More on Related Themes
2014-04-17 What to Make of the Rebound in Emerging Market Equities by Dara White of Columbia Management
A month ago, much of the news from the emerging markets (EM) was negative. We saw headlines highlighting the liquidity headwinds created by U.S. QE tapering, Russia’s aggressive opportunism in the Ukraine, and China’s imminent hard landing.
2014-03-28 Why International Now? by David Garff of AdvisorShares
One of the ongoing challenges that advisors face is determining what percentage of their clients assets should be allocated to international equities. The magnitude of this decision is often amplified when the United States has years of persistent out/under performance. US clients will inherently gauge the success of their portfolio based on the S&P 500, or similar index. The challenge for advisors is explaining why a more diversified exposure to global equities is meaningful in the long-run, despite recent years of outlandish performance.
2014-03-26 Hangman: The ETF Revolution by Cole Smead of Smead Capital Management
Financial innovation in the investment business is, in our opinion, sometimes just smoke and mirrors. The recent movie The Incredible Burt Wonderstone illuminates what this smoke and mirror façade can produce.
2014-03-17 Recalibrating the Retirement Clock: Should 75 Be the New 65? by Nick Kaiser of Saturna Capital
Retirement sounds pretty sweet, doesn't it? Exotic holidays. Finally writing that novel. Never having to rely on an alarm clock to wake up early. Being your own boss. Retirement goals are as varied as people themselves.
2014-02-20 Lack Of Slack - Why Aggregate Unemployment May Be Masking Wage And Inflation Pressures by Anthony Wile of J.P. Morgan Funds
A historically large number of long-term unemployed, representing 36% of joblessness, have kept the unemployment rate elevated which could be distorting the traditional tradeoff between inflation and unemployment dynamics.
2014-02-20 Stocks for 2014: Fairly Valued Dividend Growth Stocks with an Emphasis on Dividends - Part 4 by Chuck Carnevale of F.A.S.T. Graphs
I am a firm believer that common stock portfolios should be custom-designed to meet each unique individual’s goals, objectives and risk tolerances. With that said, I believe it logically follows that in order to create a successful portfolio, the individual investor must first conduct some serious introspection to be sure that they truly "know thyself." Therefore, I believe the first, and perhaps most critical step, towards designing a successful equity portfolio is to ask your-self, and honestly answer several important questions.
2014-02-20 Stocks for 2014: High Yield and Fairly Valued Dividend Stocks for High Current Income – Part 5 by Chuck Carnevale of F.A.S.T. Graphs
Retired investors seeking high income to live off of during retirement, face greater challenges today than almost ever before. The days of high yields available from bonds and other fixed income vehicles are long gone. Consequently, generating an adequate level of current income on retirement portfolios is difficult to say the least. This is especially tricky for those investors with a low tolerance for risk.
2014-02-18 Stocks for 2014: Growth and Income For Total Return - Part 3 by Chuck Carnevale of F.A.S.T. Graphs
When investing in common stocks, there is no one strategy that fits all investors. Some investors are focused on investing for income, some for capital appreciation and others for various combinations of both. Additionally, there is the issue of risk tolerance. Some investors are willing and capable of assuming greater risk if they believe it will lead to greater returns, while others are more risk adverse. These are just but a few of the many variations that apply to the individual investor’s own unique goals and characteristics.
2014-02-14 Does a Down January Dog the Rest of the Year? Probably by Peter Nielsen of Saturna Capital
The bottom line for investors is that a negative January tends to herald lower (though not necessarily negative) returns for the subsequent 11 months.
2014-02-13 A Time for Optimism in Europe? by Philippe Brugere-Trelat of Franklin Templeton
Volatile markets and an uneven recovery may appear to justify a cautious outlook for investing in Europe right now, while in the US the specter of higher interest rates might also be signaling a challenging market environment ahead. The investment case for European equities favors a more optimistic outlook and despite a bumpy start to the year for equities globally, he still sees the market as rife with potential opportunities for selective investors, particularly undervalued segments of the market. One place where caution is likely warranted? Japan.
2014-02-11 Monthly Letter to Our Clients & Friends by Kendall J. Anderson of Anderson Griggs
Although the rest of America may need a manufacturing revival, mutual fund manufacturing is not in need of help, as the business has been growing continuously for three decades. Because of the sheer number of funds and the amount of investment dollars they control, there is a very high probability that we are buying new positions and selling existing positions to one or more mutual fund companies.
2014-02-06 How Did the Emerging Markets Get Into This Mess? by Andres Garcia-Amaya of J.P. Morgan Funds
A number of central banks around the world tightened monetary policy during the week of January 27, but the rationale for their policy decisions varied significantly. In the U.S., the Federal Reserve continued its "tapering" of quantitative easing (QE) to reflect the strong economic growth prospects, while Turkey, India and South Africa tightened policy in an attempt to prevent an exodus of foreign capital from their countries.
2014-02-06 Technology Leaders and Laggards by Paul Meeks of Saturna Capital
The technology sector includes several industries, such as semiconductors and semiconductor capital equipment, software and services, and technology hardware and equipment.
2014-01-28 Surviving Austerity by Andrew Schiff of Euro Pacific Capital
With the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index having posted a 30% gain, it’s easy to assume that U.S. stocks easily led the world in 2013. (There is more on what is behind this rally in the latest version of the Euro Pacific Capital Newsletter). But as it turns out, the stimulus-loving U.S. markets had plenty of company. Surprisingly, this includes countries supposedly saddled by the scourge of austerity.
2014-01-27 Hasenstab: Standing One\'s Ground by Michael Hasenstab of Franklin Templeton
When the masses are against you, it’s hard to stand your ground. Going against the crowd is familiar turf for Michael Hasenstab, who manages Templeton Global Bond Fund and co-manages Templeton Global Balanced Fund, and certainly knows the virtue of patience. He has staunchly defended his investment theses over the years, tuning out the naysayers and market noise time and again.
2014-01-25 Wealth Services at Banks Come Under Central Bank\'s Scanner by Rajat Dhar of Cogent Advisory
RBI, the central bank of India, made critical observations of way in which wealth services were being practised at banks. Also, the clear note was made with respect to the rising cases of misselling at banks. This market commentary covers the draft guidelines issued by RBi and tries to uncover the reason for the same and the way forward for the clients. This has been the first time ever that separate guidelines have come for banks and independent financial advisors or advisory firms in India; and this article covers the wealth services being offered by banks in India.
2014-01-24 Stocks for 2014: Growth and Income For Total Return Part 3 by Chuck Carnevale of F.A.S.T. Graphs
When investing in common stocks, there is no one strategy that fits all investors. Some investors are focused on investing for income, some for capital appreciation and others for various combinations of both. Additionally, there is the issue of risk tolerance. Some investors are willing and capable of assuming greater risk if they believe it will lead to greater returns, while others are more risk adverse. These are just but a few of the many variations that apply to the individual investor’s own unique goals and characteristics.
2014-01-23 A Problem with the Numbers - Unemployment and the Fed\'s Timetable by Anthony Wile of J.P. Morgan Funds
Given a potentially inaccurate assessment of labor force participation, the Federal Reserve may be missing the mark on their current economic projections, which increases the potential for policy error going forward. Assuming the natural rate of unemployment is at the low end of Fed projections, the Fed can lower forward guidance thresholds without spurring an acceleration in inflation.
2014-01-22 The Virtualization of Everything by Francois Sicart of Tocqueville Asset Management
In his latest piece, Francois Sicart, Founder and Chairman of Tocqueville Asset Management, looks at the motivations of participants in capital markets, and how with the advent of synthetic investments and complicated derivatives products, he is concerned that "the stock market has lost its close link to the "real" economy and has become more of a gigantic casino."
2014-01-21 Stocks 2014: Investing for Growth - The Power and Protection of High Compounding Earnings Growth by Chuck Carnevale of F.A.S.T. Graphs
As I become more mature (translate: gotten older), my investment philosophy has slowly evolved into a more conservative posture. When I was a younger investor I felt I had time on my side, and therefore, was willing to take on greater risk as long as I believed that greater rewards could follow. In other words, if I made a mistake by investing in an aggressive and more risky growth stock that went badly, I felt I had adequate time to overcome or recover my losses. Consequently, as a younger investor I relished a good growth stock.
2014-01-21 The Deflation Menace by Peter Schiff of Euro Pacific Capital
Dedicated readers of The Wall Street Journal have recently been offered many dire warnings about a clear and present danger that is stalking the global economy. They are not referring to a possible looming stock or real estate bubble (the paper sees few threats there). Nor are they talking about other usual suspects such as global warming, peak oil, the Arab Spring, sovereign defaults, the breakup of the euro, Miley Cyrus, a nuclear Iran, or Obamacare.
2014-01-17 Quarterly Letter by Ron Muhlenkamp of Muhlenkamp & Co.
Some of the things we’ve been talking/warning you about in recent years came to fruition in 2013. Specifically, medium- and long-term interest rates rose and commodity prices declined.
2014-01-16 Stocks for 2014: Something for Everyone: Part 1 by Chuck Carnevale of F.A.S.T. Graphs
My biggest pet peeve regarding common stock investing is how so many people have a tendency to over-generalize this asset class. Commonly held beliefs such as investing in stocks is risky, or that the stock market is overvalued, or that the fed is driving stock prices, etc., are just a few examples illustrating my point. In truth, common stocks are as individually different as people are individually different. When dealing with human beings, most reasonable thinking people would reject prejudicial statements. Personally, I believe we should have the same attitude about common stocks.
2014-01-10 Automation and Lean Manufacturing: Boost Profits, Squeeze Employment by Tyler Howard of Saturna Capital
Despite industrial production reaching all-time highs in August of this year, employment in the manufacturing sector remains substantially below levels witnessed before the 2008-2009 recession. When looking at longer term employment trends in manufacturing, it becomes clear that companies increasingly boost production without adding incremental labor. Profit margins, while not yet recovered to pre-recession peaks, endure at historically high levels. Several long-term changes in the manufacturing economy contribute to this divergence: outsourcing, automation, and lean manufacturing.
2014-01-07 A Healing Economy by Richard Michaud of New Frontier Advisors
The quarter continued the theme of the year, with U.S. equities continuing their dramatic performance. For the quarter, the Dow was up 9.6%, the S&P 9.9%, and the NASDAQ 10.7%. The year’s returns substantially exceeded last year"s "expert predictions" and much of this year’s punditry with the Dow up 26.5%, S&P up 29.6%, and NASDAQ up 38.3%.
2014-01-04 Forecast 2014: The Human Transformation Revolution by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors
It is that time of the year when we peer into our darkened crystal balls in hopes of seeing portents of the future in the shadowy mists. This year I see three distinct wisps of vapor coalescing in the coming years. Each deserves its own treatment, so this year the annual forecast issue will in fact be three separate weekly pieces.
2013-12-24 The Price America Pays for Global Leadership by Bob Veres (Article)
America’s political debates inevitably default to finding ways to contain our federal deficits, and our investment debates focus on whether we’re facing a secular bear or bull market - and how to maneuver within that environment. I had never imagined that these two debates could be related until I heard a presentation by Bill O’Grady, of Confluence Investment Management in St. Louis, MO at the Insider’s Forum conference in Dallas.
2013-12-24 The Key to Creating Better Marketing Materials by Elizabeth Snyder (Article)
For your New Year’s resolution this year, consider updating or creating new marketing materials for your firm. Do you know how to communicate your preferences to your creative team?
2013-12-20 Five Resolutions for 2014 by David Kelly of J.P. Morgan Funds
Entering 2014, the global investment environment is as challenging as ever. After a super 2013 in returns, U.S. equities can no longer be considered inexpensive and yet still look attractive relative to the prospective returns on savings accounts and long-term bonds. Long-term bond yields are higher than a year ago but could still rise further as the Federal Reserve begins to reduce quantitative easing.
2013-12-17 Making Brand Communication Work for Your Firm by Beverly Flaxington (Article)
I have sat in on meetings with my staff while they talk to prospects and clients and they say things I would never say. Everyone has their own style but it is important that we say the same things. Is there a way to accomplish this through training?
2013-12-17 Letter to the Editor by Various (Article)
A reader responds to Dan Richards’ article, How Service Screw-ups Can Create Happier Clients, and a reader responds to Patrick McVeigh’s article, Low Demand Will Depress Oil Prices, both of which appeared last week.
2013-12-10 Six Things Every Advisor Must Have on Their LinkedIn Profile by Megan Elliott (Article)
An optimized LinkedIn profile is an essential part of any financial advisor’s marketing efforts. But putting together a great LinkedIn profile involves more than just copying and pasting information from your resume. To get the most out of this professional social networking site, here are six things you need in your LinkedIn profile.
2013-12-06 Gold: Currency or Commodity? by Anthony Wile of J.P. Morgan Funds
Despite gold traditionally serving as a safe haven asset, investors should be wary of fear-inflated investments given the potential for improving global growth.
2013-12-03 Active Share. Toward a Stock Picker’s Market? by Sponsored Content from ClearBridge Investments (Article)
Explore five groups of mutual funds-from stock pickers to moderately active to the closet indexers. Which categories produced the best risk-adjusted return 1990-2009? The more different the portfolio from its benchmarks, the greater the range of possible outcomes. Consider a tool like active share.
2013-11-26 Making Vendor Relationships Work Effectively by Beverly Flaxington (Article)
We hired an outside contractor to do some marketing work for us. It has been a nightmare. She is difficult to deal with and criticizes every idea we have. Is there something we can do differently to avoid this situation in the future?
2013-11-12 Three Ways to Turn Casual Contacts into Clients by Dan Richards (Article)
Most advisors routinely cross paths with people who are attractive prospects, whether at their golf club, get-togethers with neighbors or through charitable activity in their community. The challenge is how to raise the possibility of working together without appearing to be one of those stereotyped hustlers who give salespeople everywhere a bad name.
2013-11-08 U.S. Shale Oil: A Central Banker\'s Best Friend by Charles Wilson of Thornburg Investment Management
After nearly a decade of sustained high energy prices , U.S. oil and natural gas producers responded to the market’s call for supply with newly exploitable shale resources. The fresh supply helped reduce concerns about global spare production capacity and limited upward pressure on energy prices. Central bankers around the world were able to maintain highly accommodative monetary policies for prolonged periods as a result.
2013-11-08 Asset Allocation: Pie in the Face? by Robert Isbitts of Sungarden Investment Research
The typical approach to spreading one’s assets in order to diversify and conquer, is to have the client complete a risk tolerance questionnaire. That survey is important not only to establish guidelines for how the assets will be managed, but also because some form of it is required by securities regulators to make sure advisors know who their clients are. The magical conclusion usually includes a color pie chart, representing a variety of asset classes that are assumed to be a path toward asset growth and preservation of capital.
2013-11-05 The Advisory Profession’s Best Web Sites by Bob Veres (Article)
His firm has created more than 2,000 websites for financial advisors. Bart Wisniowski, founder and CEO of Advisor Websites, has the best seat in the house to watch the rapidly evolving state-of-the-art in website design and feature sets in this age of social media, video blogs and smartphones. In a recent interview, Wisniowski not only talked about the latest developments and trends that he’s seeing; he also identified some of the advisory profession’s most interesting and creative websites.
2013-11-05 Three Trends That Will Change the Game for Advisors by Steve Lockshin (Article)
This article is excerpted from Steve Lockshin’s new book, Get Wise to Your Advisor. This book makes an impassioned argument as to why clients should choose independent advisors who adhere to a fiduciary standard.
2013-11-05 Three Articles to Help Clients to Happy Retirements by Dan Richards (Article)
For many clients in their 50s and early 60s, the challenges to achieving happy and secure retirements have never been greater. Three recent articles will help you when talking to clients about retirement.
2013-11-05 How to Help Clients Who Hate the Holidays by Beverly Flaxington (Article)
I deal with a number of clients who are very wealthy but are miserable around the holidays. Some are older and don’t have family members who see them, others are miserly and don’t feel they should use their money for gifts for people they don’t like. The conversation actually comes up with many of them every year, and I want to be prepared this year. Any ideas or tips?
2013-11-01 Where Do Profits Go from Here? Up. Here's Why. by Joseph Tanious, Anthony Wile of J.P. Morgan Funds
After record-setting earnings in the first two quarters of 2013, the S&P 500 is on track to hit another historic high in profits for 3Q13. If this occurs, the first three quarters of this year will have been the most profitable ever in the 56-year history of the S&P 500. Future earnings growth through margin expansion seems unlikely, as an improving labor market and higher interest rates will most likely squeeze margins. However, stable revenue growth, share buybacks and the additional use of debt financing should support modest earnings gains in the year ahead.
2013-11-01 When Small is Big by Mark Mobius of Franklin Templeton
There’s a popular saying in the US, “good things come in small packages,” which is generally a statement about gifts of jewelry. My team and I find this saying can apply to the investment world, too, as we often find companies that are small in size, but which may have big long-term potential.
2013-10-29 Why Deficits Don’t Matter by Bob Veres (Article)
Stephanie Kelton, Associate Professor of Economics at the University of Missouri/Kansas City, believes that the root of our deficit problems can be found in a fundamental misunderstanding – shared by Democrats, Republicans and mainstream voters alike – about the government’s balance sheet. She argues, plausibly, that the whole idea that we should control the deficit at all is costing our nation trillions of dollars in lost output. The result is lost income, savings, wealth and prosperity.
2013-10-29 Seven Resources to Make You a Better Writer by Megan Elliott (Article)
Whether you’re crafting client emails, blog posts or market commentaries, you want your writing to be read, understood and (if you’re lucky) enjoyed by your intended audience. If you’re looking for inspiration, encouragement or just some basic writing tips, check out these resources.
2013-10-22 Recession-Proof Your Marketing by Kristen Luke (Article)
The choices you make and actions you take today will influence how your business fares following the next market crash. Here are two marketing strategies you can implement now to prepare for the future.
2013-10-22 How Many Monkeys Does it Take to Find a Successful Strategy? by Michael Edesess and Kwok L. Tsui (Article)
Give a monkey enough darts and she will eventually hit the bulls-eye on a dartboard. We wouldn’t dare consider that monkey an expert dart thrower, but investment professionals have been using essentially that same logic to assert that their strategies – often called “smart betas” – will outperform the market. New research exposes the faulty mathematics upon which such claims are based.
2013-10-18 Just Like Yesterday by Francois Sicart of Tocqueville Asset Management
In his latest essay, Francois Sicart, Founder and Chairman of Tocqueville Asset Management, with help from Chetan Parikh, of India’s Capital Ideas Online, provides excerpts from and commentary on a 1971 speech by iconic investor David L. Babson. He begins by noting: "It is eerie how timely this speech, delivered 42 years ago, remains today."
2013-10-17 Global Brand Companies: Well Positioned to Deploy Incremental Capital at High Rates of Return by Jenny Hubbard of Diamond Hill Investments
Achieving an optimal balance between growth and return on invested capital is critically important to value creation. Many discretionary product companies attain this equilibrium for a short period of time, but fickle and geographically divergent consumer preferences make it challenging to sustain over the long-term.
2013-10-15 Five Ways Robo-advisors Will Change the Way Advisors Work by Raef Lee (Article)
Even the name robo-advisor is derisive. It evokes an image that is uncaring, lacks humanity and is inflexible. But it is the term being used by advisors to describe a new breed of startups that directly connect tech-savvy investors with suites of analytic tools to create financial plans or investment portfolios. A name this disparaging makes us ask why advisors fear this new model of financial advice.
2013-10-15 Why Customized Content Beats Canned Content by Neil Rhein (Article)
If you’re communicating syndicated (“canned”) content that is similar (or identical) to what every other advisor is saying, you’re just adding to the noise.
2013-10-15 Why You Need Video on Your Web Site by Beverly Flaxington (Article)
We are upgrading our website, which is used mostly for clients now. We want to attract more prospects. I’ve been told that video is important, but the cost of adding this could be several thousand dollars per video. Will adding video give me an increased ROI? I don’t believe in this busy world that anyone watches this stuff.
2013-10-11 Default is unlikely, but there is more at stake by David Kelly and Andrew Goldberg of J.P. Morgan Funds
In a recent publication, (Investing through the Washington Mess) we outlined some of the dynamics at play regarding the ongoing debt limit debate in Washington. Latest developments notwithstanding, it is important to understand two key points: A default is very unlikely, and if the debt ceiling is not raised, simple prioritization to avoid default by continuing to pay interest would still inflict severe damage on the economy and markets, and could result in a credit rating action.
2013-10-08 Four Lessons from Sport’s #1 Overachiever by Dan Richards (Article)
A New York Times article pointed out that this year’s baseball playoffs have more teams from the bottom 10 in payroll than from among the top 10 spenders. Here are four ways you can do more with less, drawing lessons from a baseball team that has outperformed despite being consistently outspent.
2013-10-08 The Market May Be Signaling a Return to a More Typical Recovery by Whitney George of The Royce Funds
Despite the Fed’s indecision about whether or not to taper, we see evidence that business activity is normalizing and the global economy is getting healthier. Co-CIO, Managing Director, and Portfolio Manager Whitney George talks about how economically sensitive sectors have begun to benefit from rising rates in the small-cap rally, how recent news coming out of China has affected certain portfolio investments, where he is currently seeing long-term opportunities, and stocks in which he has high confidence.
2013-10-07 Charles Wheelan’s Tips for Separating Economic Truth from Fiction by Jeff Briskin (Article)
The world of numerical obfuscation is a topic covered in an informative and surprisingly entertaining ‘statistics primer’ by economist Charles Wheelan. In a recent conversation with Wheelan, we discussed his book and the lessons it offers to financial advisors, whose decision-making processes are influenced by the seemingly endless stream of economic and market data posted every day.
2013-10-04 Ten Other Things that Should be Shut Down by Robert Isbitts of Sungarden Investment Research
In order to avoid getting too P.O.’d (that’s either a slang term for angry or a pun on the Post Office, take your pick), I asked the Sungarden investment, operations and marketing teams to provide me with their opinions on what else to shut down. I combined their thoughtful work with my own thinking on the topic and here is our top 10 list.
2013-10-01 The Key Succession Issues for an Advisory Practice by Bob Veres (Article)
Succession planning has moved to the top of the practice management priority list for tens of thousands of advisory firms. As the average age of founder/advisors creeps ever closer to traditional retirement age, the profession is asking itself a lot of hard questions about how to keep these businesses alive – and take care of clients – after the founder retires.
2013-10-01 Is Your Marketing Message Putting Prospects to Sleep? by Dan Richards (Article)
To be effective, your marketing message has to be differentiating and memorable – and motivate potential clients to want to learn more. By that standard, most advisor communication fails.
2013-09-24 Four Ways to Attract Affluent Clients by Dan Richards (Article)
Attracting HNW clients is all about credibility – as a result, it’s typically lower key, takes longer and requires an upfront investment of time and effort to position yourself to interact with HNW prospects.
2013-09-24 The Elements of a Successful Succession Plan by Mary Ann Buchanan (Article)
While the idea of “yielding to maturity” and dying in your boots feels right, you need to think about contingency and succession planning for the continuity of care for your clients, family and staff. It’s a challenge that hangs over you like Damocles’ sword.
2013-09-24 Letters to the Editor by Various (Article)
Two readers respond to Michael Edesess’ article, Why DFA’s New Research is Flawed, which appeared September 10.
2013-09-23 Aberdeen Global Investment Outlook: September 2013 by Mike Turner of Aberdeen Asset Management
The point of maximum policy accommodation may now be in sight: Markets volatile as investors forced to contemplate U.S. Federal Reserve (Fed) exit strategy. Slowing growth in China is putting pressure on Asian and emerging markets to develop domestic led demand. This time really could be different for Japan - however reflating the economy was never going to be easy.
2013-09-19 Intermodal Transportation: Finding Value in a Growing Segment of the Transportation Industry by Jason Downey of Diamond Hill Investments
As intrinsic value based investors, we view growth as a potential source of value for shareholders; however, we are careful not to overpay for it. Intermodal shipping is one of the fastest growing modes of domestic freight transportation, and also an area where we have found two companies trading below our estimates of their respective intrinsic values.
2013-09-18 Stock Funds' 5-Year Track Records Set to Double by Gary Halbert of Halbert Wealth Management
Many investors focus on the previous five years annualized return when analyzing which mutual funds to buy. We also pay a good deal of attention to the 5-year performance number when analyzing mutual fund and ETF returns at Halbert Wealth Management. And currently the 5-year average returns for most equity mutual funds are not all that attractive.
2013-09-18 Newsletter September 2013 by Harold Evensky of Evensky & Katz
SAY IT ISN’T SO... Investment News headline “Ex-J.P. Morgan broker: Firm pushed house funds.” The story went on to report: “Claims reps didn’t get commission on trades of outside funds. A former J.P. Morgan broker has filed an arbitration claim alleging that the bank’s securities unit encouraged sales of proprietary funds by withholding commissions from brokers on trades of outside funds.
2013-09-17 How One Advisor Attracts HNW Clients by Dan Richards (Article)
Recently, a California-based advisor explained how she shifted her practice to focus on affluent clients. Her success was the result of a simple but thoughtful five-step plan.
2013-09-14 Nothing But Bad Choices by John Mauldin of Mauldin Economics
Crises in government funding don’t simply arrive on the doorstep unannounced. Their progress toward the eventual Bang! moment is there for all the world to see. The root cause is almost always the same: debt. And whether that debt is actually borrowed or is merely promised to the populace, when the market becomes worried that the ability of the government to fund its promises is suspect, then the end is near. Last week we began a series on what I think is an impending crisis in the unfunded pension liabilities of state and local governments in the United States.
2013-09-12 The Best Time to Own Cash: No Return is Better than a Negative Return by Francois Sicart of Tocqueville Asset Management
In his latest essay, Francois Sicart, Founder and Chairman of Tocqueville Asset Management, writes about "the best time for an investor to own cash," which somewhat counter-intuitively, he believes is when that cash pays nothing.
2013-09-12 Opportunity Out of Uncertainty: Finding Investment Ideas in a Rising Market by Jay Kaplan of The Royce Funds
Portfolio Manager and Principal Jay Kaplan talks about investing in a slow-growth, high-price environment and discusses where we are in the current retail cycle, companies in which he has high confidence, and his experience with a long-term holding.
2013-09-10 Why DFA’s New Research is Flawed by Michael Edesess (Article)
DFA is a company with a laudable history, founded on solid principles and a valuable product concept. From its launch, the investment firm identified and filled a need at low cost to the client, based on elementary but sound theory and simple, compelling, transparent empirical research. It later increased its value to clients by pioneering passive trading strategies. I admire its founders and their accomplishments. But I am afraid the company has succumbed to a dreadful descent into scientism.
2013-09-03 Getting Prospects to Respond to Your Emails by Dan Richards (Article)
The chances that a prospect will open an email from someone they don’t know are slim. Advisors who rely on mass emails are increasingly challenged to find creative ways to get their message through. But a few advisors who are succeeding in attracting clients via email invitations told me of five ways they get past inbox filters.
2013-09-03 So Step Right Up, Pick Your Favorites... by Blaine Rollins of 361 Capital
So with the backing of The White House, the State Department, the Senate & The Economist, the United States is going to launch Tomahawks on Syrian targets. The President did say that he will let Congress vote on a strike, but both he, Secretary Kerry and Senator Reid let it be known that they will be lighting fuses soon. So as a refresher as to who is supporting whom in Syria, the chart below will both assist and thoroughly confuse you...
2013-08-27 The Price Clients Pay for Worst-Case Forecasts by Bob Veres (Article)
Clients and the world at large give inordinate attention to downside scenarios, and nobody is calling our attention to the much larger upside of our business and investment landscape. The human brain amplifies this effect, because it is hardwired to notice threats much more than opportunities. I recently spoke with Dennis Stearns – an advisor who happens to be an expert in scenario planning – about the role planners need to play to counteract media-driven negativity.
2013-08-27 Five Tips for Managing Stress by Beverly Flaxington (Article)
What are your tips for managing stress? Financial advisory work has become increasingly stressful and neither I nor my staff do a good job of managing it.
2013-08-21 The Big Secret Mutual Fund Companies Are Hiding by Gary Halbert of Halbert Wealth Management
Do you know that most (if not all) mutual fund and ETF sponsors are keeping vital information about their funds secret from you? We’ll start today’s E-Letter with a discussion about what that valuable information is and why fund companies don’t want you to know about it.
2013-08-20 How to Evaluate Event Marketing by Kristen Luke (Article)
If your firm uses event marketing, then it is critical to evaluate the success of your efforts. I recommend asking attendees to fill out an evaluation form at the conclusion of each event. This feedback will help you make necessary tweaks to improve future events and collect valuable contact information from attendees. The following tips will help you create a useful event evaluation form.
2013-08-20 How Much Communication is Too Much? by Beverly Flaxington (Article)
How much communication is too much? We meet with clients once per quarter and were surprised when one told us they didn’t need to see us so often. I think we need to stay in front of them.
2013-08-13 Quantitative Easing for Regular Folks: Three Lessons from the New York Times by Susan Weiner (Article)
Quantitative easing pops up regularly in economic and market commentary. The term conveys a lot to financial professionals who know the fine points of QE1 vs. QE3. However, it’s likely to make the average investor ask, “Huh?”
2013-08-02 U.S. Equities: Tapering expectations by Joseph Tanious of J.P. Morgan Funds
Given the market’s strong recent performance, investors are now asking what to expect moving forward. The top of mind question remains: are we likely to see a pull-back and is there still any room for this market to rally further?
2013-07-31 New GDP Revisions to Boost US Economy by 3% by Gary Halbert of Halbert Wealth Management
At the end of April, I pointed out that the Commerce Department’s Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) announced it would be making some significant revisions to the way it calculates Gross Domestic Product on July 31. It will revise economic growth for all years going back to 1929. This change is somewhat controversial in that it is expected to add up to 3% to total GDP in one fell swoop tomorrow morning. That’s about $1,500 worth of extra goods and services for every person in the US!
2013-07-30 Five Web Metrics Advisors Should Be Tracking by Kristen Luke (Article)
Do you look at your website analytics report and have no idea what it means? Don’t worry. Unless you are a professional web marketer, most of the data you see on those reports won’t impact your business in any significant way. But that doesn’t mean you should ignore your website statistics all together.
2013-07-26 The View From Here by Carl Tannenbaum of Northern Trust
Despite the advance of college savings accounts, many families are ill-prepared to pay for school.
2013-07-24 Average Gas Price Could Hit $4 by Labor Day... Or Not by Gary Halbert of Halbert Wealth Management
With the recent jump in gasoline prices, several energy analysts are forecasting that prices at the pump will top $4 a gallon (national average) later this summer. On the other hand, some analysts feel that gas prices will only go up another 5-10 cents a gallon just ahead, and then move lower in the fall. Of course, no one knows for sure. Today, we’ll take a look at what’s driving gas prices higher.
2013-07-23 The Price You Pay for Poor Management by Bob Veres (Article)
If you have 100 client meetings a year and could net an additional $65,000 to $70,000 out of them, how much effort would you be willing to put into achieving that?
2013-07-23 Fantasy versus Factors by Michael Nairne (Article)
Investors who wish to earn market-beating returns have a choice. They can indulge in the fantastical quest for “alpha” via high-cost active managers or they can construct factor tilts in their equity allocations via low-cost exchange traded or enhanced index funds. It doesn’t take a PhD in mathematics to determine which route is more likely to take an investor to higher performance.
2013-07-23 The Limits of Flower Power by Amy Florian (Article)
It’s automatic: There’s a death in a client’s family, so you send flowers to the funeral home. Did you ever wonder whether that’s a good idea? Given that your aim is to be supportive and comforting to the grieving family, a lovely floral arrangement does not necessarily accomplish that goal.
2013-07-19 China's Slowing Growth Who's In the Driver's Seat? by Anastasia Amoroso of J.P. Morgan Funds
After three decades of double-digit GDP growth, China has recently been expanding at a rate much closer to its five-year plan’s established target of 7%. As the pace of growth has changed, so has its composition and trajectory. The focus is shifting away from growth at all costs to a preference for quality over quantity that increases the wellbeing of an average Chinese consumer. The government is intent on rebalancing the economy away from commodity intensive infrastructure spending and towards supporting the middle class by increasing urbanization, private consumption and affordable ho
2013-07-16 Dealing with Over-needy Clients by Beverly Flaxington (Article)
We have too many clients who are needy and require a lot of personalized service. I know we can expect to spend 80% of our time servicing 20% of our clients, but the 80% seem to demand more and more and more from us.
