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New Year, New Goals

OK, we’re a week into the new year.  Have you already cheated on your resolutions?  We aren’t encouraging you to give up, but if you’d like to add some new resolutions – ones that would make your financial advisor proud – we have a few ideas.  In 2018, why not skip the line for the Stairmaster and at The Container Store; instead try our accessible, yet impactful ideas for re-resolving to make 2018 a great year. Rusty Resolve to eliminate stock certificates!  While the aesthetics may appeal to some, you’ll avoid potential headaches if you deposit those certificate shares into your brokerage account.  I’ve been working with a client for 4 years trying to recover shares his now deceased wife owned in certificate form.  The shares were originally for a small North Carolina bank which subsequently was part of several mergers and is now Royal Bank of Canada (RBC).  And because RBC is a Canadian company, there are additional hurdle ...

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Our Favorite Podcasts & Blogs

Our Favorite Podcasts & Blogs
by Kali Whitaker At Hilltop, we are big fans of podcasts and blogs – this is a golden age for content, with a virtually infinite variety of topics and perspectives available.  A client recently suggested we share our listening (and reading) list, and we figured now is a great time to share.  We hope you’ll find something to pass the time during a flight home for the holidays or on your evening commutes in 2018.   Rusty Eriksen - Planet Money – A twice weekly podcast explaining what’s happening in the economy with levity.  As Planet Money says, “Imagine you could call up a friend and say, ‘Meet me at the bar and tell me what's going on with the economy.’ Now imagine that's actually a fun evening. That's what we're going for at Planet Money.” Given the current debate about tax code changes, here’s a podcast with five economists spanning the ideological spectrum discussing six tax code changes they&rsqu ...

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Charities to Know in the Triangle

Charities to Know in the Triangle
By: Kali Whitaker “Make a positive impact on the world around you.” It’s more than just a key element of Hilltop’s mission statement. We believe that making a difference in the lives of others is a critical component to living a fulfilling life. There is a plethora of organizations in the Triangle working to improve lives – we have listed only a few. To be clear, we are not ranking or grading local charitable organizations, but we hope to make you aware of opportunities to get involved and make a difference in a way that aligns to your skills, hobbies or interests.   Big Brothers Big Sisters About (via bbbstri.org) As a proud big sister for over 4 years, I couldn’t not include Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Triangle (BBBS) in my list of great charities in the triangle. BBBS is a non-profit organizations that matches kids in need of mentorship with a caring and kind adult. One of the things I find unique about the organization is that the mentor-mentee r ...

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Retirement is a Great Time to Engage with Your Community

Retirement is a Great Time to Engage with Your Community
When you retire, you don’t have to travel the world to expand your horizons.  You can grow wherever you live.  In our October retirement panel event, we explored several ways to make the most of your retirement.  Of course, we learned about travel options (see “Enjoying the Latest Travel Trends in Retirement”).  But we also explored ways to become more worldly without crossing the county line. For inspiration and ideas on local enrichment opportunities, we heard from: Meri Mitchell, Director of Development at Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Triangle, shared thoughts on volunteerism in general and mentorship specifically.  Garry Crites, Director of the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Duke University, encouraged us to never stop learning or teaching.  Daniel Dinkins, Manager of Operations at UNC Chapel Hill Visitors’ Center, enlightened us on engaging with familiar locations from a fresh perspective. Meri started with a reminder that s ...

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Hilltop Market Update

Hilltop Market Update

Welcome to the first series of videos on the Hilltop Views blog!  We just held our quarterly investment review and wanted to share what we are seeing in investments around the world.

 

Ben Yeager discusses the US – the state of the economy and the market’s recent expansion.

 

 

Chris Hostetler and David Wise address the international situation – ever volatile and evolving, foreign stocks come with unique risks and opportunities relative to US stocks.

 

 

Rusty Eriksen looks at the bond markets and shares some perspective on Jerome Powell, the nominee to be the next Chairman of the Federal Reserve.

 

Enjoy watching, and let us know what you think!

