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What is a REIT?

A Real Estate Investment Trust, commonly referred to as a REIT, is a corporation that owns commercial real estate or mortgages.  One of the main reasons to invest in REITs is for the income they produce. For a corporation to be classified as a REIT by the IRS it has to return 90% of its taxable income back to its shareholders.

REITs have been in existence for more than 50 years and can be publicly traded on exchanges (there are more than 200 such companies) or private corporations, of which there is more than 1,100. Publicly traded REITs have a…

Using Checklists to Create a Financial Roadmap

Checklists are often used for improving quality and managing risk in the health profession and also flight safety. While it is not yet commonplace, this can also be applied to financial planning.



Some tasks only need simple solutions. I can easily make a list of the chores I need to do this Saturday. Other checklists have more complex features that require training and expertise. Few would suggest that I could fly a large aircraft or perform surgery just by referencing a checklist. The same applies to financial planning.

As financial…

Girard Insights: April in Review

Volatility, oil pricing, quantitative easing in Europe, a China slowdown and continued expectations of a Fed rate increase are some of the current factors affecting market performance.  Year to date the S&P 500 Index has gained +2.7%; NASDAQ +6.5% and, in a reversal from 2014, foreign stocks as measured by the MSCI EAFE Index are positive +11% year to date.


Coupon yields on foreign government bonds continue to decline as Europe looks to use quantitative easing to restart growth and counter deflationary pressures. Inflation worldwide is mostly contained.  Against this background, the U.S. 10-year Treasury at 1.9% continues to look…

How Can We Respond to Uncertainty in the Financial Markets?

Following the financial media can often cause a chuckle – we can find conflicting answers to any question about the markets! However, this uncertainty also creates frustration for many investors.Markets provide daily puzzles to solve, but with real-life consequences. Planning gives a perspective on market uncertainties and helps people achieve their goals.


Paul (from Ohio) recently introduced himself after learning that I have provided financial advice to hundreds of individuals and institutions. He seemed desperate to understand why his portfolio had suffered major losses while the market was gaining – despite the fact that he trades on every

Challenging the Negativity Bias in the Financial Industry

Do you ever wonder why it seems that the news media concentrates on negative news, rather than the positive?  Researchers conducted an experiment in an attempt to explain this phenomenon.  The results offered evidence of a so called “negativity bias” which is psychologists’ term for our collective tendency to hear and remember bad news.  In our opinion, the media is aware of this tendency and, as a result, saturates our negativity bias with ever increasing amounts of bad news. This has the potential to create fear which can lead to poor decision-making including situations related to investing and financial plans.



How Philanthropy Plays a Role in Financial Planning

As a financial planner, I find great joy in helping clients understand the ways they can achieve their goals. At first, many people want to focus on how they will do what they want:

  • How will I retire and maintain my current lifestyle?
  • How can I afford to educate my children?
  • How may I care for a loved one facing special needs or the limitations of aging?

Another type of satisfaction comes when clients wrestle with a deeper set of questions:

  • What can I do to make a difference for my community or my family?
  • What is the most cost-effective…

Girard Insights: January in Review

Over the holiday season, we saw the Dow finish up the year at 7.5%, the S&P 500 rose 11.4%, and NASDAQ soared 13.4%. 2014 was the third straight year that the S&P 500 scored double-digit gains. A winning streak like this has not occurred since the late 1990s. Since the start of the year, we have experienced volatility in the market with the Dow shedding 3.7%, the S&P 500 down 3.1%, and NASDAQ dropping 2.1%. Most affected by the increased volatility was the energy sector.

What caused the market volatility? It can be attributed to several factors including the drop…

Invest in 2015

It’s hard to believe one month of 2015 is already behind us.  While 2014 was generally good to both stock and bond investors, 2015 will present different challenges and opportunities and you’ll want to make sure that you are prepared. To help do so, schedule a review of your investment assets. During the review, it is important to discuss the following:

• Overall allocation of your investments and how they are aligned with expected market conditions

• Review of assets held at other institutions (e.g. 401k) to see if they are properly positioned and complement your overall asset allocations.

• Any expected…

Why Everyone Needs Real Financial Planning

Through more than thirty years in financial services, I have found that most people make decisions about investments or insurance without the right guidance. Not that I blame them, they hear millions of salesmen and media mavens pushing products they do not fully understand. This problem has a solution that works – comprehensive and objective financial planning.

Planning can serve as a personal GPS as goals and circumstances change through life. It guides everyday decisions about saving, spending, investments and insurance. More important, planning helps us find our way through life’s journeys:

  • Funding education
  • Changing jobs
  • Starting a business
  • Saving…

2015 Economic Outlook

After a record-breaking 2014, what could 2015 have in store?


The global economy is expected to improve in the coming year, although there is significant divergence between the places that are performing well, and the places that still have more problems. Improving economic conditions around the world will be central bank induced, meaning further monetary stimulus by world central bankers. While economic fundamentals will continue to lag, they’ll exhibit signs of improvement. The picture is complicated, with Europe and Japan in particular, facing sizeable problems. We remain hopeful that significant central bank intervention will help solve the problems and…

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