Top Three Marketing Trends of 2015

Prism Insights LogoTime for goal-setting, projections, resolutions and the proliferation of Top “Name Your Number” Lists for the coming year. It is a little known fact that we marketers actually take a secret oath to create at least one obligatory Top Prognosis list every January. Don’t fulfill this obligation and one risks being kicked out of the marketing club and sent to the mail room. (Do companies even have mail rooms anymore?)

So it is with glee that the team here at Prism shares our Top Three Marketing Factoids for 2015…and what they mean for your business.

Click here for the full list: Prism Insights: Marketing Trends of 2015

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President’s Message – January 6th, 2015

I’m contemplating forums and how they work over time; specifically the benefits that I get from my CFBC Forum. It’s a huge cornucopia (like that scrabble winner?). It’s more than I could have ever imagined before getting involved with the Chicago Family Business Council. It’s what we talk about when “outsiders” ask what we’re all about. Peer-to-Peer support, person-family-business experienced as one. Could we get more? Could we expect more?

Most of our more established (older) forums seem to be comprised of birds of a feather. Folks in similar situations and positions within their lives and businesses. The commonalities and similarities of our opportunities and problems are comforting, enlightening, and useful. Very cool, but consider this:

Something very different is happening and proving to be even more useful in our newer forums. Diversity. And the results that we’ve seen are surprising and amazing. These people are contributing in their forums the same way we all have learned, the EI way, but from very different backgrounds and points of view. And the insights and experiences shared are broader and more thought provoking. Diversity, it’s very intriguing. I wonder how we can inject some of that into our well-established forums. I wonder if it would be more beneficial than disruptive. I wonder. What do you think?

Bob Carmody President Signature 2014

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President’s Message – December 2nd, 2014

I like writing about the things that I’m thinking about.  I’d truly enjoy hearing back from you on these things or anything else that we should ponder.  I’m seem to be talking over the canyon and have yet to hear an echo!

Emotional Intelligence and CFBC involvement have changed me and my life in unmeasurable ways.  I can’t imagine how I got along before.  But I’ve begun to struggle.  The rest of the world doesn’t know EI!  While we’re all practicing disciples living by example, we’re otherwise without tools to share with the non-initiated.

What happens in forum stays in forum.  How precise is that concept when it comes to sharing the EI philosophy and practice outside of CFBC and our safe haven forums?  Our families could benefit, don’t you agree?  Your brothers and sisters?  How about other friends or workmates?  What have we got for them?  Not enough I think.

Let me know what you have to say about this thought:  As part of the work of CFBC and each one of us, should we develop and implement the EI extension plan (by any name you like) for the outside world?

I’m writing this a few days before Thanksgiving and I’d like to share one of the things that I’m thankful for.  Every experience that I’ve had with each of you in the CFBC. Happy Thanksgiving!

“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together. CFBC, 20 Years Deep.”

Bob Carmody President Signature 2014

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Hiring Trends To Track In 2015


As I work within the walls of family owned, private and publicly held businesses, I have the advantage to see trends that are evolving in the workplace.  Some trends are a flash in the pan and others are game changers.  I wanted to share with you some hiring trends that I feel will carry forward into 2015.

Recruitment continues to be at the top of everyone’s to-do list.  No matter whether an organization is looking for a Manufacturing Plant Operator or a Vice President, the candidate pool for talented individuals is still extremely thin.  In specific sectors such as engineering, unemployment is at 0% and has been for the last 20 months.

Recruitment methods such as CareerBuilder, Monster and Craigslist that have been used regularly as recent as two years ago are bringing very limited results.

85% of the companies I work with from coast-to-coast are turning to executive search firms to help identify talent for all internal positions.  One year ago, only 35% of these companies were using search firms. Keep in mind, these numbers reflect across all business sectors.

In my professional history, I have never seen such a dramatic shift.  This has set off alarm bells for myself and within each HR Department I assist on a weekly basis.

