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The Modern CFO

Don ChamberlinThe plight of the modern CFO is having to be more than their job title. As times change, so too must the face of business. With hundreds of companies around the world, each vying for the biggest slice of pie, it behooves the modern CFO to fold multiple skills into their portfolio. Rising above their station, CFO’s are tasked with more than ever before. What are some elements that make for a competent and modern CFO? Below is a short list of qualities that companies are looking for in their Chief Financial Officers.

Business Acumen: It goes without saying that to venture into the world of business demands an understanding of the terrain. A CFO’s job was once to just understand the financial side of the company they served, but now it has grown to something more all-encompassing. You cannot effectively lead a portion of the company without understanding how the whole will function as a result, so CFO’s must be able to see the bigger picture beyond their spreadsheets.

Flexibility: Now more than ever, CFO’s are being called to work with non-financial aspects of their companies. Most often paired with human resources, a modern CFO must be willing to adapt to a change in roles and involvement. As head of finance, the company relies on a CFO like a body relies on a heart. Without one, the other ceases to be.

Communication: A necessary skill branching off of the above two, communication is a vital skill in any workplace. However, as a CFO, you are tasked with translating your meticulously gathered financial data to the rest of your company. While your vernacular will clearly be suited for the task, being able to translate that information into bite-sized portions for the rest of the company requires the ability to communicate.

Financial Planning: When Dad Isn’t the Greatest Financial Role Model

The following article, written by st. louis based financial planner and founder of the chamberlin group, don chamberlin, was originally published on money.com on october 6th, 2015:

Sometimes the best money lessons come when you learn from someone else’s mistakes.

Financial Planning When Dad Isn’t the Greatest Financial Role Model

The bond between a father and son can be special. Fathers pass family traditions down with the idea that their son will maintain the legacy. However, if the family tradition is poor financial practices, it’s my job as a financial planner to step in and put a stop to those bad habits.

Some time ago, after a client’s father passed away, the client asked me to help make sense of his father’s assets. The father left his son with what he thought was a well-thought-out legacy, but a few elements of it ended up leaving the son extremely confused.

Reviewing the father’s assets, I realized he was a perpetual investor in certificates of deposit. The son explained that his dad would go online to find the state that offered the best interest rates, and he would open an account with a bank there and invest in a CD.

While this may have seemed like a smart strategy, the father didn’t keep accurate records of each of his accounts.

In fact, the son couldn’t even figure out how many CD accounts his father had opened up; he only learned about each of them as he received his father’s statements in the mail. To make the son’s life easier, I advised him to keep the estate open for at least a full year, while these surprise statements trickled in.

The father also had the foresight to establish a trust to hold the CDs, but he didn’t properly title all his assets. So two of the 12 CDs he turned out to have owned at his death had to go through the probate process.

Ultimately, much of the savings and earned interest in the father’s rate-hunting portfolio was wiped out by his estate planning mistakes. The legal fees associated with probate ate into the the two incorrectly titled accounts. So much for avoiding probate.

An Organized Legacy

Despite seeing his father’s mistakes, the son wasn’t sure how he could do it better. As a father himself, he wanted to ensure his family wouldn’t go through the same difficult experience in the future, so he came to me later for help.

I advised him to open his own trust to pass all his assets to his children outside of probate, and I made sure he worked with an attorney who could advise him how to title his family’s assets correctly. Then I helped create organized records in a “Family Estate Organizer” binder that compiled important legal, financial, and other estate planning information–everything from account statements to a personal belongings inventory.

We also prepared for his wife documentation on what to do in the event of his death. This “Survivor’s Checklist” gives family members guidance on the various steps of settling an estate. It’s particular helpful for surviving spouses or beneficiaries who have not been involved in deceased’s finances.

This was a crucial step for not just the son, but for his family legacy as well. He wanted to ensure he would leave his own family with a well-organized, easy-to-manage inheritance, and the binder provided just that. It allowed him to sleep better at night knowing his family could easily step in to manage the assets should the need arise.

As a financial planner, I understand a well-thought-out estate plan is a critical part of a holistic retirement plan. But I don’t think I realized how foreign this concept might be for some people until I met this client. I have since come to realize that some of the most valuable advice I have given clients is also the simplest: get organized and stay organized.

So share your plans with your loved ones and seek the assistance of a holistic adviser. You can even make it a family affair. Take the time to document your assets, then sit down with your loved ones so they can understand what you own, how it’s titled and what needs to happen as major life events take place. It will be time well spent and money well saved.

For the original Money.com article, please click here. To contact Don Chamberlin and The Chamberlin Group visit their website here.

Don Chamberlin Debunks 4 Social Security Myths

Although we live in an age where information is often readily available, we still require some expert guidance when it comes to certain topics. Personal finance, in this case preparing for retirement, is an example of one of those areas where it is hard to obtain the right, trustworthy information with ease. If you are thinking about retirement, whether it will be happening soon or many years down the line, you are most likely planning out those years around the idea of social security benefits.

If so, there are 4 myths that come up often when people discuss social security benefits that you should be aware of. Financial planner Don Chamberlin, as the CEO and Founder of The Chamberlin Group, has appeared on Fox 2 Now (KTVI) in St. Louis, MO to set the record straight:

1. 65 is the “Full Retirement Age”

As Don Chamberlin explains in the video below, the full retirement age (FRA) actually depends on the year in which the individual was born. In fact, you can start claiming at any time between 62 and 70. At 62 you can start claiming at a discounted rate but the longer that you put off claiming your benefits, the more money you will get. Don points out that many times, people miss out on thousands of dollars that they could have received in all had they just put off claiming for longer. As for the FRA, for those people retiring soon it is likely to be 66 but if you were born after 1960, it will be 67.

2. It is easy to decide your claiming strategy

It is important to decide on your claiming strategy but it is not exactly easy. The number of claiming strategies that are available to you depend on whether you are single or married, and that can make a huge difference. If you are single, you have 9 different strategies as options. However, if you are married you suddenly have 81 different claiming strategies. This is one of the many reasons why it is important to dedicate time to plan out your retirement. Choosing the worst strategy for yourself or for yourself and your spouse can mean losing out on tens of thousands of dollars down the line.

3. Those who claim Social Security benefits don’t have to pay taxes

Just because you are retired and claiming your Social Security benefits does not mean that you do not have to pay taxes. In fact, Social Security benefits can be taxed up to 85% – that can really put a dent in certain plans post retirement. When preparing to retire, you should evaluate your Social Security benefits with the goal of minimizing tax liabilities as you should do with any source of retirement income.

4. One can live comfortably on Social Security benefits

This claim goes against one of the very foundations of Social Security. Social Security, as Don Chamberlin explains, was not intended to replace a person’s income. In fact, when Social Security was founded the average life expectancy was 64 while Social Security benefits were taken at age 65. So in all, Social Security benefits were designed not to replace income but to supplement other sources of post retirement income. Now with our average life expectancy reaching close to 80 years, it is even more important for retirees who do wish to live comfortable to also have other sources of income post be it regular savings, retirement savings or investments.

Watch Don Chamberlin on St. Louis’ Fox 2 Now (KTVI):

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