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Advisor News Insight

Year's End

Thank you for your business in 2017. It has been a pleasure helping you reach your goals, and we look forward to working with you again in the new year. We at BEST wish all of you and your families a prosperous and wonderful 2018!




Industry News


Tax Planning

The Tax Cuts and Job Act of 2017


President Donald Trump signed the $1.5 trillion rewrite of the tax code into law at the White House on Friday, December 22, 2017, making it the first major overhaul of the U.S. tax code in over 30 years.


This article was written by Veronica Stracqualursi, Journalist at ABC News.


GOP Website


Click the button below to see the GOP view of the new tax bill.


Wikipedia: Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.


Exclusive Live Webinar


Washington Update:
The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017*


Presented by: Edward J. Barrett


January 16, 2018 | 4:00pm-5:00pm ET / 1:00pm-2:00pm PT


BEST, Founder, President and CEO, Ed Barrett will be hosting a live webinar on January 16, 2018 to give you an overview of the provisions of the new law and how they will affect you and your clients and suggest strategies that may be helpful.

Don't wait, click the button below to register now!


*This Webinar is approved for 1-hour of CE credit for professional designations (CFP®, CIMA® CPWA®, CPE, PACE and CFFP).


Retirement Planning


Small Business 401(k)s MATTER NOW


The small business marketplace continues to grow and currently, 40 million employees work for companies that have a headcount of under 50, according to U.S. Census Bureau data. However, barely a third of those offer access to a retirement plan. Most Advisors would view these numbers as an underserved market that is primed for targeting. Not so fast.


This article was written by Lynn Brackpool Giles, Author at 401(k) Specialist Magazine.


The PEW Charitable Trusts: Small Business Views on Retirement Savings


The Pew Charitable Trusts recently surveyed over 1,600 small- and medium-sized business owners or managers to better understand the barriers to—and motivations for—offering retirement plans and to get their views on policy initiatives. The survey included employers who sponsor plans and those who do not. The responses, in one of the few such surveys conducted in the past decade, generally show strong support for offering retirement benefits and for various policy initiatives that would boost savings.


This survey was distributed by The Pew Charitable Trusts.


The Tax Foundation Fiscal Fact Pass-Through Businesses: Data and Policy


Much of the tax reform debate in the United States centers on the federal corporate income tax. However, many people are not aware that the vast majority of businesses in the U.S. are not subject to the corporate income tax at all. Over 90 percent of businesses in the United States are pass-through businesses, whose income is reported on the business owners’ tax returns and is taxed under the individual income tax. These businesses earn the majority of all business income in the U.S. and employ over half of the private-sector workforce in 49 out of 50 states.


This report was researched and written by Scott Greenberg, Senior Analyst at the
Tax Foundation.


Social Security Planning


Social Security Facts in 2018


Social Security is vital for the financial planning of tens of millions of Americans, and every year, the Social Security Administration makes slight adjustments to key provisions of the retirement program. The SSA just released its 2018 Fact Sheet, a report discussing changes to Social Security for 2018, and although some key components of the program are staying the same, others will see some minor adjustments. This report will inform you of the most important facts about what's happening next year with Social Security.


This fact sheet was written by the Social Security Administration.


How Social Security Gets Fixed Matters


As more baby boomers retire, Social Security’s impending financial shortfall will become more pressing.


This article was written by the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College.


The Behavioral and Consumption Effects of Social Security Changes


Social Security’s Trust Fund is projected to be exhausted in 2034. A variety of changes to the program have been put forward that would either push this date out into the future or delay it indefinitely. Some of these changes would cut benefits – e.g., increasing the Full Retirement Age (FRA) to 69 – while others would increase program revenue – e.g., increasing the payroll tax. While Social Security’s Office of the Chief Actuary projects the financial impact on the program of a wide variety of changes, understanding the impact of these changes on recipients’ behavior and well-being is also a valuable exercise.


This article was written by the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College.


Medicare and Medicaid Planning


Medicare Premiums Increase for Many Retirees
in 2018


Most of the Social Security cost-of-living adjustment will be used to pay for higher Medicare Part B premiums.


This article was written by Emily Brandon, Senior Editor for Retirement at U.S. News.


Medicaid Expenditures 2015 - 2017


According to the National Association of State Budget Officers (NASBO) the total cost of Medicaid ($566 billion in calendar year 2016) is shared between the federal government and the 50 state governments. Nationally the split of Medicaid expenses is 57% paid by the federal government and 43% paid by state governments. On average, Medicaid represents 24% of state expenditures.


This report was written by the National Association of State Budget Officers (NASBO).


Long-Term Care Planning


Regulators Adopt Amendments to Life and Health Guaranty Association Model Act


The National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) has put its full weight behind efforts to broaden the base of support for the policyholders of long-term care insurance issuers that fail. The NAIC has approved amendments to the Life and Health Guaranty Association Model Act (Model Number 520). If an LTCI insurer goes out of business in the future the amendments could help the guaranty association collect cash from life and annuity issuers not just health issuers when the associations are trying to make good on the failed issuer's obligations to policyholders.


This press release was distributed by the NAIC.


Practice Management


SIFMA Sees SEC Fiduciary Rule Proposal Within 18 Months


SIFMA officials are optimistic the SEC will develop its own fiduciary rule proposal during the 18 months that full implementation of the Labor Department’s existing rule has been delayed.


This article was written by Bernice Napach, Senior Writer, ThinkAdvisor.


The Five Points that Belong on
Every Advisor’s Website


Shouldn’t clients be able to look on a financial planner’s website and see what services they can expect to receive for the fees they expect to pay? Shouldn’t the profession evolve a pricing model where people who do more for the client can charge more, and those who do less will charge less?


