United Airline Layoffs. What to do if you are laid off.

United Airline Layoffs

 

Economic downturns often hit the airline industry harder than most. Once again, the airline industry has been grounded by the pandemic and the corresponding economic conditions. As such, layoffs are looming.  United Airlines announced it will be laying off thousands of employees, estimated to be 36,000 by October 1, 2020. Additionally, United Airlines said the jobs of more than 14,000 employees are at risk when federal aid expires in the spring of 2021. These layoffs could affect everyone from customer service employees, flight attendants, to pilots. Many other airliners may follow suit.

The fallout from 9/11 and the impact of the 2008 Financial Crisis took the airline industry roughly 2-3 years to recover. It is hard to say how long the coronavirus impact will last or how it will all turn out.

If you are worried you might be one of the airline employees to be laid off or already have been, there are many concerns you may have.  From how to pay bills, to how long will this last, to how to keep medical insurance and benefits… the list goes on.

 

What should I do if I am laid off?

 

We have put together some tips, ideas, and strategies to help you get through this tough situation. 

 

Covering your living expenses

 

Being able to cover your living is by far the most important question and concern.  There are a number of strategies to help navigate this and there are also some new provisions from the CARES ACT that can help if you are a United Airline employee who has had to face the layoffs. 

 

Your emergency fund

 

An emergency fund is a savings account or separate account that is set aside for when the unexpected happens, like being laid off.  We recommend that our clients have 3-6 months of their monthly expenses saved in this kind of account. The goal is to use this money to pay for your mortgage, food, etc.  It is designed to help you bridge the gap of unemployment to your next job or getting rehired when things recover.  

One often-overlooked task is once you are employed again to refill your emergency fund. This account can help you in a tough situation but be sure to replenish it to ensure it is there for the next time something unexpected comes up. 

If you do not have an emergency fund in place, read on for some other ideas that can help. 

 

Claiming unemployment

 

If you received a WARN, it is important to start planning ahead now. You can now qualify for weekly unemployment payments from the state in which you worked.  Many people fly out of a hub that is different from the state that they live in. When applying for unemployment, use the state that you work out of. Selecting reason for unemployment: “Coronavirus” can streamline the paperwork process. A quick Google search of your state and unemployment will land you on the right page. Look for “.gov” in the address. The CARES Act is adding $600 per week into unemployment checks but is set to end on July 31st. This may be extended as the impact of the virus continues. 

 

Mortgage Forbearance

 

Mortgage Forbearance means you can postpone your mortgage payment temporarily. For 180 days you can request a forbearance from your mortgage lender. If granted it means you will not have to pay your mortgage for about 6 months.  However, this is not mortgage forgiveness. You still owe the full amount and interest still accrues on the months you do not pay.  You will need to work out the details and repayment plan with your lender as each situation is different.  Per the CARES Act, no additional fees or penalties will be applied if you require forbearance.

 

Retirement Account Withdrawals

 

Taking a distribution or withdrawal from your 401(k) should be a last resort. The money in your 401(k) is meant for your retirement. However, with the intensity and impact of the United Airline layoffs caused by COVID-19, the CARES Act has set up many relief options.

Traditionally, you could not access your retirement account before the age of 59 1/2 without having to pay a 10% penalty and income tax.  The CARES Act has waived this 10% penalty.  Since all retirement accounts (Roths excluded) are funded with pre-tax dollars and the income tax is normally due in the year of a distribution. 

The CARES act has allowed distribution in 2020 up to $100,000 be taken out and the taxes are due over the next 3 years. For example, if you take out $90,000 from your retirement account, you will have to pay tax on $30,000 in 2020, $30,000 in 2021, and $30,000 in 2022. That is much better than having to pay all $90,000 in 2020. The money will come out of your account’s investments pro-rata, so if you have half your money in large-cap stocks and half in small-cap stocks, the money will be sold in them equally to fund the distribution.

Reach out to your 401(k) provider Charles Schwab or Fidelity for details.

 

401(k) Loan

 

Taking a loan from your 401(k) is not a good idea because you will be taxed on the distribution, and you will have to repay the loan. There could potentially be many more downsides to taking a loan rather than just distributing the money.  If you are furloughed or leave the plan, you will be subjected to a faster repayment schedule.

If you take out a loan, you will be taxed on the loan amount, plus you will have to use after-tax dollars to pay back the loan. In the grand scheme of things, once you repay the 401(k) loan, you will still be subjected to income tax when you take the money out when you retire. So you will be taxed TWICE on the money, instead of just at the distribution.

 

Miscellaneous Items

 

Many car manufacturers are offering payment deferrals during this time. If you are unable to make payments comfortably on your car, be sure to reach out to your car’s manufacturer finance department to discuss payment options. Many newer cars (2018 or newer) will have more generous payment options than older vehicles.

