Elevate your future.

With over 50 years of combined experience in the world of personal financial planning, Michael Bono, CPA, CFP®, Sarah Creath, EA, CFP®, and James A. Kaffenbarger, Jr., J.D., CFP®, bring together a simplified approach to investing, a collaborative style of service and an embrace of technology to offer comprehensive financial management that includes:
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Retirement Planning

“Will I have enough to retire?” This might be the most frequent question we are asked. We work with you to evaluate your current assets, how much you are saving each year, your spending patterns and when to claim social security. We use this information to project what retirement might look like. If those projections do not match up with your dreams and desires, we look at alternative scenarios until we get to the plan that works best for you. Then, once you retire, we recommend how to best draw down your assets to meet your needs in the most tax efficient way.

Tax Planning & Preparation

Our goal is to simplify the lives of our clients. One of the ways that we do this is by preparing Individual and Trust tax returns. When we first start working with you, we request the past few years of tax returns. This allows us to prepare a tax plan for you in the current year and prepare your tax return going forward. But, our tax work does not stop on April 15th: we are preparing tax plans and analyses for you throughout the year. This may include things like whether you can change domicile to take advantage of lower taxes in another state or what actions to take in response to changes in the tax law. When changes do occur in the tax law, we perform a detailed analysis of your individual tax situation well before year end, to make sure we are recommending the most effective way to reduce your tax liability.

Healthcare & Insurance Planning

Health insurance is another area that can be difficult to navigate. Whether you are changing jobs or becoming eligible for Medicare, we help you every step of the way. This could include evaluating COBRA coverage vs. purchasing a private policy, or which Supplemental Policy and Drug coverage to choose when you become eligible for Medicare. We will also review your Life, Disability, Long Term Care, Umbrella Liability, Property & Casualty and Auto policies and evaluate your current levels of coverage. If changes are warranted, we will research alternatives and help get new coverage in place.

Estate Planning

The first step in estate planning is figuring out what you want to have happen in the event of your death or disability. We will facilitate conversations with the appropriate parties and help you articulate your thoughts. We will then discuss the various legal avenues available to accomplish your objectives. Next, we’ll help locate an attorney with the expertise to review and draft the plan. Once the appropriate documents have been signed, we will help you implement the plan. This may involve relatively simple things like changing beneficiary designations, or it can involve more complex transactions such as setting up trusts and re-titling assets. Finally, once a client has passed away, we help the survivors maneuver through the Estate process.

Employer Benefits Analysis

We will examine the benefits available to you from your employer and discuss the most efficient ways of using and coordinating those benefits to achieve your objectives. This could involve recommending an asset allocation in your 401(k) that works with the allocation of the accounts that we are managing. Depending on how you are compensated, it could also include advising you on defined benefit pensions, cash performance units, restricted stock awards, stock option exercising strategies, and the decision on whether to fund unsecured, non-qualified pension plans.

Education Planning

Short of funding one’s own retirement, paying for all or part of a child’s education can be one of the most daunting financial undertakings in a client’s life. For parents, we can help set up savings targets and discuss the various savings vehicles available to achieve their objectives. For grandparents who want to help, we look at all the factors that will influence financial aid and tax credits to arrive at an optimal funding strategy for each client. And finally, when it is time to send your child off to school, we will help prepare the financial aid forms, such as the FAFSA and CSS Profile. Once the acceptance letters arrive, we will evaluate the different offers to see how they affect your overall financial picture.


We do not believe that paying an active manager to pick individual stocks in the hope of “beating the market” is the best method for long term investing. The literature and research are quite clear: over time, the vast majority of active managers fail to beat their benchmarks*. Based on all of this research, BCK Partners uses an index approach to invest the equity portion of your portfolio to meet your goals and objectives. The more conservative portion of your portfolio is generally invested in high quality bonds, CDs, money market and index exchange traded funds.

