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Sue Thompson
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Sue Thompson is Head of the Registered Investment Advisor Group and 401(k) Sales, overseeing the firm’s iShares and 401(k) sales efforts with registered investment advisors, independent broker/dealers and asset managers. In 2007 Sue joined Barclays Global Investors (BGI), which merged with... More
My company:
iShares
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The Blog
  • Tax resolutions for April 15th and beyond
    They say there are only two things that are certain in life - death and taxes. Frankly, after doing my taxes this weekend, it's questionable whether death is the less attractive option. As a recovering CPA, I'm still in that do-it-yourself camp, and software like Turbotax® definitely makes it a lot easier. However, it's still a painful process (particularly the check-writing that comes at the end). We all have New Year's resolutions, but I think I'm going to have a few April 15th resolutions for my investments in the coming year: 
    1. Pay attention to qualified dividend income (QDI). As more dividend-weighted ETFs have come out, it’s surprising how many don't use a methodology that screens for QDI. I would expect that any ETF focused on providing dividend income would screen for QDI, but that's not the case. Here's a real life example: If you receive $10,000 in dividend income from an ETF that is 70% QDI versus an ETF that is 100% QDI (and you meet the necessary holding period), the difference in taxes over the course of a single year is $600 if you're in the highest tax bracket. To put that into context (and for those of you who read my earlier blog posts), that's the cost of an iPad®
    2. Make sure that my municipal bond investments are not subject to alternative minimum tax (NYSE:AMT). Seriously, what's the point of buying munis if you end up having to pay tax on the interest anyhow? 
    3. Review my commodities exposure with an eye towards tax efficiency. First decision is whether to use an exchange-traded note or an ETF. If the latter, be prepared for a Schedule K-1 tax form. Also if the latter, understand what the underlying investments are. Are they futures contracts or hard assets? If they are futures contracts, check to see whether they are "qualified futures contracts". If so, that's going to result in the futures being marked to market with a 60/40 long/short capital gain split distributed at year end (meaning that 60% of the capital gains will be treated as long-term and 40% will be treated as short-term for tax purposes). Still might be the exposure I want, but in that case, tax location matters, so I'll be putting that into a tax-deferred account. 
    4. Be better about tax loss harvesting. I've got a bad habit of only thinking through my tax loss harvesting strategy in November/December, when I really should do it year round. Turns out that my tax loss carryforwards from 2008/2009 are nearly gone. 
    Well that's all I can take on the tax front - time for a game of Angry Birds. 
    iPad is a registered trademark of Apple Inc., and TurboTax is a registered trademark of Intuit Inc.

    Carefully consider the iShares Funds’ investment objectives, risk factors, and charges and expenses before investing. This and other information can be found in the Funds’ prospectuses, which may be obtained by calling 1-800-iShares (1-800-474-2737), or by clicking the Prospectuses link. Read the prospectus carefully before investing.

    Investing involves risk, including possible loss of principal.

    The iShares Funds (“Funds”) are distributed by SEI Investments Distribution Co. (“SEI”). BlackRock Fund Advisors (“BFA”) serves as the investment advisor to the Funds. The iShares Blog contributors are affiliated with BlackRock Fund Distribution Company (“BFDC”), which assists in the marketing of the Funds. BFA and BFDC are affiliates of BlackRock Institutional Trust Company, N.A. (“BlackRock”), none of which is affiliated with SEI.

    The strategies discussed are strictly for illustrative and educational purposes and should not be construed as a recommendation to purchase or sell, or an offer to sell or a solicitation of an offer to buy any security. There is no guarantee that any strategies discussed will be effective. The information provided is not intended to be a complete analysis of every material fact respecting any strategy. The examples presented do not take into consideration commissions, tax implications or other transactions costs, which may significantly affect the economic consequences of a given strategy.

    The information provided is not intended to be tax advice. Investors should be urged to consult their tax professionals or financial advisors for more information regarding their specific tax situations.

    Neither BlackRock Institutional Trust Company, N.A., and its affiliates nor SEI and its affiliates provide tax advice. Please note that (i) any discussion of U.S. tax matters contained in this communication cannot be used by you for the purpose of avoiding tax penalties; (ii) this communication was written to support the promotion or marketing of the matters addressed herein; and (iii) you should seek advice based on your particular circumstances from an independent tax advisor.

