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It's a great time to review your business finances now that we are nearing year-end. We have listed some of the critical areas to consider and provide you with some helpful guidelines to make sure that you cover all the essentials. We have divided our tax planning tips into four sections: - Year-end tax checklist - Remuneration - Business tax - Estate

It’s a great time to review your business finances now that we are nearing year-end. Your business may be affected by recent tax changes or new measures to help with financial losses due to COVID-19. Figuring out the tax ramifications of these new measures can be complicated, so please don’t hesitate to consult your accountant and us to determine how this may affect your business finances.

We’re assuming that your corporate year-end is December 31. If it’s not, then this information will be useful when your business year-end comes up.

Below, we have listed some of the critical areas to consider and provide you with some helpful guidelines to make sure that you cover all the essentials. We have divided our tax planning tips into four sections:

  • Year-end tax checklist

  • Remuneration

  • Business tax

  • Estate

Business Year-End Tax Checklist

Remuneration

  • Salary/dividend mix

  • Accruing your salary/bonus

  • Stock option plan

  • Tax-free amounts

  • Paying family members

  • COVID-19 wage subsidy measures for employers

Business Tax

  • Claiming the small business deduction

  • Shareholder loans

  • Passive investment income including eligible and ineligible dividends

  • Corporate reorganization

Estate

  • Will review

  • Succession plan

  • Lifetime capital gains exemption

Remuneration

What is your salary and dividend mix?

Individuals who own incorporated businesses can elect to receive their income as either salary or as dividends. Your choice will depend on your situation. Consider the following factors:

  • Your current and future cash flow needs

  • Your personal income level

  • The corporation’s income level

  • Tax on income splitting (TOSI) rules. When TOSI rules apply, be aware that dividends are taxed at the highest marginal tax rate.

  • Passive investment income rules

Also consider the difference between salary and dividends:

Salary

  • Can be used for RRSP contribution

  • Reduces corporate tax bill

  • Subject to payroll tax

  • Subject to CPP contribution

  • Subject to EI contribution

Dividend

  • Does not provide RRSP contribution

  • Does not reduce a corporate tax bill

  • No tax withholdings

  • No CPP contribution

  • No EI Insurance contribution

  • Depending on the province¹, receive up to $50,000 of eligible dividends at a low tax rate provided you have no other sources of income

¹The amount and tax rate will vary based on province/territory you live in.

It’s worth considering ensuring that you receive a salary high enough to take full advantage of the maximum RRSP annual contribution that you can make. For 2020, salaries of $154,611 will provide the maximum RRSP room of $27,830 for 2021.

Is it worth accruing your salary or bonus this year?

You could consider accruing your salary or bonus in the current year but delaying payment of it until the following year. If your company’s year-end is December 31, your corporation will benefit from a deduction for the year 2020. The source deductions are not required to be remitted until actual salary or bonus payment in 2021.

Stock Option Plan

If your compensation includes stock options, check if you will be affected by the stock option rules that went into effect on January 1, 2020. These new rules cap the amount of specific employee stock options eligible for the stock option deduction at $200,000 as of January 1, 2020. These rules will not affect you if a Canadian controlled private corporation grants your stock options.

Tax-Free Amounts

If you own your corporation, pay yourself tax-free amounts if you can. Here are some ways to do so:

  • Pay yourself rent if the company occupies space in your home.

  • Pay yourself capital dividends if your company has a balance in its capital dividend account.

  • Return “paid-up capital” that you have invested in your company

Do you employ members of your family?

Employing and paying a salary to family members who work for your incorporated business is worth considering. You could receive a tax deduction against the salary you pay them, providing that the salary is “reasonable” with the work done. In 2020, the individual can earn up to $13,229 (increased for 2020 from $12,298) and pay no federal tax. This also provides the individual with RRSP contribution room, CPP and allows for child-care deductions. Bear in mind there are additional costs incurred when employing someone, such as payroll taxes and contributions to CPP.

COVID-19 wage subsidy measures for employers

To deal with the financial hardships introduced by COVID-19, the federal government introduced two wage subsidy measures:

  • The Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) program. With this, you can receive a subsidy of up to 85% of eligible remuneration that you paid between March 15 and December 19, 2020, if you had a decrease in revenue over this period. You must submit your application for the CEWS no later than January 31, 2021.