The overall mix between conservative investments and more aggressive investments should be based on what is appropriate for each individual client. We do not set an arbitrary minimum amount that must be conservatively invested. We work with each client to determine how much risk is appropriate based on each client’s unique situation and circumstances.

*From https://us.spindices.com/spiva/#/reports

Family-Wide Services

When you become a client of BCK Partners, we work with not only with you but also with your family. This includes your parents, grandparents, children and grandchildren. Oftentimes, we need to know your adult child’s situation in order to provide the best advice to you when it comes time to think about helping to pay for education or leaving a legacy to your children or grandchildren. Sometimes working with your children and grandchildren involves simple things like assisting with an asset allocation or reviewing the employer benefits packages when changing jobs. Other times, we work on more complicated matters such as planning for elderly parents or grandparents, discussing the financial ramifications of marriage and pre-nuptial agreements with adult children and grandchildren and helping to navigate through divorce. We have been doing this a long time and have extensive experience in dealing with these types of issues.

Our Philosophy.

We started this firm in 2015 to deliver comprehensive, personal service at a fair and competitive cost to our clients. Every employee of BCK Partners, Inc. is empowered to make a difference in the lives of our clients. We proactively take the steps needed to make our clients’ experiences with us as easy, convenient and as stress-free as possible. We are more than a firm that manages your wealth: we are a partner with you and your family in navigating the many challenges that life presents.

Our Experience.

Although many professionals call themselves “financial planners,” the Principals of BCK Partners, Inc. are CFP® professionals: they have completed extensive training and experience requirements and are held to rigorous ethical standards.

We understand the complexities of the changing financial climate and will make recommendations in your best interests.

Who We Are

Michael Bono, CPA, CFP<sup>®</sup>

Michael Bono, CPA, CFP®

Principal & Co-Founder

I was born in New York City and grew up on Long Island. During my early years, I was a Boy Scout, played Little League baseball, and ran Cross Country. Upon graduation from High School, I enlisted in the Navy where I served on active duty for six years. Upon my release from active duty, I moved to Geneseo, NY and began studies in accounting at SUNY Geneseo. After completing a BS in Accounting, I passed the Certified Public Accountancy exam and began my career in accounting, audit, and tax. I spent four years in public accounting in Rochester, NY before taking a position as Tax Manager for a trust company in Corning, NY. I then shifted my career path to join a financial planning firm and earned my CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNING® designation. In 2015, I partnered with Sarah Creath and Jamie Kaffenbarger to form BCK Partners, Inc. During this time, I continued to serve in the US Navy as a reservist, serving for 36 years working in and supporting operations in 22 countries until my retirement as a Commander in 2019.

In my spare time, I enjoy sailing and am a member of the Keuka Yacht Club where I “crew” on Lightnings and race my MC-Scow. Additionally, I enjoy cooking, traveling and watching the NY Mets.

Over the years, I have been involved in numerous volunteer community organizations which include: Scout Master Troop 70 Geneseo, NY; American Legion Post 746; Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 524; Corning Lions Club, and Board Member of Tanglewood Nature Center in Elmira, NY.

I have three adult children.


Sarah Creath, EA, CFP<sup>®</sup>

Sarah Creath, EA, CFP®

Principal & Co-Founder

Starting an advisory firm with Mike and Jamie has given me the opportunity to make decisions that enable me to spend more time doing what I love most: being a source of comfort for my clients, and helping to simplify their lives.

I thrive in challenging situations and have been there to help clients navigate through such things as the divorce settlement process, the death of a spouse or parent and family estate issues. Client visits are never limited to the Corning area: I love travelling and getting to know my clients personally.

Originally from Rochester (the youngest of 8 siblings!), I’ve lived in Corning since 1992. My husband Tom and I have two sets of twins: Jack and Molly, and Katie and Ellie. During the winter we ski and watch the kids play hockey; in the summer we look for opportunities to golf and spend time on the Finger Lakes.


