Broker Check

October 6, 2014

Important Information - PPC Financial Workshops Schedule for 2014-2015

A series of financial workshops has been scheduled to provide you with ideas and insights on important financial topics designed to help you attain a higher level of financial security. Guest speakers have been invited to make presentations with Dave, Ken, Dominic, Todd and Julie providing additional support.

  • Workshops will be held at our office -- 2800 S. River Road, Suite 240, in Des Plaines, IL
  • You are invited to attend as many of the workshops as you wish
  • You are encouraged to "bring a guest" you feel would benefit from the topic
  • The workshop will consist of a 45- to 60-minute presentation, followed by Q&A
  • Light refreshments will be served
  • Please RSVP to Therese or Maja @ (847) 375-0505 to reserve your spot

Workshop Schedule:

Wednesday, October 22, 2014 @ 5:30 p.m.
Ken and Dave will explain their unique "Time Bucket System" on how to generate retirement income.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014 @ 5:30 p.m.

This informative workshop is designed to clear away confusion or concern about the best way to utilize Social Security in your plan for retirement.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015 @ 5:30 p.m.

Attorney Cori Brown, founder of MyEstateMatters, LLC, will provide clarity to the mystery of trusts, wills and other important estate planning concepts.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015 @ 5:30 p.m.

Nursing care can be a huge financial liability that can erode your assets. Learn about the wide array of options in dealing with the rising cost of providing nursing care to loved ones.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015 @ 5:30 p.m.

CPAs Joe and David Gurdak will discuss concepts and ideas for making dealing with Uncle Sam a bit less daunting.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015 @ 5:30 p.m.

Learn what methods stock specialists use to design an individual portfolio of stocks.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015 @ 5:30 p.m.

Learn how real estate, precious metals, and other alternative investments might have a place in your portfolio.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015 @ 5:30 p.m.

Jim Hughes of Identity Shield will discuss the problems and solutions of this growing financial challenge.

Please RSVP to Therese or Maja @ (847) 375-0505 to reserve your spot.

September 2014

Preferred Planning Concepts Welcomes Todd Gilchrist

Todd Gilchrist Preferred Planning Concepts, LLC, is proud to announce the addition of Todd Gilchrist as part of the firm' financial advisory team. Todd recently passed the prestigious Certified Financial Planner® exam, as well as secured his post-baccalaureate certificate in accounting at Northwestern University. His long-term passion for finances, and his fervent investment philosophy, led him to this career choice after faithfully serving his country as a Commanding Officer in the United States Navy. His naval career spanned 20+ years, and he now plans on equally dedicating himself as an advisor for the next 20 years.

One of the things we are most proud of at PPC is the consistent referring of new people by our existing clients who are pleased with the level of financial guidance and personal service we seek to provide. Todd' path to joining PPC came via the same roadmap. One of our long-time clients called us in late 2011 and asked if we would meet with Todd to discuss his desire to embark on a career as an advisor. We met, talked about what we believe it takes to be a successful advisor in terms of helping people; and hoped that we had imparted a degree of understanding of what people looked for in an advisor. Todd kept in touch with us as he pursued the various financial degrees and certifications listed above. His goal was to gather as much knowledge as possible that would be useful to clients in his new career.

In late 2013, Todd informed us that he wanted to officially join Preferred Planning Concepts, and we set about getting him appointed and licensed with our broker dealer, Cambridge Investment Research. Todd joins a team with a collective 125 years of experience in the financial services industry. While we believe we can impart further knowledge and skills to Todd, we know his recent educational achievements, and passion for his work, will allow him to impart knowledge and ideas to us. The financial services industry is an ever-evolving expertise, and there are always new things to be learned by both client and advisor. We look forward to a long and successful relationship with Todd.

Todd Gilchrist:
C: (312) 659-2475
T: (847) 375-0505

August 14, 2013

Important Message from Preferred Planning Concepts

Ongoing developments in both the equity/stock and fixed income/bond sides of the investment markets make it very important that we discuss ideas for your invested assets. Here are two of the things we are very concerned about:

  • The SP500 and DJIA indexes continue to reach record highs despite rather lackluster economic data. This significant disconnect between the steep upward trajectory of the markets and the almost flat trajectory of the U.S. economy is a point of concern.

