Investment Committee Meeting Summary – November 2023

Investment Committee Meeting Summary – November 2023

Investment Committee Meeting Summary:

Our advisors review fund performance by day, week, and month. And the Investment Committee meets at least quarterly to evaluate the portfolio construction of advisory accounts, proactively rebalance portfolio construction, watch for red flags and perform stress tests to gauge performance in various market environments.

Market Insights and Strategies

With the end of 2023 swiftly approaching, it’s a pivotal time to stay up to date on new developments. We’ve witnessed a year with its fair share of economic and market twists and turns. The journey from a rather challenging 2022 to the present has been a roller coaster ride, marked by recession fears, inflation concerns, rising interest Rates, global unrest, and the ever-looming possibility of a federal government shutdown.

In reflecting on 2022, we remember it was a tough year for equities, with major market indexes like the S&P 500 ending in the red. However, stepping into 2023, we’ve observed a different story unfold. As of late September, equity markets have delivered positive returns. It’s a testament to the resilience of the market and the dynamism of investors.

Constantly Adapting

In response to the ongoing challenges, we’ve proactively adjusted our investment approach to better suit the changing landscape. During our investment committee meeting, we utilized our relationships with T. Rowe Price, as we carefully reviewed our investment strategies together to help ensure they are in sync with the present market conditions. One of our key observations was our favoritism of large-cap growth funds to small-cap positions. This strategic shift reflects our anticipation of potential rate hikes by the Federal Reserve and the subsequent impact on the market. Typically, larger companies are better equipped to weather the effects of such rate hikes.

Certain of Uncertainty

Inflation has seen a slight easing since its peak in January 2022 but continues to remain above the Federal Reserve’s targeted 2%. This lingering level below the threshold underscores the challenge of curbing spending, with the final leg of this journey proving to be the most difficult. Meanwhile, the Federal Reserve has recently hit the pause button on rate hikes, although the specter of future increases looms on the horizon with market expectations suggest a potential rate hike in December. It is worth noting that historical data indicates positive market performance after the conclusion of a hiking cycle. Conversations about a possible recession continue, reminding us that economic downturns are inherent phases of the business cycle. In the realm of global geopolitics, tensions such as the Russia-Ukraine conflict cast shadows of uncertainty over the market, prompting us to stay vigilant of potential international market volatility. While forecasting the future remains elusive, our preparation for various scenarios is unwavering.

Our Committment to Your Financial Success

We are remaining focused on an informed, long-term planning and a diversified approach. The decisions we make are grounded in our commitment to our clients’ financial well-being. We anticipate further market volatility and continue to adapt our strategies accordingly.

As we look ahead, we’ll keep a vigilant eye on market movements and remain steadfast in our dedication to your financial success. We appreciate your trust in our team and are here to navigate the ever-changing financial landscape together.

As always, we’re here for you. Please feel free to reach out if you have any questions or need assistance with your financial planning. Thank you for your continued trust in our team.

Market corrections – even recessions – are part of normal market cycles so it’s important you work with a financial advisor who understands your risk tolerance and wants to help you protect and preserve wealth. We’re with you every step of the way, so you can focus on what matters most to you.

Are you confident your assets are invested and managed appropriately? 

Get #CornerstoneConfident – book a financial planning strategy appointment today by

calling 605-357-8553 or emailing

Any opinions are those of the author and not necessarily those of Raymond James. Expressions of opinion are as of this date and are subject to change without notice. There is no guarantee that these statements, opinions, or forecasts provided herin will prove to be correct. The information contained in this report does not purport to be a complete description of the securities, markets, or developments referred to in this material. The foregoing information has been obtained from sources considered to be reliable, but we do not guarantee that it is accurate or complete, it is not a statement of all available data necessary for making an investment decision, and it does not constitute a recommendation. Past performance is no guarantee of future results. Investing involves risk and you may incur a profit or loss regardless of strategy selected, including asset allocation and diversification. To determine what is appropriate for you, consult a qualified professional. Raymond James is not affiliated and does not endorse T. Rowe Price. CSP #339165 11/26/23

Ulvestad Family Welcomes Baby Theo!