Also, a voluntary separation could be a good idea if you are close to retirement. The benefits of the United Airlines Retirement Health Account (RHA) can help you pay for medical insurance. 

 

What about my  Benefits if I am laid off??

 

United Airline layoffs are hard enough, luckily you can retain certain benefits. For instance, health insurance, RHA, and you’re retirement accounts can still provide you benefits.

 

Health Insurance

 

COBRA is a government bill that lets you keep your medical insurance with your company for up to 3 years. You will have the same coverage and plan, except you will have to pay 100% of the premium (plus a 2% premium for administration costs for a total of 102%) Look at your most recent pay stub to see how much you and your employer were paying for medical insurance.

 

Retirement Health Account

 

Your Retirement Health Account (RHA) is a unique account granted directly to United from a private letter ruling with the IRS. The RHA is used to pay for out-of-pocket medical expenses and health insurance premiums when retired, furloughed, or separated from service. The RHA can also be used to pay for your COBRA premiums. Click here for more details on how to use your RHA.

 

401(k) and Retirement Investments

 

There are some options you can choose to do with your 401(k) when you have faced a layoff.

  1. You can keep it with the company.  Nothing will change as you will have the same investment options and access.
  2. You can withdraw the money, as we mentioned above.  However, this is not the best action to take if it can be avoided.
  3. You can roll your money into an IRA.  There are no taxes on this move, and it can give you more investment options and control of your money.

Our preference is to roll your 401(k) over into an IRA so that you have better access to your account while avoiding the administration and investment fees from United, Fidelity, or Charles Schwab. We can build you a custom portfolio based on your needs and our custom investment research for a fee typically lower than your Fidelity and Charles Schwab 401(k) options.

Our expertise is working with pilots and aircrew in providing them the best investments through our relationship with Charles Schwab. Leveraging our partnership with Charles Schwab we can build you a custom portfolio in your PCRA.

 

What’s Next?

 

We can help you navigate one of the most difficult times the airline industry has ever faced, and that is really saying a lot! We work with many pilots, crew members, and their families and help them prepare for a successful retirement and reach their financial and life goals.

Bonfire Financial is a fiduciary, fee-only,  financial advisor.  We have a staff of Certified Financial Planners™ that specialize in helping United Airline Employees and Pilots.

As a United Airline or major airline employee, we would like to offer you a free consultation to help answer any questions you may have and help you get a game plan in place. Scheduled your call now. 

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4 Reasons to Hire a CFP ®

4 Reasons to Hire a CFP ®

 

Managing your finances can be difficult and time-consuming. However, finding someone to handle your finances can be just as challenging. Want a tip to make it easier? Hire A CFP ®.

People often ask us what is a CFP ®, how are they different from other financial advisors, and the reasons to hire a CFP ®. We are going to be breaking all that down for you today.

 

What Is a CFP® Professional?

 

First, it’s more than just an acronym. Unlike some designations that are worth little more than the paper they’re printed on, the CFP ® (CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™) designation is one of the most esteemed financial certificates around.  Each CFP ® is held to an extremely high standard and requires an immense amount of work. Typically nine months to two years of study.

In the US there are only 81,109 CFPs ® and only 2,274 in the state of Colorado, according to the CFP® Board professional demographics.  The exam itself is a grueling 7-hour test that assesses the financial advisor’s ability to apply principles of financial planning. It covers all areas of insurance, investments, income taxes, retirement, estate planning, ethics and conduct, and financial plan development, among many other skills.

Beyond the test, there is so much more that goes into the certification. We have condensed it down to the top 4 Reasons to Hire a CFP®.

 

4 Reasons to Hire a CFP ®

 

  1. Fiduciary Standard
  2. Ethics Code:
  3. Fitness Standards:
  4. Experienced Life-Long Learners

 

1. Fiduciary Standard:

Currently, the SEC has NO uniform fiduciary standard that applies to all financial professionals who provide personalized investment advice. This means there is no oversight to protect consumers and clients from paying excessive commissions or receiving substandard performance. Consumers are exposed to even greater and unnecessary risks from products that may be deemed suitable (more on that here) for them but are inferior to other available options and not necessarily in their best interests.

The CFP ® Board has a Code and Fiduciary Standards that require CFP ® professionals to act in the best interest of the client at all times when providing financial advice. So, as a CFP ®, we have a legal requirement to act in your best interest, all the time. In addition to this standard, Bonfire Financial is also a Registered Investment Advisor which furthers this obligation.

 

2. Ethics Code:

All CFP ® practitioners agree to abide by a strict code of professional conduct, known as CFP ® Board’s Code of Ethics and Professional Responsibility, that sets forth ethical responsibilities to the public and clients. This ensures we act with honesty, integrity, competence, diligence, and offer services objectively.

