Transfer Your Values Alongside Your Wealth

Transfer Your Values Alongside Your Wealth

There’s this lingering myth of “old money families” where wealth is easily passed from generation to generation. But studies have shown wealth attrition to be more common, as bad investment decisions, mismanagement and dilution of assets between heirs eats into the family fortune.

Overcoming the challenges that plague wealth stewardship comes down to two core elements – strong communication with your next generation and putting a proper wealth transfer plan in place. We’re here to guide you.

The Family Roundtable

One of the most common barriers in wealth transfer is a lack of transparency between generations. In higher net worth families, often the older generations will shield the scope of wealth from other generations to prevent them from abusing their inheritance. But early communication with your adult children about family wealth is key.

Having us as an independent voice to shepherd the conversation can help you and your heirs talk about transfer of wealth on equal footing. It gives you a chance to discuss your financial strategies, your plan for specific family assets including the family business, and any philanthropic goals or values you would like the next generation to steward.

It also provides a forum for the next generation to discuss their own aspirations, to share any fears, and, most importantly, to feel like they play a role not just as an inheritor of the family wealth but also as an active player in the preservation of that wealth.

We can act as an independent voice for the family roundtable, someone who can guide the conversation and ensure all questions are asked and answered. We can also pinpoint challenges and help both you and your heirs come up with strategies to navigate those challenges.

Formalizing the plan

In addition to guiding the conversation, we can also play a critical role in structuring your wealth transfer plan.

We can walk you through the different vessels for protecting wealth in the transfer, advise you on the different structures for trusts, identify assets to include in your will, outline the pros and cons of transferring wealth during your lifetime versus after death, and help you balance personal preferences with tax efficient strategies.

Estate plans are far from static; the wealth transfer process is an evolving discussion, one that we can help you navigate as life events like marriages and remarriages, births of children and grandchildren, significant health issues and death, change your family and your needs.

Amidst the change, it’s good to have a constant – who better to play that role than your financial advisor?

Contact me to learn more about transferring wealth.

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 Quickly Will the Economy Recover

How Quickly Will the Economy Recover

Now that the great short-squeeze has lost most of it’s air, it’s back to business as usual. The indexes shook off the weak job numbers and are looking ahead to the economy recovering and growing. Last week all indexes finished up.

Last Week

January jobs created less than 50,000 new jobs. On the positive side, unemployment fell from 6.7% to 6.3%. The number of Americans filing for unemployment also declined for the 3rd straight week. Most of the Nasdaq’s gains were attributed to good earnings reports, surpassing estimates. And the volatility index dropped back into the 20’s, calming the fears of an immediate 2021 correction. Readings from the ISM report were above 50, signaling expansion. This is good news when trying to grasp how quickly the economy will recover.

The Week Ahead

The economy is continuing to recover, both at home and abroad, as vaccination efforts spread. When a stumble comes, fiscal and monetary policy will undoubtedly offer an arm to stabilize or stand up. That remains supportive to equities, government bond yields, and credit markets. Roughly 59% of the S&P500 has reported earnings, and 81% have beaten EPS estimates. Per FactSet, the blended EPS growth rate is +1.7% y/y versus December 31’s estimate of -9.3%. For now, investors will continue economic implications of the race between widespread vaccination and virus mutation, the resumption of consumption, and the likelihood of higher prices or inflation across the economy.

Total after tax income was up 7.2% in 2020, the most in any year since 2000. Right now, there is plenty of demand for goods. Incomes and savings are up year-over-year. While production is not. It is supply that is hurting. The perfect recipe for inflation. A very real threat to the long-term health of the US economy. This we will keep an eye on. Year-to-date index performance; Dow up 1.77%, S&P up 3.48%, and Nasdaq up 7.51% 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.

Saving For Your Child’s Education

Saving For Your Child’s Education

How and when should I start planning for my child’s education? It’s easy to shut out the noise about rising tuition costs when your kids are in grade school. But ignoring the conversation altogether does a disservice to you further down the road.

In the US, the average tuition cost at state colleges is $9,970 for state residents, and $25,620 for everyone else. Private non-profit colleges carry a heftier tab at $34,740, according to student support organization College Board.

But the price tag comes with a benefit. Research from National Bureau of Economic Research, shows that people with a post-secondary education often out-earn. Others outperform peers without some form of post-secondary education.

For many parents the question is not if you should save for your child’s education but how?

The 529 Savings Plan

529 Savings Plan are a vital tool for many parents looking to save for their child’s education. Introduced in 1996, 529 plans are state savings programs that are not taxed federally when used for “qualified education expenses”. This includes computers and, as of 2017, up to $10,000 towards K-12 tuition.