2013-07-12 Hasenstab: Emerging Out of the Consensus Trade by Michael Hasenstab of Franklin Templeton Investments
Just when is a potential long-term reward worth the short-term risk? Investors are often most focused on the short-term pain of a particular event (hard to blame them), losing sight of possible outcomes farther out into the future. That could partially explain what’s going on in the emerging markets right now, at least according to Michael Hasenstab, co-director of the International Bond Department, Franklin Templeton Fixed Income Group.
2013-07-09 Assessing Healthcare Expenses in Retirement by Dan McGrath, Paul Seidel and Josh Jackson, CAS, ALMI (Article)
In the wake of the Affordable Care Act and its accompanying deluge of regulation, advisors are helping baby boomers prepare for retirement in more ways than ever before. But our industry continues to overlook a significant threat to clients’ continued comfortable lifestyles: out-of-pocket healthcare costs.
2013-07-09 Business Building for Advisors by Beverly Flaxington (Article)
I have received so many questions related to sales skills and business building that I will offer some basic tips for readers who want to energize their sales process and grow their firms. It’s no surprise that most advisors don’t sell naturally and in most cases think of selling as unpleasant. ’I want to clients to refer on their own – I don’t want to sell them on doing so,’ is a refrain I hear over and over again.
2013-07-09 Letters to the Editor by Various (Article)
A reader responds to Mitchell Eichen and John Longo’s article, The Practical Application of Behavioral Finance, which appeared last week, and a reader responds to Geoff Considine’s article, ‘The Greatest Anomaly in Finance:’ Understanding and Exploiting the Outperformance of Low-Beta Stocks, which appeared on February 14, 2012.
2013-07-02 Becoming the Safe Choice for Your Target Clients by Dan Richards (Article)
When it comes to gaining clients, many advisors harbor this fantasy: Your phone rings and on the line is a qualified prospect with a million dollars, asking if you’re available to meet and talk about the possibility of working together. For most advisors, there’s only one way to make that happen, and that’s to become the recognized, go-to expert for people in a defined target community.
2013-06-28 Labor Force Myth Sends the Wrong Signal on U.S. Growth Prospects by Brandon Odenath of J.P. Morgan Funds
We’ve seen the pundits on TV and read their op edsthe drop in the labor force participation rate is proof that unemployment is falling because many of the unemployed have simply given up the search for work. The inference of course, suggests that the economy is in much worse shape than falling unemployment rates would indicate.
2013-06-25 Measuring the ROI of Advisor Marketing by Beverly Flaxington (Article)
Our practice has grown by word-of-mouth. A couple of my advisors want me to advertise and spend on expensive marketing programs. No one can show me the ROI for this. Is aggressive marketing a predictable way for advisors to get new clients? I just don’t see someone answering an ad who has $2 million (our minimum) to invest.
2013-06-24 A Timetable for Ending QE by David Kelly of J.P. Morgan Funds
In a press conference following this week’s FOMC meeting, Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke provided markets with a clearer understanding on how the Fed expects to phase out its current quantitative easing (QE) program. This timetable is justified both by economic progress and by the significant future costs which a too-large Fed balance sheet is likely to entail. Moreover, the timetable, while never previously explicitly outlined, should not have been a surprise to most market observers. Nevertheless, Mr. Bernanke’s words have been met by a sharp selloff across a wide range of financial a
2013-06-21 Finding Great Value In The Energy Sector by Chuck Carnevale of F.A.S.T. Graphs
This will be the second in a series of articles designed to find value in today’s stock market environment. However, it will be the first of 10 articles covering the 10 major general sectors. In my first article, I laid the foundation that represents the two primary underlying ideas supporting the need to publish such a treatise. First and foremost, that it is not a stock market; rather it is a market of stocks. Second, that regardless of the level of the general market, there will always be overvalued, undervalued and fairly valued individual stocks to be found.
2013-06-18 Newsletter June 2013 by Harold Evensky of Evensky & Katz
Do you remember hiding under the sheets listening to radio when your parents thought you were asleep? If so, I have an unbelievable collection of all the old-time radio shows we listened to when we were kids, if you have about six months’ spare time. Find your favorite, click on it, and it lists literally hundreds of episodes you can re-live.
2013-06-11 How Specialist Advisors Earn Twice as Much by Dan Richards (Article)
In any profession – medicine, dentistry, law, accounting – the average income for specialists is more than double that of generalists with the same years of experience. My experience with successful financial advisors who’ve built a niche practice confirms this, but first they had to overcome three common myths about developing a niche positioning.
2013-06-11 Bursting the Bond Bubble Babble by Andy Martin (Article)
Interest rates will eventually go up. The 50-basis-point spike in May on the 10-year Treasury bond may have been the beginning. But despite industry and media assertions, history shows that there is nothing to fear from rising rates.
2013-06-11 Letters to the Editor by Various (Article)
A number of readers responded to Adam Kanzer’s article, Exposing False Claims about Socially Responsible Investing, which appeared last week. Kanzer’s article was in response to Adam Apt’s article, Measuring the Cost of Socially Responsible Investing, which appeared the week before. Several readers responded to other articles as well.
2013-06-04 Woody Brock’s Challenge to Krugman and the Keynesians by Bob Veres (Article)
A polarizing choice confronts policymakers. Either they side with Paul Krugman and the Keynesians, and advocate for aggressive fiscal measures to stimulate America’s economic growth rate, or they align themselves with the so-called austerians, who argue that budget cutbacks are necessary to eliminate deficits. A third option is rarely discussed. Its most outspoken proponent, Horace “Woody” Brock, says that America should continue to borrow, but spend wisely – and develop new policy instruments that would eliminate asset bubbles and stimulate economic activity.
2013-06-04 Bob Pozen’s Secrets for Managing Clients, Time and Productivity by Jeff Briskin (Article)
Too many employees define their professional worth by the number of hours they work rather than by the impact of their efforts. In a culture where people believe they have to do everything perfectly to succeed, they often spend too much time on details, rather than focusing on broader issues, according to Bob Pozen.
2013-06-04 Your Value Proposition: A Precursor to the Elevator Pitch by Teresa Riccobuono (Article)
Every business should stand on four legs: values, a mission statement, a vision statement and a value proposition. This fourth item, a value proposition, must provide concrete data about your organization, why it exists and who you serve.
2013-05-28 Six Reasons You’re Charging the Wrong Fees by Bob Veres (Article)
My research has explored the spectrum of advisory fees in considerable detail, and has allowed advisors to compare their fee structures with professional norms, evolving trends and the input of advisors around the country. Here are the six biggest oddities I discovered – each of which is a clear sign that advisors are not charging as much as they should.
2013-05-28 When Your Coworkers Don’t Measure Up by Beverly Flaxington (Article)
I work in a large financial organization. I’m frustrated that many of my coworkers don’t pull their weight. I work hard and am very committed, but those around me run out the door at 5 p.m. I want to talk to those in charge, but I am not sure how to go about doing it.
2013-05-23 The Labor Force Participation Puzzle by David Kelly of J.P. Morgan Funds
Slow growth and mediocre job creation have been common themes used to describe the U.S. economy in recent years, as both the labor market and broader economy failed to produce the snap-back rebound many expected following the deep recession seen in 2008 & 2009. Despite that lackluster growth, the unemployment rate has now fallen to 7.5% after peaking at 10% in October of 2009, a much faster decline than expected, given average employment growth of less than 125,000 per month.
2013-05-22 Malaysia's Post-Election Investment Outlook by Scott Klimo of Saturna Capital
Earlier this year we identified ASEAN as the most attractive region within the emerging markets universe. That prediction has proved accurate. Market indices (USD returns) year-to-date through April in the Philippines, Thailand, and Indonesia are 23%, 22%, and 16%, respectively. Singapore (which we do not consider an emerging market) gained 6%, while Malaysia rose only 3.9%. So what’s the outlook for Malaysia?
2013-05-22 A Whiff of Confidence by David Kelly of J.P. Morgan Funds
The single biggest on-going survey of consumer confidence in the United States is conducted by Rasmussen, who survey 500 consumers every night on their views of the U.S. economy and their personal finances. Since October 2007, there has not been a single month in which the index produced by this survey has exceeded 100. However, since the start of May it has averaged well above this level.
2013-05-21 Social Media Best Practices: Slow and Steady Wins the Race by Wendy Cook (Article)
If a website is the center of your marketing universe, social media is the gravitational force pulling your audience into the world you’ve created for them. But social media is easily a full-time endeavor of its own. LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Google+ … Where do you begin? Equally important, where should you leave off?
2013-05-21 Five Tips for Winning in the “Trust and Value” Economy by Meridith Elliott Powell (Article)
In this our economy, the consumer is in control. What advisors sell is a luxury, and an advisor’s competitive advantage is how he or she sells it. Success depends on your ability to build and expand relationships in what I call the “trust and value” economy.
2013-05-21 Does Your Firm Need a COO? by Beverly Flaxington (Article)
I run a 15-person firm. A consultant come and prepared a growth plan for our future. The number-one recommendation was that I create a role for a chief operating officer and hire this person. But I don’t see how a COO helps a firm that is as small as mine. This seems the solution for a firm of 50 or above, and I can’t afford a high-paid individual repeating what I already do.
2013-05-21 As Energy Demand Outpaces Supply, Asia Looks Overseas to Refuel by Raja Mukherji, Taosha Wang of PIMCO
Many Asian countries are encountering growing energy shortages due to declining indigenous resources and domestic consumption growth. Oil companies in Asia frequently engage in overseas acquisitions. In many cases, these transactions help enlarge reserve base, access technological know-hows and enhance corporate profitability. Strong sovereign support is a key investment thesis in the Asian oil and gas sector. Through our bottom-up analysis, we are finding numerous investment opportunities.
2013-05-16 Saving for College: A Family Affair by Team of Franklin Templeton Investments
The language of personal finance isn’t especially racy, but “debt” certainly has taken on the negative tone of other “four-letter words.” Even so, with college costs on the rise and many parents feeling especially pinched in this challenging economic environment, student loans rather than college savings have become the solution for many.
2013-05-15 Weekly Commentary & Outlook by Tom McIntyre of McIntyre, Freedman & Flynn
Stocks moved higher again last week as the data continues to reflect an economy that continues to trudge along to the consternation of many.
2013-05-07 Breakaway Brokers: What the Data Really Say by Bob Veres (Article)
For the past 15 years, and especially since 2008, few assumptions have been accepted as widely or confidently in the financial services world as the idea that brokers are leaving the wirehouse environment in increasing numbers – and taking their clients with them. Underlying that assumption is another: that the trend is accelerating, and will continue to do so until the brokerage industry’s retail footprint has been severely diminished. The more extreme projections see the entire brokerage asset gatherer/sales model following Lehman, E. F. Hutton and Bear Stearns into extinction.
2013-05-01 US Economy to Get a Hollywood Makeover by Gary Halbert of Halbert Wealth Management
You may have heard that the government is going to make some major changes in how our Gross Domestic Product is calculated later this year. Your first thought might be that this is no big deal. However, I will argue today that it is a very big deal, the biggest in a decade, and you need to know why. So I hope you read what follows with more than a passing interest.
2013-05-01 Looking at Leverage Outside the Box by Team of Franklin Templeton Investments
Yield-seeking investors have been boxed in by the near-zero US rate environment, and it seems like there are few ways out. But for those willing to set aside preconceived ideas about the word “leverage,” the lesser-known leveraged loans category may be an alternative to consider in the credit space. Mark Boyadjian, senior vice president and director of our Franklin Floating Rate Debt Group, spoke to us recently about what these often-misunderstood vehicles are and what yield-seeking investors need to know before they take the plunge.
2013-04-30 The Most Underappreciated Threat to the Advisory Business by Bob Veres (Article)
Financial advisors have often heard the warning that their investment management services are going to become commoditized – so often, in fact, that you can forgive them for ceasing to pay attention. But if you don’t believe that an online algorithm can replace the sophisticated advice offered by a flesh-and-blood advisor, then check out the Wealthfront USA website.
2013-04-30 Best Practices for Following Up After a Prospecting Event by Beverly Flaxington (Article)
Based on your experience, what are the best practices for following up with prospects after an event that my firm sponsors?
2013-04-24 An Awesome Gift For Your Kids, Grandkids, or You by Gary Halbert of Halbert Wealth Management
This week, I veer from our usual economic and investment themes to tell you about what I believe is one of the greatest gifts you can ever give your children, grandchildren or others who are dear to you (or maybe even yourself). What I am about to describe is something that has literally changed the lives of dozens of my friends and relatives over the last 30+ years.
2013-04-23 Looking Back at Peak Oil: The Coming Crisis in Energy Supplies by Richard E Vodra, JD, CFP® (Article)
Peak Oil – the maximum sustainable rate of global oil production – happened in 2012. That’s one of the main conclusions of a new report, Fossil and Nuclear Fuels – The Supply Outlook, released in March 2013 by the Energy Watch Group. This event will have profound long-term implications for how advisors should manage clients’ portfolios, and how clients should plan their future expenses.
2013-04-23 Dividend Growth and Stock Returns by Peter Nielsen of Saturna Capital
The compounding impacts of dividends have historically been significant in terms of market returns for long-term investors. The importance of these cash flows to investor returns can be seen across countries and industries.
2013-04-22 Strategy for a Second Gear Economy by David Kelly of J.P. Morgan Funds
American investors could be forgiven for feeling just a little confused. One week after the stock market posted its strongest first-quarter gains since 1998, the Bureau of Labor Statistics announced the weakest monthly job growth in nine months. Real GDP growth was just 0.4% in the fourth quarter but appears to have been much stronger in the first. So is the economy getting stronger or weaker, how is the Federal Reserve likely to react to it and what, if anything, should investors do about it?
2013-04-17 In the Category of Sign Spinners by Blaine Rollins of 361 Capital
If you thought the plunge in Gold prices was tough on those long the precious metal, wait until you see the upcoming hit to the April Non-Farm Payrolls in the category of Sign Spinners...
2013-04-16 Five Warning Signs of a Coming Market Correction by Dawn Bennett of Bennett Funds
There are no positive fundamentals driving the U.S. stock market. No one has ever gotten rich by chasing markets by buying at the top, which is how this market feels.but it seems everybody feels they can’t afford to miss being in the U.S. equity markets. People should instead be focused on the true facts of the U.S. economy and corporations and tune out the hype and happy talk from the media and Fed heads. Instead investors should focus on the real data.
2013-04-16 What the Bull Giveth, the Bear Taketh Away by Adam Butler, Mike Philbrick, Rodrigo Gordillo of Butler|Philbrick|Gordillo & Associates
The question of whether to commit new funds to stocks here is nuanced and complex, not least because it isn’t obvious that traditional alternatives - bonds or cash - offer any better value. We are very near all-time low interest rates across most developed government bond markets, credit spreads are near all-time tights, and rates are negative out to 5 or more years in real terms.
2013-04-15 Valuation Based Equity Market Forecasts - Q1 2013 Update by Doug Adam Butler, Mike Philbrick, Rodrigo Gordillo of Butler|Philbrick|Gordillo & Associates
Click to viewWe endorse the decisive evidence that markets and economies are complex, dynamic systems which are not reducible to normal cause-effect analysis. However, we are willing to acknowledge the likelihood that the future is likely to rhyme with the past. Thus, we believe there is substantial value in applying simple statistical models to discover average estimates of what the future may hold over meaningful investment horizons (10+ years), while acknowledging the wide range of possibilities that exist around these averages.
2013-04-09 Four Bold Innovations that will Revolutionize Financial Planning by Bob Veres (Article)
What it would be like for an advisor in the 1980s to be magically transported to our 21st century? The changes would be dazzling: the Internet and social media, exchange-traded funds and Morningstar data, Skype conferences and the virtual cloud, plus a few million mobile device apps that do everything but vacuum your house.
2013-04-09 Four Steps to Becoming the Primary Advisor for Top Clients by Dan Richards (Article)
Recently, an advisor who had successfully persuaded an investor with many millions of dollars to open an account asked me how to turn this foothold into a larger share of this client’s assets.
2013-04-09 Tips for Building a Compelling Web Site by Wendy Cook (Article)
Is your current website still living in the “online brochure” days or even non-existent? Don’t dwell on what’s been holding you up. Let’s move your site – and you along with it – into the 21st century.
2013-04-09 The “Big Lie” of COI Referrals by Beverly Flaxington (Article)
Several weeks ago I responded to an advisor’s question about increasing center-of-influence (COI) referrals. The advisor was frustrated that seemingly good relationships with COIs were not translating into more referrals. I received a response to that column from Scott Johnson, director of sales and marketing for My Perfect Client, a provider of training programs for financial advisors. Scott shared some interesting insights about his approach to COI referrals and I thought readers could benefit from these ideas.
2013-04-02 Choosing an Actively Managed Fund: What Works and What Doesn’t by Joe Tomlinson (Article)
Few topics have been studied as closely as selecting actively managed funds that will outperform the market. Advisors who use such funds need to be confident in their choices – and justify their methodology to clients. Here’s what the latest academic research says on this highly contentious issue.
2013-04-02 The Most Important Practice Management Challenge by Bob Veres (Article)
The future of the advisory business is all about people, according to Philip Palaveev. No matter what happens with consolidation and pricing, he says, no matter what role technology plays, the most successful firms of the future will be those which excel at retaining, motivating and organizing their people.
2013-03-27 RISE Survey Reveals Some Somber Retirement Realities by Team of Franklin Templeton Investments
As numbers go, 1% and 99% have gotten more than their fair share of media attention, but if you’re one of the millions who hope to retire someday, you may want to pay attention to another figure: 21%. According to the 2013 Franklin Templeton Retirement Income Strategies and Expectations (RISE) survey, that’s the percentage of retirees who have no savings to speak of. So how do you avoid falling into this statistical group? That’s the $64,000 question that’s worth much more than thatit’s the price of your future.
2013-03-26 How to Communicate Your Account Minimum by Dan Richards (Article)
Over the past decade, there’s been increasing pressure on advisors to establish a minimum account size for new clients. The challenge is how to communicate that – should you be direct and upfront, or subtle and indirect?
2013-03-26 Contagious: Why Things Catch On by Justin Kermond (Article)
How do you create something so contagious that people can’t stop talking about it? A little-known appliance company did just that with a video of its president grinding up Justin Bieber CDs in a blender. Every advisor hopes to achieve that same contagion with social-media marketing: a presence that “goes viral” and attracts scores of retail investors.
2013-03-22 The Importance of Women Leaders: From Margaret Thatcher to Sheryl Sandberg to Park Geun-hye by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors
I have always admired former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, whose strong leadership and perseverance made her one of the most influential and respected political figures in recent history. She once said of her ability to persevere that she has the “woman’s ability to stick to a job and get on with it when everyone else walks off and leaves it.”
2013-03-18 5 Reasons to Still Like (but not Love) Stocks by David Kelly of JP Morgan Funds
While investors have been justifiably worried that the combination of the big tax hikes of January and the Sequester in March could lead to an economic slump, so far the numbers are reassuring.
2013-03-12 Bill Ackman on What Makes a Great Investment by John Heins (Article)
In addition to commenting on his high-profile current investments, Pershing Square Capital's Bill Ackman in a recent interview with Value Investor Insight describes the general company traits he looks for in both active and passive investments, why a high public profile is an important element of his strategy, whether his thesis on J.C. Penney has evolved, what lessons he's learned from a few prominent mistakes, and why his short conviction on Herbalife is as high as ever.
2013-03-07 Guanxi, Mianzi, and Business: The Impact of Culture on Corporate Governance in China by David Smith of Aberdeen Asset Management
There are two key cultural and sociological issues of particular importance when evaluating Chinese companies: guanxi (relationships and networks) and mianzi (face). When analyzing the potential of a Chinese company, it's important to understand how guanzi and mianzi affect transactions, board composition and deliberations, and shareholder engagement, among other issues.
2013-03-06 Smooth Returns by Bill Smead of Smead Capital Management
Harry Markopolos was working for a hedge fund of funds and attempting to put a portfolio together that would "smooth" long-term returns. In the process of marketing what his company was doing, he ran into a client who already had a money manager doing that for him. The money manager the client used was Bernie Madoff. When Markopolous looked at the long-term track record of Madoff's client, he instantly knew that it was mathematically impossible to have a return that high with as little year-to-year variance in the return. We at Smead Capital Management would like to ask a few questions.
2013-03-05 What to Say When a Friend Doesn’t Want to be a Client by Dan Richards (Article)
Many great client relationships emerge from friendships. That said, some investors are uncomfortable working with advisors with whom they have close friendships. Here's how to respond when a good friend eliminates the possibility of working together, precisely because of your friendship.
2013-03-05 You’re The Cream of the Crop: Key Findings from the 2012 Advisor Perspectives Reader Survey by Jeff Briskin (Article)
Experienced. Results oriented. Focused on serving the needs of individuals and families. Confident in your abilities. Eager to expand your knowledge. If this sounds like you, you're not alone. These are the traits that stand out among Advisor Perspectives readers, based on the findings of our 2012 Reader Survey.
2013-03-05 Increasing Center-of-Influence Referrals by Beverly Flaxington (Article)
I'm frustrated by the lack of success my advisors are having with centers-of-influence (COIs). I know all of the supposed tips but nothing works in practice. I was led to believe that if we follow the right process we will get referrals from them. It doesn't work this way. Do you have any ideas for increasing COI referrals?
2013-03-05 Weekly Commentary & Outlook by Tom McIntyre of McIntyre, Freedman & Flynn
Stocks drifted last week, buffeted by concerns over Europe due to the Italian elections and worries here at home as the "dreaded" sequester begins to take effect.
2013-02-27 Understanding the Sequester by David Kelly, David Lebovitz of J.P. Morgan Funds
A recent survey conducted by The Hill found that only 36% of likely voters even knew what the term "sequester" meant. For the record, sequester in our current fiscal lexicon, refers to the $1.2 trillion of spending cuts spread out over the next 10 years that are set to commence on March 1, 2013. These cuts have the potential to impact both the markets and the economy. Although time still remains for a deal to be reached, it seems increasingly unlikely that this will actually occur, making it more likely that the effect of these spending cuts will be felt, at least temporarily.
2013-02-26 Are There Too Many Financial Advisors? by Beverly Flaxington (Article)
Is our industry struggling under the weight of too many advisors?
2013-02-22 Emerging Markets Outlook: Will Emerging Markets Continue Their Run in 2013? by Scott Klimo of Saturna Capital
A number of times we have been asked whether emerging markets will continue their run in 2013. Our response typically begins with the following clarification: "Emerging markets" may be a handy way to refer to the countries that constitute a generally recognized asset class, but this group is far from monolithic. Widely differing levels of development, economic drivers, opportunities to invest, and returns exist under the emerging markets umbrella. For this reason it's not entirely correct to imply that "emerging markets" had a run in 2012.
2013-02-22 Understanding the Sequester by David Kelly, David Lebovitz of J.P. Morgan Funds
A recent survey conducted by The Hill found that only 36% of likely voters even knew what the term sequester meant1. For the record, sequester in our current fiscal lexicon, refers to the $1.2 trillion of spending cuts spread out over the next 10 years that are set to commence on March 1, 2013. These cuts have the potential to impact both the markets and the economy. Although time still remains for a deal to be reached, it seems increasingly unlikely that this will actually occur, making it more likely that the effect of these spending cuts will be felt, at least temporarily.
2013-02-16 The Squeeze: Reassessing the Japan/Korea/China Manufacturing Nexus by John Longhurst of PIMCO
If the yen settles between 95 and 100 to the dollar, it could be a game changer for Japanese companies which have restructured to become profitable at 75 yen to the dollar. Some Korean companies, especially those in heavy industry, may be squeezed by intensified Japanese and Chinese competition. We expect Korean firms to fish in profit pools in businesses related to their core competencies, chiefly to the detriment of Asian and European competitors.
2013-02-12 The Best Tool You’ve Never Heard Of by Bob Veres (Article)
What's the most useful tool for your advisory practice that you've probably never heard about? I nominate an online service that fills in the blanks in your client asset management system.
2013-02-12 Staying Active on Social Media: Ten Ways to Generate Relevant Content on a Frequent Basis by Kristen Luke (Article)
One of the most difficult aspects of social media marketing for financial advisors is staying active. For advisors who already have a hectic schedule, how do you generate relevant content and maintain an active presence? Here are 10 tips to help you get started.
2013-02-08 A More Savvy Insurance Market by Tarik Jaleel of Matthews Asia
During my last visit to Hong Kong, I attended a conference to discuss various opportunities in financial services along with industry experts and executives from both Asian and global institutions. The key theme that emerged from the event was how Asia is typically viewed as the world's primary growth market in this important sector, particularly given the slowdown in Europe and the regulatory environment in the U.S.
2013-02-07 U.S. Companies Sense Great Opportunities in Shale Oil and Gas Boom by Team of Thomas White International
Thanks to the newfound sources of energy, the U.S. is forecasted to become self-sufficient in energy by 2035.
2013-02-05 Why Don’t Satisfied, Happy Clients Refer? by Beverly Flaxington (Article)
Many factors underlie this issue, and here are the four most important of them.
2013-01-29 Your Most Important Resolution for 2013 by Dan Richards (Article)
With the first month of 2013 behind us, many of those New Year resolutions relating to diet, weight or exercise are distant memories. That's why this is an opportune time to make a new resolution for 2013 for your business: This is the year that you will excel at bringing new clients on board.
2013-01-28 A Few Things to Consider. Plus a Look at Maine and Illinois by Gregg L. Bienstock of Lumesis
This week's commentary is a slight departure from our standard format. It's been a few weeks since we mentioned the fiscal cliff, sequestration and the like. This is due to our collective saturation and the perspective of so many that the problem was solved. Well, we want to provide a reminder or two and throw a few thoughts at you to kick around. We conclude with a quick look at Maine and Illinois.
2013-01-25 Prisoner of the Bureaucracy by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors
I wrote some time ago that Greece had a choice between Disaster A: staying in the euro; and Disaster B: leaving the euro. I have recently come back from four days in Greece, meeting with lots of people at all levels of society, and will share with you in this letter my analysis of their choices and the results. I'll also have a few things to say about what the developments in Greece might mean for the rest of Europe and the developed world.
2013-01-24 Quick Takes on the Investing Year Ahead by Sam Wardwell of Pioneer Investments
We covered a lot of market and investment topics at Pioneer's National Sales and Marketing Meeting last week. Here are some notes on a few that were popular: GDP Growth for the U.S.. Expectations for rates: Fed Funds Rate and the 10-year Treasury, EM equities favored over U.S. Equities?, Things that keep us up at night (outside of the debt ceiling, Europe, and Middle East tension.
2013-01-22 2013 Investment Outlook by Jeremy Boynton of Laureate Wealth Management
I would like to focus this commentary on three trends which I believe will have a larger positive impact on the US economy going forward than the broader investment community expects.
2013-01-22 Fossil Inc Fundamental Stock Research Analysis by Team of F.A.S.T. Graphs
Fossil Inc. (FOSL) is a global design, marketing and distribution company that specializes in consumer fashion accessories. The Company's principal offerings include an extensive line of men's and women's fashion watches and jewelry sold under proprietary and licensed brands, handbags, small leather goods, belts, sunglasses, soft accessories, shoes and clothing.
2013-01-17 The Fiscal Cliff: Overview of Tax Implications by Team of Neuberger Berman
The fiscal cliff bill, formally titled "American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012" ("Act"), was signed into law by the President on January 3. The Act extends certain tax relief provisions enacted in 2001 and 2003, and contains numerous other tax provisions.
2013-01-17 End of An Era: 30 Years of Double-Digit Chinese Growth by Bryce Fegley of Saturna Capital
Slumping exports, lackluster domestic consumption, and slowing urban migration contribute to lower growth expectations for China. With Chinese manufacturing capacity now saturated relative to global demand, and developed economies facing the consequences of over-indebtedness, external tailwinds to China's growth have passed.
2013-01-15 Demographics and the Decline of Equity Mutual Funds by Paul Franchi (Article)
Until the last few years, mutual fund flows followed performance. Recently, however, money has flowed disproportionately into bond funds and out of US equity funds despite a strong rally in the equity markets. Changing demographics explain this shift, which has important implications for advisors and the mutual fund industry.
2013-01-15 Five Key Marketing Trends for Advisors in 2013 by Kristen Luke (Article)
It is a new year and time to experiment with fresh marketing ideas. Keeping up with trends isn't just a way to tell your colleagues you are on the cutting edge of marketing. You need to understand how consumers are changing and how you can keep your message delivery relevant. If your marketing is getting stale, here are five marketing trends for 2013.
2013-01-15 Courting Your Communications by Wendy Cook (Article)
How are your communications like a courtship? In both cases, it's crucial to proceed in the proper manner, at the proper time. Otherwise, like proposing marriage during a blind date, what might otherwise be a smooth move could flop fast.
2013-01-04 Newsletter by Harold Evensky of Evensky & Katz
As always I hope you will enjoy this issue, as much as I have enjoyed putting it together. Most important though I wish one and all a very happy, prosperous and healthy new year!
2013-01-02 Getting the Most from Your Investment Committee by Bob Veres (Article)
Investment committees are a little bit like fingerprints: they come in all shapes and sizes, and no two are exactly alike in form or function. So advisory firms that have investment committees – or are considering creating one – can learn a lot from one another. My research has identified some best practices for this flexible management tool, by comparing notes among advisors on how they are managing their IC teams.
2013-01-02 How to Boost Your Team’s Morale by Beverly Flaxington (Article)
With the new year rapidly approaching, I want to instill enthusiasm and excitement for my team. We are concerned about the events in Washington and the price we will pay for inaction by our politicians. In the face of this, I want to remind my team of the value we provide for our clients. How can I instill the boost I'm seeking without seeming fake or forced?
2013-01-02 Brian McMahon on Thornburg’s Investment Income Builder Fund by Robert Huebscher (Article)
Brian McMahon is the chief executive officer and chief investment officer for Thornburg Investment Management, where he the co-portfolio manager for the $11.4 billion Thornburg Investment Income Builder Fund (TIBAX). The fund's goal is income production, and it has outperformed its benchmark, the Morningstar Moderate Target Risk, over the last ten years (10.87% versus 2.88%). In this interview, he offers his views on the economy and the markets, and how he has positioned his fund.
2012-12-26 The Ten Key Benefits of Investment Committees by Bob Veres (Article)
In this first part of a two-part report, I'll identify ten core purposes that investment committees serve in different types of firms, ranking them in order of the number of responses I received. If your investment committee is serving all ten purposes, based on the survey, you're among a select minority - which means that many advisors may find new ways to use this versatile new tool in their RIA practices.
2012-12-26 Managing Client Interpersonal Dynamics by Beverly Flaxington (Article)
I run a high-end family office firm. A couple of families are dealing with significant interpersonal dynamics. In one case, I fear a client's son is emotionally unstable and could be harmful to someone. In another case, I have seen unnecessary confrontation among siblings.
2012-12-26 Looking on the Bright Side by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors
It is Christmas Eve and not the time for long letters just a brief note on why the fiscal cliff is not the End of All Things, and to point out a worthy cause led by some good friends of mine who are helping people who truly have no options in life. And we'll start things off with a movie review of sorts to launch us into a positive take on the year behind and the year ahead.
2012-12-26 Why China is a Reason for Optimism by Robert Horrocks of Matthews Asia
"China has taught me how to think about growth. Consider its stable political environment: it has gone from revolutionary upheaval to smooth (almost boring) transitions of power."
2012-12-21 "Frack and Slack" Put U.S. Trade in the Black? by Milton Ezrati of Lord Abbett
Could it be that the U.S. trade balance is headed into the black? At first blush, the prospect looks dubious. This country's trade deficit has drifted deeper into the red for so many decades now that few can even conceive of lasting improvement. Even so, that is what seems to be in prospect.
2012-12-18 Should Your Firm Write its Own Marketing Copy? by Beverly Flaxington (Article)
My new marketing person has ideas for client outreach and communication. He says we would have more impact if we wrote our own articles and emails instead of using the vendor we have utilized for many years. Will we get more out of our communication if we write our own copy?
