Monthly Newsletter – March 2020

Our March newsletter provides insights on relevant timely topics we hope you find value reading. We begin with commentary from Guinness Asset Management discussing the economic and market implications of the Coronavirus and how to prepare for the volatility expected. We also share the ARK Disrupt Newsletter covering Automation, Podcasts, Neural Nets & Fintech. Finally, we share the most recent monthly commentary from Pacific Asset Management.

Putting the Coronavirus in Perspective

Stock markets around the world are adjusting from believing that  “the coronavirus is largely a Chinese problem” to the fear that “it will be everywhere”.

The immediate economic impact of the coronavirus is likely to be material, given the restrictions on the movement of people and goods in a highly interconnected world. Global GDP growth may be negative in the first quarter of 2020. However, we expect continued significant fiscal responses from governments around the world to boost growth. This is likely to mark the start of a growing trend of government spending from both developed and emerging countries.

For equities to begin rallying anew, however, investors will need to see evidence that the rate of growth of new coronavirus cases outside of China is being quickly contained.

The full commentary from Guinness Asset Management can be accessed by clicking the link below:

Putting the Coronavirus in Perspective

Automation, Podcasts, Neural Nets & Fintech

While automation typically causes debates about the potential loss of jobs, ARK’s research suggests that it could transform “unpaid” labor into “paid” labor.

During the past year, Spotify has tripled the number of podcasts on its platform, now offering more than 700,000 titles. That said, it still is working on monetizing its burgeoning library.

The neural nets arms race has escalated with Microsoft’s release of Turing Natural Language Generation (T-NLG), a transformer-based model with 17 billion parameters—ten times larger than OpenAI’s GPT-2 from a year ago. More parameters allow neural nets to learn, remember, and perform complex tasks.

The full newsletter can be accessed by clicking the link below:

ARK Invest – Automation, Podcasts, Neural Nets & Fintech

Monthly Market Commentary

Markets fell sharply in the last week of February as investors were spooked by the marked rise in the number of coronavirus cases outside China

All equity markets fell in February, but emerging markets were the most resilient in February, being somewhat further through the economic impact of the coronavirus.

Please click the link below to read the latest monthly commentary:

Pacific Asset Management – March Commentary

Monthly Newsletter – February 2020

We begin February’s newsletter by sharing Lord Abbett’s latest white paper guide to dividend income. We also share the latest tax planning strategies from RRBB Accountants & Advisors. Finally, we share the most recent monthly commentary from Pacific Asset Management.

Lord Abbett’s Guide to Dividend Income, in Two Charts

Instead of focusing on current yield, investors may be better served by considering the potential growth of dividend income over time.

With government bond yields at multi-year lows, investors may be searching for alternative sources of income. We think one such source worth considering is U.S. dividend-paying stocks.

The full white paper can be accessed by clicking the link below:

Lord Abbett’s Guide to Dividend Income

RRBB February Newsletter

The 2019 tax filing season is in full swing. If you have not already done so, now is the time to collect your tax forms, organize your records and set a schedule to get your tax return completed. The full newsletter can be accessed by clicking the link below:

RRBB February Newsletter

Monthly Market Commentary

Investors hoping for a quiet start to the new decade were in for a rude awakening in January. At the start of the month, President Trump authorised an airstrike killing Iran’s most powerful general causing the oil price to spike.

Whilst fear was in evidence in some parts of the market, greed was also on show, with Tesla rising 55% over the month, nearly quadrupling over the last six months.

Please click the link below to read the latest monthly commentary:

Pacific Asset Management – February Commentary

2020 Investment Outlook – January Newsletter

Happy New Year & Decade! Our January newsletter focuses on the 2020 investment outlook, which we hope you find value reading. In addition, we provide the latest U.S. Tax News from James Cassidy, International Tax Consultant at Schulman Lobel. Finally, we share the most recent monthly commentary from Pacific Asset Management.

2020 Investment Outlook

We have researched many of the investment and economic outlooks available and have found a wide range of views for what 2020 has in store.  Here is a great article from Bloomberg providing a reader’s digest of the major Wall Street firms’ outlook for the year ahead:

https://www.bloomberg.com/graphics/2020-investment-outlooks/

Investors should not expect the same once in a decade returns 2019 delivered for virtually every major asset class. History suggests that years like 2019 are usually followed by more modest growth – so investors should approach 2020 in a positive spirit. At the same time, elevated uncertainty and signs of slowing global growth create a challenging backdrop for markets in 2020 and beyond.

We expect a good year for investing, particularly in the US equity market, as long as the following events occur as expected:

  • US-China trade negotiations continue to advance and phase II of a deal is agreed to.
  • Inflation moves modestly higher but remains below 2%
  • The US Presidential election is between Donald Trump and a centrist Democrat such as Joe Biden.
  • GDP growth in the US and Europe remains the same or increases slightly
  • Avoidance of a disorderly Brexit.

