#Robo800# vs Trusted Financial Advice

266a6-tim-with-coinsWe are in a highly personal relationship with our clients. You have given us a mandate to advise and consult with PERSONAL financial plans/advice and we implement with individual accounts and personalized investment strategies. The information we gather as part of our discovery process and learning to know our customer is so personal that it’s often not even shared with spouses or other family members – incomes, net worth, hopes, dreams and ambitions.

When you want to contact your trusted financial advisor at Compass – you actually get the advisor directly- not some nice millennial who answers an 800 number with a limited knowledge of you and limited knowledge of the subject matter. You get from us trusted financial advisors with experience and experience surviving multiple market cycles. Eat your own cooking? We do.  Our money is invested in the same strategies and assets as yours.

Our industry media is full of postings every day about the “rise of the machines” or “fin-tech” whatever that is. Since we’re in a very personal business you can rest assured that we’re not subbing you out to a robo-advisor/algorithm solution where you pay a small fee in return for a machine made asset allocation. Like most things in life, “You get what you pay for.”

How about “Don’t risk a lot for a little?”  If you have a substantial income or significant net worth and want advice in the many areas of financial planning and general financial advice that we handle – how will you get that from calling the 800 number and speaking to the robo-advisor/algorithm?

We know your name. We’ll either take or return your call. We’ll give you personal trusted advice from the wealth of experience that we offer with no products to sell you. If we can help please call 781-535-6083.

You Can Protect Yourself from Fake Check Scams

FINRA has received a number of calls recently from individuals who have received unexpected checks, some from organizations whose names are household words. To those callers, we offer a concise response: Don’t cash the check, it’s almost certainly counterfeit.

Suburban Street with Uniform Residential Housing
Don’t cash the “unexpected”
check. Companies rarely if
ever send checks that
don’t include some
explanation of why the
check was issued.

In many instances, the name of a real company appears on the check, as well as real account and routing numbers. The common variety of this scam includes instructions to deposit the check in your bank account and then almost immediately transfer a portion of the money to someone else. Days later, your bank informs you that the check was counterfeit and that you are liable for the amount withdrawn, usually several thousand dollars. You’ve been scammed.

A variation of this scam simply delivers a check to your door, by registered mail or other delivery method that requires a signature. No instructions accompany the check—but FINRA suspects that once you deposit the check, you may further entangle yourself with the fraudster. For example, you might be liable for the amount of the counterfeit check, your endorsement might give your account information to fraudsters, or you could receive follow-up attempts to phish for personal financial information—or some combination.

Here are some of the most common scams that involve fake checks.

Mystery Shopping Scam

Fraudsters lure victims by posting ads for mystery shoppers in job classifieds, such as on the popular Web site Craigslist (www.craigslist.org). When victims respond to the ads, they are led to believe that they have been hired as mystery shoppers to evaluate the services of money transfer companies, such as MoneyGram. Victims are then sent checks that appear to be from legitimate companies—including FINRA—and instructed to deposit the checks in their bank accounts, then withdraw most of the money and wire it to someone else—often a purported fellow mystery shopper. Victims are told to keep several hundred dollars of the money as payment. When the checks are later discovered to be phony, the banks reverse the deposit and the victims are left liable for the money withdrawn, usually several thousand dollars.

Modeling Scam

Typically this scam starts with a victim responding to an online posting—or the victim may have posted information online, such as with a modeling clearing house. Either way, the victim eventually gets “hired” by the fraudsters to model and receives an email with instructions. Similar to the mystery shopping scam, the victim then receives a legitimate looking check and is told to cash the check, wire some portion of the proceeds to a third party—such as a “supervising crew”—and keep the remainder as payment.

Unexpected Check Scam

While it is possible that an event triggers the delivery of a “surprise” check to your door, such as responding to an online job or merchandise posting, a handful of potential victims who received fake checks and called us said they neither suspected nor recalled such an interaction. As mentioned above, the check may arrive with no instructions or additional information and, once deposited, your bank will likely require you to return any amounts disbursed if the check bounces—plus pay bounced check or other fees. In addition, you may leave yourself open to follow-up calls or emails that phish for personal financial information. If the fraudster receives or has access to the image of the cashed check, your endorsement might also reveal your bank account number.