  • The Temporary Wage Subsidy (TWS) program. With this program, which reduces the amount of payroll deductions you needed to remit to the CRA, you can qualify for a subsidy equal to 10% of any remuneration that you paid between March 18, 2020, and June 19, 2020. You can claim up to a maximum of $1,375 per employee and $25,000 in total.

You can apply for both programs if you are eligible. If you qualify for the TWS but did not reduce your payroll remittances, you can still apply. The CRA will then either pay the subsidy amount to you or transfer it over to your next year’s remittance.

Business Tax

Claiming the Small Business Deduction

Are you able to claim a small business deduction? The federal small business tax rate decreased to 9% in 2019. It did not increase in 2020, nor is it expected to increase in 2021. From a provincial level, there will be changes in the following provinces:

Therefore, a small business deduction in 2020 is worth more than in 2021 for these provinces.

Should you repay any shareholder loans?

Borrowing funds from your corporation at a low or zero interest rate means that you are considered to have received a taxable benefit at the CRA’s 1% prescribed interest rate, less actual interest that you pay during the year or thirty days after the end of the year. You need to include the loan in your income tax return unless it is repaid within one year after the end of your corporation’s taxation year.

For example, if your company has a December 31 year-end and loaned you funds on November 1, 2020, you must repay the loan by December 31, 2021; otherwise, you will need to include the loan as taxable income on your 2020 personal tax return.

Passive investment income

If your corporation has a December year-end, then 2020 will be the second taxation year that the current passive investment income rules may apply to your company.

New measures were introduced in the 2018 federal budget relating to private businesses, which earn passive investment income in a corporation that also operates an active business.

There are two key parts to this:

  • Limiting access to dividend refunds. Essentially, a private company will be required to pay ineligible dividends to receive dividend refunds on some taxes. In the past, these could have been refunded when an eligible dividend was paid.

  • Limiting the small business deduction. This means that, for impacted companies, the small business deduction will be reduced at a rate of $5 for every $1 of investment income over $50,000. It is eliminated if investment income exceeds $150,000. Ontario and New Brunswick are not following these federal rules. Therefore, the provincial small business deduction is still available for income up to $500,000 annually.

Suppose your corporation earns both active business and passive investment income. In that case, you should contact your accountant and us directly to determine if there are any planning opportunities to minimize the new passive investment income rules’ impact. For example, you can consider a “buy and hold” strategy to help defer capital gains.

Think about when to pay dividends and dividend type

When choosing to pay dividends in 2020 or 2021, you should consider the following:

  • Difference between the yearly tax rate

  • Impact of tax on split income

  • Impact of passive investment income rules

Except for two provinces, Quebec and Alberta, the combined top marginal tax rates will not change from 2020 to 2021 at a provincial level. Therefore, it will not make a difference for most locations if you choose to pay in 2020 or 2021.

In Quebec and Alberta, as there will be increases in the combined marginal tax rate, you will have potential tax savings available if you choose to pay dividends in 2020 rather than 2021.

When deciding to pay a dividend, you will need to decide whether to pay out eligible or ineligible dividends. Consider the following:

  • Dividend refund claim limits: Eligible refundable dividend tax on hand (ERDTOH) vs Ineligible Refundable dividend tax on hand (NRDTOH)

  • Personal marginal tax rate of eligible vs. ineligible dividends (see chart below)

Given the passive investment income rules, typically, it makes sense to pay eligible dividends to deplete the ERDTOH balance before paying ineligible dividends. (Please note that ineligible dividends can also trigger a refund from the ERDTOH account.)

Eligible dividends are taxed at a lower personal tax rate than ineligible dividends (based on top combined marginal tax rate). However, keep in mind that when ineligible dividends are paid out, they are subject to the small business deduction; therefore, the dividend gross-up is 15% while eligible dividends are subject to the general corporate tax rate, a dividend gross-up is 38%. It’s important to talk to a professional to determine what makes the most sense when selecting the type of dividend to pay out of your corporation.

Corporate Reorganization

It might be time to revisit your corporate structure, given recent changes to private corporation rules on income splitting and passive investment income to provide more control on dividend income distribution.