"I know you are scared."

Thankful to work with the best professionals in the area and introduce baby Theo! 

Your unique aspirations are the heart of the Cornerstone Experience®, a personalized journey to craft a clear vision and help you tailor a strategic financial plan to dream, build, and lead your life. As your trusted partner we are dedicated to cultivating an extraordinary relationship with you. Transparency, trust, mutual respect, and open communication helps ensure you understand the value you’re receiving every step of the way.

As I approach my five-year work anniversary, my work family and our team’s dedication to delivering lasting value means more than ever. Our diverse and talented team continues to advance our comprehensive systems and processes, leaving nothing to chance as we help you navigate complex financial situations and pursue your financial goals. Our internal Investment Committee, backed by data and meticulous planning, helps ensure a high level of conviction in our strategies.

Cornerstone requires wealth advisors to hold the CFP® (Certified Financial Planner) designation or to be working to complete the rigorous certification process. The CFP® designation is considered the standard of excellence in financial planning. Gordon (Wollman) earned his CFP® certification in 2000, Jill (Mollner) in 2006, and I am currently working to complete the CFP® testing, a process that typically takes 18-24 months.

Forbes recognized our team on their Best in State Wealth Management Teams list earlier this year, a testament to our exceptional service and commitment to you. Gordon has been recognized in prestigious publications such as the Barron’s Top 1200 Advisor list and Forbes Best in State Wealth Advisor list, underscoring his expertise and leadership in the wealth management industry. You can find details of these and other recognitions here.

My wife, Tara, and I have reflected on a few of these principles since her 20-week ultrasound for our baby a few months ago. At that appointment we learned the baby was healthy, but Tara was battling a serious condition that could cause premature labor. Forgive me for not going into detail, the talk of anything medical makes me queasy!

The doctor, knowing how worried we were, put her hand on Tara’s and said “I know you are scared. I want you to know that I am one of the few doctors in the state who specializes in these cases.” That single sentence gave us confidence we were working with the right person.

On September 2nd, during Tara’s second extended stay in the hospital, the doctor told us waiting to deliver was simply too high-risk. So, despite Tara being only 32 weeks along, things were set in motion for us to have a baby the following day. We met with specialists from multiple departments and learned that Tara would be put to sleep to have the baby via C-section, immediately followed by a major surgery. I’m somewhat embarrassed to say I passed out during this discussion. Did I say medical talk makes me queasy? Hospital staff had to bring me water and a cold wet towel. Thankfully, my wife is stronger than I am!

We met again with the doctor from Tara’s ultrasound. She told us they’d lined up the very best people in each department and assured us we’d be getting the best care possible. Everything would be focused on Tara since no other major surgeries were planned.

At 6:30am the next morning I walked with Tara to the testing required before surgery. When she and I hugged goodbye, we didn’t know if we’d ever see each other again. I wasn’t allowed in the operating room because of the number of people involved in the surgery, so staff walked me to a waiting room and explained I’d get updates via text message. I didn’t know what to expect over the next couple of hours.

At 7:32am I got the first text message – the operation had begun. At that point, I had already covered a mile, anxiously pacing the waiting room. Being early Sunday morning, it was just me and a staff member working at a computer.

About 5 minutes later I received another text that the operation was going well. Then, no news for over an hour. What had happened? I hadn’t asked what text updates I would get if things didn’t go well! The staff member at the computer hadn’t heard anything either and went to find someone in the operating room. They came back to announce we had a healthy baby boy at 7:46am (September 3rd). I was able to see a sleeping Baby Theo in the NICU. Wow, I was one proud dad! It was another six hours before I was finally able to talk with Tara, who also ended up doing amazing. 

Theo and Tara are both doing awesome. All of your thoughts and prayers are so appreciated!