Contribution for 529 plans vary from state to state but can run as high as $380,000. However, I always try to remind clients that each individual in the US can give away up to $15,000 annually. And $30,000 for married couples, all without facing a gift tax. 529 plans also have a special rule allowing you to contribute up to five years’ worth of gifts at once.

What state can I invest in?

Given that each 529 plan is tied to a state, it can be confusing deciding which one to invest in. It’s worth pointing out that you can invest in any state 529 plan, your child doesn’t need to go to school in that state and it doesn’t have to be your own state. However, the majority of states offer a state income tax deduction or credit for residents who contribute to their own state’s plans. With that being said, different state 529 plans perform differently, which is why we work together to set up a plan that meets your educational saving strategy.

Other things to think about

Most 529 plans offer several investment options. You’re often allowed to change your investment twice per calendar year and rollover your funds to another 529 plan once per 12-month period. In addition to a general college savings plan, there’s also a prepaid option where you can purchase credits or units at certain colleges or universities at discounted prices. Fees and expenses associated with the different 529 plans are certainly something you should consider as well.

The good news is, you don’t have to navigate the world of 529 plans on your own. Let’s discuss your child’s education savings options and how to achieve the goals that will help support your child’s future.

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.

Impeachment, Inauguration, and a Whole Lot More

Impeachment, Inauguration, and a Whole Lot More

Last Week

Investors’ appetite for risk-on positions took a breather after disappointing December retail sales. Also, President elect Biden’s proposed $1.9 trillion fiscal stimulus plan fell short of expectations. Biden’s plan includes $1,400 stimulus checks to individuals, as well as, aid for state and local government. While President Trump’s impeachment in the House had little market impact. Friday’s January options expiration did exacerbate volatility ahead of the holiday weekend. Earnings season kicked off with better than expected results from financial giants J.P. Morgan, Citi, and Wells Fargo as they released loan loss reserves. The banks still warned of the economic recovery’s fragility.

On the data front, the notable miss was December retail sales falling 0.7% versus flat expectations. This registered the third consecutive monthly decline. Driven by the latest round of stimulus checks not delivered until the end of the month. Small business optimism cooled in December. As did consumer sentiment, dented by political uncertainty and feet shuffling on the fiscal stimulus front.

This Week

U.S. financial markets closed on Monday in observation of Dr. Martin Luther King Day. The 59th Presidential Inauguration on Wednesday will dominate news headlines, as President Elect Biden is sworn into office. His aim is for 100 million Americans to receive a COVID-19 vaccination in his first 100 days. Much of investors’ developing economic outlook hinges on his success.

The number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits anticipates recovery after last week’s bad figure. But still will remain uncomfortably elevated. Housing data is anticipates to come in mixed, but the sector remains strong. Friday is global PMI day, and nearly every region is anticipates a slide. Most significantly in the UK given the recently discovered mutated virus strain.

Year-to-date, the S&P 500 is up 0.32%, the Dow up 0.68% and Nasdaq up 0.86%.

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?

Can a robot really help you financially?

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.

What does the market outlook look like in 2021

What does the market outlook look like in 2021

We thought there was no environment that could be worse than 2008-9. 2020 made the Great Financial Crisis look like an appetizer, so the market outlook is positive from here. And yet the market did so well. So where do we go from here? What are the market strategist predicting will have in store for 2021?

Market Outlook

The stock market seems to be in good shape. Stocks follow profits, and if profits are going higher, stocks eventually will. Earnings are recovering nicely, which tells us that fiscal and monetary stimulus is doing its job. Next year we could see earnings growth of 30%- plus. Goldman Sachs has predicted the S&P 500 reaching 4050 by the end of 2021. That is a 7.8% increase from today’s year-end close.

Some market strategists see the S&P 500 index rising further in 2021, propelled by a stronger economy, robust profit growth, and still-massive stimulus from governments and central banks, which paved the way for this year’s advance by keeping interest rates near zero. Even better, the market’s leadership could broaden well beyond big tech stocks to encompass financials, industrials, and other economically sensitive shares left behind by 2020’s rally. Much like the real estate market, the low interest rate environment is good news for stocks. The Federal Reserve’s actions to push down interest rates and bond yields encouraged those savings into risky assets to find a return.

The market likes a Biden win with a split Congress because it’s gridlock — you don’t get many surprises. Research from Capital Group shows that over the past eight decades, in 18 of 19 presidential elections, no matter which party won, a hypothetical $10,000 investment made at the beginning of each election year would have gained in value over the next 10 years, and in 15 of those 10-year periods, it would have more than doubled.

