Your Financial Planning Playbook—2016

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Why Plan?

Most entrepreneurs need a baseline plan to achieve financial objectives, alongside prudent risk-taking and innovative thinking.

We've created this 2016 calendar to help you cover the financial planning bases, month by month, including tips from honing your investment strategy to optimizing your charitable giving. We also included the annual tax limits for the year.

These steps can help you build a solid foundation for a pyramid of personal financial success. Should you have questions, our wealth advisors are happy to help.

Q1   Q2   Q3   Q4

January—Develop an Investment Strategy

  • Define your goals and objectives
  • Develop a plan to reach your short- or long-term goals
  • If self-directed, focus on asset allocation, diversification and investment selection/location
  • Conduct an annual strategic review with your wealth advisor

February—Create a Budget

  • Define essential and discretionary expenses
  • Evaluate sources of income (regular vs. not)
  • Establish a liquid emergency fund
  • Evaluate dispassionately

March—Organize Taxes

  • Gather tax paperwork (W-2s, K-1s, 1099s, receipts)
  • Submit to tax professional
  • Always double- and triple-check
  • File for an extension?
  • Notice high-tax investments

April—Focus on Retirement

  • Open and fund an IRA (for prior and/or current year)
  • Consider converting to a Roth IRA
  • Revisit your 401(k) deferrals
  • Consider tax-deferred annuities or deferred compensation plans

May—Revisit College Savings Plan

  • Compare college savings vehicles (529s, Coverdell, UTMAs, etc.)
  • Fund with a lump sum or periodic contributions
  • Educate yourself on the cost of education

June—Review Estate Plan

  • Establish main estate documents: will, trust, health care directive, power of attorney
  • Update beneficiaries
  • Determine annual gifts (utilizing the annual gift tax exclusion)
  • Consider advanced estate planning techniques (GRAT, ILIT, etc.)

July—Do a Mid-Year Portfolio Check

  • Compare asset allocation to target
  • Conduct a performance review
  • Understand performance attribution
  • Rebalance, if needed

August—Review Debt and Insurance

  • Refinance your mortgage
  • Evaluate credit card and other consumer debt facilities
  • Review life, disability, long term care, homeowner's, umbrella, auto insurance

September—Consolidate Accounts

  • Consider the benefits: simplicity, convenience, lower fees, fewer passwords, better control, higher service level
  • Consolidate vs. aggregate using Mint, Quicken, etc.
  • Roll over old 401(k) plans

October—Start Year-End Tax Planning

  • Manage investment gain and losses (e.g. tax-loss harvesting)
  • Review stock option or RSU exercise strategy
  • Revisit AMT
  • Utilize tax-credits/deductions (e.g. education, energy credits, etc.)

November—Review Health/Workplace Benefits

  • Watch for your annual benefits open-enrollment window
  • Review all coverage and options and update if needed
  • Elect 401(k), ESPP, deferred compensation plan participation
  • Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs) for health/dependent care expenses

December—Give to Charity

  • Review the charities you support
  • Optimize ways to give through Donor Advised Funds (DAFs) for the benefit of easier recordkeeping and granting
  • Gift long-term capital-gains property

Items above are for information purposes only. Your individual tax or estate planning situations may differ and you should consult your tax and legal advisor for such guidance.

Key 2016 Annual Limits Relating to Financial Planning* 

Elective deferrals 401(k), 403(b), etc.
Catch-up contribution (for age 50+)
$18,000 (no change)
$6,000 (no change)
IRA or Roth IRA contribution limit
Catch-up contribution (for age 50+)
$5,500 (no change)
$1,000 (no change)
SEP IRA contribution maximum
Roth IRA phase-out (married filing jointly)
$53,000 (no change)
Social Security wage base $118,500 (no change)
Annual gift tax exclusion $14,000 (no change)
Gift Exclusion to a non-U.S. citizen spouse $148,000
Estate/Gift/GSTT tax basic exclusion $5,450,000
Maximum estate tax rate 40%
Highest marginal fed. income tax rate (39.6%)—Single $415,050
Highest marginal fed. income tax rate (39.6%)—Married $466,950
Personal exemption ($4,050) phase-out—Single/Married starts at $259,400/$311,300
Itemized deduction phase-out (up to 80%)—Single/Married $259,400/$311,300
Kiddie tax limited standard deduction $1,050 (no change)
Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) exemption—Single/Married $53,900/$83,800
Flexible Spending Account $2,550 (no change)
For California Residents: CA College Access Tax Credit Fund**  50% of contributed amount



*No change means that there were no changes made for 2016 from 2015. Most of the retirement plan contribution limits did not change for 2016 because the increase in the cost-of-living index did not meet the statutory thresholds that trigger their adjustment. However, other limitations changed as the increase in the index did meet the statutory thresholds.

