well as proposing an allocation of each choice in your 401k plan. In terms of which selections might be best for you, we provide this service at no charge to our clients.

401k Rollovers / IRA Rollovers

We can help you take control of any of your 401k money that is still left in an old employer’s account by providing 401k rollover services. Additionally, in order to maximize most retirements, taxes must be addressed early in the process. Having large tax-deferred accounts such as traditional IRAs and 401ks are both a blessing and a recipe for disaster, if not managed early and accurately. Why?

The tax advantages conferred by the tax-deferred nature of 401k and traditional IRA plans can start to become disadvantageous as you edge toward your 70th birthday. Starting at age 70-1/2, the IRS requires you to start taking money out of these plans whether you want to or not. Required Minimum Distributions (RMDs) are complex to calculate, and the money must be taken out by December 31st of each calendar year, or you risk a 50% penalty on top of taxes owed.

As a result, in some cases, we might recommend you take a series of 401k rollovers or IRA rollovers prior to age 70 in order to help minimize tax implications based on your individual situation. We should start working together on retirement and income tax planning at least 10 years before you plan on retiring.