Here’s How You Protect Yourself

To avoid fake check scams, follow these tips:

  • Don’t “keep the change.” No legitimate company will overpay you and ask that you wire the difference back to the company or to some third party. Be extremely wary of any offer—in any context—to accept a check or money order in an amount greater than you are owed.
  • Don’t cash the “unexpected” check. Companies rarely if ever send checks that don’t include some explanation of why the check was issued. Unless you are expecting the check —and you are absolutely certain it is meant for you—do not cash it.
  • Call the company directly to verify the check. Remember that some fake checks will have a legitimate company’s actual account number with the correct bank routing number. Call the company directly to verify the check, using a telephone number you obtain on your own from directory assistance. Do not use any telephone number that appears on the check or in any instructions you receive.
  • Know the hallmarks of fraud. Fake check scams typically have a number of red flags, such as:
    • Typos: Watch out for online postings or emails that are riddled with typos and poor grammar.
    • Mismatched names: Compare the name of the person or company posting the opportunity with the name on the check you receive—and beware if they don’t match.
    • Pressure to act quickly: Be aware that it can take 10 days or even more for your bank to determine that a check is counterfeit. Don’t wire or transfer funds until you have verified with your bank that the check has cleared—even if the bank allows you to withdraw the money sooner.

If you receive a suspicious check, be sure to contact one or more of the following organizations right away: your local police, the Internet Crime Complaint Center (a partnership between the FBI and the National White Collar Crime Center), or the U.S. Postal Inspections Service (if the check arrived by U.S. mail).

Subscribe to FINRA’s Investor News newsletter for more information about saving and investing.

How to Keep Pace with Change A Financial Planning Checklist

Compass partner Tim Shanahan has had a long career as a financial planner and he’s had a very active athletic life with numerous passions like sailing, hockey, judo, ju-jitsu, skiing snowboarding, kayaking,  biking and more. He entered the financial planning field straight out of college when financial planning was just starting out in the mid 1970s. In a most appropriate sports analogy, Tim draws on this body of financial planning and athletic experience (and resulting injuries) tfs sailing (1)and presents his thoughts in this quick video,

 Is Now the Time for a Financial Planning Tune Up? The bottom line is that injuries are usually just temporary setbacks and just like your life never stands still, neither do the financial markets. So now is a great time to take a few minutes and determine whether you need to re-evaluate any of the things that can impact your financial plan to make sure it is still aligned with your current goals. For a further look, download the printed version, “How to Keep Pace with Change-A financial planning checklist.”

Take some time to go through the checklist and get in touch with Your Trusted Financial Advisor to have a planning discussion.


If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact any of our Trusted Financial Advisors. We look forward to speaking to you soon.

Tim Shanahan
President and Chief Investment Strategist

What’s Going on at Tim’s Desk?

green harbor dunesThe last few weeks seemed to fly by so fast. Like a lot of you, on weekends I’ve been up on the roof trying to manage the snow/ice pack and prevent ice damage or even worse a roof collapse. During the weekdays, my assistant Susan and I have been helping a steady stream of clients. From time to time we share with you some of the goings on here, both as a matter of interest and to let everyone know what we do in case there might be a friend or family member to refer for similar issues.  Frankly, I’ve had a hard time extracting the “what’s going on” details from my partners and associates, but as I thought back over just what Susan and I worked on over the last week… we have plenty to share with you.

