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Strength of the U.S. Dollar

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Our Chief Investment Officer answers your questions about the strengthening U.S. dollar:

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The Positive Side of a Strong Dollar?
Throughout the past few quarters, the strengthening U.S. dollar has been gaining a lot of investors’ attention. An appreciating dollar can be both a blessing and a curse. I’ve noticed that much of the news has focused on the negative impacts of a strong dollar. Many corporate CEOs have cited the strength of the dollar as a headwind to their earnings growth. Today I will spend a few minutes on a different perspective: the positive side of a strong dollar.

What drives the U.S. Dollar?
The value of the dollar is a function of relative economic strength. So it’s not just about the Federal Reserve action or domestic economic growth, it’s also is a function of global growth. I believe the global economy is the primary driver of the dollar’s recent strength. Historically, faster-growing economies have rising currencies due to capital inflows. A strong dollar has been associated with slower global economic growth, because the dollar remains the reserve currency.

Pros and Cons?
Even though most of the headlines cite a strong dollar as a negative, there are some positive effects.

  • Typically with a strong dollar comes lower commodity prices. This is positive for the consumer, as energy costs decline.  And businesses benefit if commodities are an input variable.
  • The United States is a net importer; we import more goods than we export. Less expensive imported goods and services will increase consumer confidence and spending. Businesses buying imported raw materials or components may increase their margins or pass on savings to consumers.

What does a strong dollar mean to the U.S. economy and markets?
A strong dollar will transfer demand from the U.S. economy to economies around the world. This will negatively impact some industries, where exports represent a significant portion of their business, such as industrial conglomerates. However, other industries, focused on the domestic consumer, will benefit.

Given our forecast of an improving global economy, whether it’s actual green shoots of economic growth in Europe, or the hope of economic stimulus in China, I believe we’ll see the dollar stabilize for the remainder of the year.

I don’t believe a strong dollar will derail our market forecast.  Historically domestic equity markets have performed well in periods of both a strong or weak dollar. The message here is the dollar is not the primary driver of stock prices and I would expect the S&P 500 to post returns in the 7-10 percent range in 2015.


K.C. Mathews joined UMB in 2002. As executive vice president and chief investment officer, Mr. Mathews is responsible for the development, execution and oversight of UMB’s investment strategy. He is chairman of the Trust Investment, Asset Allocation and Trust Policy Committees. Mr. Mathews has more than 20 years of diverse experience in the investment industry. Prior to joining UMB, he served as vice president and manager of the portfolio management group at Bank of Oklahoma for nine years. Mr. Mathews earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Minnesota and a master’s degree in business administration from the University of Notre Dame. Mr. Mathews attended the ABA National Trust School at Northwestern University and is a Chartered Financial Analyst and member of the CFA Institute. He is past president of the Kansas City CFA Society and a past president of the Oklahoma Society of Financial Analysts.



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First Quarter 2015 Earnings Explained

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We recently released our First Quarter 2015 earnings. Our CFO, Brian Walker, took a moment to explain where we faced headwinds as well as the positive aspects of the last quarter.


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UMB Financial Corporation (Nasdaq: UMBF) is a diversified financial holding company headquartered in Kansas City, Mo., offering complete banking services, payment solutions, asset servicing and institutional investment management to customers. UMB operates banking and wealth management centers throughout Missouri, Illinois, Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma, Nebraska, Arizona and Texas, as well as two national specialty-lending businesses. Subsidiaries of the holding company include companies that offer services to mutual funds and alternative-investment entities and registered investment advisors that offer equity and fixed income strategies to institutions and individual investors.



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Credit Card Debt vs. Emergency Funds

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You probably already realize the importance of keeping an emergency fund for unforeseen events such as auto repairs or health issues. However, actually saving for the unexpected can be a challenge. By not planning, you can put yourself at risk for financial disaster.

A recent poll from Bankrate revealed 24 percent of Americans have more credit card debt than they have in their emergency savings. Most people, 58 percent, who don’t struggle with credit card debt still fall short when it comes to having a strong emergency fund.

emergency savings vs. credit card debt

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Greg McBride, Chief Financial Analyst at Bankrate, can’t stress enough the poor situation consumers are putting themselves into. “These numbers mean that three out of every eight Americans are teetering on the edge of financial disaster,” says McBride.