Before you issue dividends to other shareholders in your private company (this includes your spouse, children, or other relatives), review the TOSI rules’ impact with us or your tax and legal advisors.

Another reason to reassess your structure is to segregate investment assets from your operating company for asset protection. You don’t want to trigger TOSI, so make sure you structure this properly. If you are considering succession planning, this is the time to evaluate your corporate structure as well.

Another aspect of corporate reorganization can be loss consolidation – where you consolidate losses from within related corporate groups.

Estate

Ensure your will is up to date

If your estate plan includes an intention for your family members to inherit your business using a trust, ensure that this plan is still tax-effective; income tax changes from January 1, 2016 eliminated the taxation at graduated rates in testamentary trusts and now taxes these trusts at the top marginal personal income tax rate. Review your will to ensure that any private company shares that you intend to leave won’t be affected by the most recent TOSI rules.

Succession plan

Consider a succession plan to ensure your business is transferred to your children, key employees or outside party in a tax-efficient manner.

Lifetime Capital Gains Exemption

If you sell your qualified small business corporation shares, you can qualify for the lifetime capital gains exemption (In 2020, the exemption is $883,384), where the gain is entirely exempt from tax. The exemption is a cumulative lifetime exemption; therefore, you don’t have to claim the entire amount at once.

The issues we discussed above can be complicated. Contact your accountant and us if you have any questions. We can help.

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Segregated Funds and Mutual Funds often have many of the same benefits however there are key differences you should consider like Maturity and Death Benefit Guarantees.

Segregated Funds and Mutual Funds often have many of the same benefits however there are key differences you should consider:  

  • Both are managed by investment professionals. 

  • You can generally redeem your investments and get your current market value at any time. 

  • You can use them in your RRSP, RRIF, RESP, RDSP, TFSA or non-registered account. 

There are key differences including:

  • Guarantees

  • Contract

  • Fees

  • Resets

  • Creditor Protection

  • Probate

Contract:

  • Segregated Funds: Policy owner, Annuitant and Life Insurance company

  • Mutual Funds: Account holder, Mutual fund and Investment Company

Fees

  • Segregated Funds: Management Expense Ratio & Insurance Fee (Typically higher)

  • Mutual Funds: Management Expense Ratio

Why is this important?  

Since Segregated funds are offered by life insurance companies, they are individual insurance contracts. Which means….

  • Maturity Guarantees

  • Death Benefit Guarantees

  • Maturity and death benefit resets

  • Potential Creditor Protection (depends on the setup)

  • Ability to Bypass Probate

Mutual Funds do not have these features with the exception of possible creditor protection of RRSP, RRIF dependant on provincial legislation.

What are these features?

Maturity and Death Benefit Guarantees mean the insurance company must guarantee at least 75% of the premium paid into the contract for at least 15 years upon maturity or your death. 

Resets means you have the ability to reset the maturity and death benefit guarantee at a higher market value of the investment.

Potential Creditor Protection is available when you name a beneficiary within the family class, there are certain restrictions associated with this. 

Bypass Probate: since you name a beneficiary to receive the proceeds on your death, the proceeds are paid directly to your beneficiary which means it bypasses your estate and can avoid probate fees. 

We can help you decide what makes sense for your financial situation. 

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Over the last few weeks, the financial market has taken a downturn amidst fears over Coronavirus. Understandably, you are concerned with your portfolio, it’s important to stay level-headed to avoid making financial missteps. However, staying level-headed doesn’t necessarily mean you sit there and do nothing. In fact, one consideration you can look is taking an active tax management approach. Tax loss selling is a strategy to crystallize or realize any capital losses in your non-registered accounts so it can be used to offset any capital gains.

Over the last few weeks, the financial market has taken a downturn amidst fears over Coronavirus.

Understandably, you are concerned with your portfolio, it’s important to stay level-headed to avoid making financial missteps. However, staying level-headed doesn’t necessarily mean you sit there and do nothing. In fact, one consideration you can look is taking an active tax management approach.

Tax loss selling is a strategy to crystallize or realize any capital losses in your non-registered accounts so it can be used to offset any capital gains. There is no benefit to selling in your tax free savings account (TFSA) or registered retirement savings plan (RRSP).