In sharing the full story I’m being a little more vulnerable than normal. But, I felt it was important. If you’ve seen my commercial online or on TV, I talk about how important it is to work with a professional in all aspects of life, including financial planning. I’m thankful that my family and I were able to work with the best professionals in the area when it came to Theo’s birth and Tara’s surgery.

The awards and education I mentioned earlier don’t define the Cornerstone Team of professionals, but I’m thankful to be part of a company that expects each team member to continue to grow in knowledge and seek excellence. Just like the doctors who helped us at the hospital, we too can sit down with you, put our hand on yours and say “We’ve done this before. And we are one of the experts in this subject matter.” Our desire is to take care of you the best we possibly can.

At the hospital, I was amazed how multiple departments and specialists worked together to take care of us and our baby. On the day of the surgery, we were comforted when our doctor said, “You are our number one priority. Each department, from anesthesiologists to nurses, urologists to the NICU staff and more, will all be focused on you.” The same is true at Cornerstone. We have a big team and our number one priority is YOU. If your primary advisor is out like I have been, another advisor is there
to help and give the same guidance and advice.

We meet with you during regularly scheduled review appointments, host events, provide weekly updates via email, and check-in regularly through phone calls. But, between updates you may be a little like me in that waiting room – concerned and pacing anxiously. The market can make us all feel a little anxious sometimes. In the waiting room I trusted and relied on the doctors in the operating room. I trusted their expertise and desire to do what was best for my family.

We at Cornerstone don’t take YOUR trust for granted. I hope you understand how much we care and want to do what is best for you. Thank you for your continued trust.


Call 605.357.8553 or email today to schedule a complimentary, no-obligation appointment with one of our wealth advisors.

Any opinions are those of Andrew Ulvestad and not necessarily those of Raymond James. This content is for general information only and is not intended to provide specific advice, an endorsement, or recommendations for any individual. Raymond James Financial Advisors do not render advice on tax or legal matters. You should discuss tax or legal matters with the appropriate professional.Past performance is no guarantee of future results. Investing involves risk, including possible loss of principal. Investing involves risk and you may incur a profit or loss regardless of strategy selected, including diversification and asset allocation. Holding stocks for the long-term does not insure a profitable outcome. Investing in stocks always involves risk, including the possibility of losing one’s entire investment. No strategy assures success or protects against loss. To determine what is appropriate for you, consult a qualified professional. Excerpted from Newsletter_Insights October Issue 4 2023.10.27 #313959

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Confusion over RMD Distribution

Confusion Over Required Minimum Distributions (RMDs)

Cornerstone is pleased to bring you this article by Ed Slott and Company, LLC, an organization providing IRA education and analysis to financial advisors, institutions, consumers, and media across the country. Our association with this organization helps us stay up to date on the latest developments in IRA and tax law. As always, give us a call if you’d like to discuss!

To the surprise of many, the IRS released proposed SECURE Act regulations last year requiring beneficiaries (on some occasions) to take required minimum distributions (RMDs) during the 10-year payout period.

In the past, most non-spouse beneficiaries could “stretch” RMDs from inherited accounts over their own single life expectancy. RMD rules for 2023 are more confusing, thanks to the 2019 SECURE Act passed by Congress, and IRS proposed regulations of Feb. 23, 2022.

The 2019 SECURE Act included the 10-year payout rule, requiring most retirement account beneficiaries for deaths in 2020 or later to empty the retirement account by the end of the 10th year following the year the account owner died.

The IRS issued proposed regulations on February 23, 2022, taking the position that when death occurs on or after the required beginning date (RBD), a non-eligible designated beneficiary must take annual RMDs and empty the account under the 10-year rule.

The rule requiring annual RMDs when an account owner dies on or after her RBD is sometimes called the “at least as rapidly” (ALAR) rule. While it does not require the beneficiary takes the same amount that the IRA owner was taking, it does require that the process of taking RMDs continue. This interpretation surprised many who thought the 10-year rule would apply like the pre-SECURE Act 5-year rule, which did not require annual RMDs.