2012-12-18 Central Bank Insurance by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors
Possibly, the question I am asked the most is, "What do you think about gold?" While I have written brief bits about the yellow metal, I cannot remember the last time I devoted a full e-letter to the subject of gold. Longtime readers know that I am a steady buyer of gold, but to my mind that is different from being bullish on gold. In this week's letter we will look at some recent research on gold and try to separate some of the myths surrounding gold from the rationale as to why you might want to own some of the "barbarous relic," as Keynes called it.
2012-12-15 Rooting Out Biases in Hedge-Fund Data by Daniel Eagan of AllianceBernstein
In a recent article, I discussed the conclusions about hedge funds historical returns and risk we reached after rooting out biases in the data available. Heres how we sought to eliminate those biases.
2012-12-12 Mish Shedlock Exposed by Peter Schiff of Euro Pacific Capital
In January 2009, just as the "Peter Schiff was Right" YouTube video that catalogued my previously derided predictions about a coming financial collapse was racking up views and attracting mainstream attention, a blogger and investment advisor named Mike Shedlock (aka "Mish") saw an opportunity to make an unethical grab at my current and prospective clients by breaking the nascent wave.
2012-12-08 How Gold Miners Can Leverage the Price of Gold by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors
Gazing into their crystal balls this week, Wall Street firms interpreted differing futures for gold next year. Morgan Stanley awarded gold the best commodity for 2013 while Goldman Sachs called the end of the metals hot streak. After seeing 11 consecutive years of positive performance from gold, one needs to be wary of research analysts price forecasts, as they have consistently underestimated the shifting dynamics driving the precious metal higher.
2012-12-07 3 Implications of a Fiscal Cliff Tax Hike by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog
From the outside, its hard to find much evidence that Washington is getting closer to a fiscal cliff deal. Perhaps there is more going on behind the scenes than the headlines suggest, but as of today it is hard to find much evidence that the odds of a deal have risen. As the potential for fiscal drag rises, it is worth reiterating why this is so dangerous. From my perspective, the biggest risk to the economy, and to financial markets, comes from the tax side of the equation.
2012-12-04 How to Build a Time Machine by John P. Hussman of Hussman Funds
With industrial production, capacity utilization, real disposable income, real personal consumption, real sales retail and food service sales, and real manufacturing and trade sales uniformly declining in their latest reports, coincident economic indicators having generally peaked in July are now following through on the weakness that weve persistently observed in leading economic measures. We continue to believe that the U.S. economy joined a global economic downturn during the third quarter of this year.
2012-11-27 Dealing with a Ruthless Competitor by Beverly Flaxington (Article)
An advisor in the same town as I am is winning business that should be going to my firm. Prospects tell me that he makes claims that I know are patently untrue. Is it appropriate in sales meetings to tell prospects that this guy lies?
2012-11-20 Kyle Bass on the Next Big Crisis by Robert Huebscher (Article)
If economics could be studied in a laboratory, scientists might concoct something like the circumstances now unfolding in Japan – and policymakers should be paying close attention. According to Kyle Bass, Japan's currency – and its bond market – are about to collapse under the weight of the country's unsustainable fiscal deficit.
2012-11-20 Working with Clients when Markets are Tough by Beverly Flaxington (Article)
It's hard for me to get clients excited and upbeat these days. The markets have been disastrous and unpredictable for too long. How can I get myself back on track?
2012-11-20 The Fallacies in Today’s Retirement Plan Assumptions: Putting the Hedonic Pleasure Index to Work by Bob Veres (Article)
Are you dramatically underestimating your clients' retirement lifestyle expenditures when you use Monte Carlo software? If you stop and look at a number of important assumptions hidden in the current models, you'll suddenly have a lot less confidence in the retirement plans you’re mapping out for your clients.
2012-11-15 3 Reasons Not to Flee Dividend Stocks by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog
As the fiscal cliff approaches, investors are becoming wary of dividend stocks, unsettled by the potential for a near tripling of the tax on dividends. But Russ K explains why he remains comfortable with dividend paying stocks with one major exception.
2012-11-13 The Downside to Socially Responsible Investing by Robert Huebscher (Article)
Who wouldn't want a cleaner environment or a more just society? We can all agree these are worthy goals. But it's an established fact that pursuing them through one's investing is costly; environmental-, social- and governance-based investing (ESG) does fine on a gross basis, but loses money net of fees. Now, a recently published paper argues that that ESG is basically a waste of time.
2012-11-13 Harvard's #1 Strategy Guru on the Key Decision for Your Business by Dan Richards (Article)
Competition has brought many once-dominant names to the brink of survival - General Motors, Kodak, Sears and Xerox. Michael Porter, Harvard's top expert on strategy, explains why advisors ignoring the important lesson here do so at their peril.
2012-11-07 October 2012 Monthly Commentary by David Kelly of J.P. Morgan Funds
A light flashed on in my car this morning, telling me that it was due for service. When I take it in, the mechanics will presumably check both the engine and the brakes before deciding on exactly what it is that I need to repair, replace or adjust. For investors, after nine months of ups and downs in markets, an investment strategy checkup is in order.
2012-11-05 Three Men Make a Tiger by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors
In a few hours we will know the outcome of the US elections (hopefully without a repeat of 2000!). So, given that eventuality, why should we bother to explore the rather significant disparity in the models being used to create the polls to predict the outcome of the elections? Because doing so will help us understand why the models we use to predict the effects on our investments of market behavior and macroeconomics so often fail us, and why we should approach the use of such models with a full measure of wariness and skepticism.
2012-11-05 How to Stop Illegal Downloads by Dan Ariely of Dan Ariely Blog
Three days after publication of my new book , The (Honest) Truth About Dishonesty, I was able to find electronic copies on a few websites that specialize in illegal content. These were high quality versions of the book, including the images of the cover, the references, andmy favorite partthe copyright notice.
2012-10-30 Building Portfolios that Beat their Benchmark: Measuring Nanometers with a Yardstick by Bob Veres (Article)
Using tools he co-developed with the Nobel-prize winning economist Bill Sharpe, one advisor has found that he can reliably outperform an appropriate benchmark. His work proves it is possible to build a portfolio knowledgably. You just need the right tools to get the job done.
2012-10-30 Overcoming Employee Finger-Pointing by Beverly Flaxington (Article)
We have a team-selling approach. We have portfolio advisors, salespeople and client-servicing people who all go on calls together. I own the firm and I'm tired of hearing each of them complain to me about one another. It's always someone else's fault. What advice can you give me so that I don't say something that I will regret?
2012-10-23 How to Change the Regulatory Debate - Before it's Too Late by Bob Veres (Article)
After almost a decade of lobbying, arguing, and posturing, the long fight on Capitol Hill over who will regulate RIAs and how to define 'fiduciary' is approaching a close. Within the next six months, there will no longer be any real excuse to put off a decision, and new players, both in Congress and at the SEC, will be eager to start fresh.
2012-10-23 When Portfolio Managers are Asked to be Marketers by Beverly Flaxington (Article)
I work for a large firm as a portfolio manager. We are increasingly asked to make sales presentations and find new business. Is managing money no longer important in this business?
2012-10-23 Viral Marketing to Women by Tony DiLeonardi and Barbara Kay (Article)
Expanding your client list is a never-ending goal. Even if you already have a large and profitable client base, you need to replenish it over time. That perpetual chase can be a distraction - unless you can get clients to seek you! That's viral marketing at its best.
2012-10-16 When Strong Client Relationships Aren’t Enough by Beverly Flaxington (Article)
Building strong personal relationships with your clients and consistently exceeding their expectations for direct, personal service – these traditionally were the best ways to generate referrals. But what if that's no longer enough?
2012-10-09 How to Manage an Overextended Team by Beverly Flaxington (Article)
I work for a large financial firm. I am continually frustrated by the fact that we generate lots of good ideas and talk about what we need to do, but rarely get things done. Many things stay open-ended, or up for discussion. I am part of the problem because I am so busy, as is my team. How can I be more of a doer and less of a talker?
2012-10-08 The Unemployment Surprise by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors
The unemployment number surprisingly dropped to 7.8% last Friday, and the shoot-from-the-hip crowd came out in force. To say that the jobs report was met with skepticism would be a serious understatement. The response that got the most immediate airplay was ex-GE CEO Jack Welch (who knows a few things about making a number say what you want it to say) tweeting, "Unbelievable job numbers ... these Chicago guys will do anything ... can't debate so change numbers."
2012-10-02 When Centers-of-Influence Don’t Refer Clients by Beverly Flaxington (Article)
Everyone tells me I can sell more through relationships with attorneys and accountants. I have some that I know well. I refer to them, but they don't reciprocate. What am I doing wrong?
2012-09-29 Uncertainty and Risk in the Suicide Pool by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave
Investors in the stock market, especially professionals, are obsessed with risk, your humble analyst included. We try to measure risk in any number of ways, looking for an edge to improve our returns. Not only do we try to determine probable outcomes, we also look for the 'fat tail' events, those things that can happen which are low in probability but will have a large impact on our returns.
2012-09-25 A Woman's View of Choosing a Financial Advisor by Beverly Flaxington (Article)
Here are five things I've learned about what women seek in the marketplace.
2012-09-25 Value Investing in a Macro-Driven Environment by Robert Huebscher (Article)
The GoodHaven Fund (GOODX) is managed by Larry Pitkowsky and Keith Trauner. For most of the previous decade, Larry and Keith held research, portfolio management, and executive positions with the Fairholme Fund. I spoke with them last week.
2012-09-25 How to Build a Portfolio by Adams Jared Apt (Article)
This is the first of a set of three articles intended for the educated layman, in which I will combine the core ideas presented in my preceding articles into a comprehensive description of how to put together a portfolio. In this one, I'll explain what is often called Modern Portfolio Theory.
2012-09-21 Short-term Gratification and Long-term Return by Francois Sicart of Tocqueville Asset Management
Over time, I have tried to learn from my investment experiences. As a result, my style has become influenced less by greed and fear and more by patience and realism. Here are a few of the lessons I have learned and passed along.
2012-09-21 Reflections: Define Exigent by John Gilbert of GR-NEAM
The world is relying upon its central banks to work wonders. Having made a mess of their balance sheets, households and governments are faced with the long and unpleasant task of reducing indebtedness. The infinite supply of money in a paper money system is the obvious solution. The question is whether, with very liberal exercise of that privilege, there is some limit to its use.
2012-09-18 Selling Your Practice – After Negotiations Fall Apart by Beverly Flaxington (Article)
I was hoping to sell my firm to another financial advisor. When the time came to close the deal, he turned into a different person, trying to negotiate for all kinds of things and generally being very nasty. The deal fell apart. How do I find a suitable buyer who will treat me with respect and negotiate fairly?
2012-09-14 ProVise Bullets by Team of ProVise Management Group
It is a heads I wintails you lose - scenario for American farmers. Everyone has heard about the drought throughout the U.S. being the worst since the 50s. However, dont feel too badly for the farmers as their net income will hit a record $122 billion this year. How can that possibly be, given all of the crops drying up? Easy. Since the supply is down and demand remains the same, the price has jumped dramatically and has offset the loss of yield per acre.
2012-09-14 You're an Idiot. Statistically. by Bill Mann of Motley Fool
Statistically, the SEC found that American investors - regardless of age, race, or gender - lack basic financial literacy, and that they generally do not understand even the most elementary financial concepts such as compound interest and inflation.
2012-09-11 A Lesson in Damage Control (Ron Rhoades, This One's for You) by Wendy J. Cook (Article)
Mistakes. Bigger or smaller, sooner or later, we all make them. With meteoric speed, one goof-up can leave a gaping crater in a firm's otherwise stellar reputation. Ron Rhoades provided a case in point when he recently withdrew from becoming the next NAPFA chairperson after becoming entangled in a minor regulatory problem. Ron's actions provide a lesson for dealing with a situation where your judgment lapsed and the damage is done.
2012-09-08 Debt Be Not Proud by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave
The unemployment numbers came out yesterday, and the drums for more quantitative easing are beating ever louder. The numbers were not all that good, but certainly not disastrous. But any reason will do, if what you want is more stimulus to boost the markets ever higher. Today we will look first at the employment numbers, because deeper within the data is a real story. Then we look at how effective any monetary stimulus is likely to be.
2012-09-07 The Federal Reserves Next Move: QE3? Perspectives on U.S. monetary policy by Team of Janus Capital Group
We believe the Fed will take additional action by mid-September to stimulate the economy, probably through a third round of quantitative easing. U.S. economic growth remains well below potential and is slowing, and the Fed is not meeting its dual mandate to ensure price stability and full employment. We recently reduced our 2012 GDP growth estimate to between 1.5% and 1.7%.
2012-09-04 Three Essential Steps to Reach the Next Generation of Investors by Kim Dellarocca (Article)
Every day for the next 19 years, some 10,000 Baby Boomers will reach retirement age. Their huge pool of wealth will shift from accumulation to distribution. Financial professionals are losing those assets, so how do they go about replacing them?
2012-09-04 Postcard from India: Taking Frugal Engineering to the World by Team of Thomas White International
The first 25 ton truck that rolled out of Daimler's new Indian manufacturing plant in June this year was similar in most respects to other trucks the company sells across the globe. Even on a closer look, the only major difference seemed to be the name and logo on the front grill. The iconic Mercedes three pointed star logo had been replaced by a new round logo and brand name, BharatBenz.
2012-08-30 Dividends: The Next Bubble? by Ed Perks, Don Taylor of Franklin Templeton
Dividend-paying stocks have received a good deal of attention this yearand for good reason. Ed Perks, senior vice president and director of the Core Hybrid Portfolio Management Group at Franklin Templeton, and Don Taylor, senior vice president and portfolio manager for Franklin Equity Group, suspect it's these fearful prognostications that are overinflated, not the asset class. As they see it, the dividend-paying stock universe is expanding, and deserves investor attention.
2012-08-29 The Russian Evolution by Mark Mobius of Franklin Templeton
It might be tempting to say "everything old is new again" in Russia, given the return of Vladimir Putin to the presidency after a four-year hiatus, an interesting development in the country's political evolution. I think Russia has also evolved a great deal as an investment destination in the past two decades and holds great potential, although there is still more work to be done to open the markets and instill investor confidence.
2012-08-28 The Key Obstacles to Succession Planning by Bob Veres (Article)
At every financial services conference, you hear complaints about all those clients who never managed to get around to implementing the fancy, creative, tax-saving estate plans that their advisor created for them. But are financial planners any better?
2012-08-28 Why Don't Your Female Clients Like You? by Kathleen Burns Kingsbury (Article)
Over the next 40 years, women will inherit 70% of the $41 trillion in intergenerational wealth transfers, and the first thing they will probably do after receiving the money is fire you. The reasons are not what you think: not poor investment performance, not lack of expertise.
2012-08-28 Who’s Fooling Whom? by Michael Lewitt (Article)
Equity markets are exhibiting a remarkable degree of complacency. The VIX is currently at extremely low levels and it can maintain those levels for a long period of time. The worse things get in terms of the economic data, the higher the market goes on hopes of central bank stimulus. At this rate, the Dow will peak just as the world is coming to an end!
2012-08-25 Boomers are Breaking the Deal by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave
We look at the trends in employment as well as take note of a signpost we passed on the way to finding out that we cant pay for all the future entitlements we have been promised.
2012-08-23 The Growth Factor by John Barr, Chris Retzler of Needham Funds
During July, the domestic economy continued to slow and Europe again appeared on the precipice of disaster. On August 3rd, the July employment report showed unemployment at 8.3%, essentially unchanged from June. We believe the real story is that the civilian labor force participation rate has fallen to 63.7%, which is down from a peak of 67.3% in 2000.
2012-08-21 The Profession's Faulty Assumptions: A Top Ten List by Bob Veres (Article)
In the financial planning profession, we make a lot of assumptions about the world in order to run spreadsheet models, retirement projections and sufficiency analyses, and generally determine how much a client should save and invest for the future. But many of the industry-standard inputs into our models are (how can I say this delicately?) garbage. Here are my top ten garbage inputs, with an explanation of how we might possibly improve on them.
2012-08-21 Letters to the Editor by Various (Article)
A reader responds to the commentary, Maybe This Time is Different, by Andrew Redleaf of Whitebox Advisors, which was published on August 14, and a reader responds to Michael Edesess' article, Why Hedge Funds Destroy Investor Wealth, which was published last week.
2012-08-21 U.S. Equities After the Earnings Season: Is There Still an Opportunity? by Joseph Tanious of J.P. Morgan Funds
Now in its fourth year of recovery following the financial crisis, the S&P 500 is once again testing the 1400 level, having rallied over 100% from its March 2009 lows. Meanwhile, earnings have hit an all-time high, but it is becoming clear that earnings growth is slowing. All of this has occurred against a backdrop of global economic uncertainty, unprecedented central bank action, and the most polarized U.S. political landscape we have ever seen.
2012-08-20 Weekly Commentary & Outlook by Tom McIntyre of McIntyre, Freedman & Flynn
Stock prices have been supported by strong profits permitting buybacks and rising dividends as well as the absence of negative news from Europe. In fact, with all the leaders there taking vacations it has allowed rumors and leaks of possible steps, which have produced lower borrowing costs in Spain and Italy. This has allowed for a reflex rally there that has served as a catalyst for the continued rally in our domestic markets.
2012-08-17 How Change Happens by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave
This is an encore appearance of the letter that is clearly the most popular one I have ever written, updated with a few thoughts from recent times (it was also part of a chapter in Endgame). Numerous reviewers have stated that this one letter should be read every year. As you read, or reread, Ill be enjoying a week off.
2012-08-16 Searching for a Fiscal Ladder by David Kelly of J.P. Morgan Funds
As America begins to cool down after a long hot summer, the economy remains sluggish. Economic growth in the first half of the year is estimated to be less than 2%, reflecting continued business and consumer caution, tight lending standards and a shrinking government sector. This pace of growth, in turn, has produced a monthly average of just over 100,000 new jobs since February, leaving the unemployment rate marooned above 8%. For investors, however, the picture is not that bad.
2012-08-14 Advisor Website Calls to Action: Going the Extra Mile by Wendy J. Cook (Article)
To quote Ricky Minor's clever book title, "There's No Traffic on the Extra Mile." One way you can go that extra mile is by using your website as more than just a calling card, incorporating creative calls to action to more proactively invite site visitors to be in touch with you.
2012-08-13 Invest with the Best?! by Jeffrey Saut of Raymond James
I have been a "fan" of the astute Claude Rosenberg ever since hearing him speak. Some will remember him as the author of Investing with the Best, which deals with the daunting task of selecting an investment manager. Given the plethora of investment managers, picking a manager is difficult. That's why many individuals' selection process consists of nothing more than looking at a portfolio manager's track record for the past few years. We think such a simplistic approach is a mistake.
2012-08-11 And Then There Is Disaster C by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave
I have contended for some time that Europe is faced with two choices: Disaster A, which is the break-up of the eurozone, or Disaster B, which is the creation of a fiscal union, which keeps the euro more or less intact. Over the last few months I have come to realize that there is indeed a third option, which now looks increasingly possible. European leaders might do nothing more than deal with the problem immediately in front of them, moving from crisis to crisis in a slow-motion drift toward fiscal union.
2012-08-07 Why Hedge Funds Destroy Investor Wealth by Michael Edesess (Article)
If all the money that's ever been invested in hedge funds had been put in Treasury bills instead, the results would have been twice as good. So claims Simon Lack - a former JPMorgan executive whose job was once to help steer billions into hedge funds - in his recent book, The Hedge Fund Mirage: The Illusion of Big Money and Why It's Too Good to Be True. You'd think hedge fund advocates would immediately pounce on this and refute it; but it's irrefutable.
2012-08-07 Investing in Central Utility Stocks - Do Todays Valuations Make Sense? Part 3 by Team of F.A.S.T. Graphs
This is the third in my series on investing in utility stocks based on the sector's current valuation levels. The series was initially inspired by concerns that utility stocks may be overvalued because they had recently performed very well. When the series first started with Part 1, utility ETFs were showing the best one-year performance of any sector. By the second installment Part 2, the utility sector had fallen into second place (Utility Sector Performance July 31, 2012).
2012-08-07 A Plane on the Tarmac by David Kelly of JP Morgan Funds
A few weeks ago, I was sitting in a plane on the tarmac at La Guardia. We had pulled away from the gate, but the pilot had just come over in the intercom to let us know that we were number 35 in line for takeoff. Since we were going nowhere fast, I took out my laptop and tried to think of an analogy to describe the current state of the American economy. Then I realized that I was sitting in one.
2012-08-06 Global Overview: July 2012 by Team of Thomas White International
Global equity prices made modest gains in July, helped by strong gains in the developed markets in Europe's Nordic region as well as in the Asia Pacific, excluding Japan. Most major emerging markets in Asia also saw price gains during the month, while Spain, Italy, and select other markets in Europe lost further ground. U.S. GDP growth for the second quarter declined below the previous quarter's pace, but was marginally ahead of expectations.
2012-07-31 The Alternative to AUM-Based Fees: The Total Profitability Retainer Formula by Bob Veres (Article)
Many - perhaps most - advisors are overcharging a few of their clients and undercharging the rest. In other words, a small number of investment advisor clients are subsidizing the services that the others are receiving. Here's a way to address that.
2012-07-30 Weekly Commentary & Outlook by Tom McIntyre of McIntyre, Freedman & Flynn
Stocks bounced last week on the heels of earnings which were not so bad, and perhaps more importantly, indications that the European Central Bank was ready to take the plunge as lender of last resort.
2012-07-28 Gambling in the House? by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave
The problem that gave rise to the LIBOR scandal is the lack of transparency. Why would banks want to reveal how much profit they are making? The last thing banks want is transparency. This week I offer a different take on LIBOR, one which may annoy a few readers, but which I hope provokes some thinking about how we should organize our financial world.
2012-07-27 Who is Muhammad Lee? by John Scott of Saturna Capital
Who is this Muhammad Lee? (So named, as these are the most common first and last names in the world.)1,2 Where is he from? How many brothers and sisters will Muhammad Lee have in the future? What are the implications of his arrival for U.S. investors?
2012-07-22 How 5 Seriously Overworked Buzzwords Can Come Between You and Your Client by Rob Isbitts of Sungarden Investment Research
In my experience, several investing buzzwords have done more harm than good for investors. While they are important concepts, they have been so commoditized by the financial planning industry that their true meaning has been misinterpreted. All the while, Wall Street firms have reaped the benefits by mass-customizing portfolio management. What started as a concerted effort to help investors has been reduced to a marketing pitch and investors keep falling for it.
2012-07-21 The Lion in the Grass by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave
Today we'll explore a few things we can see and then try to foresee a few things that are not so obvious. This is a condensation of a speech I gave earlier this afternoon in Singapore for OCBC Bank, called "The Lion in the Grass." The simple premise is that it is not the lions we can see that are the problem; but rather, in trying to avoid them, it is often the lions hidden in the grass that we stumble upon that become the unwelcome surprise.
2012-07-20 July 2012 Newsletter by Harold Evensky of Evensky & Katz
FRANK SINATRA FAN? Mena chided me for starting my last NewsLetter on a negative note so I thought Id repent this time and start with something more positive. Even if youre not a Sinatra fan, this lovely and moving piece of music by Andre Rieu," a renowned Dutch violinist, conductor and composer, and his orchestra is a tribute to Frank Sinatra with My Way on his Stradivarius violin at Radio City Music Hall New York.
2012-07-18 Strategy Notes by Douglas Clark Johnson of Codexa Capital
The long slog ahead suggests a certain simplicity to the strategy outlook. The message may be to focus on specialization and output, rather than aspiration. Fortunately, there are plenty of stories in the developing world that fit this framework. We also offer thoughts on tension at the Straits of Hormuz, where the bulk of oil is transiting to vital Asian markets. In Libya, parliamentary election results may not be the sort of clear win that many project it to be.
2012-07-17 Letters to the Editor by Various (Article)
Two readers respond to Bob Veres' article, Why Are Advisory Fees Lower Than They Have To Be?, which appeared last week, and a reader responds to Larry Siegel's article, Benchmarking Your Retirement Portfolio With a Risk-Free Strategy, which also appeared last week.
2012-07-14 The Beginning of the Endgame by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors
For the last year I have been writing that it is not clear that Europe (with the probable exception of Greece) will in fact break up. The forces that would see a strong fiscal union are quite powerful. In today's letter, I will try to bring you up to date on some insights I have had in the 18 months since Jonathan Tepper and I did the final edits on our book, The Endgame.
2012-07-11 Advisor Perspectives Marketing Case Study: A Small Fund with Large Ambitions by Team (Article)
For many smaller investment firms, growing a fund’s assets can be an enormous challenge, typically constrained by labor-intensive lead generation and qualification processes, lengthy sales cycles, and limited resources. One Boston-based firm found a way to eliminate these bottlenecks—and nearly double their assets as a result.
2012-07-10 Why Are Advisory Fees Lower Than They Have To Be? by Bob Veres (Article)
How much should you charge for your services? Is there any way to objectively calculate a fair price? Doctors, lawyers and accountants all charge relatively similar prices for their services. Why does the financial planning profession have fees that are all over the map?
2012-07-10 Investing and the Euro Crisis by David Kelly of J.P. Morgan Funds
In the summer of 2012, the Euro Zone crisis continues to dominate financial markets as it has done over each of the past two summers. While the solution to the problem remains relatively straightforward, it requires a level of economic understanding, political courage and communication among policymakers that has been absent thus far. Without this, the crisis is likely to lurch forward with only a very slow and painful resolution.
2012-07-09 The 4 Biggest Investment Performance Myths - and How They Can Torpedo Advisor-Client Trust by Robert Isbitts of Sungarden Investment Research
In 26 years in the investment industry, I have seen investor and advisor behavior from many different angles: as an advisor, portfolio manager, strategist, author and proprietor. Two things have been quite consistent during that quarter-century: 1) That clients and advisors both care deeply about investment performance and 2) that investment performance is rarely evaluated with proper perspective.
2012-07-07 Into the Matrix by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors
What does the current environment of earnings and valuations tell us about the prospects for the US stock markets in general over the next 3-5-7-10 years? This week we have part two of "Bull's Eye Investing Ten Years Later," which we started last week. These two letters have been co-authored with Ed Easterling of Crestmont Research. We take a look at research we did almost ten years ago as part of my book Bull's Eye Investing, updating the data and asking,"Are we there yet? When will we get to the end of the secular bear market?"
2012-07-06 Eurozone Slowly Inching Forward by Investment Strategy Group of Neuberger Berman
The European Union (EU) summit last week in Brussels surprisingly yielded some promising outcomes. EU leaders agreed to important short-term measures that can ease the recapitalization of banks but structural issues, such as increasing banking and fiscal integration in the euro area, remain unresolved. Without longer-term measures, the volatile nature of the debt crisis, as evidenced by the Greek elections on June 17, will continue to impact confidence.
2012-07-03 The Value of Planning by Bob Veres (Article)
How much do you charge for your services? When you look hard at the value you provide, the answer may be: 'not enough.'
2012-07-03 Let's Twist Again by Daniel Kurland of Corby Asset Management
Ben Bernanke must be nostalgic for his childhood. On June 19th in the summer of 1961, when Chairman Bernanke was only 8 years old, Chubby Checker released his smash hit, Lets Twist Again. Chairman Bernanke, citing decreased inflationary concerns and heightened employment weakness, announced that Operation Twist, which had been set to expire at the end of June, would be extended until the end of the year.
2012-06-30 Bull's Eye Investing (Almost) Ten Years Later by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors
The current valuation of the stock market is relatively high, but it is not overvalued, considering today's conditions. Low inflation-rate conditions should be accompanied by relatively high P/Es. But if deflation or high inflation (or both) are likely upcoming, the market is very expensive. On the other hand, if the inflation rate happens to remain near price stability, then this secular bear could remain active a while longer but how likely is that?
2012-06-21 Selling Hope by Jason Hsu of Research Affiliates
Many of us in the investment management business are fond of telling our clients that "hope is not a strategy." Ironically, selling hope has worked out to be a fantastic strategy for investment managers. In our new newsletter, "Simply Stated," I suggest that investors may want to think twice about how much they are willing to pay for hope.
2012-06-19 How to Follow Up Without Being a Pest by Dan Richards (Article)
How do you value your business? We all know the obvious candidates: assets, income, recurring revenue, client loyalty or the extent to which you've built a strong team. But a recent discussion with some top-performing advisors illuminated one metric that is absolutely critical - and typically overlooked.
2012-06-19 The 20 Rules for a Successful Study Group by Mike Walters (Article)
Study groups are a great tool, allowing advisors to exchange helpful insights - but they can run your business into the ground. For your study group to succeed, you must know what you're getting into, the parameters you want to live by, and how you're going to be sure to get the best of, not the worst of, the experience.
2012-06-19 Down and Out in Wenzhou by Bill Smead of Smead Capital Management
Much like in the US in 2006, the Chinese government officials and the worldwide media need to believe that what is going on in Wenzhou is not the first domino in a series of dominos which fall over the next two years. The Chinese economy and its miracle of the last 30 years were originally driven by the competitive advantage of cheap labor.
2012-06-18 Secrets to Brand Building in China by Sherwood Zhang of Matthews Asia
The topic of Chinas consumer market tends to conjure up the catchphrase 1 billion customers and companies from around the world have flocked to cater to this market. As consumers in many developed countries have increasingly become overleveraged from years of easy credit, Chinas consumers have remained mostly underleveraged. Even as Chinas consumption growth has slowed recently, it is still expected to remain on a positive trajectory.
2012-06-16 The Bang! Moment is Here by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors
We know that money is simply flying out of Greek banks. A number of them are clearly insolvent, yet they are meeting demands for withdrawals. Where is the cash coming from? The answer is in the form of yet another acronym from Europe, called the ELA.
2012-06-15 Every Economists Career Ends in Failure - The Irony of Hyman Minsky by John Gilbert of GR-NEAM
The economist Hyman Minsky held that capitalist economies are inherently unstable because investments are financed with debt, and the financial markets pricing of debt is volatile. Economies are prone to booms and busts as the cost of financing falls too far, or rises too much, revealing poor investment decisions. This has always been obvious to observers of business cycles, of which Minsky was one. Too many of his colleagues in economics ignore this, which we have found puzzling.
2012-06-13 Risk For Breakaway Brokers Equals Opportunity For RIA Firms by Joseph Giulitto of Trust Company of America
There are challenges aplenty in the world of the breakaway broker. From the obvious considerations of the market over the last decade, to the constant bombardment of the 24 hours news cycle keeping your clients informed of all the potential and peril that exists in the financial arena. With ongoing regulatory changes that create a virtual minefield of violations, and let us not forget the do it yourself marketing that is pummeling the investor to think that they dont need professional guidance.
2012-06-09 A Dysfunctional Nation by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors
European leaders launched the euro project in the last century as an experiment to see whether political hope could become economic reality. What they have done is create one of the most dysfunctional economic systems in history. And the distortions inherent in that system are now playing out in an increasingly dysfunctional social order. Today we look at some rather disturbing recent events and wonder about the actual costs of that experiment. What type of "therapy" will be needed to treat the dysfunctional family that Europe has become?
2012-06-08 More Fun in the Philippines by Kenneth Lowe of Matthews Asia
A combination of beautiful beaches, year-round sunshine, interesting historical sites and a hospitable population is generally fairly effective in forming the seeds required to capture a part of the worlds largest service sectortourism. Many Southeast Asian countries have spent the last 20 years trying to take advantage of their natural and cultural attractions to participate in the US$6.3 trillion global tourism market, with numerous success stories.
2012-06-08 Five Tech Stocks with the Added Benefit of Dividends by Team of F.A.S.T. Graphs
Here are five technology-oriented companies that are currently trading at a price earnings ratio that implies that the stocks are attractively valued. Each of these five companies currently offers a dividend yield that is above-average as represented by the S&P 500.
2012-06-06 Economic Insights: Japan - Glimmers Amid the Gloom by Milton Ezrati of Lord Abbett
Japan still looks troubled. To be sure, the economy recorded a surprisingly strong 4.1% annualized real gross domestic product (GDP) growth in the first quarter. Much of that growth, though, was due to government spending. Otherwise, the flow of news still points to the same tepid growth that has troubled Japan for more than 20 years now. Four of the last six quarters have shown real declines, including last years fourth quarter. This once-powerful exporter faces a deficit on its balance of international payments, while spring data releases show industrial production in decline.
