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Earlier this week I attended the Social Media Strategies Summit in Las Vegas.  The Summit proved to be an interesting experience, one that allowed me to hear from some of the notable names in the social media arena.  On the surface social media may not seem to have any correlation to what I do as a financial blogger, but I beg to differ.  Social media seeks to connect users to content available on many platforms, something that would be beneficial to a blogger.  In addition to the standard platforms like: LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook new platforms continue to emerge so that people’s time is divvied up even more.

As a blogger the goal is to get the message out that you write about.  A common outlet for promotion is through your own website, but even this is not enough.  Millennials everywhere are adapting to emerging technology and platforms.  One notable change is the way companies are positioning new products such as apps.  It used to be where companies would just advertise on their website or through word of mouth.  Now as I scroll through Twitter I notice lots of new technology promoting investing, saving, and trading.  So it appears that Financial Services is becoming more social media savvy as companies have a presence on multiple platforms and vie for their audiences’ attention.

One common theme that I noticed throughout the summit was the idea of creating personas.  A persona is a way to segment your intended audience.  Depending on the goal of the company or entity more than one persona may be appropriate.  For Financial Professionals and the Financial Services Industry as a whole personas play an integral part, because without understanding your customers you cannot add value and solve the issues that they face. I like the 12 point marketing persona checklist offered by Heidi Cohen as an aid in developing a persona, below are the 12 questions being asked.

1. What are their demographics?
2. What is their lifestyle?
3. What are their interests?
4. Who influences their product choices?
5. What are their personal goals?
6. What are they like from an emotional perspective?
7. What are their past behaviors?
8. Why do they interact with your company and your competitors?
9. What do they want from your company?
10. Where do they look for information about your product category?
11. What
type of information do they want?
12. Where are they when they look for information?

Once you have an understanding of who you will market to and the avenues you will use to market, the next important thing to understand is what you will market.  So there were discussions about the content that firms are creating and how to make it more relevant to your intended audience.  In her keynote presentation, speaker Pam Moore of Marketing Nutz noted that brands creating content should do the following: entertain, educate, inspire, help, and tell stories.  With my writing and blog, Investing Dollars and Cents those five things just noted are what I intend to do.  If there is a financial concept that is important to you that you have an interest in learning more on, feel free to share it with me.  

 
http://heidicohen.com/marketing-persona/

 
 
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Having an estate plan is a must to have a successful transfer of wealth.  You work hard for your assets, and they should be distributed in the manner in which you intend.  If no estate plan exists your assets are subject to various laws, and processes which slow down the transfer to your intended recipients.

Components of an Estate an Estate Plan

Some of the components in a proper estate plan include the following listed below:

Will- A will is a legal document that allows you to state how you would like your assets to be distributed upon death.

Trust- A trust account is its own entity that is managed by a trustee for the benefit of someone.  It allows you to put in provisions about how the funds will be distributed, and the trustee has a fiduciary responsibility to follow the terms
of the trust.

Life Insurance- A great resource for insuring that future financial needs are met. 

Charitable Giving- As part of your plan you can detail what portion of your assets will go to the organizations
that you care about.

Tax Consideration-
The federal government taxes transfers of wealth in three ways: through the estate tax, the gift tax and the generation-skipping transfer tax. Together these taxes make up the federal transfer tax system. In addition, many U.S. states impose estate taxes.*1  Most relatively simple estates (cash, publicly traded securities, small amounts of other easily valued assets, and no special deductions or elections, or jointly held property) do not require the filing of an estate tax return. A filing is required for estates with combined gross assets and prior taxable gifts exceeding $5,430,000 in 2015.*2

Named Beneficiaries- Naming a beneficiary on an account is the best way to insure that the assets transfer to that individual.  One important thing to note is that having a written beneficiary will override anything written in a will.  Usually assets that have beneficiaries are able to bypass the probate process.  Some of the assets that allow the designation of a beneficiary are: investment accounts with a transfer on death designation, retirement accounts,
trust accounts, and life insurance.  Depending on the setup annuities and bank accounts may also be able to
have beneficiaries.  
 
Dying Intestate- To die intestate means that the person did not leave a will behind with instructions on how to transfer their assets.  In this case the estate will have to go to probate, and someone will be appointed as an Executor/Administrator to handle the individual’s estate.  This means that the state the individual was a resident of will determine how the assets are distributed according to its laws.  Going through probate can be a costly and time consuming process.  
 
To Do List:

Name beneficiaries for your assets, and make sure that these get updated if you want the asset to go to a different person in the future.

Understand how your assets will be transferred.

Review your estate plan often, especially when various life events occur.

Seek professional help from a tax advisor and attorney.

*1 http://taxfoundation.org/tax-topics/estate-and-gift-taxes
 *2 http://www.irs.gov/Businesses/Small-Businesses-&-Self-Employed/Estate-Tax