How to manage credit card debt

While there isn’t one definitive way to erase credit card debt in a hurry, below are a few helpful tips to expedite the process.

  1. Tackle high interest debt first
    It may be easier for you to stick with a debt payoff goal if you attack the card with the lowest balance. However, most financial experts agree that the best practice is to pay down the balance on the highest interest card first.
  2. Double or triple payments
    Consider doubling or tripling your monthly payments, or apply tax refunds towards outstanding balances. The faster you can tackle your highest interest card, the sooner you will reach a debt-free lifestyle.
  3. Stick with your plan
    When faced with high debt, it is critical to track and budget expenses to monitor progress and keep spending habits under control. Once the highest-interest card reaches a balance of zero, it’s time to move on to the next highest interest card.
  4. Build an emergency savings
    Building an emergency fund is just as important as getting debt under control. Tuck away money each month and set aside for emergencies only. Do this even if it means paying less on your debt payments. Most experts agree that a healthy emergency fund equals at least six months of living expenses.

Getting credit card debt under control requires excellent planning, dedication and patience. Once goals are met, it is important to keep moving forward with healthy spending and savings habits.  Being financially prepared for life’s unexpected events is smart. Having peace of mind is priceless.

 

When you click links marked with the “‡” symbol, you will leave UMB’s website and go to websites that are not controlled by or affiliated with UMB. We have provided these links for your convenience. However, we do not endorse or guarantee any products or services you may view on other sites. Other websites may not follow the same privacy policies and security procedures that UMB does, so please review their policies and procedures carefully.


UMB Financial Corporation (Nasdaq: UMBF) is a diversified financial holding company headquartered in Kansas City, Mo., offering complete banking services, payment solutions, asset servicing and institutional investment management to customers. UMB operates banking and wealth management centers throughout Missouri, Illinois, Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma, Nebraska, Arizona and Texas, as well as two national specialty-lending businesses. Subsidiaries of the holding company include companies that offer services to mutual funds and alternative-investment entities and registered investment advisors that offer equity and fixed income strategies to institutions and individual investors.



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Tis’ the Season for Tax Fraud

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IRS tax refund scam tips

It’s tax time. As you prepare your taxes or eagerly await any refunds, it’s also time to be aware of tax scams. These scams include phishing emails, texts or phone calls that may warn of a delay with your return, promise a bigger refund or offer you a “helpful downloadable document.” These scams are designed to steal your refund, bank account information or identity by compelling you to provide your private information to the scammer.

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The IRS estimates that it paid $5.2 billion in fraudulent refunds as a result of identity theft last year. This year, in light of recent data breaches, individuals are urged to be especially careful. New scams offer credit monitoring services due to a breach or claim to be from popular tax software providers. The IRS has provided a list of The Dirty Dozen Tax Scams for 2015 to help keep us up to date on the latest scams.

In addition, be particularly aware of common tax season phishing emails like these:

  • You’re owed a refund and need to forward your bank account information for the refund deposit. The IRS does not initiate taxpayer communications through email or social media to request personal or financial information. If you receive an unsolicited email claiming to be from the IRS, send it to phishing@irs.gov.
  • Exciting offers or refunds for participating in an “IRS Survey.” This fake survey is actually used to acquire private and confidential information that is used to steal your identity.
  • Threats of fines or jail time for not making an immediate payment, or responding to the email. If you receive an intimidating email like this and even believe you might owe on taxes, contact your local IRS office and report the threatening email.
  • Documents or tools for tax preparation (e.g. “new changes in the tax law,” a tax calculator, etc.). Those “helpful” documents mentioned earlier may, in fact, be malicious files intended to infect your computer. Remember not all unsolicited email is legitimate. If you need current tax information, go to the IRS website or consult with a tax professional.

Scams don’t stop with phishing emails. Here are some helpful tips if you get calls or texts from someone pretending to be from the IRS:

  • If you know you owe taxes or think you might owe, call the IRS at 800-829-1040.
  • If you know you don’t owe taxes or have no reason to believe that you do, report the incident to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) at 1.800.366.4484 or at gov.
  • If phone scammers target you, also contact the Federal Trade Commission. Use their FTC Complaint Assistantto report the scam, and include “IRS Telephone Scam” to the comments of your complaint.

