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.

Transfer Your Values Alongside Your Wealth

wealth and values

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 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.

Elections And Strategy – Nothing To Fear – Focus on You

Elections and strategy nothing to fear

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.

Markets Retreat after the Fed Chairman Said This

Fed Chairman

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.

Market Brief – 2020 Mid-Year Review

Market Brief 2020 Mid-Year Review

Dog days of summer have arrived. For 2020, it feels like the dog days arrived in March. From the moment the pandemic began to spread, to stay-at-home orders, to lock-downs, to protest rallies, to reopening phases, and back to more restrictions… what a year, and we are only halfway home. Didn’t even mentions the murder hornets! Let’s take a minute to catch our breath and see where we have been, where we are, and where we will go. Currently, we are in the midst of earnings season. Big name stocks will report second quarter earnings this week. Last week the main indexes finished mixed. The Dow up 2.3%, S&P up 1.25%, and Nasdaq down 1.1%. The S&P 500 outperformed the Nasdaq index by the widest margin since February 2016. The markets were mainly buoyed by progress of a virus vaccine.

What Happened?

The year started off strong through mid-February. Early cases and the fast spread of the coronavirus took hold in Asia and quickly jumped country borders to become a worldwide pandemic. Just about a month from the market peak in February came the market lows in March, a 33.9% drop for the S&P index. In just a few weeks, the U.S. economy erased 7 years of employment gains. 30 million Americans lost jobs, driving unemployment as high as 22% in April. By June, the unemployment rate hovered around 14%. Still extremely high, but significantly lower from 2 months prior.

In March, the Fed stepped in and provided a backstop to the equity markets. Stabilizing and possibly adding turbo to the economy via stimulus for individuals and businesses. The pandemic accelerated tech disruption. It changed how companies reach consumers, how supply chains work, how to deal with remote employees, and still build their brands.

Where Are We Today?

Year-to-date index performance; Dow down 6.54%, S&P down 0.2%, and Nasdaq up 17.0% through the close on Friday. Last week, Treasury Secretary Mnuchin said the Trump administration and Senate leadership are discussing a new stimulus bill. The end of July is the target time frame as the previous stimulus benefits are ending. The housing market reports are exceeding expectation. Current metrics show a shortage of existing home inventory, limited housing labor to build new homes, and a shortage of entry level homes for the first time home buyer. Historically low mortgage rates help boost the housing demand. Labor income across the board is surging and consumer spending is rebounding.

The markets are in fairly good position today. Much of the strength is attributed to the Fed and swift implementation of monetary policy. With interest rates near zero, investors are willing to pay for future earnings. Growth stocks have done well, value stocks have lagged. When the economy improves and interest rates rise, growth stocks will be challenged by high valuations. Communities have begun to re-open. The U.S. seems to have chosen independence over lock-down. This has led to a recent uptick in coronavirus cases. Deaths due to the virus have decreased as health care has gotten smarter about how to handle symptomatic cases. The resurgence of hiring and end of mass layoffs indicate the job market is recovering. While the decreasing layoffs and increasing hires offer hope, the reopening process has been trending in the wrong direction.

Where Are We Going?

It’s election season. From here on out, politics will headline media reports. Snippets and quotes from leadership on both sides will sway the markets. Bigger than the election is the Fed’s actions. Interest rates are low and likely to remain low for a very long time. This creates a scenario of easy lending and the opportunity for trillions of dollars to remain invested in the market. The future months will measured by the resurgence of the coronavirus, how quickly a vaccine can be developed, another round of monetary stimulus, and the upcoming election. If you thought the first half of 2020 was a roller coaster, the second half might be just as wild! Take care and be safe.

Market Brief’s are taking a summer hiatus, see you at the end of August!

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.

Market Brief June 29, 2020

Market Brief June 29 2020

Summer is full swing and so is the heat! The markets continue to sweat up and down. Last week all indexes finished down. The Dow down 3.3%, S&P 2.8%, and Nasdaq 1.9%. The markets fell mid last week as virus cases rose. More states delayed or paused reopening plans. Some small businesses chose to close their own stores.

Last Week

The V-shaped economic recovery is being challenged. Virus cases rose over 30% in some states last week. 33 states showed increases in cases. States, such as Texas and Florida, closed bars and reduced restaurant capacity. Bank shares fell as the Fed ordered them to stop share buyback programs and dividend payouts. The global economy shows signs of recovery based on PMI economic reports. The indexes fell for the second weekly loss in the past three weeks.