Companies are asking senior and middle managers regularly to shake the trees for referrals.  They are also putting Employee Referral Programs in place and offering $100 to $1000 per employee that is hired.  They are willing to pay up for employees that stay with the company for at least one full year.  In the end, a referral is much more economical than a search fee.

Owners and managers are also leaning on HR Departments to network and look for viable candidates via LinkedIn.  This networking takes time and adds to HR’s current workload.

Given the cost of recruitment and search fees, companies are also having serious discussions about the type of employees they want on the bus.  For example, employers not only want someone who is honest, hardworking and motivated, but are insisting on candidates with high EI along with a curious mind and problem-solving skills.

Many firms believe that individuals with curious minds trump those with high intelligence.  Someone with a curious mind will look at all facets of your business and challenge current processes.  Their well never runs dry because they will always be looking for how to make your company better.  In addition, they will not be fearful to ask questions of their manager or owner.

Lastly, I have seen an uptick in companies developing robust internship programs.  They are going back to the “farm system” mentality.  Employers are conducting on-campus recruitment twice a year, hiring top students and embracing their youthful attitudes so they become an integral part of the team.  If you can provide a growth path for these new grads, this will definitely help ease your hiring needs long-term.

Written by Mary Deibert of Kiara

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U.S. Supreme Court Ruling Finds Inherited IRAs Not Protected In Heir’s Bankruptcy

by Jonathan W Michael and Jeffrey D. Warren

Recently, the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously ruled that the U.S. Bankruptcy Code does not protect funds in an inherited individual retirement account (“inherited IRA”) from a creditor’s claims in the heir’s bankruptcy. The case, Clark v. Rameker, involved petitioners Brandon Clark and Heidi Heffron-Clark who declared bankruptcy in 2010 after their pizza restaurant closed in their hometown of Stoughton, Wisconsin.

In 2000 Ruth Heffron established an IRA naming her daughter, Heidi Heffron-Clark, as the designated beneficiary of her IRA. At Mrs. Heffron’s death in 2001, the IRA had a value of $450,000.

When daughter Heidi filed a Chapter 7 bankruptcy petition in October 2010, the IRA had a value of $300,000. She asserted in her petition that the money in the inherited IRA represented “retirement funds” that were protected from creditor claims. The U.S. Supreme Court rejected her argument and held that assets retained in inherited IRAs are not “retirement funds” within the meaning of the federal bankruptcy laws and therefore are subject to the claims of bankruptcy creditors.

In reaching its conclusion, the Court noted that inherited IRAs are different from traditional IRAs and Roth IRAs because (i) the beneficiary-owner may not contribute additional funds to an inherited IRA, (ii) the assets of the inherited IRA must be withdrawn immediately or over a period years and cannot be retained pending the beneficiary-owner’s future retirement and (iii) unlike a traditional IRA, which imposes a penalty if the owner begins to take withdrawals prior to attaining age 59½, the beneficiary-owner of an inherited IRA may withdraw all or any portion of the assets immediately without penalty.

The Court distinguished a traditional IRA inherited by a spouse from an “inherited IRA.” A surviving spouse can roll the traditional IRA over into a separate IRA in his or her own name. It is not clear how the Court would rule in the event a surviving spouse fails to make such a rollover.

Ruth Heffron probably never gave a second thought to how she should structure her IRA account to protect Heidi in the event of financial problems down the road. Had Ruth designated an irrevocable trust established for Heidi’s benefit as the primary beneficiary of her traditional IRA (instead of designating her daughter individually), Heidi may have been able to protect the inherited IRA funds from her bankruptcy creditors.

At BWM&S we encourage our friends and clients to review their primary estate planning documents, including the beneficiaries of their retirement plan accounts and insurance policies, at least every two years. If you have not had a chance to speak with your attorney about how the Clark v. Rameker case impacts your estate plan, we recommend that you do so.

Please contact Jonathan Michael at or 312/840-7049 and Jeffrey D. Warren at or 312/ 840-7020 with any questions regarding estate and business succession planning, including the implications of Clark v. Rameker.

