There has been a lot of investment chatter, (Stocks/bonds, Cryptocurrency, SPACs, Inflation) over the last few months as stimulus plans, presidential changes, and the pandemic has created an interesting environment, unlike any other in the past. Below I review my insights on the current climate within the basis of our investment philosophy, some action steps that can help make all this "stuff" matter, and a way to take advantage.
STOCKS & BONDS
Let's start with a broad look at stock and bond market expectations over the next decade. Some of the top firms did their analysis, and the results are below (updates have looked worse). We could find ten charts that show stocks are overvalued and like a swinging pendulum, need to come back to equilibrium, they always do. Understandably, as the last decade has been exceptional, you should have done well.
As overvalued as stocks are, they are a good hedge against the upcoming inflation we are starting to feel, while bonds are more overvalued than stocks on a relative basis. What does this mean for your wealth? If you are using anything over 5% total return before inflation, you may be setting yourself up for some unrealistic expectations. (More on this below) We are at a high risk low reward position on our pendulum; that being said no one can predict what happens from here.
How does using a traditional 60% stock, 40% bond portfolio that pre-retirees are often suggested affecting your returns? If your bond portfolio is up 1.75% (the high side) over the next ten years, then what do your stocks need to increase to get a reasonable return? You will have to earn over 8% on your stocks plus an optimistic 1.75% on your fixed portfolio to keep up with your 5% benchmark. Subtract inflation, and your return is now in the 2.5 to 3% range. Let's discuss inflation.
Multiple factors such as worker shortage, supply shortages then sprinkle on about 8 trillion dollars of liquidity, and we have created a supply and demand mismatch. This supply shortage has created inflated prices on things people want, from cars (metal) to homes (wood). Additionally, poor logistics and high delivery demand within many industries inflate other commonly needed items such as fuel and food. Considering, I still think we can find an equilibrium and weather some of this inflation, we need to be sure that it doesn't spike too fast and investors don't think that the fed doesn't have a good handle on it. Remember, if factors act in unison, employment, wage increases, price increases, then interest rates will need to rise, which will be a sign of health. Some sectors will have a hard time during this period, while others will thrive. Inflated prices can make wealth disappear so be aware and be careful.
We still need to meet our goals even if conditions have changed, what can we do?
Having a long-term view, an investment plan, the appropriate asset allocation, and a consistent savings program are great things that are needed for success. However, we are currently in an inflated asset price environment. So, does it make sense to do the same thing, or do we adjust accordingly?
Model Allocation funds most likely miss the boat here. Suppose projected equity expectations over the next ten years of 5% are true, and you hold a traditional diversified portfolio. In that case, you will miss many strong intra-market trends that take place within markets beyond the traditional asset mix. There are ways you can alter your approach to take advantage of these new trends.
An Agile Approach
Here are some solutions to keep you engaged and give you a better risk-reward scenario while keeping downside and preservation a focus.
Use evidence-based long-term investing in creating a core investment bucket, distinguishing an amount by measuring your risk level and your investment time frame (based on a financial plan). This portion is monitored and managed for investment style, cost, and tax efficiency. The Core portion should not include any short-term cash buckets or fixed income/cash alternatives, just your growth-oriented assets. The asset class mix is consistently upgraded, and it's opportunistically rebalanced based on market rules. The Core will allow you to use investing principles to simplify a portion of your investment plan.
To complete the Agile process, you now add your flexible portion of your portfolio, cash/cash alternatives, and opportunities.
I've discussed alternatives quite often in the last 12-24 months as bonds have been unfavorable (Bond Alternatives post) , but you still need a preservation bucket in your portfolio. As I mentioned in my post last year, there is a case for a wide array of choices. A few more have entered the arena, namely Special Purpose Acquisition funds, additional choices in the downside protected vehicles, expansion of the crypto world, and another that I will highlight at the end that we just purchased for our clients.
Cash and Cash Alternative bucket will be the holding tank for assets to flow into, for example when you rebalance your Core, trim, sell opportunities (more on this in a minute). These assets should not just sit, nor do we NEED to put them in bonds as traditionally thought in the past. Be clever here and look for ideas that have some preservation and safety in mind but still offer some upside potential.
Opportunities will always exist in markets across all assets. For as efficient as the general market is, if you're curious enough, patient, and willing to work, you can find a disconnect for asset prices and take advantage. It helps if you think of this as an expression of 10-15 drivers (theme, inefficiencies, trends) with 1 or 2 ideas per, resulting in 15 to 20 holdings within the opportunities bucket. Market assets change every minute; no one said you need to be invested in them 100% of the time. Allow yourself the ability to take advantage of fat pitches from time to time while preserving your assets at other times as they sit in your cash alternatives bucket.