Barron’s interviewed 10 market strategists and chief investment officers on the outlook for 2021, below is the consensus: 

4,040 = The group’s average 2021 S&P 500 price target (today’s close is 3,726.86)

5% = Expected U.S. GDP growth in 2021 

$168 = Wall Street’s consensus earnings estimate for the S&P 500 in 2021. Compared with 2019 earnings of $161, and 2020’s forecast of $138

Caution Ahead

The outlook is not all roses… Areas of caution do linger, notably, huge hangover of debt, deep uncertainty about how consumer and office-worker behavior might have changed, inflation, and many small businesses clinging on by their fingernails. Inflation can be cause speed bumps. Resurgent inflation and an eventual rise in rates, which could put a lid on the market’s ebullience in 2022. “If inflation makes a significant and sustained comeback, the Fed is going to have to let interest rates go up. The impact on stock valuations, on compounding debt, on these zombie companies that have been able to stay in business only because of record-low interest rates—they’re toast,” Ed Yardeni of Yardeni Research.

There could again be a disconnect in how the markets and the economy do in 2021. The economy sees an aggressive recovery and that corporate earnings see an aggressive recovery. But the market returns are less robust, given that a lot of gains from next year have been pulled into this year. Much success will also depend on a smooth rollout of vaccines to protect against Covid-19. Any mutations in the virus that could extend the pandemic would cause Wall Street to rethink its bullish stance. Stay tuned…

Let me know if you would like to talk more about investment management and retirement planning options. Happy New Year to you and you family!

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 high will the Santa Claus Rally Go

How high will the Santa Claus Rally Go

Is a Santa Claus Rally going to drive the market? Major indices logged modest gains for the week after the Federal Reserve signaled loose monetary policy was likely to stay until at least 2023. Digesting the developments over the latest coronavirus relief package will drive price action early in the shortened week. Markets are closed on Friday in observation for Christmas, and Thursday’s session will be abbreviated.

Past Week

Option trading volatility produced mild selling pressure into the weekend. However, major indices and government bond yields still logged modest gains for the week. Gains stem from the Federal Reserve signaling loose monetary policy was likely to stay until at least 2023. Ten of 11 S&P 500 sectors finished higher, paced by technology, consumer discretionary, and materials. Energy was the lone sector in the red despite crude oil prices rising sharply. Whether it be the rising COVID-19 case count or profit-taking, the rotation from growth to value took a breather as the former outpaced the latter by around 4%.

On the economic data front, investors were disappointed by November U.S. retail sales falling 1.1%. To put things into perspective, Retail Sales are up 4.1% on a year-over-year basis. This illustrates the impressive strength of the U.S. consumer, especially during a pandemic. The latest domestic PMIs eased from multi-month highs but remained firmly in expansionary territory. New orders continued to rise, but inflationary tones are palpable as significant supply chain disruptions led to an unprecedented rise in prices. Output expectations reached a 32-month high, largely driven by vaccine optimism.

New relief is close. Indications are for a $900 Billion dollar package. Last Thursday’s unemployment claims increase to 885,000, higher than anticipated. Markets seemed to be anticipating that Congress would pass aid as more Americans are requesting unemployment benefits. Weekly initial unemployment claims peaked this March at nearly 7 million. While they steadily fell into the summer there has been a recent uptick in claims as 2020 draws to a close. The Fed left rates unchanged last week. The Fed purchasing bonds will stay the same.

This Week

Digesting the agreement reached over the latest $900 billion coronavirus relief package will drive price action in the shortened week. The contentious dispute over the Fed’s lending abilities is likely to make bipartisan efforts more difficult if the economic situation materially deteriorates at some point in the year ahead. Still, investors should be aware of a potentially friendly bout of seasonality. That aside, investors will dissect a few tier 1 economic reports amid expectations for lower levels of liquidity given the holiday. Reports on consumer confidence tomorrow are expected to improve. The durable goods report offers insight into firms’ demand for longer lasting goods.

According to the recent Bank of America survey, fund managers are looking for companies to expand their capex purchases in 2021. Unemployment claims are expected to remain flat. Economists expect personal spending to retreat slightly. Reports are circulating that a new strain of coronavirus is spreading across Europe, especially in the UK, prompting air travel restrictions from the country. Given the frothy sentiment across financial markets, this development warrants investors’ attention in case the situation deteriorates further.

Year-to-date index performance; Dow up 5.7%, S&P up 14.8%, and Nasdaq up 42.2% through the close on Friday.

Have a safe and wonderful holiday season!

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

How to Tame Market Volatility through 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.

Can Retail Shopping and Vaccines Save 2020?

Can Retail Shopping and Vaccines Save 2020?