2012-06-01 Hasenstab on a Possible Grexit by Michael Hasenstab of Franklin Templeton
The Greek debt drama looks to be entering its final act. On June 17, Greek citizens will cast their votes to either elect a pro-austerity government that would keep the economically eviscerated country in the eurozone, or leave the union and go it alone. Dr. Michael Hasenstab expects either option is going to be painful for Greece, so the big question in his mind is whether the world is prepared for either outcome. A summary of some of Dr. Hasenstabs thoughts on what Greeces next move may mean for investors.
2012-05-29 What Does a Dividend Tax Hike Mean for Dividend-paying Stocks? by Steve Chun (Article)
The Bush tax cuts are due to expire at the end of this year, but owners of dividend-paying stocks need not be afraid. Historically, changes in tax regimes have had little effect on the value of the aggregate stock market. Historical data show that even vulnerable asset sub-classes - high-yield stocks, for example - have not lost value long-term as a result of similar tax increases.
2012-05-29 Hopes, Dreams and College Savings Solutions by Roger Michaud of Franklin Templeton
Its one of those universal truths that from the day their babies are born parents are filled with hopes, dreams and fears for their children. Those hopes and dreams typically include a successful career which often starts with a college education. The thought of a college education can lead to one of parents biggest fearsnot being able to foot the bill. Given the rising cost of college, financing a four-year degree for one or more children can be a daunting prospect for parents juggling day-to-day living expenses while trying to save for other investment goals like their own retirement too.
2012-05-26 Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors
We need to tear our gaze away from Europe and look around at what is happening in the rest of the world. There is about to be an eerily near-simultaneous ending to the quantitative easing by the four major central banks while global growth is slowing down. And so, while the future of Europe is up for grabs, the true danger to global markets and growth may be elsewhere.
2012-05-19 Dr. Frankensteins Europe by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors
We explore the options that the eurozone faces in order to stay together, and what it all means for some of the countries involved. While I have written for a very long time about the probability of Greece exiting the eurozone, the actuality is fraught with risk, not just for Europe but for the world economy. What happens in the next few months will impact us all for a very long time. Indeed, this is one of those years, as Lenin noted, when decades happen.
2012-05-18 Sublime to Ridiculous by John Gilbert of GR-NEAM
There was a time when governments were held to account for the long-term consequences of their financial habits. Those days appear to be long gone, of course, to policymakers frenzied at the political urgency of producing rising employment. But there must be a price to pay for thumbing our noses at lessons previously learned. We look here at just how far government husbandry of the financial system has strayed over time, and how important the consequences are likely to be in years to come.
2012-05-16 A Taylor-ed View of Dividends by Team of Franklin Templeton
The baby boomer generation, people born in the U.S. from 1946 19601, numbers some 78 million and is now moving into retirement. Taylor challenges this group in particular to think differently about their investments given the current economic climate. We are currently in a low-growth, very low interest rate environment and I really dont think thats going to change too much anytime soon. Dividends and dividend yield in the equity market matter a lot more than they did before..."
2012-05-16 The Vision Thing II by Bill Smead of Smead Capital Management
In May of 2010 we wrote about how important it was for the companies which meet our eight criteria to have a strong vision and clear agenda for their business. We believe that every five to ten years those who manage money need to "cast a vision" of where they want to take investors and then backtrack from there to put a portfolio together to best take advantage of the vision cast. We believe there are three main roadblocks to the casting of a vision for the execution of a portfolio plan. In the absence of more attractive titles, we will call these roadblocks fog, bog and smog.
2012-05-15 The Surprising Way to Deepen Client Relationships by Dan Richards (Article)
Among the countless ways advisors have attempted to increase client loyalty, I've found a simple approach that deepens relationships.
2012-05-15 Earnings Seasons Recap: Is Corporate Strength Fading? by Chris Maxey and Ryan Davis of Fortigent
Strength in the corporate sector since the recession ended has been well documented. In the face of general economic malaise, record profits have been achieved through aggressive cost-cutting and low financing costs. This phenomenon has been one of the major pillars propping up the markets (with the other being central bank policy). Now with Q1 earnings season all but over, it is not unreasonable to question whether that corporate strength is fading. Initial impressions of first quarter earnings season were very favorable after the first big wave of earnings releases.
2012-05-12 Waving the White Flag by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors
Europe has embarked on a program that will require multiple trillions of euros of freshly minted money in order to maintain the eurozone. But the alternative, European leaders agree, is even worse. Today we will look at the recent German shift in policy, why it was so predictable, and what it means. This is a Ponzi scheme that makes Madoff look like a small-time street hustler.
2012-05-10 Five Consumer Staples For A Hearty Portfolio With Yield by Team of F.A.S.T. Graphs
The old adage that people got to eat apply to the five consumer staple companies covered in this report. From the farm to the table these companies provide sustenance to a hungry world. Therefore, we believe that conservative investors that are craving the opportunity for growth and income might want to look closer at these five consumer staples. Each appears to be reasonably priced, and the group provides various combinations of growth and yield.
2012-05-10 A Mixed Fixed Landscape by Team of Franklin Templeton
The lingering low-rate environment in the U.S, Eurozone, Japan and some other nations has many yield-seeking investors feeling stuck in the mud. At its April policy meeting, the Federal Reserve pledged to keep its key short-term interest rate exceptionally low at least through late 2014. Some other global central banks, even in emerging nations, have pushed their rates lower too this year to spur growth. On top of that, many countries are also still trying to dig out of debt, but seem to be spinning their wheels.
2012-05-08 Richard Bernstein: US Assets will Outperform over the Next Decade by Robert Huebscher (Article)
Prior to founding the firm that now bears his name, Richard Bernstein was the chief investment strategist at Merrill Lynch & Co. In this interview, he discusses why he expects US assets - both equities and fixed income - to be the outperformers among global markets over the next decade.
2012-05-08 Baidu Inc: High Priced or Valued to Buy? by Team of F.A.S.T. Graphs
Baidu Inc is most commonly referred to as the Chinese version of Google. On the one hand, the stock is cheap relative to expected growth. While on the other hand, its current valuation is more than twice the average company. Therefore, we believe that although the company appears attractively valued based on earnings growth, it should be recognized that it is only appropriate for the aggressive investor seeking maximum capital appreciation. Furthermore, there are additional risks that the discerning investor should consider before investing in Baidu Inc.
2012-05-05 A Graphic Presentation by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors
The job market is still in a deep hole. At April's rate of job gains, it would take well over three years to return to December 2007's employment level, without adjusting for population growth; at the average rate of the last six months, it would take about two years. Earnings are weak, and the strongest sectors aren't those of which economic miracles are spun. QE3 looks like more of a possibility than it did a few days ago.
2012-05-03 And Thats The Week That Was by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates
Earnings season continues (with the likes of Humana, AIG, Kraft), though investors may shift gears to focus on the economy next week as the new month brings key releases from manufacturing and labor. The recent jobless claims release has cast some doubt on the employment picture and last months lower-than-expected nonfarm additions have worried some analysts for the past month. (At least, it should look better than the picture in Spain?)
2012-05-01 Why MLPs Belong in Your Portfolio by Geoff Considine (Article)
One would think that an asset class yielding 7% and carrying less volatility than do equities would be popular with investors. Yet, despite those attributes, master limited partnerships (MLPs) remain unknown or ignored by large numbers of investors. The case for MLPs is compelling, so it's time for a deep examination of the special properties of this asset class.
2012-04-24 65+5+Dividends: The case for quality dividend stocks in the first five years of retirement by Legg Mason ClearBridge Advisors (Article)
Retirees are living longer than ever before, and for many, outliving their money is a real concern. A good reason to consider quality large-cap dividend stocks in the early years of retirement - which have historically offered higher returns than fixed income with lower volatility than equities overall.
2012-04-24 Fixed Income Commentary First Quarter 2012 by John E. Villela, David W. Seeley and Barbara J. McKenna of Longfellow Investment Management
The ever‐changing regulatory environment must be watched closely. The new, onerous capital requirements directed at the broker‐dealer community will make it more costly for broker‐dealers to hold inventory on their balance sheets. This will affect the cost of liquidity by making transactions more expensive in the marketplace. In addition, potential changes to money market regulations, which could include allowing the net asset value to float, could force a number of market participants to seek alternative fixed income solutions such as cash or short duration strategies.
2012-04-24 Finance, Meet Pharma by Dan Ariely of Predictably Irrational
I think we need an FDA-like entity and process for financial products, because if we dont have a counterfactual, we cant compare and measure the value of their products. We could call it the FPA, for Financial Product Administration. One example of a financial tool that the FPA could test is high frequency trading. Companies are going all out to profit by being the fastest to buy and sell stocks, owning them for fractions of a second; they even go so far as to buy buildings closer to the stock market to make trading faster.
2012-04-23 Middle East/Africa First Quarter 2012 Economic Review by Team of Thomas White International
While the Middle East and Africa (MEA) region continues to weigh the impact of the tumultuous Arab Spring uprisings, the area is facing against another challenge yet again. In addition to the existing domestic instability, a strained external environment (the Euro debt crisis) is proving to be a major threat to the regions trade, tourism, remittances and other exports receipts. According to the World Banks Global Economic Prospects report, the economic recovery seen in Morocco, Jordan and Tunisia in late 2011 is likely to stall in 2012.
2012-04-19 Current Conditions Cater to Our Rigorous Muni Investment Process by Team of American Century Investments
The last four years have been a remarkable period in municipal bond (muni) market history. The 2008 Financial Crisis and the Great Recession transformed the high-grade U.S. muni market and how people invest in it. What was once a relatively homogenous bond sector in terms of its credit quality and ratings became much more heterogeneous. Under these conditions, we believe experienced professional credit research and portfolio management are now crucial to investment success. This article outlines our muni investment processes.
2012-04-18 Quirky Tales and Waves of Change by Doug MacKay and Bill Hoover of Broadleaf Partners
While almost all commodities (ag, chemicals, and energy) have tended to move up and down together in price, oil has always beat to a different drummer, likely as a function of the ebb and flow of geopolitical concerns and the physical location of most known reserves. I would guess, however, if natural gas is in such abundance domestically, it could very well be the case around the globe. The prospect for $200 oil might be as remote as NASDAQ 5000.
2012-04-17 Letters to the Editor by Various (Article)
We have several letters from readers, including one in response to Lisa Keung's article on myths about women and investing and one in response to a recent commentary by Dan Ariely.
2012-04-17 Investor Question: Gold or Gold Miners? by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog
The Fed may be the best friend gold investors ever had. The most important factor for gold is actually not inflation or the dollar, but rather the level of real interest rates. In fact, the relationship between gold and real rates is so critical that since 1990, the level of real rates explains roughly 60% of the annual performance of gold. Gold generally does best in an environment in which real rates are low to negative as this means no opportunity cost to holding gold. Since 2003 when gold began its long-term outperformance we have been in just such an environment.
2012-04-16 The Time Between Too Early and Too Late: Monthly Commentary by David Kelly of J.P. Morgan Funds
After three years of market gains, a record year for corporate profits, and in the midst of solid monthly job gains, it is difficult to argue that it is still too early to get back to a more balanced approach to long-term investing. But some may now argue that it is too late and that perhaps the market has run too far. However, while there is always the risk of a correction, it is hard to see why March 2012 should represent a market peak.
2012-04-14 The War for Spain by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors
The inflection point that I thought the ECB had pushed down the road for at least a year with their recent 1 trillion LTRO is now rushing toward us much faster than Draghi had in mind when he launched his massive funding operation. So, we must pay attention to what Spain has done this week which, to my surprise, seems to have escaped the attention of the major media. It may be considered a tipping point when the crisis is analyzed by some future historian. And then we'll get back to some additional details on the US employment situation, starting with a few rather shocking data points.
2012-04-13 The Active Management Pretend Game by Eugene Robin of Cove Street Capital
Let us start by saying that this is not an essay on whether or not a large pool of institutional asset allocators should consider an indexing strategy or not. What follows is an analysis of the question: If you are going to charge active management fees with the goal of outperforming relevant benchmarks over the longer run within reasonable risk parameters, what sort of preconditions are suggestive of a higher probability of success?
2012-04-13 The Next Error by John Gilbert of GR-NEAM
The escalating frenzy for yield may in fact prolong the trying process of deleveraging by tacitly supporting bad investment decisions, and underpricing of risk. The relentless destruction of private capital in real terms is policymakers' answer to reducing leverage in nominal terms. If central banks err in the direction of ease, as the Fed will signal if it ignores the Taylor Rule for a time, poor long-term investments are likely to do well for a transitory period. The eventual reckoning can be suppressed, but only for a time.
2012-04-07 It's All About Jobs by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors
Friday's employment numbers were decidedly soft, but the unemployment rate went down anyway, and that is about the best you can say. And this being a holiday weekend, it provides us an opportunity to look deep into the employment numbers, while we put off thinking about Spain for at least a week. And who knew that being an unmarried Asian-American in the US was a risk for unemployment? Plus a few other interesting items will make for an interesting letter.
2012-03-27 Jack Bogle: The Triumph of the Index Fund by Robert Huebscher (Article)
Jack Bogle has spent his career selling investors on virtues of index funds. In a talk last week, he spoke triumphantly, as if the battle is all but over.
2012-03-27 The Top Three Myths about Women Investors by Lisa Kueng (Article)
Successful marketing requires an understanding of your target market. Too often, however, advisors are misled by outdated industry ideas and strategies that have shifted over time. Advisors who target women investors should avoid myth-based errors that others have made.
2012-03-27 Letter to the Editor – Jeremy Grantham by Various (Article)
A reader responds to Michael Edesess' article, Jeremy Grantham: This Time is Different, which appeared last week.
2012-03-27 Caviar for the General by Jeffrey Bronchick of Cove Street Capital
The stock market as measured by the S&P 500 is up almost 30% over the last 6 months, and has doubled from the March 2009 lows and yet most investors remain underinvested. Despite this temporary risk aversion, we remain convinced that stocks remain a unique species: the higher the price and less compelling the value, the more they seem to be desired by investors. In addition to the number of reasonably valued assets that can be found in financial markets, this represents an anecdotally strong underpinning for a reasonable intermediate future in our opinion.
2012-03-21 Reflections: Expect the Unexpected by John Gilbert of GR-NEAM
The tides of financial returns ebb and flow, and for the moment, they are flowing. Since the financial crisis of 2008-2009, the deflationary forces of excessive indebtedness prevail for a while, and then are beaten back by the determination of popularly elected governments to reflate. The financial markets no longer reward skill, so much as they react to the relative strength of governments will to offset contraction.
2012-03-20 Hot Buttons that Motivate Prospects by Dan Richards (Article)
If you spend $12,000 to promote an event for prospects, you should expect results. That didn't happen for an advisor whose recent prospecting events failed. Here's how he could have created a successful event - by focusing on the hot buttons that motivate prospects.
2012-03-20 Has Anybody Seen My Old Friend Doomsday? by Bill Smead of Smead Capital Management
Commodities have never been more popular or seen wider participation in my 32 years in the investment markets. The idea that more people existing is justification for higher commodity prices has constantly been refuted over the last 100 years. For example, we feel that if more people means perpetually rising commodity prices, they would have gone up all the time. In our opinion, China's hard landing is already happening. When China's debacle is obvious to everyone, commodities and stocks related to them will be the lepers of the investment world.
2012-03-20 New Normal Still Part of the Vernacular by John Buckingham of AFAM
Have to say that I chuckled a bit when I read in Saturdays New York Times that most professional investors think that a black swan event is possible, even as a black swan was described as an unlikely event that too few people plan for! The comments accompanied a piece entitled, A Forecast for Low Returns, in which several investment pros put forth the argument that people should plan for single-digit investment returns for the next five to as many as 20 years.
2012-03-17 Where Will the Jobs Come From? by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors
We will look at why employment is so critical. How are jobs created and what policies can be adopted to help foster more jobs? Should the US try and keep jobs that are going overseas, or develop whole new industries? Who exactly is the competition globally for jobs?
2012-03-03 Unintended Consequence by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors
This week we wonder about the consequences of the European Central Bank (ECB) issuing over 1 trillion in short-term loans to try and postpone a banking credit crisis and lower sovereign debt costs for certain peripheral countries in Europe. What if, instead of holding the European Monetary Union (EMU or Eurozone) together, that actually makes a breakup more likely? That would certainly fall under the rubric of unintended consequences, and be worth our time to contemplate in this week's letter.
2012-02-27 In Dividends We Trust Payout Ratios Low By Historical Standards by John Buckingham of AFAM
Dividends, dividend and more dividends. It would seem that everywhere we look these days, we find investment professionals singing the praises of dividends. And why not, given that interest rates continue to rest (and I do mean rest) at microscopic levels, while the yields on most of the major equity market averages exceed that of the 10-year U.S. Treasury. More importantly, perhaps, there is plenty of room for payouts to increase going forward given that the percentage of annual earnings distributed to shareholders for S&P 500 companies stood at a record low level of 30% in 2011.
2012-02-25 Tax That Other Guy by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors
Last week's letter on taxes drew more response than any letter I have written in years. Questions that were raised simply beg for an answer, and some of the replies were very thoughtful, well-written suggestions for alternatives. This week I am going to do something I can't ever remember doing, and that is to use the entire letter to involve and respond to my readers.
2012-02-24 Greek Crisis: This Too Shall Pass by Team of Franklin Templeton
Jerry Palmieri, Vice President and Sr. Portfolio Manager for Franklin Equity Group, doesnt worry too much about whether the Greek drama dominating daily headlines will turn into global market tragedy. A veteran of Franklin Templeton since 1965, hes survived to tell the tale after more than four decades of market ups and downs. His wizened view summarized: Market ups and downs are to be expected. U.S. market, economy will survive the Greek debt crisis. Things will work out. Market timing not the ticket to long-term investing success.
2012-02-23 Muni Outlook Q&A with Portfolio Manager Alan Kruss by Team of American Century Investments
Municipal bonds (munis) are back in the bond market spotlight, but for different reasons than a year ago (when widespread defaults were projected, and muni funds experienced heavy outflows). Muni performance has rebounded strongly since then, which has triggered follow-up questions about the muni market outlook. We posed them to Alan Kruss, Vice President and Municipal Portfolio Manager at American Century Investments.
2012-02-18 The Cancer of Debt and Deficits by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors
We will explore some options to actually resolve the deficit and debt crisis. Cutting spending or raising taxes have consequences, but not all cuts and not all taxes are the same. For those who have been wanting more specific solutions from me, I am going to address the issues surrounding taxation and offer my thoughts as to what we should do.
2012-02-16 American Housing: Falling Prices, But Rising Value by John Gilbert of GR-NEAM
American house prices are approaching a bottom.In certain cases, they are already there. For the better part of the last years we have watched the improving economics of rental cash flow with interest, as monthly rents have risen rapidly while purchase prices have languished. The Fed issued a paper in early January reviewing conditions in the U.S. housing market for the purpose of imploring Congress to make structural changes that would remove barriers to a more rapid recovery.For the Feds pump priming to work, the pump must be capable of functioning properly, they said essentially.
2012-02-15 Winning Streak Ends On the Last Day of the 6th Week, the Markets Rest, Still Relatively Positive by John Buckingham of AFAM
Hard to complain about Fridays relatively modest pullback as we knew the equity market five-week winning streak would eventually have to come to an end and the ever so slight gains for each of the previous four days of the week meant that the performance for the full week was not so bad. While the markets were long overdue for a breather, the main catalyst for Fridays drop was concern that this weekends austerity vote in Greece would not go as planned, setting the stage for a default of the countrys debt next month.
2012-02-14 Is a Picture Worth a Thousand Basis Points? by Mariko Gordon (Article)
Lately I'm seeing twins everywhere - both the human kind and in the investment patterns of our business. I will explain why the positive results we've seen when selling stocks after a big break in price can often lead to equally negative results - a mirror image twin - when applied on the buy side.
2012-02-11 The Answer We Dont Want to Know by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors
This election is ultimately about dealing (or not dealing) with the deficit, and putting the country on a path to a sustainable budget deficit, one that is less than the growth rate of the country. As I have argued elsewhere, and will argue in future letters, that is the paramount issue. Not dealing with the deficit runs the very real risk of the bond market treating us just as it is treating Italy and any other country that gets to the point where its debt is unsustainable.
2012-02-10 Theres Value in Russias Future by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors
Increasingly, Russian companies have begun paying dividends, with some companies paying as much as a 10% annual dividend. As interest rates around the world will remain low or even negative for years to come, dividends offer investors the opportunity to earn income with the potential of appreciation. Although political risks remain, we believe Russia continues to be a hotbed of opportunity for emerging market investors.
2012-02-07 Order and Progress on the Rise in Brazil by Mark Mobius of Franklin Templeton
My worldwide pursuit of good investing bargains takes me to some magnificent countries. In my view, Brazil is certainly among the most beautiful and economically vibrant in the western hemisphere. Its Portuguese-speaking multiracial population of almost 200 million1 represents a growing and upwardly mobile consumer market. Brazil is the fifth most populated country in the world and is chock-full of natural resources and rich farmland. Appropriately, the countrys name comes from the wood that grows along the coast, which was greatly valued by the European textile industry.
2012-02-04 Who Took My Easy Button? by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors
There is no way enough money can be found to fund our entitlement programs, given the current system, even under the best of assumptions. Things must change. Either we will make the difficult choices or those changes will be forced by the market. The longer we put off the difficult choices, the more painful the consequences. This week we begin a series on the choices facing the US. We need to understand the consequences of the choices we make. Cut spending, say some. Tax the rich, say others. Cut out waste and corruption is always a popular choice. Do all of the above, intone others.
2012-01-27 Adding to Our Pro-Muni Arguments by Team of American Century Investments
Last month, we outlined multiple reasons why investors and investment advisors should consider high-quality muni investments as core fixed income portfolio holdings. In support of owning funds vs. individual securities, we focused primarily on credit-quality issueshow we believe most of the muni market remains fundamentally sound and resilient, but pressured by the economic and fiscal environment. We think this has created a heterogeneous muni market with generally strong credit quality but dotted with potential credit risks and pitfalls in select areas that require professional vigilance.
2012-01-27 What the Bond Market Knows That You Dont by Matt Tucker of iShares Blog
On the back of improving US economic data, equities have rallied off of autumn lows, and yet US Treasury yields have continued to surf bottom with the 10-year note trading below 2% for the first time on record. Why havent interest rates recovered in support of improving data? Do US Treasury investors know something that equity investors dont? The answer may lie across the pond in Europe. The European crisis intensified significantly in the fall, causing equity markets (and most risky assets for that matter) to sell off and US Treasury rates to fall, despite the August downgrade.
2012-01-26 The Price of a Good Nights Sleep by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog
Even with the recent market rally, investors are still placing a significant premium on those assets perceived as safe. Case in point: the US Treasury market. By one measure-real yields measured against core inflation long-dated Treasuries are offering the worst returns in over 30 years. The flip side of this trade is a persistent aversion to assets perceived to be the most risky, particularly Europe. Even in the more stable, northern parts many markets are trading at 8 times earnings, with dividend yields at 4% to 5%. In a low yield world, this strikes us as a long-term opportunity.
2012-01-23 Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Sovereign Debt Wolf? by Monty Guild and Tony Danaher of Guild Investment Management
Last Friday, the sovereign debt of nine European nations was downgraded by S&P. Now, there are only four European nations whose sovereign bonds carry the highest AAA rating: Finland, Germany, Luxemburg and the Netherlands. Since the sovereign debt refinancing and potential default problem still goes unsolved, we foresee the markets having to keep digesting more waves of bad news. Yet the fear created by such news is diminishingnot because of a shortage of negative news headlinesbut because European banks are more protected by the many lifelines that central banks keep throwing them.
2012-01-21 Staring into the Abyss by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors
Europe's leaders are committed to keeping both the euro and the eurozone as it is. But for it to do so, everything must change, as the wonderful quote from the 1958 Italian novel suggests. This is no easy task, as no one wants a change that will impact them negatively; and there is no change that will allow things to stay the same that does not impact all severely, as we will see. In the third part of a continuing series, we look at the actual options that are available on the menu of choices, or as one group called it, the menu of pain.
2012-01-17 The Impact of the Falling Dollar by Jonathan A. Shapiro of Kovitz Investment Group
Regarding the progress of the businesses we own, a useful metric we track is the Price-to-Value ratio. Conceptually, this statistic measures the current price of a portfolio company to its intrinsic value, conservatively estimated through our multiple valuation techniques. For example, Wal*Marts current P-to-V Ratio is 80%, determined by taking its roughly $60 stock price divided by our current fair business value estimate of $75. This implies, based on what we know today, Wal*Mart is roughly 20% undervalued, providing approximately 25% upside from current levels (not including dividends).
2012-01-14 The End of Europe? by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors
The peripheral countries have no choices that allow them to grow and prosper without first suffering (for perhaps a long time) some very real economic pain. Leaving the eurozone has severe consequences; but the economic pain of leaving would go away sooner and allow for quicker adjustments, than if they stayed. However, the initial pain would be worse than the slow pain they'd suffer by staying in the euro. Their choice is, simply, which pain do they want or maybe, which pain do they think they want? Because whatever they choose, they are not going to like it.
2012-01-13 Investing in 2012: Same Issues, More Extreme Valuations by David Kelly of J.P. Morgan Funds
When all was said and done, 2011 turned out to be the metaphorical equivalent of a roller coaster ride.There were quiet positives: The addition of 1.6 million jobs with the unemployment rate falling from 9.4% to 8.5%, a gradual improvement in light vehicle sales, the demise of Bin Laden and gathering economic momentum as the year drew to a close. There were scary negatives: soaring oil prices in reaction to the Arab Spring the human and economic toll of the Japanese tsunami the inability of Europe to deal with its complicated debt issue and the inability of Washington to deal with simpler one.
2012-01-09 Middle East/Africa Fourth Quarter 2011 Economic Review by Team of Thomas White International
Weakening global activity and further political uncertainty are the foremost risks that are likely to affect the Middle East and Africa (MEA) regions performance. The IMF report notes that oil exporting nations of the MEA region have benefited from continued high energy prices and are slated to finish off 2011 clocking in a GDP growth of 5% before easing to 4% in 2012. However, these countries do face a downside risk in the likelihood of fiscal and debt challenges in the developed nations that could adversely impact global activity and international oil prices.
2012-01-07 2012: A Year of Choices by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors
2012 will the year that the consequences of the choices made by the developed world will begin to manifest themselves in the economic realm. We are in the closing chapters of the current Debt Supercycle, with different countries strewn out along the path, and all headed for a destination that will force major decisions if politically painful actions are not taken. Some countries (e.g., Greece) have a choice between the dire and the disastrous. The option for merely difficult choices was long ago, and there is no going back to where you started without a different but equally painful outcome.
2012-01-03 The Year of the Dragon by Jeffrey Saut of Raymond James Equity Research
Since the day after Thanksgiving I have stuck with the strategy that the Santa Claus rally had begun. On November 25th the SPX was changing hands around 1158. We are now 100 points higher. Consequently, I would not chase the dragon right here since I anticipate that an upside blow off is due ...
2011-12-24 Your Three Investing Opponents by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors
Recently I have been having a running conversation with Barry Ritholtz on the psychology of investing (something we both enjoy discussing and writing about). Since I am busily researching my annual forecast issue (and taking the day off), I asked Barry to share a few of his thoughts on why we do the things we do. He gives us even more, exploring the three main opponents we face when we enter the arena of investing.
2011-12-23 U.S. Real Estate Securities - November 2011 by Team of Cohen & Steers
Europe appears headed for recession, which would have at least some negative effect on the U.S. economy. However, that is a scenario we have incorporated into our models, and we continue to expect slow but steady domestic growth with gradually improving fundamentals for U.S. commercial real estate. Our estimates of net asset value are largely conservative. While transactional information has been relatively light, it has provided confirmation to our numbers. We believe acquisition activity could pick up as 2012 progresses, especially as REITs ability to raise capital remains in force.
2011-12-20 Wall Street Journal: Three Words of Advice for Million-Dollar Producers by Dan Richards (Article)
The financial advisor careers section of Wall Street Journal asked 60 advisors from all over the U.S. for suggestions to new advisors starting in the business whose goals were to be million-dollar producers. Their advice came down to three words.
2011-12-20 NewsLetter - December 2011 by Harold Evensky of Evensky & Katz
No question the markets have been scary and whenever that happens youll read about the value of diversification. The good news is, it works. It may not work day-to-day but over economic cycles, it works. Still, most investors do not really understand what a real diversified portfolio looks like so I did a quick and dirty evaluation of E&Ks typical investment portfolio and found: Stock positions in well over 12k different companies. The largest single position was Exxon at about 0.8% in an all equity allocation. Companies based in over 40 different countries.
2011-12-17 The Center Cannot Hold by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors
We'll leave aside the politics of the payroll tax extension and look at the economic implications, and then go on to examine the deficit in the US. That will give rise to some thoughts about Europe and what would have to happen for a country to leave the euro. We'll finally close with some thoughts and graphs about the more controversial part of the tax cut extension, the Keystone XL Pipeline. Just how radical is it to build such a pipeline in the US? And what are the implications for the deficit?
2011-12-13 GLWBs: Retiree Protection or Money Illusion? by Wade Pfau (Article)
One of the most popular variable annuity riders is the guaranteed lifetime withdrawal benefit (GLWB), which offers downside protection through lifetime income, upside potential with step-ups based on market performance, and minimal surrender penalties. But, examining historical data, I have found that those riders carry a cost that will not be readily apparent to retirees: their cash flows rapidly decrease on an inflation-adjusted basis.
2011-12-10 A Player to Be Named Later by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors
There are two main points to be taken away from this week's European summit. First, the Germans really took control. This has been coming for a long time, and it's not like we haven't discussed it in these letters. Second, Britain either opted out or was shown the door, depending on your point of view. That is the real game-changer, long-term, for more than the obvious reasons.
2011-12-06 Why Shiller and Soros May Be Wrong about Farmland Investing by Robert Huebscher (Article)
Earlier this year, Yale's Robert Shiller identified farmland as an asset class in the early stage of bubble formation. George Soros, Jim Grant and Jim Rogers have espoused similarly bullish views. But advisors - even those managing the assets of very wealthy clients - shouldn't bet the farm on these expert forecasts just yet.
2011-12-03 Time to Bring Out the Howitzers by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors
It is now common to use the term bazooka when referring the actions of governments and central banks as they try to avert a credit crisis. And this week we saw a coordinated effort by central banks to use their bazookas to head off another 2008-style credit disaster. The market reacted as if the crisis is now over and we can get on to the next bull run. Yet, we will see that it wasn't enough. Something more along the lines of a howitzer is needed (keeping with our WW2-era military arsenal theme). And of course I need to briefly comment on today's employment numbers.
2011-11-29 Telecommunications Sector in India: Surviving the Scandals and Consolidating Past Gains for Future by Team of Thomas White International
From one of the most celebrated among emerging market success stories to a case study in corruption and nepotism, the Indian communications industry has seen a dramatic swing in fortunes in recent years. After several decades of stagnancy under a government-owned monopoly, the industry became a classic example of how the right combination of new technology, innovation, and supportive government policies can transform a sector. Through the industrys success, Indias large consumer market potential was boosted, attracting investments into several other sectors of the economy.
2011-11-22 Investment Trends in the Financial Advisory Profession by Robert Huebscher (Article)
Advisors are optimistic about the returns Treasury bonds will provide over the next decade, but they are less sanguine about the projected performance of US equities. Their inflation expectations are consistent with the historical data. These findings and many others arise from our study, Investment Trends in the Financial Advisory Space: Key Implications for the Investment Management Industry, a research report now available from Advisor Perspectives.
2011-11-19 Print or Perish by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors
I do not think the euro will survive with the current mix of countries, nor do I think that Germany thinks so either. Greece is likely to go, as is Portugal. Can Spain really get its deficit under control in time? Do we see a two-euro world, one in the northern states and one in the southern? And to which one does France go? Looking at the politics, one might think the answer is obvious, but if you just look at the numbers, it is clearly not. France is in many respects a Mediterranean country. So many choices and none of them good.
2011-11-17 U.S. Earnings Update by Joseph S. Tanious of J.P. Morgan Funds
As 3rd quarter earnings season winds down, more than 90% of the S&P 500 market cap has reported, and it appears were headed for another quarter of record-breaking results. However, whats even more impressive is the revenue growth weve observed across all 10 S&P 500 sectors. The index is currently tracking revenue growth of roughly 13% year-over-year, a clear indicator earnings have been boosted by more than cost cutting. To be sure, margins have also widened out, which has helped fuel earnings growth over the past two years, something well touch on in more detail in the coming pages.