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President’s Message – November 4th, 2014

Let’s just call it hypothetical. It can happen to each of us. I suspect that most of us are expecting it, and I now suspect that few if any of us are really ready to face it well. A serious offer to buy your business gets put in your lap. OMG!!!

If it’s a fire sale, we know what needs to be done to save the situation. If it’s the result of your efforts to sell the thing, no big problem because you’ve had a good reason to put the plan in motion. But an offer out of the blue? It’s a life changer. You’re going to think a lot differently from that moment on.

Try this on and see if it fits.

It’s been your business. You’ve been in control of every aspect of the business since you ascended to the CEO / Owner / President chair. You’ve probably chose every person (except family) that sits in every executive seat. They are your choices. You’ve set policy and tuned it every time it became obvious that an update was needed. You’ve controlled pricing, customer relations and when to pay bills. You’ve approved the Mission Statement, the website and the social medial strategy. You’ve decided when you’d be in your office and nobody was consulted on that. The list goes on-and-on of the things – big and small –  you’ve controlled for years.

The day after you take the check, you are in control of nothing but your bank account. And maybe that doesn’t matter.  How in the world should you have gotten prepared for this? I’ve no idea but its mighty challenging. Do you talk about this in your forums? If anybody has any advice that they’d let me share next month. I’d be grateful.

“If you want to go fast, go alone.  If you want to go far, go together.  CFBC, 20 Years Deep”

Bob Carmody President Signature 2014

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President’s Message – October 7th, 2014

I’ve been wondering about bringing family members into my business. Seems like a mighty nice thing to do. Trying to see this decision in 360 degrees, I came upon this thought: Will adding family to my company become a competitive advantage or a constraint? Can my thoughts of business continuation and also serving my blood line best be served by bringing familyin and hoping they excel or by bringing in the best candidates available and letting the company profits serve my family? I don’t know yet. How have you addressed this?

“If you want to go fast, go alone.  If you want to go far, go together.  CFBC, 20 Years Deep”

Bob Carmody President Signature 2014

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Social Security Claiming Strategies for Married Couples

Social Security Claiming Strategies for Married Couples
Brought to you by Darrin J. Shallcross, In conjunction with Lincoln Financial Advisors, a registered investment advisor.Deciding when to begin receiving Social Security benefits is a major financial issue for anyone approaching retirement because the age at which you apply for benefits will affect the amount you’ll receive. If you’re married, this decision can be especially complicated because you and your spouse will need to plan together, taking into account the Social Security benefits you may each be entitled to. For example, married couples may qualify for retirement benefits based on their own earnings records, and/or for spousal benefits based on their spouse’s earnings record. In addition, a surviving spouse may qualify for widow or widower’s benefits based on what his or her spouse was receiving.Fortunately, there are a couple of planning opportunities available that you may be able to use to boost both your Social Security retirement income and income for your surviving spouse. Both can be used in a variety of scenarios, but here’s how they generally work.

File and suspend

Generally, a husband or wife is entitled to receive the higher of his or her own Social Security retirement benefit (a worker’s benefit) or as much as 50% of what his or her spouse is entitled to receive at full retirement age (a spousal benefit). But here’s the catch: under Social Security rules, a husband or wife who is eligible to file for spousal benefits based on his or her spouse’s record cannot do so until his or her spouse begins collecting retirement benefits. However, there is an exception–someone who has reached full retirement age but who doesn’t want to begin collecting retirement benefits right away may choose to file an application for retirement benefits, then immediately request to have those benefits suspended, so that his or her eligible spouse can file for spousal benefits.

The file-and-suspend strategy is most commonly used when one spouse has much lower lifetime earnings, and thus will receive a higher retirement benefit based on his or her spouse’s earnings record than on his or her own earnings record. Using this strategy can potentially boost retirement income in three ways.