  • Since April 15, 2013, interest rates on the 10-year (+40%) and 30-year (+22%) U.S. Treasury Bond have risen, having a negative effect on underlying bond prices. As a result, many bond-related mutual funds that were up during the first quarter of 2013 are now negative.

Please call the office to either talk about these issues on the phone, or schedule a face-to-face meeting to do so. We have some valuable ideas we believe would be beneficial in these uncertain and volatile economic times.

Ken Lydecker:
Dave Nicholson:
Dominic Cimino:
T: (847) 375-0505

January 11, 2013

Retirement Provisions in the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012

The American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 (ATRA), enacted to avoid the fiscal cliff, includes two provisions that may be important to certain IRA owners and retirement plan participants. The first extends tax-free charitable contributions from IRAs through 2013, and the second liberalizes the rules for 401(k), 403(b), and 457(b) in-plan Roth conversions.

Tax-free charitable contributions from IRAs extended once again

The Pension Protection Act of 2006 first allowed taxpayers age 70-1/2 or older to exclude from gross income otherwise taxable distributions from their IRA ("qualified charitable distributions," or QCDs), up to $100,000, that were paid directly to a qualified charity. The law was originally scheduled to expire in 2007, but was extended through 2011 by subsequent legislation. The law has just been extended yet again, retroactively to 2012 and through 2013, by ATRA.

How QCDs work for 2012 and 2013
You must be 70-1/2 or older in order to make QCDs. You direct your IRA trustee to make a distribution directly from your IRA (other than SEP and SIMPLE IRAs) to a qualified charity.* The distribution must be one that would otherwise be taxable to you. You can exclude up to $100,000 of QCDs from your gross income in each of 2012 and 2013. If you file a joint return, your spouse can exclude an additional $100,000 of QCDs in 2012 and 2013. Note: You don' get to deduct QCDs as a charitable contribution on your federal income tax return -- that would be double-dipping.

QCDs count toward satisfying any required minimum distributions (RMDs) that you would otherwise have to receive from your IRA, just as if you had received an actual distribution from the plan. However, distributions that you actually receive from your IRA (including RMDs) that you subsequently transfer to a charity cannot qualify as QCDs.*

Assume that your RMD for 2013, which you' required to take no later than December 31, 2013, is $25,000. You receive a $5,000 cash distribution from your IRA in February 2013, which you then contribute to Charity A. In June 2013, you also make a $15,000 QCD to Charity A. You must include the $5,000 cash distribution in your 2013 gross income (but you may be entitled to a charitable deduction if you itemize your deductions). You exclude the $15,000 of QCDs from your 2013 gross income. Your $5,000 cash distribution plus your $15,000 QCD satisfy $20,000 of your $25,000 RMD for 2013. You' need to withdraw another $5,000 no later than December 31, 2013, to avoid a penalty.

Example: Assume you turned 70-1/2 in 2012. You must take your first RMD (for 2012) no later than April 1, 2013. You must take your second RMD (for 2013) no later than December 31, 2013. Assume each RMD is $25,000. You don' take any cash distributions from your IRA in 2012 or 2013. On March 31, 2013, you make a $25,000 QCD to Charity B. Because the QCD is made prior to April 1, it satisfies your $25,000 RMD for 2012. On December 31, 2013, you make a $75,000 QCD to Charity C. Because the QCD is made by December 31, it satisfies your $25,000 RMD for 2013. You can exclude the $100,000 of QCDs from your 2013 gross income.

As indicated above, a QCD must be an otherwise taxable distribution from your IRA. If you' made nondeductible contributions, then normally each distribution carries with it a pro-rata amount of taxable and nontaxable dollars. However, a special rule applies to QCDs -- the pro-rata rule is ignored and your taxable dollars are treated as distributed first. (If you have multiple IRAs, they are aggregated when calculating the taxable and nontaxable portion of a distribution from any one IRA. RMDs are calculated separately for each IRA you own, but may be taken from any of your IRAs.)