If we invest in this manner we are investing with the intention of fulfilling these ideas/themes/drivers rather than just filling up the traditional 60/40, 70/30 model. We have introduced competition for our money in which only the best risk reward and asymmetric investments are represented, no more average, no more settling because we think TIME will save us.
Does this sound more appealing than the traditional approach? Why is it hard to to do or find someone who can?
HARD WORK AND DISCIPLINE
It’s hard, it takes hard work and it is often only performed by the ultra wealthy and their teams or those who have the time and discipline to accomplish it, commonly a professional individual trader. Average results come from average strategies, curiosity and persistence need not apply. Most importantly, It takes diligence and emotional stability, it’s one the hardest things to do, some people can, most can't.
Emotional discipline... and why is CASH not always bad?
When you are managing your investments with discipline, rebalancing, upgrading, trimming and selling cash can quickly build.
Why is cash so important to this equation?
A hedge is a tool that allows you to preserve your nest egg or counter your risk with the opposite effect of the market. Your cash becomes a Hedge. Generally when you own cash you are hedging against market environments, you are now removed from the market with that portion of money.
Cash is emotionless, it has no name, it’s not a brand, or a grand idea, it has no ties and for that cash as they say is king. Over long periods of time cash or cash like fixed holdings can be a poor investment but when it comes to a tactical strategy, cash is a great tool. It allows you to wait on the fat pitch as you are then ready to implement at a moment's notice. It always helps us to be agile when an opportunity comes, we can't predict the future so we wait patiently and ready.
So cash is truly the opposite of the market which are controlled by people, their fear and their greed.
Why can't most people act if we know things are changing and knowing there is an opportunistic agile alternative?
As human beings we often wait for the perfect opportunity; downplay the our risk and pressured to follow the herd. It's hard to act. It's hard to gain conviction on what can set us up for success when media and others around us seem to all be on the same path, a path that leads to the status quo. It takes courage and curiosity to think outside the box. We see the best investors do not do what the majority do; they are concentrated in their best ideas, love cash, and their diversification is much different from the rest. We should take note, listen, learn, and do something to make that difference rather than talk and think about it. Create a plan, understand why you're doing what you're doing, and get to work on it.
So the next time someone tells you to buy and hold, think a bit about all the factors involved. It's because most of us don't have the patience, curiosity, and willingness to work hard to gain the advantages that present themselves from time to time. It is possible however, You can do it or find a partner who can.
- John R. Oliver
**Portfolio Investment Update, firm cash alternative bucket. Please understand this is not a direct recommendation as I do not know your current situation, informational purposes only.
Many fixed alternatives in themselves could be traded or held for many years and need monitoring. iVol is an innovative fixed income tool; they use their options expertise to create an ideal risk-reward profile that allows investors to get an above-average distribution and protect themselves against credit market volatility and sequentially inflation. No one can predict whether we continue to see inflation lead to higher interest rates. Still, with rates being at 30-year lows, the asymmetric scenario created by this fund allows us to take advantage of a trend reversal that is sure to happen over the next several years. As with anything, if we are unsatisfied or they change the approach, we will not hesitate to eliminate it; for now, we are pleased with this alternative for traditional fixed asset alternative.
iVol presents, an attractive risk/reward profile: IVOL seeks to protect purchasing power, mitigate inflation risk, profit from an increase in volatility and a steepening of the yield curve, and provide inflation-protected income. At the same time, the fund looks to provide investors with access to the OTC interest rate options market – a market largely not previously available to individual investors – to provide structured solutions that offer an attractive risk/reward profile. www.ivoletf.com
This material is intended for informational/educational purposes only and should not be construed as investment, tax, or legal advice, a solicitation, or a recommendation to buy or sell any security or investment product. The information contained herein is taken from sources believed to be reliable, however accuracy or completeness cannot be guaranteed. Please contact your financial, tax, and legal professionals for more information specific to your situation. Investments are subject to risk, including the loss of principal. Because investment return and principal value fluctuate, shares may be worth more or less than their original value. Some investments are not suitable for all investors, and there is no guarantee that any investing goal will be met. Past performance is no guarantee of future results. Talk to your financial advisor before making any investing decisions.
Interesting and Intriguing information, I've recently read, watched, or listened to that helps feed my curiosity so why not feed yours. Have a great weekend.
I recently traveled to the Upper Peninsula, it was a great experience and the water was refreshing. Afterward, I stumbled upon this article! According to the comments, it's not "Perfect"... but I would have liked to see it before I went, thought I'd share. https://www.onlyinyourstate.com/michigan/weekend-waterfall-itinerary-mi/
Ok, I had no idea of the USPS numbers, so here they are... Consistent Revenue!