Remember, identity theft doesn’t stop at tax season so exercise your “spidey sense” with any email, unsolicited text or call asking for your personal information.

 

When you click links marked with the “‡” symbol, you will leave UMB’s website and go to websites that are not controlled by or affiliated with UMB. We have provided these links for your convenience. However, we do not endorse or guarantee any products or services you may view on other sites. Other websites may not follow the same privacy policies and security procedures that UMB does, so please review their policies and procedures carefully.


Ms. Flores serves as senior vice president and Chief Information Security Officer, providing oversight of UMB’s information security and privacy programs. She joined UMB in 2010 and more than 15 years of experience in information technology and information security. She attended Kansas State University with a focus on management information systems and is a Certified Information Security Manager (CISM), Certified Information Privacy Professional (CIPP/US) and Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA).



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Estate planning and how to avoid probate

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probate and wills

In a recent blog post, we discussed what might happen if you pass away without a will and what might happen with a will. When you pass away owning property in your sole name (regardless of if you have a will or not), your assets might need to go through probate in order for your heirs to inherit your property. Having a will does not avoid probate—it just determines who will receive your property. If you die owning property in your sole name without a will, your estate still passes through probate—but who receives your property will typically be determined under the laws of the state where your primary residence is at your date of death (the “intestacy laws”).

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Probate is a court process to provide for an organized way of winding up a deceased person’s affairs. During this process, a personal representative or executor is appointed by the Probate Court to supervise the collection of your probate assets, payment of your final bills and taxes, and distribution of your assets according to either your will or the intestacy laws. This may or may not be what you intend and might be more expensive than if you made other plans in advance.

Avoiding Probate

There are ways to distribute your property at your death according to your wishes without going through probate. While the techniques might vary from state to state, these typically include:

  • titling property jointly with another (“joint tenants with rights of survivorship”)
  • creating a beneficiary deed for real estate
  • adding a “transfer on death” or “pay on death” designation to assets, such as bank or investment accounts, or by beneficiary designation for assets such as your retirement plan, IRA or life insurance
  • creating a “revocable” or “living” trust and retitling your assets in the name of your trust

The trustee holds the legal title to the property owned in the revocable trust, not you as owner. The trust property is held by the trustee for your benefit during your lifetime.  You can choose to serve as your own trustee as long as you are able. At your death, the property held in the trust is distributed by the successor trustee of the trust to those family members, friends or charities you name in your trust agreement, similar to the instructions you can leave in your will.

A Living Trust

There are many advantages to creating a living trust:

  • Control: You can be your own trustee during your lifetime and then you name a successor trustee (such as a bank) to serve after you cannot or do not wish to serve.
  • Flexibility: You can typically change the terms of the trust at any time while you are living. If you become disabled, your successor trustee can step in and pay your bills, manage your investments and allow you to avoid “living probate” where otherwise a court appointed conservator might be needed to manage your affairs. You can create trusts for your minor children or grandchildren to be created after your death, hold assets in further trust for disabled or disadvantaged beneficiaries and even create trusts for charities.
  • Privacy: The terms of the trust and its assets and values are typically private, unlike a probate proceeding, which is a public matter where your will (if any) and list of assets are filed with the court and open to inspection by anyone.

Your living trust would be part of your overall estate plan, which would likely include a “pour over will” (just in case assets weren’t retitled into your trust’s name at your death), powers of attorney for financial and healthcare decisions and a living will.

 

Be sure to consult with an experienced estate planning attorney to discuss what estate plan is right for you under the circumstances.  We also recommend discussing your options with a wealth advisor who can assist you with your financial goals, working together with your attorney and other trusted advisors.

 

 

UMB is not providing you with any legal or tax advice.  You need to consult with your own legal and tax advisors to determine what estate plan is best for you and how the laws of the state governing your estate might affect you given your specific circumstances.

 

When you click links marked with the “‡” symbol, you will leave UMB’s website and go to websites that are not controlled by or affiliated with UMB. We have provided these links for your convenience. However, we do not endorse or guarantee any products or services you may view on other sites. Other websites may not follow the same privacy policies and security procedures that UMB does, so please review their policies and procedures carefully.