U.S. equity indices enjoyed broad based gains amid the shortened trading week. Vaccine optimism increased and political uncertainty declined. Despite mostly weaker economic data, the Dow Jones Industrial Average briefly eclipsed 30,000 for the first time. According to the WSJ, the Nasdaq Composite scored its 45th record high close in 2020. All indexes finished higher on the week; Dow up 2.25%, S&P 500 up 2.3%, and Nasdaq up 2.97%.

Last Week

U.S. equity indices enjoyed broad based gains amid the shortened trading week. Vaccine optimism increased and political uncertainty dissipated. Despite mostly weaker economic data, the Dow Jones Industrial Average briefly eclipsed 30,000 for the first time. and according to the WSJ, the Nasdaq Composite scored its 45th record high close in 2020. Ten of 11 S&P 500 sectors finished higher. Real estate was the lone loser, falling less than 1%, despite positive housing news.

Last Monday, AstraZeneca Inc. released their COVID vaccine phase 3 trial data that showed a 70% efficacy. This is the third such vaccine announcement in as many weeks joining Pfizer and Monderna. The odds of shortening this COVID pandemic continues to grow with three extensive studies diversifying any potential vaccine data setbacks in the future. Economic data was generally disappointing and pointed to a slowing recovery. Dented by recent restrictions due to rising coronavirus cases and hospitalizations. Consumer confidence missed expectations, falling flat in October. The number of Americans filing for unemployment rose to 778k from 748k last week. Durable goods orders expanded quicker than expected, rising 1.3%. October new home sales beat expectations. The VIX briefly dipped below 20 on Friday before closing the week above the key level.

Week Ahead

December is here and extreme greed is driving the market. At least according to the Fear & Greed Index which closed at 92 on Friday. Just a month ago, it was in fear territory at 35. The consensus seems to be for an end of year market melt-up, but first, we must get through Friday’s November jobs report. 

The current environment elicits déjà vu feelings of late 2017, early 2018 as risks cleared, equities levitated, and crypto surged. Consumption drives the economy, so investors will scrutinize Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales for insight into what the holiday spending season may look like. The National Retail Federation estimates that it will be 3.6-5.2% higher than 2019 levels. Given the pandemic, it’s looking like it will be a far more digital spending season than normal. The November jobs report will be the week’s key risk event on Friday. Today’s ISM manufacturing PMI and Thursday’s ISM services PMI will be closely watched for insight into recent economic activity. Both are expected to decline.

Looking ahead as the year winds down, 2020 has been a year marked by a global pandemic and the steepest economic contraction since the Great Recession. Yet equity markets have proved resilient. Since 1950 there have been only five -30% drawdowns in the S&P 500 in a calendar year. If the gains in 2020 hold, it would mark the first time there was a full retracement of the drawdown in the same calendar year. Year-to-date index performance; Dow up 4.81%, S&P up 12.62%, and Nasdaq up 40.37% through the close on Friday.

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.

Time To Be Thankful During Crazy Year

Time To Be Thankful During Crazy Year

Time to give thanks… U.S. equity indices ripped higher last week after Pfizer announced 90% effective rate in its COVID-19 vaccine. Major U.S. cities continue to tighten restrictions on activity as the holiday season approaches. The market continues to focus on vaccine optimism and in turn a “return to normal” for 2021. Last week’s cyclical rotation was huge. The question remains whether it can continue to drive the indices higher to the detriment of large-cap tech.

Last Week

U.S. equity indices finished higher after Pfizer announced 90% effective in its COVID-19 vaccine. Uncertainty created by the rotation from growth to value kept investors on edge. Despite record daily corona virus cases in the U.S., the S&P 500 led the advance, while the Nasdaq, or stay at home trade, fell slightly. According to EPFR Global, global stock funds tallied the largest inflows ($44.5 billion) in at least 20 years. Last week the indexes finished mixed. The Dow up 4.19%, S&P up 2.21%, and Nasdaq down 0.53%.

Week Ahead

Market movement has confined to two lanes. Strong yet narrow index gains, supported by large-cap tech. Or fairly flat indices, divided between surging cyclical’s and weak stay at home. Waves of fear seem to come and go. Major U.S. cities continue to tighten restrictions on activity as the holiday season approaches. So far, the market continues to focus on vaccine optimism and in turn a “return to normal” for 2021. Last week’s cyclical rotation was tectonic. The question remains whether it can continue to drive the indices higher to the detriment of large-cap tech. A lesson in index mythology might help investors’ insomnia. Stimulus expectations have dramatically tempered in recent weeks.