You can apply capital losses back 3 years or carry them forward indefinitely, therefore we’ve outlined several situations that make sense for tax loss selling.

To better understand how tax-loss selling works, imagine a scenario in which someone invests $100,000, putting $50,000 in “Investment A” and $50,000 in “Investment B.”

At the end of one year, Investment A has risen by $10,000 and is now worth $60,000. Investment B has declined by $10,000 and is now worth $40,000.

Without tax-loss selling, the investor has a realized gain of $10,000 from Investment A, and has a potential tax bill of $1,500 (assuming he or she sells the shares and pays the 15% capital gains tax on the profit).

On the other hand, with tax-loss selling, selling Investment B to offset gains from Investment A. At the end of the year, instead of paying a $1,500 tax, the investor only has a potential tax bill of $0, for a potential tax savings of $1,500.

With the investor’s tax liability reduced by $1,500, that savings becomes money that can be invested back in the portfolio, used to maximize RRSP contributions, pay off debt, or spend as one pleases. 

What Situations make sense for tax loss selling?

  • If you have an investment with a considerable capital gain, review through your current investments to see if there are any investments to sell at a loss.

  • Receiving a tax refund for a previous year. Keep in mind, you can apply capital losses back 3 years, therefore if you sold a property within the last 3 years for a considerable gain and paid the tax. This year, you could sell other investments at a loss and apply them back and get some tax paid back.

  • For tax deferral, with tax losses you can apply these losses back 3 years or carry them forward indefinitely, therefore you may want to trigger a loss today because if you are planning to sell that property in the next year or so, it may rebound and therefore you will lose the chance to offset the gains.

  • Lastly, you may have an investment in your portfolio that’s a dud. It might be time to move on and put your money into a different investment so that you can apply the loss in the future.

Tax Loss Selling is Complicated

There are specific conditions required by CRA that must be met in order for this strategy to work such as making sure your loss is not declared a “superficial loss” (these rules are very restrictive). A superficial loss is when you sell and trigger a capital loss, you cannot deduct the loss if you or an affiliate purchase an identical security within 30 days before or after your settlement date.

Another condition is that the sale of assets is prior to the year-end deadline (this varies by calendar year). You also need to make sure you have accurate information on the adjusted cost base (ACB) of your investment. When you file your taxes, any losses must be first used to offset capital gains in the current tax year, then any remaining losses can be carried back.

Before engaging in tax loss selling, you should contact us directly so we can make the strategy works for you.

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On March 18th, the Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, announced a further $82 billion in support including $27 billion in direct support for Canadian workers and businesses. This is in addition to the $20 billion across the country which includes $10 billion available through the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) to help small and medium-sized businesses.

On March 18th, the Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, announced a further $82 billion in support including $27 billion in direct support for Canadian workers and businesses. This is in addition to the $20 billion announced days earlier which includes $10 billion available through the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) to help small and medium-sized businesses.

To Support Canadians

Temporary Income Support for Workers and Parents

For Canadians without paid sick leave (or similar workplace accommodation) who are sick, quarantined or forced to stay home to care for children, the Government is:

  • Waiving the one-week waiting period for those individuals in imposed quarantine that claim Employment Insurance (EI) sickness benefits. This temporary measure will be in effect as of March 15, 2020.

  • Waiving the requirement to provide a medical certificate to access EI sickness benefits.

  • Introducing the Emergency Care Benefit providing up to $900 bi-weekly, for up to 15 weeks. This flat-payment Benefit would be administered through the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) and provide income support to:

    • Workers, including the self-employed, who are quarantined or sick with COVID-19 but do not qualify for EI sickness benefits.

    • Workers, including the self-employed, who are taking care of a family member who is sick with COVID-19, such as an elderly parent, but do not quality for EI sickness benefits.

    • Parents with children who require care or supervision due to school closures, and are unable to earn employment income, irrespective of whether they qualify for EI or not.