  1. The spouse with higher earnings who has suspended benefits can accrue delayed retirement credits at a rate of 8% per year (the rate for anyone born in 1943 or later) up until age 70, thereby increasing his or her retirement benefit by as much as 32%.
  2. The spouse with lower earnings can immediately claim a higher (spousal) benefit.
  3. Any survivor’s benefit available to the lower-earning spouse will also increase because a surviving spouse generally receives a benefit equal to 100% of the monthly retirement benefit the other spouse was receiving (or was entitled to receive) at the time of his or her death.

Here’s a hypothetical example. Leslie is about to reach her full retirement age of 66, but she wants to postpone filing for Social Security benefits so that she can increase her monthly retirement benefit from $2,000 at full retirement age to $2,640 at age 70 (32% more). However, her husband Lou (who has had substantially lower lifetime earnings) wants to retire in a few months at his full retirement age (also 66). He will be eligible for a higher monthly spousal benefit based on Leslie’s work record than on his own–$1,000 vs. $700. So that Lou can receive the higher spousal benefit as soon as he retires, Leslie files an application for benefits, but then immediately suspends it. Leslie can then earn delayed retirement credits, resulting in a higher retirement benefit for her at age 70 and a higher widower’s benefit for Lou in the event of her death.

File for one benefit, then the other

Another strategy that can be used to increase household income for retirees is to have one spouse file for spousal benefits first, then switch to his or her own higher retirement benefit later.

Once a spouse reaches full retirement age and is eligible for a spousal benefit based on his or her spouse’s earnings record and a retirement benefit based on his or her own earnings record, he or she can choose to file a restricted application for spousal benefits, then delay applying for retirement benefits on his or her own earnings record (up until age 70) in order to earn delayed retirement credits. This may help to maximize survivor’s income as well as retirement income, because the surviving spouse will be eligible for the greater of his or her own benefit or 100% of the spouse’s benefit.

This strategy can be used in a variety of scenarios, but here’s one hypothetical example that illustrates how it might be used when both spouses have substantial earnings but don’t want to postpone applying for benefits altogether. Liz files for her Social Security retirement benefit of $2,400 per month at age 66 (based on her own earnings record), but her husband Tim wants to wait until age 70 to file. At age 66 (his full retirement age) Tim applies for spousal benefits based on Liz’s earnings record (Liz has already filed for benefits) and receives 50% of Liz’s benefit amount ($1,200 per month). He then delays applying for benefits based on his own earnings record ($2,100 per month at full retirement age) so that he can earn delayed retirement credits. At age 70, Tim switches from collecting a spousal benefit to his own larger worker’s retirement benefit of $2,772 per month (32% higher than at age 66). This not only increases Liz and Tim’s household income but also enables Liz to receive a larger survivor’s benefit in the event of Tim’s death.

Things to keep in mind

  • Deciding when to begin receiving Social Security benefits is a complicated decision. You’ll need to consider a number of scenarios, and take into account factors such as both spouses’ ages, estimated benefit entitlements, and life expectancies. A Social Security representative can’t give you advice, but can help explain your options.
  • Using the file-and-suspend strategy may not be advantageous when one spouse is in poor health or when Social Security income is needed as soon as possible.
  • Delaying Social Security income may have tax consequences–consult a tax professional.
  • Spousal or survivor’s benefits are generally reduced by a certain percentage if received before full retirement age.


Darrin  J. Shallcross is a registered representative and investment advisor representative of Lincoln Financial Advisors Corp., a broker-dealer (member SIPC) and registered investment advisor, 568 Pennsylvania Ave Glen Ellyn, Il 60137 630-469-7526, offering insurance through Lincoln affiliates and other fine companies. This information should not be construed as legal or tax advice. You may want to consult a tax advisor regarding this information as it relates to your personal circumstances. The content of this material was provided to you by Lincoln Financial Advisors for its representatives and their clients.


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President’s Message – September 9th, 2014

Last month I was contemplating the effect of personal tech devices on us and wondering if the way folks live with their smart phones is as wrong as it feels to me or if it’s really a revolution or perhaps an evolution? Since then, I came across this paragraph in The Fish That Ate the Whale: The Life and Times of America’s Banana King by Rich Cohen and it wrapped around my business strategy thinking like a big octopus. I wonder what your reaction to these words are.