James A. Kaffenbarger, Jr., J.D., CFP<sup>®</sup>

James A. Kaffenbarger, Jr., J.D., CFP®

Principal & Co-Founder

After college, I went to law school and began my career as an attorney in Cleveland, OH. Around this time, I met a wonderful woman who was in medical school in Cleveland as well. Unfortunately, she moved to Baltimore to do her residency at Johns Hopkins Bayview. After about six months, I followed her to Baltimore where I took the MD bar and began practicing law with a firm in Bethesda, MD.

We got married, my wife finished her residency (and a chief residency and a fellowship) and we began thinking about adding to our family. We decided that living a block off the water in downtown Baltimore was a great place to be a newly married couple but that it might not be the best place for us to raise our family.

In exploring opportunities in her hometown of Elmira, NY and my hometown of Springfield, OH, I met a well-established financial advisor who counseled me to make a career change. So, with my wife nine months pregnant with our first child, we moved to Elmira, NY for her to start her first “real” job and me to change careers.

That was July, 2000. As I write this in July, 2018, we are sending our oldest to Hamilton College for his freshman year and our youngest will be a junior in high school. The past 18 years have been truly amazing.

On the professional side, I was fortunate to meet two like-minded people whom I know and trust enough to start an advisory business together. Starting our own firm has allowed us the freedom and flexibility to truly put the needs of our clients first. The first three years have been wonderful. We cannot wait to see what the future holds.


Lisa Weidman, FPQP<sup>™</sup>

Lisa Weidman, FPQP

Operations Manager

I worked with Jamie and Mike for five years before following them to BCK Partners. I was with BCK since day 2 (after Jamie and Mike realized they missed me on day 1). I also worked with Sarah a little in the past, and so I made the change to BCK with complete faith that I would be working for honest, caring individuals who would treat their clients and employees with respect. They have not failed me in my expectations.

With English/Education degrees, and with business experience that has included administration work at American Express and Elmira College, I was new to the financial industry when Mike and Jamie first took me under their wing. Since then I have become a Financial Paraplanner Qualified Professional and continue to learn under the tutelage of Sarah, Mike and Jamie. I’ve also been able to focus more on projects and the overall client experience at BCK since we hired our Secret Weapon, Amy, in 2017.

I am grateful to have the opportunity to work for BCK Partners, Inc. Not only is the work atmosphere wonderful and the learning opportunities plentiful, but I enjoy our clients. The best part of my job is when I get to make a difficult situation easier for someone else. When clients call, email or stop by our office, they should know that we know who they are and are ready to help.


Amy Thorsen, FPQP<sup>™</sup>

Amy Thorsen, FPQP

Secret Weapon

I am a local – I grew up in Big Flats, NY and, after detouring to Buffalo, Nashville, and Ithaca, I came back home to settle in Corning with my husband and my dog. I have a degree in English from SUNY at Buffalo – yes, I enjoy reading Shakespeare! I love live music, and I take any chance I can to get into the woods for some “nature therapy.” I write essays and poetry in my free time, as well as seeking out every adorable dog video I can find on the internet.

A former boss and mentor once asked me, when I was questioning my career path, what I valued in my work life. This question helped me more than I can describe. My highest values were helping people, engaging in meaningful and mentally stimulating work, a chance to learn and grow, working with an ethical and honest team, and a job where I had plenty of humor and laughter. I knew as soon as I heard about BCK Partners that I wanted to work here, but I never imagined that it would be a job that ticked all of my boxes. I have truly enjoyed getting to know the team as well as our clients since 2017. I consider it a privilege to help you when you call the office, and I’m always happy if I can help you resolve an issue on the spot. I recently obtained my Financial Paraplanner Qualified Professional designation, and I look forward to new opportunities to learn and grow with BCK Partners in the future.