  • Analyzed and advised a client regarding a Roth IRA conversion.
  • Researched and advised a client age over 70 who inherited his spouse’s IRA and now has the opportunity to not take required minimum distributions until the age his deceased spouse would have been age 70.
  • Advised a cadet at the United States Naval Academy and his parents about the correct use of personal exemptions for the taxes.
  • I’ve been designing a financial advisor trainee program so that we can attract young people to the firm and train them over course of years to be advisors to deepen our bench
  • We are conducting a cyber security audit for the protection of our clients information and to be ready for the Securities and Exchange Commission when they come asking what our policies and procedures are as this is a high priority for the SEC.
  • After 12 years of serving as trustee on a client’s irrevocable life insurance trust, we are cashing in the policy distributing the proceeds to the beneficiaries and preparing the tax return for the gain realized.
  • We are advising several clients who have cash to add to their accounts about dollar cost averaging programs and accelerating those programs as the market is now in “confirmed uptrend”.
  • We’re helping an 84 year-old client finance the purchase of a new assisted living condominium.
  • We’re helping a client “off the ledge” after his self-directed 401(k) was invested in cash for many years missing the recovery in the markets since 2009
  • We advised an overseas client who wished to purchase a foreign security stock idea of his.
  • We advised the client about consolidating her credit card debt.
  • We analyzed and advised a client about the IRA contribution matching program offered by Fidelity.
  • I’ve arranged dates for a job shadowing program for students at Suffolk University where I’m an alumni.
  • We help a client transfer stock resulting from her ownership of an  insurance policy into her account with us at SEI.
  • We helped a $3 million irrevocable life insurance trust set up an account to invest.
  • We met with a few clients to do a year-end reviews and update their personal financial plans.
  • We worked with the trustee of the client’s charitable remainder trust to have their tax return prepared and calculate the will distribution from the trust
  • Mentoring our youngest partner Omar Mian on the business so that someday he’ll step into my shoes so I can play more.
  • Helping Omar on-board his new assistant Katie Lindsay so that she gets the training she need to grow into the advisor we hope she will be someday.

And that’s just Susan and I in one week, not counting the usual daily details of processing client requests for distributions etc and staying current with research and so on.

If there’s anything we can do to help you or if a friend or family member needs help in any of the many areas in which we have expertise please feel free to call on us.

Best regards


How Your Income Stacks Up- from Kiplinger

At this time of year taxes are top of mind. You might find this of interest:

How Your Income Stacks Up

Based on IRS data from 2012 tax returns Are you in the top 25% of all earners? The top 10%? Plus, out what portion of the tax burden you bear according to your income  status.

Using data released by the IRS, Kiplinger has built a tool to show your income status compared to your fellow Americans. The income  breakdowns are based on adjusted gross income (AGI) reported on 2012 tax returns — the latest statistics available. (Read the related article: Where Do You Rank as a Taxpayer?)

Simply enter your AGI from your most recent tax return. You’ll find it on line 37 if you used the Form 1040, line 21 on Form 1040A or line 4 on the 1040-EZ. Or enter your annual salary (the IRS categories are broad enough that your result will likely be the same).

Enter your income in the box built into the article to see how your income stacks up and what portion of the tax burden you bear:

Read more at http://www.kiplinger.com/tool/taxes/T055-S001-your-tax-burden-calculator/index.php#wFgdW6DKotuyBzj3.99

cms graduation at MullensDid you know that regional tuition exchange programs remain a relatively unknown opportunity despite offering big discounts on out-of-state rates? Imagine saving an average of $7,500!  Well you don’t have to imagine it, the New England Board of Higher Education (NEBHE) provides out-of-state tuition discounts for more than 750 undergraduate and graduate programs in Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont. According to NEBHE’s Regional Student Program/Tuition Break  annual report, more than 9,500 New England residents saved an estimated $56 million in tuition payments in 2013-14. Check it out here.

If your family or friends need financial advisory help in the tuition planning area, We Do That!

Contact your Trusted Financial Advisor at 781-535-6083

What Are Your 5 Tax Don’ts Before Year End?

It94eec-ipaysomuchintaxes‘s time to think about what you can do to lower your taxes for 2014. here are five main bullets to consider before year end:

  1. Don’t forget to maximize your retirement plan savings
  2. Don’t forget to review your realized and unrealized capital gains and losses
  3. Don’t forget to make charitable deductions before year end
  4. Don’t forget to consider a Roth IRA conversion
  5. Don’t forget to visit your trusted financial advisor and bring your tax return

Click here for a more detailed discussion of these tips.