This article was written by Bob Veres, Writer/Commentator in the financial services industry.


One Question You Should Ask Every Couple


Dan Soling, gives insight into one strategy that has been a positive way to begin the meeting with couples: Ask this question: “How did the two of you meet?” According to Dan, most couples will immediately smile and look fondly at each other. They will then tell the story of how they met, often interrupting each other to inject a humorous detail. Previously, I attributed this positive response to a basic premise of the Solin Process. People love to talk about themselves. Your goal is to empower them to do so. Once you do, their impression of you will be favorably influenced.


This article was written by Dan Solin, Author of the Smartest series of books.


Why Clients Ignore Your E-Newsletters


Even if you don’t mislead or offend clients, if you bore them, the time and effort to communicate with clients is wasted. There are six components to doing a great job of communicating online. While some advisors get two or three of them right, almost no one nails all six … and as a result, you aren’t getting the return that you could.


This article was written by Dan Richards, Author/Speaker.


New Tools to Prove You Acted as a Fiduciary


The DOL rule has set off a veritable cottage industry of tools to help advisors and financial planners cope with the additional analysis and reporting requirements. This guide, written by Bob Veres, the first of two parts, is a review of some of the more prominent new tools that advisors can use under the new DOL Fiduciary Rule. Each of them addresses a different aspect of the rule, and they all approach it from different angles.


This article was written by Bob Veres, Writer/Commentator in the financial services industry.


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Assumed Federal Rates (AFRs)


Section 7520 rate for January is 2.6%


AFRs Breakdown:


View a complete history of AFR 7520 rates, as well as information on NumberCruncher Software for Estate, Financial and Charitable Planning at:


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Financial Facts of the Month


Employment Situation


Our country’s 147.0 million employees are split 85/15 between the private sector (i.e., non-government workers) and the public sector (i.e., government workers) (Source: U.S. Department of Labor (DOL)).


Every Day


An estimated 10,100 Americans will turn 65 years old each day next year (2018). This group represents the 8th year of 19 years of “Baby Boomers” turning age 65. An estimated 11,500 Americans will turn 65 years old each day in the year 2029 (Source: U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO)).


Health Care


23% of health care spending in the USA is incurred by just 1% of Americans. The healthiest 50% of Americans account for just 3% of total health care spending nationally. Prior to the passage of the Affordable Care Act in 2010, 35 states had “high-risk” pools to insure their high-cost sicker citizens (Source: Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF)).


Made a Lot and Paid a Lot


The 6.75 million tax returns from tax year 2015 that reported at least $200,000 of adjusted gross income (AGI) represent 4% of all the tax returns filed, received 43% of all AGI nationwide and paid 59% of all the federal income tax that was paid nationally in 2015 (Source: Internal Revenue Service (IRS)).


No Federal Income Taxes


54% of the American taxpayers (49.8 million out of 92.4 million returns) that reported adjusted gross income less than $50,000 during tax year 2015 legally did not pay any federal income tax  (Source: IRS).


Some Paid, Some Did Not


Americans filed 150.5 million tax returns in tax year 2015. 66% of the returns (99.0 million) paid federal income tax while 34% of the returns (51.5 million) did not pay any federal income tax (Source: IRS).


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Useful Financial Website(s)


my Social Security


Check Out these my Social Security Features in the New Year

2018 is almost here! It’ll be a New Year. There’s no better time to tell you about the features we have in my Social Security. They not only save you time, but also put you in control of your retirement future. There are a growing number of states (and the District of Columbia) where, if you’re a resident, you can request a replacement Social Security card online. Our new online version of the Application for a Replacement Social Security Card can make getting a replacement easy and stress free. It allows people to apply for a replacement card through my Social Security without traveling to a field office or card center, as long as you’re not requesting a name change or any other change to your card. We are working to add this capability to every state.


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Advisor Survey


Value-added Continuing Education Programs


We are totally committed to providing you with the best possible service. Our value-added continuing education survey needs your input please. As a thank you for completing the survey, you will receive a 10% discount off your next correspondence CE course order. The survey should only take about 3 minutes. Many thanks in advance for your time and input!


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Advisor Tools


Financial / Insurance
Calculators & Websites


An extensive list of online calculators and informational websites.


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Requirement Updates


Several states have updated their insurance CE requirements. (View updates, CE requirements and more by clicking on the link below.)


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Featured Self-Study CE Course


Retirement Plans for Small Businesses


Small businesses constitute an essential element of the U.S. economy. Approximately 30 million small businesses operate in the United States, making up the vast majority of employer firms in the country. Collectively, these small businesses employ nearly 80 million workers or approximately half of all private sector employees.


Self-Study CE Course Catalogs


As a top-notch continuing education provider we:

  • Deliver CE to financial and insurance advisors
  • Offer up-to-date and industry pertinent CE courses that maximize credits
  • Provide ClearCert certified long-term care and annuity training CE courses
  • Supply CE courses that are approved in all 50 states and the
    District of Columbia


Order CE courses toll free: 1-800-345-5669 or local: 727-853-0575
OR send an email to


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  Super CE Programs
  1. Classroom course: 1-hour (instructor-led)
  2. Correspondence/self-study course: Provides up to 21 hours of state insurance CE and 5 or 10 hours of professional designation CE
  3. Increase meeting attendance and leverage your time
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What Advisors Say...


“Thanks! This was the most enjoyable CE I’ve completed in my over 14+ years as an advisor. I’ll be back.”  ~ Raymond James Advisor

“I didn’t even need the CE, but took the class to expand my knowledge and understanding. Thank you BEST.”  ~ Merrill Lynch Advisor

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