Application for the Benefit will be available in April 2020, and require Canadians to attest that they meet the eligibility requirements. They will need to re-attest every two weeks to reconfirm their eligibility. Canadians will select one of three channels to apply for the Benefit:

  1. by accessing it on their CRA MyAccount secure portal;

  2. by accessing it from their secure My Service Canada Account; or

  3. by calling a toll free number equipped with an automated application process. Number to be provided

Longer-Term Income Support for Workers

For Canadians who lose their jobs or face reduced hours as a result of COVID’s impact, the Government is:

  • Introducing an Emergency Support Benefit delivered through the CRA to provide up to $5.0 billion in support to workers who are not eligible for EI and who are facing unemployment.

  • Implementing the EI Work Sharing Program, which provides EI benefits to workers who agree to reduce their normal working hour as a result of developments beyond the control of their employers, by extending the eligibility of such agreements to 76 weeks, easing eligibility requirements, and streamlining the application process. This was announced by the Prime Minister on March 11, 2020.

Income Support

For low and modest income families, the federal government will double the maximum annual Goods and Services Tax Credit (GSTC), providing an average income boost of:

  • $400 for low-income income individuals and

  • close to $600 for couples.

Canada Child Benefit (CCB)

The Government is proposing to increase the maximum annual Canada Child Benefit (CCB) payment amounts, only for the 2019-20 benefit year, by $300 per child. The overall increase for families receiving CCB will be approximately $550 on average; these families will receive an extra $300 per child as part of their May payment.

Together, the proposed enhancements of the GSTC and CCB will give a single parent with two children and low to modest income nearly $1,500 in additional short-term support.

Retirees

For Retirees, the required minimum withdrawals from Registered Retirement Income Funds (RRIFs) will be reduced by 25% for 2020, in recognition of volatile market conditions and their impact on many seniors’ retirement savings.

Students

6 month interest-free moratorium on the repayment of Canada Student Loans for all individuals currently in the process of repaying these loans.

Tax Filing Deadline deferred

For individuals (other than trusts), the return filing due date will be deferred until June 1, 2020.  However, the Agency encourages individuals who expect to receive benefits under the GSTC or the Canada Child Benefit not to delay the filing of their return to ensure their entitlements for the 2020-21 benefit year are properly determined.

For trusts having a taxation year ending on December 31, 2019, the return filing due date will be deferred until May 1, 2020.

The Canada Revenue Agency will allow all taxpayers to defer, until after August 31, 2020, the payment of any income tax amounts that become owing on or after today and before September 2020. This relief would apply to tax balances due, as well as instalments, under Part I of the Income Tax Act. No interest or penalties will accumulate on these amounts during this period.

For Tax preparers and Taxpayers to reduce the need to meet, Digital Signatures will be accepted.

Mortgage Payment Deferral

Canada’s large banks have confirmed that this support will include up to a 6-month payment deferral for mortgages, and the opportunity for relief on other credit products.

To Support Businesses

Helping Businesses Keep their Workers

To support businesses that are facing revenue losses and to help prevent lay-offs, the government is proposing to provide eligible small employers a temporary wage subsidy for a period of three months. The subsidy will be equal to 10% of remuneration paid during that period, up to a maximum subsidy of $1,375 per employee and $25,000 per employer. Businesses will be able to benefit immediately from this support by reducing their remittances of income tax withheld on their employees’ remuneration. Employers benefiting from this measure will include corporations eligible for the small business deduction, as well as non-profit organizations and charities.

Flexibility for Businesses Filing Taxes

The Canada Revenue Agency will allow all businesses to defer, until after August 31, 2020, the payment of any income tax amounts that become owing on or after today and before September 2020.  This relief would apply to tax balances due, as well as instalments, under Part I of the Income Tax Act. No interest or penalties will accumulate on these amounts during this period.

The Canada Revenue Agency will not contact any small or medium (SME) businesses to initiate any post assessment GST/HST or Income Tax audits for the next four weeks. For the vast majority of businesses, the Canada Revenue Agency will temporarily suspend audit interaction with taxpayers and representatives.

Financing for Businesses

The BDC provides financing for:

  • Small Business Loans – up to $100,000 can be obtained online – here

  • Get extra funds to bridge cash flow gaps and support daily operations with Working Capital Loans

  • Increase your cash flow to fulfill domestic or international orders with Purchase Order Financing

Previously Announced Measures

To further support businesses and households, the Governor of the Bank of Canada, Stephen Poloz, cut the overnight rate to 0.75%.