The key risks to be aware for 2020 that can have a major impact on investing are highlighted below:

  • An oil price shock (significant price increase) has the potential to cause a recession. We believe continued escalated tensions in the Middle East may lead to an oil price shock.
  • An unforeseen loss in consumer confidence
  • Brexit and its impact on the Eurozone

U.S. Tax News

As an early holiday gift, on December 19, the Senate passed the “Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement” Act (“SECURE Act” or “Act”), which was signed into law by the President on December 20. The SECURE Act expands opportunities for individuals to increase their savings and makes administrative simplifications to the retirement system.

Some of the changes in law to be aware of:

US Pension Changes

The Act removes the age limit at which an individual can contribute to a traditional IRA. For 2019 and earlier, an individual could not contribute to an IRA after age 70½; the Act will allow anyone that is working and has earned income to contribute to a traditional IRA regardless of age starting with the 2020 tax year.

Effective January 1, 2020, under the SECURE Act, the required beginning date for an IRA withdrawal is the April 1 following the calendar year in which the IRA owner attains age 72. Under the old law the required beginning date was based on age 70 ½.

Starting in 2020, upon the birth or adoption of a child, the Act permits an individual to take a “qualified birth or adoption distribution” of up to $5,000 ($10,000 for a married couple) from an applicable eligible defined contribution plan or IRA. This distribution is not subject to the 10% early withdrawal penalty, but income tax will still be due.

With few exceptions, if one inherits an IRA after December 31, 2019, you will be required to withdraw the assets within ten years. If you inherited IRA from an original IRA owner who passed away prior to January 1, 2020, no changes to your current distribution schedule are required. Exceptions to the new 10-year distribution requirement include assets left to a surviving spouse, a minor child, a disabled or chronically ill individual, and beneficiaries who are less than 10 years younger than the decedent.

There is increased access to employer-sponsored retirement plans for certain part-time employees.

The Act also allows for expanded provisions for 401(k) post retirement plans including increased incentives for employer implementation, increased participation for certain part-time employees, and increased plan options for single and multi-employer plans.

Sec. 529 Education Savings Plans

Individuals now can pay up to $10,000 (lifetime benefit) of student loans with 529 plan assets.

We expect the Internal Revenue Service to clarify many of the new provisions in the coming months.

Should you require additional information please feel free to contact me at (212) 868-5781 and at jcassidy@schulmanlobel.com

Monthly Market Commentary

Equity markets ended the year in a jubilant mood as the US and China agreed phase one of a trade deal, signaling the first de-escalation of a trade war that started almost two years ago.

Please click the link below to read the latest monthly commentary:

Pacific Asset Management – January Commentary

Monthly Newsletter – December 2019

Our December newsletter provides insights on relevant timely topics we hope you find value reading. We begin with 5 tips that add up to teaching your child about money matters. We also share ARK Invest’s article covering how Hypersonic flight could evolve into a $270 billion market. Finally, we share the most recent monthly commentary from Pacific Asset Management.

5 tips that add up to teaching your child about money matters

Understanding how money works is an essential life skill. Unfortunately, for a lot of people, these lessons come later than they should, and often as the result of something going wrong.

Not enough people make financial education a priority for children, which results in young adults entering a surprisingly complex financial world without the tools necessary to survive and thrive. Even if your children are very young, remember that the sooner you start teaching them money and personal finance skills, the more adept they’ll be at applying those skills when the time comes.

Instilling a few basic principles early on

Educating, motivating, and guiding children and grandchildren to become regular savers, and investors will enable them to keep more of the money they earn and do more with the money they spend. Everyday spending decisions can have a far more negative impact on children’s financial futures than any investment decisions they may ever make.

Finance is often perceived as complicated and remote, but this can be a costly impression. Understanding money matters is a valuable life skill. What children learn about money in childhood will shape their attitudes and behavior later on. By instilling a few basic principles early on, you could help influence for the better how they manage their money in adulthood

1. Communicate with children as they grow older about your values regarding money

How to save it, how to make it grow, and, most importantly, how to spend it wisely. Financial lessons must be age-appropriate to be meaningful and beneficial. Young children are not miniature adults. Lessons should be tailored for their age, rather than just made simpler.
Start as soon as they can count, and make money the topic of regular family discussions. Time these around dates (for example, a birthday or Christmas) when they are due to receive a cash gift so that you can talk about saving versus spending.

2. Help children learn the differences between needs, wants and wishes

Help your children avoid spontaneous purchases by setting goals and prioritizing what they spend their money on. This discipline will prepare them for making good spending decisions in the future.
While a child will naturally ask for the latest game console, making them understand the difference between needs and wants will help them make sensible spending decisions from a very young age.
If they want the latest Xbox or Playstation that can cost upwards of $400, explain how long it would take an adult to earn that amount of money. Create a specific example to put it into perspective.

