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 Commitment 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

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

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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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. 

Contact our office for further guidance and insights.

Call 605-357-8553 or email

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.

Five New Opportunities for Tax-Free Growth and Withdrawals

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 updates. As always, give us a call if you’d like to discuss!

Twenty-five years ago, Roth IRAs first became available, offering the promise of tax-free earnings and withdrawals. Since then, Roth options have exploded. Employer plans can now offer Roth options and income limits on Roth conversions are long gone. The recently enacted SECURE 2.0 has made it clear that the trend toward more Roth accounts becoming available for retirement savings is accelerating. Roth-O-Mania has arrived!

Here are five new Roth savings opportunities introduced by SECURE 2.0:

  1. Roth Employer Plan Contributions

Most 401(k) (and other workplace retirement savings plans) provide for employer contributions. These contributions are either matching contributions for participants who make salary deferrals, or across-the-board nonelective contributions for all eligible participants.

Until now, employer contributions, including matches on Roth salary deferrals, have been required to be made to a pre-tax account within the plan. However, beginning in 2023, SECURE 2.0 allows for employer contributions to be made to Roth accounts.

Roth employer contributions are allowed in 401(k), 403(b) and governmental 457(b) plans. SECURE 2.0 makes clear that employers are not required to make their contributions on a Roth basis. It is optional, not mandatory. SECURE 2.0 also provides that only vested matching or nonelective contributions can qualify for Roth treatment. For tax purposes, Roth employer contributions will be treated the same as Roth employee contributions. That is, employees will be taxed on the amount of the Roth contribution.

Roth employer contributions are allowed in 401(k), 403(b) and governmental 457(b) 


  1. Roth SEPs and SIMPLEs

Many small business owners offer SEP or SIMPLE IRA plans for their employees. SEP IRAs provide only employer contributions. SIMPLE IRAs provide both employer contributions and employee contributions. Employers with SEP or SIMPLE plans have always been required to make contributions on a pre-tax basis. However, beginning in 2023, SECURE 2.0 permits both SIMPLE and SEP Roth IRA contributions.

Employees can now make SIMPLE Roth IRA salary deferrals similarly to the way participants in an employer plan can make Roth contributions (if the plan allows). SIMPLE Roth contributions made by employees are includible in taxable income for the year of the contribution.

SEP and SIMPLE Roth employer contributions may also be offered. If the Roth option is offered, employees can choose to treat employer SEP and SIMPLE contributions as Roth.


  1. No Lifetime RMDs for Roth Plans

Beginning in 2024, SECURE 2.0 eliminates the need to take lifetime required minimum distributions (RMDs) on Roth plan dollars. This brings Roth plan RMD rules more in line with Roth IRA RMD rules.

Participants in workplace plans — like a 401(k) or 403(b) — will no longer have to factor their Roth plan dollars into their lifetime RMD calculation. This could result in a significant reduction in the plan RMD from 2023 to 2024.

Additionally, plan participants will no longer be forced to roll over Roth plan dollars to a Roth IRA to avoid taking an RMD on those Roth assets. Does this mean that rolling a plan to a Roth IRA is no longer a good option? Not necessarily. Rolling over the funds to a Roth IRA may still be the best choice due to a multitude of other factors – such as more favorable Roth IRA distribution ordering rules, investment options, easier access, etc.

Roth plan participants will join Roth IRA owners in not being subject to lifetime RMDs. However, beneficiaries of a Roth plan, like Roth IRA beneficiaries, are subject to the RMD rules. With either a Roth plan account or a Roth IRA, any distribution to a beneficiary will likely be income tax free. However, after the SECURE Act, most non-spouse beneficiaries will be subject to the 10-year rule that requires the inherited Roth funds to be fully withdrawn by the end of the 10th year after death.


  1. Rollovers from 529 Plans to Roth IRAs

SECURE 2.0 allows rollovers from 529 plans to Roth IRAs beginning in 2024. For those who have concerns about what to do with funds “left over” in a 529 plan, this may be a good opportunity. Leftover 529 funds can now be rolled over to a Roth IRA in the name of the 529 beneficiary.

These rollovers from 529 plans to Roth IRAs would not be subject to the income restrictions that normally apply to Roth IRA contributions. However, there are many restrictions. The 529 plan must have been in place for at least 15 years. Rollover amounts cannot include any 529 contributions (and earnings on those contributions) made in the preceding five-year period. Annual rollovers cannot exceed the annual Roth IRA contribution limit, and total lifetime rollovers cannot exceed $35,000.


  1. Required Roth Catch-Up Contributions

Beginning in 2024, SECURE 2.0 requires any age 50-and-older catch-up contributions made to 401(k), 403(b) or 457(b) plans by certain higher-paid participants to be made as Roth contributions. This includes a participant whose wages received from the plan sponsor for the preceding calendar year exceeded $145,000 (as indexed). Individuals who are not in this group can choose to make catch-up contributions as Roth contributions (if the plan allows) but are not required to do so. 

The Future is Roth

In the past several years, we have seen several legislative proposals put forward that would have limited the availability of Roth accounts. For example, there were proposals to do away with back-door Roth conversions and proposals that would have added income limits for Roth conversions.

None of these proposals that would have cut back on Roth accounts found their way into SECURE 2.0. The reason is clear: Congress is desperate for revenue, and Roth accounts raise immediate tax dollars. In fact, four of the five new Roth rule changes discussed in this article can be found in “Title VI — Revenue Provisions” in the SECURE 2.0 law. Roth-O-Mania is likely here to stay, and with it comes more opportunities for tax-free growth and withdrawals for savvy retirement savers.

