Use the first quarter to plan for the year ahead and make incremental progress throughout the year

Noreen Bishop Hill, Market Manager at J.P. Morgan Private Bank for the Arizona Market

As we have witnessed over the last couple of years, we live in an unpredictable world. Despite this, as we kick off the year and review 2021 taxes, there are a few steps individuals can take to best prepare financially. 

Taking charge of your wealth planning now, and making adjustments to your financial lifestyle, is crucial to achieving your financial goals for the year. Just as important as putting on your oxygen mask first before helping others, by strategically planning for your finances at the outset, you can best determine the level of support for your loved ones, including your business and philanthropic goals.  

Create a financial to-do list

Creating an annual financial “to-do” list sets you up for success as it holds you accountable and allows you to make incremental progress throughout the year. That list may include funding retirement accounts, such as 401(k)s, 403(b)s and IRAs, as well as deciding if you would like to make any annual exclusion gifts that may help contribute to your financial goals.

As you’re creating a “to-do” list, keep in mind that the current financial climate has indicated interest rate hikes are coming. As such, it is important to consider refinancing and restructuring any debt you may have while interest rates remain at low levels. Time is of the essence as you take  a look at estate planning strategies that may prove to be more lucrative during this first quarter.

Evaluate your liquidity bucket

While inflation is high and interest rates are low, evaluating your liquidity bucket based on your financial “to-do” list and budget allows your money to work for you. In doing so, you will ensure its continuous growth rather than remaining stagnant which can happen if there is too much cash on hand. Furthermore, you can plan your charitable giving for the year ahead and take extra time to research causes you may want to support including impactful causes in Arizona. This is a way to utilize your wealth to make a difference locally or more broadly while evaluating how it can also impact your tax situation.  

Protect your wealth against cyber threats

As technology becomes more intertwined in our everyday life with aspects of your financial life managed online, it is important to consider the implications it may have for your financial lifestyle. Making sure you and your family are cyber safe will be key to your financial security in the future due to the increase in cases of cyber theft each year. 

The good news is that there are many safeguards and precautions you can put in place to protect yourself and your loved ones from cyber security threats. Planning a family meeting can be a useful tool to address cyber concerns. As a group, family members can ensure they are on the same page and vigilant in their efforts to prevent possible cyber threats. 

Pay attention to “megatrends” while reviewing your portfolio

To best set yourself up for investing this year, review your portfolio and the risks you are taking in each pool of capital across your balance sheet. Consider “megatrends” to add or expand on in your portfolio such as digital transformation and healthcare innovation for longer-term goals as certain industries come into focus. As you consider how your investments can make a difference, take into account utilizing sustainability and impact investing across your portfolio. Additionally, taking a look at firms dedicated to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion efforts can be another way your investments make a difference in the world. 

By completing these actions alongside your loved ones, you are setting yourself up for success. Scheduling a meeting with your wealth advisor will help assist you in coming up with a unique and catered plan to reach your financial goals in 2022. 

Noreen Bishop Hill is the Market Manager and Managing Director for the J.P. Morgan Private Bank’s Arizona Market and is based out of Scottsdale, Arizona.

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