The improving labor market data and positive medical advancements on COVID-19 treatment provide a headwind to hopes for a new relief bill. Still, small businesses and millions of Americans are struggling dearly, so one might expect leaders to meet in the middle on some relief efforts in the coming weeks. On the data front, U.S. retail sales are a key event. Results this morning were down, but better than expected. Housing data is expected to remain robust. While unemployment claims are likely to come in steady around 700,000. As of last week, over 21 million Americans were claiming benefits across all U.S. programs.

So why should we give thanks? The US economy continues to heal. Payrolls keep growing, unemployment claims – though still elevated – are shrinking, key measures of the manufacturing and service sectors remain well into positive territory, and, as this week should show, both retail sales and industrial production remain on an upward trajectory. Year-to-date index performance; Dow up 3.3%, S&P up 10.97%, and Nasdaq up 31.84% through the close last Friday.

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.

And the Winner of the Presidential Election is

And the Winner of the Presidential Election is

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!

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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.

Elections And Strategy – Nothing To Fear – Focus on You

Elections And Strategy – Nothing To Fear – Focus on You

Halloween is right around the corner, and like everything else, it’s markedly different this year. Some people find it thrilling to dress up and decorate the house, others think it’s just plain scary. It’s the unknown that gives us that frisson of fear, and there are a lot of unknowns this year.

The U.S. election is days away, and we are being bombarded with predictions about the effects the winner will have on the economy. How concerned should we be? In balance, history shows that elections, just like daily market volatility, don’t affect long-term investors negatively. We have a long-term strategy in place to help you pursue your goals, so any uncertainty, whether market, political or otherwise, shouldn’t worry you. Simply tune out the noise, and turn your focus to your goals.

Taking a goals-based approach to investment risk

The real measure of risk is whether or not you reach your financial goals. While investors may view risk in a number of ways, the perspective you take should help guide you toward your long-term goals. Focus on you.

Typically, investors measure risk by comparing performance to a market index (or benchmark), such as the S&P 500 or NASDAQ. So, if it was a tough period and the benchmark was down 10% but your investment portfolio was down 8%, you “outperformed.”

Relatively speaking, that’s not bad. Yet the fact is you’ve experienced a considerable loss in capital, which may put one or more of your financial goals at risk. Especially for those fast approaching a major financial milestone, such as retirement, there’s not much comfort in that type of standard.

Goals-based investing keeps your future in sight – Focus on You

Another approach, likely to provide you with a more helpful long-term perspective, is to look at risk in a personal way. That is, risk can be based on your unique life goals, rather than the market alone. And the probability of meeting or falling short of those goals. This is better known in investment terms as a goals-based approach. After all, investing should be about achieving the future you want. Whether it’s affording a satisfying retirement, your children’s education or a major home renovation.

As your advisor, I can help you integrate this approach. First, we review your financial profile and short- and long-term objectives. From there, we can build a portfolio that puts you on track by, perhaps, funding and investing in each goal independently. Each goal could work in aggregate as part of a whole portfolio, while having unique time horizons, asset allocations or risk profiles. This is one possible approach, among others, to goals-based investing that we could use.

Gauging portfolio risk and performance, then, is a matter of tracking the total returns of your portfolio. Not the relative returns compared to an index, and determining whether or not your goals are within reach.

Navigating market volatility to meet your goals

Achieving your financial goals, especially your long-term goals, through investing requires a highly disciplined approach. And flexibility to navigate the ups and downs of the market. I can help you maximize returns and minimize losses by integrating a number of important investment techniques. A few such techniques include:

  • Diversification – Certain investments, asset classes or market segments perform better at different times. It’s important to avoid concentrating your portfolio in one particular area only, since you will risk missing out on attractive investment opportunities in other markets.
  • Investing early – To reach your long-term financial goals, you need to begin investing as early as possible and for the long term. This will help you compound your earnings as you generate more returns on your asset’s reinvested earnings over time.
  • Systematic investing – Making regular investment contributions, instead of random ones, can help build your wealth in a disciplined manner. All while keeping you invested through all market conditions to enhance your long-term growth potential.

Please feel free to contact me to discuss taking a goals-based approach in your portfolio, or if you’d like to review your financial objectives for the future. And be sure to vote on November 3rd!

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.

Earnings Season is Here How will Markets React

Earnings Season is Here How will Markets React

U.S. indices logged modest gains after strong U.S. retail sales, building a week full of volatility. Investors juggled headlines on stimulus negotiations, the continuing COVID-19 crisis, and earnings season is here, kicking off this week. Last week all indexes finished slightly higher. The Dow up 0.07%, S&P up 0.21%, and Nasdaq up 0.79%.