Our Community

Our Community

BCK Partners, Inc. is a member of the Corning Area Chamber of Commerce. To learn more about Corning, visit https://www.corningny.com or www.gafferdistrict.com. We try to support area businesses by purchasing products when possible from local vendors (Dimitri’s Confectionary Treats is one of our favorites). We also participate in and sponsor various community charity events, as well as serve on the board of several organizations:

Our Building

Our Building

27 East Market Street - Historic
27 East Market Street - AdvertisementAdvertisement for Williams Hardware, located at 27 East Market Street, 1946

Our building at 27 East Market Street, Corning, NY, was constructed in 1887 and designed by Corning architect Henry G. Tuthill, of H.G. Tuthill & Son. Colonel Tuthill was a hero in the Civil War. 27 East, part of the historic Williams block on Market Street, was a hardware store (Williams Hardware), which later became part of the Corning Building Company.

The architecture of the building is of the Italianate style which gained popularity from 1840 to 1870 with the rise of brownstone row houses in Brooklyn. Although the first floor storefront was changed a bit in 1977, the remainder of the building façade remains basically the same as it was in 1877.

More recently, until 2014, 27 East Market Street was the home of an insurance agency. Sarah’s husband Tom, of EDC Management, purchased the building, and he, along with local architect Elise Johnson-Schmidt, renovated the building within the guidelines for historic preservation. Although the inside has had a major overhaul, elements of the old building may be seen in such things as the interior brick walls, wooden floors and tin ceilings.

27 East Market Street - Street Photo

In 2018 BCK Partners, Inc. won the Corning Gaffer District’s Pan Award for excellence in building renovation (see In the News).


Smith, Jeffrey (2015, February 19). Market Street Building up for Historic Designation. The Leader.
Retrieved from https://www.the-leader.com/article/20150219/news/150219553

Spellen, Suzanne (2016 April 4). Italianate Architecture: Classic Row Houses with Over-The-Top Leafy Ornament. Brownstoner.
Retrieved from https://www.brownstoner.com/architecture/italianate-style-architecture-brownstone-brooklyn/

In The News

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - BCK Partners, Inc. 'Presenting Sponsor' of Corning Country Club Centennial Program Celebration

Corning, NY, June 6, 2019 - BCK Partners, Inc. and the Corning Country Club jointly announced today that BCK Partners, Inc. has signed on to be the ‘Presenting Sponsor’ of the Corning Country Club 100th Anniversary Celebration and Legends Shoot Out/Pro-Am Events that will take place July 22nd - 27th at the Club.

“We are incredibly proud to be the Presenting/Title Sponsor of this historic celebration and to help see the Corning Country Club into the future” states Sarah Creath, Principal & Co-Founder of BCK Partners, Inc. We believe strongly in partnering with our clients, their families, and our community. BCK Partners, Inc. Principals and Co-Founders, James Kaffenbarger and Michael Bono and I jumped at the chance to support this event that links our local history with a successful future.

The Corning Country Club has served the local area by hosting large community driven events which have had a major economic impact on the region, including the LPGA Corning Classic for 31 straight years (the longest standing tournament, held on the same course, with the same title sponsor) and by partnering with The First Tee of Corning almost 20 years ago. The First Tee of Corning is a local non-profit that continues to give back to the Corning area in a variety of ways, including providing golf clinics and camps for youth golfers that also teach life skills. Over 130,000 youth have been impacted by this development program since its inception.

“Along with 50 plus other sponsors, including five major sponsors, we are very happy to welcome BCK Partners, Inc. as The Presenting Sponsor of this historic event,” said Kirk Gregg, President of the board of directors, of Corning Country Club. “The Club has served our community for a hundred years, and we appreciate their support in helping us to celebrate this milestone and recognize its place in history throughout our region.”

The Centennial Program Celebration will only be open to Club members, sponsors and their guests, and will not be open to the general public, due to the enormous amount of resources that otherwise would be required for managing security, safety, emergency services, traffic control, etc.

As part of The Corning Country Club’s week-long celebration, select Legends Tour members and Corning past champions will tee it up in the Corning Legends Invitational on July 26 and 27. The Legends Players will participate in a Legends Shoot-Out on July 26th and a Legends Pro-am on July 27th.