It’s a pledge to protect the confidentiality of all client information, avoid or disclose and manage conflicts of interest and always act in the client’s best interests.

 

3. Fitness Standards:

Further, the CFP ® Board has also established specific character and fitness standards for the CFP ® certification. This ensures that an individual’s prior conduct would not reflect adversely upon the profession or the CFP ® certification marks. This helps you know that if you hire a CFP ® you won’t find out later that they have:

    • A felony conviction for theft, embezzlement, or other financially-based crimes.
    • A felony conviction for tax fraud or other tax-related crimes.
    • Revocation of a financial license (e.g. registered securities representative, broker/dealer, insurance, investment advisor).
    • A felony conviction for any degree of murder or rape.
    • A conviction for any other violent crime within the last five years.
    • A felony conviction for non-violent crimes (including perjury) within the last five years.
    • Personal or business bankruptcies.

 

4. Experienced Life-Long Learners:

CFP ® professionals are required to complete 3 years of experience related to delivering financial planning services to clients. They also must have a bachelor’s degree prior to earning the right to be a CFP ®. This real-life experience means that CFP ® professionals have practical financial planning knowledge. They can truly help you create a realistic financial plan that fits your individual needs.

Once certified, CFP ® professionals are required to maintain technical competence and fulfill ethical obligations. Every two years, they must complete a minimum of 30 hours of continuing education to stay current with developments in the financial planning profession and better serve clients.

Need more reasons to hire a CFP ®? We’d love to answer any other questions on what it means to have a CFP ® working for you, feel free to contact us.

At Bonfire Financial we pride ourselves on having a team of CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNERs™.

 

4 Reasons to Hire a CFP

 

How do Financial Advisors Get Paid?

HOW DO FINANCIAL ADVISORS GET PAID?

 

Do you ever wonder how financial advisors get paid? If so you are not alone. It has been estimated that more than one in five people who have a financial advisor does not know what they are paying in advisory fees. You don’t hire a plumber or join a gym without knowing the cost. So why be in the dark about the cost of a financial advisor?

It should be simple enough…sadly, it’s not really straightforward. Understanding the compensation for financial advisors is often puzzling. It’s a perpetual source of confusion, so we are here to break it down.

Let’s first look at 3 different types of advisors you could choose to work with.

 

3 Types of Financial Advisors:

 

  1. A broker or broker-dealer
  2. Hybrid or dually registered advisor
  3. Register investment advisor

 

Broker or Broker Dealer:

 

First, if an advisor is a broker, which the majority of advisors are, they receive a commission based on the products that they sell and the investments they recommend.

The commission can be upfront (when you buy), it can be on the back end (when you sell), or it can be trailing (they get paid a portion annually).  The problem is that with most of them you “should” read the prospectus (the gigantic legal document you get when you buy or get sold a product and throw away when it arrives in the mail) to find out what you are really paying.

Moreover, there is an even bigger problem with brokers which has to do with what is in your best interest.  They only follow the “suitability” standard. This says the product or recommendation only needs to be “suitable” for the client. This suitability standard is established by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) a private nongovernmental organization.

The suitability standard is problematic.

For instance, a broker could recommend a Mutual Fund that is ten times more expensive to own than a comparable Exchange Trade Fund, and that is acceptable because it’s “suitable” for the investor.  This obviously raises questions as to why a broker would prefer one investment over the other.

Many brokers push annuities as they are notorious for heavy hidden commissions, but keep in mind any investment could carry a commission. Mutual funds can carry sales loads up to 8.5% and brokers may take 1 to 2% off of a bond’s value for themselves. Think of it as a kickback.

To us, this is a huge conflict of interest and why Bonfire Financial is not a broker.

 

Dually registered or a hybrid advisor:

 

Next, let’s look at advisors that are dually registered or hybrid advisor.  There are some nuances between to a hybrid/dual-registered advisor. For the purposes of this discussion let’s focus on the fact that they are registered investment advisors AND licensed through FINRA (again, a private corporation that acts as a self-regulatory organization).

While that sounds good on the surface there are issues with this format.  As a registered investment advisor, they act as fiduciaries and do what is in the best interest of the clients. Great news, but they are also filing with FINRA to sell products as a broker. What? Yes, they can sell investment products and collect a commission.

These advisors can wear two hats with the same client. Not a good look.   They can have accounts which they are acting as fiduciaries on and then have another account with the same client in which they act as brokers and only follow the suitably standard.

