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South of France Vacation

The South of France is a popular vacation destination for many reasons – sunny weather, great food & wine, beautiful scenery, just to name a few.   It is also home for my husband, so we are very fortunate to enjoy all of those things and get to spend time with our family!   Our family lives in the area of the beautiful Pic Saint-Loup in the Languedoc wine region, a great setting for a relaxing vacation.

The weather was perfect for long morning walks around the countryside in the charming village of Saint-Mathieu-de-Tréviers.   Surrounded by the aroma of the wild thyme and rosemary in the garrigue and the beautiful views, it was such a peaceful way to work off those morning croissants. It seems no matter which direction you walk, you can find amazing views of the Pic Saint-Loup and the surrounding vineyards.

As both my husband and I were celebrating our birthdays during this trip, we did a few special things. We had a delicious seafood lunch at Chez Francois in the port city of Sète.    A lunch of the local fish would not be complete without a bottle of the local white wine, Picpoul-de-Pinet.   Sète is a bustling city with an active fishing harbor, a network of canals to stroll along, and beautiful views from the hilltop of Mont St Clair. While the traffic in and out of Sète is quite heavy, it is well worth the trip and was a great way to spend my birthday!

We also spent an afternoon on a small group wine tour with our family. We visited local vineyards and tasted so many wines, while learning about their techniques and history from our tour guide, Bertrand from Instant Terroir. The wine tour ended with a delicious dinner prepared by Marie, Bertrand’s mother, in their historic family home. The Languedoc region produces excellent wines! Some of our favorites are from Mas Bruguiere, Château La Roque, and Domaine Pech-Tort.

Our vacation ended with a lovely birthday party for us with our family and friends – we shared the biggest bottle of champagne that I have ever seen!

While we are clearly biased as it is a ‘home away from home’ for us, the Languedoc region and nearby areas are some of the most beautiful places in France – bordering the Mediterranean and the infamous region of Provence!   We already can’t wait for our next trip.  À Bientôt!

 

Welcome interns!

We are happy to announce the recent hiring of two new interns at Harbor!

Reed Crowson has joined Harbor’s team as a Wealth Management Intern with an investment focus.  He is currently pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in Finance and Accounting at the Leeds School of Business at the University of Colorado with an expected graduation date of May 2020.

Reed Crowson

Justin Laue has joined Harbor’s team as a Wealth Management Intern with a financial planning focus. He is pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in Finance with the Personal Financial Planning option from the Leeds School of Business at the University of Colorado with an anticipated graduation date of May 2019.

Justin Laue

 

Due Diligence Needed in Socially Responsible Investing

Environmental, social and governance exchange-traded funds (ETFs) are heavily marketed right now, and the idea that you could avoid profiting from corporate practices you consider unethical is appealing. The problem is many of these managed funds and ETFs marketed with socially-conscious monikers contain investments that might surprise you, while others include companies that have not been socially responsible in the past. An additional issue is creating enough diversification in your portfolio with such a limited number of options.

Screening Environmental, Social and Governance ETFs

Screening for stocks you don’t want to buy is called negative, or avoidance, screening. Common negative screens include tobacco, weapons production and firearms.

While negative screening indicates companies and industries you should avoid, positive or affirmative screening results in a portfolio that is more in line with your beliefs. You can select companies that are leaders in new product creation and design, engage in fair employment practices, have a diverse board of directors, are supportive of the environment and champion human rights.

Positive screens require more analysis into the issues of employment practices, corporate governance, polluters and diversity. Given the time necessary to properly analyze each holding, it is practical to combine a well-invested environmental, social and governance (ESG) fund with several individual, positive-screened companies.

Diversifying With ESGs Can Be Challenging

True diversification is difficult with this strategy because many ESG companies are smaller corporations, which limits your ability to diversify based on company size. If you decide to add larger companies, you run into the issue that large companies are more complex. Many have long histories that may include negative qualities, which you will need to decide if you want to take into consideration or ignore. Perhaps a company in the past was a big polluter but they have changed their corporate attitude towards a cleaner more sustainable future. Is it enough that they are moving towards a more positive future, or do you want all of your investment to be in companies that never polluted?