3. Setting goals is fundamental to learning the value of money and saving

Help your children to set a goal and track their savings and their spending. Young or old, people rarely reach goals they haven’t set. Nearly every toy or other item children ask their parents to buy them can become the object of a goal-setting session.
Such goal-setting helps children learn to become responsible for themselves. A great way to visualize goals for children is to create a savings chart you can display somewhere prominent (for example, on the fridge).

Create a table and put a picture of what they are saving for. Then, each week, they can color in the box as they move closer to their savings goal. That way, they can track their progress easily by color counting the number of boxes filled in, to see how much they have saved up to that point and the number of weeks still to go.

4. Introduce children to the value of saving versus spending

Explain and demonstrate the concept of earning interest income on savings. Consider paying interest on money children to visualize at home. Children can help calculate the interest and see how fast money accumulates through the power of compound interest.

Later on, they will also realize that the quickest way to a good credit rating is a history of regular, successful savings. You could even offer to match what your children save on their own.

5. When giving children a ‘pocket money’ allowance, give them the money in denominations that encourage saving

Providing pocket money in lower denominations makes it easier to allocate a proportion of income to different goals. Labeled jars work to separate money – one for saving, one for spending and one for donating.

Any time they make money by doing chores or receiving birthday gifts, encourage your child to divide the cash equally among their jars.
It’s not a huge act, but it does show that it’s okay to spend some money, as long as you’re saving as well. Once children get older, their bank and investment accounts can mirror the split. Keeping good records of money saved, invested or spent is another important skill young people should learn.

Hypersonic Flight Could Evolve Into a $270 Billion Market

Virgin Galactic, the world’s first publicly traded human spaceflight company, is planning to operate a space tourism business in the short term, but ARK’s research suggests that the bigger opportunity over the long term is in point-to-point hypersonic travel. While private planes can save passengers significant time on short-haul flights, they fail to do so for long haul flights, an unmet need that hypersonic flight should be able to fill. The full article can be accessed by clicking the link below:

ARK Invest – Hypersonic Flight Could Evolve Into a $270 Billion Market

Monthly Market Commentary

Equity markets moved higher in November as investors were hopeful that the first phase of a trade deal between the US and China would be signed imminently. Value stocks continued their recovery, with outperformance in most regions during the month. We continue to see considerable opportunities in the cheapest stocks within global markets.

Please click the link below to read the latest monthly commentary:

Pacific Asset Management – December Commentary

Monthly Newsletter – November 2019

We begin November’s newsletter by focusing on how the market usually performs when it is up this much through October. We also share the latest tax planning strategies from RRBB Accountants & Advisors. Finally, we share the most recent monthly commentary from Pacific Asset Management.

When the market is up this much through October, it usually finishes the year strong

US equity markets are now trading at all-time highs with the S&P 500 currently up over 23% YTD, the Dow Jones Industrial Average up over 18% YTD, and the NASDAQ higher by over 27% YTD.

If history is any gauge, these results are a bullish sign for stocks through year-end. The S&P 500 has performed this well (+20% or more through October) just seven times since the 1950s. When analyzing those seven years, the median return was 5.92% and all seven times led to gains for the rest of the year.

Source: CNBC

RRBB November Newsletter

RRBB Accountants & Advisors’ latest client newsletter provides money-saving year-end ideas, insights at how social security benefits have changed for 2020 and explains the power of cultivating gratitude. The full newsletter can be accessed by clicking the link below:

RRBB November Newsletter

Monthly Market Commentary

Brexit negotiations dominated the returns for Sterling investors in October as the Pound bounced on the hopes of a deal between the UK and Europe

Please click the link below to read the latest monthly commentary:

Pacific Asset Management – November Commentary

Monthly Newsletter – October 2019

Our October newsletter provides insights on relevant timely topics we hope you find value reading. We begin with the fourth-quarter market outlook from Lord Abbett’s investment leaders. We also share the latest Ark Invest blog discussing how disruptive innovation saves lives. Finally, we share the most recent monthly commentary from Pacific Asset Management.

Investments: What’s Ahead for the Fourth Quarter?

Lord Abbett investment leaders offer their insights on key fixed income and equity sectors for the remainder of 2019.  The participants identified a number of factors to watch in the months ahead, including U.S. economic growth, corporate leverage, U.S.-China trade tensions, and technological innovation.

Lord Abbett – What’s Ahead for the Fourth Quarter

These Innovations Have the Potential to Save Lives

ARK believes that innovation is changing the way the world works and ultimately making it a better place by saving lives, delivering productivity advancements, empowering users and developers, and reducing the environmental and social externalities of economic growth. Below are a few examples of how disruptive innovation saves lives:

Deep Learning Is Making Rapid Advances in Diagnostic Radiology

Drones Could Save the 20,000 Lives Lost to Out-of-Hospital Cardiac Arrest Each Year

CRISPR Technology Could Help Feed the Growing Population

Autonomous Vehicles Will Reduce the Chances of Dying in an Auto Accident by Over 80%

To read the full article, click on the link below

ARK Invest – How Disruptive Innovation Saves Lives

Monthly Market Commentary

“FANG” stocks (Facebook, Amazon, Netflix, and Google) the poster children of growth stocks fell over the month as investors shunned highly valued technology stocks.