Enjoying the Latest Travel Trends in Retirement

Enjoying the Latest Travel Trends in Retirement
by Chris Hostetler & Kali Whitaker One of the great joys we experience as advisors is living vicariously through clients of ours who are traveling the world.  Often, this is the payoff for years of hard work and careful planning.  So we were excited to host an educational panel recently, “Envision the Retirement of Your Dreams”, with speakers discussing a range of ways to make the most of your time after the career phase of life. Two of our panelists were travel specialists.  Karen Garr is a travel consultant with Maupin Travel in Raleigh.  Tony Lewitt is a hobbyist travel agent who has developed a particular passion for cruising.  Both Karen and Tony shared some ideas and trends that could make travel more enjoyable for you. How many times have you said “When I retire, I’m finally going to (insert grandiose goal here).”  Maybe it’s walking the Great Wall of China or seeing the turtles in the Galapagos; maybe you just want to spend ...

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5 Top Fall Activities in the Triangle

5 Top Fall Activities in the Triangle
By Kali Whitaker, Client Services Coordinator As the leaves turn and college sports kick into gear, we love what the Triangle offers this time of year.  If you’re looking for the best ways to celebrate the season with family and friends, here are some of the things we are looking forward to. Triangle Oktoberfest – Oct 6-7 – Cary’s Booth Amphitheatre From polka bands to the Stein Hoist competition, this event brings a taste of Germany to the Triangle and is sure to delight festival goers of all age. Admission for children 16 and under is free, and don’t worry – beer is regulated and confined to 21+ only zones. The venue will feature numerous local and regional food vendors serving your favorite German treats, so grab your lederhosen or dirndl and enjoy a slice of Bavaria in Cary!    Hill Ridge Farms – Ongoing – Youngsville Hill Ridge Farms is a fun, family-friendly adventure only minutes north of Raleigh, in Youngsville. Create wo ...

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Build Your Team with Purpose

Build Your Team with Purpose
Like me, you have been a part of a team at some point. Early on you may have played on a sports team, been assigned a group project at school, or joined a group of community volunteers.  As adults we trade our backpacks and Little League uniforms for laptops and dress slacks.  Whether you’re collaborating on an annual report or organizing your favorite charity’s annual fundraiser, the team’s success depends on how well you work together.  Good teamwork isn’t happenstance – the team’s chemistry can and should be built intentionally. The ideal team environment combines a healthy balance of individual strengths along with collaborative relationships.  This isn’t always easy to achieve, but the result is efficiency and effectiveness.  At Hilltop, this means a smooth day-to-day process for our team members and a positive experience for our clients.  Poorly performing teams, on the other hand, can lose productivity so the whole is actuall ...

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Equifax data breach – how you can protect yourself

Equifax data breach – how you can protect yourself
As you have probably heard by now, the Equifax credit bureau reported last week that their database was infiltrated by criminals between May and July of this year.  According to Equifax, the criminals gathered information on 143 million people, including names, Social Security numbers, birth dates, addresses, and some driver’s license numbers. What makes this worse is that there was never a realistic way to prevent yourself from being in Equifax’s database.  The three credit bureaus (Experian and TransUnion are the other two) get their information from lenders and public records, so almost every adult in this country has a file, like it or not.  These reports are used by lenders, landlords, potential employers, insurance companies and more to decide whether to extend credit to you, how much to charge for various services, etc. As far as cybersecurity incidents go, this has the potential to be the most damaging to individuals of all time.  The number of people affected is ...

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Don't Sleep on International Stocks

Don't Sleep on International Stocks
We take it for granted now that the world is becoming more globalized every year.  This can be seen in the production of goods – NPR’s Planet Money  produced a series in 2013 following the production of a simple T-shirt, showing how cotton makes its way from the US to Asia or South America for production and back again to the US for sale.  Globalization is also plainly visible in sports marketing – if you watch European football (or soccer, if you will), you can see Chinese ads on the sidelines and American corporate logos on the jerseys. Clearly, money flows between nations more freely than it used to.  As a result, investments in foreign companies have become more mainstream.  Plus, they offer diversification benefits in a portfolio that is heavy in US investments. And yet, as Hilltop believes, many investors may fail to allocate enough of their portfolios to international investments.  Termed a “domestic bias” or “home country bias&rdq ...

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