Ms. Teson is a Senior Vice President and Private Wealth Management’s Senior Legal Counsel at UMB Bank. She is responsible for managing Private Wealth Management’s Legal, Fiduciary Tax and Real Estate and Unique Asset teams. She joined UMB in 1992 and has been a licensed attorney for 32 years. She is also a Certified Financial Planner.



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How to finance your dental practice: the most important questions to ask

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As a dental professional, you’ve probably spent at least eight years in school preparing for your career (12 to 14 if you are a dental surgeon). After that, your focus will be on growing your new practice by building your patient panels and providing quality dental care to the community you serve.

dental practice financing

But what’s next? There are questions you need to ask yourself as soon as you open a practice:

  • Does your practice need remodeling or construction?
  • Do you see yourself bringing on a new partner at some point?
  • And most importantly, are you adequately planning for your retirement?
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As we work with dental practitioners, we’ve noticed a trend within this profession. A lack of strategic borrowing to pay for their practice’s expenses is a leading cause that prevents dental practitioners from retiring when and how they want. Only around 8 percent of dentists are able to retire and maintain the lifestyle they had during their working days.

Dental practitioners face many challenges in today’s market. Those challenges are further motivation to properly manage your funds. An important aspect of your finances is considering the best borrowing practices for your office. Some questions to consider when thinking about a loan for your dental practice:

What are your goals for your practice?
Determine where you see your practice over time. Figure out how quickly you want to grow your practice or if you have aspirations to open multiple locations. Identify a plan and partner with industry professionals who will help you achieve your ultimate objectives. Then discuss with your banking partner what financing structure will help – not hinder – this plan.

Are you borrowing with the best interest of your practice in mind?
Ask your banking partner to explain all loan options so you can align the loan structure to the best interest of the practice.  For example, some loans have a balloon payment at the end, which could require you to pay additional interest. The money you might have to pay in additional interest could be used instead to help expand the practice or could be committed to your retirement.

What are your ramp-up and wind-down strategies?
In addition to determining the long-term growth of your practice (ramp-up), you will also need to eventually consider succession and retirement strategies (wind-down). Have you considered hiring an associate to purchase your practice as a component of your exit strategy? Have you engaged a CPA firm to complete an evaluation of your practice? These are potential issues to consider as part of a succession plan.

Every practice is unique and you might even find that long-term goals change over time. Start planning early and understand what financing options are paramount for your practice. Find a banking partner who will help you determine the best loan options for your practice and your eventual retirement and succession plans.

For more financial advice, take a look at my video on Business Banking for Dentists.

 

When you click links marked with the “‡” symbol, you will leave UMB’s website and go to websites that are not controlled by or affiliated with UMB. We have provided these links for your convenience. However, we do not endorse or guarantee any products or services you may view on other sites. Other websites may not follow the same privacy policies and security procedures that UMB does, so please review their policies and procedures carefully.

 


Dave Bauer is a Vice President / Region Manager for UMB Business Banking. He is responsible for leading the Business Banking teams in the St. Louis and Oklahoma City regions. He joined UMB in 2011 and has eight years of experience in the financial services industry.



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UMB Insights: Being Bankable

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What does a bank look for when you’re applying for a small business loan? Here are some insights from a lender’s perspective.

  • Cash flow
  • Liquidity
  • Collateral
  • Character

To learn more about small business loans and SBA loans, check out more on the blog.

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Dominic is a executive vice president for the Business Banking division at UMB. He joined UMB in 2013 and has more than 20 years of experience in the financial services industry.



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2015 economic forecast: ready for liftoff

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After several years of slow-growing momentum in the U.S. economy, we have deemed 2015 the year of economic “lift-off.”

Lift-off is a term the Federal Reserve (Fed) typically uses to reference a transition from lower rates to a rising rate environment. For our forecast this year, however, this term can actually be applied broadly to the entire U.S. economy, signaling that meaningful improvement has arrived and will likely continue. So what will fuel this economic lift-off, and are there any variables to consider that may cause us to reconsider whether or not the economy is truly ready for launch?

Check out KC’s interview with The Street to see a short summary of his predictions. For the full story, keep reading.