2011-11-15 Michael Aronstein on Today's Key Macro Trends by Robert Huebscher (Article)
Michael Aronstein is the president and chief executive officer of Marketfield Asset Management. Since its inception in 2008, his fund has returned 31% while the S&P has been down 15%. I spoke with him about the key macroeconomic and strategic issues facing investors today.
2011-11-15 An Endgame for Japans Debt? by Bryce Fegley of Saturna Capital
The Japanese government's ability to extract itself from two decades of runaway debt has become all the more challenging in the face of its shrinking tax base, rising interest payments, and social security obligations, not to mention the aftermath of its earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear disasters. The recent precedent of the country's dysfunctional political system does not bode well for making tough choices necessary to stabilize the debt. Of the possible consequences of the runaway debt, eventual monetization, high inflation, and currency devaluation are the most likely outcomes.
2011-11-12 Where is the ECB Printing Press? by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors
There is too much debt in many southern countries; France is not far from having its own crisis if they do not get back into balance. And if they lose their AAA rating, then any EFSF solution is just so much bad paper. The path of least resistance, and I use that term guardedly, is for the ECB to find its printing press. Perhaps they can borrow one from Bernanke.
2011-11-10 Aflacs (AFL) Fair Value PE Ratio Should Be Double, and So Should Its Price by Chuck Carnevale of F.A.S.T. Graphs
This is the third in a series of articles that have been designed to provide investors greater insights into the proper understanding and utilization of the PE ratio as a valuation measurement tool. With this iteration were going to look at Aflac to identify significant undervaluation. The first article in this series looked at Amazon as an example of overvaluation. Our second article looked at SCANA Corp. and Darden Restaurant Group as examples of fairly valued companies; however, we further introduced the concept of the earnings growth rate as a relative component of future return.
2011-11-05 Where Will the Jobs Come From? by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors
What is the role of government in creating jobs? To answer that, let's look at the data that shows us where jobs come from. And we find that net new jobs for the last 15 years came from new business start-ups. Big business is a net drag on job creation, and small businesses are a wash. Governments have seen job growth, but where does the money come to pay government employees?
2011-11-01 The Small Cap Falsehood by Michael Edesess (Article)
The supposed outperformance of small cap stocks is a foundational precept on which many respected asset managers have staked their expertise over the years – foremost among them, Dimensional Fund Advisors. A growing body of research, however, shows no such advantage for the last 30 years and, now, a new study seems to have proven that the supposed small-cap advantage may have never existed in the first place.
2011-11-01 A Better Way to do Financial Planning by Robert Huebscher (Article)
Simplicity is dangerous when it comes to financial planning. Easy-to-use tools that project your retirement savings based on minimal inputs such as your income and savings rate amount to a “bait-and-switch,” according to Larry Kotlikoff, a Boston University professor of economics. To properly prepare for retirement, one should focus on maintaining a constant standard of living throughout their life – what economists call consumption smoothing.
2011-11-01 Regulatory Armageddon by Bob Veres (Article)
Suppose you were somehow able to convince 40 advisors, who are all well-known thought leaders in the profession, to gather in the same room for a six-hour brainstorming session. The goal: to identify the single most important thing that the financial planning profession should be thinking about now. What do you think they'd come up with? Fasten your seat belts, because this may be the most important report you'll read all year.
2011-10-25 How to Create Presentations for an iPad by Kristen Luke (Article)
The iPad is an excellent presentation tool. It's light, portable, and clearly made for eye-catching visuals. Here are some tips for ensuring your presentations look their best when viewed on an iPad.
2011-10-25 Housing: A Time to Buy by David Kelly and David Lebovitz of J.P. Morgan Funds
With the debt crisis in Europe still unresolved and economic growth in the U.S. sluggish, the capital markets continue to exhibit elevated volatility. However, this does not mean that no investment opportunities exist. Although the U.S. housing market remains extremely depressed, we believe that given current valuations and demographic dynamics, now may be the time to consider an investment in housing. Few financial manias in history have had as devastating an economic impact as the American real estate bubble of the 2000s.
2011-10-18 A Response to Improving on Morningstar Style Boxes by C. Thomas Howard, PhD (Article)
A reader responds to Stephen Dodson's article, Improving on Morningstar Style Boxes, which appeared last week. Taking on the scourge of the active equity mutual fund industry, the style grid, is a laudable goal. I would like to build upon the arguments presented in that article.
2011-10-14 Case Study: Buyouts Crystallize Value in the Market by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors
Theres value in the market. Thats the message the market is sending through the recent strategic acquisitions in the energy and gold mining spaces. This week it was announced that Sinopec, a large Chinese oil and gas company, is purchasing Canadian energy company Daylight Energy for $2.1 billion in cash. The deal was struck at a whopping 120 percent premium to Daylights share price prior to the announcement and a 43.6 percent premium over the 60-day weighted average price, according to Reuters.
2011-10-13 The Great Deleveraging: Will Consumer Spending Ever Recover? by Team of Knowledge @ Wharton
U.S. households are a critical contributor to economic health. But the financial downturn of recent years has hit consumers hard, and they are more hesitant than ever to spend, borrow or seek access to credit. Although a more debt-conscious outlook has positive implications for the individual, experts say the widespread deleveraging is making it difficult for the business sector and the economy as a whole to get back on its feet.
2011-10-11 The Economic Twilight Zone by Brian S. Wesbury and Robert Stein of First Trust Advisors
The pessimists say, we will scare ourselves into recession. And they ask; what about Europe? We dont ignore either of these possibilities. It might be possible to scare ourselves into recession. But true panics are very rare. And Europe could theoretically take us out, but mark-to-market accounting no longer can cause a contagion like it did back in 2008. Some investors say they wont invest until this episode of the Twilight Zone ends. But, the market is cheap and the economy is growing. Accumulating assets, with values so battered down is successful long-term investing.
2011-10-08 An Irish Haircut by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors
But here is the issue for Europe. The amount of money needed for Ireland is going to be a lot more than they now think, or at least are willing to admit. When Eurozone politicians worry about 'contagion,' or one country wanting the debt relief that another country gets, it is a very real worry. And rightfully so, as voters in Portugal or Spain or (gasp) Italy who are burdened by debt that is seemingly intractable will also want relief. It is not just an Irish condition, it is a human trait.
2011-09-23 Postcard from Thailand by In-bok Song of Matthews Asia
The Phue Thai (PT) Party led by Yingluck Shinawatra has already been voted into office, and various policies aimed at boosting domestic consumption have largely been expected. Changing consumption patterns that result from rising disposable income are likely to be pleasant challenges for Thai retailers. These challenges include finding the most complementary tenant mix and investing in information technology systems to monitor tenant sales and foot traffic. As always, we continue to research company fundamentals, but will note the efforts companies make in establishing long-term strategies.
2011-09-20 Counterparty Risk in Large Total-Return Funds by Robert Huebscher (Article)
We can add another to the list of concerns facing advisors: counterparty risk – a potential loss from the failure of a bank or broker-dealer. Underscoring this threat, DoubleLine's founder and chief investment officer, Jeffrey Gundlach, recently warned advisors to avoid all funds with counterparty risk. Heeding his warning, however, is not easy; it is virtually impossible to gauge the extent of counterparty risk in most funds.
2011-09-20 Own Your Brand by Kristen Luke (Article)
Your company's brand is too important to not have total control of your logo. Your designer may have created your logo, but you should have full control over these files. This means having appropriate versions for different applications and owning the rights to your logo.
2011-09-20 Europe!? by David Kelly of J.P. Morgan Funds
Investors might wonder why global markets care so much about European debt. After all, relative to the size of their economies, both the U.S. and Japan run bigger annual budget deficits and have accumulated more government debt than the Euro Zone as a whole. The answer lies in the fact that Europe is now too integrated to be immune to the problems in any one nation, but still too divided to do anything effective to deal with them. Because of this, a very serious budget problem in one nation can undermine confidence in government debt and the banking system across the entire continent.
2011-09-04 Its All About the Jobs and Gold by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors
If somehow a Republican appeared in the White House tomorrow, there is no magic he (or she!) could bring with him/her to fix the unemployment problem. There are just some things the private sector will have to do for itself, and the sooner the government stops getting in the way, the sooner will get things fixed. But it will take a long time, no mater what. For the record, I think you should own about 5% of your net worth in gold, as insurance, not as an investment.
2011-08-27 The End of the World, Part 1 by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors
It is only a matter of time until Europe has a true crisis, which will happen faster BANG! than any of us can now imagine. Think Lehman on steroids. The US gave Europe our subprime woes. Europe gets to repay the favor with an even more severe banking crisis that, given that the US is at best at stall speed, will tip us into a long and serious recession. Stay tuned.
2011-08-23 A Fundamental Investment Strategy for Today\'s Environment by Robert Huebscher (Article)
We spoke with Tim Hartch and Michael Keller, who are co-managers of the Morningstar 5-star BBH Core Select Fund (BBTEX) from Brown Brothers Harriman. The fund's strategy is strictly bottom-up, with investments in established, cash-generative businesses that are leading providers of essential products and services with strong management teams and loyal customers.
2011-08-23 What You Don't Know About Stock Photos Can Hurt You by Kristen Luke (Article)
While the process of purchasing a stock image is easy, make sure you are purchasing the photos with the correct specifications and licenses to meet your needs. Otherwise, you could find yourself paying much more than you ever would have imagined.
2011-08-13 The Beginning of the Endgame by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors
In short, there are no easy solutions. We have just about used up all our rabbits in the hat as far as fiscal and monetary policy are concerned. We now need to focus on what we can do to get out of the way of the private sector, so it can find ways to create new businesses and jobs. And that means figuring out how to get money to new businesses, because that is where net new jobs come from. But that takes time...
2011-08-09 Communicating to Clients during Turbulent Times by Kristen Luke (Article)
While we all hope that sending messages to clients about the next economic crisis won't be as necessary as it has been in recent years, that is not a reasonable expectation. So prepare yourself now to be able to communicate quickly with your clients in the future.
2011-08-05 Advisor Alert - Placing This Week's Selloff Into Context by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors
The major market indices were lower this week. The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 5.75 percent. The S&P 500 Stock Index decreased 7.19 percent, while the Nasdaq Composite fell 8.13 percent. Barra Growth outperformed Barra Value as Barra Value finished 7.53 percent lower while Barra Growth decreased 6.88 percent. The Russell 2000 closed the week with a loss of 10.34 percent. The Hang Seng Composite Index finished lower by 6.80 percent, Taiwan fell 9.15 percent, and the KOSPI declined 8.88 percent. The 10-year Treasury bond yield closed 24 basis points lower at 2.56 percent.
2011-08-03 The Trouble with Quants by Chris Brightman of Research Affiliates
Quant managers often over-engineer their products. When these products collapse, they leave investors confused and upset. On this fourth anniversary of the August 2007 Quant Meltdown, we look at what lessons can be learned from the past and how they may apply to some current investment strategies.
2011-08-02 Hitting a Moving Target: Matching Portfolio Risk to Client Expectations by Scott Smith (Article)
Much of the angst faced by investors and advisors over the last several years was caused by mismatched perceptions regarding investors' appetite for portfolio risk. Advisors overestimated the amount of risk investors were comfortable being exposed to within portfolios.
2011-07-30 An Economy at Stall Speed by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors
The economy is at stall speed, it is quite possible well see further downward revisions to the already anemic growth numbers, and Congress and the President are dithering over the debt ceiling. It will not take much to push us into an outright recession. We can go a few days, I think, with the latter problem, but not too long or the markets will throw up.
2011-07-30 The 2011 Gold Season is Just around the Corner by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors
September has traditionally been the beginning of the gift-giving season for gold. This is the time of year when gold jewelers are the busiest. The Muslim holy month of Ramadan begins in August and concludes with generous gift-giving in early September. Then its Diwali, known as the festival of lights in India, Christmas in the U.S., and Chinese New Year. The key to this seasonal strength over the past few years has been demand from China and India.
2011-07-23 Kicking the Can Down the Road One More Time by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors
I hope Europe pulls it off. I really do. They have done the US a huge favor by adopting this latest plan, as it keeps their banking system from imploding; because their banks are essentially insolvent with all the sovereign debt on their books. Such a banking crisis, which would be worse than 2008, in my opinion, would no doubt plunge a world already slowing down back into recession and pull our own slow-growth economy down into recession with them. How long can they kick the can down the road? My guess is that it will be longer than we suspect.
2011-07-23 Worried About the Future? by Kendall J. Anderson of Anderson Griggs
If you are worried about the current economic state of affairs you may be relieved by what research analysts are telling portfolio managers. First, they seem to be in agreement that businesses are doing fine, especially those that have a global market. Second, interest rates will be higher at some point in the future, and the majority of government debt is safe as far as the ability to pay interest on their borrowing. And most importantly, the earnings you should expect from your investments will be driven over time by the ability of companies to pay you with a little left over to reinvest.
2011-07-22 Six Attractively Valued Dividend Growth Stocks Reporting Earnings! by Chuck Carnevale of EDMP
Investors today have instant access to minute by minute changes in the stock prices of their portfolio holdings in real time. Since stock prices tend to fluctuate wildly from one day to the next, I for one do not feel that this information overload is a good thing. What makes matters even worse is how wildly the value of a stock can change from one day to the next. It's not uncommon to see a stock rise or fall by 10% or more on any given trading day. Yet common sense would dictate that the intrinsic value of a large publicly traded company could not possibly change that much that quickly.
2011-07-22 And That's the Week That Was... by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates
While Obama and the Republicans seem to getting closer to making a deficit reduction deal (just dont mention tax hikes), plenty of naysayers lurk in the background, preparing to derail it. Additionally, lots of infighting has emerged as Conservatives worry that their leaders are giving in on taxes and Dems fear Obama is not requiring nearly enough on the tax front in return for spending cuts. The markets reacted positively to news the two sides are talking and virtually everyone thinks the debt ceiling will get raised before the deadline (except maybe some Tea Partiers).
2011-07-21 Kovitz Investment Group, LLC Summer 2011 Quarterly Commentary by Jonathan A. Shapiro of Kovitz Investment Group
People tend to suffer greater pain from losing a given amount of money than they experience pleasure from gaining the same amount. The typical investor is therefore a pain avoider who shuns certain stocks when there is any hint of trouble. This tendency results in consistent overreaction to bad news that we believe creates opportunity. Inefficient pricing results from the excessive focus on short-term that we believe sets up a unique time arbitrage. By capitalizing on situations where uncertainty is high, but risk is low, we can put ourselves in a position to earn above-average returns.
2011-07-19 Should You Use Google+? by Kristen Luke (Article)
The jury is still out on whether Google+ is going to be the next Facebook. So the question is, 'Should you use it?'
2011-07-19 You and the Internet, Part II - Places to Go, People to See by Wendy J. Cook (Article)
In my last article, How to Waste Time and Influence People, we covered productive ways to wander on the Internet. You also can benefit from harnessing the Internet as it relates to your advisory practice.
2011-07-18 Matter over Mind by Herbert Abramson and Randall Abramson of Trapeze Asset Management
As the markets declined in the quarter, stocks became significantly oversold from the negative psychology resulting from the negative headlines. A mindset of fear. CNBC recently reported that investors were more concerned about the economy than at any other time during the past five years; a CBS poll found that 39% of Americans believe the economy is in a state of permanent decline. The mind can play tricks. But when perceived risk is so great it is typically reflected more than warranted in depressed share prices. The news doesn’t have to be good, just not as bad as everyone believes.
2011-07-16 Back to the Basics by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors
This week we are going to revisit some themes concerning the problems of the debt and the deficit. I am getting a number of questions, so while long-time readers may have read most of this in one letter or another, it is clearly time for a review, especially given the deficit/debt-ceiling debate. I will probably offend some cherished beliefs of most readers, but that is the nature of the times we live in. It is the time of the Endgame, where things are not as black and white as they have been in the past.
2011-07-16 And That's the Week That Was... by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates
Just what happens when politics moves over into the investment spectrum? For this week, at least, the results were not so good. With partisan bickering dominating the debt negotiations (and virtually all non-politicians worrying about a default and ratings downgrade), investors ran for the hills (or into treasuries). At least, the Fed looks prepared to add more stimulus (hey I thought that was done?).
2011-07-09 What Happened to the Jobs? by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors
The economy will be slowing down. A recession in 2012 is a real possibility if there is any type of shock coming from Europe. Most European leaders are basing their thinking more on hope than on reality. When Greece defaults there will be a domino effect. And you could actually see a banking crisis before we get actual sovereign defaults. The market does not get it. Neither in Europe nor in the US. When someone says the market has already priced in a default, go back and ask them how well the market priced in a crisis in the spring of 2008. The market doesn’t know jack.
2011-07-08 And That's The "QUARTER" That Was... by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates
April 2011 picked up exactly where the first quarter ended as equities enjoyed their best month of the year and bulls appeared to be firmly in control. Then a funny thing happened on the way to big gains (actually a few not-so-funny things)…Stocks tumbled and key indexes dropped for seven out of eight weeks as the quarter neared a close and investors looked to the safe-haven of treasuries (despite the credit rating concerns). And just when all hope seemed lost…a new Greek solution emerged, manufacturers seemed to get back on track, and the Fed ended the QE2 stimulus to little fanfare.
2011-07-08 And That's The Week That Was… by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates
Hip hip hooray, the labor market is improving! Oops, it’s not. According to ADP and Macroeconomic Advisors, 157,000 new private sector jobs were created in June, a much better-than-expected showing and nice sign for this crucial area of the economy. However, before the ink was even dry on that report, the Labor Department contradicted it by revealing that only 18k jobs were added last month and the unemployment rate climbed to 9.2%, the highest level of the year. Additionally, jobless claims dropped in the latest weekly release, but still remain well in excess of 400,000.
2011-07-05 Three Steps to a Better Web Design by Kristen Luke (Article)
You have several options for web development: hire a web designer, purchase a template website, or create your own. Whichever you choose, spending some time in the planning stages will make the process quicker, easier and perhaps even cheaper.
2011-07-05 Scarce Resources by Dennis Nacken of Allianz Global Investors
For decades, investors largely ignored the commodities segment. They can no longer afford to. Commodity production can scarcely keep up with the dynamic development in global demand. The supply bottleneck could remain a sustainable driver of higher commodity prices for the foreseeable future. This applies to energy, to commodities in general and agricultural products in particular: these resources are becoming scarcer—and this is a megatrend.
2011-07-02 And That\'s the Week That Was... by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates
The second quarter ended on a very positive note as equities enjoyed a late surge to bring the Dow into positive territory for the period (and the other indexes close to flat). Such performances didn’t seem likely just a few weeks ago, but positive news this week from Greece, signs of a rebound in manufacturing, and declining gas prices that helped ease a more fearful inflation picture put a damper on the recent negativity. Equities enjoyed their best week in two years. Let’s hope the mood lasts.
2011-07-02 My View on the Last Half of the Year by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors
The economy should be in Muddle Through range (around 2% growth), absent any shocks. For instance, today we had the June ISM number, which was stronger than most analysts expected, at 55.3. There was a lot of whispering that it could dip below 50. Some of the internal components were a little soft, though. New Orders were barely above 50. And Backlogs fell below 50. Exports fell to the lowest level in two years (more on that below). Of the 18 industries surveyed, only 12 reported growth. But Muddle Through is not going to allow us to really cut into the unemployment problem.
2011-06-25 And That's the Week That Was... by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates
If it’s not one things, it’s another. A Greek tragedy averted (for now, perhaps?); a move to limit the rise in crude and gasoline prices (necessary or panic?); a never-ending debt crisis with political ramification (not only in Greece); an (overly) cautious assessment of the latest Fed-speak. Add it all up and you have a pretty volatile week on the equity front. The second quarter cannot end soon enough. Hey Japan…how’s that restructuring plan coming?
2011-06-25 The Contagion Risk of Europe by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors
Europe would be better off just taking the money they are giving to Greece and using it to recapitalize their banks. Let Greece go. Give it up. Let them enter a 12-step program or whatever it is that insolvent nations do. That is harsh, but it is also the truth.
2011-06-20 Sector Insights Focus: Energy by James R. Margard, Peter M. Musser and Carlee J. Price of Rainier Funds
There is a large opportunity set in the energy sector. There are 205 public US companies that have a market cap greater than $500 million. We seek to understand these companies from both a subjectively analytical point of view, as well as a quantitative angle. We have a proprietary database in which we track important characteristics of a broad range of companies. We also have another tool to track measures that are more specific to this sector. We utilize price to- cash flow ratios and net asset valuations as the principal tools for assessing the stock price targets.
2011-06-17 And That’s The Week That Was … by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates
Fed policymakers, next week, discuss the state of the economy and debate the need for additional stimuli. QE3 anyone? The controversial bond buying programs ends in June so investors and economists will keep an eye on the next round of data for signs that the economy can finally “go at it alone.” A recent WSJ survey pegged a future rate cut well into 2012 so corporations and home buyers should still have the luxury of affordable credit for the foreseeable future. Greece will remain in the news and investors hope for some prompt solution before contagion spreads to Portugal, Spain and Ireland.
2011-06-14 Fall Marketing Starts Today by Kristen Luke (Article)
The summer slowdown provides an excellent opportunity to focus more energy on marketing and planning for the fall. Here are three things to work on to prepare for September and the fourth quarter.
2011-06-10 Time to Get Outraged by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors
This week we look at data from the Bank of International Settlements, by which (if someone does a lot of work) you can figure out how much US banks have written in credit default swaps to banks in Europe on Greek, Irish, and Portuguese debt. The details should not make you happy. I meditate on whether one should buy a house now, and then discuss “the way out” of all this mess and why we will Muddle Through.
2011-06-10 And That's the Week That Was... by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates
Last summer, the markets encountered a (temporary) setback as debt problems in Europe threatened the global recovery and weaker data prompted thoughts of a double-dip. Well, after six consecutive down weeks, the pessimism has returned to the equity markets; of similar note, Greece still has yet to find its footing and the once promising labor rebound still has a long way to go. The Fed is about to end a controversial stimulus, but stands prepared to help again if situations warrant.
2011-06-03 And That’s The Week That Was… by Team of Brounes & Associates
Congress failed to pass a bill to raise the government’s debt ceiling and help avoid a default in early August. Republicans refused to support any legislation that is not tied to specific deficit reduction, even though there is a potential downgrade on US debt without any progress on a deal. The bickering continued in the aftermath of the unemployment data as both parties blamed the other for the weaker results. Republicans questioned the “binge of taxing, spending, borrowing and over-regulating,” while Democrats claimed their counterparts are too focused on “tax breaks for millionaires.”
2011-06-03 Economic Whiplash by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors
The political winds in Europe are shifting. The crowd that runs the various member countries today will not long survive the changes. There will be new politicians with different mandates as it becomes clear that the costs of the bailout are going to fall on the backs of the solvent countries and that austerity is going to mean hellishly bad deflation, high and rising employment, and depression in the indebted countries. And with the US economy slowing down, it might not take much to push us over the edge.
2011-06-02 Still Chugging Along: The Market that Could by Team of Eagle Asset Management
The global economic recovery is moving along but there remain some areas of concern. Our managers’ discussion included such things as rising commodity prices, real estate problems and perhaps most interesting to readers, how they have investment portfolios positioned. Included in the roundtable were Bert L. Boksen (Small/Mid Cap Growth); James Camp (Fixed Income); Ed Cowart (Equity Income/Value); Todd McCallister (Small/Mid Cap Core); Jack McPherson (Small Cap Core Value); Eric Mintz (Small/Mid Cap Growth); Richard Skeppstrom (Large Cap Core); and Stacey Serafini Thomas (Small/Mid Cap Core)
2011-05-31 Fantasy-world Returns for Equity Indexed Annuities by Robert Huebscher (Article)
When research fails to meet the basic standards of academic rigor, its conclusions should be questioned. One such case is a recent paper, Real-World Index Annuity Returns, whose conclusions you should trust at your own risk.
2011-05-28 And That’s The Week That Was … by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates
While Memorial Day starts summer, many traders got a jumpstart on the season by skipping town early as volume was quite thin on the exchanges. Earnings announcements continued (though folks stopped paying attention long ago) and Tiffany and Guess both bested expectations, a nice sign for luxury retail. As the season comes to a close, the results spoke well for the state of Corporate America. For the quarter, profits increased by almost 6% to $1.45 trillion. The IPO world did not fare as well after investors thought the LinkedIn success of last week had ushered in a new “exuberance.”
2011-05-28 A Random Walk Through the Minefield by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors
In the last 48 hours, so much news has come out of Europe that has me frankly shaking my head. It is a strange game of brinksmanship they are playing, and it is one we should be paying attention to (as if the brinkmanship played by US politicians over the debt ceiling is not enough). This week we look at what seems to be European leaders taking random walks through the minefield at the very heart of the European Experiment. As Paul Simon wrote, “A man sees what he wants to see and disregards the rest.”
2011-05-24 A Sentence that Tripled Referrals by Dan Richards (Article)
This veteran advisor added a six-word sentence to his website - and saw referrals triple as a result.
2011-05-24 Stop Making 'House Calls' by Kristen Luke (Article)
If a client or prospect isn't willing to come to your office and meet, find out why and develop a solution. Below are two common excuses advisors hear and solutions that avoid having traveling around town to meet someone.
2011-05-24 What is conservative about Absolute Return, Market Neutral or Long/Short Mutual Funds? by Kendall J. Anderson of Anderson Griggs
The machine of Wall Street has convinced many individuals who believe they are prudent, conservative, investors that a mutual fund whose name or objective includes the terms Absolute Return, Market Neutral, Long/Short or hedged, will never lose your money. An individual whose fear of losing again from common stocks just can’t bear sitting on cash and earning a nickel of interest every three months 1k. The desire to increase returns is just too great. Before you fall for the hype there are a few things you should know. The most important item you should remember is that there is no guarantee.
2011-05-21 And That’s The Week That Was … by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates
It’s beginning to look a lot like…summer. From college commencements to high school proms to nursery school graduations…soon kids will be home with nothing to do (but spend their parents’ hard-earned money); vacations start in earnest; and market volume usually takes a tumble (tee times during trading hours). As for this year…rising commodities have elevated food prices which makes dining out more expensive. Likewise, with gasoline prices pushing $4/gal, analysts worry about any ill-effects on travel plans and overall consumer activity. In fact, several retailers are already feeling the pinch.
2011-05-16 Hanging Around, Hoping to Get Lucky by John P. Hussman of Hussman Funds
Despite the unique challenges of the most recent market cycle, I do expect that we will observe frequent opportunities to accept market risk in the coming years, even in an environment where valuations gradually work lower from a secular perspective. Even here, if we can clear some element of the hostile overvalued, overbought, overbullish, rising-yields syndrome that has characterized the market, we will be open to moderate, if transitory exposure to market fluctuations, provided that we maintain a line of index put option protection against any abrupt deterioration.
2011-05-14 Kicking the Can to the End of the Road by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors
A crisis is brewing in the US and one is coming to a slow boil in Europe. We visit Greece and Ireland and ponder how this will end. It is all well and good to kick the can down the road, but what happens when you come to the end of the road? The European answer seems to be to haul in the heavy equipment and extend the road. In short, we are watching the biggest bubble of all time, the bubble of government debt, try to keep from popping. My bet is that it can’t. And while the ride will be bumpy, the world our kids get will be better off at the end of the process.
2011-05-13 And That's the Week That Was... by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates
Let the volatility begin. Commodities prices go up…equities follow. Commodities prices stumble…equities follow. These days, the supply/demand vs. speculation debate seems to be consuming investors’ mindsets as the major moves in metals, grains, and energy (both up and down) are leading the direction of stocks (both up and down). Earnings still remain solid, though more firms are warning about future results.
2011-05-10 Something's Fishy in the Russell Rebalancing by Mariko Gordon (Article)
We humanoids think in words; it's just the way we're wired. As a result, the labels we assign to things affect our view of the world. I look at two frequently used investment labels: 'growth' and 'value.' I'll explain why both are high on my list of jargon pet peeves.
2011-05-07 Muddle Through, or Crisis? by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors
This week I finish the two-part letter on the Endgame and give you my thoughts on the economy over the next five years. This is the second part of a speech I gave last week at the Strategic Investment Conference in La Jolla. It is a rather bold forecast, and fraught with peril and likely errors, but that is my job here. I must offer one large caveat! If the facts change so will my forecast, but this is the view into my very cloudy crystal ball as I see it today. As always, remember that those of us in the forecasting world are often wrong but seldom in doubt. Read accordingly.
2011-05-06 And That’s The Week That Was … by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates
As the 10-year anniversary of 9-11 approaches, American have all too vivid memories of that dreadful day and the frightening uncertainties that have remained because of the elevated terror risks. This week, one uncertainty was lifted as Osama bin Laden, the 9-11 mastermind, was killed in a successful military operation in Pakistan. While his death does not eliminate the risk of future attacks, it brings much-needed closure to many and a newfound sense of country pride for the US military and intelligence community.
2011-05-02 Extreme Conditions and Typical Outcomes by John P. Hussman of Hussman Funds
As of Friday, the S&P 500 has advanced to a point where it is either within 0.1% or fully through its top Bollinger band on virtually every horizon. We can define an "overvalued, overbought, overbullish, rising-yields syndrome" a number of ways. The more general the criteria, the better you capture historical instances that preceded abrupt market weakness, but the more you also encounter "false positives." Still, as long as the criteria capture the syndrome, we find that the average risk profile for subsequent market performance is negative, regardless of the subset of history you inspect.
2011-04-29 The Endgame Headwinds by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors
By Endgame I mean the period of time in which many of the developed economies of the world will either willingly deleverage or be forced to do so. This age of deleveraging will produce a fundamentally different economic environment lasting anywhere from 4-6 years. Now, whether this deleveraging is orderly, as now appears to be the case in Britain, or more resembles what I have long predicted will be a violent default in Greece, it will create a profoundly different economic world from the one we have lived in for 60 years.
2011-04-26 How to Take Advantage of the CFP Awareness Campaign by Kristen Luke (Article)
If you are a CFP, you will be directly affected by the Let's Make a Plan campaign, even if you take a passive role. Those who take a more active role can use the toolkit provided by the CFP Board to promote themselves in local markets. Here's what's entailed and what you can personally do to take advantage of the campaign.
2011-04-26 When is a Fiduciary not a Fiduciary? by Jeffrey Briskin (Article)
You would think every investment professional who claims to be acting in a fiduciary capacity for his or her clients understands exactly what that entails. But the results of a recent survey of brokers and RIAs indicates that many apply their own personal 'fiduciary litmus test' when determining where these responsibilities start and end.
2011-04-25 The Upside of Useless Stuff by Dan Ariely of Predictably Irrational
There’s been plenty of talk lately –in these pages and elsewhere– about a new kind of capitalism. About creating things because they’re good for society. About understanding, as Michael Porter and Mark Kramer suggest (“Creating Shared Value,” HBR January-February 2011), that not all profits are created equal: Profits derived from making the world better are superior to those derived from the consumption of useless, or even harmful, junk. At the risk of touching the third rail, I propose that getting people to want things they don’t really need may be far more valuable to society than we think
2011-04-23 The 'Miracle' of Compound Inflation by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors
Investors will face the “zero bound” in interest rates for a while longer. They can sit on their cash and earn nothing. They can fret and wring their hands about a ramp-up in inflation, but the evidence so far does not support it. They can stay in the US dollar, in which case they can watch their dollars weaken relative to the rest of the world. Travelling in Sicily or Rome validates how strong the euro is relative to the dollar. All you have to do is buy a dinner or hotel room.
2011-04-22 And That's the Week That Was... by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates
What do those guys know at S&P anyway? Sure China has been warning us for years, but is the largest US creditor really going to cut us off just because our politicos can’t get along? (Don’t answer that.) This week, the gov got a wakeup call from the rating agency that it’s time to get our budgetary house in order. Investors reacted negatively (briefly), but then decided to focus more on iPhone sales and other positive developments. Let’s see what Dr. B. and friends have to say next week. Enjoy the long weekend.