Please click the link below to read the latest monthly commentary:

Pacific Asset Management – October Commentary

Monthly Newsletter – September 2019

We begin September’s newsletter by addressing the latest developments on Brexit and the implications. With many clients of ours having UK based assets, this is a major area of focus that we will be paying close attention to. Our September newsletter also covers the turbulent August market conditions with the S&P 500 losing 1.8%, Foreign Developed Stocks (MSCI EAFE) losing 2.6%, Emerging Market Stocks (MSCI EM) losing 4.9% whilst defensive asset classes such as US Investment Grade Bonds (+2.6%) and Gold (+7.7%) delivered positive returns. Finally, we share the most recent monthly commentary from Pacific Asset Management.

Brexit Developments & Implications

Brexit is certainly one of the greatest risks investors face currently. Since Brexit was announced on June 23rd, 2016, the pound (GBP/USD) has fallen from 1.49 to 1.22 today (-18+%). Newly elected prime minister Boris Johnson is prepared to walk away from the EU if the two sides (UK & EU) cannot reach an agreement by October 31st. However, the UK parliament just passed legislation that will force Mr. Johnson to delay Brexit if an agreement cannot be reached by October 19th. Mr. Johnson responded by calling for an early general election, which was blocked because officials opposed to Brexit want a “no-deal” scenario entirely off the table. Parliament is scheduled to vote again on this early election motion sometime next week.

Please visit BBC’s website below for the latest Brexit coverage:

Brexit – BBC News

Market Perspective

Schwab experts share their latest market insights and perspectives.

Key points:

  • Equity markets have stabilized and remain within their broad range established over the past six months, but risks remain.
  • Manufacturing sentiment and activity continue to be weak, but that malaise has not yet bled into the larger consumer segment of the economy.
  • Not all trade news is gloomy, and certain international regions, like Japan, may provide some much-needed diversification in the current environment. 

Click on the link below to read the full report:

Schwab Market Perspective: Storm Clouds Building

Monthly Market Commentary

Our partners at Pacific Asset Management share their latest Market Commentary. Please click the link below to read the latest monthly commentary:

Pacific Asset Management – September Commentary

Monthly Newsletter – August 2019

July was a calm month for investors with most asset classes delivering faint returns. The S&P 500 reached a new all-time high and closed up 1.4% for the month. As we turn the calendar to August, our newsletter covers the highlights from ARK’s Big Ideas Summit, gauging the impact of the Fed’s rate cut, and the latest monthly commentary from Pacific Asset Management

Big Idea’s Summit 2019

We attended the Big Idea’s Summit 2019, an event hosted by ARK Investment Management on July 24th at the New York Stock Exchange. The event sought to educate, inspire and empower investors to better understand today’s market, where to find long-term growth, and the impact transformative technologies will have on their portfolios. Below are some topics covered at the event:

Deep Learning
  • Deep learning is software that’s not ‘written’ but ‘trained’. Humans gather data and create a learning framework. The system learns the right behaviors automatically. Deep learning improves with more data and often exceeds human performance.
  • Examples: Social Media, Apple Watch, Tesla Autopilot, Google Translate, Smart Farming.
  • Amazon Go uses cameras and sensors which feed into deep learning software to recognize shoppers, to understand when they pick up items or put them back, and to allow them to leave the store without checking out at a cash register.
Digital Wallets
  • By the end of 2018, Venmo became the 4th largest manager of customer accounts, trailing only Bank of America, Chase, and Wells Fargo.
  • Digital wallets can acquire customers much cheaper, becoming effective channels for banks to engage and retain customers.
  • Based on lower customer acquisition costs and more cross-selling opportunities, investors could value digital wallets at a significant premium to traditional banks.
Genome Editing
  • CRISPR is a powerful DNA editing tool that should be able to delete, replace or repair genes easily, inexpensively, and precisely.
  • ARK believes CRISPR is the most promising way to cure diseases — from sickle cell anemia to cystic fibrosis to pediatric blindness to cancer. CRISPR genome-editing should shift the health care system from treating symptoms to curing disease.
  • CRISPR enables cheap and rapid “write” capabilities to correct defects and cure diseases.
  • Genetic defects in the human code cause many diseases including cancer, heart disease, diabetes, cystic fibrosis, and Alzheimer’s.
  • CRISPR Should Address All Monogenic Diseases, potentially generating $75 Billion in Global Revenue Per Year.
  • Only 5% of 10,000 monogenic diseases, conditions caused by an error in a single gene, respond to any treatment today.
3D Printing
  • 3D printing is a form of additive manufacturing that builds objects layer-by-layer instead of removing material from a larger block or using a mold.
  • As a result, 3D printing collapses the time between design and production, shifts power to designers, and creates products with both radically new architectures and less waste, at a fraction of the cost of traditional manufacturing.
  • Boeing estimates that 3D printing could save $2-3 million per plane.

