School is Back In Session

school

Just like that, it’s back-to-school season. Tell me, where did the summer go?

As kids of all ages go back to school, with all of the apprehension and excitement that may bring in these turbulent times, it’s also a great reminder that in life, summer ends but the learning never does. We are always presented with challenges and opportunities to expand our knowledge and grow.

It appears, though, that Americans are slipping in that regard. According to recent Forbes survey, the U.S. is experiencing a steep decline in financial literacy in recent years – especially when dealing with more complex topics like inflation, financial risk, and mortgage rates.

How is your financial IQ? Are there some topics you could use some brushing up on?

The easiest way to fix any gap in knowledge is to ask a question. I can be a great resource for you, and we can discuss how your strategy is positioned to face these complex times. The market brief below gives current insight as well. Feel free to connect with me and keep the financial literacy conversation going to ensure your circle has the same potential for wealth and wellness.

Last Week

U.S. equities posted mixed results as volatility plummeted towards the lowest levels of the year. The Dow and S&P 500 indexes managed modest gains to once again close at record highs, while the Nasdaq Composite fell slightly. Fed officials commented that while the labor market still has room for improvement, inflation is already at levels that would justify interest rate hikes. U.S. job openings surged in June to a record 10.1 million, but businesses are still struggling to find qualified labor for the rebounding economy. Jobless claims fell to 375,000 and continuing claims dropped to a pandemic-era low of 2.8 million.

U.S. productivity grew less than expected at 2.3% for Q2, igniting stagflation fears. Sentiment numbers also disappointed, as small business optimism reversed in July to 99.7 from 102.5. The University of Michigan Consumer Sentiment also fell to 70.2 in early August, a 10-year low. Americans are more concerned about the economy, inflation, and the delta variant. Crude oil gained as the Biden administration pressured OPEC to increase output. For the week, the Dow finished up 0.94%, S&P up 0.75%, and Nasdaq down 0.07%.

This Week

Despite concerns about sentiment, market breadth, and seasonal weakness, stocks continue to climb the wall of worry. Many pundits are calling for a correction, but there seems to be lack of a legitimate catalyst to create that scenario. This week the economic calendar is rather light. Given recent economic data and a policy committee that is growing impatient on tapering, Fed Chair Powell’s town hall event today will be scrutinized along with the July FOMC meeting minutes on Wednesday.

The July U.S. Retail Sales report this morning showed a contraction based on slumping services spending. Where is all the school spending? Regional manufacturing updates came with the Empire State Index declining on Monday followed by the Philly Fed Index on Thursday. The U.S. calendar rounds out with industrial production numbers today and housing starts on Wednesday. Year-to-date index performance; Dow up 16.04%, S&P up 18.96%, and Nasdaq up 15.01% through the close on Friday.

Happy back-to-school week!

Click here if you would like to learn more about your options and if we can assist you with your wealth management, investment, and retirement planning.

This website is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be specific advice or recommendations. For specific advice or recommendations you would need to meet directly with one of our advisers.

Preparing for retirement emotionally

retirement emotionally

Retirement paves the way to a new and exciting chapter of our lives, emotionally too. This is the moment of relief when, for the first time ever, we now have ample time to travel the world, take up new hobbies, and scratch whatever itch we’ve been ignoring.

Yes, retirement should be exciting. But for many of us, the thought of leaving our jobs forever can be daunting. After all, our careers play an important role in shaping our identity. And to suddenly cut the cord means we have to find something else to fill the void.

This isn’t helped by the fact that the word ‘retirement’ can be quite limiting – when it’s anything but. All too often, people associate it with old age and the ‘pipe and slippers’ part of life. This is why the financial conversation is often limited to how much you might have to retire on. And that’s that.

But it’s not as simple as that anymore. Today’s typical 60 somethings are nothing like those of a generation ago.

A lot of this comes down to the fact that life expectancy in North America has been on the rise for some time now. A generation ago, men could expect to live up to their late sixties, and for women their mid-seventies. Since then, life expectancy has improved incrementally. The current life expectancy for North American men is 76 and women 85.