“A corporation is a product of a particular place and a particular time. U.S. Steel was Pennsylvania in the 1890’s. Microsoft was Seattle in the 1980’s. It’s where and when their sense of the world was fixed. The company brain is hardwired. Which is why a corporation, though conceivably immortal, tends to have a life span, tends to age and die. Unless remade by a new generation of pioneers – in which case it’s a different company – most corporations do not outlive the era of their first success. When the ideas and assumptions prevalent at the time of their founding go out of fashion, the company fades.”

If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together. CFBC.

Bob Carmody President Signature 2014

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Draft Instructions for Employer Reporting of Health Coverage Released

  • On Aug. 28, 2014, the IRS released draft instructions for 6055 & 6056 reporting.
  • Draft versions of forms for 6055 & 6056 reporting were released in July 2014.
  • These instructions are draft versions only, and should not be relied upon for filing.
  • Both the forms and instructions will be finalized later this year.

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) created new reporting requirements under Internal Revenue Code (Code) Sections 6055 and 6056. Under these new reporting rules, certain employers must provide information to the IRS about the health plan coverage they offer (or do not offer) to their employees.

On Aug. 28, 2014, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) released draft instructions for the forms that employers will use to report under Code Sections 6055 and 6056.

  • Instructions for Forms 1094-B and 1095-B: These forms will be used by entities reporting under Section 6055 as health insurance issuers, sponsors of self-insured group health plans that are not reporting as applicable large employers (ALEs), sponsors of multiemployer plans and providers of government-sponsored coverage.
  • Instructions for Forms 1094-C and 1095-C: These forms will be used by ALEs that are reporting under Section 6056, as well as for combined reporting by ALEs who report under both Sections 6055 and 6056.

These instructions are draft versions only, and should not be relied upon for filing. The IRS may make changes to the instructions prior to releasing final versions.

Draft versions of Forms 1094-B, 1095-B, 1094-C and 1095-C were released in July 2014. The IRS expects both the forms and instructions to be finalized later this year.

Overview of Sections 6055 & 6056
The Code Sections 6055 and 6056 reporting requirements are intended to promote transparency with respect to health plan coverage and costs. They will also provide the government with information to administer other ACA mandates, such as the employer and individual mandates.

Code Section 6055 requires health insurance issuers, self-insured health plan sponsors, government agencies that administer government-sponsored health insurance programs and any other entity that provides minimum essential coverage (MEC) to report information on that coverage to the IRS and covered individuals.

Code Section 6056 requires ALEs subject to the employer shared responsibility rules to report information on the health coverage offered to full-time employees to the IRS and covered individuals.

Filing Requirements
Under both Sections 6055 and 6056, each reporting entity will be required to file all of the following with the IRS:

  • A separate information return for each individual who is provided MEC (for ALEs, this includes only full-time employees); and
  • A single transmittal form for all of the returns filed for a given calendar year.

Filing Due Dates
Under both Sections 6055 and 6056, the return and transmittal forms must be filed with the IRS on or before Feb. 28 (March 31, if filed electronically) of the year following the calendar year of coverage. However, if the regular due date falls on a Saturday, Sunday or legal holiday, entities should file by the next business day. For calendar year 2015, these forms must be filed by Feb. 29, 2016, (or March 31, 2016, if filing electronically).

These forms are not required to be filed for 2014. However, in preparation for the first required filing (in 2016 for 2015 coverage), reporting entities may voluntarily file in 2015 for 2014 in accordance with the draft forms and instructions. More information about voluntary filing is available on the IRS website.

Statements Furnished to Individuals
All entities reporting under Section 6055 or 6056 must furnish a copy of Form 1094-C or 1095-C, as applicable, to the person identified as the responsible individual named on the form. Statements must be furnished by mail, unless the recipient affirmatively consents to receive the statement electronically.