In a recent research paper published by Nicole Boyson, professor of finance at Northeastern University, The Worst of Both Worlds? Dual-Registered Investment Advisers, she finds dual registrants “have numerous conflicts of interest.” These include cross-selling insurance products, revenue sharing with third-party mutual fund companies, and selling proprietary investment products. She also found dual registrants charge an average of 2.1% on assets under management. This is much higher than the 1% fee most registered investment advisers collect. On top of that, they are more likely to be the subject of disciplinary actions by securities regulators.

How can someone be a fiduciary to a client but not on all their accounts or money?  I am still scratching my head on this one.  In my opinion, a client would never really know if the recommendations were in their best interest or not! This model was a pass for Bonfire.

 

Registered Investment Advisor:

 

Finally, there is the Registered Investment Advisor (RIA). These advisors have a legal obligation to act as fiduciaries.  Meaning that they have to act in your best interest at all times. They also must register with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). The SEC is a governmental agency responsible for protecting investors.

Further, a Registered Investment Advisor must explain upfront how they receive compensation. Fees range but generally average somewhere between 1-2% of the total value of the investments under management. An RIA must disclose any conflicts of interest.  RIAs usually earn their revenue through a management fee comprised of a percentage of assets held for a client. However, the most important thing to know about RIAs is that they must act as fiduciaries for their clients.

Unfortunately, few advisors that are acting full-time in this capacity, less than 13,000 total in the US, surprising, right?

 

Fee-Only Vs. Fee-Based

 

Another thing to consider in determining how financial advisors are paid is whether they are Fee-Only or Fee-Based. While the term Fee-Based may sound very similar to Fee-Only, there are important distinctions.

The Fee-Based model can be susceptible to the same conflicts of interest that the commission structure has. There are many advisors who are mostly fee-based and the majority of their revenues come from fees, yet they can offer you a mutual fund or an investment that normally has a commission, and a conflict.

Fee-Only advisors don’t sell products, don’t accept commissions and they operate as true fiduciaries. Fee-only advisors work for their clients and clients pay an hourly rate, a fixed annual retainer or a percentage of the investment assets.

 

In conclusion:

 

I have always strived to be upfront and honest with people and my clients.  At a young age, I started my career at a big wire-house and believed I was a fiduciary for my clients and that I could act in their best interest.  However, the more I was learning, the more I began to realize the cards were against me. Decisions made at the top made it difficult to truly act in the manner of a fiduciary.  I was a vegan in a butcher shop, a sheep in wolf’s clothing.

So, I made a switch and I started Bonfire Financial, a Fee-Only Registered Investment Advisor.  Now my core values are in line with the company I am with and I can be a true fiduciary all the time.

If you have any other questions on how Financial Advisors get paid, or if you are curious what category your advisor falls in, feel free to give us a call. 

Why Bonfire Financial?

The story behind the name.

 

A BONFIRE IS A FIRE OF CELEBRATION.

As I look back on my life some of the best memories and conversations have happened sitting around the fire.  I have been pumped up at a homecoming bonfire. Inspired by having deep conversations with friends about the future around the fire. I have felt close to my family on camping trips roasting marshmallows on the fire, and I have felt at peace sitting at a fire and staring at the stars.  Fire is life and all of these are moments are cherished.

 

Life is meant to be experienced.

 

That sounds good an all but I am a financial advisor and what does that have to do with financial advising?

I say everything!  Or at least it should.  Money is a vehicle to those experiences and the time to enjoy those moments.  The more money you have, the more experiences you can afford to have with your family and friends. You can give more to the causes you care about. The more peace of mind you can have.

 

I wanted to create a company that focused on that outcome, not just dollar figures.

 

Everyone has different goals and dreams and how they want to spend their life. What Bonfire Financial does is focuses on those and comes up with solutions to meet them as efficiently and as quickly as possible. My hope is that our clients will enjoy even more moments sitting around the proverbial bonfire celebrating their lives.

In the many years I have spent in the financial industry I have seen that most financial companies only focus on the bottom line. They priorities their shareholders’ value.  This means that the decisions made about the company are not necessarily about how to add more value to the client. They are often about how to improve the share price.  A good share price is nice but it comes at the expense of the client, and the employees of the company.

 

So why is Bonfire Financial different?

 

We created Bonfire Financial as a fee only registered investment advisory firm (RIA) so that we could be true fiduciaries to our clients. Further, all of our advisors are CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNERs™  As such, we must do what’s in the best interest of our clients at all times.  In effect, putting our client first, which is where we think they should be. We have a belief that if we add more value to our clients than anyone else, not only will they be happy, the company will thrive.

So, as a constant reminder of these philosophies we came up with a name that reminds us to focus on the client’s outcome everyday so that hopefully soon we will all be sitting around the fire celebrating!

All the best,

Brian

President & CEO | Bonfire Financial

 

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