Why are QCDs important?
Without this special rule, taking a distribution from your IRA and donating the proceeds to a charity would be a bit more cumbersome, and possibly more expensive. You would need to request a distribution from the IRA, and then make the contribution to the charity. You' receive a corresponding income tax deduction for the charitable contribution. But the additional tax from the distribution may be more than the charitable deduction, due to the limits that apply to charitable contributions under Internal Revenue Code Section 170. QCDs avoid all this, by providing an exclusion from income for the amount paid directly from your IRA to the charity -- you don' report the IRA distribution in your gross income, and you don' take a deduction for the QCD. The exclusion from gross income for QCDs also provides a tax-effective way for taxpayers who don' itemize deductions to make charitable contributions.

*Special rules for 2012
Because the QCD rules were extended retroactively to 2012, two special rules apply:

- You may elect to treat any QCDs you make during January 2013 as having been made on December 31, 2012. This allows you to make QCDs in January 2013 and have them apply against your 2012 $100,000 limit.

- If you received a distribution from your IRA during December 2012 (even if the distribution is an RMD), you may elect to treat all or part of that distribution as a QCD if you transfer the cash to a qualified charity no later than January 31, 2013.

It' expected that the IRS will issue guidance in the near future describing how and when your election must be made.

Roth 401(k) in-plan conversion rules liberalized
ATRA also makes it easier to make Roth conversions inside your 401(k) plan (if your plan permits).

A 401(k) in-plan Roth conversion (also called an "in-plan Roth rollover") allows you to transfer the non-Roth portion of your 401(k) plan account (for example, your pretax contributions and company match) into a designated Roth account within the same plan. You' have to pay federal income tax now on the amount you convert, but qualified distributions from your Roth account in the future will be entirely income tax free. Also, the 10% early distribution penalty generally doesn' apply to amounts you convert.

While in-plan conversions have been around since 2010, they haven' been widely used, because they were available only if you were otherwise entitled to a distribution from your plan -- for example, upon terminating employment, turning 59-1/2, becoming disabled, or in other limited circumstances.

ATRA has eliminated the requirement that you be eligible for a distribution from the plan in order to make an in-plan conversion. Beginning in 2013, if your plan permits, you can convert any part of your traditional 401(k) plan account into a designated Roth account. The new law also applies to 403(b) and 457(b) plans that allow Roth contributions.

If you have questions about these two provisions of the ATRA, please feel free to contact us:
Ken Lydecker:
Dave Nicholson:
Dominic Cimino:
T: 847.375.0505

January 6, 2013

The American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012

The new year began with some political drama, as last-minute negotiations attempted to avert sending the nation over the "fiscal cliff." Technically, we actually did go over the cliff, however briefly, as a host of tax provisions and automatic spending cuts took effect at the stroke of midnight on December 31, 2012. However, January 1, 2013 saw legislation -- retroactively effective -- pass the U.S. Senate, and then later the House of Representatives. The American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 (ATRA) permanently extends a number of major tax provisions and temporarily extends many others. Here are the basics.

Tax rates
For most individuals, the legislation permanently extends the lower federal income tax rates that have existed for the last decade. That means most taxpayers will continue to pay tax according to the same six tax brackets (10%, 15%, 25%, 28%, 33%, and 35%) that applied for 2012. The top federal income tax rate, however, will increase to 39.6% beginning in 2013 for individuals with income that exceeds $400,000 ($450,000 for married couples filing joint returns).

Generally, lower tax rates that applied to long-term capital gain and qualifying dividends have been permanently extended for most individuals as well. If you' in the 10% or 15% marginal income tax bracket, a special 0% rate generally applies. If you are in the 25%, 28%, 33%, or 35% tax brackets, a 15% maximum rate will generally apply. Beginning in 2013, however, those who pay tax at the higher 39.6% federal income tax rate (i.e., individuals with income that exceeds $400,000, or married couples filing jointly with income that exceeds $450,000) will be subject to a maximum rate of 20% for long-term capital gain and qualifying dividends.

