JULY 2020
Khaas Baat : A Publication for Indian Americans in Florida

BUSINESS BUZZ

Why is Cognitive Diversity critical to team success?

By Dr. Karyn Anjali
Mathura-Arthur

Having a Cognitively Diverse team on a project or in your company is a huge asset – simple fact. There is no doubt that people feel comfortable surrounding themselves with others who have business styles similar to their own. Unfortunately, when you get more of the same, what you end up with is ... more of the same.

Before we dive deeper into the reasons why, it is essential to understand the concept first. What is cognitive diversity? As the name might imply, Cognitive diversity refers to including individuals with unique, diverse viewpoints and who use cognitive exploration models when solving a problem in the workplace. In other words, when there are people who think differently and come up with creative solutions and ideas to solve challenges, the chances of success are usually higher. Cognitive diversity often leads to healthy discussion and brainstorming between team members, which can be the gateway to problem-solving and innovation.

How do you foster cognitive diversity within your team? Or hire a cognitive diverse team? One of the best ways to achieve a good balance between team cohesiveness and cognitive diversity is to encourage people to think for themselves and be more hands-on when it comes to approaching a given project. There is a thin line between teamwork and individual initiative, and it is important to strike a good balance between these different worlds, to avoid confusion or chaos within the team. To do this first, you must encourage and foster an environment that creates psychological safety. People must have trust to be able to share their viewpoints openly.

It is also helpful to diversify the team, with people representing different areas of expertise and experiences. For instance, a branding expert and an engineer might tackle the same issue in two completely different ways. Both angles are very valuable, and this could lead to some great ideas. “Synergy, discussion, and cooperation between people that come at a project from different backgrounds can be a key element of building cognitive diversity within your team,” says Dr. Faisel A. Syed, national director of Primary Care at ChenMed.

Organizing the team in different independent subgroups can also be a great way to diversify the cognitive approach on any given project. By working independently, team subgroups might come up with different ideas, which could later intertwine or be compared to one another in order to develop with the most suitable strategy to achieve the end goal.

Being open to external opinions or other consultations (such as hiring external consultants to join the team for specific projects) can also be a fantastic way to broaden the cognitive range of the group, as well as fostering new, exciting resources and relationships all while living in peace solving singular of multiple problems.

The power of learning together and cultivating cognitive diversity in designing the work of tomorrow is a strong play for any company competing in today’s fast-changing world. It’s critical to consider each possible angle in order to establish viable, productive solutions.

Dr. Karyn Mathura-Arthur is an agile implementation leader with experience in Operational Excellence, Continuous Process Improvement, Business Transformation, Process Engineering and Organizational Change Management across multiple industries (banking, insurance, healthcare, telecom, government, retail, etc.). For comments and suggestions, email editor@khaasbaat.com

FINANCE

Tapping Retirement Savings During a Financial Crisis

By HAREN MEHTA

As the number of COVID-19 cases began to skyrocket in March 2020, Congress passed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. The legislation may make it easier for Americans to access money in their retirement plans, temporarily waiving the 10 percent early-withdrawal penalty and increasing the amount they could borrow. Understanding these new guidelines and the other rules for loans and early withdrawals may help you determine if they are appropriate options during a financial crisis. (Remember that tapping retirement savings now could risk your financial situation in the future.)

Penalty-Free Withdrawals

The newest exception to the 10 percent early-withdrawal penalty allows IRA account holders and retirement plan participants to take distributions of up to $100,000 in 2020 for a "coronavirus-related" reason. These situations include a diagnosis of COVID-19 for account owners and certain family members; a financial setback due to a quarantine, furlough, layoff, or reduced work hours, and in the case of business owners, due to closures or reduced hours; or an inability to work due to lack of child care as a result of the virus. This temporary exception augments the other circumstances for which a penalty-free distribution is typically allowed:

In addition, IRAs (but not work-based plans) allow penalty-free withdrawals for a first-time home purchase ($10,000 lifetime limit), qualified higher-education expenses, and payments of health insurance premiums in the event of a layoff.

Five Industries Most Likely to Offer Retirement Plan Loans

Percentage of plans that offer loans, by type of industry3

Work-based plans allow exceptions for those who separate from service after age 55 (50 in the case of qualified public safety employees) and distributions as part of a qualified domestic relations order.

Tax Consequences

Penalty-free does not mean tax-free, however. In most cases, when you take a penalty-free distribution, you must report the full amount of the distribution on your income tax return for that year. However, the income associated with a coronavirus-related distribution can be spread over three years for tax purposes, with up to three years to reinvest the money.1

Retirement Plan Loans

If your work-based retirement plan allows loans, you typically can borrow up to the lesser of 50 percent of your vested balance or $50,000. Most loans must be repaid within five years, but if the money is used to purchase a primary residence, the repayment period may be longer. The CARES Act permits employers to increase this amount to the lesser of 100 percent of the vested balance or $100,000 for loans to coronavirus-affected individuals made between March 27, 2020, and Sept. 22, 2020.* Affected participants who have outstanding loans on or after March 27, 2020, will be able to delay any payments due in 2020 by one year.2

Hardship Withdrawals

Many work-based retirement plans also permit hardship withdrawals in certain circumstances. Although these distributions are not exempt from the 10% early-withdrawal penalty, they can be a lifeline for people who need money in an emergency.

For more information about your options, contact your IRA or retirement plan administrator.

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1) Amounts reinvested may reduce your tax obligation on the distributions; however, due to the timing of distributions and required tax filings, you may have to file an amended return to seek a refund on any taxes previously paid on withdrawn amounts. 2) The original five-year repayment period will be extended for the delay, but interest will continue to accrue. 3) Source: Plan Sponsor Council of America, 2019 (2018 data)

IMPORTANT DISCLOSURES

Securities and Investment Advisory services offered through SagePoint Financial, Inc., member FINRA/SIPC and a registered investment advisor. Fixed and/or Traditional Insurance Services may be offered through Capital Insurance & Asset Protection LLC, which is not affiliated with SagePoint Financial or registered as a broker-dealer or investment advisor.
To the extent that this material concerns tax matters, it is not intended or written to be used, and cannot be used, by a taxpayer for the purpose of avoiding penalties that may be imposed by law. Each taxpayer should seek independent advice from a tax professional based on his or her individual circumstances.

Haren Mehta, managing partner of Capital Insurance & Asset Protection in Tampa, can be reached at (813) 679-5204 or email haren@mycapitalinsurance.com

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