Last Week

The tech titans propelled the Nasdaq higher, while the Dow and S&P 500 indexes sat flat. Bank earnings largely exceeded expectations. Banks were propelled by decent loan growth and dramatic decreases in loan loss provisions. The Philly Fed manufacturing index indicated activity picked up to its best level since February. Weekly unemployment claims rose to 898,000. Continuing unemployment claims fell sharply. Analysts note it is because many exhausted the 26-week limit. This strengthens the argument for U.S. lawmakers to act swiftly to provide relief from COVID-19’s lingering economic effects.

Markets struggled for direction last week as global COVID-19 cases rose to their highest levels since summer. The U.S. reported its highest daily infection count in two months and worldwide cases topped 39 million. Limited lock-downs in Europe are being called for amid the increases. Concerns surrounding the use of lock-downs and their impact, coupled with stalled stimulus talks domestically, made for choppy equity markets. September retail sales were seen rising by 1.9% last week as auto sales v-roomed ahead as they continue rebounding from second quarter lows.

The Week Ahead

While back-and-forth trade may persist, longer-term technical indicators look constructive. Earnings season will likely play second fiddle to stimulus negotiations, election polls, and vaccine progress. Eighty S&P 500 names report earnings this week, highlighted by Procter and Gamble, Verizon, Netflix, Southwest Airlines, and Coca-Cola. Given recent consumer data, upside surprises for many names seem plausible. Economic data to watch will be Tuesday’s housing starts and building permits. Thursday’s unemployment claims, will also be watched closely, to see if the negative trend build. As election uncertainty continues, focusing on events that are likely to occur can add some investing clarity. The U.S. should have a vaccine sometime in the next few months. There will likely be another large round of federal stimulus in the next few months. The Fed will likely keep rates near zero for as long as the economy needs it.

Year-to-date index performance; Dow up 0.24%, S&P up 7.83%, and Nasdaq up 30.08% through the close on Friday.

Have a fun and 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.

Presidential Virus Case and Impact on the Markets

Presidential Virus Case and Impact on the Markets

Happy fall y’ll! The President has contracted the virus. Lawmakers are working on a coronavirus relief bill. Jobs continue to recover, but at a slower than expected rate. Last week all indexes finished up. The Dow up 1.9%, S&P 1.5%, and Nasdaq 1.5%. The markets fell mid last week as news of the Presidential virus emerged, before rallying by the weeks end.

Last Week

Despite President Trump testing positive for coronavirus, equities ended a volatile week higher. Investors became more upbeat about a potential stimulus package. The positive test for the President does creates near term uncertainty. However, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said President Trump’s prognosis changed the shape of talks over a new stimulus package. In economic news, non-farm payrolls continued to improve with 661,000 jobs added in September. These numbers are below the consensus of 859,000 jobs. The unemployment rate dropped to 7.9% from 8.4% in August. The pace of growth in the manufacturing sector slowed in September. But still expanded with an ISM Manufacturing Index reading of 55.4.

Consumer spending was up 1% over the prior month. This is the 4th straight monthly increase, and is now down roughly 2% compared to a year ago. Initial jobless claims for the week ended September 26 were 837,000. Marking the 5th consecutive week between 800,000 and 900,0000. Continued claims, or the number of people already receiving unemployment benefits, fell by nearly 1 million. This marks the lowest level since March. The jobs report released Friday showed the U.S. economy added 661,000 jobs in September. This data was below expectations, while the unemployment rate fell to 7.9%. The economy has now recovered about half of the 22 million jobs lost in March and April. Adding 11.4 million jobs from May through September.

The Week Ahead

Looking ahead, the path of COVID-19 and the presidential election will remain at the forefront of investors’ minds. In addition, the major banks will report results starting in less than two weeks. This will provide a good barometer of the health of the overall economy. President Trump’s health is a huge macro risk with far reaching financial market implications. Just weeks away from the Presidential election, it is clear anything can happen. The base case is for a full recovery. However, polls could move in the coming weeks as voters assess his health and his tone on the virus. Furthermore, the Supreme Court nomination and the battle over fiscal stimulus remain key topics. Neither of which look to be resolved easily. Fed chair Powell will offer insights into the economic outlook today.

The COVID-19 pandemic has been on the attack for over seven months now. We are still anxiously awaiting a medical breakthrough that will help us better coexist with this virus. There is a good chance the virus may never go away, according to experts. In late September, Dr. Anthony Fauci, commented that COVID-19 vaccinations could begin as early as November or December. In all likelihood, a vaccine will not be available prior to election day on 11/3/20. As a result, things could get a bit bumpy in the markets in October based on the daily news feed. Year-to-date index performance; Dow down 3.0%, S&P up 3.6%, and Nasdaq up 28.8% through the close on Friday.

