Investment Philosophy

After working in environments ranging from an insurance agency to a discount brokerage firm I have found that every investment vehicle exists because it makes perfect sense in someone’s world.  As an advisor I feel that it is my roll to learn about my clients to properly partner them with the correct strategies.  This combined with proper asset allocation, security diversification, rebalancing and continuing conversation may help keep clients on track with their goals.

Investing vs Speculation

Speculation is purchasing an asset with the expectation of a gain over a short period.  Investing is selecting securities based off timelines, goals, risk tolerances, historical date and security fundamentals.  My goal is to help my clients invest in their future, not to try to time markets for short term gains.

Define Goals

Client investment goals are as diverse as clients themselves.  My goal as a LPL financial advisor is not to tell you what I think of your current retirement or savings plan but to find a solution that may help meet your concerns.  Typically investment portfolios work towards the following:

Capital Appreciation strategies employ securities which have the potential to grow in value.

Income Generation strategies employ securities to produce a consistent stream of income and are less concerned with them appreciating in value.

Tax Conscious strategies usually have a secondary underlying goal.  However, the main concern is mitigating the level of taxes you would pay.

Risk Aware strategies are more concerned with managing downturns rather than capitalizing on the upside of the market.

Cost Effective strategies usually have a secondary underlying goal.  However, they are less likely to employ more expensive active managers to keep the total cost of the portfolio down.

Estate Transitioning strategies are all about getting your current wealth to the next generation.  These include college planning, charitable giving, trusts, or simply making sure your loved ones have enough money.

ESG strategies allow clients to invest while avoiding companies that fall outside their moral or ethical spectrum.  These concerns can be environmental, religious or want to invest in companies with strong board governance.

Manage Risk

All money comes with attached risk.  While you may not believe it, even your checking account can be susceptible to inflation risk.  However, when it comes to portfolios, market risk is the most common one that comes to peoples mind.  My goal as a LPL financial advisor is to integrate the time horizon for the investment with a client’s loss aversion and market sentiment.  Theses break down into the following five categories:

Aggressive Growth

Select Managers

As a LPL financial advisor if I didn’t employ financial managers, I would be doing you as a client a disservice.  Institutional managers have large teams of analysts and portfolio managers who are specialized in specific asset classes.  These teams are much better at identifying opportunities and managing risk on a daily basis than I could be as a financial advisor helping clients with many unique goals.  A large part of my job is finding portfolio managers that meet a client’s goals and risk sensitivity.

Due Diligence

There are literally several 1000 mutual funds, etfs, stocks, bonds and other securities in the world.  While I may not personally trade many accounts or decide on allocation weights, I do spend much of my time in webinars, going to educational events and reading investment philosophies of individual managers.  All of this goes into deciding the original investment options as well as looking for idea to improve your current holdings.

Annual Review

Financial health is a real thing.  If you go to your dentist twice a year for a teeth cleaning and checkup, why wouldn’t you meet with your financial advisor to keep me updated on what’s going on in your life!  This input helps me make better recommendations for your portfolio going forward as well as introducing you to additional strategies that may benefit a change in your life!

Additional Services

Portfolio management is just a part of what I do.  There are many other questions that will arise during your life that have financial implications.  Whether this is saving for college, securing income, collaborating with your employer retirement plan, evaluating your life insurance or anything to do with building your financial health, that’s what I am here for.  Remember my goal is your piece of mind.

There is no assurance that the techniques and strategies discussed are suitable for all investors or will yield positive outcomes.  The purchase of certain securities may be required to effect some of the strategies.  Investing involves risks including possible loss of principal.

Improvise, Adapt, Overcome: Fighting Rising Interest Rates

Bond Basics 101 here in a rising interest rate environment.  As the Fed raises interest rates, through a complicated series of events, borrowing becomes more expensive.  That means when a company looks to borrow money through bond financing they have to offer a higher coupon to be attractive to investors.  However, because I can get a new bond with a higher interest rate, the old bond I bought is worth less.  While we are conditioned to look at coupon.  What bond traders are going to look at is yield.  That is the coupon/market price of the bond.

TO SUMMARIZE: If you have a coupon that is less than another bond you have to lower the market price to get a competitive yield.  So what does all this financial jargon mean?

If you own a traditional bond mutual fund, the fund is priced to the day to day market changes of the underlying security.  That means that when interest rates go up, the value of the underlying bonds drops and the total value of your holdings goes down.

Improvise: Diversification and Laddering

If you are chasing higher returns from your bond funds you can basically do two things.  Go longer term or go riskier.  Going riskier means the conservative side of your portfolio is no longer conservative; as discussed going longer term leaves you exposed to interest rates rising.