Take an Active Role

If you want to be a socially conscious investor, you have to take an active role in determining your investment portfolio. you should monitor corporate filings to make sure the companies’ policies are acceptable, and notify them if not. Screening has come a long way; the ability for an investor to develop a diversified portfolio of socially responsible investments has been aided by more sophisticated analysis and an awareness of what the socially conscious investor is looking for. Ask what investments are in the funds you own, have discussions around your screens and look for progress towards your goals for company ownership. Then engage in regular monitoring to ensure the investments you own are in line with your beliefs.

 

Jennifer Baham Earns CFP® Certification

We have another CFP® here at Harbor!

Jennifer Baham recently passed the CFP board exam and holds the CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ designation.  She joined Harbor in 2015 and is a Client Service Manager.

The CFP® marks identify those individuals who have met the rigorous experience and ethical requirements of the CFP Board, have successfully completed financial planning coursework and have passed the CFP® Certification Examination covering the following areas:  the financial planning process, risk management, investments, tax planning and management, retirement and employee benefits, and estate planning.  CFP® professionals also agree to meet ongoing continuing education requirements and to uphold CFP Board’s Code of Ethics and Professional Responsibility, Rules of Conduct and Financial Planning Practice Standards.

Congrats Jen!

 

Harbor Volunteer Day

Last month, we had our second annual Harbor sponsored Employee Volunteer Day to support the Humane Society of Boulder Valley. We had very busy morning at the office and lunch together before we headed over to meet the hardworking team at HSBV. The HSBV’s annual fundraiser, Puttin’ On the Leash 2018, will be held soon, and after last year’s wine bottle wrapping activity, we were anxious to see what the staff had in store for us to help prepare for this year’s event. We were hoping it included puppies!

Before starting on the hard work of preparing some of the ‘royal’ table decorations, we were thrilled to meet Jade, an Italian greyhound puppy who really had a rough start to life. She was very happy to snuggle with us, and it was clear that the team at HSBV has been taking very good care of her, helping her to recover from some injuries.

After finishing our work on decorations and preparing so many bags for wine and other goodies to be used as raffle and auction items, Lindsay Scott was kind enough to give us a tour of the facility. Lindsay, who is the Director of Operations and Veterinary Services, explained all of the primary services in place to support the needs of these sweet friends. They provide behavior modification training, medical and veterinary services, which are also available to the public.  As part of the intake and adoption process, they assess the animals and are then able to suggest what type of home environments would best support their needs – this is very helpful in finding a successful forever home for the cats and dogs that come to the shelter. HSBV also operates a small retail store onsite! The Humane Society of Boulder Valley provides shelter and care to more than 7,000 animals each year, with about 95% of these animals being adopted.

The last stop of the tour was the adoption area where we were able to meet some sweet dogs and cats waiting to be adopted.   Walking through this area, it was hard to resist taking so many of them home with us!

Before we left for the day, we got to meet one more puppy, a very energetic Catahoula mix, who was quite an escape artist and quickly made friends with our team.

Anytime that you can spend part of your work day playing with puppies is a great day in my view!

Thank you Harbor and HSBV for a wonderful day! Looking forward to the next Harbor Employee Volunteer Day.

 

 

 

 

Harbor Welcomes Denise Givens

We are happy to announce that Denise Givens has joined Harbor’s team as Office Manager.  She is responsible for overall office management and organization, day-to-day operations, scheduling and special projects. She also assists with bookkeeping and events.

Prior to joining Harbor, she spent most of her career in Global Supply Chain and Logistics Operations roles.

Please join us in welcoming her to Harbor!

 

Harbor is 30 Years Old!

January 1st of 1988 Harbor Financial Group was incorporated in Colorado.  Our vision was to create a financial planning firm based on a straightforward service model devoted to our clients’ best interests.  We were young but had a lot of experience in the field of investment management and financial planning.  We knew what we didn’t want; conflicts of interest, exorbitant fees, empire building, nor a sales environment.  What we did want was a professional organization structured to give excellent, well researched advice to a limited number of clients needing our services.