Alternative minimum tax (AMT)
The AMT is essentially a parallel federal income tax system with its own rates and rules. The last temporary AMT "patch" expired at the end of 2011, threatening to dramatically increase the number of individuals subject to the AMT for 2012. The American Taxpayer Relief Act permanently extends AMT relief, retroactively increasing the AMT exemption amounts for 2012, and providing that the exemption amounts will be indexed for inflation in future years. The Act also permanently extends provisions that allowed nonrefundable personal income tax credits to be used to offset AMT liability.

2012 AMT Exemption Amounts:
Married, filing jointly:
Before Act: $45,000
After Act: $78,750

Unmarried individuals:
Before Act: $33,750
After Act: $50,600

Married, filing separately:
Before Act: $22,500
After Act: $39,375

Estate Tax
The Act makes permanent the $5 million exemption amounts (indexed for inflation) for the estate tax, the gift tax, and the generation-skipping transfer tax -- the same exemptions that were in effect for 2011 and 2012. The top tax rate, however, is increased to 40% (up from 35%) beginning in 2013.

The Act also permanently extends the "portability" provision in effect for 2011 and 2012 that allows the executor of a deceased individual' estate to transfer any unused exemption amount to the individual' surviving spouse.

Phaseout or limitation of itemized deductions and personal exemptions
In the past, itemized deductions and personal and dependency exemptions were phased out or limited for high-income individuals. Since 2010, neither itemized deductions nor personal and dependency exemptions have been subject to phaseout or limitation based on income, but those provisions expired at the end of 2012.

The new legislation provides that, beginning in 2013, personal and dependency exemptions will be phased out for those with incomes exceeding specified income thresholds. Similarly, itemized deductions will be limited. For both the personal and dependency exemptions phaseout and the itemized deduction limitation, the threshold is $250,000 for single individuals ($300,000 for married individuals filing joint federal income tax returns).

Other expiring or expired provisions made permanent
> "Marriage penalty" relief in the form of an increased standard deduction amount for married couples and expanded 15% federal income tax bracket

> Expanded tax credit provisions relating to the dependent care tax credit, the adoption tax credit, and the child tax credit

> Higher limits and more generous rules of application relating to certain education provisions, including Coverdell education savings accounts, employer-provided education assistance, and the student loan interest deduction

Temporary extensions
> Provisions relating to increased earned income tax credit amounts for families with three or more children are extended through 2017

> American Opportunity credit provisions relating to maximum credit amount, refundability, and phaseout limits are extended through 2017

> The $250 above-the-line tax deduction for educator classroom expenses, the limited ability to deduct mortgage insurance premiums as qualified residence interest, the ability to deduct state and local sales tax in lieu of the itemized deduction for state and local income tax, and the deduction for qualified higher education expenses are all extended through 2013

> Charitable IRA distributions (IRA holders over age 70-1/2 are able to exclude from income up to $100,000 in qualified distributions made to charitable organizations) are extended through 2013; special rules apply for the 2012 tax year

> Exclusion of qualified mortgage debt forgiveness from income provisions extended through 2013

> Exclusion of 100% of the capital gain from the sale of qualified small business stock extended to apply to stock acquired before January 1, 2014

> 50% bonus depreciation and expanded Section 179 expense limits extended through 2013

If you have questions about The American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012, please feel free to contact us:
Ken Lydecker:
Dave Nicholson:
Dominic Cimino:
T: 847.375.0505

February 28, 2012

We very proudly want to announce to everyone that our Chief Market Strategist, Dominic Cimino, has been asked to be an analytical contributor on the financial website known as The site was created to serve as a place for investors and advisors to go and read numerous articles, charts, and insights from a wide range of economists and analysts. The founder of Advisor Perspectives, Mr. Doug Short, is also a technical chart analyst. He took notice of one of the charts Dominic had recently prepared, and was so impressed with it that he asked Dominic if he could publish the chart on his website for his readers to use. After receiving approval from our broker-dealer, Cambridge Investment Research Inc., Mr. Short entered Dominic’s chart on their website.