This means that for many retirees these days, retirement isn’t a wind-down phase, but a whole new beginning. This means that financially speaking, you might need to consider how to manage your retirement fund more strategically.

But how do you prepare for such a massive transition emotionally?

According to gerontologist Ken Dychtwald, it’s all about mindset. He advises people approaching retirement to do so as they would a career: His advice is to set goals, to visualize a ladder to climb, and to use these targets as motivation to move closer towards your next destination.

Unfortunately, the statistics show how detrimental it can be to find yourself without purpose and meaning at retirement: depression is prevalent in 22% of men and 28% of women at the age of 65 and over.

If you’re unsure of how to even begin to plan for retirement, then following some of the principles from Professor Dychtwald’s five phases of retirement could help you map out your journey.

Imagination (15 before retirement)

Being at least fifteen years away from finishing work for good, retirement might not seem like a priority. At this point, you’re more likely to be making sure that career aspirations are met, bills are paid, and your children are able to get through university.

But it’s important to think about your pension at this stage as it can help to ensure you have the financial stability to live life on our terms, post-retirement. This is where you can start to dream big and imagine the retirement you really want to have.

Anticipation (3 years from retirement)

Now you’re planning to turn retirement it into reality… this is where preparing emotionally is just as vital as preparing financially.

A great way to do this is by trying to develop a network of retirees whom you can trust for advice so they can share their experience of how they coped with the process.

Make a note of the goals you want to accomplish and what measures need to be put in place in order to achieve them.

Preparing (1 year before retirement)

The new beginning is near! Now’s the time to start developing concrete steps. Ask yourself what you’re going to do during the first week of retirement and what you plan on doing on a day-to-day basis.

Make a plan of what you want to achieve in the first six months and talk it through with your partner or loved ones. Visualizing the practicalities of this new phase will make it seem less daunting when it eventually arrives.

The liberation phase (first year of retirement)

Your working life is finally over! This is the stage when you’re likely to feel the most excited, relieved, and liberated. You can finally begin to explore new opportunities, travels, and hobbies.

Unfortunately, this honeymoon period will eventually fade, but remember, this is natural.

Dychtwald states the importance of staying physically active and maintaining strong social ties with people at this stage.

Reorientation (3 years into retirement)

This is the part where creating a legacy for the next generation can be top of mind. Whether that’s by sharing your knowledge and wisdom with others, or by thinking more carefully about the financial gifts you’re leaving children and grandchildren, this is an opportunity for you to decide what impact you want to leave on the world.

Hopefully, this is helpful in terms of thinking about retirement and a brand new beginning. Retirement isn’t the end of the road; dream big and don’t be afraid to chase after your deepest desires.

Click here if you would like to learn more about your options and if we can assist you with your wealth management, investment, and retirement planning.

This website is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be specific advice or recommendations. For specific advice or recommendations you would need to meet directly with one of our advisers.

Could there be a link between investing and wellbeing?

wellbeing

Over the past few years, we’ve seen a huge shift in society’s attitude towards health and wellbeing. We’re now generally more aware of the importance of good mental health. Thankfully, there is now a greater number of options available for people looking for help.

From meditation apps to supportive techniques and advice on ‘self-care’. There are many different ways we can keep on top of our mental fitness. Almost in the same way as we can our physical fitness.

But there is another aspect of mental health that isn’t as widely discussed. That’s the link between wealth and happiness.

Money is of course top of the list when it comes to issues most people worry about.

Whether it’s regarding short-term finances or our long-term future, financial insecurity can cause serious anxiety and low self-esteem.

But even though it often seems tempting to ignore money worries, recent research suggests that tackling the issues head-on can actually make people feel better than not doing it at all.

And by this they mean something as simple as opening an investment account.

In Blackrock’s Global Investor Pulse, which each year asks what people think and feel about their financial health, they report that once people start investing, 43% feel happier about their financial future, 36% of people have a higher feeling of wellbeing and 19% feel less stressed.