Gordon Wollman and Ed Slott

Gordon Wollman, Founder and President of Cornerstone Financial Solutions, and Raymond James Wealth Advisor, with Ed Slott at the 2023 Spring workshop for members of Ed Slott’s Elite and Master Elite IRA Advisor Group℠.

Membership in Ed Slott’s Elite IRA Advisor Group(T)  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. ACKNOWLEDGMENT: This article was published by Ed Slott and Company, LLC, an organization providing timely IRA information and analysis to financial advisors, institutions, consumers, and media across the country and is distributed with its permission. Copyright 2023, Ed Slott and Company, LLC. Raymond James is not affiliated with and does not endorse the opinions or services of Ed Slott or Ed Slott and Company, LLC.

 Raymond James is not affiliated with and does not endorse the opinions or services of ED Slott, Ed Slott and Company, LLC, IRA Help, LLC, or Ed Slott’s Master Elite IRA Advisor Group. Members of Ed Slott’s Elite IRA Advisor GroupSM train with Ed Slott and his team of IRA Experts on a continuous basis. These advisors passed a background check, complete requisite training, attend semiannual workshops, webinars, and complete mandatory exams. They are immediately notified of changes to the tax laws.

The Impact of Financial Planning

How can effective financial planning impact you?

Be more prepared for the short-term and long-term future.

Financial planning services help you actively work toward your goals, whether you’re looking at the next year or the rest of your life.

Depending on the financial advisor you work with, you might have access to any or all of these wealth management services—investment management, risk management, retirement planning, estate planning, and tax planning services. We offer all five at Cornerstone Financial, and each of these services plays an important part in managing your current financial state and preparing for what’s next in life.

Your financial advisor will work closely with you to help set up a college fund for your grandkids and to celebrate with you when you finally buy that boat for summers on the lake. When you feel confident in your financial planning, you can dream bigger — for today and for tomorrow.


Save time.

Making sense of your financial situation on your own is time-consuming, and your time is valuable. Fortunately, you can still enjoy the benefits of strong financial planning while still making the most of your time.

Instead of spending hours researching and organizing resources to try to inform your financial decisions, you can turn to a financial advisor. These experts are more than happy to help simplify financial planning and work with you to reach your goals. That’s their job. Your advisor will help make the process more efficient for you, using their experience and expertise to keep you informed and involved throughout the process.

Let your financial advisor do what they do best so you can spend more time on the things that matter most to you.


Make informed decisions with personalized financial planning advice.

Your financial advisor is there for you as a guide and resource. They get to know you, including your circumstances, goals, and risk tolerance. No two people have exactly the same financial situation, and your advisor takes that into account.

Building up a relationship and trust with you will help them provide the best service possible for your unique situation. When you have questions about an investment strategy, need some assistance navigating the financial implications of a life change, or have other concerns about your finances, your advisor has the expertise you need and the relevant context to help guide you on your financial planning journey.


Enjoy peace of mind.

Financial planning doesn’t have to keep you up at night. When you let a financial advisor lend you their expertise and service, you can make choices that help you meet your needs, achieve your goals, and prepare for what comes next in life.

With an expert on your side to take care of the details and help you make the big decisions; your financial future feels brighter.

 Ready to make a positive impact on your financial planning journey?

Contact our office at 605-357-8553 or email

5 Tips When Planning For Uncertainty

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



That’s been the topic of many a news story in the past year. But economists have varying opinions on whether we are, based on the technical definition of a recession.

Investopedia notes that a recession happens when the economy stops growing and begins to contract.1 And NerdWallet says that it’s generally two consecutive quarters of a slowing economic activity.2

But despite historic inflation in the past year, and several interest rate increases by the Federal reserve, due to the strong labor market over the past year (though that is starting to slow down), we still technically aren’t in a recession. Some economists say we are headed for a soft landing, which happens when economic growth slows, but doesn’t decline. Other economists say we are in a rolling recession.

Forbes reports that a rolling recession is one that doesn’t have the same impact on the entire economy, but rather it affects different market sectors at different times.3 Some sectors might be spared altogether.

The Conference Board predicts that we may soon be in a recession. They predict we will have three quarters of negative economic growth starting in the first quarter of 2023 but predict the downturn will be mild and brief. The good news is they also predict a rebound in 2024.4

But the definition of what’s happening isn’t as important as the fact that we are here to help you navigate it.


Whether it’s a rolling recession or the type of recession that hits the entire economy all at once, there are steps we can take to prepare.

The good news is we’ve already begun taking those steps together. We’ve talked about it and planned for it in case it happens. But it’s always a good idea to have a refresher on some of the basics:5

  • Stock your emergency fund. Get your budget in order and figure out what you spend per month so that way you can put enough away in your emergency fund to cover three to six months’ worth of expenses.
  • Focus on paying down debt. We can discuss whether it would be best for you to pay down high-interest debt or tackle the smaller balances first, but either way, prioritize paying down your debt.
  • Reevaluate your expenditures. See where you can get creative with saving. We can explore this together, but take time to look at your insurance policies, utilities, and other cell phone bills to see if you can save in any area.
  • Refresh your resume. If you are still in the workforce, it’s always a good idea to refresh your resume and get it professionally edited. Layoffs have been impacting thousands of workers since late last year and Investopedia reports that no sector is safe. It’s just best to be prepared.6

We can’t predict what’s going to happen in the future, but we can prepare for various outcomes. If you’re feeling fearful or want to talk to us about any of this, give us a call and let’s work on our plan.




If you have questions about your financial plan please contact us today to schedule a complimentary, no obligation review with one of our advisors. Call 605.357.8553 or email