The Week Ahead

The markets are closed on Friday in observance of Independence Day holiday. Jobs data being released on Thursday morning will headline the reporting week. Pending home sales in May were expected to increase 18%, and the reading came in at 44.3% for May! That is good news for the economy. In fact, the coronavirus contraction could end up being the shortest U.S. recession ever. And the recession may already be over. Despite the worst part potentially behind us, recovery will take a long time. During 10 recessions since 1950, it took an average of 30 months for the lost jobs to finally return. Not to mention, the two previous recoveries took longer, 4 and 6 years respectively. Many more jobs were lost from the virus, so the rebound might be here now, but full recovery may take much longer.

To put the recession behind us two points are in focus. The first, improving health situation. Second, continued federal government support. The latter picture is more clear. The former, not so much. Federal unemployment benefits expire at the end of July. However, with the recent rise in cases, renewing these benefit programs may be a reality. Current discussion for another round of stimulus includes $1.5 trillion package. At the end of the day, the markets continue to worry about another outbreak. Year-to-date index performance; Dow down 12.3%, S&P down 6.8%, and Nasdaq up 8.74% through the close on Friday.

Have a fun and safe 4th of July holiday!

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.

Market Brief May 18 2020

Market Brief May 18 2020

Fed Chair Powell reiterated the committee’s outlook for the economy was highly uncertain and that unemployment may peak in the coming month. Another 2.9 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits, bringing the 8-week total to nearly 37 million. The bright side, continuing claims ‘only’ rose to 22.8 million from 22.4 million. This is another week of increasing claims at a decreasing rate. The markets all finished down for the week. It was the Dow and Nasdaq’s worst week since week ended April 3, and the S&P 500’s worst week since March 20.

Last Week

Volatility rose last week as confidence in the recovery and re-openings went back and forth. With some parts of the country slowly opening, there are glimmers of hope. Consumer confidence, measured by the University of Michigan, rose slightly in the May preliminary reading. Mortgage applications rose for the fourth straight week. Refinancing slowed, but it is still up 200% compared to the previous year, spurred by low interest rates.

At the same time, U.S and China are back at each other. The Trump administration ordered the federal employee retirement fund not to invest in Chinese companies. Specifically, companies that could be sanctioned for actions supporting the spread of the coronavirus. The unemployment total for the last two months has now reached 36.5 million Americans. For the week, the Dow fell 2.7%, the S&P 500 fell 2.3%, and the Nasdaq fell 1.2%.

This Week

As the economy goes through an unsynchronized reopening process, it seems apparent that any decline in unemployment is unlikely to match the pace of its ascent higher. Economists are projecting the U.S. economy to contract at 6.6% this year. The previous estimate was a contraction of 4.9%. The high unemployment, coupled with declining consumption and a fresh spat between U.S./China keeps everything on the rocks.

Politically, lawmakers are weighing a fresh stimulus. The House passed the $3 trillion spending plan. On the data watch, U.S. building permits will be released on Tuesday. This gauge indicates housing activity as some states edge back to “normal”. Thursday, weekly unemployment claims will be released, and Fed Chair Powell speaks. Wall Street investors will be very tuned into what he has to say.

Year-to-date index performance; Dow down 17.0%, S&P down 11.4%, and Nasdaq up 0.5%.

Have a fun and safe Halloween 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.

Market Brief April 20 2020

Market Brief April 20 2020

The market rally continued. Finishing strong Friday due to a potential COVID-19 treatment. The Dow, S&P, and Nasdaq indexes all finished up last week. Dow up 2.2%, S&P 3.0%, and Nasdaq 6.1%. Not all was good as many banks reported earnings last week. The large banks are preparing for potential consumer and corporate loan defaults. Unemployment increases continue. In the last four weeks, 22 million Americans have filed for unemployment. This volume erases ten years of job growth. Retail Sales dropped in March and Industrial Production fell to the lowest level since 1946.

So why did the markets finish higher? Good question. The markets response was focused on two things. First, the potential vaccine treatment. If this treatment works or has a strong recovery rate, this is great news for the current time and the future. The markets want to be reassured if the virus returns there is a defense in place. Second, President Trump announced a plan to reopen states. Going back to “normal” is good for small business, consumers, and income earners. It is clear “life after virus” will be different, igniting the economy is certainly a positive for financial markets.