The results say this is true regardless of wealth, age, gender or life stage. Even more encouraging is that new investors say the improvement in their mood is immediate.

For those of you who already have a financial plan, this may simply be interesting to note. I’d love to know if you feel you are happier as a result of knowing that you have a plan in place. And even more interesting would be whether – as the research suggests – this feeling was immediate.

But it may be more meaningful to people you know who aren’t currently investing their money. Currently 63% of British adults hold no market-based investments at all. The reasons range from finding it too difficult to understand and feeling as if ‘investing is just for experts’.

However, now might be as good as any to enter the market for the first time. And tiny steps can have a huge impact. Even investing small amounts of money can lead to a greater return. Versus just having it in a savings account where interest rates are at an all-time low.

If you think it would be helpful for me to talk to anyone in need of a financial second option, then please pass on my details – I’d be happy to give them a call. Afterall, the results also say that 76% of investors who use a financial adviser report having a positive sense of wellbeing, and who am I to argue with that?!

Click here if you would like to learn more about your options and if we can assist you with your wealth management, investment, and retirement planning.

This website is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be specific advice or recommendations. For specific advice or recommendations you would need to meet directly with one of our advisers.

Can a robot really help you financially?

robo advisor

We’re hearing a lot about robo advisors these days. Are they right for you?

The financial services industry is no stranger to developing new products and innovations. Years ago, it was different types of stocks and bonds, then mutual funds were launched. More recently, exchange-traded funds (“ETFs”) that mimic indexes were launched. These days, robo advice is a hot topic. While having features that are certainly attractive to some investors, robo advisors aren’t right for everyone.

But first, the “what?”

What are robo advisors?

The term “robo advisor” is actually a bit misleading. Advisors generally guide their clients through the financial planning process to help these individuals achieve their life goals.

Robo advisors are automated portfolio managers. They take a limited amount of information about a client and create a portfolio of holdings. These holdings usually include a basket of ETFs. Robo advisors require little human involvement once their algorithm has been set.


robo advisor

Pros and cons

Robo advisors are programmed to automatically buy and sell holdings based on a desired risk-return profile. As there is little human involvement or management, they tend to be cheaper to invest in than actively managed portfolios. They also tend to be “set-it-and-forget-it” solutions that require very little effort by individual investors.

These portfolios rise and fall according to market and macroeconomic conditions, they typically don’t make adjustments to reflect the market. Conversely, as your advisor I’ve gained a deeper understanding of your financial picture, including your long-term needs and goals. Our work together means that your portfolio is suited specifically to you. Not just to a lot of people who may simply be your age and have a similar amount of savings.

Example of robots investing versus humans investing

During periods of rising markets, robo advisors will tend to perform quite nicely. As they reflect the performance of the wider markets in which they invest.

That said, markets don’t always go up. When markets are falling, portfolios run by robo advisors will tend to drop to the same degree as their corresponding markets. Meanwhile, active portfolio managers tend to rebalance or otherwise adjust their funds to reduce the downside impact of this market weakness. Possibly even taking advantage of it. By doing so, these portfolio managers are able to negate the losses that could result from market weakness. Which is something robo advisors can’t do.

Robo advisors are also not equipped to provide all of the other services that an advisor can provide. Including access to tax and estate planning, lawyers, accountants and other professionals who can help me ensure you have a complete financial plan that truly reflects your short- and long-term needs.

Please feel free to reach out to me to learn more about the benefits of a human vs. robo advisor.

Click here if you would like to learn more about your options and if we can assist you with your wealth management, investment, and retirement planning.

This website is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be specific advice or recommendations. For specific advice or recommendations you would need to meet directly with one of our advisers.

How to Tame Market Volatility through Diversification

diversification

It’s that time of the year again. Whether it’s in person or virtually, the holidays are an opportunity for more conversations with loved ones. This year, let’s strive to put some positivity into our conversations. There is a lot to gripe about, but there’s more to look forward to.  And the more we talk, the better we plan, prepare, and progress. Discussing your financial strategies with loved ones can help reinforce them or pivot according to new circumstances. And I’m ready to hear you! Knowing what may have changed this year will help us become more successful in pursuing your financial goals.