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Where we’ve been

reverse-liftoff

The United States has been stuck in a below potential, moderately-growing economy since 2009. Most recently, we saw 2.2 percent real or inflation-adjusted GDP growth in 2013 – followed by a small improvement to 2.4 percent growth last year. So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that we anticipate additional improvement in 2015; but will this be a low-altitude lift-off near 2.7 percent or something more powerful, closer to 3.1 percent growth?
economic growth

Fuel

The economy is fueled by many factors, but there are a few that carry more weight than others. If you are familiar with UMB, you’ll note that we are driven by what the data tells us, not by what people say; the goal being to understand the difference between the signal and the noise.

This year we think the primary driver of growth will be the consumer.  We think there will be three key variables to watch that should drive consumption and economic activity.
fuel

Jobs are one of the most telling and powerful variables in the economic formula. Most of the time, though, headline unemployment is the only data indicator used in reporting. We don’t think the value of that indicator is very significant. We prefer to hone in on actual job creation or payroll growth because it tells more of the story. The country has seen marked improvement in average monthly payroll growth since 2011, and with that, GDP has correlated nicely. In 2013, approximately 194,000 jobs were created per month (GDP at 2.2 percent); in 2014, the number was 246,000 (GDP at 2.4 percent) and we anticipate the labor market will stabilize or improve slightly, increasing to somewhere around 250,000 per month in 2015. Historically speaking, when the United States creates 3 million jobs a year, the economy grows faster than 3 percent.
unemployment

One of our favorite signals to forecast payroll growth is availability of credit. Businesses need to know credit is available prior to expanding and hiring workers.  Payroll growth and the willingness of banks to lend are highly correlated by as much as 85 percent.  Today banks are open for business and lending standards are accommodative.
unemployment

Consumer confidence has been improving and we think will continue to improve due to the labor market, stock and home prices, and of course lower energy costs. As we stated, the employment landscape is in excellent condition and on an upward trajectory. This adds to the formula for upward movement, along with a stock market that is up more than 200 percent over the last five years, home prices are up 30 percent over the last three years.  As I have said before, when consumers feel good, they consume. This certainly seems to be the case.
confidence

Credit makes the world go ’round, and banks and credit are the lifeblood of the economy. Unfortunately over the past few years, millions of Americans were cut off from credit but today will once again have access to credit. From 2006 – 2009 nearly 5 million Americans, roughly the population of metropolitan Atlanta, defaulted on their mortgages. When you default on a loan, you are cut off from credit. Fast forward seven years after a default and that blemish has been expunged from your credit record, thus giving millions of Americans access to credit once again. With that, demand for bank loans has improved significantly. In 2007 loan demand was growing just shy of 10 percent, then dried up during the Great Recession, and resurfaced to nearly 8.0 percent in 2014. In other words, consumers and businesses are willing to borrow and consume yet again.

Houston we have a problem…or do we? 

All indicators are telling us that things look positive, but as with any mission, we must explore possible hazards that could cause a ‘failure to launch.’ Let’s hone in on a few key variables:

Employment – Yes jobs have been created, but job quality has been in question for a few years. Now, though, we can see improvements. The national quit rate is on the rise, which tells us that employees are finding better paying employment.
employmentHousing – Household formation data typically follows the economic cycle. When economic conditions are favorable, young people can find jobs. They move out of their parents’ homes and create their own household, increase consumption and create housing demand.  Unfortunately, employment among the millennial generation (age 15-35) is incredibly low, indicating that many of them are unable to move out and create a household. Perhaps a more relevant group would be millennials aged 25-35, revealing that approximately 25 percent of them are not working, due to either unemployment or remaining in school. However, we feel confident that as the economy improves, this generation will have an easier time securing work, creating households of their own and thereby creating housing demand.  Housing has not made a significant contribution to GDP over the last several years. This year we think housing starts will reach 1.2 million and add close to 0.50 percent to real GDP, which will be material.
housingGeopolitical – The U.S. economy operates on a global scale and we always have to be mindful of the geopolitical risks that exist. Most recently, we’ve had to a take a close look at potential action coming from the European Central Bank, as Europe has been on the brink of a recession for some time now. In addition, Russia has been put in a difficult situation with the price of oil down nearly 50 percent. Russia has a losing hand as a country where 68 percent of its exports come from oil and gas. While this proves problematic for some countries overseas, non-oil producing countries, such as Europe and Asia, will have a boost of stimulus through lower oil prices. Overall, we mark this as a risk, but not particularly threatening to our forecast in the United States since consumers will have an estimated additional $100 -$150 million of disposable income.
geopoliticalPolicy Mistake – As previously mentioned, a Fed liftoff will occur when it begins to raise overnight rates up from the zero rate that’s been in place for several years.  This could be called a “policy mistake” if the Fed were to begin pushing rates up before the economy is healthy enough to handle higher borrowing rates.  We think that this is a very remote possibility, as inflation is still quite low and the Fed has little incentive to move rates up early or in a dramatic fashion.  In fact, the interest rate liftoff that we think will begin later in the year will actually be good news, because it will signal that the central bank sees a US economy that is healthy enough to withstand more normalized rates.  We think the Fed will move in a rational, measured manner that will not threaten the economic expansion.
policy mistakeCleared for Lift-Off – Through careful consideration of what factors are fueling our economy and what could pose a risk to launch, we believe the U.S. economy is officially ready for lift-off.
cleared for lift-off