The statement must be furnished on or before Jan. 31 of the year following the calendar year of coverage. The first statements are due to individuals by Feb. 1, 2016.

Where To File
Any reporting entity that is required to file at least 250 returns under Section 6055 or 6056 must file electronically. The 250-or-more requirement applies separately to each type of return and separately to each type of corrected return.

Reporting entities that are filing on paper will send paper returns to the address provided in the instructions, based on where their principal business, office or agency (or legal residence, in the case of an individual) is located.

Instructions for Forms 1094-B and 1095-B
Under Section 6055, every person that provides MEC to an individual during a calendar year must file Forms 1094-B (a transmittal) and 1095-B (an information return). This includes:

  • Health insurance issuers or carriers;
  • Self-insured health plan sponsors;
  • Government agencies that administer government-sponsored health insurance programs; and
  • Any other entity that provides MEC.

However, ALEs subject to the employer shared responsibility rules that sponsor self-insured group health plans will report information about the coverage in Part III of Form 1095-C, instead of on Form 1095-B. In general, an employer with 50 or more full-time employees (including full-time equivalents) during the prior calendar year is considered an ALE.

Instructions for Forms 1094-C and 1095-C
All ALEs subject to the employer shared responsibility rules must file Form 1094-C (a transmittal) and Form 1095-C (an information return) for each full-time employee for any month.

  • Form 1094-C is used to report summary information for each employer to the IRS and to transmit Forms 1095-C to the IRS.
  • Form 1095-C is used to report information about each employee.

These forms help the IRS determine whether an ALE owes penalties under the employer shared responsibility rules, as well as whether an employee is eligible for premium tax credits.

How to Complete Forms
ALEs that sponsor a self-insured health plan must also complete Form 1095-C, Parts I and III, for any individual (including any full-time employee, non-full-time employee, family members and others) who enrolled in the self- insured health plan. If the employee is full-time for any month, the ALE must also complete Part II. If the employee is not full-time for all 12 months of the calendar year, the ALE must complete only Part II, line 14, by entering code 1G in the “All 12 Months” column.

For other types of coverage, the issuer or plan sponsor will provide the information about their health coverage to any enrolled employees. The employer should not complete Form 1095-C, Part III, for those employees.

For other types of coverage, the issuer or plan sponsor will provide the information about their health coverage to any enrolled employees. The employer should not complete Form 1095-C, Part III, for those employees.

Authoritative Transmittal for ALEs Filing Multiple Forms 1094-C
A Form 1094-C must be attached to any Forms 1095-C filed by an ALE. An ALE may submit multiple Forms 1094-C, each accompanied by Forms 1095-C, for some of its employees, provided that Forms 1095-C are filed for each employee for whom the ALE is required to file.

ALEs must file a single Form 1094-C reporting aggregate employer-level data for all full-time employees, identifying the form, on line 19 of Part II, as the Authoritative Transmittal. One Authoritative Transmittal must be filed for each ALE, even if multiple Forms 1094-C are filed by and on behalf of the ALE. For example, if an employer has prepared a separate Form 1094-C for each of its two divisions to transmit Forms 1095-C for each division’s full-time employees, one of the Forms 1094-C filed must be designated as the Authoritative Transmittal and report aggregate employer-level data for all full-time employees (for both divisions).

One Form 1095-C for Each Employee of Each ALE
There must be only one Form 1095-C for each full-time employee of an ALE. For example, if an ALE separately reports for the full-time employees of its two divisions, the ALE must combine the information for any employee who worked at both divisions during the year so that there is only a single Form 1095-C for that employee which reports information for all 12 months of the calendar year. In contrast, a full-time employee who works for more than one ALE that is a member of the same aggregated ALE group (that is, works for two separate ALE members) must receive a separate Form 1095-C from each ALE member.

More Information

Please contact GCG Financial, Inc. for more information on reporting under Code Sections 6055 and 6056.

Posted in GCG Financial, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , |