Market Commentary: Under Pressure

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We live in a world where every inch of our body is subjected to atmospheric pressure of about 14.7 pounds per square inch (psi) at sea level. We don’t do well with abrupt increases, but if the pressure rises gradually, we are able to tolerate a lot more — something even in the range of 400 psi. There are, of course, other pressures placed upon us: pressures to be perfect, to be successful, to fit in, to be fit. From physics, we recall that the only characteristic of pressure is magnitude. From life, we know that magnitude fluctuates and that it often cannot be controlled.

For six months now, governmental policies developed in response to the pandemic have placed unprecedented pressures on individuals, families, groups, businesses, and communities. Some are folding under the pressure, other have exploded, some have adapted, others thrive. Some take medication for relief, others find release in other forms: prayer, kickboxing, community service, grants, loans, forbearance. Many state and local governments and other enterprises working with shaky budgets are unwilling to accept what may be permanent changes in revenues and expenses, and hold their breath for a fifth windfall from Washington. Financial markets, on the other hand, have enjoyed 11 years of monetary policy windfalls in the form of low rates, frequent injections of liquidity, and an ever-expanding balance sheet. So far, none have cracked under the strain of record levels of debt issuance by the U.S. Treasury and American corporations, the worst collapse in GDP in our history, 27 million unemployment claims, hundreds of bankruptcy filings, $26.7 trillion of national debt, a $4 trillion federal budget deficit, $110 billion of state budget shortfalls, and unfunded pension liabilities of $1.62 trillion. Quite to the contrary.

S&P 500 has more than fully recovered from the March coronavirus lockdown shock and is up 8.3% on the year to 3,500 as of August 31. The Nasdaq is up a staggering 31% in 2020 to 11,775. Gold has gained 30% and is now priced at 1,971 an ounce. The 2-year Treasury yield at 0.13% has plummeted 143 basis points. The 10-year is down 121 basis points to 0.70%. The 30-year at 1.47% is 91 basis points lower. The 10-year BAA corporate bond yield has fallen 68 basis point to 3.02%. In the tax-free sector, the 2-year AAA municipal general obligation bond yield has dropped 88 basis points to 0.16%, the 10-year is down 63 basis point to 0.81% and the 30-yield has fallen 53 basis points to 1.56%.

Last week, the Fed indicated that it will continue to monitor the pressure gauge, remaining accommodative regarding rates and tolerating periods of higher inflation in order to focus on keeping unemployment low. The forward-looking stock market, full of optimism for coronavirus treatments and vaccines and pleased with the better than expected economic data, continued to rally. But inflation is not welcome in the lexicon of bondbuyers, so a pressure switch was triggered.. Municipals and Treasuries both weakened; for tax-exempts, it was the third consecutive week of higher yields. Muni investors, flush with cash from more than $47 billion of maturing and called bonds in August added a total of $9.5 billion to mutual funds and ETFs despite increasing credit concerns. On the month, Treasury returns fell 1.20%. The general muni market as measured by the ICE BofAML Municipal Index lost 0.34% while the High Yield Index gained 0.42%. So far this year, Treasuries are up 9.02%, munis are up 3.25%, taxable munis are up 10.45%, and corporate bonds with maturities of 15 year and longer are up 9.05%.

Primary municipal bond volume in August exceeded $40 billion for the third straight month, propelled by $12.6 billion of taxable issuance. In the high yield sector, the Hastings Campus Housing Authority in California sold $406.8 million of non-rated bonds with a final maturity that went all the way out to 2061 priced at 5.00% to yield 4.95%. The Public Finance Authority issued $73.2 million of non-rated bonds for Whitestone Senior Living in Greensboro, North Carolina structured with 2055 term bonds priced at 5.25% to yield 4.56%, and a $20.8 million non-rated transaction for Pine Springs Preparatory Academy in Holly Springs, North Carolina that had 2055 term bonds priced at 6.25% to yield 6.618%. The North Carolina Medical Care Commission came to market with a $47.8 million non-rated deal for Pennybyrn at Maryfield that included a 2050 maturity priced with a 5% coupon to yield 4.09%. The Arizona Industrial Development Authority brought a $28.5 million non-rated financing for Linder Village in Meridian, Idaho with a single maturity in 2031 priced at 5.00% to yield 5.245%.

This week, HJ Sims is in the market with a $135.8 million expansion financing for the Toby & Leon Cooperman Sinai Residences of Boca Raton. The non-rated bonds are being issued by the Palm Beach County Health Facilities Authority and are structured with maturities in 2024, 2025, 2027, and 2055. Among other deals planned for this week is a $1.3 billion Baa3/BB+ New York Transportation Development Corporation issue for Delta Airlines at LaGuardia Airport Terminals C & D, a $274 million Southern Ohio Port Authority financing for PureCycle, a $162 million BBB/BB+ rated Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority deal for McCormick Place, a $48.2 million BBB- rated Michigan Strategic Fund/Grand Rapids Economic Development Corporation transaction for Porter Hills Presbyterian Village, and a $16.5 million BB+ rated California School Finance Authority financing for Classical Academies.

Markets will be closed on Monday as America takes the long Labor Day weekend to decompress and celebrate the many contributions made by its workforce of 160 million to the strength and prosperity of our nation. We hold closest in our thoughts the 27+ million who are unemployed and under employed as a result of the pandemic and hope that, with the help of personal and professional networks, that their searches are soon successful and talents again rewarded.

Exclusive Opportunities For Our Clients

Market Commentary: Neither Snow Nor Rain Nor Low Yields

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The first American post office was located in a bar in Boston, and no one who studies American history would be surprised to learn this. The historic 1639 site has since been replaced many times over and is now home to a 42-floor skyscraper of mixed office and residential use in the downtown area. So, Hinsdale, New Hampshire now holds the record for the country’s oldest continuously operating post office, a clapboard structure on Main Street that still boasts the original brass postal boxes. That location is one of 31,322 currently managed by the United States Postal Service, an independent agency of the Executive Branch, with roots dated back to 1792 when first authorized by the U.S. Constitution. Its 630,000 employees handle 48% of the world’s mail volume, operate one of the largest civilian fleets on the planet with nearly 228,000 vehicles, and place itself at the core of a $1.6 trillion mail industry with more than 7.3 million workers.

There has been a lot of attention focused of late on this agency and its prominent, perhaps integral, role in the coming elections. If many of us decide not to vote in-person at polling sites, as expected, will it be able to process millions of mail-in ballots securely and on time? Under the post 9/11 Mail Cover Program, they already photograph the front and back of every piece of U.S. mail as part of the sorting process, and we currently entrust them to handle 471 million pieces of mail every day, 36 million of our annual address changes, and 80 million of our money orders. Many of our local postal workers are highly trusted as neighbors and friends, better known to us than are any other government representatives, relied upon for critically needed deliveries. In the early days of parcel post, even children were “mailed” back and forth between parents and grandparents on rural routes. But, over the years, the postal mission of serving the public good was in large part intertwined with a business model that has become outdated by technology. It is seen by some as a poster child for mismanagement, a target for privatization, or a black hole unworthy of further taxpayer subsidies.

Ben Franklin was the first U.S. Postmaster General and Louis DeJoy is the 75th to hold that role. DeJoy is the second highest paid government official after the President and, since June, has presided over the nation’s largest retail network — bigger than McDonald’s, Starbucks and Walmart combined – paying $2 billion in salaries and benefits every two weeks, overseeing one of the nation’s oldest law enforcement agencies, straining under losses of $2.2 billion between April and June, $11 billion of debt, and Congressionally imposed limits on rate increases as well as requirements for pre-funding retiree health benefits. DeJoy, a CPA and former logistics executive, was just hauled before several Congressional committees in urgent virtual hearings, peppered with questions on his recent policy changes, and led on record to commit to delivering ballots within one to three days of being mailed. He was unable to cite the cost of mailing a postcard (35 cents) but was thankfully not asked to try and recite the famous words engraved on the front of New York City’s Farley Post Office: “Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds”, written by the ancient Greek historian Herodotus in the 5th century B.C. in reference to messengers in the Persian Empire.

The House of Representatives came back from recess for a rare Saturday session to pass a bill providing $25 billion in emergency funds for the USPS and halt any changes to its operations until after the November election. The funds would be in addition to the $10 billion loan made by the Treasury in July under a provision of the CARES Act. If additional funds are approved by the Senate and White House, they would likely come in the context of a larger stimulus package on which no consensus has been reached since May. Main Street Americans, many struggling with budgets in the hundreds and thousands of dollars find it hard to process discussions involving billions and trillions. And yet these numbers pepper the daily headlines. One trillion is a thousand billion. One billion seconds ago, it was 1988. One trillion seconds ago it was roughly 30,000 B.C. A trillion dollars in $100 bills stacked on top of each other would be 789 miles high. A United Nations policy brief projects that the pandemic will cause $1 trillion in losses to the tourism industry. More than $1.4 trillion if investment grade corporate debt has been issued so far this year. Apple’s market capitalization hit $1 trillion in August of 2018 and it topped $2 trillion last week. The U.S. budget deficit has climbed to a record $2.81 trillion. The total size of the municipal market is $3.9 trillion. The stock market has surged by $13 trillion since its March 23 low; at this writing, the S&P 500 at 3,456 and Nasdaq at 11,589 have risen to record highs. The Chinese economy totals $14 trillion and the U.S. economy totals $21 trillion. Governments and central banks have already committed $20 trillion to pandemic relief efforts The U.S. debt exceeds $26.5 trillion. Assets in U.S. funded and private pension plans exceeded $32 trillion in 2019. The largest banknote on record, 100 Trillion, was issued in Zimbabwe in 2008 at the peak of a hyperinflationary period; it was worth $33 on the black market.

The International Capital Markets Association estimates the size of the global bond market at $128.3 trillion. Bond traders, however, are working with yields that are microscopic. At this writing, the 10-year Treasury yields 0.71%. The comparable sovereign yield in Japan is 0.03%, in the United Kingdom, Spain, and Portugal it is about 0.30%, in Canada it is 0.62%, in France -0.12%, in Germany -0.41%, and in Switzerland -0.47%. The 10-year top-rated tax-exempt municipal general obligation bond yields 0.75%. The U.S. can-maker Ball Corporation recently made history by selling 10-year BB+ rated bonds at 2.875%, the lowest coupon ever in the high yield market for a bond with a tenor of 5 years or longer, according to Bloomberg. There is some nice yield, however, to be found in the U.S. corporate and municipal markets for those able to tolerate some credit and duration risk.

At HJ Sims, neither price trends nor fund flow levels nor light dealer inventories nor lack of primary supply stays our traders from the hunt for and swift execution of purchases and sales for our income-seeking clients. We scour the high yield muni and corporate markets for our clients and offer opportunities to those who contact us with their interests and risk guidelines. Last week, the Tarrant County Cultural Education Facilities Finance Corporation brought a $131.4 million non-rated deal for MRC Stevenson Oaks in Fort Worth that featured 2055 term bonds priced at par to yield 6.875%. The Massachusetts Development Finance Agency had a $56.6 million BB+ rated financing for Milford Regional Medical Center that had a final maturity in 2046 priced with a coupon of 5.00% to yield 3.27%. The Florida Development Finance Corporation issued $14.4 million of non-rated bonds for UCP Charter Schools structured with 2050 term bonds priced at 5.00% to yield 4.70%. The City of Topeka had a $12.4 million non-rated financing for senior service provider Midland Care that included 20-year tax-exempt bonds priced at par to yield 4.00%.

This week, more schools re-open with hybrid learning plans, the world’s foremost economists gather for the first virtual Jackson Hole symposium, and the first virtual Republican National Convention convenes a week after the first virtual Democratic National Convention. U.S. and Chinese trade officials meet, riots continue to upend cities from Portland to Kenosha to New York, and Hurricane Laura threatens our citizens in Texas and Louisiana. There are now more than 179,023 deaths associated with CV-19 in the US. As this summer comes to an end, our thoughts, prayers, and good wishes are with all of the students, families, caretakers, healthcare providers, government officials, party leaders, legislators, thinkers, negotiators, public safety officials, businesses, associations, and market-makers working so hard to help us endure and transcend this pandemic.

Exclusive Opportunities For Our Clients

An Exclusive Investment Opportunity: Toby and Leon Cooperman Sinai Residences at Boca Raton

**This financing has been successfully closed. Please contact you advisor for any potential secondary market opportunities.**


$143,745,000*
Palm Beach County Health Facilities Authority
Series 2020A Long Term Fixed Rate Bonds $56,645,000
Series 2020B-1 Entrance Fee Principal Redemption BondsSM $29,030,000
Series 2020B-2 Entrance Fee Principal Redemption BondsSM $58,070,000
(SINAI RESIDENCES PHASE II EXPANSION)

HJ Sims is pleased to serve as the sole underwriter for Toby and Leon Cooperman Sinai Residences of Boca Raton (Sinai) to fund an expansion via the sale of tax-exempt, long-term, fixed rate and tax-exempt Entrance-fee Principal RedemptionSM bonds. In 2014, HJ Sims served as senior managing underwriter for the municipal revenue for Phase I of Sinai, a continuing care retirement community located in Boca Raton, Florida. Federation CCRC Operations Corp. is a Florida 501(c)(3) located on the campus of the Jewish Federation of South Palm Beach County (The Federation) in Boca Raton, Florida. The site is known as/dba The Toby and Leon Cooperman Sinai Residences of Boca Raton. Sinai’s initial independent living units became available for occupancy in January 2016, and were almost fully occupied within six months, with 100% occupancy occurring 11 months after opening. Sinai’s currenlty consists of 234 independent living units, 48 assisted living units, 24 memory support units and 60 Skilled Nursing Rooms.

Artist's Rendering; subject to change

Virtual Site Visits/Tours

Please find links below to virtual tours of the existing campus, expansion project and floor plans:

About the Bonds

  • Series 2020A
    • $54,110,000
    • Non-rated, tax-exempt
    • Bonds are exempt from Federal Income Tax and exempt from State of Florida Income Tax
    • Denominations of $5,000
    • Interest will be payable on June 1 and December 1 of each year, commencing December 1, 2020
    • Final maturity: June 1 2055
  • Series 2020B-1
    • $29,030,000
    • Non-rated, tax-exempt Entrance-fee Principal RedemptionSM bonds
    • Bonds are exempt from Federal Income Tax and exempt from State of Florida Income Tax
    • Denominations of $5,000
    • Interest will be payable on June 1 and December 1 of each year, commencing December 1, 2020
    • Final Maturity: June 1, 2027
  • Series 2020B-2
    • $53,070,000
    • Non-rated, tax-exempt Entrance-fee Principal RedemptionSM
    • Bonds are exempt from Federal Income Tax and exempt from State of Florida Income Tax
    • Denominations: $5,000
    • Interest will be payable on June 1 and December 1 of each year, commencing on December 1, 2020
    • Final maturity: June 1, 2025
  • Series 2020C
      • $5,000,000
      • Non-rated, TAXABLE Entrance-fee Principal RedemptionSM
      • Exempt from State of Florida Income Tax
      • Denominations: $5,000
      • Interest will be payable on June 1 and December 1 of each year, commencing on December 1, 2020
      • Final maturity: June 1, 2024
    •  

 Use of Proceeds

  • Phase II Expansion Project
    • The new expansion project will be located on 4.6 acres of the southeast portion of Sinai’s existing 21-acre campus.
    • Low-rise buildings encompassing 111 new independent living units, common and green space, dining facilities and a resort-style pool.
    • The project will include approximately 240,000 in total square footage.
    • The expansion contains a variety of independent living configurations ranging from 880 square feet (one-bedroom) to 3,200 square feet (Valencia) with an average of 1,357 square feet.
    • Monthly service fees will average $5,381 and entrance fees will average $867,721 for all expansion units.
    • Currently, there are 73 depositors reflecting a pre-sale rate of 65.8%.
    • Of the 73 depositors, the average age is 85-years-old, depositor median annual income is $222,000, and depositor median net-worth is $4,593,000.

 Security

  • Interest in amounts of deposit, and gross revenue, including Entrance Fees and accounts receivable
  • Personal property and real estate lien
  • Interest in Debt Service Reserve Fund, Working Capital Fund, Coverage Support Fund and Entrance Fee Fund 

 Key Financial Covenants

  • Debt service coverage ratio of 1.20x (tested annually, reported quarterly)
  • Liquidity covenant of 150 days cash-on-hand (tested semi-annually

We are currently accepting indications of interest for these tax-exempt and taxable bonds with an expected pricing week of August 31, 2020, and anticipated settlement September 15, 2020. For more information including risks, please read the Preliminary Official Statement in its entirety. If you have interest in purchasing these bonds, please contact your HJ Sims financial advisor, as soon as possible.

*Subject to change

No dealer, broker, salesperson, or other person has been authorized to give any information or to make any representation other than those contained in the Preliminary Official Statement and, if given or made, such other information or representation should not be relied upon as having been authorized by the Issuer, the Borrower, or the Underwriters. The information set forth herein has been obtained from the Issuer, Borrower, and other sources that are believed to be reliable, but is not guaranteed as to accuracy or completeness by, and is not construed as a representation of, the Underwriters. The information contained herein is subject to change without notice. Under no circumstances shall this constitute an offer to sell or solicitation of an offer to buy, nor shall there be any sale of these securities in any jurisdiction in which such offer, solicitation or sale would be unlawful prior to registration or qualification under the securities laws of any such jurisdiction. Any offering or solicitation will be made only to investors pursuant to the Preliminary Official Statement, which should be read in its entirety. Investments involve risk including the possible loss of principal. HJ Sims is a member of FINRA and SIPC, and is not affiliated with Tony and Leon Cooperman Sinai Residences of Boca Raton.

HJ Sims Closes Financings for Lenbrook, MRC Manalapan; Partners with Voralto for Acquisition

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CONTACT: Tara Perkins, AVP Marketing Communications | 203-418-9049 | [email protected]

HJ Sims Closes Financings for Lenbrook, MRC Manalapan; Partners with Voralto for Acquisition

FAIRFIELD, CT– HJ Sims (Sims), a privately held investment bank and wealth management firm founded in 1935, is pleased to announce the successful closing of three transactions.

Lenbrook, a life plan community in Atlanta, GA, pursued financing for its recent Kingsboro at Lenbrook expansion. After a successful 2016 refinancing and a 2018 pre-development financing, Lenbrook again retained Sims to manage the financing process for the $107 million project. A priority  of Lenbrook’s was to maximize the ability to deleverage the debt of the financing without penalty. The entrance fee debt was maximized and the long-term debt amortized while permitting early repayment from turnover entrance fees.

 Sims coordinated a request for proposals to gauge interest in both the entrance fee and long-term debt. Due to the COVID-19 impact on bond markets and conduit bond issuers, Sims coordinated with the board and management of Lenbrook to pivot the transaction from tax-exempt financing consisting of bank short-term debt and long-term fixed rate bonds to taxable all-bank financing while closing early and achieving Lenbrook’s goal of maximizing deleveraging while maintaining flexibility. Fitch assigned a BBB- rating with stable outlook.

In Monmouth County, New Jersey, MRC Manalapan (MRC) is developing an assisted living and memory care community. MRC principals (and LV Development) collaborated with Springpoint Senior Living (Springpoint) to arrange the project and contracted with Springpoint to operate the community (Springpoint at Manalapan) under a long-term lease. Sims was engaged to implement debt financing supplemented by equity provided by the MRC principals.

Following a Sims-led solicitation, Peoples United Bank was selected to provide $14.3 million of taxable senior debt financing, incorporating a construction/mini-perm structure with a five-year balloon maturity. The loan includes tiered-interest rate pricing with reductions in loan credit spread following progression from construction, opening and stabilization. Primary security includes a revenue pledge and property mortgage. Supplemental security includes dual guarantees provided by the MRC principals and succeeded at completion by a limited tenant guaranty. Sims, Peoples and the financing team worked diligently with the MRC principals to secure final approvals, successfully closing in mid-May 2020.   

Established in 1977 and headquartered in Houston and Dallas, TX, Voralto is a 42-year-old senior housing owner/operator with a combined 120+ years of experience in the senior housing industry. Committed to growing the company through strategic acquisitions and new developments, Voralto currently owns/operates 8 assets totaling 590 beds in TX and GA. Sims was approached by Voralto to provide equity for the acquisition of an assisted living and memory care community in northern TX. Voralto’s business plan included the implementation of operational changes.

Sims formed a joint venture with Voralto to acquire the community. Sims’ equity provided liquidity to overcome any short-term performance issues resulting from COVID-19 and time to implement the business plan.

Scheduled to close in March, Sims and Voralto overcame challenges from COVID-19. Drawing from expertise of its bankers and investors, Sims underwrote Voralto’s business plan and provided a customized solution.

Financed Right®:

Non-profit: Aaron Rulnick: [email protected] | For-profit: Jeff Sands: [email protected]

HJ SIMS: Founded in 1935, HJ Sims is a privately held investment bank and wealth management firm, headquartered in Fairfield, CT, with nationwide locations. www.hjsims.com. Investments involve risk, including loss of principal. This is not an offer to sell or buy any investment. Past performance is no guarantee of future results. Member FINRA, SIPC. HJ Sims is not affiliated with Lenbrook, MRC Manalapan, Voralto Funding I. Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram Twitter.

Gift of Life: Recap from 17th Annual Late Winter Conference

Gift of Life (GOL) joined our 17th Annual HJ Sims Late Winter Conference February 25-27 in San Diego. GOL was represented by Alicia Lorio, a leader of their Young Professionals Committee in Orange County; and GOL blood stem cell donor, Alec Nadelle.

Alicia shared GOL’s history and spoke about the importance of growing the GOL stem cell registry to give second chances to those afflicted by blood and bone cancer. Before introducing Alec, Alicia shared how individuals can get involved with GOL and increase the number of those within the registry by encouraging individuals to swab their community and swab at their workplace.

Next, Alec shared his experience with GOL. He donated blood stem cells in November 2012 to a (then 71-year-old) woman battling a fast-moving form of Leukemia. The presentation left attendees feeling truly moved.

The team was excited to share an update about the amazing CSR partnership that HJ Sims and GOL have shared during the last two years.

From running fundraising drives to sponsoring the Steps for Life events to helping underwrite equipment for a
new state-of-the-art Stem Cell Collection Center located in Boca Raton, HJ Sims continues to be honored to support GOL and their mission to cure blood cancer through marrow and stem cell donations. GOL has facilitated nearly 3,600 transplants since its inception.

For more information, visit www.giftoflife.org

Special Credit Considerations for Seniors

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There is a reason that seniors often have the best credit scores, according to Experian. By the time people retire or reach senior status, they have likely been focusing on credit scores and building or maintaining good credit for a significant span of time, with often-impressive results.

While some people believe that they can relax their credit concerns once they retire, that is not necessarily the case. You will still want – and need – good credit if you decide to move or make updates to your current home, enter an assisted-living facility, or apply for a new credit card that offers great rewards points and perks.

In addition, solid credit scores will enable you to qualify for the best rates when it comes to mortgages and insurance, and can help if you decide to return to the job market, since employers are increasingly checking on applicants’ credit histories before making an offer.

How to earn extra credit

First of all, make a note on your calendar to check your credit report annually to ensure that you are not a victim or fraud – credit reports can also contain costly errors. AnnualCreditReport.com offers a free report once a year. No matter your age or stage, everyone should remain vigilant, particularly in the wake of recent serious data breaches.

Even a stellar credit report can decline if payment history, the biggest portion of your credit score, suddenly dwindles. It is important to keep your credit record active by using your current credit card(s) to pay for groceries, gas, travel and entertainment. You can earn rewards points, organize your bill paying and continue to bolster your credit score by using your cards.

Finally, continue to pay your bills on time, keep credit card balances low and think twice before opening any new accounts. Good payment history, and the longevity of your accounts, should continue to keep your credit score high.

Even if you are relatively debt-free, your credit score still matters.

We want to hear from you

Do you have a topic suggestion for an article in a future issue of Sims Insights newsletter? We would love to hear from you. Share your ideas here.

The material presented here is for information purposes only and is not to be considered an offer to buy or sell any security. This report was prepared from sources believed to be reliable but it is not guaranteed as to accuracy and it is not a complete summary of statement of all available data. Information and opinions are current up to the date of publication and are subject to change without notice. The purchase and sale of securities should be conducted on an individual basis considering the risk tolerance and investment objective of each investor and with the advice and counsel of a professional advisor. The opinions expressed by Ms. Morrow are strictly her own and do not necessarily reflect those of Herbert J. Sims & Co., Inc. or their affiliates. This is not a solicitation to buy or an offer to sell any particular investment. All investment involves risk and may result in a loss of principal. Investors should carefully consider their own circumstances before making any investment decision.

Breaking Bad Online Habits

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By Megan Morrow

January is the month of New Year’s resolutions – exercise more, stop smoking, eat more vegetables, try something new – yet “break bad online habits” is probably not a top 10 resolution, even though it likely should be. As we perform more life tasks online, such as paying bills, downloading new apps, keeping in touch with old friends and sharing funny videos, we do not always pause to think of the best ways to keep our personal data secure and private.

Following are three steps you can take to break your bad online habits and set the stage for a safe and secure 2020:

  1. Avoid using the same passwords over and over again. Granted, it is easier to remember your passwords when they are all a variation of your kids’ names, your address or your birthday, for example. However, when you recycle passwords, a hacker who uncovers one password will have much easier access into the rest of your accounts. You can save your most robust, complicated passwords for financial sites.
  2. Resist the temptation to say “yes” without more careful examination. Scam emails are getting more sophisticated, so it is always wise to verify online requests for money or account access, while many apps will ask for your location or the ability to access other account features. Offer the bare minimum of information when you launch a new app or website and say “no” to most location requests (other than maps, which need to know where you are so they can get you to your next destination).
  3. Lock your devices. Many people assume work laptops are safe and that their phones are usually nearby, thus choosing not to use “lock screen” protections. It only takes a few moments for someone to install spyware or malware on your device or to see confidential information that you have left up regarding clients or your own personal information. This is a simple step that can protect you at work and at home.

Other simple changes you can make to protect yourself include: never check your bank accounts over public wi-fi, pay attention to anti-virus updates, do not click on links or download files from suspicious or strange email addresses, and always take advantage of the free annual opportunity to check your credit report.

While online banking, shopping and communication can offer ease and convenience, they can also lead to identify theft and long-term issues: If you have not already, make online security one of your New Year’s resolutions.

We want to hear from you

Do you have a topic suggestion for an article in a future issue of Sims Insights newsletter? We would love to hear from you. Share your ideas here.

The material presented here is for information purposes only and is not to be considered an offer to buy or sell any security. This report was prepared from sources believed to be reliable but it is not guaranteed as to accuracy and it is not a complete summary of statement of all available data. Information and opinions are current up to the date of publication and are subject to change without notice. The purchase and sale of securities should be conducted on an individual basis considering the risk tolerance and investment objective of each investor and with the advice and counsel of a professional advisor. The opinions expressed by Ms. Morrow are strictly her own and do not necessarily reflect those of Herbert J. Sims & Co., Inc. or their affiliates. This is not a solicitation to buy or an offer to sell any particular investment. All investment involves risk and may result in a loss of principal. Investors should carefully consider their own circumstances before making any investment decision.

HUD Goes All-In on OZs

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By Anthony Luzzi

The 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act created a new tax incentive known as Qualified Opportunity Funds, to spur new investment in low-income communities located in certain Census Tracts that are designated by the Secretary of the Treasury as Opportunity Zones, or OZs. There are approximately 8,700 OZs nationwide and in the US Territories, including Puerto Rico, where approximately 94% of La Isla Encantada qualifies.

We’ll leave it up to the legions of lawyers and accumulation of accountants to describe the mechanics of investing in Opportunity Funds and how private investments in these OZs are eligible for potentially significant capital gains tax relief. But we can tell you about some of HUD’s recent initiatives to promote development and investment in OZs through its multifamily mortgage insurance programs.

HUD has designated specialized Senior Underwriters in each region of the country to process applications for mortgage insurance for properties in qualified OZs. This will ensure expert and expedient review of these applications by HUD underwriters.

Properties located in qualified OZs will be eligible for reduced mortgage insurance application fees. Market-rate and affordable deals will see their application fees reduced by 33%, from .3% to .2%. “Broadly affordable” deals will have a steeper 66% discount on its application fees, as they will be reduced from .30% to .10%. What’s a broadly affordable project? They have at least 90% of units covered by a Section 8 Project Based Rental Assistance (PBRA) contract; or at least 90% of its units covered by an affordability use restriction under the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit program.

Last summer, HUD Secretary Carson announced that the Section 220 mortgage insurance program, historically used to finance mixed-use rental projects in specially-designated “downtown” urban-renewal areas and other areas where local governments have undertaken designated revitalization activities, will now be available in all of the approximately 8,700 Opportunity Zones.

The introduction of Section 220 into all Opportunity Zones has the potential to be a game-changer, as HUD expects it will promote more economic activity, both commercial and residential, in low-income, economically distressed areas that have not experienced a great deal of growth in recent years.

Section 220 underwrites similarly to HUD’s “mainstream” Section 221(d)(4) program for multifamily new construction and substantial rehabilitation. Both have 40-year loan amortizations, loan-to-cost ratios ranging from 85% to 90%, and debt service coverage ratios from 1.11 to 1.17. Both programs limit the maximum amount of commercial space to 25% of the total project area, but under Section 220, the maximum amount of commercial income in a project can be 30% of the total income, double the Section 221(d)(4) limit. In addition, under Section 220, 20% of the cost of project’s non-residential components can be added to the calculation of the mortgage based on statutory unit limitations; the Section 221(d)(4) limit had been 15% until recently, when it was increased to 20%.

We applaud the intent of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act to spur economic development in disadvantaged communities, and HUD’s efforts to maximize the impact of the Act through its multifamily mortgage insurance programs. We are currently developing a mortgage insurance application for a Louisiana rental project in an urban area that also is designated an OZ. Keep tuned to this space for updates on this deal.

What You Need to Know about Electronic Wills

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By Megan Morrow

While most adults believe that wills are important, less than half of them actually have one, according to a recent survey, the chief reason being that “I have not gotten around to it yet.” Designed to make the process of creating a will easier and more accessible for all, electronic wills have previously required printing and signing on the dotted line in front of a witness. While e-signatures are common and widespread, e-notarization is not.

However, Indiana and Nevada have passed laws permitting e-signatures while Arizona and Florida are expected to adopt such legislation in 2020, with more states to follow. This sets the stage for expanded use of electronic wills that can be wholly completed online.

The Uniform Electronic Wills Act was adopted by the Uniform Law Commission to create a model for executing a will with online technology that other states can follow. In essence, those who wish to create an electronic will could do so online, then connect with a notary via video chat. The notary can talk with the individual and ask any pertinent questions before notarizing the will and returning it. The electronic will is constituted as valid, without the testator ever having to be in the physical presence of the notary.

Benefits of electronic wills include access, availability, convenience and simplicity. No matter where you live or what your schedule, you can create a valid will on your own time table.

Concerns with electronic wills center on fraud – particularly the possibility of undue influence or duress in the creation of the document. Likewise, without the advice of an attorney, individuals could use boilerplate wills that lack the details or specificity that their estate requires. A one-size-fits all will, naturally, will not work for everyone. Issues with revocation and storage also remain to be further determined.

At present, electronic wills might be ideal for younger people – only one in five Millennials have a will – or those with fewer assets and complications. With more states expected to adopt electronic will legislation in the coming years, options for online wills are anticipated to grow as well.

We want to hear from you

Do you have a topic suggestion for an article in a future issue of Sims Insights newsletter? We would love to hear from you. Share your ideas here.

The material presented here is for information purposes only and is not to be considered an offer to buy or sell any security. This report was prepared from sources believed to be reliable but it is not guaranteed as to accuracy and it is not a complete summary of statement of all available data. Information and opinions are current up to the date of publication and are subject to change without notice. The purchase and sale of securities should be conducted on an individual basis considering the risk tolerance and investment objective of each investor and with the advice and counsel of a professional advisor. The opinions expressed by Ms. Morrow are strictly her own and do not necessarily reflect those of Herbert J. Sims & Co., Inc. or their affiliates. This is not a solicitation to buy or an offer to sell any particular investment. All investment involves risk and may result in a loss of principal. Investors should carefully consider their own circumstances before making any investment decision.

Twenty Trends to Anticipate in 2020

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By Megan Morrow

What will the next year bring? What will phase in and what fill fade out in 2020?

According to prognosticators across industries, the following twenty trends will top the charts in the upcoming year:

  1. The workforce will become more global: More people of all ages will move and migrate in search of new experiences and cultures.
  2. Mobile apps will continue to redefine industries: Apps will continue to provide convenience, customization and customer service across industries.
  3. “Enough-ism:” As opposed to consumerism, the concept of enough-ism insists that we already have enough and may need fewer things, less time at work and reduced expectations in order to enjoy a more satisfied and fulfilled life.
  4. More robots and artificial intelligence: Companies will seek to save more money by using more predictive technology to meet their customers’ evolving needs.
  5. Patience is no longer a virtue. As Amazon reduces its shipping time to near-instantaneous, customers are demanding fast service and faster delivery. More companies will find a way to meet this interest for consumers who want something “right now!”
  6. Businesses prioritize worker happiness. Companies are increasingly recognizing that happy employees are productive, long-term employees and are therefore, investing in programs and incentives to this end.
  7. Cloud health: As people seek to prevent chronic disease, personal mobile tools (housed within the Cloud), can deliver customized fitness and diet solutions designed for prevention and healing.
  8. Crowdfunding will get even more crowded. Crowdfunding platforms continue to explode as a means of funding new enterprises, supporting individuals in need and creating new partnerships. Expect even more crowding in the year to come.
  9. Cybersecurity will be a threat and a focus: Cyber-threats across industries continue to plague companies and their customers, who need their information to be safe and secure. Companies must continually update software and security planning efforts to prevent ongoing threats to cybersecurity.
  10. Menus meet health needs. Diners are in search of food that offers natural enhancement and health. More healthy substitutes and plant-based foods will make their mark, and restaurants and grocery stores will continue to serve customers interested in Paleo, keto, gluten-free and other specific diet trends.
  11. Recommendations are required. User reviews and recommendations from friends will be king in the year to come. Many consumers will not buy anything without first finding the right reviews.
  12. 5G is a high five. Changing how we interact online, 5G offers incredibly fast download speed and will expand to drones, smart vehicles and other applications.
  13. Mindfulness matters. To combat the stress of a busy life, meditation, yoga and other forms of mindfulness will continue to inspire people to slow down, breathe deeply and let go.
  14. Baby Boomers will retire while Millennials move into management. These generational trends will change the face and shape of the workforce for the future.
  15. Home design will be neutral and blue. A deep shade of blue and neutrals, as well as geometric patterns and the natural world, will inspire home design in 2020.
  16. The gig economy will grow. Workers love flexibility and the ability to freelance, further enhancing this already growing trend.
  17. Consumers become partners in their own health care. Rather than simply watching and absorbing, patients will become more active and aware in their overall health care.
  18. Voice is everywhere. Alexa, Google Assistant and their cousins become even smarter and more connected in homes, offices and on the go.
  19. Politics… You probably do not need an expert to tell you that the political scene in 2020 is expected to be contentious, engaging and memorable.
  20. Retirement planning is more important than ever. As legislation and individual needs evolve, it is critical to pay attention to your retirement plans. Naturally, the start of a new year is a great chance to connect with your advisor to discuss your plans going forward.

What are you looking forward to in 2020? Doubtless, you will enjoy trends and experiences for you own top-twenty list.

Contact an Advisor

Should you have any questions about this subject matter, contact your financial advisor to help navigate any challenges you may have. 

We want to hear from you

Do you have a topic suggestion for an article in a future issue of Sims Insights newsletter? We would love to hear from you. Share your ideas here.

The material presented here is for information purposes only and is not to be considered an offer to buy or sell any security. This report was prepared from sources believed to be reliable but it is not guaranteed as to accuracy and it is not a complete summary of statement of all available data. Information and opinions are current up to the date of publication and are subject to change without notice. The purchase and sale of securities should be conducted on an individual basis considering the risk tolerance and investment objective of each investor and with the advice and counsel of a professional advisor. The opinions expressed by Ms. Morrow are strictly her own and do not necessarily reflect those of Herbert J. Sims & Co., Inc. or their affiliates. This is not a solicitation to buy or an offer to sell any particular investment. All investment involves risk and may result in a loss of principal. Investors should carefully consider their own circumstances before making any investment decision.

The Upside of Aging

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By Megan Morrow

Yes, you will have “senior moments.” And true, your short-term memory may start to fade, and aches and pains may last longer. Yet, many older Americans are discovering that there is a true upside to aging, from relationships to wisdom to free programs and tax benefits.

If you tend to brush your birthday aside or worry about the number of candles on your cake, it might be time to focus on the benefits of getting older, which can include:

  • Happiness! Older people tend to be happier. Studies show that most people are unhappiest in their 40s and 50s as they face stressors from work and family and that happiness increases as middle age passes. Happier people are also healthier, more productive and more aware of what they have.
  • Seniors are better at navigating emotions. They tend to learn how to manage social conflicts, with the abilities to imagine alterative points of view and work out compromises. What bothers someone in their 20s hardly makes a blip on the radar of someone a few decades older, according to studies.
  • Financial perks such as guaranteed minimum income, Social Security, Medicare and senior discounts. Programs such as Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid can support seniors with health insurance and a safety net. Likewise, special senior discounts can provide incentives for getting out, exploring new things and staying engaged.
  • Seniors are more likely to be involved. From politics to volunteering, seniors often have more time to participate in activities and organizations that matter to them. One in four seniors volunteers actively, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and those over the age of 65 report the highest voting rate of any age group.

While stereotypes about aging persist, more people of all ages are recognizing the beauty of getting older and wiser. We also know that attitude goes a long way: Participants in a study on aging who had a positive attitude about the process also showed enhanced cognition, one more reason to focus on the upsides of aging.

No matter what your age, it is important to maintain relationships and connections with people of diverse ages and backgrounds and to cultivate a positive mindset.

We want to hear from you

Do you have a topic suggestion for an article in a future issue of Sims Insights newsletter? We would love to hear from you. Share your ideas here.

The material presented here is for information purposes only and is not to be considered an offer to buy or sell any security. This report was prepared from sources believed to be reliable but it is not guaranteed as to accuracy and it is not a complete summary of statement of all available data. Information and opinions are current up to the date of publication and are subject to change without notice. The purchase and sale of securities should be conducted on an individual basis considering the risk tolerance and investment objective of each investor and with the advice and counsel of a professional advisor. The opinions expressed by Ms. Morrow are strictly her own and do not necessarily reflect those of Herbert J. Sims & Co., Inc. or their affiliates. This is not a solicitation to buy or an offer to sell any particular investment. All investment involves risk and may result in a loss of principal. Investors should carefully consider their own circumstances before making any investment decision.

Axxcess Platform Announces Partnership with HJ Sims

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HJ SIMS: Tara Perkins, AVP Marketing Communications, [email protected] | 203-418-9049

AXXCESS PLATFORM: Alexis Brock, Marketing and Communications, [email protected] | 866-217-5607

AXXCESS PLATFORM ANNOUNCES PARTNERSHIP WITH HJ SIMS

FAIRFIELD, CT— Axxcess Platform (Axxcess), an enterprise turnkey asset management platform, announced today a partnership with HJ Sims, a privately held investment bank and wealth management firm headquartered in Fairfield, CT. HJ Sims and Axxcess have partnered  to deliver a suite of portfolio management technology for the HJ Sims private client wealth management team.

“We are thrilled about partnering with HJ Sims to equip their team with our asset management solution to help them continue to deliver a rich client experience. We are confident the HJ Sims team will find incredible value in our platform, which offers the tools and resources needed in one technology stack, further optimizing their client management approach,” says Michael Seid, CEO of Axxcess.

Founded in 1935 on Wall Street, HJ Sims is entrusted with $2.3 billion of assets under management. Herbert J. Sims, founder, was an innovative and revolutionary thinker with an imaginative and pioneering spirit. During the Great Depression, Herbert recognized opportunity to create jobs and support important infrastructure, such as county roads, natural gas systems, and bridges and causeways, through municipal financings. Today, HJ Sims supports individual investors, organizations, municipalities and institutions with expert wealth management, trading services and investment banking solutions.

HJ Sims will utilize the Axxcess platform as an end-to-end portfolio management tool, allowing their wealth management experts to serve their clients’ financial needs with a seamless and scalable approach–including aggregating accounts, identifying risk, analyzing holdings, modelling and blending investment strategies, and accessing third-party directed solutions.

“Partnering with Axxcess by incorporating their customized technology and sophisticated interface via a first-class portfolio management tool will help our advisory team deepen their client relationships. The comprehensive technology platform provided by Axxcess empowers us to revolutionize our client experience with open architecture and access to best in breed money managers,” said Dan Mullane, Managing Principal of HJ Sims.

ABOUT AXXCESS PLATFORM

Axxcess integrates third party investment managers alongside real estate, private equity, and hedged investments to create a unique UMA/TAMP Platform to transform your Wealth Management practice. The Axxcess Platform is built for the experienced Advisor looking to improve its current RIA Platform, or as an operational solution for a high caliber professional thinking of going independent and seeking a seamless transition. We offer Advisors open architecture, with a full array of wealth management and investment advisory services to move your practice upstream. Axxcess combines true alternatives like private equity, private credit, hedge funds and directed real estate alongside traditional SMA strategies.

Our focus is on 3c(1) and 3c(7) clients and the Advisors that serve them. If you are interested in providing a platform of services designed to move your business upscale, Axxcess is your solution. Contact: 866-217-5607 |https://axxcessplatform.com/

ABOUT HJ SIMS

Founded in 1935 on Wall Street, HJ Sims is a privately held investment bank and wealth management firm. HJ Sims is known as one of the country’s oldest underwriters of tax-exempt and taxable bonds, having raised $28+ billion for projects throughout the US. The firm is headquartered in Fairfield, CT, with nationwide investment banking, private wealth management and trading locations. Visit www.hjsims.com/ourstory. Visit www.hjsims.com/ourstory. Follow HJ Sims on FacebookLinkedInInstagram and Twitter.

Investments involve risk, including the possible fluctuation of principal. Past performance is no guarantee of future results. HJ Sims is not affiliated with Axxcess Wealth Management. Member FINRA, SIPC.