If you go to the site, you will see a small chart in the upper left corner called ’dshort Home.’ If you click on the chart, you will be taken to the page where there is both Dominic’s chart along with analysis from others; or the following is a direct link: The names of other financial experts who have been contributors to the site are very prestigious, and we are very proud to now have Dominic’s name added to that impressive list.

We encourage you to use the site as a resource for information, and then to interact with us in regards to any questions or insights you may have as a result of what you have read. The site and charts are not intended to tell you what to do, or what not to do. Please consult with us in regard to any thoughts rendered from this website. Each person’s investment perspectives and risk tolerances differ. But the site should provide you with added information that could stimulate thought.

Congratulations to our Chief Market Strategist!


November 2011

Join Us for this Free Event - Wednesday, November 9th, 2011

Plan now to attend Preferred Planning Concepts’ Semi-Annual Open Client Forum examining The State of the Economy and Financial Markets hosted by Ken Lydecker, Dave Nicholson and Dominic Cimino.

PPC’s Chief Market Strategist Dominic Cimino will review the current state of the U.S. and global economies and markets. We’ll also discuss strategies for moving forward, and a 30-45 minute Q&A session will follow. Light refreshments will be served, and we encourage you to bring a friend.

Date:  Wednesday, November 9th, 2011

Time: 6:30 - 8:00 p.m.

Location: Our offices - 2800 S. River Road, Suite 240, Des Plaines, IL

This is a free event and seating is limited. Please R.S.V.P. to by Monday, November 7th.

September 2011

A few pertinent thoughts for you to reflect upon in these turbulent economic times...

In recent weeks, we have heard from several clients who were deeply disturbed by the massive sell-off in the stock market. It was apparent that they were unnerved by the present volatility. Unfortunately, they had witnessed a large bear market in 2008-2009, and still freshly remembered the bear market of 2001-2002. Both previous bear markets were substantial and had wreaked havoc on portfolio values. However, after reviewing the concerned clients’ portfolio performance during this recent market decline, they were surprised and elated to learn that their assets had a much reduced volatility compared to the market, and they breathed a sigh of relief that their portfolios had not experienced the large decline that the market did.

We have been able to achieve this for our clients because we chose to take a different path than most advisors. We insisted on becoming more proactive with clients and found a broker-dealer (Cambridge) who encouraged that. We also pursued a strategy that was not sales-oriented. Instead, it is one that relies on market and economic interpretation and then utilizes a wider array of securities to protect clients’ assets during riskier times, while also intending to pursue more growth oriented advice during times of less market duress.

While doing this, our current conviction has remained steadfast. We have avoided the temptation to recommend more risk within portfolios because we believed that there remained more risk within capital markets than was perceived by most investors, advisors and analysts. During this tumultuous time, we maintained as our two primary goals: capital preservation and modest growth potential.

We are extremely happy we maintained those goals and our convictions. The current and once again substantial market decline appears to have confirmed our wisdom, and while it is possible that the market could stabilize, it is also very possible that the downward slide could continue.

A critical question to ask yourself is this: Are you in a position to handle another major market decline?

If you are a client with us, and want to know how your assets are doing, call us.
  If you are a client who splits assets between our firm and another advisor, and have questions, call us.
  If you have considered becoming a client, but have not yet made the decision to do so, call us.
  And finally, if you know of anyone who could currently or in the future benefit from the type of sound investment adice that we offer, please refer them to us. At a minimum, they could sign up for our no-obligation economic/market updates and commentaries. Their information would not be shared, and they would be able to follow us in our evolving thought process in order to ascertain whether or not we are a good fit for them.

We have no idea what you are reading, hearing, or being told via other sources. But we do know that the guidance and advice we have been giving our clients over the past 2-1/2 years has been prudent and consistently risk-focused. If we are not currently managing your assets, we would welcome the opportunity to guide you through the turbulent months and years ahead. Please contact us to learn more.