    This material represents an assessment of the market environment at a specific time and is not intended to be a forecast of future events or a guarantee of future results. This information should not be relied upon by the reader as research or investment advice regarding the funds or any security in particular.

    Apr 07 12:47 PM | Link | Comment!
  • Helping Japan
    March 16, 2011

    As we watch the unimaginable horror that the Japanese are enduring, I am struck by some observations about this disaster.  When speaking with friends and family, I’ve noticed the analogy we use most frequently for the overwhelming video footage is that it’s reminiscent of a movie with computer-generated graphics.  Almost as though “fact” is so much more than we can comprehend, so we compare it to fiction.  Of course, this sense is only exacerbated when we go from this shocking footage to a commercial for a cruise line (now, that’s the definition of dissonance).  And my cynical self says, “This is the downside of technology: we can’t handle reality any longer.”

    But then I went to Google to search for the Japanese Red Cross, thinking that I could find out how to make a donation.  That led to the Google Crisis Response page where you can donate, search for a loved one, report on a missing person who’s been found, get emergency numbers, determine transportation options and contact the U.S. Embassy.  On Twitter, the top tweet is #HelpJapan, where you can find tweets ranging from supporting a bake sale to the best ways to be helpful if you’re in Tokyo.  A Yahoo search quickly reminded me of all the help the Japanese had given us during Hurricane Katrina.

    On our own corporate intranet site we very quickly learned that all of our BlackRock colleagues were safe–and because this is rather like a large family, it was similar to getting a call from your aunt, letting you know everything’s OK.  We were also reminded of our generous corporate gift matching policy.

    So, my cynicism has subsided and I am once again awestruck by the power of technology, the generosity of the human spirit, and unfortunately, the one-upmanship that Nature sometimes displays.

    Sent with Good (good.com)
     

    Carefully consider the iShares Funds’ investment objectives, risk factors, and charges and expenses before investing. This and other information can be found in the Funds’ prospectuses, which may be obtained by calling 1-800-iShares (1-800-474-2737), or by clicking the Prospectuses link. Read the prospectus carefully before investing.

    Investing involves risk, including possible loss of principal.

    The iShares Funds (“Funds”) are distributed by SEI Investments Distribution Co. (“SEI”). BlackRock Fund Advisors (“BFA”) serves as the investment advisor to the Funds. The iShares Blog contributors are affiliated with BlackRock Fund Distribution Company (“BFDC”), which assists in the marketing of the Funds. BFA and BFDC are affiliates of BlackRock Institutional Trust Company, N.A. (“BlackRock”), none of which is affiliated with SEI.

    The strategies discussed are strictly for illustrative and educational purposes and should not be construed as a recommendation to purchase or sell, or an offer to sell or a solicitation of an offer to buy any security. There is no guarantee that any strategies discussed will be effective. The information provided is not intended to be a complete analysis of every material fact respecting any strategy. The examples presented do not take into consideration commissions, tax implications or other transactions costs, which may significantly affect the economic consequences of a given strategy.

    The information provided is not intended to be tax advice. Investors should be urged to consult their tax professionals or financial advisors for more information regarding their specific tax situations.

    Neither BlackRock Institutional Trust Company, N.A., and its affiliates nor SEI and its affiliates provide tax advice. Please note that (i) any discussion of U.S. tax matters contained in this communication cannot be used by you for the purpose of avoiding tax penalties; (ii) this communication was written to support the promotion or marketing of the matters addressed herein; and (iii) you should seek advice based on your particular circumstances from an independent tax advisor.

    This material represents an assessment of the market environment at a specific time and is not intended to be a forecast of future events or a guarantee of future results. This information should not be relied upon by the reader as research or investment advice regarding the funds or any security in particular.

    Mar 30 4:40 PM | Link | Comment!
  • Love, Loss and iPad Apps

    It’s official: I love my iPad®.  Maybe I should have realized the extent of my obsession when I started buying a variety of new covers so I could dress it in different “outfits.”  But last week I found out just how much I had begun to depend on my iPad when I lost it.  First, there was that same frantic feeling you get as a parent when you turn around in the mall and cannot find your child.  Then, the guilt – I shouldn’t have dressed it in red leather and taken it to the West Village.  Finally, the heart-wrenching sadness of contemplating a five hour flight back to San Francisco without it.  Fortunately, the good people at Fat Cat found it just in time for me to bring it home (thanks guys!).