Gauging the Impact of the Fed’s Rate Cut

Lord Abbett experts explore the potential investment implications of the U.S. Federal Reserve’s policy move on July 31. 

Gauging the Impact of the Fed’s Rate Cut – Lord Abbett

Monthly Market Commentary

Our partners at Pacific Asset Management share their latest Market Commentary. Please click the link below to read the latest monthly commentary:

Pacific Asset Management – August Commentary

Monthly Newsletter – July 2019

Our July newsletter provides insights on relevant and timely topics we hope you find value reading. We begin by sharing ideas on what is now officially the longest U.S. economic expansion in history. We also share the latest tax planning strategies from RRBB Accountants & Advisors. Finally, we share the most recent monthly commentary from Pacific Asset Management.

Longest U.S. Economic Expansion in History

The U.S. is officially in its longest economic expansion, surpassing the record of 120 months that occurred from March 1991 to March 2001. However, the overhang from the housing & financial crisis has made this expansion much weaker than past expansions. The cumulative total of quarterly GDP growth figures equals 25%, far lower than previous booms. Expert opinions vary on whether this expansion is going to last. Some believe the Federal Reserve will save the day through cutting interest rates, while some think additional stimulus cannot combat the looming downturn or that the Fed won’t be aggressive enough to stave it off.

Source: CNBC – This is now the longest US economic expansion in history

RRBB July Newsletter

Tax day might seem far away, but waiting until year-end to make your tax moves may prove costly to you. Maximizing your tax savings starts with an effective mid-year strategy! Detailed here are some ideas to kick-start your summer tax planning. This issue also includes some unique and free summer travel destinations, an infographic with key IRS audit information, and five steps to help your business set the right salaries for your employees. The full newsletter is in the link below:

RRBB July Newsletter

Monthly Market Commentary

Our partners at Pacific Asset Management share their latest Market Commentary. Please click the link below to read the latest monthly commentary:

Pacific Asset Management – July Commentary

Monthly Newsletter – June 2019

May was a challenging month for investors as trade-related fears weighed on the global economic outlook. The S&P 500 dropped 6.4% whilst investment grade bonds (Bloomberg US Agg. Bond +1.8%) benefited over the period. As we turn the calendar to June, our newsletter covers the Three Developments to Watch in the Second Half from Lord Abbett, a potential US/UK trade deal, and the latest monthly commentary from Pacific Asset Management.

Three Developments to Watch in the Second Half

Below is a summary of the midyear round-table where Lord Abbett’s experts tackle inflation, the housing market, and consumer debt levels—and their potential market impact in the second half of 2019. Click the link below to view the entire round-table conversation:

https://www.lordabbett.com/en/perspectives/economicinsights/midyear-outlook-three-developments-to-watch-in-second-half-video.html

  1. Inflation Expectations
    • There are now signs of wage growth acceleration which is an element of the U.S. economic expansion that was lagging.
    • And whereas this wage growth acceleration could pose an inflationary threat, it’s not doing so, because simultaneously productivity’s picking up at the same time, and so production costs aren’t going up, even though wages are.
    • However, if the central bank engages in inflation targeting in the second half (viewed as unlikely), that would be a significant volatility driver.
  2. U.S. Housing Sector
    • Single-family housing has only recovered about 60% of the average level of housing starts from the 1990’s-2000’s. This is weak in part because there’s been a shift in consumer preferences towards multi-family units and towards renting rather than owning.
    • However, single-family housing has started to pick up recently and that’s another thing that is unusual for a late-cycle environment.
    • Typically, housing is weakening in the latter phases of a business expansion. And if it’s starting to strengthen now, it’s another factor that could sustain growth.
  3. Debt Levels
    • The consumer is deleveraging. Mortgage debt is significantly down. And if you look at debt-to-income [ratios] of households, that’s declined to very low levels.
    • The public sector is where debt is increasing. Right now, clearly though, investors are not worried about it. If they were, we would be seeing much higher financing costs and we’re just not.

Trump Promises Huge U.K. Trade Deal, Including Health Service

In his current visit to the UK, President Donald Trump promised the U.S. and U.K. could as much as triple their trade after Brexit, but stirred controversy by hinting that Britain’s government-run health system could be opened to American companies.

For more information on this topic, please read the following Bloomberg article:

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-06-04/trump-says-trade-could-triple-with-u-k-in-deal-following-brexit

Monthly Market Commentary

Our partners at Pacific Asset Management share their latest Market Commentary. Please click the link below to read the latest monthly commentary:

Pacific Asset Management – June Commentary

Monthly Newsletter – May 2019

We begin May’s newsletter by addressing the failed China-US trade negotiations.  We believe continued failure to reach an agreement is a great risk to investors for the remainder of 2019.  However, we still remain hopeful an agreement can be reached because we ultimately believe both parties understand a comprehensive trade deal is in the best interest of the global economy and financial markets.

