Protecting Your Assets During Challenging Business Times


If you’re like many small business owners, it may not feel like much of a recovery, at least yet. Actually, this could still be the most dangerous time for businesses, with resources cut to the bone and few reserves remaining in the emergency root cellar. All the more reason to cinch that belt one notch tighter, plan for the future, and take steps to protect your assets, during the lean times that may remain while the recovery picks up momentum.

Now is the time to develop a four-step strategy that brings your business through the next few months and positions it for growth as the economy strengthens.

1. Protect Your Customer Base

Your customers are vital assets. They provide the cash to make everything else happen. Take steps to keep them.

Start with some creative, short-term marketing to keep cash flowing for the next several months. First of all, advertise, so your customers know you’re still there. Call or write preferred customers (and today they’re all preferred customers) to thank them for past business and remind them that you’re still there for them. Invite them to drop by for a cup of coffee. Consider short-term price reductions. No business owner likes to discount products or services, but if one of your customers is looking to lower expenses, it may be better to offer a reduction yourself than find out that he or she went elsewhere.

2. Protect Your Employee

Do what it takes to retain quality employees, your greatest business assets. They’ve stayed with you this long: don’t let them slip away now.

First, do not cut pay or benefits. They’ll think your ship is sinking and they may jump. Instead, consider expanding your benefit package. No, you don’t need to do it right now. Instead, look at future benefits. Now may be an ideal time to explore 401(k) or other qualified plan options. Do your homework today. Then, if you like, defer the actual implementation until later in the year. This strategy gives your employees a vision for the future. Plus, it boosts their faith that there will be a future.

Also, now is the time to consider a benefit designed to retain select key employees by utilizing a form of deferred compensation known as “golden handcuffs.” The concept is simple: Using a written agreement, select employees agree to remain with your company until retirement or some other specified period of time. In exchange, they are promised additional compensation to be paid at a later date. (Or, if they die prematurely, their family is promised a life insurance benefit.) This can be a valuable way to retain top performers.

 3. Protect Your Business Infrastructure and Long-term Plans

Draft or update your buy-sell agreement for the eventual transfer of your company at your own retirement or death. Also, look at key executive insurance to help protect your company from loss if a valued employee should die prematurely.

4. Protect Your Company’s and Your Family’s Investment in You

While it’s not polite to brag, you are your business’s greatest business asset, the linchpin that holds everything together. So, protect yourself. Review your company’s life insurance program. That way, if something happens to you, your business and your family will be financially protected.

Data and information is provided for informational purposes only, and is not intended for solicitation or trading purposes. Please consult your tax and legal advisors regarding your individual situation.


Posted by Troy Barrow, LUTCF – Troy is an independent Agent practicing professionally for six years and is the owner of Arlington Insurance Planning Services, licensed in the States of New York and New Jersey. You may contact Troy at 646 580-5189 or


What’s more important, Time? or Timing?

Image         Why Is Time So Important When it Comes to Saving?

 A $1 million nest egg by age 65 — it’s a nice thought, but such a nest egg will not happen magically. Accumulating assets for retirement takes time and discipline. What are the keys to retirement security? First, it’s important to understand that your savings accumulation success  depends on having a firm financial foundation in place, so in addition to accumulating assets you should have plans in place to protect or replace funds due to advents of risk, like disability or even loss of life. 

Most successful retirement funds are built by making regular payments over time. Simply put, the sooner you begin to save for future financial needs, the better.

 Can You Afford Not to Save?

Time can be one of your most powerful accumulation allies. To illustrate this point, consider the following hypothetical example. Your objective is to accumulate $1 million for retirement by age 65. If you are 25, you will need to make at the beginning of each year an annual contribution of about $6,100, assuming a 6% return. That’s about $500 per month. However, if you wait until age 45, you will need to save over $25,000 a year or approximately $2,100 per month to reach your goal. (This is a hypothetical illustration and is not intended to project the future performance of any particular product.) Although this example is basic, it proves a valuable point: postponing saving until later in the game will force you to dramatically increase your saving habits. This is a difficult task, even for the most disciplined people.

 Where Do You Begin Building a Retirement Portfolio?

Pay yourself first. If you do not currently participate, the first place to begin accumulating savings for retirement is your employer-sponsored qualified retirement plan (401(k), 403(b), etc.). Utilizing your employer-sponsored qualified retirement plan presents a tremendous opportunity for you to get a jump on retirement. Some employers will match employee contributions on a dollar-for-dollar basis, while others may contribute a smaller percentage. Either way, taking advantage of the current tax deductions and the ongoing tax-deferred compounding of earnings makes smart investment sense.

 You can also invest up to $5,5001 in an IRA in 2013. If you’re 50 or older, that amount is $6,500 for 2013. If you do not currently participate in your employer’s qualified retirement plan and if you meet certain income limits, your contributions to a traditional IRA are usually fully tax deductible. This deduction will reduce your taxable income and your current income tax bill. Alternatively, the Roth IRA may be the right choice for your retirement funding. Some advantages of a Roth IRA include:

 • Tax-free accumulation and an entirely tax-free distribution, provided that five years have passed since the first year in which a contribution was made, and you are over the age of 59 ½

• Eligibility for contributions at a higher earned income level compared to traditional IRAs

• No mandatory withdrawals during your lifetime

• The ability to continue making contributions after age 70 ½ if you’re still earning income

• IRS penalty-free withdrawals in a variety of circumstances (same with traditional IRA)

• The ability to contribute to the Roth IRA even if you already participate in an employer-sponsored plan

 If you do participate in your employer’s qualified retirement plan, your deduction for your IRA contribution may be reduced or eliminated depending on your annual adjusted gross income. Even if your contributions are not deductible, you should still consider making a yearly contribution because the money earned in the account compounds tax-deferred.