For those with mortgages, the president of Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC), Evan Siddall, announced that they are working with lenders to allow deferral of mortgage payments for up to 6 months

More details on mortgage deferral will be made available later this week.

For people quarantined due to COVID-19, the government eliminated the waiting period for EI Benefits; you can get up to $573 a week for an entire 14-day quarantine.

If you need further, please contact me by clicking below:

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On March 13th, the Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, outlined Canada's response to COVID-19 including new investments to help protect Canadians and businesses. The total value of an aid package could be up to $20 billion across the country which includes $10 billion available through the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) to help small and medium-sized businesses. Here are some details of the programs they are funding:

On March 13th, the Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, outlined Canada’s response to COVID-19 including new investments to help protect Canadians and businesses. The total value of the aid package could be up to $20 billion across the country which includes $10 billion available through the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) to help small and medium-sized businesses.

The BDC provides financing for:

  • Small Business Loans – up to $100,000 can be obtained online – here

  • Get extra funds to bridge cash flow gaps and support daily operations with Working Capital Loans

  • Increase your cash flow to fulfill domestic or international orders with Purchase Order Financing

To further support businesses and households, the Governor of the Bank of Canada, Stephen Poloz, cut the overnight rate to 0.75%.

For those with mortgages, the president of Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC), Evan Siddall, announced that they are working with lenders to allow deferral of mortgage payments for up to 6 months

More details on mortgage deferral will be made available later this week.

For people quarantined due to COVID-19, the government eliminated the waiting period for EI Benefits; you can get up to $573 a week for an entire 14-day quarantine.

If you need further, please contact me by clicking below:

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Over the last week, the financial market has taken a downturn amidst fears over Coronavirus. The S&P 500 had its worst weekly drop since the financial crisis in 2008, after setting all-time highs the prior week.*

Over the last week, the financial market has taken a downturn amidst fears over Coronavirus. The S&P 500 had its worst weekly drop since the financial crisis in 2008, after setting all-time highs the prior week.*

Understandably, investors are anxious about their money. If you are concerned with your portfolio, you’re not the only one, however during times of market volatility, it’s important to stay levelheaded to avoid making financial missteps.

Keep Calm

In situations like these, it’s important to keep perspective. This is not the first time the market has taken a downturn, market corrections are a natural part of the investment cycle and over long term, individuals that remain invested can use the volatility as an opportunity to buy will be rewarded.

The media can make it seem like each market downturn is worse than before. In reality though, volatility doesn’t hurt investors but if selling in a downturn, it will lock in losses.

Keep Up-to-Date

Currently, there isn’t enough information to know how the Coronavirus will affect the market, over the short, medium and long term however it’s important to know that the financial market doesn’t like uncertainty. Therefore, as further developments come to light, there will likely be a correction to the market.

How have markets reacted to virus outbreaks in the past?

The table and chart below, show how the S&P 500 has performed during similar virus outbreaks in the past. While the impact can be negative, the long-term impact has been limited. In all past scenarios markets were higher 12 months after the virus was identified.**

Source: Bloomberg Finance L.P., CitiResearch, FactSet. As at February 27, 2020. The starting date for the 12-month return is
the month each virus was identified.

Keep in mind your portfolio is diversified

We know market downturns can be stressful and being bombarded by media reports doesn’t help but keep in mind your portfolio is diversified It’s important to remember that your portfolio is tailored to your unique investment time horizon, personal situation and financial goals. If you do have questions about your portfolio, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

Review your investments

This is a good time to review all your investment accounts including your TFSA, RRSP or RRIF to ensure you are diversified. If you haven’t reviewed the accounts that we don’t manage, please reach out to our office and we can provide you with recommendations that align with your financial goals.

Keep in touch

We’re here for you and hope to serve you by helping you make objective and educated financial decisions. These decisions will help you stay the course so you can achieve your financial goals.

If you have friends or family that need help with their investments, we are happy to offer a complimentary review. We will discuss what their financial goals are and what makes the most sense for their situation. Often by working with a financial advisor, it can help them feel more confident about their finances.

At any time, should you wish to discuss or review your investments, please contact us. We’re here to support you.

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