2011-04-21 South Korean and Taiwanese Electronics Giants Fight for Global Influence by Team of Thomas White International
The East Asian nations of South Korea and Taiwan have transformed themselves from being the manufacturing backyards of US and Japan into high-tech giants in the past four decades. Their growth in the field of electronics has been impressive especially since the late 1990s. Currently, South Korean and Taiwanese firms are not only engaged in the manufacturing of the highly-commoditized chips but also in the production of hi-tech electronic devices such as smartphones, tablets, televisions and personal computers.
2011-04-21 Banking Sector in India: Counting on Credit Growth by Team of Thomas White International
In 2008, when the global banking industry was being shaken by the tremors of the unfolding financial crisis, only one bank in India felt the aftershocks, and this, only because one of its overseas subsidiaries had made an opportunistic bet on debt issued by the failed investment bank Lehman Brothers. While the market valuations of all the leading banks in India slipped as equity prices tumbled, their businesses were not affected and their balance sheets remained healthy. Most domestic commentators continue to hold up this as evidence of the inherent strengths of the Indian banking industry.
2011-04-20 Kovitz Investment Group, LLC Spring 2011 Quarterly Commentary by Jonathan A. Shapiro of Kovitz Investment Group
Over the past several years, we have often written about our penchant for owning high quality, large capitalization stocks. Our affinity is not due to a belief in an inherent investment superiority of large companies versus their smaller brethren. Rather, our collection of large companies is solely based on the discrepancies between price and value we are currently witnessing in the marketplace. Skipping to the punch line, we believe that at current prices large-caps (not all, of course, but those that meet our investment criteria) are a buy while small-caps are generally a sell.
2011-04-19 Two More Changes to Facebook by Kristen Luke (Article)
In last week's article, What Facebook's New Features Mean for your Business, I discussed a recent change Facebook made that allows business pages to interact throughout the site as a business and not just as an individual. Facebook made two other changes to business pages that affect how advisors use them as a marketing tool.
2011-04-19 Middle East/Africa: Economic Review March 2011 by Team of Thomas White International
The turmoil in the Middle East region continues, with Libya exploding into civil war, and troops from the Gulf Cooperation Council being called in to suppress the protests in Bahrain. In terms of the economic repercussions, stock markets in the MENA are estimated to have lost around $140 billion in market capitalization during the last month. According to the Arab Monetary Fund, the market capitalization of 16 Arab bourses was valued at $862 billion on March 4, compared with $1.002 billion on January 25, a day before the political crisis in Egypt triggered upheaval across the Middle East.
2011-04-15 And That’s The Week That Was … by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates
Though Reps and Dems came together to find $39 billion in budget cuts to avoid a government shutdown, the mood in DC is far from amicable and no one is singing kumbaya. On the heals of Tax Day, Prez O submitted his plan to rein in the deficit by $4 trillion over 12 years that includes spending cuts AND tax hikes aimed at biz and the well-off. While a bipartisan commission praised the proposal as a "solid, responsible plan," would-be Presidential candidates lined up to offer their opposing views, particularly against anything resembling a tax increase.
2011-04-12 Ten Trends that will Reshape the Fund Industry by Robert Huebscher (Article)
For advisors scouring among thousands of mutual funds, bargains and inefficiencies will be harder to find in coming years. Intense competition among funds for shelf space will not translate to lower fees, and the new class of broad asset allocation funds is unlikely to live up to its marketing promises. Those were among the surprising forecasts from Geoff Bobroff, with whom I met last week.
2011-04-12 What Facebook's New Features Mean for your Business by Kristen Luke (Article)
In March, Facebook changed how business pages can interact with other Facebook users. Most notably, a new feature called 'Use Facebook as a Page' allows business to 'like' and comment on other users.
2011-04-12 The Keys to Successful Client Appreciation Events by Jennifer Geoghegan (Article)
Even a couple of years ago, many firms would do a single client appreciation event in a year, writing it off as little more than a fun opportunity for clients and employees to get together, with no expectation of a return on their investment. Today, however, many advisors have told me that referrals through traditional pipelines are slowing. Instead, they have turned to events and found that they go a long way towards building trust with clients and prospects and driving new business.
2011-04-08 And That's The Week That Was… by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates
All those rabid anti-government, “conspiracy theorists” may soon get what they most desire. As of Friday afternoon, politicos were continuing their game of chicken as the clock kept ticking toward the first government shutdown in 15 years. While both parties have made concessions on spending programs, the old reliable abortion issue has entered the mix. The latest WSJ poll reveals that Americans blame congressional Republicans (37%) most, countering the partisan hope that Prez O 20% and the Dems 20%, had the most to lose. For now it appears that the American people have the most to lose.
2011-04-05 A Close Look at the PIMCO-Met Life Retirement Strategy A Marriage Made in Investment Heaven? by Michael Edesess (Article)
If you embrace their recently announced co-marketing strategy, when you're relatively young you use PIMCO's Real Income Funds for stable income in the near term. When you're older Met Life's Longevity Income Guarantee kicks in and takes it from there. You're set with secure income for life. We examine these products more closely and analyze whether they are good deals, either separately or together.
2011-04-05 Four Ways to Position Yourself as an Expert by Kristen Luke (Article)
You have a wealth of knowledge about your industry and about how you can help your prospects. Indeed, you are an expert, but does your target market consider you one?
2011-04-05 Shad Rowe?! by Jeffrey Saut of Raymond James Equity Research
Since the 1980s I have read articles by Shad in Forbes, Fortune, Barrons, etc. and always found them insightful. Moreover, I have often used his sagacious comments in these missives to emphasize those gleanings in an attempt to help investors profit from them. This morning is no exception. Shad outlined why he is a steadfast bull on the American stock market. Said bullishness does not stem from his nature, for a couple of decades ago he enjoyed great success as a short seller. Nope, Shads bullishness is based on the belief that innovation is thriving in America.
2011-04-05 And That's The "QUARTER" That Was... by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates
“It’s a small world after all.” The past quarter was proof positive that developments across the world truly impact the global economy and investment markets (or do they?). A pro-democracy movement spread across the Middle East, crude prices surged to levels not seen in 2 ½ years and inflation fears resurfaced. Japan suffered an earthquake that brought the economy to a virtual standstill and the initial price-tag for reconstruction stands at over $200 bln. While analysts claim the rebuilding process will prove positive for global trade, excessive debt could slow a “speedy recovery.”
2011-04-02 The Plight of the Working Class by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors
Although the headline unemployment number went down to 8.8%, the only way you can get to that number is by not counting the millions who have dropped out of the employment pool, too discouraged to look, but who will take a job if they can get one. If you go back and take the number of people in the labor force just two years ago, the unemployment picture is back over 10% (back-of-my-napkin math).
2011-04-01 And That’s The Week That Was … by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates
New quarter…renewed optimism…ongoing challenges. The second quarter 2011 kicked off with promising news on the labor front as more private sector hires and a lower jobless rate confirmed that employers have enough confidence to begin adding to the payroll. While the favorable outlook has long been apparent in the corporate boardrooms, the labor market had remained a big concern, leading consumers to hold off on major purchases. Since November 2010, however, the unemployment rate has dropped by a full percentage point, a trend that speaks nicely to the recovering economy as a whole.
2011-03-27 QE2 - Apres Moi, le Deluge by John P. Hussman of Hussman Funds
As rules of thumb go, "the trend is your friend" historically performs better than "don't fight the Fed". While the market tends to perform better when both are true, the exception is the overvalued, overbought, overbullish, rising-yields syndrome, which is uniformly negative regardless of the random subset of historical data one examines. There is certainly a tendency for "unpleasant skew" featuring a persistent series of marginal new highs for some period of time, but on average, those are ultimately overwhelmed by steep and abrupt losses that finally clear this syndrome.
2011-03-25 Barbie's Lesson from Shanghai by Winnie Phua of Matthews Asia
Mattel’s Barbie store in Shanghai closed March 7, 2011. The sudden closure of the Barbie store left many baffled. The U.S. toy maker has stated that it is reorganizing its China strategy. Others, however, argue that the store is closing because Barbie’s classic western appeal has not caught on in China where girls tend to prefer cute animated characters, such as Hello Kitty, over a womanly life-like doll. Barbie’s price point (US$15 to US$30) has also been criticized as too high, particularly for a toy with limited brand recognition or nostalgic factor for parents who hold the purse strings.
2011-03-24 Bernanke Ducks as Food Prices Shoot Higher by Peter Nielsen and Bryce Fegley of Saturna Capital
As rising food prices gain prominence in media headlines worldwide, Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke now finds himself deflecting accusations that the Fed's $600 billion "QE2" Treasury buying program is the main culprit of global food price inflation. In his February 18, 2011, speech to governors of the Group of Twenty in Paris,1 Bernanke completely rebuffed these claims and offered up other explanations as well, but nowhere in his speech did he concede any possibility that the Fed's QE2 program is playing a role.
2011-03-19 And That's the Week That Was... by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates
March Madness (basketball) could not have come at a better time. For weeks, folks have focused on developments in the Middle East as prospects for (some sort of) Democracy spread, but oil prices ballooned and investors fear Saudi Arabia may fall victim to revolution as well. Then, Japan pushed Libya to the backburner as fears of an economic slowdown (and nuclear radiation exposure) raised concerns across the globe. Markets reacted to the headline, often on mere speculation as no one knows how the global developments will play out.
2011-03-19 The End of QE2? by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors
The Fed committed to buying $600 billion of Treasuries between the beginning of QE2 in November and the end of June. June is 3 months away. What will happen when that buying goes away? The hope when QE2 kicked off was that it would be enough to get the economy rolling, so that further stimulus would not be deemed necessary. We’ll survey how that is working out, with a quick look at some recent data, and then we go back and see what happened the last time the Fed stopped quantitative easing.
2011-03-17 5 Dividend Champions to Work Your Money as hard as You Worked for It! by Chuck Carnevale of EDMP
You worked hard over your lifetime to build a nest egg in order to fund your retirement. Doesnt it make sense that now that youre retired your money should work as hard for you as you worked for it? When you were working, you were accustomed to receiving a raise in pay each year. Why should that end now, just because you are retired? It doesnt have to, because investors today have the good fortune and opportunity to invest in blue-chip 'Dividend Champions' (companies that have increased their dividend every year for at least 25 years) which are trading at historically low valuations
2011-03-15 Nailing the Invisible Interview by Justin Locke (Article)
I am always looking for a marketing edge, employing everything from social media to traditional collateral. But the other day I saw marketing from the other side. Someone acquired me as a new client, and it was revealing to learn why.
2011-03-10 Stock picking is dead? Long live stock picking by Robert McConnaughey of Columbia Management
A recent frontpage story in The Wall Street Journal was titled “Macro Forces in Market Confound Stock Pickers.” The article quoted a prominent Wall Street strategist as saying, “Stock picking is a dead art form.” The article is now prominently displayed on my office bulletin board as I believe it (and similar articles and research notes) marks a high in skepticism regarding active investing. I also believe these sentiments will be proven dramatically wrong in the months and years to come, as certain active investors take advantage of the inefficiencies that this very skepticism is causing.
2011-03-08 Will the Global Recovery be Brought to its Knees by Commodity Prices? by Chris Maxey of Fortigent
There is a dangerous trend developing in food and energy costs, one that threatens to derail the global recovery. Thus far, consumers are able and willing to accept higher commodity prices. With consumers still feeling the effects of the worst recession in nearly a century, though, there is only so much that people will be willing to tolerate and the second half of the year may be too far away, at least when it comes to crude prices.
2011-03-01 Spring Cleaning for Your Website by Kristen Luke (Article)
Despite the time, thought and energy you spend building your web site, it’s too easy to forget about it and neglect it. It is time for a spring cleaning. Here are seven tips to spruce things up.
2011-02-26 When Irish Eyes Are Voting by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors
Mauldin reviews the Irish economy, citing a recent Vanity Fair article by Michael Lewis. Ireland's housing bubble caused prices to rise approximately 500%. More than 20% of the Irish workforce was employed in construction. Irish banks financed this, using selling bonds to other European banks. The Irish government made good on those debts, burdening its taxpayers. The end results is excessive debt for the EU, which appears to be unsupportable. On the crisis in the Middle East, Bahrain is the key country to watch out for.
2011-02-23 10K Home Buyers Sitting On the Fence! by Mollie Carmichael of John Burns Real Estate
88% of almost 10,000 consumers we surveyed think it’s a good time to buy a home. They told us what it will take to get them off the fence to buy a home, but they aren’t finding it! Our sample size was huge (almost 10,000 responses) and biased toward today’s home shoppers (respondents were among 1 million survey recipients who have recently registered their email with a home builder or land developer).
2011-02-22 Are You Ready to Lose Control? by Justin Locke (Article)
We view control the same way we view pregnancy - it's an all-or-nothing condition. Either you are in control, or everything is out of control. We would all be wise to rethink this - to look at how to handle and even embrace some lack of control.
2011-02-22 Winning New Business, Growing Your Firm by Michael Slemmer, CFA (Article)
How are advisors reaching prospects and winning new business today? What's working well for advisors as they seek to grow their businesses, and where are they finding challenges? To answer these questions, we conducted a survey in late November, 2010, aiming to learn the most common and successful business-building tactics for wealth managers, investment advisors and related professionals.
2011-02-12 The Future of Public Debt by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors
Mauldin looks at an important paper from the Bank of International Settlements on “The Future of Public Debt.” While the debt supercycle is still growing on the back of increasing government debt, there is an end to that process, and we are fast approaching it. Drastic measures are necessary to check the rapid growth of current and future liabilities of governments and reduce their adverse consequences for long-term growth and monetary stability. This leads the BIS to conclude that the question is when markets will start putting pressure on governments, not if.
2011-02-12 And That's the Week That Was... by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates
And don’t let the door hit you on the way out! As the Mubarak regime comes to a close, oppressed Egyptians look forward to better times ahead. (Unfortunately, turmoil remains a constant in this region.) The markets reacted favorably to the “peaceful?” end of the conflict and also to the news of some pretty significant biz transactions. Dr. B. lashed out at Congress (and got an earful in return). Earnings season moved forward with mixed results. And the Dow enjoyed an eight day winning streak and then started another one as the week came to a close.
2011-02-04 An Excerpt from Endgame by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors
Growth does not look that great, and people don’t feel the recovery. This is unlikely to change. The U.S. and most developed economies are currently facing many major headwinds that will mean that going forward, we’ll have slower economic growth, more recessions, and higher unemployment. Three large structural changes have happened slowly over time that we expect to continue going forward. The U.S. economy will have higher volatility,lower trend growth, and higher structural levels of unemployment (The United States here is a proxy for many developed countries with similar problems.)
2011-02-01 Stop Using Outlook for Email Marketing by Kristen Luke (Article)
Unfortunately, many advisors confuse the ability to send hundreds of emails through Outlook with conventional email marketing. Advisors who do this don't know that they are putting themselves at risk of violating the federal CAN SPAM laws.
2011-02-01 Fourth Quarter Letter by Team of Grey Owl Capital Management
In spite of Bernanke’s objective to put a floor on asset prices, including equities, we remain conservatively positioned. Equity and credit markets appear overvalued. In addition, with the U.S. and most developed-market economies significantly more leveraged than in the last 50 years, economic growth will likely be more volatile. Further, many potential exogenous forces could negatively influence public markets: over-leveraged municipalities, the PIIGS, and continued issues in the US housing market to name a few. Finally, there is no evidence that monetary policy can create real growth.
2011-01-29 And That's The Week That Was by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates
Consumer confidence in January rose to its highest level in eight months as individuals seemed to overlook the ongoing labor concerns. The long-ailing housing sector received a bit of good news as new home sales jumped to the best showing since May and home prices even surged to levels not seen since early 2008. Though claims for jobless benefits rose in the most recent week, analysts believe that harsh winter weather may have temporarily halted hiring and the recent improvements on the claims front should resume in the weeks to follow.
2011-01-29 A Bubble in Complacency by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors
The just released Q4 GDP of 3.2% may be overstated by 0.5% to 1.0% as a result of statistical adjustments. Consumer spending advanced, but that must be tempered by the support from fiscal and monetary policies. The growth in the deficit poses imminent danger of another recession, and the political landscape makes it unlikely a solution will emerge. Mauldin would like to see 'thought leadership' in the upcoming presidential election cycle, in order to build support for viable policies to revive the economy.
2011-01-25 Ten Resolutions for Greater Prosperity in 'The Year of the Fiduciary' by Jeffrey Briskin (Article)
If you think selling and servicing 401(k) plans isn't easy today, ERISA is about to make it even harder. The good news is that firms that adjust to these challenges can use them to their competitive advantage Here are ten steps your firm can take to prepare for The Year of the Fiduciary.
2011-01-25 Demand Transparency in an Opaque Mutual Fund World by Andy Rachleff (Article)
Too many investors will end up in actively managed funds that fail in their mission to outperform a passive benchmark. And investors won't know until it's too late because they lack the information to evaluate which funds might consistently outperform the market.
2011-01-22 And That\'s The Week That Was by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates
With another corporate earnings season moving into high gear and equities riding a seven week winning streak, a healthy bit of skepticism (not necessary pessimism) has crept into the investor mindset. Some analysts still want to see more revenue growth as opposed to cost-cuts in the earnings reports. Others fear that “the trend is your friend” may be a nice guide, but investors may be disregarding the ongoing debt issue in the EU and the rise in interest rates throughout emerging markets.
2011-01-22 The Unsustainable Meets the Irresistible by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors
States are the largest component of US GDP, and states' revenues have declined 10% from their peak. On top of that, federal stimulus support for states is running out. Congress should allow states to declare bankruptcy and force unions to come to the bargaining table. The US is on an unsustainable path. Absent very serious fiscal remedies, long before we get to 2019 the bond markets will have taken away our ability to finance our debt at low rates.
2011-01-20 James Tobin’s Advice; Look 'Anywhere insight may be found' by Kendall J. Anderson of Anderson Griggs
For 99% of all investors in the United States, risk control can be simplified by separating your funds into buckets of “risk-free” and “risky” assets. Just remember that “risk-free” cannot be substituted with investments that are almost risk free. With FDIC Insurance coverage of $250,000.00 per person, and unlimited amounts available from the U.S. Treasury, the ability for most investors to incorporate risk free investments into their portfolios is easily accomplished.
2011-01-18 Marketing Ideas I've Learned from My Clients by Kristen Luke (Article)
One of the favorite parts of my job is learning new ideas. Sometimes they come from campaigns that my clients have implemented over the years and sometimes these ideas come from collaborating with clients to find a solution to a problem they are facing. Here are my three favorite ideas from the past year.
2011-01-18 Build Loyalty through Annual Client Reviews: Four Questions All Advisors Must Ask Their Clients by Ani Yessaillian (Article)
In today's highly competitive marketplace, you'll never be able to grow your business if you're losing clients. Trust fosters loyalty - but how do you build that kind of trust with your clients? The annual review is one of your best opportunities.
2011-01-18 Letters to the Editor by Various (Article)
A number of readers respond to Nancy Opiela's article, Tactical Asset Allocation and Market Timing: What's the Difference?, and one reader responds to Michael Lewitt's article, The Wages of Growth. Both articles appeared last week.
2011-01-14 U.S. Building Market Intelligence by John Burns of John Burns Real Estate
Those of you who have been following this e-mail for a while are noticing that many of the grades below have shifted from D’s and F’s to B’s and C’s. That is because the economy is starting to reach its long-term average outlook. Housing, however, is clearly going to lag the recovery rather than lead it. In the meantime, how do you make money in housing?
2011-01-11 The Key to Scaling Your Practice by Bob Oros (Article)
Independent advisors who are ill-equipped to handle a large influx of business from retiring baby boomers will struggle to harness the swelling demand. To capitalize on this new wave of assets, advisors need an edge. Many forward-thinking advisors have already discovered such an advantage in model portfolios.
2011-01-08 And That's The Week That Was by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates
So was the holiday season really as strong as most retailers claimed? So is inflation about to rear its ugly head? Next week should help answer these questions as some key data will be released. After the disappointing same-store sales numbers, investors are eager to see the December retail sales report; the recent run-up in crude price may begin to work its way into the PPI and CPI data. Investors also look to start a new equity market winning streak to keep hope alive that January turns out to be a positive month (and the rest of the year will follow suit).
2011-01-05 And That's The 'Year' That Was by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates
While the consumer has emerged from hibernation, an improved labor picture would boost this favorable trend. The Fed hopes that QE2 will help build on the recent economic momentum, though many doubters surely remain. Earnings comparisons get more difficult in the coming quarters, though analysts expect improved revenue growth to contribute to the positive results. The tax “compromise” means a continuation of the bullish mindset in equities (for now). Developments abroad will impact the domestic markets as the EU looks to move beyond its debt issues, and China leads the global recovery.
2011-01-04 Five Ways to Shape Up Your Marketing in 2011 by Kristen Luke (Article)
January is the natural time for identifying areas neglected over the past few months (or years) and making plans to remedy these failings. As you create your list of New Year's Resolutions, here are five things you can do to shape up your marketing this year.
2011-01-04 Letters to the Editor by Various (Article)
A reader responds to our article, Debunking Ken Fisher, which appeared two weeks ago. Another reader responds to the article, Return Distributions and the Shiller P/E Ratio, by Keith C. Goddard, which originally appeared on February 2, 2010.
2011-01-02 And That\'s The Week That Was by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates
While 2010 offered great portfolio returns and renewed confidence for many investors (including individuals), they should not forget the reasons for the troubles that led up to the financial debacle. Hopefully, 2011 will bring more of the same in terms of stronger corporate earnings, improving economic data, and stellar market returns. One key thought for the new year…Those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it. Let’s not let that happen in the new year.
2010-12-23 Some Thoughts on Market Timing by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors
I have real doubts that there will be “hundreds of billions” of losses in the municipal bond market. It would take a default by almost every major municipal issuer, and a lot of small ones, to create a hundred billion in defaults, something not likely to happen. States will be forced to make spending cuts. Mauldin also cites three sources who he "highly respects" who advise to hedge US equity portfolios going into 2011.
2010-12-23 And That's the Week That Was... by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates
Anyone reading this commentary needs to get home for the holidays (or for some Chinese food and a movie for those non-Christmas celebrators). A few numbers, some last-minute window-dressing, announced global transactions, and a race to end with double-digit gains. Let’s close 2010 on a high note. Have a nice season and a very happy new year
2010-12-21 Debunking Ken Fisher by Robert Huebscher (Article)
In his latest book, Debunkery, Ken Fisher achieves his goal of dispelling many common investment myths and, in doing so, offers his philosophy on how individuals should manage their money. While most of the advice he offers is unequivocally correct, he also makes egregious errors on some serious matters.
2010-12-21 Three Ways to Tweak Your Marketing by Kristen Luke (Article)
Even the best marketers can improve upon their existing successful campaigns and marketing messages. Here are my three recommendations for how to tweak your marketing for better results.
2010-12-20 Things I Believe by John P. Hussman of Hussman Funds
1) Investors dangerously underestimate the risk of an abrupt and possibly severe equity market plunge. 2) Agreement among "experts" is not your friend. 3) Downside risk tends to be elevated precisely when risk premiums and volatility indices reflect the most complacency. 4) We did not avoid a second Great Depression because we bailed out financial institutions...
2010-12-20 The New Normal, Anything But Bonds by Charles Lieberman (Article)
Pacific Investment Management, manager of the world largest bond fund, filed with the SEC to expand its holdings to include equity related investments as soon as the second quarter of 2011. Thus, the "bond king", Bill Gross, is trying to diversify away from bonds into stocks, which implies that Pimco's "new normal" may be more of a marketing slogan than an investment guideline. This is a good move for his investors, although it comes more than a year late for the rally in these assets and the plunge in bond prices, including Pimco's own bond funds.
2010-12-17 And That's the Week That Was... by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates
It’s beginning to look a lot like… Obama and the Republican Congress gave the American people an early Christmas (or late Chanukah) present in the form of tax relief and an unexpected compromise from the Nation’s Capital. (Why solve problems today when we can put them off for two years?) Better than expected economic releases and some strong earnings helped propel the Dow to a two year high, though plenty of nervousness remains as the end of the year approaches. Despite the best efforts of the Fed, bonds remain in the doldrums. Things could be worse…we could live in Ireland (or Spain).
2010-12-17 Kicking the Can Down the Road by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors
A collapse of a major European bank could trigger counterparty mayhem in the US banking system, at least among our major investment banks. The ECB is now earnestly continuing to kick the can down the road, buying ever more debt off the books of banks, buying time for the banks to acquire enough capital. If the ECB were to keep this up, even in a deflationary, deleveraging world it would eventually bring about inflation and the lowering of the value of the euro against other currencies. One country after another in Europe is coming under pressure. This week the debt of Belgium was downgraded.
2010-12-14 Five Things to Look for When Hiring a Marketing Coordinator by Kristen Luke (Article)
A Marketing Coordinator must have diverse talents and the ability to handle the majority of marketing responsibilities required by your firm. Here are five skills to look for on a resume to increase the likelihood you are hiring the right person.
2010-12-11 And That\'s the Week That Was... by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates
The great compromiser…or the great traitor…depends of which party loyalist you ask. Taxes dominated the news this week as O and the Republicans reached a compromise on extending the Bush tax cuts, much to the disappointment of Dems. Investors like certainty and welcomed the move as it meant capital gains and dividends would continue to be taxed at 15% for the next two years. Oil surged on prospects of economic growth, though the threat of inflation again resurfaced. So, Obama…any interest in hiring Karl Rove as an advisor?
2010-12-07 Apple, Google, NewsCorp and the Future of Content: Interview with Michael Whalen by Christopher Whalen of Institutional Risk Analyst
In this issue of The Institutional Risk Analyst, we speak to Michael Whalen, award winning composer and new media observer about the outlook for the business of creating and delivering content. Since graduating from Berklee College of Music, Michael has taught a business for music class than has saved thousands of young atists from making terrible mistakes with content and other contractual rights. Think Frank Zappa and Warner Brothers. And yes, Michael is IRA co-founder Chris Whalen's younger brother.
2010-12-06 Why You Aren't Getting Referrals - And What to Do About It (Part 2) by Dan Richards (Article)
In his previous column, Dan Richards discussed seven misconceptions that prevent advisors from getting referrals. Here, he concludes with eight more referrals fallacies.
2010-12-06 The Silver Bullet of Marketing by Kristen Luke (Article)
One of the first questions advisors ask me is, 'What is working these days?' This always amuses me, since what works for one advisor is not necessarily going to work for another advisor. However, I have found there is one thing that is "working these days" and has always worked.
2010-12-04 And That's the Week That Was... by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates
Retail Ireland, retail, China, retail, tax cuts, retail, QE2, retail, jobs, retail. Yes, investors have plenty on their minds these days. Hopefully, the news from retail can continue to compensate for some of the more concerning dynamics at play.
2010-12-03 Texas, Ireland and Ten Little Indians by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors
Mauldin contrasts the plights of Iceland and Ireland in dealing with excessive leverage. Iceland devalued its currency, while Ireland must accept a bailout package. Iceland's economy is recovering; Ireland's may take years. Mauldin compares the situation in Spain and Portugal to those two countries. The stronger EU countries must rescue the weak, just as Texas is being asked to rescue fiscally troubled states like California.
2010-11-28 Recessions are on the Margin by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors
We had a slate of good news over the past few weeks, including data on business confidence, housing, and unemployment. GDP growth is slowing, but it is still north of 2%. The economy may be able to handle only taking away the tax cuts for those with over $250,000 in income. It will slow things down, but probably not enough to cause a recession. Given that government spending is going to go down (at least I hope so), unemployment is going to take time to get under control; and with the whole developed world in a mess, it is hard to see an environment where we can average 3.5% for this decade.
2010-11-28 And That's the Week That Was... by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates
Korea, Ireland, insider trading, earnings season conclusion, QE2, retail activity. Plenty of news…but is anyone really paying attention? After all, its Thanksgiving. Take a break, give thanks, enjoy the family (and the bird), and worry about the world’s issues next week. Happy holiday…
2010-11-20 O Deflation, Where is Thy Sting? by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors
The economy growing between one and two percent. That is better than recession but not good enough to really bite into the unemployment rate, which means trouble. Mauldin examines the construction of the BLI's CPI index and specifically the role of housing: inflation, when you take out housing costs, is a jaunty 1.9%. Right in the Fed target range of 1.5-2%. The Fed's QE program may create inflation where we can least afford it - in energy and food.
2010-11-19 And That's the Week That Was... by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates
Yes, it’s still a small, small world. These days, developments in tiny Ireland and huge China seem to have greater effect on the domestic markets than earnings releases or transactional news closer to home. But at the end of the day (week), investors surveyed the global and domestic landscapes, gave a collective yawn, and the equity indexes closed little changed from where they began. Is it time for some turkey yet?
2010-11-13 First, Let's Lower the Bar by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors
Mauldin responds to criticisms of a recent email he sent regarding healthcare reform. Next, he notes that for the last 18 months the trade-weighted yuan has dropped well over 10%, which he calls extraordinary. On the recently announced unemployment results, he says government "fiddling" with seasonal adjustments distorted the numbers. Last, he comments on the Irish sovereign debt issue.
2010-11-12 A Bad Plan Poorly Disguised by John Browne of Euro Pacific Capital
With our economy sagging and our international clout waning, one of the few assets upon which the US can rely is the confidence that the rest of the world has traditionally showered upon us. That confidence is the reason why the US dollar was elevated to global reserve status more than 65 years ago. With so much riding on perception, Tim Geithner’s recent statements denying the existence of a dollar debasement campaign could not be seen as anything less than foolhardy.
2010-11-12 And That\'s the Week That Was... by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates
Investors surveyed the landscape in the aftermath of two major market moving events (Fed stimulus and midterm election), retreated from their recent optimism, and booked profits heading into the homestretch of the year. Despite the overall success of another earnings season, investors fretted over the global progress (or lack thereof) from the G20 meeting of world finance ministers and news that China may have inflationary problems on its hands.
2010-11-12 A Bull in China by Christian Thwaites of Sentinel Investments
On a recent trip to China, we saw encouraging and inexorable signs that the Chinese consumer is becoming a very potent force in the world economy. It wont be without volatilitybut it is happening. Heres how: demographics, changes in consumer behavior and a number of other factors.
2010-11-11 Ahead in the Clouds: Capturing Opportunities in Technology by Walter Price of RCM
Many corporations are finding themselves in a situation that should bode well for technology spending: They are holding record amounts of cash on their balance sheets and consuming their existing capital base as they depreciate their equipment. At the same time, many technology firms have likewise emerged from the crisis with strong balance sheets and in good financial condition. Yet the market has been slow to re-embrace the sector, keeping stock valuations at historic lows.
2010-11-09 The Most Neglected Marketing Principle by Kristen Luke (Article)
Often, advisors lack a strategy for following up with prospects if they are not immediately interested in hiring your firm. As the authors of a recent book state, "81% of sales that close, close on or after the fifth contact." It is imperative that you integrate a follow-up strategy in your marketing plan.
2010-11-05 And That\'s the Week That Was... by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates
Dissecting election results, a Fed policy meeting statement, several key economic releases, and new earnings reports can prove pretty stressful. This week saw a somber Obama offer an olive branch to Republicans following their big victory in the midterms. Bear in mind, Prez Clinton suffered a similar fate in 1994 and lived to fight another day. Politicos now expect conciliation over taxes, health care, offshore drilling, and other GOP action items as Big Oil, Big Pharma, and Wall Street prepare for another boom. (The pressure is on, Speaker Boehner.)
2010-11-02 The SEC’s 12b-1 Proposal is Based on Misguided History, Flawed Economics by John H. Robinson (Article)
The SEC's stated aims of its proposed Rule 12b-1 reform are laudable: increasing transparency, reducing investor fees, and increasing competition among mutual funds. However, John Robinson's review of its 278-page proposal found major flaws, including a misinformed historical pretext and naïve economic analysis.
2010-11-02 Four New Ways to Beef Up Your LinkedIn Profile by Kristen Luke (Article)
If you have logged into LinkedIn in the last couple of weeks, you may have noticed some new changes. The professional networking site has new sections for individual profiles, and Kristen Luke explains how to use them.
2010-10-29 And That's the Week That Was... by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates
October 2010 comes to a close and, despite little movement in the key indexes for the week, equities experienced another solid month. Earnings, Fed-Speak, and midterms gave investors more than enough to keep themselves busy and next week promises more of the same. Add a few major releases (manufacturing, labor) to the mix, and investors/traders can expect little sleep over the course of the week. (For that matter, neither can parents and siblings of newborns…pic attached.)
