Financial Planning Insights

More Conflicts At Big Brokerage Firms

Did you ever wonder how a financial advisor makes their investment recommendations?  There are thousands of mutual funds on the market today.  How does he/she pick one over the other?  If your advisor works for a big brokerage firm like Morgan Stanley or Merrill Lynch, some of the decision-making is taken out of his/her hands.

Invest Like Norway, Not Yale

David Swenson, the chief investment officer of the Yale endowment fund, has gained notoriety over the past several decades to manage the Yale endowment fund.  In the early 1990s, he decided to place a gigantic chunk of the endowment into alternative assets like real estate, hedge funds, and private equity.  The results were spectacular.

“Fight The Fights That Are Worth Fighting”

Do you work with a financial advisor? If so, is that advisor required to put your interest ahead of his/her own? If you are like 99% of other investors out there, you probably don’t know for sure. The vast majority of advisors are brokers or have the option to operate as a broker, and therefore don’t have to act in their client’s best interest.

There Is No Such Thing As “Long-Term” In Tax Planning

I often read articles that talk about the virtues of long-term tax planning.  This could be in the form of Roth IRA conversions, charitable planning, or gifting strategies.  In general, most of these articles are correct in their reasoning, but they tend to under-emphasize one important item.

The Stock Market Does Not Equal The Economy

The economic data coming out these last few weeks have been spectacular.  Whether it be employment, manufacturing, or consumer spending, the economy really seems to be on a roll.  Before you buy some stocks as an early Christmas present, it is important to remember that the economy is not the stock market.

The Predictive Power (Or Lack Thereof) Of Stock Market Indicators

There is really no indicator that we know of that can predict stock market performance.  If there ever were, it would very quickly be arbitraged away since markets tend to be fairly efficient.  Merrill Lynch uses a metric they call the “Sell Side Indicator” to determine future stock performance.

Pay Me My Fair Share- Profits vs. Wages

One of the big themes we have seen over the past several years is capital over labor.  Corporations have seen an explosion in income while paying their workers some of the lowest wages in history. Here is a chart that shows labor as a percentage of GDP (blue) versus corporate profits as a percentage of GDP (red).

Why Are Interest Rates So Important?

In the investment world, much of the talk over the past few weeks seems to be revolving around the spike in interest rates and what that means for the global financial markets. 

Market Pundits Often Get It Wrong

With the US markets breaching their all-time highs, I have had more clients ask me when the correction is coming.  We’ve been through two crashes in the last 13 years, and the investor psyche is fragile.