Buttonwood Financial – New Year Update!

January
19

Written by: Jon McGraw

As I look back on 2012, it has been an exciting year for Buttonwood Financial Group and we are grateful you have been a part of our Buttonwood Family!  In 2012 we celebrated our 10-year anniversary with a number of enhancements to our “Family CFO” suite of services.  Many of these additions came directly from your requests, and tied in perfectly with our role as your Family CFO: Assisting you to organize and simplify your financial life.

As we begin a new year, I wanted to provide a summary of some of our 2012 enhancements as well as a look forward at a few of the offerings you will see in 2013.

While preparing for many of these expanded services, in 2011 we increased our ‘disclosure suite’ of documents to include disclosures for Accountants, Attorneys, Insurance and Mortgage providers. As we met with you in 2011 we had these documents signed which allowed us to simplify and streamline many of the communication bottlenecks you experienced. With this foundation in place we went to work:

  • Starting in January 2012, we began a new service of annual delivery of realized gain /loss spreadsheets to you and your CPA.  Our goal was to get a head start on the tax season and it worked wonderfully. We had great feedback from CPAs and many families reported decreased tax bills for the year as accountants were able to simply import data from Excel files directly to their accounting software.
  • Following in March / April we expanded to all of our clients’ CPAs our 1099 delivery services.  In years past, we had delivered 1099 summaries to you for future delivery to your CPA.  In 2012, our goal was to deliver directly to CPAs, helping to simplify and reduce the possibility for misplaced documents.
  • In May we worked with the tech team driving Buttonwood Wealth Management Solution (BWMS) to launch a new version of the BWMS website.  We regularly hear about the complexity of trying to track exactly where all those hard-earned dollars go.  As such, our goal was to greatly enhance the Cash Flow management and budgeting tools available for you.  We did and have heard nothing but positive feedback from those of you who are using the “Spending” and “Budget” tabs in BWMS.   
  • Also in May we launched “BWMS Mobile.”  Your mobile access, in addition to making it easy to deposit checks with a quick picture, also makes it easy to view your account details, monitor cash flow, track progress toward goals and view important documents located in your BWMS vault. If you haven’t been an active user, contact us to help you get started.
  • In June we rolled out our new streamlined website – a multi-month development project. Again, we heard nothing but positive feedback.  If you don’t visit regularly you are missing out. The site includes:
    • A simplified “Client Access” link to some of our most used tools: Web Meeting portal, Buttonwood Wealth Management Solution (BWMS) and Schwab access.
    • A dedicated “Resources” page where you can find our latest Quarterly Newsletters
    • Streamlined Quarterly Report delivery directly to your BWMS Vault
    • An updated series of our “Focus of the Month” articles with corresponding in-depth information.  This core research information is stored in a “resource library” and became available in late 2012.
  • During our annual July “Service Strategy” retreat, we took your feedback for more communication and made the decision to officially join the world of Social Networking.  As such we revamped our various social pages with updated pages on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter.  Kathy is leading our Social strategy and she, along with myself, are regularly updating our social sites with the latest event information, tweeting at least weekly with articles tying to our specific monthly themes, and regularly making introductions. If you are active in the world of Social Networking please “Friend” us on Facebook, “Follow” us on Twitter, or “Connect” with us on LinkedIn.
  • Our retreat also brought forth an increased focus on our “Art of Finance” (AOF) series – a fun and friendly educational series designed to allow you to not only expand your knowledge in specific areas but allow you to introduce the Buttonwood Team to those you believe would benefit from our “Family CFO” services. In 2012 we hosted three AOF events, six “First Friday: Buttonwood Art Space” events and six “Third Friday: Art at the Club” events. In 2013 will we bring back our American Royal Hunter / Jumper Grand Prix dinner event and we are working on a few others!
  • In September we coordinated with Schwab Technology to rollout several new technology enhancements for you.  Our goal was to leverage technology to simplify your life as well as ours. One of these advancements was to include Buttonwood assets on the Schwab apps for iPad, iPhone, Android, and Kindle Fire. We also adopted the Schwab Mobile Deposit program: Rather than having to mail in checks for deposit, you can now use the Schwab Mobile app to take a picture of a check for deposit.
  • Throughout 2012 we made a concerted effort have direct interaction with more than 95% of CPA, Attorney, Mortgage and Insurance providers our Families are working with.  Our goal: to continue to maintain and update our “Trusted Network”: a short list of “the best of the best” of these providers we know, feel comfortable working with and introducing to others.  In 2013, Frank has plans to continue to expand the Network to include other service providers… so if you have a great service provider you would like us to consider for inclusion to our Trusted Network please let us know!
  • Always on the lookout for ways to minimize IRS penalties, Bill has been busy throughout the quarter managing our proactive “Required Minimum Distribution” (RMD) service for families with members over 70 1/2 who are subject to RMD requirements.  Our goal is to make sure none of our Buttonwood Families are caught with the 50% tax penalty for missing a RMD.

And we are already hard at work on projects to bring additional value in 2013!  Some of the more high profile projects you will see in 2013 include:

  • A new “Quarterly Performance Report” with expanded performance reporting for assets held at multiple custodians. Frank has spent the last couple of months compiling your requests and developing this new report.  You will see additional visual charts and graphs to highlight those items you have requested, while at the same time Frank has tried to remove some of the unwanted ‘noise’ from the reports.   
    • Of course our new reports will continue to provide investment performance for assets at core custodians (i.e.: Schwab). However, we will also be able to provide performance reports for assets held in almost every 529 Education plan, 401(k), Pension, 457 – Deferred Comp, 403(b), and Stock Option plan in the country. Our back office team, led by Vince and Frank, has spent countless hours developing the software and “connecting” each of these accounts to our performance report software. 
    • We also realize insurance-centered investments play an important role for many of you, and this fact wasn’t lost as Frank was designing 2013 reports.  Our new report will include a page dedicated to tracking and reporting for almost every variable insurance strategy possible. 
  • Also in Q1 2013 we will also be extending our “Buttonwood Quarterly Estimated Tax Payment” services to all Buttonwood Families.  We find most Buttonwood Families have no problem remembering the April 15 Q1 estimates. Generally Q2 in June isn’t a problem, but we have found Q3 and Q4 are often the most common “oops” quarters for Families missing payments. We aren’t a fan of IRS collecting interest and penalties so we worked with Schwab and the IRS to streamline our “Buttonwood Quarterly Estimated Tax Payment Service.”  As this program came together, Buttonwood ended up as a direct participant in the IRS Electronic Federal Tax Payment System (EFTPS).

Each year we make it a priority to continue to bring additional value-added services to you.  Over the last 10 years we have been able to do this without adding additional costs.  This track record holds true for all the enhancements we have discussed in this upate!

In spite of all the political noise we endured over the Holiday Season I truly believe we are living in one of the best times to be alive on our little blue planet Earth!  I know I speak for the entire Buttonwood Team when I say “Thank you!” for your continued business and the opportunity to serve as your “Family CFO!”

With optimism,

Jon McGraw