The Week Ahead

COVID-19 hospitalizations are declining in hotspot areas. Government officials are working on plans to gradually reopen their states. On Thursday, another round of unemployment claims is expected. Friday’s durable goods order report will shed light on business spending amid the health crisis.

Corporate earnings season continues. The focus of these calls remain to be the gauge of how negatively affected consumption and credit have been for both consumers and businesses. As well as, the prospects of doing business during the next few quarters. And lastly, for firms not on solid footing, investors will look to their liquidity as key indicator of strength going forward.

Year-to-date index performance; Dow down 15.0%, S&P down 11.0%, and Nasdaq up 3.6%. As the post image says, “Together We Do It” – 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.

Market Brief April 6 2020

Market Brief April 6 2020

With each passing day, we hope to be one day closer to the end of this ugly virus. Until that day arrives, continue the social distancing and best hygiene habits. The news ahead regarding the economic state and corporate guidance are likely going to be dismal. Economic numbers outside of jobs report will tell one tale. Company reports during earnings calls will tell another. This past week, unemployment rate jumped to 4.4%, from lows of 3.5%. Weekly unemployment claims surged north of 10,000,000 over the last two weeks. If you have a job, be thankful. The monthly employment numbers are usually the most important. They providing the first, in-depth perspective of the U.S. economy.

The most attention during the week is the weekly job report that comes out each Thursday morning. All eyes again will be watching very closely. Economists ahead of this downward spiral are predicting unemployment to reach as high as 17%! A depressing reality to think about. Jim Reid, a strategist for Deutsche Bank, stated “the contraction from the coronavirus this year is likely to rank among the 10 worst for many countries… that’s remarkable, given the size of the monetary and fiscal stimulus that governments have provided.”

What’s Ahead

The Dow, S&P, and Nasdaq indexes all finished down last week. Dow dropped 2.7%, S&P fell 2.1%, and Nasdaq down 1.7%. The Dow finished the first quarter, which ended last Tuesday, down 23%. The week ahead is mixed with important economic data, as well as, a couple corporate reports worth reading.

Tomorrow, Levi Strauss reports quarterly results. Usually, not a widely followed report, but given the impact of incomes and jobs, the report will provide impact on discretionary spending. On Wednesday, Costco Wholesale reports sales data for March. Another indication of recent spending impact since the virus began hitting U.S. and lock downs began mid-month of this report. Thursday reports include the Producer Price Index, a measure of inflation. Followed by the weekly job report, which comes after a week of 6.6 million claims. Friday reports also include the Consumer Price Index to see the impact of mainly retail prices for consumers in March. Friday the equity markets are closed in observance of Good Friday.

Year-to-date index performance; Dow down 26.2%, S&P down 22.9%, and Nasdaq up 17.8%.

Quarantine continues – 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.

Positive Investing News

Positive Investing News

Finding good news right now can be tough. The Q&A below highlights some of the positive investing news that can result from a crisis.

What is the one positive that you see coming out of this crisis
that is least expected?

Buying opportunity! Valuations have soared during the bull market run following the 2008-2009 recession, individuals interested in long-term investment growth should consider this as one of the best discount sales in recent years. Many people I speak to wish they could go back to the 2008-2009 time period and buy stocks. Today, some quality companies are down 30-80% year-to-date.

What new businesses will break into the marketplace, as a result of this crisis, that no one expected to grow so fast?

Technology has proven to be the winner. The S&P 500 Info Tech sector index has greatly outperformed the market. Included in this index are businesses supporting those working from home, such as, video conferencing and e-document companies. 

What existing industries do you feel will rebound the fastest
as things begin to return to normal?

The travel industry is taking an enormous hit. This will not last. Consider how many people will need a vacation after being stuck in their homes for a month (or longer). Or even had their trips postponed. Hotels, airlines, cruises, they are beaten down right now but will bounce back as the virus is contained. The stimulus will also aid, to some extent, discretionary spending for some. Travel is a huge component of discretionary spending.

Click here if you would like to learn more about our thoughts on Positive Investing News. Also, to discuss 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.