How has the IRS responded to RMD confusion?

The IRS has waived some RMD penalties when certain beneficiaries fail to take an RMD due to a reasonable error. Waivers are only applicable to RMDs within the 10- year period and you are usually required to file Form 5329 to request a waiver. For 2023, SECURE 2.0 reduces the penalty from 50% to 25% of the amount not taken. The penalty is further reduced to 10% if the missed RMD is taken and the penalty is paid during a 2-year correction window.

Last year, the IRS issued Notice 2022-53, which waived penalties for missed 2021 and 2022 RMDs within the 10-year period, for deaths that occurred in 2020 or 2021. Recently, the Service released Notice 2023- 54, extending the penalty waiver to cover missed 2023 RMDs when the death occurred in 2020 or 2021. It also excuses the penalty for missed 2023 RMDs when the death took place in 2022.

Although the Notice does not state this directly, it appears that since the penalty is waived, the 2023 RMD, like 2021 and 2022 RMDs within the 10-year period, doesn’t have to be taken. It also appears that these missed RMDs within the 10-year period will not have to be made up. (Note that if these RMDs were already withdrawn, they cannot be returned or rolled over.)


Lola died in 2020 at age 75 with a traditional IRA. Her adult daughter, Anabella, is a non-eligible designated beneficiary subject to the 10-year rule under the SECURE Act.

WHY?  The proposed regulations say that because Lola died after her RBD, Anabella must take RMDs based on her single life expectancy during years 1-9 of the 10-year period. However, Notice 2022-53 says that if Anabella failed to do so for 2021 and 2022, there is no penalty on the missed RMDs. Notice 2023-54 extends this relief to the 2023 RMD. If Anabella had already taken a distribution, believing she needed to take an RMD for 2023, she may not roll over those funds. Notice 2023-54 also provides relief to successor beneficiaries subject to RMDs within the 10-year rule.


Dave died in 2019 at age 90 with a traditional IRA. As designated beneficiary his adult son, Russell, can take annual RMDs from the IRA because Dave died before the SECURE Act became effective.

Russell dies in 2020. His son Theodore, the successor beneficiary, is subject to the SECURE Act and the 10-year rule, and must also take RMDs based on Russell’s single life expectancy during years 1-9 of the 10-year period. However, Notice 2022-53 said that if Theodore failed to take his 2021 or 2022 RMD, there would be no penalty. Notice 2023-54 extends this relief to 2023 RMDs. Beneficiaries who inherited a Roth IRA do not need this relief. Under the IRS proposed regulations, anyone who inherits a Roth IRA is deemed to have inherited from a person who died before his RBD. This is because Roth IRA owners are not subject to lifetime RMDs. Most Roth IRA beneficiaries are still subject to the 10-year rule, but RMDs are not required for years 1-9.


Does Notice 2023-54 waive all RMDs for 2023?

No. The Notice doesn’t affect lifetime RMDs, inherited IRAs by eligible designated beneficiaries (EDBs), or RMDs by beneficiaries who inherited before 2020.

Example: Monica has an IRA. She is 80 years old and must take a lifetime RMD for 2023. If Monica fails to do so, Notice 2023-54 doesn’t provide any relief from the penalty.

Example: Arthur inherited an IRA from his mother in 2018. Arthur has been taking RMDs each year based on his single life expectancy. Because he inherited prior to the SECURE Act, Arthur can continue the stretch. However, if he fails to take an RMD in 2023, Notice 2023- 54 does not relieve him from the penalty.


Should every beneficiary who is eligible for the IRS relief skip their RMD for 2023?

Anyone who is eligible for this relief also has the 10-year deadline looming. So, while it may be tempting to skip an RMD for 2023, that could mean more pain later when a big tax bill comes due at the end of the 10-year holding period.


Does the recent guidance tell us what will happen with RMDs during the 10-year period in the future?

The IRS is not tipping its hand. The latest notice says, “Final regulations regarding RMDs will apply for calendar years beginning no earlier than 2024.” Hopefully, those final regulations will arrive sooner rather than later and offer clear direction.