One topic that is front of mind is how to diversify your portfolio. One way to help investors reach long-term financial goals is through an investment technique known as diversification. Diversification basically means spreading out your invested money across different investments types, industries, countries, etc. Diversification can smooth out volatility of your portfolio and potentially lead to stronger returns over the long term. Helping you take advantage of the benefits of diversification is a central part of my job as your advisor.

One guiding factor behind diversification is that not all investment categories perform well at the same time. As some are increasing in value, others may be decreasing. Market volatility is the movement of investment categories going up and down.

Maintaining a well-balanced portfolio

As your advisor, I help maximize returns and reduce the risks associated with market volatility. Essentially, your portfolio represents a collection of different investments that work in harmony to help you reach your goals. One way you can achieve portfolio diversification is to divide your investments among the major asset classes. Such classes include equities, fixed income and cash.

Asset classes – A range of risks and rewards

Each asset class comes with varying degrees of risk and return characteristics. Typically, each class performs differently in certain market environments. Here’s a quick summary of each.

  • Equities (e.g., stocks)
    Equities refer to buying stocks or shares of a business, making you a part owner. This means the investor is subject to stock appreciation when the company outperforms. But also subject to the risks of declining stock value if companies underperform.
  • Fixed income (e.g., bonds, Treasury bills)
    Fixed income investors lend capital in exchange for interest. Considered as creditors, bondholders often have a priority claim in case of company bankruptcy. This makes the investments less risky. Fixed income typically provides income at regular intervals.
  • Cash (e.g., money market funds, bank accounts)
    Cash investments provide low returns versus other asset classes, in the form of interest payments. These investments typically come with very low levels of risk.

Investment funds – One-stop diversification

I can also help achieve diversification through the use of investment funds; namely, mutual funds and exchange-traded funds (ETFs). These investment vehicles represent convenient and affordable ways to access a wide range of investments.

  • Mutual funds – These are made up of a pool of assets from many investors. Mutual funds are managed by a portfolio manager. The portfolio manager actively seeks to produce greater returns than a specific market benchmark, such as the S&P 500 Index. With the large scale of a mutual fund, you benefit from professional management and can get strong diversification by gaining access to investments that would normally be inaccessible or too expensive for most individuals.
  • ETFs – These are funds that track and seek to replicate the performance of select market indexes. ETFs represent a basket of securities based on the underlying index. This allows investors to gain broad diversification across entire markets, industries, regions or asset classes. ETFs are known to incur fewer administrative costs, therefore charging lower fees to investors.

Please feel free to contact me if you have questions on the terms discussed in this article, or on how your investment portfolio is diversified.

Click here if you would like to learn more about your options and if we can assist you with your wealth management, investment, and retirement planning.

This website is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be specific advice or recommendations. For specific advice or recommendations you would need to meet directly with one of our advisers.

How to Start Investing

How to start investing

So, you’ve landed your first “real” job! Now’s the perfect time to create your first investment plan and start investing.

First, let me congratulate you on getting through school and starting your first “real” job. You’ve worked hard to get here, and I’m sure there are many things you’ll want to spend your new paycheck on. An apartment of your own, some decent takeout (not from a student cafeteria), maybe a little traveling.

You should do those things, as long as they fit into your budget. You’ve earned a little breathing room. But now that you have some stability, you should also thinking about how to start investing for your future. Here are three ways to get the ball rolling.

1. Pay down debt

As a student, you may have accumulated a mix of debt, from student loans to credit cards. Create a debt-repayment plan that focuses on paying off your high-interest debt, like credit cards, first.

Student loans often carry lower interest rates, so these loans might not be your top priority. At the same time, many student loans require you to make a minimum monthly payment shortly after you graduate, and you only have so much time to repay the entire loan. You still need a loan-repayment plan to make sure you don’t default on these loans.