Market Brief March 23 2020

Market Brief March 23 2020

Last week was the worst week the stock markets have seen since 2008. Continued developments of the coronavirus dominated the news, as the number of cases in the U.S. surpassed 15,000. This news left the indexes in a downward free fall. The three major indexes all finished down between 14-17% for the week ending March 20. The increase in cases is also getting the attention of life insurance, as I wrote about last week and you can read it here. Forget gold and oil as great market hedges, the future is now in toilet paper and hand sanitizer! (Just kidding).

To no surprise, economic data last week disappointed. China sales and industrial production was down double digits compared to last year. German economic sentiment also fell to the lowest on record. The lone bright spot from last week, was U.S. sales. For the month of February, U.S. retail sales came in 4.35% higher compared to last year. New home sales dropped for the month, while existing home sales jumped 6.5%. The existing home sales grew to the highest level since 2007, proving the real estate market was on solid ground prior to the virus outbreak.

The Week Ahead

The week ahead will be focused on stimulus news in the U.S., as well as, the flattening of the coronavirus infection curve. Wednesday’s durable goods order report is expected to be positive. However, this could be the last positive report we see for awhile, as business and productivity slows during the state ordered or self-mandated quarantine phases. Thursday’s unemployment claim report will likely soar, as businesses cut staff and hours for workers.

Big Picture and Recovery

Year-to-date index performance; Dow down 32.81%, S&P down 28.66%, and Nasdaq down 23.3%. According to Wilshire, this is approximately $12 trillion of wealth that has evaporated. Due to the recent domestic productivity halt, most banks have cut 2nd Quarter growth outlooks significantly. Goldman Sachs has revised their 2nd Quarter outlook to -24%, while J.P. Morgan cut their outlook to -14%.

The consensus for recovery is based on three outcomes. First, how quickly will the virus be contained. Second, whether businesses will have access to enough liquidity, or capital, over the next 90-180 days. And lastly, whether the fiscal stimulus can stabilize growth forecasts. Until then, volatility looks to remain high and sensitive to the latest news stemming from the virus developments and economic impacts.

Keep your distance, share the TP, and continue to wash your hands this 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.

Market Brief March 16 2020

Market Brief March 16 2020

Not sure where to start today? Every post seems to be outdated the minute it is published! Whether a virus update, Fed decision, a political speech, geo-political affairs, or another stock industry takes a dive downward. Volatility remains high, driving the big daily swings in the stock market.

Last week, President Trump initiated a travel ban and events across the country ceased immediately. Last night, the Fed stepped in with another rate cut. The reaction from the market was one of fear, driving indexes lower, and initiating the third trading halt in the last month to start the week. Despite the historic big rally on Friday, all indexes finished the week down. The Dow dropped 10.46%, the S&P 500 fell 8.86%, and the Nasdaq dropped 8.18%.

The Week Ahead

The week ahead includes Retail Sales, Industrial Production, and Housing Start data. There reports will provide a gauge of the consumer and business sentiment during this time of uncertainty. The mortgage rate drops may act as a tailwind for home buyers and those refinancing, in the near term, but the prevailing headwind of the coronavirus economic disruption remains front and center. Coronavirus focus will be on the growth of new cases, as well as, policies designed to identify and subdue the outbreak.

Big Picture

Year-to-date index performance; Dow down 18.7%, S&P down 16.0%, and Nasdaq down 12.2%. The media is publishing a lot of information regarding corrections, bear markets, and recessions. Let’s break those down. A correction is typically considered when the stock indexes drop 10% from the recent highs. A bear market typically is defined by a drop of 20% from recent highs. And a recession is 2 or more consecutive quarters of declining GDP growth. Our current economic state may be a recession, however, we will not know until the quarterly numbers are published after Q2 2020 is over. Yes, the markets corrected more than 20% from the highs on February 19, therefore, indexes are in bear market territory. Turnaround signs remain high correlated to virus improvement. The slowing of new cases, the decline of deaths, and the increasing number of recoveries. Until then, volatility remains here to stay. Corporate guidance up to this point is hard to judge. The next round of corporate earnings will be very important regarding the impact of the virus disruption and growth prospects going forward. Market volatility is inevitable when investing in the stock market.

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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.

Portfolio Management Perspective

Portfolio Management Perspective

Review of Benchmarks, Strategy, Risk, and Performance – Perspective from one of our Portfolio Manager’s – March 13, 2020

Whenever the topic of investing is discussed we are conditioned to think first of the New York Stock Exchange opening bell and Wall St. bankers in Brioni suits. And why shouldn’t we? Over the past 200 years, stocks have arguably been the most powerful generator of wealth.
 