    So, naturally I thought my first blog post should be about some of the cool apps for your iPad so that I can share my passion.  What makes an app cool, you might ask?  First, it’s got to be a great value (free is good).  But even more importantly it should streamline your life.  Case in point: the HP12-C app.  It’s got all the same functionality as the actual calculator, but at a fraction of the cost – and it’s one less thing to pack!

    Another sign of a great app is that there’s at least some modicum of functionality even when you’re not connected to the internet.  That same flight coming back to SF they announced that there wouldn’t be any Gogo Inflight.  No no! No Gogo? Just whatever content you have on the device?  Well, that means if you’ve pre-downloaded your Wall Street Journal, Economist, Barron’s and Financial Times you’re good for a while.  Zinio and Kindle are great places to shop for content (magazines and books, respectively) that you can download beforehand and enjoy during a long flight.  You might also check out the free Harvard Business Review podcasts on iTunes.

    Unfortunately, when it comes to financial iPad apps, all are still very internet-dependent.  That said, the Bloomberg app has incredibly rich content for being free.  I also think that the ETF Database app, with current news stories and a simple ETF screener, is a step in the right direction.  It’d be great if they’d take the next step and allow for downloading of content instead of keeping it in the cloud.  Our developers are working on the iShares app, so we’ll let you know when that’s available and you can tell us what you think.

    And finally, when it comes to lost iPads, make sure you’ve set up the “Find my iPad” feature before it disappears on you.  Go to settings; mail; accounts and set up MobileMe for “Find my iPad”.  You don’t have to subscribe to MobileMe to take advantage of it, and it’s much cooler than those leashes they put on kids in the mall.

    Sent from my iPad

    iPad and iTunes are registered trademarks of Apple Inc, Zinio is a registered trademark of Zinio LLC, and Kindle is a registered trademark of Amazon.com.  Neither BlackRock nor SEI is affiliated with Apple Inc, Zinio LLC or Amazon.com.

    Carefully consider the iShares Funds’ investment objectives, risk factors, and charges and expenses before investing. This and other information can be found in the Funds’ prospectuses, which may be obtained by calling 1-800-iShares (1-800-474-2737), or by clicking the Prospectuses link. Read the prospectus carefully before investing.

    Investing involves risk, including possible loss of principal.

    The iShares Funds (“Funds”) are distributed by SEI Investments Distribution Co. (“SEI”). BlackRock Fund Advisors (“BFA”) serves as the investment advisor to the Funds. The iShares Blog contributors are affiliated with BlackRock Fund Distribution Company (“BFDC”), which assists in the marketing of the Funds. BFA and BFDC are affiliates of BlackRock Institutional Trust Company, N.A. (“BlackRock”), none of which is affiliated with SEI.

    The strategies discussed are strictly for illustrative and educational purposes and should not be construed as a recommendation to purchase or sell, or an offer to sell or a solicitation of an offer to buy any security. There is no guarantee that any strategies discussed will be effective. The information provided is not intended to be a complete analysis of every material fact respecting any strategy. The examples presented do not take into consideration commissions, tax implications or other transactions costs, which may significantly affect the economic consequences of a given strategy.

    The information provided is not intended to be tax advice. Investors should be urged to consult their tax professionals or financial advisors for more information regarding their specific tax situations.

    Neither BlackRock Institutional Trust Company, N.A., and its affiliates nor SEI and its affiliates provide tax advice. Please note that (i) any discussion of U.S. tax matters contained in this communication cannot be used by you for the purpose of avoiding tax penalties; (ii) this communication was written to support the promotion or marketing of the matters addressed herein; and (iii) you should seek advice based on your particular circumstances from an independent tax advisor.

    This material represents an assessment of the market environment at a specific time and is not intended to be a forecast of future events or a guarantee of future results. This information should not be relied upon by the reader as research or investment advice regarding the funds or any security in particular.

    Mar 30 4:39 PM | Link | Comment!
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