**The College Access Tax Credit (CATC) is a credit available to individuals and business entities that contribute to the CATC Fund. The California Educational Facilities Authority (CEFA) administers the fund.

The CATC is available for taxable years 2014-2017. The credit is a percentage of the amount you contribute each taxable year and can be used to offset tax, including reducing the tax below tentative minimum tax.

Donate to the California College Access Tax Credit Fund—The new California personal and corporate tax credit is effective for tax years 2014 through 2016. Making a cash donation to the College Access Tax Credit Fund before year-end will not only help fund additional Cal Grants to eligible students, but could mean as much as 88% (vs. 53% for donations to other charities) in tax savings for every dollar contributed. Interested donors must submit an application that takes up to 10 days to process, so act early if you'd like to make a contribution by year-end.

Sources: Based on current published tax rates from IRS and CCH web sites. Individual tax rates may differ based upon current specific tax situation.


The Fine Print

This material, including without limitation the statistical information herein, is provided for informational purposes only. The material is based in part upon information from third-party sources that we believe to be reliable, but which has not been independently verified by us and, as such, we do not represent that the information is accurate or complete. The information should not be viewed as tax, investment, legal or other advice, nor is it to be relied on in making an investment or other decision. You should obtain relevant and specific professional advice, before making any investment decision. Nothing relating to the material should be construed as a solicitation or offer, or recommendation, to acquire or dispose of any investment or to engage in any other transaction. Past performance is not a guide to future performance. Opinions and estimates are as of a certain date and subject to change without notice.

All material presented, unless specifically indicated otherwise, is under copyright to SVB Wealth Advisory, Inc. and its affiliates and is for informational purposes only. None of the material, nor its content, nor any copy of it, may be altered in any way, transmitted to, copied or distributed to any other party, without the prior express written permission of SVB Wealth Advisory, Inc. All trademarks, service marks and logos used in this material are trademarks or service marks or registered trademarks of SVB Financial Group or one of its affiliates or other entities.

©2016 SVB Financial Group. All rights reserved. Silicon Valley Bank is a member of FDIC and Federal Reserve System. SIVB, SVB>, SVB Financial Group, Silicon Valley Bank Make Next Happen Now, are registered trademarks, used under license. SVB Wealth Advisory, Inc. is a registered investment advisor and non-bank affiliate of Silicon Valley Bank and a member of SVB Financial Group.

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Neither SVB Wealth Advisory, Inc., Silicon Valley Bank, nor its affiliates provide tax or legal advice. Estate planning requires legal assistance. Please consult your tax or legal advisors for such guidance. Banking services are provided by Silicon Valley Bank, and wealth advisory services are provided by SVB Wealth Advisory, Inc.

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About the Author

Sirma Tzoutzova is a Relationship Manager who specializes in providing personalized wealth management solutions and investment advisory services to entrepreneurs in the technology, life-sciences, private equity/venture capital and premium wine businesses. Her approach and experience help her understand the unique financial planning needs of her clients and their families, at the cross-section of private holdings and traditional investments and through the various stages of their financial life-cycle: from starting up a business, through pre-IPO to after the liquidity event and perhaps onto a new venture. She works closely with her internal team, as well as partners with third party tax, estate and insurance advisors to provide integrated wealth planning and counsel to her clients and their families.

Before joining Silicon Valley Bank, Sirma spent fourteen years with Fidelity Investments primarily in Palo Alto, California where she worked with both self-directed investors and people looking for professional advisory services.

Sirma was born and raised in Sofia, Bulgaria. She graduated from the University of Sofia with a Master’s degree in English and American Studies and a minor in journalism. Prior to immigrating to the US and during her university studies, Sirma worked as a journalist for several Bulgarian and English newspapers and as an interpreter and translator. She holds a number of professional designations: Certified Financial Planner ® (CFP®), Certified Investment Management Analyst ®, (CIMA®), Accredited Domestic Partner Advisor (ADPA®). When she is not busy advising clients and reading financial planning magazines, she enjoys being with her partner and their two children, gardening, doing yoga or enjoying a home-made meal in their Zen-themed back yard. She is also actively involved in the Bulgarian community in the Bay Area volunteering in its weekend school operations.

The individual named here is both a representative of Silicon Valley Bank as well as an investment advisory representative of SVB Wealth Advisory, a registered investment advisor and non-bank affiliate of Silicon Valley Bank, member FDIC . Bank products are offered by SVB Private Bank, a division of Silicon Valley Bank. Products offered by SVB Wealth Advisory, Inc. are not FDIC insured, are not deposits or other obligations of Silicon Valley Bank, and may lose value.