First County Advisors/Wealth Management

First County Advisors, the Wealth Management Division of First County Bank, Hosts Linda Duessel from Federated Investors

On October 25, First County Bank Advisors, the Wealth Management Division of First County Bank hosted a very special guest, Linda Duessel, CFA, CPA, CFP, Senior Equity Strategist, Senior Vice President with Federated Investors, Inc.

Ms. Duessel’s presentation, “Economic and Market Outlook: It All Depends On Your Time Horizon” was well-received by an audience of approximately 120 people at Innes Arden Country Club in Greenwich.

Guests heard Linda share insights on timely market trends and topics about the economic impact of global affairs, the impact of mid-term elections, the closer watch on inflation as well as demographic changes and the impact of millennials.

Following her presentation there was an interactive Q&A with our guests.

First County Advisors/Wealth Management, Trends & Tips

Newly Enacted Tax Reform Update

Jeff Action 526As the final details of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act emerge from Washington D.C., we would like to share some of the key changes that will affect our customers in the coming year.  Changes regarding deductibility of mortgages, Home Equity Lines of Credit (HELOCs), as well as state and local taxes are found in the new law.  Highlights for individuals include:

  • The deductibility of interest on new mortgages is limited to $750,000 of principal. Existing loans made prior to 12/16/2017 will be grandfathered at the old level of $1,000,000.  The refinancing of grandfathered mortgages will also be allowed under the new law.
  • Interest paid on a Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC) will no longer be deductible. The pre-reform level was $100,000.
  • The deductibility of state and local taxes, including income and property taxes, will be capped at $10,000 per year for Single and Married Filing Jointly taxpayers. Married Filing Separate taxpayers will be capped at $5,000.

Beyond the changes in deductibility of many items, the new law completely restructures the old income brackets and tax rates.  Generally speaking, the result is that most individuals will see their income taxed at a lower average and marginal rate.  The standard deduction will almost double for all filers.  In exchange for this increase, personal and dependent exemptions that were scheduled to be $4,150 per person for 2018 have been repealed.  Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) exemptions have also increased substantially.

Another notable change is the increase in the child tax credit from $1,100 to $2,000 ($1,400 is refundable).  The phase-out for eligibility of this credit has been significantly increased from $75,000 (single) and $110,000 (married) to $200,000 (single) and $400,000 (married).

Estate/Gift/Generation-Skipping Transfer tax exemptions have been doubled for individuals, now $11.2M per U.S. domiciliary.   This means a married couple would be able to transfer a combined $22.4M to beneficiaries before any estate tax would be assessed.

What does this mean for Connecticut residents, as well as other high-tax states?

The impact of the tax law change will affect all taxpayers differently.  For filers that previously had itemized deductions well above the standard deduction due to high property taxes, state income taxes and mortgage interest, there is a good chance that their tax bill will increase a bit.  This is due to more income being subject to taxation.  The overall tax rate may be lower but it may not be low enough to offset the lost deductions.  This may also affect households with many dependents, due to the loss of the personal and dependent exemptions, again causing more income to be subject to taxation.  However, for many filers that had utilized the standard deduction, they will likely see a decrease in their overall tax bill.  It is important that all taxpayers consult with their tax advisor in the New Year to adjust withholdings on income in 2018.

 

*This article is intended to be used for education purposes only. Please consult your Tax Professional to see how you will be affected.

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First County Advisors/Wealth Management, First County Bank Profile

First County Bank Profile: Paul Bubniak

Paul Bubniak cropped 2Meet Paul Bubniak, Vice President, Trust & Investment Officer.

Tell us a little about yourself.
Laureen, my wife of 34 years, and I have raised 5 children together, the middle three children being triplets. The oldest four have graduated with advanced degrees and have moved on with their successful careers. My youngest son is still pursuing a University degree.

My current hobby has been “Wedding Planner” for my eldest daughter who will wed this July.  I also enjoy all sports, both as a spectator and in some cases a participant. Our annual Family “Jersey Shore” beach vacation is always a top priority and fun time for all.

What is your favorite part of your role at First County Bank?
My favorite part of my job is being out in the community, meeting different people who have a variety of financial concerns. Creating successful solutions for them is extremely rewarding, as is their appreciation and gratitude.

What is the most frequent question you receive from customers?
The most recent frequently asked questions I have been receiving lately have been political in nature, and how it relates to financial positions and the future of the stock market and global economy.  However, in general the most frequent question is: “How we can manage risk and enhance solid consistent returns?”

Do you have a favorite First County Bank moment?
Yes – my most favorite moment was when I was traveling from my home in Danbury to a client meeting in Darien when I experienced mechanical problems with my car. I was close to our Norwalk branch and called the Branch Manager for help in finding a tow truck. The manager called another member of the bank who had a friend who owned a gas station close to where my vehicle was stranded.

Within minutes a tow truck arrived for my car and a Bank employee from the Darien branch came to pick me up in Norwalk. This employee drove me back to the Darien branch just in time for my 10 a.m. meeting. We proceeded to open a significant investment management account for our client without missing a beat. That truly displayed the teamwork and culture present at our Bank – the ability to tow my car and deliver me all the way to the Darien branch for my morning appointment in time.

First County Advisors/Wealth Management

Financial Planning Week

Budget Pie ChartThis first week of October is National Financial Planning Week. Financial planning is often seen as a burden and an ignored need. First County Bank Advisors have answered this need by cementing themselves as a local resource for investment, trust and estate needs and more! Our Trust Officers and Investment Managers have an average of 30 years of experience and can help you navigate through life’s many milestones and challenges, such as:

  • Marriage or divorce
  • Birth or adoption of a child
  • Sale or purchase of a home or business
  • Changes in employment
  • Planning for educational expenses
  • Planning for retirement
  • Planning for Incapacity or disability
  • Care and support of an elderly family member
  • Death of a spouse

For more information on financial planning or to talk to one of our First County Advisors visit http://firstcountybank.com/wealth-management or call Dave Metzgar at 203.462.4267 (Mon. – Fri., 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.)

Bank News, First County Advisors/Wealth Management, In Our Community, Sponsorships & Events

Women in Business Conference

Our own Sara Tucker, Senior Vice President and Director of Business Banking and Sandra Greer, Vice President, First County Advisors had the pleasure of addressing attendees of Moffly Media’s Women in Business Conference on the topic of “Hidden Strategies for Business Effectiveness.”

Thank you to Moffly Media for organizing this great event, and to all the women taking time out of their busy schedules to attend.

Bank News, First County Advisors/Wealth Management

Women in Business Conference – Hidden Strategies for Business Effectiveness

Sara Tucker

Sara Tucker

Attendees of Moffly Media’s Women in Business Conference will be learning from local experts including our own Sara Tucker, Senior Vice President and Director of Business Banking and Sandra Greer, Vice President, First County Advisors.

Speaking on the topic “Hidden Strategies for Business Effectiveness,” Sara and Sandra will be addressing the fact that women are “wired” differently than men. That female brains function differently and, therefore, “operate” differently in life than their male counterparts, permeates how women approach business, work, and decision-making.

 Sandra Greer

Sandra Greer

Experienced and accomplished businesswomen, Sara and Sandra will delve into how those traits can be used in negotiations, time management, financial decisions and leadership. By understanding, and embracing, how they are wired women can use these attributes to increase business effectiveness.

First County Bank is proud to sponsor the 2016 Women in Business Conference on Wednesday, May 11, 2016. Tickets are still available – join us today.

First County Advisors/Wealth Management

Financial Literacy 101- Why it pays to get schooled in money management

In honor of “Financial Wellness Month” the First County Advisors team, the Wealth Management Division of First County Bank, will be sharing some of their favorite financial fitness tips to put you on the right track in 2016.
MoneyScreen

It may sound cliché, but that old saying; “knowledge is power” really is true. At least when it comes to something as important as managing your money. The more educated you are about financial matters, the easier it will be to make important decisions that can help you achieve success and reach your goals.

So just how do you get the knowledge you need? You could study finance with a leading business school. Or you can find easier, more affordable ways available to you. Here’s how:

  • Visit financial websites. The Internet brings a world of financial knowledge right to your fingertips. You can read the finance pages of news networks or even access a range of resources available from the federal government – right from your computer. If you’re buying a car, for example, you can get helpful tips from car buying sites to gain a negotiating edge before you start shopping.
  • Watch or listen to financial programs. Many cable TV and radio stations offer programming designed to help you learn more about a range of financial topics – from mortgage financing to retirement planning.
  • Attend free seminars. Many organizations, including First County Bank, offer free seminars on different financial topics. Take some time and attend. You may be surprised about what you can pick up by attending.
  • Visit the library. Want to learn more about the basics of investing? Or about whether a traditional or Roth IRA may be right for you? Visit the library to access helpful books and guides.

The more knowledgeable you become, the more control you’ll have over your financial future. And that right there is power.