Which IRA owners get more time to complete a rollover?

While Notice 2023-54 mainly addressed RMD confusion during the 10-year rule for beneficiaries, it also provided very targeted relief to a specific group of IRA owners — those born in 1951. The Notice extends the 60-day rollover deadline for these IRA and plan account owners affected by the SECURE 2.0 increase in the first RMD age from 72 to 73.

Under the old rule, the first RMD year for account owners born in 1951 would have been 2023. Under SECURE 2.0 it is now 2024.

Some IRA custodians and plan administrators inadvertently paid out “RMDs” in 2023 to these people. Because these weren’t technically RMDs, and the account owners may not have wanted them, the IRS gives these account owners additional time (beyond the usual 60-day period) to roll back distributions received between January 1, 2023, and July 31, 2023. The extended deadline is September 30, 2023.

Such a rollover will not violate the once-per-year IRA rollover rule if another distribution was received by the individual in the last 12 months that was also rolled over. It will start a new 12-month period that will preclude a distribution received in the next 12 months from being rolled over.

Example: Mick reached age 72 in 2023. He was unaware that SECURE 2.0 delayed the RMD age to 73. On January 10, 2023, he took a distribution from his IRA, believing he needed to take an RMD for 2023. Mick realized his error a few weeks later. Mick has until September 30, 2023, to roll over this distribution if he so chooses. If Mick had already done a rollover of another distribution received in the last 12 months, that will not preclude him from rolling over the 2023 RMD distribution “mistake.” However, going forward, any distribution Mick takes from any IRA before January 10, 2024, will not be rollover eligible.

Membership in Ed Slott’s Elite IRA Advisor Group™  is one of the tools our advisors use to help you avoid unnecessary taxes and fees on your retirement dollars. Gordon attends in-depth technical training on advanced retirement account planning strategies and estate planning techniques. And semiannual workshops analyzing the most recent tax law changes, case studies, private letter rulings, Congressional action and Supreme Court rulings help keep attendees on the cutting-edge of retirement, tax law and IRA distribution planning. Through his membership, Gordon is immediately notified of changes to the tax code and updates on retirement planning, and he has 24/7 access to Ed Slott and Company LLC to confer with on complex cases.

This information, developed by an independent third party, has been obtained from sources considered to be reliable, but Raymond James Financial Services, Inc. does not guarantee that the foregoing material is accurate or complete. Changes in tax laws or regulations may occur at any time and could substantially impact your situation. Raymond James and its advisors do not offer tax or legal advice. You should discuss any tax or legal matters with the appropriate professional.

Copyright ©2023, Ed Slott and Company, LLC Reprinted from The Slott Report, August 14, 2023 with permission. Ed Slott and Company, LLC takes no responsibility for the current accuracy of this article. Raymond James is not affiliated and does not endorse Ed Slott and Company, LLC, The Slott Report, The Elite Advisor Group™, or Sarah Brenner, JD.

CSP #328338 Exp 11.7.24

Surviving a Bear Market

Surviving a Bear Market

Originally published 10/28/22: The current economic environment is testing the discipline of even the savviest of investors. Some may panic and jump ship, while others will ride it out and wait for calmer waters. Which mindset do you have?

All markets move in cycles, including periods of steep contraction. Since equity markets have reached multiple record highs over the last few years a downturn was inevitable. But, if the term “bear market” scares you, here are some facts to put it in

•  Bear markets are normal. Since its inception in the late 1920s, the modern S&P 500 has seen 26 bear markets – stocks lost 36% on average. During that same time long-term investors were rewarded with 27 bull markets where stocks gained an average of 114%.*

•  The average frequency between bear markets is 3.6 years. You could see about 14 bear markets during a 50-year investment window. Since 1930, the market has been bearish for a time equal to 20.6 years. This means that stocks have been on the rise the other 71.4 years!*

•  Bear markets last for significantly less time than bull markets. Bears last on average 9.6 months. Bulls last on average 2.7 years.*

*Source:; 6/13/22

These are challenging times, but the markets have historically proven remarkably resilient over the long term. Stick with your well-diversified, long-term financial plan, partner with a trusted financial advisor, and keep inflammatory headlines in perspective to stay on course toward your financial objectives.

