05-31-2018 Columns

What should you look for in an annual financial review? Given the complexities of the investment world, you might consider working with a financial professional to help you move toward your goals, such as a comfortable retirement. You’ll want to establish good communication with whomever you choose, and you should meet in person at least once a year to discuss your situation. At these annual reviews, you’ll want to cover a variety of topics, including these: Your portfolio’s progress – Obviously, you will want to discuss how well your investments are doing. Of course, you can follow their performance from month to month, or even day to day, by reviewing your investment statements and online information, but at your annual meeting, your financial professional can sum up the past year’s results, highlight areas that have done well or lagged, and show you how closely your portfolio is tracking the results you need to achieve your long-term goals. Your investment mix – Your mix of investments – stocks, bonds, government securities and so on – helps determine your success as an investor. But in looking at the various investments in your portfolio, you’ll want to go beyond individual gains and losses to see if your overall mix is still appropriate for your needs. For example, is the ratio of stocks to bonds still suitable for your risk tolerance? Over time, and sometimes without you taking any action, this ratio can shift, as often happens when stocks appreciate so much that they now take up a larger percentage of your portfolio than you intended – with a correspondingly higher risk level. If these unexpected movements occur, your financial professional may recommend you rebalance your portfolio to align it more closely with your goals and risk tolerance. Changes in your family situation – A lot can happen in a single year. You could have gotten married, divorced or remarried, added a child to your family or moved to a new, more expensive house – the list can go on and on. And some, if not all, of these moves could certainly involve your financial and investment pictures, so it’s important to discuss them with your financial professional. Changes in your goals – Since your last annual review, you may have decided to change some of your long-term goals. Perhaps you no longer want to retire early, or you’ve ruled out that vacation home. In any case, these choices may well affect your investment strategies, so it’s wise to discuss them. Changes in the investment environment – Generally speaking, it’s a good idea to establish a long-term investment strategy based on your individual goals, risk tolerance and time horizon, and stick with this basic strategy regardless of the movements of the financial markets or changes in the economy. Still, this doesn’t mean you should never adjust your portfolio in response to external forces. For instance, if interest rates were to rise steadily over a year’s time, you might want to consider some changes to your fixed-income investments, such as bonds, whose value will be affected by rising rates. In any case, it’s another thing to talk about during your annual review. These aren’t the only elements you may want to bring up in your yearly review with your financial professional – but they can prove to be quite helpful as you chart your course toward the future. This article was written by Edward Jones for use by your local Edward Jones Financial Advisor.

Improving road safety for Michigan bicyclists With more than 1,300 miles of biking trails to explore, Michigan has a trail for every interest and cycling level. Michigan also offers more rail trails than any other state and is one of the most scenic states for bicycle touring. As we encourage people to get out and take a bike ride, it is critical that we increase safety for everyone on our roads, especially bicyclists. I recently supported Senate legislation to have Michigan join nearly 40 other states with a safe passing law for drivers passing bicyclists. Senate Bills 123, 124 and 170 would require drivers to allow a safe distance of at least three feet when passing a cyclist on either the left or right side, and would require the state’s initial teen driver education course to include at least one hour of classroom instruction on laws on bikes, motorcycles and other vulnerable roadway users. Drivers would be permitted to pass a bicycle in a no passing zone if it is safe to do so. Thirty-eight states and the District of Columbia have safe passing laws that mention bicycles. Of those, 29 states and the District of Columbia require a passing distance of at least three feet. The bills were spearheaded by Sen. Margaret O’Brien following a 2016 crash in Kalamazoo, in which a pickup truck hit a group of bicyclists, killing five of them. It is about helping prevent further tragedies by making clear to drivers their responsibilities when they approach bicyclists on the road. I encourage bicyclists to always follow safety rules and drivers to always keep an eye out for bicyclists and to pass with care. As always, I look forward to hearing your comments and feedback on the important issues facing Michigan. You can contact me at 517-373-6960.

Protecting Michigan children Protecting our children is a responsibility that all of us share. To that end, the House passed a wide reaching package of bipartisan bills to address a number of issues brought to light by the Nassar sex abuse scandal. My specific piece of legislation in this package increases the number of authority figures who must report evidence of abuse. It received unanimous bipartisan support. More specifically, my bill mandates athletic trainers and physical therapists working with K-12 school sports and college athletic activities to report suspected abuse to the proper authorities, as a measure to better protect Michigan children from child abuse, neglect, and sexual abuse. Trainers and physical therapists, like other mandatory reporters, can be in the best position to identify abuse. As a teacher, I was required to be a mandatory reporter, so I understand what it entails and how important it is. It’s a responsibility shared by educators, nurses and psyc