That rosy conventional wisdom has the benefit of a perpetual time-horizon and an ambivalence towards risk. As we all know, stocks might be notorious for rising over time, but they also can produce nasty results if improperly managed. Very few of us are fortunate enough to be ambivalent towards risk or the trajectory of our investments – if we were, being 100% invested in the DOW or S&P 500 would be a fine strategy. That is where financial planning and asset management comes in.
 
As a conservative asset manager, we are tasked with two main objectives a) produce a rate of return that achieves an objective (generally retirement/self-sufficiency) and b) protect against downside and volatility.  Our definition of success in both goals is directly related to the specifics of your financial situation. 
 
Since the inception of our Total Return strategy in 2004, we’ve employed a mix of equities (stocks), commodities, fixed income, and cash to achieve the objectives stated above for clients. At any given point, we may be more dependent on one asset class or another to provide upside thrust or downside support for our clients’ portfolios. As you might expect, this asset mix is largely dependent on (among other things) the outlook for the economy, interest rates, and the inclination for risk in the markets.
 
In some environments, such as 2017, the stock market and high-quality individual equities genuinely are the best option for capital appreciation.  In other periods such as late 2018 and 2019, a choppy market and unclear fundamental prospects warranted a higher concentration in traditionally less economically sensitive asset classes like bonds, gold, and cash. No matter the environment, we are continually assessing our outlook and corresponding exposures.

In the client updates over the past week, we noted how our conservative positioning at the outset of this decline was yielding promising results. That remains the case, and when we evaluate client performance relative to equity benchmarks (DOW, S&P 500, NASDAQ), we are heartened by the fact that client accounts have a) declined substantially less than the benchmarks and b) exceeded the results previously experienced in similar periods of stress.
 
Since our inception, having a trained eye on risk management has allowed clients to generally experience asymmetric rates of upside and downside participation vs. equity benchmarks. In other words, we’ve consistently achieved more upside than downside through the course of market trends. 
 
Finally, we understand that the personal nature of the virus and the corresponding downside reaction in markets can be especially anxiety provoking.  And while this is everybody’s first time managing through a true pandemic, it is far from our first time managing through a panicked market.  We will get through this turbulent time and be prepared to deploy the capital we’ve preserved throughout the episode.

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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.

Market Brief February 24 2020

Market Brief February 24 2020

The last week in February is here and the markets have dropped on the news of the increasing spread of the coronavirus. Impact beyond health concerns is the slowdown in supply chains for companies, and the downward effect on economic activity. The US economic report of the Services PMI dropped to a 76-month low in February. This follows a January report that was at a 5-month high. The bright spots from last week are found in manufacturing confidence and housing reports. Both housing starts and building permits figures remain at decade highs, with housing starts at the highest level since 2006. WalMart’s earnings report was positive, in-line with expectations. Significant to the investor, as WalMart is a good gauge of the consumer strength, and sales were up 5.7% last year. With that said, the Dow, S&P, and Nasdaq indexes all finished down last week. The Dow down 1.4%, S&P 1.3%, and Nasdaq 1.6%.

This week will have plenty of economic reports to digest, but the coronavirus developments remain top priority. Tuesday’s consumer confidence report will shed light on whether consumers are concerned with the virus or not. Globally, Chinese banks may be on rocky ground. During the month of January, banks in China had loaned 3 times the amount that was loaned in December. Corporate loans also increased 7 times during the same time period. Debt levels this high could cause concern for long-term recovery and repayment issues.

Year-to-date index performance; Dow up 1.59%, S&P up 3.31%, and Nasdaq up 6.73%. I continue to encourage buy and hold investing for the long run and potential short-term disruptions can give investors long term opportunities.

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.

Market Brief February 10 2020

Market Brief February 10 2020

Valentine’s Day is almost here, and the stock market continues to show investors plenty of love! The Dow, S&P, and Nasdaq indexes all finished up last week Dow up 3%, S&P 3.17%, and Nasdaq 4.04%. The coronavirus remains a serious threat, but markets shrugged off the virus news in favor of positive U.S. manufacturing data, strong jobs reports, and company earnings. The Dow and S&P index finished the week with the best performance since the 5 trading days leading up to June 7, 2019. The Nasdaq had it’s best week since November 30, 2018.