Diversifying your bond classes can help you add risk without throwing out the baby with the bathwater.  By adding sub-asset classes like high yield, bank loan, long duration, short duration, you can potentially mitigate some of your risks while adding some return that comes from riskier asset classes.

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Laddering is a process of buying fixed income with progressively longer duration.  When your asset at the shortest matures, you buy an instrument that fills in the longer side.  As an investor this enables you to do two things.  Firstly, you mitigate the interest rate risk by allocating some of your funds to short term investments.  Secondly, you can increase your effective yield by taking advantage of longer term bonds.

 

Adapt: Annuities

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The industry has noticed the need for investors looking for higher returns with a need for protecting its capital.  The industry has responded with a different method to meet this void.

Annuities in the past have been criticized as illiquid, complicated and costly asset classes.  While they provided income benefits, many professionals and commentators warned the costs outweighed the benefits.  However, with the rise of Index-Linked Annuities, an investor can achieve principal protection and market performance with relatively lower costs than variable annuities.

These products don’t give you this upside without some consequences.  These products have their own tax issues that should be investigated before investing.  Additionally, because the issuer is taking on some risk for the downside in the market, they’re going to ask something in return.  These requirements come in the form of caps, participation rates and duration.

Overcome: The Power of Education

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Let me tell you right now.  Low interest rates, combined with rising rates are a real pain point for investors and advisors alike.  There are dozens if not hundreds of strategies that have been developed to increase yield while mitigating risk.  The most important component to this process is to stay educated.  All products have their positives and negatives.  However, working towards what makes best since to your personal financial plan is important.  If you struggle with these questions please contact a financial advisor.  I am more than happy to schedule a call with you to see if this is something I can help you with.

The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual.

There is no guarantee that a diversified portfolio will enhance overall returns or outperform a non-diversified portfolio. Diversification does not protect against market risk.

Investing in mutual funds involves risk, including possible loss of principal. 

High yield/junk bonds (grade BB or below) are not investment grade securities, and are subject to higher interest rate, credit, and liquidity risks than those graded BBB and above. They generally should be part of a diversified portfolio for sophisticated investors.

Fixed and Variable annuities are suitable for long-term investing, such as retirement investing.  Gains from tax-deferred investments are taxable as ordinary income upon withdrawal. Guarantees are based on the claims paying ability of the issuing company. Withdrawals made prior to age 59 ½ are subject to a 10% IRS penalty tax and surrender charges may apply.  Variable annuities are subject to market risk and may lose value.

Is it Time to Consider a Separately Managed Account?

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Have you been sticking aside $100 a month into an IRA?  Do you have a bunch of random stocks in a brokerage account?   Chances are that your advisor paired you with a mutual fund or several funds that matched your investment goals.  Or maybe you picked a target date fund because it was easy.  Here are a few reasons to consider a Separately Managed Account (SMA).

Customization

Mutual Funds have individual investment goals that portfolio managers are required to abide by.  Launching into an SMA you have the ability to customize the investment parameters of those goals.  As an investor you can choose to exclude certain types of securities or impose an investment quality on the underlying security.  For example, if you do not want to own oil stocks for environmental concerns, you can ask the portfolio managers to avoid them.

Taxes

Some mutual funds generate dividends and capital gains which are distributed to their investors.  That means if you hold those mutual funds in a taxable brokerage account, you could pay taxes even in a year when your fund loses money.  Because an investor owns the individual securities in the SMA, they can potentially limit this sort of impact as the cost basis would be their own.

If mutual funds are not specifically designated as a tax-efficient fund, their focus may be

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on striving to maximize their potential returns rather than considering tax obligations. SMA’s often utilize tax harvesting methods in their trading to limit the taxable gains to their clients.  So if your money is held in a taxable account, this may be worth exploring.

In today’s day and age it is not uncommon for a company to distribute their own stock as a benefit to their employees.  It is a great way for employees to participate in the growth and earnings of the company they work for.  However, letting this build up over time can lead to a concentrated stock position that leads to single stock risk.  Moving out of this position to diversify can lead to heavy tax obligations if not properly managed.  Some SMA’s will take stocks instead of cash for an initial investment and will work to diversify the holdings while employing a tax-loss harvest strategy.

Fee Structures

Mutual funds and SMAs often have a few layers of fees.  Some mutual funds have upfront sales charges that lower your initial investment.  It is difficult to compare the internal costs that SMA’s and Mutual Funds have because they range so much.  However, funds or SMAs that do not have an upfront sales charge can put the entire weight of your money to work at the front end.