Here’s what we anticipate for this year:

  • GDP growth between 2.7 percent and 3.1 percent, supported by a robust labor market as businesses create new jobs
  • Nearly 250,000 jobs created on average per month; this will drive unemployment down to 5.5 percent and many discouraged workers will return to the work force
  • Another good year in domestic equities
  • Corporate America will see 4.0 percent revenue growth and 6.0 percent earnings growth, which should lead to 10 percent total returns in the equity market
  • Interest rates will be on the move this year, expecting both short-term and long-term rates to increase

In all, the above data and research proves that the economy is certainly prepared for a lift-off. Whether we will see GDP near 2.7 percent or slightly more significant at 3.1 percent, the year ahead is looking brighter than we have seen for quite some time.
When you click links marked with the “‡” symbol, you will leave UMB’s website and go to websites that are not controlled by or affiliated with UMB. We have provided these links for your convenience. However, we do not endorse or guarantee any products or services you may view on other sites. Other websites may not follow the same privacy policies and security procedures that UMB does, so please review their policies and procedures carefully.

 

UMB Investment Management is a division within UMB Bank, n.a. that manages active portfolios for employee benefit plans, endowments and foundations, fiduciary accounts and individuals. UMB Financial Services, Inc.*  is a wholly owned subsidiary of UMB Bank, n.a. UMB Bank, n.a., is an affiliate within the UMB Financial Corporation.

This content is provided for informational purposes only and contains no investment advice or recommendations to buy or sell any specific securities. Statements in this report are based on the opinions of UMB Investment Management and the information available at the time this report was published.

All opinions represent our judgments as of the date of this report and are subject to change at any time without notice. You should not use this report as a substitute for your own judgment, and you should consult professional advisors before making any tax, legal, financial planning or investment decisions. This report contains no investment recommendations and you should not interpret the statements in this report as investment, tax, legal, or financial planning advice. UMB Investment Management obtained information used in this report from third-party sources it believes to be reliable, but this information is not necessarily comprehensive and UMB Investment Management does not guarantee that it is accurate.

All investments involve risk, including the possible loss of principal. Past performance is no guarantee of future results. Neither UMB Investment Management nor its affiliates, directors, officers, employees or agents accepts any liability for any loss or damage arising out of your use of all or any part of this report.

“UMB” – Reg. U.S. Pat. & Tm. Off. Copyright © 2015. UMB Financial Corporation. All Rights Reserved.

Securities offered through UMB Financial Services, Inc. Member FINRA, SIPC or the Investment Banking Division of UMB Bank, n.a.

*Insurance products offered through UMB Insurance Inc.

You may not have an account with all of these entities.

Contact your UMB Representative if you have any questions.