The number of coronavirus cases continue to grow and estimates of economic growth for China continue to fall. The coronavirus has spread to different industries at different times. Initially, the travel and oil industries took a hit, as obvious travel restrictions were put into place. Oil prices are down 20% since January. Retail chains, such as Starbucks, also took a hit as many stores in China were closed. Currently, the healthcare industry is taking it on the chin, due to cancelled surgeries and disruption in supply chain. Technology may be on the horizon, as companies like Apple look at their own supply chain and impact the virus will have on production. Throughout February corporate earnings calls, the theme was similar, it is too early to tell the impact, but keep a close eye on what is happening. As of last night, the coronavirus death toll has exceeded that of the SARS virus.

Enter Federal Reserve. After Wednesday’s meeting, Wall Street was leaning towards another rate cut. This belief evaporated by Friday when the jobs report was released and the results were very strong. In Germany, industrial production fell in December by 3.5%, the largest drop post-financial crisis. Global woes remain an area of concern.

Year-to-date index performance; Dow up 1.98%, S&P up 3.0%, and Nasdaq up 6.1%. What else? For the S&P companies reporting in January, no dividends were cut, same result as January 2019, and 41 companies increased their dividends, which is up from 36 a year ago. Due to low bond yields, investors are flocking to real estate mutual funds and REIT investments. As reported by EPFR Global, $11B of money flowed into mutual funds with a real estate focus in 2019, and another $3B has moved there in 2020.

Have a great 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.

Market Brief January 21 2020

Market Brief January 21 2020

The Dow, S&P, and Nasdaq indexes all finished up last week Dow up 1.8%, S&P 2.0%, and Nasdaq 2.3%. The indices continued to rise from solid economic reports coming from the housing, retail, and pricing reports, as well as, easing tensions between the U.S. and China. With the trade news somewhat behind us, focus turns towards corporate profits as Q4 earnings season is underway.

This week includes 58 more earnings reports by S&P 500 companies, along with home sales data and jobs numbers keeping investors attention. U.S. existing home sales have missed three consecutive months, so Wednesday’s report will be important. Inflation remains a major headwind for investors.

Caution ahead. The yield curve inversion in 2019 still lingers. As market history proves, the inverted yield curve foresees recession up to 2 years following the initial inversion. Wage growth and corporate earnings. As wages continue to rise and unemployment remains historically low, this puts companies in a tough position. As the expenses rise, the dilemma is whether to pass the cost to the customer, or eat it. Either way, this can lead to a negative outlook for stocks, as companies either will have shrinking margins, or contribute to inflation by way of rising prices. This is worth keeping an eye on going forward.

Have a great 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.

Market Brief January 13 2020

Market Brief January 13 2020

Happy Monday to you all! The markets quickly pushed aside the idea of increasing tension between the United States and Iran, as cooler heads prevailed. Global news is now instantly spread and processed by the markets, and being an election year, further geopolitical volatility should be expected. During an address last Wednesday, President Trump gave no signal of further escalation. The Dow, S&P, and Nasdaq indexes all finished up last week Dow up 0.6%, S&P 0.9%, and Nasdaq 1.7%.

The markets shook off the Middle East tensions and lower payroll figure released on Friday, the U.S. economy added 145,000 jobs in December. Despite being weaker than expected, the jobs report extended the streak of gains to 111 months in a row. The decade wrapped up with 10 straight years of job growth as well. Wage inflation reported a 2.9% increase year-over-year, outpacing current inflation levels. Europe economic reports were positive last week. The Eurozone’s December services PMI’s were revised higher and industrial production rose higher.

U.S. inflation, retail, and housing reports fill up the week of economic news. 2019 holiday sales were a record, so the attention is focused on the Retail Sales report released on Thursday.

From the Stock Trader’s Almanac – the first five trading days of the new year were positive, indicating an increased likelihood of an up year for the market. The Santa Claus rally was also positive. Whenever both the Santa Claus rally and first week of trading are positive, the Dow has gained an average 11.5% for the year and rose 80% of the time.

Year-to-date index performance will begin tracking once we have a month under our belt in 2020. The Oklahoma/Ohio State National title was suppose to be tonight! Since we don’t have a dog in the fight, we will take the Tigers to win the championship! And for the sports nuts reading this, I am referring to the Orange and White tigers!

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.