Conclusion

Separately Managed Accounts aren’t for everyone but they serve a purpose.  If you are an investor with over $50,000 in investable assets they may be worth looking into.  If there is any further education I can provide to this end please feel free to contact me on the schedule a consultation tab.

The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual. This information is not intended to be a substitute for specific individualized tax advice. We suggest that you discuss your specific tax issues with a qualified tax advisor.

Stock and mutual fund investing involve risk, including possible loss of principal.  No strategy assures success or protects against loss.

The target date is the approximate date when investors plan to start withdrawing their money.  The principal value of a target date fund is not guaranteed at any time, including at the target date.

There is no guarantee that a diversified portfolio will enhance overall returns or outperform a non-diversified portfolio. Diversification does not protect against market risk.

Help Your Employees to Retire without Breaking the Bank

According to a recent study by Forbes, 35% of employees don’t have access to a retirement plan through work.  The sad part is, a lot of them won’t look for outside options either.  Offering a retirement plan to your employees is a great way to look after their future.  However, many employers are turned away by the costs of a 401(k) plan.  But you don’t have to break the bank to help your employees prepare for their future.

Nothing Out of Pocket

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A payroll deducted IRA allows your employees to set up either a traditional or Roth IRA and connect it to your payroll.  They can elect an amount as low as $50 a month to start investing.  Besides minor potential administrative costs, it doesn’t cost you as a business owner to do it.  Additionally, there are a ton of financial advisors (myself included) who are more than willing to

come out and do enrollment, education and bring breakfast or lunch with them as well.

Keep it S.I.M.P.L.E.

pexels-photo-870902.jpegIf you are looking to contribute to your employee’s retirement, but a 401(k) plan seemed like a head ache, a SIMPLE IRA may be a great option.  A SIMPLE allows you to either make 3% matching contributions or a 2% non-contributory contributions to an IRA for your employee.  There is little to no further cost to you as an employer and no annual IRS reporting.  Your only additional obligation is to keep up with payroll.  Your employee is responsible for their own investments from there.  You can call it a simple way to help them invest for retirement… see what I did there.

Conclusion

Setting up a retirement plan for your employees doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive.  Providing retirement education for your employees can be an easy and inexpensive way to show that you care about them.  If you require some further information please do not hesitate to reach out to me via the schedule a consultation tab.

This information is for education only and is not intended as authoritative guidance or tax or legal advice.  Each plan has unique requirements, and you should consult your attorney or tax advisor for guidance on your specific situation.

401(k) Decisions — You Can Take It With You

If you are preparing to change jobs, do you know what your choices are for managing the money in your current employer’s retirement plan? Although many people choose to take a cash distribution, there are other options that may benefit you more.

Uncle Sam Loves Cash Distributions

Taking a lump-sum cash distribution may trigger an immediate 20% federal withholding tax. In addition, a 10% additional tax may apply if you are younger than age 59½.* Taking your money in cash also means that you’ll no longer enjoy the potential benefits of tax deferral that a qualified retirement plan offers.

Depending on your circumstances, you may have several options that will allow you to maintain the tax-deferred status of your retirement plan assets:

  • Leave the money in your former employer’s plan. Your former employer must allow you to leave the money where it is as long as the balance exceeds $5,000. You’ll no longer be able to contribute to the account, but you’ll still decide how the existing assets are invested.
  • Roll over the money to your new employer’s plan. By “rolling” the money directly to your new plan, you’ll avoid the taxes that could eat away at a cash distribution. You’ll also only have one set of investments to monitor. Even if you’re not immediately eligible to contribute to the plan at your new job, you may still be able to roll over the money right away.
  • Roll over the money to an IRA. If your new employer doesn’t offer a retirement plan or you aren’t yet eligible to participate, you can roll over the money directly to a traditional IRA. Again, you’ll avoid taxes that you’d incur if you took a cash distribution and still enjoy the potential benefits of tax deferral. Experts advise against commingling your retirement plan assets with other IRAs you may have set up. Instead, open a separate IRA account, known as a “conduit IRA,” which may allow you to move the funds to a new employer’s retirement plan at a later date.

Research Your Options

If you plan to change jobs, don’t just take the money and run. Since rules vary from company to company, find the time to explore your alternatives. If you have specific questions about your retirement plan distribution options, contact your employer’s benefits coordinator or a qualified financial consultant.

Source/Disclaimer:

*If you’re age 55 or older and separate from service, the 10% additional tax may not apply for certain periodic withdrawals taken from an employer-sponsored retirement plan. Keep in mind that the 10% additional tax may be incurred on distributions taken from an IRA prior to age 59½.

Required Attribution

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