2010-10-29 Be Careful What You Wish For by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors
Q3 GDP numbers were unimpressive, and it would not surprise Mauldin to see GDP growth be closer to 1% in the 4th quarter, unless we start to see evidence of more inventory building. That is not good for jobs, personal income, tax collections needed to cover deficits at all levels, or consumer confidence. A further threat is posed by large numbers of people whose 99 weeks of unemployment will soon expire. Republicans face big challenges once they gain power, and Mauldin says a VAT is the only way to reduce budget deficits.
2010-10-26 20 Ideas to Market Your Business this Holiday Season by Kristen Luke (Article)
Many advisors take advantage of the holidays to reach out to their clients and prospects. Kristen Luke offers 20 ideas you can utilize this year.
2010-10-26 Hope is Not a Strategy by John West of Research Affiliates
Most pension funds and 401(k) calculators assume total returns in the 7-8 percent range. Is this assumption realistic, however, with a mature economy saddled with unprecedented debt levels and an aging workforce? This commentary examines retirement plan assumptions and calculates that we can reach this return level only if we assume top quartile results for stocks, bonds, and alternatives over the next 10 years. That's like expecting a decade of sunshine in the markets.
2010-10-24 The Subprime Debacle: Act 2, Part 2 by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors
Buyers of mortgage-backed securities may be able to join together and force issuers to buy back those securities, if the loans they contain are defective. This is further complicated by the fact that some of those buyers were non-US entities. Bank of America is badly exposed through its acquisition of Countrywide, as are "dozens" of other banks.
2010-10-22 And That's the Week That Was... by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates
All in all, a relatively “eventful” week. Quarterly earnings remained favorable (for the most part). The Fed moved a step closer to a new “stimulus.” Politicos upped the election-year grandstanding. China’s economy took a tumble (we should all tumble so far). And, my wife gave birth to another daughter (Zoe Erin). Plenty of reasons for celebration. (Beware of typos this week.)
2010-10-19 S.H.I.F.T.ing to a Successful Practice by Beverly D. Flaxington (Article)
It's not easy for advisors to do many things well at once. Consultant Beverly Flaxington has had success juggling competing challenges, and a client recently asked her to formalize how she manages multiple priorities and what works effectively for her clients. In response, she created the S.H.I.F.T. Model for Success.
2010-10-16 The Subprime Debacle: Act 2 by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors
The housing market has not yet begun to recover, and it is not only going to take longer but the decline in prices may be greater than many have forecast. But the real problem is the foreclosure crisis, where banks have foreclosed in situations where they had no right to do so. Several options exist for resolution, including sorting out the details of each case in a legal forum. A more ominous outcome would be to force investment banks to buy back securities with faulty titles.
2010-10-15 And That's the Week That Was... by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates
Anyone miss those doldrums of summer? The days of light volume? The vacations from trading desk? Well, these days, the 24-hour news cycle is coming fast and furious: Bernanke wants to create inflation; big banks are ripping off Main Street America again through foreclosures; corporations are posting higher earnings (but what about revenues?). Investors had plenty to digest during the week and should have plenty more in the days to come. While the uncertainty remains, the “somewhat” bullish trend seems to continue (at least for now).
2010-10-12 Does Your Marketing Match Your Business Structure? by Kristen Luke (Article)
Marketing strategies differ depending on the structure of a firm, writes Kristen Luke. Solos and silos focus on marketing the individual advisor while ensembles market the firm. Ensembles also tend to have more sophisticated marketing campaigns since they generally have larger marketing budgets and higher revenue streams.
2010-10-08 And That's the Week That Was... by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates
Earnings season; labor reports; Fed-speak; political grandstanding; hostile offers; currency battles…say what you want, but the markets sure aren’t boring these days. With plenty of uncertainty still in the air, the “bulls” remain firmly in control (for now) and equities keep rolling along (even past 11k on the Dow). Nothing like a friendly trend.
2010-10-05 The Misguided Promise of 529 Plans by Robert Huebscher (Article)
Along with the overall market, 529 plans suffered disastrous returns in 2008, leaving many families with insufficient funds to pay their tuition costs. The real problem, though, is not with the past performance of 529s. A misguided promise underlies the vast majority of 529 plans - that their heavy allocation to equities will provide acceptable risk-adjusted returns for the time horizons over which most parents invest.
2010-10-02 The Morality of Chinese Growth by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors
Mauldin provides highlights from a recent conference. John Hofmeister is the former president of Shell Oil. He paints a very stark (even bleak) picture of the future of energy production in the US unless we change our current policies. David Rosenberg argues that GDP growth has been helped largely by inventory rebuilding, which is not sustainable. The analysts at GaveKal discuss the tension between Chinese policies toward economic growth and the social welfare it provides for its citizens.
2010-10-01 And That's the Week That Was... by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates
So much for “sour” Septembers. This year, “super” September is more appropriate. The bulls were out in force last month as equities experienced their best September since 1939. The week was met with some profit-taking and quarter-end window dressing (is that still allowed?) as investors eyed an uncertain Fed policy and a heated election season.
2010-09-28 Unraveling the 12b-1 Debate by Robert Huebscher (Article)
The SEC has proposed sweeping changes to the way commission-based advisors will be compensated for the services they provide. Those changes will rename and modify the 12b-1 fees that many mutual funds now charge. To understand their impact, we spoke with Avi Nachmany of NY-based Strategic Insight, whose clients include the largest mutual funds.
2010-09-28 Building your Digital Identity through Blogging by Stephanie Sammons (Article)
Blogging is a modern-day marketing platform for cultivating client, prospect, and center-of-influence relationships. A well-designed and properly structured blog, writes Stephanie Sammons in this guest contribution, can provide you with an opportunity to proactively manage your online reputation and attract new clients into your business.
2010-09-24 And That's the Week That Was... by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates
Four weeks and counting. In August, investors feared the worst and equities were on a downward spiral. And now for something completely different. As September nears a close, the exact opposite is true and a bullish feel has taken over. An odd message about inflation and some concerning euro indicators were overshadowed by renewed strength in housing and manufacturing and more boardroom confidence as equities rose for the fourth consecutive week. As for October???
2010-09-24 Cash Kindling by Robert Stimpson of Oak Associates
The US stock market’s potential resurgence is tied to a renewed and sustained wave of capital spending from corporate America. While consumers delever, most corporate balance sheets are tremendously well capitalized, with high levels of cash, profitability and low debt. High uncertainty levels about the economy seen today are likely to dissipate, thereby creating a more conducive environment for making spending decisions. The stock market’s next chapter will be written by corporations spending the cash they have accumulated. This should unfold over the next 4 to 6 quarters.
2010-09-18 Market Matters... by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates
Some believe the Fed should restart the bond-buying program to help keep long-term interest rates low, thereby encouraging additional corporate borrowing and bank lending. Others fear that the program has a very limited chance of success and worry that inflation may become a not-so-welcome byproduct of such a move. With the summer well in the rearview mirror and trading desks back at full staff, market volume could pick up next week, and hopefully the excessive daily volatility will ease somewhat.
2010-09-14 How to Star in a TV Special on Retirement Challenges by Dan Richards (Article)
Meeting clients' needs requires strategies that spread across a variety of investment classes, financial securities, and custodians. To ensure you continue spending more of your time managing your clients' assets than their data flow, Envestnet's reporting capabilities give advisors the flexibility to integrate multi-custodian performance reporting at a variety of levels.
2010-09-14 Use Client Loyalty to Drive Profitable Growth by Ani Yessaillian (Article)
As a financial advisor, you simply can't afford to lose clients, writes Ani Yessaillian in this guest contribution. No matter how many new investors walk through your front door, you'll never be able to grow your business if you're losing dissatisfied clients out the back. Client loyalty is crucial to profitable growth.
2010-09-11 The Last Half by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors
Mauldin provides another excerpt from his forthcoming book. He argues that growth in government spending comes at the expense of private sector growth. Fiscal stimulus will not work in the current environment, because we are now at the end of an unprecedented debt cycle. The preferred solution is for a country to grow its way out of debt, but that requires running a trade surplus, which cannot be accomplished by all countries simultaneously.
2010-09-10 And That's the Week That Was... by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates
Labor Day…Religious holiday…hardly worth coming to work at all this week. After some early fears about European financial institutions being more “stressed” than initially reported, investors (who chose to work this week) focused on some positive signs in the economy. On light volume, stocks traded relatively flat, while fixed income investors struggled to digest all the new supply (treasury and corporate). By next week, the summer doldrums should be long forgotten and investors can once again get back to work and focus on the keys to the markets.
2010-09-07 A Modest Proposal to the SEC by Michael Edesess (Article)
The SEC is now considering reforming how 12b-1 fees are currently charged, how they would be set in the future, and how they will be disclosed to fund purchasers. In this guest contribution, Michael Edesess offers an alternative, radical proposal, should the SEC's reforms not be adopted.
2010-09-04 The Last Chapter by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors
Mauldin presents content from his forthcoming book. He reviews some fundamental precepts of economics, focusing on the Keynesian approach the US is taking to revive the economy. He presents data from Woody Brock showing that the US debt may rise by as much as $1.5 trillion per year. Ultimately, he says, the bond market will revolt and interest rates will rise and the results will be very unpleasant. Using taxes or savings to handle a large fiscal deficit reduces the amount of money available to private investment.
2010-09-03 And That's the Week That Was... by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates
What a difference a month makes. While naysayers and pessimists dominated the investor sentiment in August, the eternal optimists stepped forward in September (well, at least, for the first three days) and made a statement about perceived value in equities. Stocks took their cues from some decent economic releases (including key labor data) and bulls awoke from hibernation in time to stop the month-long carnage (and keep the Dow safely above 10k and “in the black” for the year). Enjoy the holiday weekend (but don’t get complacent…sentiment can shift on a dime).
2010-08-31 Five Steps to Choosing the Right Marketing Firm by Kristen Luke (Article)
Finding a marketing firm for your advisory practice can be a daunting task and hiring the wrong firm can be an expensive mistake. It is essential that you spend time doing due diligence to find the right partner for your growth. Kristen Luke provides five steps that will help you with this process.
2010-08-28 And That\'s the Week That Was... by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates
Despite the increased boardroom confidence (dealmaking), investors carried their bearish tone into Friday’s session with many anticipating a weekly close below the critical 10k level on the Dow. Somehow they perceived good news in a downwardly revised GDP release and comments from Bernanke that future Fed stimulus may be in order. In reality, the light volume these days may imply little conviction for any direction in the markets and the real tone will not be set until after Labor Day when vacations end and traders are back at their desks in full force.
2010-08-28 The Dark Side of Deficits by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors
At the start of each bull cycle, the markets had single-digit P/E ratios, with no exception. No secular bull market ever began with high P/E ratios, even though significant rallies often started from high P/E ratios. The lesson of history is that all periods of high valuations come to an unhappy end. The most significant driver of stock market returns is the valuation embedded in the P/E ratio. We are still in a secular bear market. Valuations, while lower, are still not at what could be called historical cyclical bottoms. Patience is the order of the day. We will get there.
2010-08-24 This is No Way to Run a Railroad by Michael Lewitt (Article)
In the latest edition of the HCM Market Letter, This is No Way to Run a Railroad, Michael Lewitt says the railroad known as the United States economy is chasing its own tail these days. Driven by misbegotten fiscal and monetary policies that ignore the lessons of history in favor of discredited financial and economic theories, the economy is trapped in a cycle of boom and bust. Lewitt also comments on the bond market, the European stress tests, GM, and the private equity industry.
2010-08-24 How to Choose the Right Social Media Archiving Strategy by Blane Warrene (Article)
Advisors who have embraced social media as an important component of their marketing and service toolbox must monitor and manage the content they distribute. In this guest contribution, Blane Warrene discusses how to collect and store postings and comments made by you and others on social media platforms and store the information in a readily accessible database.
2010-08-21 How We Get Through This Mess by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors
Don't expect a v-shaped recovery, but GDP may still grow in Q3. Unemployment and deficits will remain high. It is going to be a tough environment for the next 6-8 years. Growth opportunities will be in entrepreneurial ventures that can adapt to this environment and to future unforeseen hurdles.
2010-08-20 And That\'s the Week That Was... by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates
Positive earnings AND an array of new M&A activity. Taken together, these two factors should mean one thing…strength in equities. Unfortunately, investors looked past the week’s business headlines and focused on the economic data, much of which depicted a sluggish recovery. Many skeptical investors took the easy way out and turned to the safe-haven of treasuries in lieu of the riskier equities.
2010-08-14 The Gulf Oil Spill Disaster by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors
The ecological destruction from the oil spill that was first feared is not going to be as bad as once thought, for a variety of reasons. It is not good, but it is not the unmitigated disaster it could have been. The government should have allowed certain ships to assist in the cleanup. The ban on offshore drilling should be lifted.
2010-08-13 And That's the Week That Was... by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates
No doubt, investor sentiment can shift on a dime. Perhaps, we can blame some of the market moves on overreaction and light volume from the end of summer blahs. After closing out the second quarter on a sour note, the equity market regained its bullish form in July, but again hit a serious road block this week. A perceived pessimistic Fed statement following the policy meeting sent investors running for cover as four straight down days left the major indexes back “in-the-red” for the year.
2010-08-10 Taking Exception: 'Fiduciary' is Much Ado about Something! by Scott MacKillop (Article)
All financial advisors who provide investment advice directly to clients or exercise investment discretion over client assets should be subject to fiduciary standards. In this guest contribution, Scott MacKillop takes exception to the article by John Lohr entitled 'Fiduciary': Much Ado about Nothing! that appeared here last week.
2010-08-10 Performance that Plan Sponsors Value Most by Jeffrey Briskin (Article)
Advisors serving 401(k) plans may successfully improve investment performance, only to find out that the plan sponsor is totally unsatisfied. In this guest contribution, Jeffrey Briskin relates a recent conversation that made that painfully obvious, and a recent study by his company confirmed that such outcomes occur all too often.
2010-08-10 A Marketing Guide for RIAs Part 10 - Develop a Written Marketing Plan by Kristen Luke (Article)
In the final installment of her series on low-budget marketing, Kristen Luke discusses how to put all the elements together in a written plan.
2010-08-07 And That's the Week That Was... by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates
Although the economy remains in recovery mode, the labor statistics confirmed that it may not be as strong as many were hoping. Several quarters of lackluster growth appear to be on the horizon. Even though the unemployment rate held steady at 9.5 percent, the June payroll data was revised lower and the 'underemployment' rate stands at a high 16.5 percent. Retailers braced for a feeble 'back-to-school' shopping season as same-store sales for July came in below expectations and department stores and teen retailers reported the most disappointing results.
2010-08-07 The Problem With Pensions by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors
A report just out from the Center for Policy Analysis indicates that state and local pension funds are drastically underfunded. By the authors' calculations, state and local pensions are underfunded by $3 trillion. Pension funding in some states will be required by law to consume 25-30 percent or more of tax revenues. That is going to mean much higher taxes or reduced services. John Mauldin also discusses a possible surprise from President Obama concerning Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and provides an economic update on China.
2010-08-03 'Fiduciary': Much Ado about Nothing! by John Lohr (Article)
The most overused, misused and misunderstood word in the investment industry is 'fiduciary.' Independent advisors, trade organizations and self-styled 'expert' groups have called for stockbrokers to adopt the 'fiduciary' standard to achieve a grand leveling of the playing field for those who provide investment advice. This is nothing more than unnecessary marketing hype, says securities lawyer John Lohr in this guest contribution.
2010-08-03 A Marketing Guide for RIAs: Part 8 – Implement a Client Referral Strategy by Kristen Luke (Article)
In her series on low-budget marketing for startup RIA firms, Kristen Luke discusses how to develop a client referral strategy.
2010-08-03 A Marketing Guide for RIAs: Part 9 – Create a Drip Marketing System for Prospects by Kristen Luke (Article)
In her series on low-budget marketing for startup RIA firms, Kristen Luke discusses how to develop a drip marketing program.
2010-08-03 Letter to the Editor by Various (Article)
In a letter to the editor, a reader responds to Dave Loeper's article, Fake Diversification Exposed: Does Asset Allocation Work?, which appeared on July 13.
2010-07-31 Are We There Yet? by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors
The reported Q2 GDP growth was unimpressive. If we take away housing and project slower inventory growth and less government spending, we could see the GDP number for this quarter fall to the 1% range and stay there for the rest of the year. Deflation is a real fear, analogous to driving our economy "without a spare."
2010-07-30 And That's the Week That Was... by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates
A couple of Fed sightings, some mixed earnings reports, and a stand against profane emails. At the end of the day (week), the markets were little changed from where they began. Seems hardly worth coming in this week (though the month of July was pretty successful for equities).
2010-07-27 A Marketing Guide for RIAs: Part 6 - Develop a Networking Strategy by Kristen Luke (Article)
In her series on low-budget marketing for startup RIA firms, Kristen Luke discusses how to develop networking strategies.
2010-07-27 A Marketing Guide for RIAs: Part 7 – Implement a Centers of Influence Referral Strategy by Kristen Luke (Article)
In her series on low-budget marketing for startup RIA firms, Kristen Luke discusses how to implement centers-of-influence referral strategies.
2010-07-24 Some Thoughts on Deflation by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors
We face the deflation of the Depression era, and central bankers of the world are united in opposition. This is due to excess capacity, high unemployment and massive wealth destruction. Deflationary pressures are the norm in the developed world (except for Britain, where inflation is the issue). The US has mild (1 percent) inflation now, but if it trends to deflation, the Fed will react by monetizing the debt.
2010-07-24 And That's the Week That Was... by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates
After riding high for the first few months of the year, investors faced the uncertainty of another major market downturn and watched those early profits disappear. In more recent times, they have been clawing their way back to breakeven territory. After some favorable earnings news and some decent economic (and banking) reports from Europe, the Dow and Nasdaq are virtually flat for the year and the S&P 500 is nearing the breakeven point. The small-cap Russell 2000 has fared a bit better thus far.
2010-07-20 A Marketing Guide for RIAs: Part 4 – Create Marketing Collateral by Kristen Luke (Article)
In her series on low-budget marketing for startup RIA firms, Kristen Luke discusses how to create your marketing collateral.
2010-07-20 A Marketing Guide for RIAs: Part 5 – Become an Expert by Kristen Luke (Article)
In her series on low-budget marketing for startup RIA firms, Kristen Luke discusses how to become an expert in your market niche.
2010-07-17 And That's the Week That Was... by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates
So much information; so little time to digest. While earnings season kicked off to some mixed results, investors also eyed critical news from BP, Goldman, Apple, the Fed, and even Playboy as they attempted to determine the next direction for the markets. The early weak euphoria was replaced by newfound late-week concerns and stocks did another about-face as the game of streaks continued. Aren’t the summers supposed to be slow and boring?
2010-07-13 How to Fix the SEC by Bob Veres (Article)
Bob Veres' view is that the SEC is adequately funded, but perhaps is not ideally allocating the resources it already has. Fiduciary standards and regulatory reform are only part of the solution to protecting consumers from the predatory behavior of some financial services professionals in our midst. The remainder of the fix is potentially uncomplicated. See Bob's other contribution below.
2010-07-13 A Marketing Guide for RIAs: Part 2 – Craft Your Message by Kristen Luke (Article)
As part of her series on low-budget marketing for startup RIA firms, Kristen Luke discusses how to craft your message.
2010-07-13 A Marketing Guide for RIAs: Part 3 – Build a Website by Kristen Luke (Article)
Kristen Luke discusses the steps to take to build your website.
2010-07-10 It's More Than Just Birth-Death by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors
Mauldin examines the methodology used by the BLS when it calculates unemployment. He reviews claims by Jeff Miller of New Arc (which we published on Thursday) that distortions caused by unreported data are greater than those of the birth/death model. Mauldin also discusses a conversation he had with Mohammed El-Erian, who said that unemployment may now be a leading (instead of lagging) indicator of economic growth.
2010-07-09 Emerging Market GDP Growth: The Past Two Decades, and Our Projections for the Next Decade by Monty Guild and Tony Danaher of Guild Investment Management
Even with all the problems currently experienced in Japan, Europe, and the U.S., some parts of the world continue to grow vigorously. Guild's focus will be on the countries above which have strong prospects for growth. They will also focus on high-yielding income stocks which earn cash flows from the production of oil, and from gold, which will provide an anchor to windward in the current turbulent economic times. Today's markets will continue to produce those opportunities in the form of price weakness if we remain patient.
2010-07-09 Postcard from India by Sharat Shroff of Matthews Asia
It is easy to get carried away with the potential of a full economic revival of rural (and consequently, agricultural sectors) within India. Some of the recent strength can be attributed to new policies by the central government, including guaranteeing employment for 100 days. The early results of these policies are encouraging, but the impetus needs to be sustained in the form of more forward-thinking investment in social infrastructure, including health and education. Nonetheless, it is hard for any long-term strategy focused on India to ignore the potential of these smaller markets.
2010-07-09 And That's the Week That Was... by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates
Enough with the rumors and innuendoes…the optimism and concerns…the favorable forecasts and downgrades…the fundamental number crunching and the charting…Let the earnings season begin. For weeks, some analysts have spoken of stronger comps and feared disappointments. Others looked at the economic recovery and continued to believe that enhanced manufacturing activity is just now beginning to show up in the profit numbers. The waiting is over…Alcoa kicks off the season on Monday.
2010-07-09 The Pride of Slovenia by Mark Mobius of Franklin Templeton
The country of Slovenia, although hard-hit by the financial crisis, is home to a number of companies that are promising investment candidates.
2010-07-06 A Marketing Guide for RIAs by Kristen Luke (Article)
Kristen Luke begins a series of articles that will provide step-by-step instructions on how to start marketing your new RIA firm. She assumes that your firm does not have tens of thousands of dollars to spend on marketing. Here is an overview of the series.
2010-07-06 A Marketing Guide for RIAs: Part 1 – Pick a Niche by Kristen Luke (Article)
Beginning her series of articles that will provide step-by-step instructions on how to start marketing your new RIA firm, Kristen Luke outlines part 1 - developing a market niche.
2010-07-02 And That's the Week That Was... by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates
So is the temporary pullback actually much more? Since setting recent highs in April, equities have tumbled over 15% and are dangerously close to official bear market territory (>20%). The dramatic volatility has forced many retail (individual) investors back to the sidelines and to the safe-haven of low-yielding treasuries. Then again, the summer months often bring significant price swings as traders head to the Hamptons and away from the daily grind (of flash trades).
2010-07-02 And That's the Quarter That Was... by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates
As the quarter began, the economy continued its trek toward recovery; confidence had returned to corporate boardrooms; and investors were pouring their “cash-on-the sidelines” back into risky assets. Just when all seemed right in the world again, tiny Greece (and huge BP) began dominating the headlines. (Remember when a mere volcano was big news?)
2010-06-26 And That's the Week That Was... by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates
Get used to this volatility and market uncertainty - it could last a while. This week, the naysayers won out again as concerns about the upcoming earnings season emerged and talk of a possible double-dip in Europe made its way into the Fed’s policy meeting. Financial reform appears to be headed to the Prez’s desk. The week found personal conflicts on the military front, a potential loss of the Budget Director, and the realization that a federal judge may have more power over issues of deepwater drilling. Is it time for the July 4th vacation yet? (Will we be able to afford the gasoline?)
2010-06-26 The Risk of Recession by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors
The risk of recession is 50/50, but several things could make it less likely: if the expiration of the Bush tax cuts are not as harmful as expected, if those tax cuts are extended, or if there is a pickup in bank lending. The ECRI leading indicators and the M3 money supply numbers are indicating a recession is likely. If there is a recession, it will be deflationary and the Fed will react with another dose of quantitative easing.
2010-06-24 those darn analysts by tom brakke of the research puzzle
To be successful, an analyst must be able to evaluate anything and everything. The list of the most important considerations varies by industry and company, but think of all the different pieces: operations, sales, marketing, finance, etc. Any of them can cause problems or improvements within a firm; how well can one person understand the internal dynamics of each? In most investment organizations, we have made it too easy to say, 'those darn analysts,' without stopping to realize that we have constructed a job that is unwieldy and unlikely to engender success.
2010-06-22 Three New Ways to Use LinkedIn to Market Your Business by Kristen Luke (Article)
LinkedIn is constantly evolving and has become a better marketing tool in the process, writes Kristen Luke. If you haven't logged in recently, here are three new ways you can use the site to market your business.
2010-06-22 The New Roth Rules: Are Your Clients Converting? Survey Results – April/May 2010 by Michael Slemmer, CFA (Article)
Many fund companies are reporting high levels of Roth conversion activity, but to date there have been only anecdotal reports as to what investment advisors and wealth managers are experiencing with their clients and prospects. Here are the results from a survey we recently conducted that provides insights into trends in Roth conversions.
2010-06-18 Be Careful What You Wish For by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors
Governments can fight deficits by cutting spending, but that has the effect of reducing growth, which reduces taxes and income, essentially forcing a recession. This is the situation facing the US. The probability for a recession in the US in 2011 is 50%.
2010-06-18 And That's the Week That Was... by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates
As politicos took shots oil company execs, the joint strategy from the oil giants seemed apparent…throw BP under the bus: “…a dramatic departure from the industry norm in deepwater drilling…,” “what went wrong at this well that did not occur at the 14,000 other deepwater wells that have been successfully drilled around the world…,” “an independent investigation of the accident will show that this tragedy was preventable.” BP’s chairman and CEO expressed “deep regret” over the spill’s impact (though both denied any involvement in key decisions leading up to the disaster).
2010-06-15 Strategy Advice from Apple and Google by Dan Richards (Article)
Last week Dan Richards conducted a webinar focused on the key decision that will drive advisors' long term success. Richards talks about what advisors can learn from the success of Apple, Google, Coke and Walmart.
2010-06-15 Three Steps to Start Building a Powerful Center-of-Influence Network by Ani Yessaillian (Article)
In a time when multiple referrals sources are required for profitable growth, it's imperative that financial advisors accelerate their referral-building efforts by proactively creating a powerful center-of-influence network. Whether you're just getting started or have a network already in place that you want to develop further, Ani Yessaillian offers several initial steps can help you sharpen the focus and efficiency required to cultivate relationships with those who are most likely to provide coveted introductions.
2010-06-15 The Great Thank-You Note Debate by Kristen Luke (Article)
Fifteen years ago, sending a handwritten thank-you note was the only option. Technology has changed that, providing you with several options that make the choice more difficult. What is the right choice for your business? Kristen Luke offers three optionsto consider, depending on the demographics of your referral sources and the resources available in your firm.
2010-06-11 And That's the Week That Was... by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates
So just who is corporate public enemy number one these days: BP? Goldman Sachs? AIG? While BP has been garnering much of the negative attention these days, Goldman’s unfavorable image resurfaced (and, of course, AIG always remains lurking in the background, especially whenever Goldman’s challenges are revealed). This week, the markets tried to disregard that negativity and equities enjoyed their first “up” week in the past month. Even a late-week lower-than-expected retail sales release couldn’t overcome the new-found optimism of some well-timed ECB and Fed comments.
2010-06-11 The Frog in the Frying Pan by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors
Jonathan Tepper of Variant Perception, a research firm in London, writes this column as a guest contribution. He says that Mauldin's Muddle Through Economy is the product of several major structural breaks in the economy, which have important implications for growth, jobs, and the timing of a future recession: lower GDP growth will lead to more frequent recessions and higher economic volatility; high unemployment rates will be the norm, especially for less educated workers.
2010-06-05 There's a Slow Train Coming by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors
The question before the jury is a simple one, but the answer is complex. Is the US in a "V"-shaped recovery? Are we returning to the old normal? Mauldin concludes that the fundamentals are too weak to support robust growth, as typically follows a recession. He cites data from the Consumer Metrics Institute Growth Index, which suggests there will be a 2% GDP contraction in the third quarter, which he doubts will happen, but says the consensus 3% seems quite possible. He warns that if we go back into recession, the market on average drops 40%.
2010-06-01 Social Media & Reputation Management for Financial Advisors by Dan Sommer (Article)
As a financial advisor, your reputation is one of your most important prospecting tools. While the internet presents a wealth of marketing benefits, one downside is potentially losing control of your reputation. In this guest contribution, Dan Sommer shows how to make sure that doesn't happen.
2010-05-28 A Focus on Marketing Research by Dan Ariely of Predictably Irrational
Businesses most often rely on small 'focus groups' to answer big questions in marketing. In doing so, they rely on the intuition of about 10-12 lay people with no relevant training, and who ultimately have no idea what they're talking about. Although statistics about how a large group of people actually behaves can tell us so much more than the intuitions of a focus group, the allure of a story is irresistible. Perhaps we should try and supplement the numbers with a story to quench our thirst for an anecdote. What we can't do is forget about the facts in favor of fairy tales.
2010-05-28 Six Impossible Things by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors
You can run a trade deficit, reduce government debt and reduce private debt but not all three at the same time. Choose two. Choose carefully. The UK will likely allow the pound to devalue to reduce its deficit, but will face higher costs of imported goods. Greece, in contrast, has no good options, and ultimately will default on its debt.
2010-05-28 And That's the Week That Was... by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates
Move over Greece…here comes Spain. While one tiny euro country dominated the press for months, another looks to be taking over the headlines. This week, Spain announced significant budget cuts, and then its debt was downgraded by Fitch right before the weekend began (and after many traders had departed). China offered a “vote of confidence” for the euro-zone (at least, before the Fitch move). At home, the numbers continue to impress and say “recovery,” though investors can’t help but keep an eye (or two) on Europe as equities suffered their worst month since February 2009.
2010-05-25 Measure the Success of your Marketing through your CRM by Kristen Luke (Article)
Just because marketing is difficult to measure, it doesn't mean you should give up trying to do so, says Kristen Luke. Your time is valuable and you have a limited budget, so you will want to make educated decisions about where to best allocate your resources. The best way to do this is to utilize your customer relationship management (CRM) system to track your marketing efforts.
2010-05-22 The Case for a Fed Rate Hike by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors
Everywhere there are arguments that we are in a "V"-shaped recovery. And there are signs that in fact that is the case. Today we will look at some of those, and then take up the topic of when the Fed will raise rates. We open the case and look at the evidence. Is there enough to come to a real conviction? Mauldin thinks there is, but concludes that the Fed is "on hold" until 2011.
2010-05-18 Slime, Crime, Nickel and Dime by Mariko Gordon (Article)
There's nothing wrong with making a buck, says Daruma's Mariko Gordon. But too much emphasis on today's bottom line almost always endangers your long-term profitability.
2010-05-18 Enhance Your LinkedIn Profile through Applications by Kristen Luke (Article)
The standard LinkedIn profile is pretty boring - it consists almost entirely of text. Fortunately, LinkedIn has partnered with a dozen application providers to help enhance user experience. Here are eight that Kristen Luke recommends to turn your profile from a resume to a marketing tool.
2010-05-18 Search Engine Marketing for Financial Advisors by Dan Sommer (Article)
How do you take advantage of search engine marketing as a financial advisor? The goal of search engine marketing is to ensure that your website appears on as many results pages as possible for queries that relate to your business, and in this guest contribution Dan Somer explains the details of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Pay-Per-Click (PPC) advertising.
2010-05-18 The Next Frontier: Business Services in Asia by In-Bok Song of Matthews Asia
Thanks to improved education levels, Asia now has a bigger pool of quality human resources seeking better employment of their skills. Meanwhile, the cost of this labor in Asia is rising. One area that therefore needs to evolve in Asian economies is business services. Continued productivity growth is one of the most important benefits we can expect from evolving business services. Software and information technology services would arguably have the most direct impact on productivity growth in the industrial, commercial, distribution, technology and health care sectors.
2010-05-15 Europe Throws a Hail Mary Pass by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors
This week's $1 trillion EU bailout is analogous to the US TARP program, and represents a "Hail Mary" last-ditch attempt to save the eurozone. The problems in the EU run deeper than government debt; when private debt is included, overindebtedness is even more striking. Mauldin says the prospects for growth in the EU are dim, the euro will go to parity with the dollar, and the EU will dissolve in the next 5-7 years.