Have a great 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. Past performance is no guarantee of future results. Historical performance figures for the indices are for illustrative purposes only and not indicative of any actual investment.

Markets Retreat after the Fed Chairman Said This

Markets Retreat after the Fed Chairman Said This

Welcome to fall 2020! Stocks rallied early last week, then fell after the Fed meeting on Wednesday. Last week all indexes finished flat or down. The Dow barely dropped 0.03%, S&P was down 0.64%, and Nasdaq down 0.56%. Tech stocks continued to sell off, leading to the Nasdaq’s 3rd straight weekly decline.

Last Week

The markets see-sawed through the week before finishing lower. Stalemate in Washington over any kind of relief bill continued. The Fed meeting on Wednesday was highlighted by projections to keep interest rates near zero through 2023. Economic data missed the mark too. Retail sales came in lower than expected. The weekly unemployment claims came in higher than expectations of 860,000. Housing starts and building permit data came in lower than expected. The decline of housing data compared to July is likely attributed to higher lumber prices.

More on the Fed. Low interest rates enhance the value of all equities. The Fed indicated this past week that it intends to keep its overnight federal funds rate target at 0-0.25% until 2023. They also said they would continue purchasing Treasuries and agency mortgage-backed securities. Chairman Powell said they will keep this stance until the labor market returns to full employment. Pre-covid unemployment rates were 3.5%.

The Week Ahead

The Federal Reserve chairman, Jerome Powell, speaks on Tuesday. Many agree the recovery has slowed, so to what degree that slowing has occurred will be seen in the latest reports. Fed chair Powell’s testimony on the CARES Act could contain market-moving morsels on Tuesday and Wednesday, as could treasury Secretary Mnuchin’s testimony on Thursday. Another week of high unemployment claims looms, but so far, the market remains relatively content with the labor market’s status. Friday’s durable goods orders offers insight into capital expenditure intentions among companies, and it’s poised to decline slightly. The elephant in the room for the market is the Presidential election, now roughly 6 weeks away.

Looking ahead to October. October is a peculiarly dangerous month to speculate in stocks. According to the Trader’s Almanac, that is especially true in presidential-election years. Since 1952, the Dow industrial averaged a 0.8% decline in those years. The S&P 500 index averaged a 0.7% drop. In Octobers of election years, the market was generally up when the incumbent party won. Not surprising as bull markets tend to favor the party in power. Clarity on the next 4 years will be here soon! Year-to-date index performance; Dow down 3.09%, S&P up 2.75%, and Nasdaq up 20.29% through the close on Friday.

Have a great 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.

How the Markets are Moving – Market Brief September 14, 2020

How the Markets are Moving – Market Brief September 14, 2020

With school back in session, the markets have slumped for two weeks now. Last week all indexes finished down. The Dow down 3.3%, S&P 2.5%, and Nasdaq 4.0%. Following the long weekend, the markets fell right from the start. Technology stocks led the free fall, as investors continue to selloff the big winners. Continue reading for the latest Market Brief and insight into how the markets are moving.

Last Week

The S&P 500 index finished last week with the worst performance since June. The next coronavirus relief package hangs in limbo as Senate Democrats and Republicans remain miles apart. Investors continue to fear lasting volatility from the looming Presidential election. According to Predict-It, Democratic candidate Biden has a 17% lead over the incumbent. The Fed recently said it would no longer preemptively raise interest rates to prevent higher inflation. Instead, the Fed will wait to tighten monetary policy until there is clear evidence of inflation running above its target of 2%.

Counter intuitively, volatility indices finished much softer despite turbulence in equities. The weekly unemployment claims figured held steady at 884k, above estimates. 884K is the lowest level of initial unemployment claims since broad economic shutdowns took effect in March, suggesting the labor market continues to make progress in its recovery. The total number of people claiming benefits in all programs rose 380,000 to 29.6 million.

The Week Ahead

Technical levels may be a primary driver of flows, but a busy data slate awaits investors this week. Chinese growth rates will be released today. On Wednesday, U.S. retail sales figures are published and the Federal Reserve is meeting to update economic projections. If passed, probability is rising that any stimulus package is going to be underwhelming. The Fed’s updated projections may show slower growth, hotter inflation, and stationary policy for longer.

On the data front, Chinese growth figures are poised for a modest increase, while U.S. retail sales are expected to slip slightly. Thursday’s unemployment claims will be closely watch for any reversal higher, while housing data is expected to remain robust. Lastly, an updated look at consumer sentiment will close out what looks to be a busy and pivotal week for global financial markets.