We also introduce the concept behind disruptive innovation investing and why we believe long term, growth oriented investors should strongly consider taking advantage of this opportunity.

We also share the latest monthly commentary from Pacific Asset Management.

Trade War Renewed

Despite the delay and tariff increase, it is still possible that talks continue and a trade agreement may still be ready for signing at the G20 summit in Japan on June 28.  For more information on US-China tariffs and the other key geopolitical risks, please read the following market commentary from Charles Schwab:

Geopolitics: Examining The Top Five Risks

Disruptive Innovation Investing

Disruptive innovation strategies invest in companies focused on developing technologies to displace older technologies and/or creating new markets.

The best example of a disruptive, innovative company is Amazon (AMZN).   Founded in 1994 as an online book store, Amazon has evolved into the largest e-commerce marketplace and cloud computing platform in the world as measured by revenue and market capitalization.  From Whole Foods to Prime, Amazon has disrupted and innovated commerce and technology in so many profound ways.   This explains why Amazon’s stock price has risen approximately 120,000% (!) since it began publicly trading in 1997.  To put this into context, below is a chart showing how much a $100, $1,000, and $10,000 investment in 1997 would be worth today (Source: Investopedia.com):

Initial Investment Today’s Value (Estimated)
$100 $120K
$1,000 $1.2 Million
$10,000 $12 Million

Modern advancements in technology are allowing companies in various sectors to create the disruption and innovation that leads to substantial long term investment growth.  Specific areas believed to be poised for disruption and innovation are as follows:

Robotics

Autonomous Vehicles

Machine Learning

3D Printing

Energy Storage

E-Commerce

Blockchain Technology

Bioinformatics

Molecular Diagnostics

Source: ark-funds.com

The challenge, of course, is selecting the right area’s/companies that will fulfill the desired disruption and innovation.  As a result, there are unique risks involved with this investment approach, such as:

Regulatory hurdles

Rapid pace of change

Political or legal pressure

Competitive landscape

Exposure across sectors and market cap

Uncertainty and unknowns

Source: ark-funds.com
Monthly Market Commentary

Our partners at Pacific Asset Management share their latest Market Commentary.  Please click the link below to read the latest monthly commentary:

Pacific Asset Management – May Commentary

Monthly Newsletter – April 2019

Our April newsletter provides insights on relevant and timely topics we hope you find value reading. We share the latest Brexit updates from The Associated Press as the UK rushes toward the departure date without a plan in place. April’s newsletter also provides the latest insights on America’s “retirement crisis” and the legislative efforts to combat the issue. We also share the “Four Reasons to Consider Municipal Bonds” by Lord Abbett along with the latest market commentary from Pacific Asset Management.

Latest on Brexit

LONDON (AP) — The British government and senior opposition figures met Thursday to seek a new plan on how the country leaves the European Union, as Prime Minister Theresa May tried to limit divisions within her Conservative Party inflamed by her shift toward compromise…

AP NEWS – BREXIT

America’s Retirement Crisis

It’s financial literacy month, do you know where your retirement is?

According to CNBC, there is a retirement crisis in America where most will be unable to afford a ‘solid life’. Consider the following:

The three “legs” of the retirement “stool” (private savings, pensions, and Social Security) are all in dire shape.

At Vanguard, the median 401(k) account value for an investor age 65 and older is a measly $58,035.

After looking at the data, the Saint Louis Fed concluded: “It could be worrisome that, for many American households, the total balances of their retirement accounts may not be sufficient to ensure a solid life in retirement.”

In response to this growing problem, the most comprehensive changes to private retirement plans in more than a decade are gaining momentum in Congress. Please read the following CNBC articles to learn more:

CNBC – There’s a retirement crisis in America where most will be unable to afford a ‘solid life’

CNBC – House committee passes bill to upgrade 401(k) plans amid ‘retirement income crisis’

Four Reasons to Consider Municipal Bonds

For those taking a fresh look at these tax-exempt securities, here is what Lord Abbett considers to be the most attractive features of the current muni market:

Lord Abbett – Four Reasons to Consider Municipal Bonds

Monthly Market Commentary

Our partners at Pacific Asset Management share their latest Market Commentary.  Please click the link below to read the latest monthly commentary:

Pacific Asset Management – April Commentary

Monthly Newsletter – March 2019

retirement

Our March newsletter provides insights on relevant and timely topics we hope you find value reading. With tax season around the corner, we share the latest insights from RRBB Accountants & Advisors. We also share BlackRock’s latest retirement insights along with the latest market commentary from Pacific Asset Management.

RRBB March Newsletter

Tax season is in full swing. Early reports from the IRS indicate that, on average, refund amounts are down compared to last year. If this is you, the first article lays out some reasons for the change. This issue also includes a warning to business owners to file their taxes on time, tips to keep your monthly bills in check, and some exciting board games to try. The full newsletter is in the link below:

RRBB March Newsletter

BlackRock Insights – Retirement Concerns

Retirement planning has evolved from a world where pensions and Social Security paid for retirement to a world today where people are living longer and need to depend on their own savings.