Author: Jill Mollner, MBA, CFP®
Wealth Advisor, RJFS
Branch Operations Manager, CFS

Volatility isn’t likely to go away in the coming months, but you shouldn’t have to handle difficult markets alone. Your financial advisor can be your trusted guide. Here are a few questions to help ensure you’re getting the service and advice you need:

Does your advisor review your investments daily?

Our advisors review fund performance daily, weekly, and monthly. And our Investment Committee systematically tests and replaces positions in advisory accounts that no longer meet our standards. This diligence is especially important in volatile markets.

Do you meet with your advisor at least once a year?

What do you talk about? These meetings should be more than just a chance to catch up. Have market conditions thrown your investment strategy off-track? How do recent life events affect your estate plan? Do new tax laws affect you? We meet with clients at least once each year, and more frequently based on their needs.


Given today’s environment, getting a second opinion about your plan could help you make smarter decisions. Just like you, our clients want to be able to enjoy life and take care of the people they care about. They look to us for help living the life they’ve imagined no matter what is happening in the financial markets or economy.

Call 605.357.8553 or email today to schedule a complimentary, no-obligation appointment with one of our wealth advisors.

Any opinions are those of Jill Mollner and not necessarily those of Raymond James. This content is for general information only and is not intended to provide specific advice, an endorsement, or recommendations for any individual. Raymond James Financial Advisors do not render advice on tax or legal matters. You should discuss tax or legal matters with the appropriate professional.Past performance is no guarantee of future results. Investing involves risk, including possible loss of principal. Investing involves risk and you may incur a profit or loss regardless of strategy selected, including diversification and asset allocation. Holding stocks for the long-term does not insure a profitable outcome. Investing in stocks always involves risk, including the possibility of losing one’s entire investment. No strategy assures success or protects against loss. To determine what is appropriate for you, consult a qualified professional. 2022.10.28 #30410. 2023.11.01 #325547

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Are you Retirement Ready?

Are You Retirement Ready?

When it comes to living the life you imagine in retirement, the earlier you prepare, the better your chances of reaching your goals. Just like planning a wedding or building a new home, there are a lot of decisions to make and variables to consider.

Find out where you stand with our Retirement Readiness Checklist. Don’t panic if you’re just getting started or have a lot left to do. Our team’s step-by-step process, the Cornerstone Experience®, provides one-on-one attention and guidance to help you enjoy life today and take care of the people you care about for the long-term.


Where will your monthly retirement income come from?

79% of workers plan to keep working in retirement, while 34% of retirees actually do work in retirement.1

Work $_________
Assets $_________
Social Security $_________
Insurance $________
Pensions $_________
Other (inheritance, etc.) $_________


Do you know how much you’ll need for living expenses when you retire?

I know what my monthly essential expenses will be: $_________
I know what my monthly extra expenses will be: $_________


Do you have a contingency plan to take care of yourself and those you love if you can’t work as long as you intend to at your current position?

46% of retirees leave the workforce earlier than planned because of a hardship, such as a health problem or disability. Another 31% say they retired due to changes at their company.1  



How will you handle healthcare costs?

While it’s impossible to precisely predict out-of-pocket expenses, a retired couple can easily spend $10,000 a year above and beyond what’s covered by traditional Medicare.2

Long-term care insurance
Health Savings Account (HSA)


Are you planning to provide for others or do any charitable giving during your retirement or after you’re gone?

College fund for heirs
Gift to charitable organization(s)

Which essential documents do you have in place to ensure your wishes are carried out if something were to happen to you?

Living will
Power of attorney
Medical power of attorney
Ethical will
Personal property memorandum or disposal list
Organized records, including contact information for your attorney, wealth advisor, tax advisor, etc

Are you planning to
provide for others or do any charitable giving during your retirement or after you’re gone?