2. Build your emergency fund

Post-graduate life isn’t all sunshine and rainbows. Sometimes your air conditioner breaks down in the middle of a heat wave or your car dies on the way to a meeting. I suggest putting 10% of your paycheck into an emergency fund to cover unexpected expenses. The goal is to eventually have enough money in your emergency fund to cover three to six months’ worth of expenses, but it can take a while to get there.

Your emergency fund should be low risk and easy to access, like a regular savings account.

3. Think about retirement

This is the best time to take advantage of the power of compounding. If you start putting just $200 a month into a retirement savings account at age 25, and let it grow over the next 40 years at a 4% rate of return, you’ll have about $237,000 in that account when you turn 65.

Wait another 10 years to start investing the same amount at the same rate of return, and you’ll reach age 65 with about $140,000. That’s a big difference.

If your employer offers a 401(k), use it. With this tax-advantaged retirement account, you contribute pre-tax dollars directly from your paycheck. You employer will also match your contributions up to a certain percentage of your salary.

If you don’t have a 401(k), look into a traditional IRA (individual retirement account) or Roth IRA. With a traditional IRA, you’ll get a tax break on your contributions, while with a Roth IRA, you won’t pay federal taxes when you withdraw money in retirement. With both types of IRAs, you won’t pay taxes on any investment income you earn within the plan until you start making withdrawals.

Ready to start investing? Contact me today and we’ll work on creating your first investment plan.

This website is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be specific advice or recommendations. For specific advice or recommendations you would need to meet directly with one of our advisers.

And the Winner of the Presidential Election is

Presidential Election

U.S. indices tumbled, registering their worst week since March, as investors shed equity exposure ahead of the U.S. Presidential election and as surging COVID-19 cases sparked fresh lock downs in Europe and the United States. We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: nail your shoes down. The week ahead is expected to produce roller coaster volatility. Investors will grapple with incoming election results and potential policy changes it may bring. All major indices were down last week, the Dow down 6.47%, S&P 5.62%, and Nasdaq 5.5%.

Last Week

U.S. indices tumbled sharply as investors shed equity exposure ahead of the U.S. Presidential election and as surging COVID-19 cases sparked fresh lock downs in Europe and the United States. Despite impressive earnings from large cap technology companies on Thursday, the indexes had their worst week since March. Each index fell 5-7%+ on the week and sent the volatility reading above 40 for the first time since June. Majority of the S&P 500 market cap reported earnings, over 85% of firms have beat on the bottom line.

For the most part, economic data bested expectations. Stronger durable goods orders, steady consumer confidence, and slumping unemployment claims pointed towards continued recovery. However, some housing market data took a breather. Gross domestic product grew at a 33.1% annualized rate for the third quarter, led by a recovery in consumer spending.

The Week Ahead

Increased volatility is expected as investors grapple with election results and potential policy changes. PredictIt currently puts Democratic candidate Biden’s chances at winning around 70%. Key swing states like Florida, Ohio, and North Carolina hint the race isn’t over. Analysts expect a Democratic victory to mean larger fiscal stimulus. However, Senate majority leader McConnell’s recent remarks suggest little impetus for a relief bill in a lame duck period. With COVID-19 reaching record levels, it’s no wonder recent volatility has spiked. Economic data will play second fiddle, but plenty of key reports emerge. Friday’s jobs report is expected to show steady employment growth and a further decline in the unemployment rate. On Thursday the FOMC meets and will release their latest policy statement, interestingly only 2 days after the election.

Longer-term, corporate fundamentals and normalization of the U.S. economy will likely be bigger drivers of return, in our view. It is widely believed that phase three results will be released in November from multiple vaccine candidates. This could be a big step in the right direction for a full reopen of the economy. Year-to-date index performance; Dow down 7.14%, S&P up 1.21%, and Nasdaq up 21.61% through the close on Friday. Have a safe week!

Click here if you would like to learn more about your options and if we can assist you with your wealth management, investment, and retirement planning.

This website is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be specific advice or recommendations. For specific advice or recommendations you would need to meet directly with one of our advisers.