We started with a great reputation and we intended to keep it that way with every client we served and each decision we made.

What we didn’t know was how successful we would be. Hundreds of plans later, buffeted by countless market cycles, inflation, natural disasters, and political turmoil we are consistent in providing advice to our clients.  Potential clients noticed too, glad to have an alternative to big banks and brokerage firms and the way they do business.  Along the way, we created a wonderful work environment where staff can thrive, learning, contributing and enjoying their professional lives.

To celebrate this year we intend to have a party to thank you for your part in our success. We also think it will be fun to engage in a retrospective 1988 to 2018, what has changed, what hasn’t, and what didn’t exist- think life without smart phones, the internet and a number of our current staff members!  Be on the lookout for a monthly dive into fun and interesting items.

We hope you will help us celebrate- we would not be here without you.

Elyse

 

7th Annual Wreath Making Event

We recently hosted our 7th annual wreath making event at Sturtz and Copeland here in Boulder.  This is always such a fun event and great to see everyone’s individual creativity and style.

If you have not attended in the past mark your calendar for next December and join us!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Galalpagos

The Galapagos is a naturalists dream, there are species of bird, animal and plant life- giant tortoises, both blue footed and red footed boobies, marine iguanas, and warm water penguins  that you will not see anywhere on earth. We began our adventure with a flight to Quito Ecuador, which in itself is a worthy destination high in the Andes.  From Quito we flew to Guayaquil Ecuador where we embarked on our trip around the islands.  We chose a small double hulled boat called the Ocean Spray.  It carries 16 passengers, on our trip we had 14.  A small boat is a great way to explore in small groups, we had a guide for our family of six, along with a very attentive crew.

A cruise is an opportunity to visit a place where time has almost stopped.   It is also an opportunity to swim with sea lions, sharks, sting rays, and giant tortoises, hike into lava tunnels and caves, explore deserted beaches-there is opportunity for adventure all day every day.

The setting feels a bit otherworldly, as you pass the islands they are sparsely populated and the vegetation when we went was scant, I likened it to the moon’s surface.

I don’t know which was more nerve-wracking  jumping into open water with fairly strong currents or that fact that that water contained hundreds of sharks, we were told it was not feeding time. The large schools of fish surrounding you as you swam was a unique experience.  Literally thousands at one time.  Swimming with the giant tortoises was another adventure experience, they are as beautiful as you might imagine, peaceful and graceful.  Getting to the sea turtles required swimming over hundreds of stingrays.  All I could think of was Steve Irwin.  We saw octopus, and at a distance penguins.

Hiking into the lava tubes is only adventurous if you are claustrophobic or at all concerned that OSHA has not visited- and it is really dark.  We brought flashlights but it was still a ‘blind’ walk deep into ancient tubes vacated by the lava that formed them.

We combined our Galapagos trip with a visit to the Madre de Dios River (an Amazon tributary) just up river from Puerto Maldonado Peru.  We stayed at the Inkaterra Reserva Amazonica which in itself is an adventure.  The lodge is set in the jungle and is a haven for bird watchers.  We experienced a night boat ride to view caiman in their habitat, climbed high above the forest floor on rope ladders and platforms, we looked for and did not see an anaconda (ok by me!) and hiked in the jungle.   The resort has a pet peccary named Sammy which was fun!

I would recommend this trip for the adventure, singular sights, viewing the southern cross from the top of the boat, the other travelers you will meet and good times with friends and family as you explore this magical world making memories together.

Thanksgiving Centerpiece Class

Last month Harbor hosted a flower arranging class at Plum Sage in Denver.  With instruction from the floral experts at Plum Sage each attendee designed and created their very own Thanksgiving centerpiece to take home.

We learned about flower and foliage types, the mechanics of floral arrangements as well as many useful design tips. We also discussed using what is available in our own gardens to enhance a store bought bouquet.

This was a very fun and educational class and we hope to make it an annual event.