Ken Lydecker:
Dave Nicholson:
Dominic Cimino:
T: 847.375.0505

July 2011

Chicago Sun-Times Article Recommends Life Insurance Policy Review

Earlier this year, you received a packet of information in the mail related to the importance and value of reviewing your life insurance policy. As a follow-up to that mailing, we’d like to call your attention to an article that appeared recently in the Business Section of the Chicago Sun-Times in which writer Terry Savage encourages the same type of review. Click on the following link to read the article in its entirety:

If you own one or more life insurance policies, it is important to make sure they will perform successfully for you long-term, and actually accomplish what you bought them to do. Term insurance policies are generally bought with the understanding that they will run out after 10-20-30 years. Other policies are meant to be more permanent. But as the Sun-Times article illustrates, you may be surprised to discover that some policies may not last as long as you think.

Lastly, with interest rates being so low, and the stock market so uncertain, traditional cash value whole life insurance is slowly becoming a very sound way to save funds for the future. Plus, cash values in a life insurance policy are protected from creditors and lawsuits in most states.

To find out how "efficient" your current life insurance program actually is, contact us so that we can arrange a time to meet and review everything for you.

Ken Lydecker -
Dave Nicholson -
T: (847) 375-0505

May 2011

Important Information Regarding Your Existing Pershing Account(s)

As you know, the world has been moving inexorably towards ’paperless’ delivery of information. Pershing, the custodian of your brokerage accounts with Preferred Planning Concepts, LLC, is no exception, and has committed to full-scale electronic delivery effective June 1, 2011. You currently receive a very large amount of paper from Pershing which includes:

1. Prospectuses
2. Trade confirmations
3. Fund notifications
4. Tax documents
5. Proxy and shareholder documents
6. Statements

As the volume of paper has grown, we have heard from many of you that the information has become ever more difficult to manage and track. With the implementation by Pershing of this new electronic delivery system, paper flow will be vastly reduced, while your ability to easily access historical information and documents is significantly improved. As a firm, we are very much looking forward to this changeover as both you and Preferred Planning Concepts obtain this enhanced capability to manage information.

In order to complete this changeover, we are asking that you immediately log in to register on the Pershing site at:

In the Financial Organization box type: 5CR
Underneath the User ID box click: Register Now

Once you are in, completion of the process is pretty straightforward and should take no more than a few minutes. However, if you run into a problem at any point, please contact our office immediately and ask for Therese or Dave.

While the elimination of this vast paper flow from Pershing will be a relief to most, those who wish to continue to receive communications through the USPS may continue to do so. However, beginning June 1, 2011, Pershing will be implementing a small fee for doing so. We would encourage you to avoid this by completing the registration process as soon as possible. 

April 2011

You’re Invited...

Plan now to attend Preferred Planning Concepts’ Semi-Annual Open Client Forum examining The State of the Economy and Financial Markets, hosted by Ken Lydecker, Dave Nicholson and Dominic Cimino.

PPC’s Chief Market Strategist Dominic Cimino will review the current state of the U.S. and global economies and markets. We’ll also discuss strategies for moving forward, and a 30-45 minute Q & A session will follow. Light refreshments will be served, and we encourage you to bring a friend.

Date: Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Time: 6:30 - 8:00 p.m.

Location: Our new offices - 2800 S. River Road, Suite 240

This is a free event and seating is limited. Please R.S.V.P. to by April 15th.


January 2011

It’s a New Year -- Does Your Life Insurance Policy Need a Check-up?

The start of a new year is a great time for us to conduct a free check-up on your existing life insurance policies to measure their actual performance against the projections illustrated for you when you bought the policy.

Many of the older cash value policies issued in the 1980s and ‘90s could be at risk for running out of cash due to lower interest rates and higher internal costs. Under-performing policies may not meet your overall planning objectives and, worst case, your policies could lapse.

Term insurance rates have gotten very competitive; it’s a great time to lock in excellent premiums for up to 30 years. Plus, traditional Whole Life insurance is once again being used as a safe, conservative way to save funds for retirement and could be a sound complement to your overall savings and investment portfolio.

Reviewing your life insurance is an important thing to do. For more information, or to schedule a no-cost, no-obligation consultation, please contact Preferred Planning Concepts at (847) 375-0505 or click here.