While the field for the 2019 Corning Legends Invitational is still in the formative stages, the early commitments include 1990 Corning Classic Champion and LPGA Hall of Famer Pat Bradley, Hall of Famers Sandra Haynie and Jan Stephenson and 27-time LPGA Tour Champion Jane Blalock. Ten of the Corning Classic’s past champions have thus far signed up to return to Corning for the event.

“The Corning Classic at The Corning Country Club was always one of my favorite stops on the LPGA Tour,” said Blalock, a prolific LPGA Tour competitor who spearheaded the founding of The Legends Tour nearly 20 years ago. “I was overwhelmed with the number of fans and their unrivaled passion for our players.”

Canadian Golf Hall of Famer Gail Graham, also scheduled to appear in the Corning Legends Invitational, agrees. “I can think of no other town than Corning that had as much affection for women’s professional golf during that historical stretch,” said Graham. “We are thrilled to be part of this homecoming.”

A portion of the event’s net proceeds will be donated to support The First Tee of Corning. “The First Tee of Corning is delighted to join in this celebration,” said Dawn Marie Castellana, Executive Director, The First Tee of Corning. “Our 19-year partnership with the club has introduced thousands of area youth to the game which we hope will keep The Corning Country Club a vibrant center of our community for another 100 years.”

The Corning Classic was last played in 2009 and won by Taiwan’s Yani Tseng. The first Classic title was captured by Penny Pulz of Australia in 1979. Along the 31-year stretch, the Corning Classic was dominated by great champions and current Legends Tour and LPGA Hall of Fame members Donna Caponi, JoAnne Carner, Patty Sheehan, Pat Bradley, Besty King (2-time winner) and Juli Inkster. Rosie Jones, a 13-time LPGA Tour champion with seven wins on The Legends Tour, won the Corning Classic two years in a row – in 1996 and 1997.

“At BCK Partners, Inc., our ‘relationship’ with the community is very much aligned with how we manage our client relationships. We are more than a firm that manages wealth - we partner with our clients and their families to navigate the many challenges that life presents. Our relationship-oriented services help our clients align their money behavior with their life satisfaction, so they can live the best life possible with the money they have,” stated Michael Bono, Principal and Co-Founder, BCK Partners, Inc.

About BCK Partners, Inc. With over 50 years of combined experience in the world of personal financial planning, Michael B. Bono, CPA, CFP®, Sarah Creath, EA, CFP®, and James A. Kaffenbarger, Jr., J.D., CFP®, bring together a simplified approach to investing, a collaborative style of service and an embrace of technology to offer comprehensive financial management that includes retirement planning, tax planning & preparation, healthcare, insurance planning, estate planning, employer benefits analysis, education planning, investing, family-wide services. Visit www.bckpartners.com.

About the Corning Country Club Situated in beautiful wine country, also known as the Finger Lakes Region, Corning Country Club’s remarkable golf course, superb amenities, superlative guest service and year-long schedule of golf and social activities provide members with a foursome of outstanding opportunities to enjoy and create lifelong memories. For more information, visit www.corningcountryclub.com.

About the Legends Tour The Legends Tour is the Official Senior Tour of the LPGA, providing competitive opportunities for female golfers, professional and eligible amateurs, age 45 and over. The tour was founded in 2000 by 25 veteran LPGA Tour professionals to showcase the talents of some of the greatest women’s golfers of all time. The Legends Tour now has more than 120 members, including 14 LPGA and World Golf Hall of Fame members. Legends Tour members have over 750 combined LPGA Tour victories, including 84 major championships. In its 18 seasons, The Legends Tour has awarded more than $17 million in prize money and helped raise nearly $24 million for charity. The Legends Tour has hosted nearly 100 charity golf events and professional tournaments nationwide in multiple states and overseas in Japan and Australia. For additional information on The Legends Tour, log on to www.thelegendstour.com.