Securities and Insurance products are:

Not FDIC Insured  *  No Bank Guarantee  *  Not a Deposit  *  Not Insured by any Government Agency  *  May Lose Value

 

 


K.C. Mathews joined UMB in 2002. As executive vice president and chief investment officer, Mr. Mathews is responsible for the development, execution and oversight of UMB’s investment strategy. He is chairman of the Trust Investment, Asset Allocation and Trust Policy Committees. Mr. Mathews has more than 20 years of diverse experience in the investment industry. Prior to joining UMB, he served as vice president and manager of the portfolio management group at Bank of Oklahoma for nine years. Mr. Mathews earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Minnesota and a master’s degree in business administration from the University of Notre Dame. Mr. Mathews attended the ABA National Trust School at Northwestern University and is a Chartered Financial Analyst and member of the CFA Institute. He is past president of the Kansas City CFA Society and a past president of the Oklahoma Society of Financial Analysts.



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Industry Insights: Manufacturing Efficiencies

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Business is good for the manufacturing industry. How can manufacturers capitalize on this growth?

 

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Mr. Nohavec is a SVP/Business Development Officer for UMB Bank Colorado. He is responsible for Colorado. He joined UMB in 2005 and has 20 years of experience in the financial services industry.



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Don’t let tax credits fall through the cracks

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How can you get a bigger refund when filing your taxes? These tips can help:
tax credit tips
Even if you’re dreading the process of filing your taxes this year, taking the time to know what you’re doing can equal a bigger refund check. Everything from plugging in your electric car to adopting a child can be considered for deductions, so don’t miss out on refunds this year.

The IRS offers several federal tax credit options designed to lessen the burden of taxpayers. This is especially true for low- and middle-income households, which often retain a higher percentage of their annual salaries for basic living expenses than high-income households.

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Earn tax deductions with a retirement plan
Some of the best tax deductions tend to be linked to retirement plans. With these deductions, you save money on annual taxes and invest in your future.

The Saver’s Tax Credit (previously known as the Retirement Savings Contributions Credit) is for those making eligible contributions to a 401(k), IRA, or other workplace retirement plans such as a 403(b), 457, or Thrift Savings Plan. If you’re contributing and are in a lower-income bracket, you can receive a tax credit up to $1,000 when filing alone and up to $2,000 if filing jointly.  This credit is on top of the tax advantages already associated with retirement plans, which might include pre-tax contributions, tax-deferred growth, or tax-free withdrawals in retirement.

Tax credits for small business owners
The IRS also offers potential tax credits for small business owners. One of the biggest deductions is through a home office credit.

More than 50 percent of U.S. small businesses operate at an owner’s home, according to the Small Business Administration(SBA). Unfortunately, many fear taking advantage of this tax credit will red flag an audit from the IRS. The good news is, that fear is usually unfounded.

To be eligible for a home office tax deduction, the IRS requires a portion of a residential property to be considered a legitimate home office. The home must be a primary workplace. If there is an additional office used, you cannot file a home office deduction. An exception can sometimes be made for those who work all day at an office part of the week and all day at home the rest of the week.

To figure out a home office credit, the SBA recommends calculating deductions by comparing the size of the home office versus the rest of the home. However, a business owner can also deduct expenses for a separate freestanding structure, which means a business owner can use a studio to conduct work, or a garage or barn for storage. But those freestanding structures should be exclusively for business.

Tax refunds as a way to save
Remember that getting a large refund may not always be in your best interest. It could be a sign that you’re having too much money withheld from your wages. If you have trouble saving on a regular basis, however, forced savings through tax withholdings is better than not saving at all. Just try to set aside all or a portion of your refund for the future. Some great ways to use your refund include paying down high-interest debt, building an emergency fund and investing for retirement.

 

Take a look at the IRS website for a comprehensive list of deductions, and ask a trusted tax accountant for advice on which ones apply to your situation so you can take full advantage of your options.

 

*This post is not meant to replace the advice of a tax professional.

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Mr. Chen is a Vice President and Portfolio Manager for UMB Private Wealth Management. He is responsible for all aspects of portfolio construction, including asset allocation, security selection and mutual fund analysis for high-net-worth clients. He joined UMB in 2013 and has 10 years of experience in the financial services industry. Mr. Chen earned a Bachelor of Science in Business with an emphasis in Financial Management from Kansas State University and Master of Science in Business with a Finance Concentration from the University of Kansas. He serves on the board of directors for the Financial Planning Association of Greater Kansas City and the Kansas City CFA Society. He is a Certified Financial Planner® and is a CFA charterholder.



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