Dave Metzgar, First County Advisors, wealth management, trustsTo inquire about our personal financial planning services, contact:
Dave Metzgar, CFP, CTFA, SVP
Senior Trust Officer
First County Advisors, the Wealth Management Division of First County Bank
203.462.4267.

First County Advisors/Wealth Management

Track Your Way to Financial Fitness

In honor of “Financial Wellness Month” the First County Advisors team, the Wealth Management Division of First County Bank, will be sharing some of their favorite financial fitness tips to put you on the right track in 2016.

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It’s a growing trend in health and wellness. In an effort to become more fit, people are purchasing activity devices to track their steps, calories, and heart rate. But while our physical fitness is important, so too is another aspect of our lives – our financial fitness. And one of the best ways to improve our financial wellness is to do a different type of tracking – expense tracking.

Many people set goals to save more money, but far fewer take this important step toward achieving it. By taking the time to track your expenses, you’ll be able to identify where you are overspending and areas where you may be able to cut back and save. The best part is, you don’t even need a fancy tracking device to know where you stand. Here are some easy ways to monitor your expenditures:

– Keep track of every penny you spend for a month. To make it easier, many people use credit cards to make every purchase, since many credit cards allow you to track purchases by category. If you choose this method, be sure you do not charge more than you have on hand to pay the bill in full at month-end.

– Keep receipts. If you pay in cash, save your receipts for a 30-day period. Then, add up your receipts and track your spending by category. Some categories may include:

  • Gas/Car expenses
  • Housing expenses
  • Entertainment
  • Groceries
  • Dining
  • Clothing

– Monitor your spending online. Tools like online and mobile banking make it easy for you to see where your money goes.

One of the main reasons people don’t track their spending is that they don’t want to face the harsh reality about their spending habits. If you want to reduce your spending and save more, you have to be honest in how you track your expenses by recording every purchase you make. That’s the only way you can make changes. It really is a lot like physical fitness; no pain, no gain.

Dave Metzgar, First County Advisors, wealth management, trustsTo inquire about our personal financial planning services, contact:
Dave Metzgar, CFP, CTFA, SVP
Senior Trust Officer
First County Advisors, the Wealth Management Division of First County Bank
203.462.4267.

First County Advisors/Wealth Management

Setting Short- and Long-Term Goals Can Lead to Success

In honor of “Financial Wellness Month” the First County Advisors team, the Wealth Management Division of First County Bank, will be sharing some of their favorite financial fitness tips to put you on the right track in 2016.

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You’re planning a long and important trip. Your first step is to map out how and when you will get to your destination. You’ll plan your stops along the way as well as what you will do when you finally get there.

This short- and long-term planning is also the key to success in your journey through life. To get where you want to be, you’ll need to establish your course and the milestones or goals you need to achieve along the way.

Of course, the most important step in any journey is figuring out where you want to go. Take some time to ask yourself: What goals would I like to achieve within the next two years? These are your short-term goals. Then, think about the goals you have for later on in life. For example, a long-term goal might be to buy a house or to retire in 20 years.

Once you determine your goals, figure out the steps you need to take to achieve them. So if you want to buy that house, you might set a goal of saving $X per month toward the down payment. Your long-term goal might be to accumulate $X in down payment funds in five years. You should approach your short-term goals in the same way. For example, if your goal is to reduce debt in the next year, establish a specific plan for how you will pay off major loans.

As you think about your goals, do the following:

  • Write them down.
  • Be specific. Include the steps you need to take to accomplish your goals.
  • Review your list regularly to see if you’re on track.
  • Make adjustments. As your life changes, your goals may change, so make sure to review and adjust them.
  • Stay the course.

 

Ready…set…go get what you want from life.

With commitment and focus, you’ll be headed in the right direction – success.

Dave Metzgar, First County Advisors, wealth management, trustsTo inquire about our personal financial planning services, contact:

Dave Metzgar, CFP, CTFA, SVP,
Senior Trust Officer and head of First County Advisors,
the Wealth Management Division of First County Bank at 203.462.4267.

 

 

First County Advisors/Wealth Management

Financial Wellness Tips from First County Advisors

papercheckJanuary is not just a great time to get your body in shape – it’s also the perfect opportunity to whip your financial affairs into order. In honor of “Financial Wellness Month” the First County Advisors team, the Wealth Management Division of First County Bank, will be sharing some of their favorite financial fitness tips to put you on the right track.

Tips will include:

• Set long and short-term goals
• Maximize your retirement savings
• Track your spending and set a budget
• Educate yourself

These articles, combined with the Smart Savings tips we’ve been sharing on an ongoing basis, are a sure way to get 2016 off on the right financial foot.