 College fund for children/grandchildren
 Leave an inheritance
 Gift to charitable organization(s


Have you communicated your wishes to the people responsible for carrying them out?  



What will you do with your time?

 Travel
 Work part time
 Volunteer
 Spend time with grandkids
 Master a hobby or start a new one
 Take classes or go back to school
 Keep doing activities I’m currently doing

Is there anything you’ve always wanted to do “if you had the time” or if money was no object?

Have you always wanted to own your own plane? Do you feel called to volunteer building housing in Rwanda? Did you miss your true calling of being a kindergarten teacher or university professor? Lawyer or social worker? Anything is possible with the right plan and support! ______________________________________________________


Who will you spend your time with?

 Current group of friends
 Plan to meet new friends
 Continue attending professional groups I’m involved with
 Join a new organization
 Time with family will keep me busy

1 2023 Retirement Confidence Survey, Employee Benefit Research Institute and Greenwald Research
2 Ready to Transition to Retirement, Raymond James, March 2019

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We're committed to providing you with valuable information and insights.

Your Plan Can Create Meaningful Outcomes In Your Life

Our team will analyze your income needs for today and tomorrow, then help you develop and implement a plan to help you achieve the life you’ve imagined in retirement.

Retirement Planning

Gain confidence with goal setting and monitoring, comparing scenarios to understand how factors impact your plan.

Estate & Charitable Planning

A basic understanding of estate planning can help you preserve your assets, take care of the people who are important to you, potentially reduce taxes, and avoid common mistakes.

Tax Planning Strategies

Keeping your tax liability to a minimum is an essential part of maintaining your Cornerstone financial plan.

Investment Management

Our advisors will help design a strategy that is clearly defined, matches your goals, and aligns with your risk preferences and lifestyle.

Risk Management / Insurance Planning

We use best financial practices, built on an industry-renowned framework, to help us understand YOUR acceptable levels of risk-and-reward with unparalleled accuracy.

Hear Directly From Our Team

Shelby Bierema Client Relationship Manager

I was immediately drawn to the team and atmosphere at Cornerstone. With my first step in the door, I felt accepted, seen, and valued. I am proud to be part of an organization that truly believes in placing people over profit.

Shelby Bierema, FPQP®                                      Manager of Client Relations

Andrew Ulvestad AAMS Wealth Advisor Financial Planner Sioux Falls, Huron, SD

It wasn’t about sales; it wasn’t about money. Cornerstone displayed a genuine love for their clients and I knew it was something I wanted to be a part of.

Andrew Ulvestad, AAMS®                                      Wealth Advisor

Hear Directly from Our Clients

“Gordon, you have built an outstanding organization, and have selected qualified professional employees to serve your clients. The hallmark to your success is dedication, honesty, integrity, trust and your personal faith. Your leadership has established for your clients a sense of pride and belonging to your organization. Pauline and I will always be grateful for what you have done for us during our retirement years. We are grateful to you for being our Financial Advisor and friend during the past 20 years.”


~Eldon and Pauline Nelson, Clients since 1999

The statement is a testimonial from current clients as of March 13, 2023, and may no longer be applicable or a client. No compensation was paid in exchange for the testimonial, it was not solicited by the advisor, and client consents to use of this testimonial in the advisor’s advertisements.

The testimonial is not representative of all client’s experience with the advisor, not based on performance, and not a guarantee of future performance or success. Investing involves risk and isn’t always profitable.

The advisors at Cornerstone Financial Solutions, Inc. provide an outstanding client experience and integrated, full-service financial planning in a family-like culture. The practice focuses on client education and coaching with frequent reviews to help ensure clients are on-track to realize their financial goals.

The unparalleled level of service is best suited for those with a minimum of $500,000.00 in investable assets, who want to work with a fiduciary specializing  in comprehensive financial planning.