2010-05-14 And That's the Week That Was... by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates
Up 400, down 37, up 150, down 114, down 160. Say no more…volatility has returned to the equity markets. Fears of a European contagion practically wiped out the euphoria from a European bailout. Doesn’t anyone pay attention to domestic news anymore? Data indicates a nice recovery. Earnings continue to reflect growth. Corporate boardroom wreak of optimism. The week ended on a sour note, but please don’t forget the positives.
2010-05-13 Reader' Questions Answered by Mark Mobius of Franklin Templeton
Mark Mobius responds to reader questions on emerging markets. Mobius notes that global markets tend to react to headlines in the short-term. At the end of the day, however, each country and each company has its own set of dynamics and fundamentals. Research is about identifying the differences among them. Key differentiating factors are often the basis for success in the long run. He also comments on the Greek debt crisis, political stability in Poland, reforms in Colombia and the recent death of Nigeria's president.
2010-05-11 Inspire Client Trust by Delivering Clear, Insightful Investment Communications by Ani Yessaillian (Article)
One of the best ways to build trust with your clients is to consistently deliver clear, insightful investment communications. In this guest contribution, consultant Ani Yessaillian tells you how to make the most of your quarterly performance report and your off-cycle investment communications.
2010-05-11 Join a Professional Association – Just Not Your Own Profession by Kristen Luke (Article)
Don't limit your involvement in professional associations to your own profession, says Kristen Luke. To actively market your business, spend more time with professional associations that pertain to your prospective clients than for your own industry.
2010-05-11 Tagline, You’re It by Wendy J. Cook (Article)
Have you ever noticed that it can be easier to write a 6,000-word treatise than to come up with six perfect words, like, say, "You're in good hands with Allstate®"? As Wendy Cook writes, sometimes less is more - more frustrating, that is. How do you say a lot with a little in corporate taglines?
2010-05-10 The Current Accredited Investor Rules Are Discriminatory... And About to Get Worse by Jeff Joseph of Prescient Advisors
Senator Chris Dodd’s financial reform bill that is on the way to the House floor contains new provisions that would reduce the number of individuals eligible to invest in private ventures. The original draft of the bill would increase the $1 million net worth threshold that defines an 'accredited investor,' which in turn determines an individual's eligibility to invest in exempted private securities offerings. This is bunk. The ability to invest in a new business should not be an exclusive privilege bestowed by politicians upon persons of a certain economic class.
2010-05-07 Thoughts on Unemployment and the Market by David A. Rosenberg of Gluskin Sheff
The U.S. employment report was strong on the headline but masked underlying deflationary trends beneath the surface. While the primary focus in the media and Wall Street research reports will likely be on the obvious - nonfarm payrolls surging 290,000 and an even stronger 550,000 gain in the household survey - what was most notable was the buildup of excess capacity in the labor market last month and further evidence of wage deflation coming to the fore. Gluskin also comments on yesterday's market dip.
2010-05-07 And That\'s the Week That Was... by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates
So when is a 350 point down day considered a good thing? Perhaps, after it recovered from an earlier decline of almost 1,000 points? For a week at least, bullish investors went into hibernation and the bears reappeared, warning everyone about Greece, Goldman, Congress, deficits, the Fed, earnings, inflation, and everything else that could negatively impact the markets. Add a few potential technical computer glitches and maybe a heavy trading finger or two and you have one of the worst weeks among equities ever (memories of 2008).
2010-05-04 Alternative Centers of Influence by Kristen Luke (Article)
Just because you haven't had much luck generating referrals from traditional centers of influence (COIs), don't give up your COI marketing strategy all together. COIs don't have to be CPAs or attorneys, says Kristen Luke. They can be anyone who has the ability to influence a potential client to pick up the phone and call you.
2010-04-30 And That's the Week That Was... by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates
Goldman’s Fabulous Fab may not seem so fabulous these days, at least, not to the grandstanding Congresspersons and federal prosecutors. During the week, investors should have had plenty to cheer about: earnings remained strong, the economy continued in rebound mode, the Fed offered some positive comments and kept rates unchanged at low levels. However, equities plummeted as news from the EU raised some additional concerns about the global economy and the perpetual bailouts of other European countries (Spain and Portugal). And, as for Goldman Sachs…memories of 1990 Drexel Burnham?
2010-04-27 Four Reasons to Keep Sending Your eNewsletter that No One Reads by Kristen Luke (Article)
If nobody opens your eNewsletter is a waste of time? Not at all! Having your contacts read your eNewsletter to stay informed about your business and educate themselves about their finances is just one possible outcome. Kristen Luke gives four other reasons why you should continue to send your eNewsletter, even if no one is reading it.
2010-04-23 And That's the Week That Was... by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates
What did more long-term damage to the global economy: Iceland's Eyjafjallajokull volcano or Goldman Sachs? This week, both stories dominated the news and the volcano eruption seemed likely to go away long before the recurring financial 'villain.' While the rising price tag of the airline shutdown in Europe pushed close to $2 billion, the harm caused by the alphabet of subprime mortgage derivatives (CDO/CDS – both real and synthetic) had even greater implications. Next week expect all eyes to turn to the new statement from the Fed on the Federal Funds rate.
2010-04-17 First, Let’s Kill the Angels by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors
Provisions in the Dodd financial reform bill will impede angel investing in new ventures. Those provisions are the 120-day waiting period following SEC filing and the increase in minimum wealth requirements for accredited investors. Separately, the problems that Goldman now faces are "the tip of the iceberg," and at least eight other banks will face similar problems.
2010-04-16 And That's the Week That Was... by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates
Earnings season, tax day, Greek bailout, more “controversial” matters at Goldman. So what else is new? With analysts having some “great expectations” for 1st quarter earnings, the initial week did not disappoint (sans Alcoa). The economic numbers continue to produce some favorable results and the Fed is saying all of the right things. Even the labor sector looks to be improving. By week’s end, investors may have been looking for an excuse to take some profits and SEC/Goldman provided them just the right selling motivation. Much ado about nothing? Time will tell.
2010-04-13 Unforeseen Pitfalls of Social Media Success by Kristen Luke (Article)
There is a pitfall that is rarely anticipated and only occurs for those who are the most successful using social media, writes Kristen Luke. Social media can create more relationships and opportunities than one person can reasonably handle.
2010-04-12 Why Business Don't Experiment by Dan Ariely of Predictably Irrational
Companies pay amazing amounts of money to get answers from consultants with overdeveloped confidence in their own intuition. And yet, companies won't experiment to find evidence of the right way forward. Ariely thinks this irrational behavior stems from two sources. One is the nature of experiments themselves. As the people at the consumer goods firm pointed out, experiments require short-term losses for long-term gains. Second, there's the false sense of security that heeding experts provides. When we pay consultants, we get an answer from them and not a list of experiments to conduct.
2010-04-09 And That's the Week That Was... by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates
Heading into the first official week of reporting, several companies already raised earnings projections and shed a bit more optimism on the quarter just passed. Still the 'too far, too fast' naysayers believe the decent expected earnings results are already built into the market and Dow 11k does not justify the current level of corporate or economic activity. In short…Greece continued to struggle; treasury supply was absorbed reasonably well; oil pushed higher (then lower); Greenspan and Rubin got grilled; Bernanke hedged his bets.
2010-04-09 Reform We Can Believe In by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors
Appointments to positions of power in the Federal Reserve system should be independent of the political process and party politics. Credit default swaps should be regulated by requiring that they be traded on an exchange. Commercial and investment banking should be separated, so that commercial banks cannot engage in speculative activity such as running hedge funds. Leverage use by large banks should be restricted. "Fix the big things. Credit default swaps. Too big to fail. Leverage. Then worry about the details. And leave the Fed alone."
2010-04-06 Ten Steps to Get Started with New Media Marketing by Kristen Luke (Article)
For advisors not familiar with social media (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Viddler, BlogTalkRadio, and YouTube), Kristen Luke provides a 10-step plan to get started.
2010-04-03 Is This a Recovery? by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors
"We will likely see a reduction in government spending (from all levels) over the next few years, a really nasty set of tax increases, which will hit small businessmen the hardest, and continued high unemployment, and all of it coming in a weakening economy by the end of the year," says John Mauldin. "I put the odds of a double-dip recession in 2011 at better than 50-50." Mauldin also offers asset allocation advice over a 10-year time frame.
2010-04-02 And That's the Week That Was... by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates
The Brounes & Associates market/economic commentary for the week ended April 2, 2010. For those of you forced to get up early for the labor numbers, here you go. The economy added 162k jobs in March, the best showing in three years, while the jobless rate held steady at 9.7 percent. For those of you still asleep (or who just been back to sleep)…enjoy your holiday (and don’t worry about how those temp census workers impacted the number)
2010-04-01 And That's the Quarter That Was... by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates
Ron Brounes' recap of the prior quarter's market activity.
2010-03-30 Seven Tips for a Successful Family Foundation by Nancy Opiela (Article)
Managing a foundation's assetswins you the cachet of being seen as helping your clients fulfill their philanthropic goals, and it is extremely lucrative work that can create a practice-building bridge to the next generation.The administrative aspects, as Nancy Opiela writes, can be daunting and she offers seven tips for a successful family foundation.
2010-03-30 Get More Bang for Your Charitable Buck by Kristen Luke (Article)
Whatever your level of involvement in charitable activities, you can probably still do more, writes Kristen Luke. This is especially true when it comes to incorporating your charitable support into a marketing strategy for your own business.
2010-03-27 What Does Greece Mean to You? by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors
The potential consequences of the Greece debt crisis can be explained by chaos theory, where a small perturbation in one place (the Greek economy) can cause bigger ripples in the global economy. Greek debt is held by European banks, and a Greek default would weaken the European economy. The real crisis, though, is the impending end of a "60-year debt supercycle," which implies many years of deleveraging and a weak global economy.
2010-03-23 Three Ways to Enhance Your Facebook Business Page by Kristen Luke (Article)
A business page on Facebook provides you with a way to connect with people interested in your practice without having to use your personal profile. Kristen Luke offers three tips for improving your Facebook visibility.
2010-03-20 The Threat to Muddle Through by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors
Mauldin criticizes Krugman's call for a 25% tariff on Chinese imports, and instead predicts that China will allow its currency to appreciate 5-7% per year for the next several years. Protectionism, he says, is the biggest threat to global recovery. In defense of his argument, Mauldin says similar tariffs could be imposed if the euro, Yen and the Canadian dollar continue their current trends. The larger problem is the growing US deficit, which must be dealt with in the medium term, or there will be no long term.
2010-03-19 And That's the Week That Was... by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates
Welcome to March Madness. The time when the world looks on to ascertain the level of financial support to that European superpower of Greece…the time when politicos ignore each other and move forward with key legislation in a purely partisan manner (so what else is new?)…the time when Bernanke has to teach an Economics 101 class to elected officials…the time when Google says goodbye to the fastest growing Internet market…and the time when investors quit following the markets because Old Dominion is playing (and beating) Notre Dame.
2010-03-16 No Shell Game? Then What Is It? by Dave Loeper (Article)
Wealthcare's Dave Loeper responds to Roger Schreiner's recent article, It's No Shell Game. Loeper contends that the rules of Schreiner's challenge ensure that Schreiner will win and, from a larger perspective, active management advocates sacrifice their clients' wealth by exposing them to risks those advocates cannot control.
2010-03-13 The Implications of Velocity by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors
Mauldin examines the relationship between the velocity of money, economic growth and inflation. After reviewing the economic theory, he shows that the velocity of money in the US has decreased since the onset of the financial crisis, and attributes this to deleveraging and the pullback from the financial innovations that accelerated the velocity of money, particularly in the 1990s. The Fed has compensated for the slowdown in velocity by increasing the money supply, and Mauldin questions whether the Fed can effectively reduce the money supply once velocity increases.
2010-03-12 And That's the Week That Was... by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates
. Let the rally continue. As the country (world for that matter) celebrated the one year anniversary of the market turnaround (bull market sounds too encouraging), investors took time to reflect on just where we have been and where we may be going. Buyers emerged again (though on a smaller scale…
2010-03-09 The New Rules of Marketing - A Roundtable by Dan Sommer (Article)
Given the ever-shifting landscape of information consumption and consumer behavior, financial advisors have been forced to change their thinking about the way they market themselves. In this guest contribution, Dan Sommer speaks with two investment professionals who answer a series of marketing-related questions for advisors.
2010-03-06 Welcome to the Future by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors
Mauldin reflects on an executive program held by the Singularity University that he recently attended. He discusses the potential for new advancements in robotics, artificial intelligence, nanotechnology, water purification, biotechnology, and several other areas.
2010-03-05 And That's the Week That Was... by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates
Ron Brounes' weekly market and economic update.
2010-03-02 Robert Pozen on the Financial Crisis, Social Security, and the Mutual Fund Industry by Dan Richards (Article)
Robert Pozen is the chairman of MFS Investment Management and a senior lecturer at the Harvard Business School. In this interview with Dan Richards, he discusses the financial crisis, Social Security, and the mutual fund Industry. We provide a transcript and a video replay of the interview.
2010-02-26 And That's the Week That Was... by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates
Ron Brounes' weekly recap of market and economic news.
2010-02-25 Statement by Christopher Whalen Congressional Oversight Panel Hearing on GMAC TARP Assistance by Christopher Whalen of Institutional Risk Analyst
Christopher Whalen tells a TARP assistance congressional oversight panel in a prepared statement that bank holding company GMAC Financial Services must restructure before it can support the growth of General Motors and its community of dealers and consumers, and that there is currently no compelling business or financial reason to rescue GMAC. GMAC banking unit Ally Bank received an "F" rating from the Institutional Risk Analytics Bank Stress Index for the fourth quarter of 2009.
2010-02-20 The Pain in Spain by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors
Mauldin examine the Greek crisis the the potential direction of the euro. Spain, he says, is a more threatening crisis because its debt is much greater than Greece's. "Pay attention to Greece and Spain and especially Japan over the next few years," he says. "Unless the US gets its fiscal house in order, we will be next."
2010-02-14 And That's the Week That Was... by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates
Ron Brounes' weekly market recap
2010-02-10 unpegged by Tom Brakke of the research puzzle
Tom Brakke of the research puzzle says the popular price to earnings to growth (PEG) ratio oversimplifies the concept of incremental growth, and is therefore an unreliable guide to picking stocks. Overuse of the ratio has led the average investor to apply former Fidelity Magellan manager Peter Lynch's tenets of "buy what you know" and "look for cheap growth" beyond reason.
2010-02-09 Trust, Illusion, Values and the Death of 'Common Sense' by David Edwards of Heron Financial Group
Heron Financial Group president David Edwards says the 6.9 percent decline in the S&P 500 since January 19 was a normal market correction, and he expects positive returns in the S&P by the end of the year. He proposes several regulatory reforms to discourage "negative sum" products and restore investor trust.
2010-02-09 6 Ways to Make the Most of your Web Site by Nancy Opiela (Article)
Whether your web site is an online brochure to attract prospects or tool to enhance client communication, small changes can generate big returns. Even if your site already has the right look and feel, here are six ways it can still be improved.
2010-02-09 Transforming Your Business with an Integrated Solution by Marie Swift (Article)
Marie Swift evaluates the various systems and processes that are kicked-off at a typical firm from one of the most common client interactions - an inbound call. Many firms work with disparate software systems and utilize far too many manual tasks - resulting in duplicate data entry and poor customer service. Conversely, Marie evaluates this same scenario utilizing an integrated software and services solution, Tamarac Advisor 9, and finds dramatic gains in efficiency, accuracy and overall firm profitability. We thank Tamarac for their sponsorship.
2010-02-06 And That's the Week That Was... by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates
Ron Brounes' weekly market and economic recap.
2010-02-01 Fed Up? The Effects of a Rate Rise by Milton Ezrati of Lord Abbett
Milton Ezrati examines the history of Fed Funds rate hikes and the response of the bond markets. He concludes, based on the evidence of the 2004-2007 experience, that bond investors should not be fearful of rate increases.
2010-01-30 This Time is Different by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors
Mauldin begins with an analysis of the reported Q4 GDP numbers, saying that it is not indicative of underlying growth in the economy. He then comments on the Reinhart-Rogoff book "This Time is Different," focusing on the point that governments can survive debt-fueled growth until confidence in them evaporates. He is discusses Greece's fiscal problems.
2010-01-29 Q409 Portfolio Commentary & Updated Fact Sheet by Jay Compson of Absolute Investment Advisors
“Beyond just our economic, fiscal, and underemployment problems, we are likely to see a reversal of three decades of tailwinds that will turn into large headwinds: deleveraging, higher taxes, re-regu
2010-01-29 For your consideration by Tom Brakke of TJB Advisors
“With the Golden Globes and Screen Actors Guild awards having been given out, the annual speculation as to who will receive Academy Awards will soon dominate the entertainment news,” writes Tom Brakke
2010-01-29 And That's the Week that Was... by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates
Ron Brounes’ weekly market recap.
2010-01-28 Making Sense of Obama's Bank Reform Plans by Acharya & Richardson of VoxEU
Obama's sweeping proposal for financial regulation took the world by surprise. Here two of the world's leading professors of finance explain why it is step in the right direction from the standpoint
2010-01-26 Karma Marketing by Kristen Luke (Article)
A few weeks ago, Kristen Luke was speaking with an advisor about the types of marketing his firm does. He listed several standard marketing campaigns, and then went on to tell me that his main marketing strategy is to help others first with their needs. Business tends to follow, and he calls his strategy "Karma Marketing."
2010-01-23 And That's the Week That Was... by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates
Politics and investors make strange bedfellows and, for the time being, the two do not seem to get along very well. Despite some reasonably favorable earnings reports, investors instead took their cu
2010-01-22 Thoughts on the End Game by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors
"As for financial markets, we have come full circle to the concept of financial fragility in economies with massive indebtedness. All too often, periods of heavy borrowing can take place in a bubbl
2010-01-16 And That's the Week that Was... by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates
2010-01-12 Bruce Berkowitz on the Keys to Success for the Fairholme Fund by Robert Huebscher (Article)
Bruce Berkowitz, manager of the Fairholme Fund, was just named Morningstar's US fund manager of the year. In our interview, he discusses current market conditions, the thesis behind several of his largest positions, his views on health care reform, and the elements of the macro environment that concern him most.
2010-01-12 How to Use LinkedIn When Your Compliance Department Says No by Kristen Luke (Article)
For those advisors who are allowed to have a LinkedIn profile but are restricted in their use of the site, there are still strategies that can be utilized to make LinkedIn a valuable sales and marketing tool. Kristen Luke provides four strategies to implement even if you can't use LinkedIn to its fullest potential.
2010-01-09 And That's the Week That Was... by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates
2010-01-07 The Error Price by Tom Brakke of the research puzzle
2010-01-06 And That's the Week that Was by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates
2010-01-06 Psychology of why investors 'Buy High/Sell Low,' and how to avoid that trap! by David Edwards of Heron Financial Group
2010-01-06 The Science Behind Exercise Footwear by Dan Ariely of Predictably Irrational
2010-01-02 And That's the Week That Was by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates
2009-12-31 A New Paradigm for a New Century by Paul Merriman of Merriman
2009-12-29 The Top 10 Articles You Didn’t Read (But Should Have) by Robert Huebscher (Article)
We closely monitor which articles draw the most readership. This allows us to fine-tune our content to the preferences of our audience. Reflecting on those articles that were most popular over the last year, however, we believe other articles also deserved your attention. We provide the "Top 10" articles you didn't read - but should have.
2009-12-23 And That's the Week that Was by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates
2009-12-22 All Carolinas Are Not Created Equally by John Burns of John Burns Real Estate Consulting
2009-12-22 Morningstar Ratings – Our Response by Robert Huebscher (Article)
Last week, we published the response from John Rekenthaler, Morningstar's VP of Research, to our recent study of Morningstar's ratings. We disagree with the Rekenthaler's analysis and provide our rebuttal.
2009-12-18 And That's the Week that Was by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates
2009-12-15 TCW Post-Gundlach by Robert Huebscher (Article)
The reasons for Jeff Gundlach's termination from TCW and his future plans have become subjects of great speculation. We will leave it to others to answer those questions and instead focus on one important issue that was raised in a conference call TCW held with investors last Friday.
2009-12-08 Attracting Clients through Event Marketing by Jason Lampa (Article)
When he meets with financial advisors, Jason Lampa always asks them whether they have integrated event marketing into their strategic marketing plan. In this guest contribution, he writes that rarely are such programs part of a firm's overall marketing strategy; moreover, most advisors have no process in place to execute an event marketing plan.
2009-12-01 Ten Ways to Connect with Your Clients’ Children by Nancy Opiela (Article)
When you work with a top client throughout his or her life, you have an opportunity to ensure that the client's family stays with your firm beyond the current generation. Financial legacies are often lost when wealth passes from generation to generation, so building intergenerational connections can ensure both a successful transfer of assets - and an advisory relationship that endures after your original client passes on.
2009-12-01 Letters to the Editor by Various (Article)
In our letters to the Editor, one reader comments on Dan Richards' article last week, Tapping into Today's Number One Client Concern, and another comments on our article two weeks ago, Bruce Greenwald on Positioning First Eagle's Funds.
2009-11-24 Tapping into Today’s Number One Client Concern by Dan Richards (Article)
Larry Porcelli, the head of the private client group for US fund giant BlackRock said that their research shows that 70% of Americans are willing to move their accounts if another firm or advisor offered expertise on constructing portfolios to avoid running out of money. Dan Richards identifies two things advisors need to do to capitalize on this opportunity.
2009-11-24 Get Personal with your Clients and Prospects by Kristen Luke (Article)
Financial advisors are, or at least should be, in the relationship business. So what better way to build a relationship than to interact with your clients and prospects outside the sphere of your business? Kristen Luke offers her suggestions.
2009-11-24 Buy Bonds and Not Bond Funds by Hildy and Stan Richelson (Article)
Record inflows into longer-term bond funds in the last six months have provided investors purported relief from the near-zero returns in money market funds. Do not mistake those inflows or rising prices for an endorsement of bond funds, write Stan and Hildy Richelson in this guest contribution. Bond funds are inferior to individual bonds, as those who are now buying bond funds may soon discover.
2009-11-17 Five End-of-Year Marketing Tips by Kristen Luke (Article)
The slow period in November and December doesn't mean you should halt your marketing efforts. As Kristen Luke writes, you need to adjust your strategies and take advantage of the unique opportunities that are available during this period. Here are five tips to help make the most out of your end-of-year marketing.
2009-11-10 Using Case Studies to Make Your Case by Dan Richards (Article)
Case studies rank as one of the most effective ways to tell your story to prospects. As Dan Richards writes, well-written case studies can be more persuasive and memorable than the typical marketing material which advisors use with prospects.
2009-10-27 Should You Write Your Own Blog? by Kristen Luke (Article)
If you decide to include a blog in your marketing mix, you can use "canned" material from an outsource provider or you can write your own. Kristen Luke looks at the pros and cons of each approach.
2009-10-20 Marketing with LinkedIn: Create Your Own Group by Kristen Luke (Article)
Participating in various groups is one way you can utilize LinkedIn as a marketing tool, but for the more ambitious marketers, having your own group offers even greater opportunities. Kristen Luke offers step-by-step instructions to create your own group.
2009-10-13 Seven Ways to Reach Prospects in the New Normal by Nancy Opiela (Article)
Extravagance is out and frugality is in. Finding happiness in what we can afford is what sells. With many investors implicitly or explicitly bracing for the New Normal and lower returns from the capital markets, advisors need to rethink their marketing programs to be consistent with their clients' tempered expectations.
2009-10-13 Five Secrets to Effective Communication by Beverly D. Flaxington (Article)
Advisors may think they are excellent communicators, but in Beverly Flaxington's experience many have a lot to learn. Whether they are developing new business, engaging with centers of influence, introducing themselves to new prospects, or simply building existing relationships, five key techniques can improve their communication skills.
2009-10-13 In Defense of Leveraged and Inverse ETFs by Tom Lydon (Article)
Leveraged and inverse exchange traded funds (ETFs) have been a lightning rod for controversy. Reasonable concerns underpin criticism of them, but these funds are largely misunderstood. Tom Lydon sets the record straight and identifies those investors for whom leveraged and inverse funds are appropriate.
2009-10-06 Five Marketing Lessons from Schwab IMPACT by Kristen Luke (Article)
Kristen Luke recently attended Schwab's IMPACT conference in her home town of San Diego. The three days offered a vast amount of information, and she shares her five favorite marketing lessons from IMPACT this year.
2009-10-06 SpeedReading® People for More Productive Client Relationships by Paul D. Tieger (Article)
In our relationship-driven industry, it is critical to understand how to best communicate with each client and prospect. Most people assume that people want to be communicated with in the ways that they prefer. However, as Paul Tieger explains in this guest contribution, different personality types require information to be communicated differently.
2009-09-29 Social Networking is Still Networking by Kristen Luke (Article)
Why do some expect that social networking should produce results in a matter of a couple of months? It is still networking and should be handled in the same manner. As Kristen Luke explains, merely advertising your business may work if you are a restaurant or hotel, but it doesn't work in a relationship-oriented business like financial advising.
2009-09-22 Three Ways to Market Your Business Using Facebook by Kristen Luke (Article)
Kristen Luke explains three ways advisors can promote their practice through Facebook: utilizing a basic personal profile, creating a business page and creating a group page.
2009-09-15 How to Setup a Facebook Business Page by Kristen Luke (Article)
Facebook is not a good strategy for every advisor, but it may be appropriate for advisors with strong personal and community relationships. Kristen Luke shows how a business page allows you to share information with your "fans" just as you would with your "friends" through your personal profile.
2009-09-08 Advisor Survey Shows Best Ways to Business Growth by Michael Slemmer, CFA (Article)
Many investment advisory and wealth management firms have struggled to increase assets in the recent difficult markets. In order to understand how advisors feel they are faring - and the keys, and obstacles, to success - we partnered with Advisors Trusted Advisor to survey advisors on the state of their business-building efforts.
2009-09-08 Make the Most of your Networking after the Event by Kristen Luke (Article)
After a networking event, the standard practice for most advisors is to send an email, make a phone call or mail a handwritten note. But what happens after the initial contact? Is there a system in place to continue following-up in the coming weeks, months and years, even if there is not an immediate fit? This is where most advisors fail in their networking strategy, according to Kristen Luke.
2009-08-25 Building a Practice in America’s Fastest Dying City by Robert Huebscher (Article)
While many - perhaps most - advisors use client appreciation programs as part of their marketing efforts, Mo Young has embraced this idea and made it his sole marketing focus. Young's practice is based in Youngstown, Ohio - which has the distinction of losing population more rapidly than any other city in the US - yet Young has added several hundred new clients over the last four years with his strategy.
2009-08-18 Beam Me Up Scotty, Vulcans Have Taken Over Planet Finance by Mariko Gordon (Article)
You don't need to be a dyed-in-the-wool Trekkie "to boldly go where no man has gone before." In this guest contribution, Mariko Gordon explains how one of these characters - Mr. Spock - helps shine a light on the value of emotion in the never-ending quest for sound investment decision-making.
2009-08-18 New Rules of Growing Your Book of Business: Microblogging with Twitter by Dan Sommer (Article)
Twitter has quickly become one of the fastest-growing and most talked-about marketing channels on the web. In this guest contribution, Dan Sommer explains how this rapid growth and wide adoption across many demographics makes it ideal for financial professionals looking for new ways to reach potential clients and build thought leadership.
2009-08-11 How to Construct a Marketing Plan and Budget by Kristen Luke (Article)
One way to significantly increase the chances of marketing success is to develop a marketing plan and stick to it. Kristen Luke says forget the formal marketing plan and just outline your marketing activities and budget, and she provides a step-by-step guide for you to follow.
2009-08-04 How to Think about Return and Risk at the Same Time by Adam Jared Apt (Article)
In this guest contribution targeted to the educated layman, Adam Apt discusses the relationship between return and risk. Only when you can keep in mind at one and the same time these two concepts can you properly understand how to invest. And you will also understand why you should invest. Without the marriage of the concepts, you will be playing the market-or shunning it-as if it were a casino.
2009-08-04 Convert Prospects to Clients through Drip Marketing by Kristen Luke (Article)
Kristen Luke covers drip campaigns, where an advisor sends marketing collateral to a prospect on a regularly scheduled basis. Luke discusses how you can add prospects to your existing client communications or create an independent program just for prospects.
2009-07-28 Which Social Media Tool is Right for You? by Kristen Luke (Article)
Kristen Luke's philosophy is that the best marketing activities are the ones that are in line with the advisor's preferences and interests. Social media offers a rich array of tools - all you have to do is choose the one that best fits your personality and preferences.
2009-07-21 Change or be Changed by Bob Padgette, CFA, CIMA and Ted Ponko, CFA (Article)
New financial services regulation will touch on many areas, and mutual fund evaluation and monitoring is one likely candidate. Over the past two decades, screening has been at the core of most mutual fund evaluation processes. The advisor picks the criteria, sets a minimum or maximum level for each, and comes up with a list of funds that survive all screens. Bob Padgette and Ted Ponko of Klein Systems demonstrate several inherent flaws in this process.
2009-07-21 SIFMA’s Proposed by Ron Rhoades (Article)
On July 17, 2009, the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association ("SIFMA") announced that its Private Client Group Steering Committee unanimously supports a new federal fiduciary standard for broker-dealers and investment advisors, embracing a proposal advanced by the Obama administration a week earlier in a draft of the "Investor Protection Act of 2009." Ron Rhoades looks at whether this shift in direction by SIFMA poses a radical change in business models, or whether the "new federal fiduciary standard" is something else in disguise.
2009-06-30 Letters to the Editor: The Road to Zimbabwe by Various (Article)
In the second set of our letters to the Editor, we publish responses to to our article, The Road to Zimbabwe.
2009-06-23 New Rules for Growing Your Book of Business: Reach Clients and Prospects Through Their In-Boxes by Dan Sommer (Article)
E-mail marketing is no longer a new marketing channel, but if used effectively it can become a powerful marketing and relationship building tool for financial advisors. In this guest contribution, Dan Sommer explains the benefits of e-mail-based marketing and provides tips to get started down this path.
2009-06-16 What Separates Great from Ordinary CRM Systems by Gary Kinghorn (Article)
In this guest contribution, Gary Kinghorn of AdviceAmerica says that effective CRM system must be centralized applications where all team members can view, share and update information, such as client tasks, documents, data and portfolios. This ensures everyone has current and accurate information at a glance.
2009-06-02 Jeremy Grantham's Warnings to Investors by Robert Huebscher (Article)
Of the thousands of investment letters penned in the industry, only one draws as much readership as Warren Buffet's annual letter to his shareholders: The quarterly commentary written by Jeremy Grantham. Grantham, the Chairman of the Boston-based investment firm Grantham Mayo Van Otterloo, was a featured speaker at Morningstar's Investor Conference last week, and he spoke at two breakout sessions. Those who, like me, attended both were richly rewarded, as he gave two distinctly different talks, addressing many subjects not covered in his commentaries.
2009-06-02 Helping Advisors Grow by Susan Weiner (Article)
George Tamer, Director of Institutional Sales at TD AMERITRADE Institutional, discusses the innovative strategies advisors are using to add clients and improve profitability. Tamer is also seeing an upturn in merger activities, and describes how advisors looking to buy or sell a firm can best position themselves. We thank them for their sponsorship.
2009-06-02 John Bogle and the Lantern on the Stern by Robert Huebscher (Article)
In his remarks at the Morningstar conference last week, Vanguard founder and index fund pioneer John Bogle criticized many aspects of the mutual fund industry. Bogle, who turned 80 this year, is primed to fight his next battle - reducing investor reliance on past returns - which he likens to a lantern on the stern of a ship.
2009-05-19 Turning Corporate Downsizing into Prospecting Success by Dan Richards (Article)
Optimists in the investment business claim "Crisis breeds opportunity." Dan Richards looks at the worst consequence of the current crisis - corporate downsizing - and shows how advisors used five different approaches to create opportunities while helping those faced with job losses.
2009-05-19 Five Ways to Cultivate Professional Referral Relationships by Kristen Luke (Article)
If you are looking to make professional referrals a key strategy for your business, you will want to develop dozens of relationships. Kristen Luke shows how to efficiently nurture these relationships with an action plan to touch your centers of influence throughout the year, just as you would your clients.