Consider the following:

One-third of Americans have less than $5,000 set aside for retirement

Most people born today will live to be 103

90% of the world’s data has been created in the last two years

More than 40% of millennial’s don’t have access to an employer- sponsored retirement plan

Source: BlackRock

Click the link below to read the full article from BlackRock:

BlackRock Insights – Retirement Concerns

Monthly Market Commentary

Our partners at Pacific Asset Management share their latest Market Commentary.  Please click the link below to read the latest monthly commentary:

Pacific Asset Management – March Commentary


Investment Opportunities in Today’s Market Climate – February Newsletter

After posting its worst yearly performance since the financial crisis in 2018 (-6.2%), the S&P 500 just posted its best January since 1987 (+8.01%).  This illustrates how volatile markets are now.  Our February newsletter focuses on three investment opportunities to consider in today’s market climate.  In addition, we provide the latest monthly commentary from Pacific Asset Management. 

Investment Opportunities in Today’s Market Climate

Multifamily Real Estate investing

Multifamily rental housing is a common form of housing in the United States that presents a unique investment opportunity with low correlation to the economy and stock market.  Multifamily real estate investments generally focus on income producing properties with low/defensive risk profiles.

Demand for multifamily rental units remains high.  Research from the Urban Institute predicts that from 2010 to 2030, we will see five new renters for every three new homeowners.

There are significant barriers to homeownership that favor renter and multifamily demand:

  • Millennials are drowning in student loan debt.  According to the Federal Student Aid Office report from Q1 2018, there are more than 44 million borrowers who collectively owe $1.5 trillion in student loan debt.
  • As interest rates rise, it becomes more expensive to borrow money to buy a home.
  • Increased costs associated with home ownership (land, labor, overall construction costs).

Investing passively through a fund focusing on multifamily investment properties offers the ability to co-invest with professionals and diversification in asset types, geography, and business plans.  

Covered Calls

A covered call option strategy can help to control and reduce risk on a stock or exchange traded fund (ETF) you already own.  A covered call strategy is best suited for those with concentrated stock positions and for income-oriented investors. In particular, we have identified employee’s of publicly traded companies with accumulated stock compensation can benefit from a covered call strategy.

In a Covered Call transaction, you are simply giving someone else the right to buy your investment in exchange for cash paid today.  This cash provides immediate income and the potential for downside protection for the investment you own.

For a detailed explanation on Covered Calls, please read Charles Schwab’s article – Reducing Your Exposure with Covered Calls

Short Duration Income

The rising interest rate environment has created investment opportunities within the short duration income space.  The US Federal Reserves objective to normalize monetary policy (largely by raising interest rates) has caused short-term interest rates to rise dramatically, leading to a flattening yield curve (see below chart).

Source: Bloomberg

When comparing today’s US treasury yields (annual), the 2-year US treasury yields 2.52% versus 2.70% for the 10-year US treasury.  This means you are only receiving an additional 0.18% per year for the 8 year difference.  This environment creates an opportunity for investors to reduce risk by lowering their portfolios duration/maturity.

Currently, you can find a number of banks offering 2% or more on savings accounts. It is worthwhile to shop around for the best savings rates available. You can get started by visiting Nerdwallet.com’s Best Saving Accounts of February 2019

For more information on short duration investments, please visit Lord Abbett’s article on Gauging the Opportunity in Short Duration Credit.

Please contact us to explore these investment opportunities based on your personal goals and objectives.

Pacific February Monthly Commentary

Our partners at Pacific Asset Management share their latest Market Commentary.  Please click the link below to read the latest monthly commentary:

PACIFIC ASSET MANAGEMENT – FEBRUARY COMMENTARY

COVID-19 Business & Market Updates – April 2020 Newsletter

We focus this month’s newsletter on the COVID-19 pandemic and share guidance and insights that we hope adds tremendous value during this difficult time. We begin the newsletter with a statement on Touchstone Advisory, LLC’s response to COVID-19. We also share our latest insights on the COVID-19 market and economic impacts. Finally, we provide information on the CARES Act benefits for individuals to take advantage of.

Touchstone Advisory’s Response to COVID-19

First and foremost, on behalf of the entire Touchstone Advisory team, our thoughts and prayers are with everyone impacted by this “invisible enemy.” Based in New York, the latest virus epicenter, I am well aware of the challenges we collectively face in the weeks and months ahead, and I hope everyone reading this stays safe.

Fortunately, Touchstone Advisory, LLC is well prepared for these challenging times. We enacted our Business Continuation Policy on March 14th, ordering all staff to work from home for the foreseeable future. Prior to this, all staff had full capability to work from home, and I am proud to report we have had no major interruptions in servicing our client’s needs during this challenging time. As this situation continues, we fully expect there to be minimal disruptions to our business, if any.