The Cornerstone team has over 140 years of combined team experience and 30 years in business, and is backed by the power of Raymond James, one of the top financial institutions in the US.

Learn more about The Cornerstone Experience®.

5 Considerations for a Successful Social Security Strategy

5 Considerations for a Successful Social Security Strategy

Considerations for a Successful Social Security Strategy

When it comes to deciding when to claim your benefits and plan your Social Security strategy, there are several key factors to consider. These factors can greatly impact the amount of benefits you receive and your overall financial security in retirement. In this article, we will explore five essential elements that should be a part of your Social Security strategy: age, employment, marital status, taxes, and needs. Understanding how these factors come into play can help you make informed decisions about your Social Security benefits.

1. AGE

Age is crucial in your Social Security strategy. Your monthly benefit depends on lifetime earnings and when you claim. Early claims reduce payments while waiting until age 70 increases them with delayed retirement credits and cost-of-living adjustments. Full Retirement Age (FRA) varies by birth year and serves as the benchmark for receiving your full, unreduced benefit. Planning your Social Security strategy around your FRA can help you make informed decisions about when to claim benefits based on your individual circumstances and financial goals.


One of the most critical considerations when planning a Social Security strategy is the impact of working while claiming benefits. Understanding the earnings limitations is paramount; claiming benefits before reaching full retirement age (FRA) while earning above the limit can result in reduced Social Security payments, affecting your overall income. Moreover, working can influence your lifetime benefits, with the potential for both temporary reductions due to earnings limits and increases through delayed retirement credits if you continue to work past your FRA. Working while claiming Social Security benefits is a complex but crucial consideration when planning your retirement strategy. It requires a careful balance between income needs, tax considerations, and your long-term financial goals.


Marital status plays a pivotal role in planning for Social Security benefits, with significant differences in how benefits are calculated and accessed. Married individuals often have access to spousal and survivor benefits, which can bolster their combined retirement income. Coordinating when and how each spouse claims benefits becomes crucial to optimizing the household’s Social Security strategy. Conversely, single individuals have no spousal benefits to consider but may have more control over their claiming decisions. Divorced or widowed individuals also have unique considerations, as they can often claim benefits based on their ex-spouse’s or deceased spouse’s work record. Overall, understanding these distinctions in marital status is essential for tailoring a Social Security plan that aligns with your individual and family financial goals and needs in retirement.


Including tax considerations in your Social Security strategy makes a difference. Taxes can significantly impact your benefits, depending on your modified adjusted gross income (MAGI). This can potentially push you into a higher tax bracket. Careful planning is essential to minimize this tax burden, so be sure to assess the tax implications before claiming benefits. While taxes shouldn’t solely dictate your timing, understanding their impact on your after-tax retirement income is vital. Exploring strategies like early voluntary withdrawals from retirement accounts to manage tax thresholds can help align your Social Security strategy with your unique financial circumstances and goals.


Considering your financial needs is another key aspect of your Social Security strategy. To determine the right retirement timing, assess the cost of sustaining your desired lifestyle without full-time work. Calculate income from external earnings, Social Security, and investments to cover your expenses. Consider factors like inflation, emergency funds, healthcare costs, and long-term care provisions to ensure your financial plan is robust and adaptable to changing circumstances.


Find Support for Your Social Security Strategy

Jill Mollner, MBA, CFP®

Your Social Security strategy should be a well-thought-out plan that takes into account your age, employment, marital status, tax considerations, and financial needs. Each of these factors plays a significant role in determining the optimal time to claim your benefits and ultimately influence your financial well-being during retirement. Your financial advisor can help you thoughtfully evaluate your situation and determine a strategy to optimize your Social Security benefits. 

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Neither Raymond James Financial Services nor any Raymond James Financial Advisor renders advice on tax issues, these matters should be discussed with the appropriate professional.

Opinions expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Raymond James. All opinions are as of this date and are subject to change without notice. The information has been obtained from sources considered to be reliable, but we do not guarantee that the foregoing material is accurate or complete.