Typically, withdrawals of earnings will occur in retirement, when you will probably be in a lower tax bracket. Depending on the type of IRA, withdrawals may be taxable and, if you are under age 59 ½, may be subject to a 10% tax penalty.

 How Do I Start Funding for Retirement?

Consult your advisor or if you’re in NY or NJ, find and contact us if you don’t currently have one and make the first step towards your future financial security.


Information provided has been prepared from sources and data we believe to be accurate, but we make no representation as to its accuracy or completeness. Data and information is provided for informational purposes only, and is not intended for solicitation or trading purposes. Please consult your tax and legal advisors regarding your individual situation.


Posted by Troy Barrow, LUTCF – Troy is an independent Agent practicing professionally for six years and is the owner of Arlington Insurance Planning Services, licensed in the States of New York and New Jersey. You may contact Troy at 646 580-5189 or

Husbands, Wives, and Retirement

Retirement — The Dream: After a lifetime of hard work — raising the kids, sweating out the bills, and building a stable and secure life — you and your spouse will be able to enjoy your golden years doing the things you’ve always dreamed about.

Retirement — The Reality: It might be years of fun and leisure, but retirement can also be a time of financial difficulties, compounded by illness and loneliness.

An overly harsh view? Perhaps, but it’s prudent to prepare for the worst while hoping for the best. That’s why married couples need to arrange for their own (and each other’s) retirement security as early as possible. Much of this preparation has to do with recognizing the need to “send money ahead” to fund a comfortable retirement. But there’s more. Couples of all ages need to map out an understanding of the three possible stages of retirement.

Three Stages of Retirement
Stage 1 — Life as a healthy, retired couple. This is the ideal, the retirement dream that most couples envision. If they’ve planned well, they’ll have the money to do everything they’ve dreamed about doing. Unfortunately, “dreaming” is about as far as retirement planning goes for too many people.

Stage 2 — Living with a prolonged illness — possibly a series of them, as health deteriorates in later years. When one partner’s health begins to fail, the other becomes the caregiver. Worse, medical bills begin to soar. Without adequate medical insurance, the financial strain can be devastating.

Stage 3 — One partner dies, possibly leaving the survivor in a financially threatened position, unless proper plans have been made.

Planning Is the Key
The key to coping with the potential financial difficulties of retirement is early planning. If you and your spouse are aware of and prepared for these three stages of retirement, you shouldn’t run the risk of outliving your retirement funds. When the two of you consider retirement, also consider the financial aspects. Whether you’re just starting out on a life together or shopping for that perfect condo on the Gulf of Mexico, you’ll want to consider the following:

• Draft a will with your attorney and keep it current. It’s the starting point for all retirement planning.
• Take time to map out a retirement game plan together. Identify common goals and determine the methods for achieving them. The closer you are to retirement, the more specific your plans should be.
• Share information and responsibilities. Make sure both of you know where all the financial records are and how to access them.
• Send dollars ahead. Know the benefits of your pension and retirement plans, and Social Security. Then begin to build up a supplemental fund of your own. Take charge of your own retirement — a large portion of retirement funds may need to come from personal savings.
• Plan to properly conserve your estate. A will can only go so far. Estate taxes may erode a substantial part of your lifetime legacy — plan ahead to make sure your heirs receive what they deserve.
• Prepare for all possibilities. Life insurance, long-term care insurance and disability insurance (during working years) can be excellent ways to protect the retirement dreams you have.
• Have trusted professionals. It’s important to develop relationships with experts in several areas — legal, tax, insurance, and financial professionals are the people who can help you map out and fund your retirement plan.

For information on how insurance and other financial products can be used to protect your retirement dreams, please contact Troy Barrow, Arlington Insurance Planning Services, at (646) 580-5189 or

Small Business Owner/ Risk Officer – One of the Same! Part 2

In Part 1 we spoke about the importance of planning for the loss of a key employee from the business, making certain the employee/s responsible for profitability can be replaced due to unexpected loss due to death or disability.

In Part 2 we are going to look into what happens with a partnership if there’s an unexpected loss of one of the partners, how is he operation going to continue? Enter The Buy Sell Agreement.

A buy–sell agreement, also known as a buyout agreement, is a legally binding agreement between co-owners of a business that governs the situation if a co-owner dies or is otherwise forced to leave the business, or chooses to leave the business.

Business owners operating as a partnership and are concerned about how the death or disability of a co-owner might affect its operation, a funded buy-sell agreement can help by ensuring that you will be able to purchase your partner’s share, eliminating any doubts about the continuation of the business. You can also avoid the dilemma of being in business with your partner’s survivors, whom may not have the same goals for the future of the business or may not be willing or capable to be productive towards profitability, but always happy to access the business acccount. The funds provided as a result of the proactive planning in a buy–sell agreement, between co-owners of a business can provide a benefit for the deceased partner’s family. The benefit from their point of view, is that of course they may be able to be qiuckly compensated with much needed cash to pay off debt, or to ensure the continuation of the family’s standard of living.

There are also costs and possible disadvantages involved in establishing a buy-sell agreement. One such disadvantage is that the agreement typically limits your freedom to sell the business to outside parties. If you think that a buy-sell agreement might benefit you and your business, consult your attorney and financial professional about the pros and cons of setting one up.

Information provided has been prepared from sources and data we believe to be accurate, but we make no representation as to its accuracy or completeness. Data and information is provided for informational purposes only, and is not intended for solicitation or trading purposes. Please consult your tax and legal advisors regarding your individual situation.