Corning’s Gaffer District Recognizes Excellence in Building Renovation and Sign Design

Corning’s Gaffer District and the Market Street Restoration Agency recently recognized local building and business owners for excellence in building renovation and sign design for projects completed in 2017.

The 2018 Pan Awards, an award that the Market Street Restoration Agency began presenting in the mid-1980s to celebrate excellence in sign and building design, are presented each year in May in honor of National Preservation Month.

2018 Pan Award Recipients include Tom and Sarah Creath for Excellence in Building Renovation for the BCK Partners occupant, 27 E. Market St., Corning; and Ashley Bates for Excellence in Sign Design for the Cotton Gin Boutique, 24 E. Market St., Corning.

The 27 E. Market St. storefront, designed by the noted Corning architect, H.G. Tuthill and Son, and was built in 1887. The building was gutted and renovated in 2016-17 by building owner Tom Creath. Creath participated in numerous funding sources including Stredec loan, Redec loan, Gaffer Main Street grants, historic tax credits, historic landmark designation for property tax relief, sales tax exemption for the renovation, coupled with personal capital to complete the project.

The Cotton Gin Boutique opened for business in July 2017, and co-owner Ashley Bates was an integral part of the shop’s unique sign design. Corning’s Gaffer District’s design team worked with local sign maker Ryan Hunt from Hughey Signs to source the barn wood to make the handcrafted piece that Bates was looking for. The wood was cleaned and whitewashed before Hunt handpainted the store’s logo on both the facade and projecting sign.


Corning, NY On Thursday, August 17, 2017, BCK Partners, Inc. officially celebrated the opening of their permanent location at 27 East Market Street with a ribbon cutting ceremony.

Those in attendance included several members and leaders of the Corning Area Chamber of Commerce, as well as Corning Mayor Rich Negri. BCK Partners, Inc. provides comprehensive financial planning services, including retirement planning, estate planning, tax planning and preparation and education planning.

They are thrilled to be part of the Corning community and look forward to a bright and prosperous future in their new location.

Three partners launch new Corning financial firm

After careers that took them in different directions, three partners are coming together to help people better manage their financial resources.In the meantime, they are ready to help people with a wide array of financial planning services.

"We offer financial services for families on a comprehensive broad basis — not just investments, but tax preparation, estate planning, retirement planning,” Creath said. “We’re helping clients map out what the future looks like."

Twenty years ago, none of the partners could have imagined what their own futures would hold. Creath’s father and older brother were in the brokerage business, but the Rochester native studied political science in college and worked for Kuhl before taking a job doing corporate communications for Corning Inc.

Eventually she circled back around to follow in her father’s footsteps in the financial field.

Kaffenberger, an Ohio native, and his wife, who grew up in Elmira, moved to Baltimore, where his wife practiced medicine while he practiced law.

They were eventually drawn back to the Elmira area, and after conversations with a friend in the financial services industry, Kaffenberger considered a change of careers to accompany his change in address.

Bono grew up on Long Island, and after serving in the Navy for six years, he earned his accounting degree and eventually went to work for Market Street Trust Co. in Corning.

The three ended up working together at John Ullman and Associates on Market Street in Corning, and it was there they started thinking about what they could do on their own.

"Our last eight years we worked in close proximity. We came to know each other very well,” Bono said. “We thought about offering a comprehensive approach to financial planning. A lot of firms focus on investment planning. They don’t all provide tax services or small business planning."

BCK Partners hired its first employee and hopes to hire at least one more person in the near future.

They will continue to work out of their temporary space until the Market Street location is ready — probably four to six months.

So far, response has already been great, Kaffenberger said.

"It’s been exhilarating and exciting and the response we’ve received from friends and professional connections and former colleagues has been overwhelming and made it all worthwhile,” he said. “We’ve been working a lot, nights and weekends, to get where we are today. It’s been worth it. It’s good to have something that you own that you care passionately about."

Follow Jeff Murray on Twitter @SGJeffMurray.