Year-to-date index performance; Dow down 3.06%, S&P up 3.41%, and Nasdaq up 20.96% through the close on Friday.

Have a great 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.

What to do When Receiving Life Insurance Money

What to do When Receiving Life Insurance Money

Recently, I contributed to an article about receiving life insurance money. The Q&A is below followed by a link to Melanie’s full article on the website Meet Fabric.

So do you have an order of things/checklist that people should go through when getting a life insurance payout? 

Receiving a life insurance payout is no different than a financial plan without life insurance proceeds. People have current needs to address. These vary from paying-off debt, building an emergency fund, saving for retirement, replacing the income of the deceased, paying for the final expenses of the deceased, etc. As a financial advisor providing comprehensive planning, I look at everything for my clients. So upon receiving a life insurance payout, the families needs are addressed first. Next, a go-forward plan is built upon their current situation.

For example, the proceeds going to a family who is debt free and the surviving spouse is still able to work. The priority may be to fund a college education account and increase retirement savings. In another example, the surviving spouse is a stay-at-home parent, and carrying mortgage and credit card debt. For this family, it may be in their best interest to pay-off the debt and use the remaining funds to support day-to-day living expenses. 

Also, one of the stories included someone who received a life insurance payout and kept the money in the interest-bearing account from the company and not get a check into her account. Do experts typically advise leaving it in the interest-bearing account, or taking it out and investing it instead?

Upon the death of a loved one, we encourage the beneficiary to receive the proceeds directly. This allows the beneficiary to pay final expenses and evaluate where the remaining proceeds should be allocated. If the beneficiary already has a comfortable savings account balance, and has a long-term investment plan, than yes, investing is a better option for long-term growth than an interest bearing account. Albeit, taking on more risk.


Do you have any tips for someone that is really emotional and maybe not in the best mental space to make financial decisions? How long should they wait to make a decision? How can they do what’s “best” for their money while dealing with grief? 

There is always emotional grievance. That is why hiring a financial professional to guide you through this period is essential. Your advisor will make decisions that exclude the emotions. Part of the planning I do for clients is to run updated scenarios, with the top industry software, of their financial position including the proceeds. This removes the emotions of planning and allows the family to make the best decisions, taking into account multiple options with their proceeds. As a fiduciary, I always serve with my clients best interests, whether a death in the family has occurred or not. It is important to work with a financial advisor who operates under the fiduciary standard of care. 

Follow this link to read the entire article: https://meetfabric.com/blog/what-should-you-do-with-a-life-insurance-benefit

Follow this link to learn more about life insurance.

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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.

The Great Divide – Economy and Markets

The Great Divide – Economy and Markets

The Dog Days are here! School is back in session, some in-person, some virtual. The virus continues to be present and the economy slowly is rebuilding while the markets continue to climb. Last week indexes finished slightly up. The Dow up 1.8%, S&P up 0.64%, and Nasdaq up 0.08%. The S&P began the week rising for it’s 7th straight session in the green and briefly passed the all-time high on Wednesday. The flat performance was a result of uncertainty with economic data, the latest virus patterns, and a second fiscal stimulus package that never was.

Last Week

The S&P 500 index is close to record territory once again. The economy and the stock market seem far off. Thursday marked the 100th day since the market lows on March 23. The markets have rebounded 50% since then. A strong recovery for investors, while millions have lost jobs and over 160,000 Americans have lost their lives. Management reports on earnings calls have been surprised at the speed and scale of the demand rebound. Many companies expected a short lived drop, followed by a gradual recovery. Not so much the “snap-back” experienced.

It is encouraging that the U.S. has added back millions of jobs lost during the first wave. Last Thursday marked the first jobless claims report under 1 million since March. Also, from earnings calls, consensus views are pointing towards record breaking earnings next year. Strongly supported by interest rates, which continue to be favorable for the foreseeable future. Investor fears over companies falling into financial distress are offset by the Feds support of buying bonds and Congress spending on relief. Retail sales also rose in July 1.2% higher than June, setting a new all-time high, and another sign of recovery.

The Week Ahead

The equity markets will have their eyes on Washington in hopes of a new stimulus. On Thursday, unemployment claims will be reported and the hope is that a under 1 million trend goes on. Continuing unemployment claims are still above 15 million, however, this is much lower than the 25 million in May. Stress for parents remains as school openings have created more unrest than security. How the school year unfolds for parents will no doubt impact the workforce productivity. Some areas of the country have already started so watching closely for signs that reopening in person can be done safely is key.

At the end of the day, it is clear the markets and the economy are not one in the same. Very different directions, as reflected in year-to-date index performance; Dow down 2.1%, S&P up 4.4%, and Nasdaq up 22.8% 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.