We are committed to providing the best advice and service for our clients and the greater expatriate & global executive community, now more than ever. We are continually looking at ways to improve our service, and hope to share positive updates with you in the future.

Please do not hesitate to Contact Us if you need anything.

Zachary Zanghi, Managing Partner

COVID-19 Market & Economic Insights

Q1 2020 was the worst quarterly performance of the US stock market since 1987, and the worst first quarter in market history. Fortunately, the vast majority of our clients fared better than the stock market this quarter, due to diversification and the balanced investment strategies we generally advise. That being said, it was still a very difficult quarter to navigate and I expect further uncertainty in Q2 and potentially beyond. The question we now need to ask is:

How do we best prepare for investing in these uncertain times?

Long term investors need to be focused on their long term returns, goals, and objectives throughout this uncertain period. The reality is that if you do not plan on touching your investments for a 5+ year period, you likely have little to worry about. That is because history teaches us that markets and investments recover even from the worst of times. For example, during the financial crisis of 2008-2009, the S&P 500 peaked around the 1,500 level in October 2007 and broke through that 1,500 level by February 2013. The S&P 500 now trades around 2,500, representing a ~67% return (~6% annualized) from the October 2007 levels.

The recent market downturn highlights the seriousness of COVID-19 – not only galvanizing the government policymakers around the world into sweeping moves to mitigate and reverse its impact on the global economy but also impressing upon individuals and businesses the importance of contributing to the solution with social distancing and stepped up hygiene.

If you can recall any downturn, it feels like the end of the world is nigh and that ‘this downturn is different this time’. However, the human race has an innate capability to find solutions to very complex problems and we believe COVID-19 will be no different.

Have equity markets found their bottom yet? We think the next few weeks will be critical to see if locking down countries around the world will help turn the tide of this pandemic. Equity markets, generally a leading indicator, will react the quickest to the turn of events and thus why our advice is not to join the bear market but ride out the storm to wait for the inevitable recovery in the market in the medium term.

Benefits for Individuals in the $2 Trillion CARES Act.

The CARES Act that Congress approved and President Trump signed last week is certainly the biggest aid/relief package we’ve ever seen. But, it is most definitely needed to help American workers and companies through this time of crisis. The Relief package totals more than $2 trillion and a large part of it is set for businesses large and small, who have been most affected by the forced shut downs to control this COVID-19 virus.

There is also a portion of the aid to go directly to support and help individuals. There are:

Direct Payments to American Workers

  • Cash payments to working class are $1,200 ($2,400 married), with an additional $500 cash payment available per child.
  • Full payment is available for Americans making up to $75,000 (individuals) and $150,000 (married). This applies even for those who have no income, as well as those whose income comes entirely from non-taxable means-tested benefit programs, such as SSI benefits.
  • The value decreases and then phases out completely for those making over the full payment income cap. Rebate amount is reduced by $5 for each $100 that a taxpayer’s income exceeds the phase-out threshold. Complete phase-out occurs with incomes exceeding $99,000 for single filers and $146,500 for head of household filers with one child, and $198,000 for joint filers with no children.

For Retirement Accounts

  • For 2020, those that are subject to mandatory minimum distributions from their qualified retirement accounts would be able to keep their funds invested without penalty.
  • Individuals are allowed in 2020 to take distributions from their qualified retirement accounts, such as 401(k) plans and IRAs, of up to $100,000 without having to pay the 10% penalty on early distributions if the distribution is related to adverse financial consequences as a result of contracting COVID-19, or related factors

Student Loans

  • Through September 30, 2020, requires the Secretary to defer student loan payments, principal and interest, without penalty to the borrower for all federally owned loans. Provides federal loan protections and Pell grant protections for students who ceased enrollment as a result of COVID-19.
  • Provides tax relief to encourage employers to implement student loan repayment programs. This excludes up to $5,250 in qualifying student loan repayments paid by the employer on behalf of the employee from income for income tax purposes.

Unemployment Insurance

  • Creates a temporary Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program through December 31, 2020. This program will provide payment to those not traditionally eligible for unemployment benefits (self-employed, independent contractors, those with limited work history, and others).
  • Provides payment to states to reimburse nonprofit organizations, government agencies, and Indian tribes for half of the costs they incur through December 31, 2020 to pay for unemployment benefits.
  • Includes an additional $600 per week payment, on top of state benefit levels, to each recipient of unemployment insurance or Pandemic Unemployment Assistance for up to four months, through July 31. (Laid off workers currently qualify for up to 26 weeks of unemployment insurance. Benefit levels vary by state with most replacing about half of an individual’s wages during that time.)
  • Provides an additional 13 weeks of federally-funded unemployment insurance benefits beyond the normal 26 weeks through December 31, 2020 to help those who remain unemployed after state unemployment benefits are no longer available. The amount provided would be the same as the regular benefit paid by the state.
  • And of course by now we all probably know that the IRS and most states have pushed back the deadlines to file tax returns and pay taxes owed, until July 15th of this year.

You can see this information on RRBB’s website also.