USPS Income and Expense data for Fiscal Year Ending:
9/30/19, Revenue $71.1B, Expenses $79.9B,
9/30/18 Rev $70.6B, Exp $74.4, Loss $3.9B
9/30/17 Rev $69.6B, Exp $72.2, Loss $2.7B
9/30/16 Rev $71.4B, Exp $77.1B, Loss $5.7B
9/30/15 Rev $68.9B, Exp $74B, Loss $5.1B
Have you heard of Shopify? Get to know them. Their CEO is Tobi Lutke and it's actually a Canadian company. Youtube interview here, be aware there may have been some expletives.
Apple has added $420 billion to its market cap over the last month, which is more than the current market cap of 493 companies in the S&P 500. $AAPL
Should you be considering a Roth Conversion? Take a look at this informative article that may create some clarity before you get knee deep in tax planning... https://www.kiplinger.com/article/retirement/t046-c000-s004-a-great-year-for-a-roth-conversion.html
Look out for more of these, they will also live at our Insights section of the Agile Wealth Partners website, for reference. https://www.agilewealthpartners.com/blog
So what can we do with our bonds?
I wanted to share some notes that I wrote on about the perplexing nature of bonds. Depending on your age you most likely to have little to no bonds in growth stages of life and increasing amounts as you approach retirement. Please understand this is not a recommendation to sell all or any of your bonds without some thought and investigation. Note on 1. There are some areas in the fixed income bond arena we feel comfortable with and will squeak out some gains or at least hold value but not sure that is a solution for all of your fixed assets and they need to be monitored. Two final points, I have ran into some pre retirees with less than say 5 years to retirement over the last several months who had almost 90% in. stocks, it has worked out as we really lucked out again rising back so fast, but if you haven't tactically managed this and you just let it ride up until now consider some of these items below as an alternative to your portfolio. Finally all this can only make sense and come together if you are doing comprehensive planning and making sure everything is working together if not please do not attempt to randomly add one of the items below and think it will just fit.
Text version below...
So what can we do with our bonds?
I. Keep 'em... at least some of your bonds. Bonds are
there to preserve your portfolio. You'll need to
figure out what % your comfortable holding, thoughts below
may help you narrow in on this.
2. More Stocks-you sure could buy more stocks, let's make sure the
mix fits your goals and risk level. Also we want to be
aware that stocks are being pushed to expensive
levels because other bond buyers are being pushed
to stocks as well. Always interesting nooks to be exposed however.
3. Structured Notes-they have come a long way
since 08-09' when FDIC insured brand became popular.
They essentially give your investments some buffer of
protection to the downside and have limitations to upside.
They are not perfect and they take some work
but at these levels of stocks and bonds they are, interesting.
4. Annuity - Income or appreciation contracts. Fixed rate annuities are
not great but keep an eye out for rate updates sometimes companies make decent offers. Fixed index however allow us to participate in gains that is not tied to current low rates and are still fixed/ protected from loss which helps our fixed portfolio. If using using for income expect even greater leverage
5, Long term care Protection- If your fixed assets
are going to be dead money for the next few years why
not earmark some of those assets in an Asset Based
long term care solution. Often this solutions provides two
and sometimes up to four or five times the leverage of your
fixed nest egg if used for long term care and if not use you
don't lose it. The return on investment is generally 7- 11% on
you invested dollars which of course higher than we are expecting.
6. Bitcoin- It's interesting, I wrote this as an item
then erased it, then after continued thought put it
back on. As a store of value and not as a get rich scheme
Bitcoin could have a place. Maybe it ends up being l-5% of
your 40% fixed bucket. I'd advise you work with a professional
but don't discount bitcoin all together. I could say the same for-Gold
96% of Social Security claimants fail to make the optimal claiming decision. That means they lose out on an estimated $3.4 trillion in potential retirement income ($111,000 per household) because they don’t choose the option that maximizes their income.
That’s why it’s so important to get the most accurate and up-to-date information, assess your personal situation properly, and file for Social Security the right way (and at the right time).
4 Things You Might Not Know About Social Security
(1) Your Social Security Benefits may be taxed...
(2) You may be able to claim at age 62 on your own SS and switch to spousal benefits later to receive a higher benefit.
(3) You can suspend SS benefits and restart them at a higher value later. Maybe you find yourself starting a business or consulting part-time.
(4) You can use Delayed Retirement Credits to maximize your benefits. For every month from your FRA until age 70 that you postpone filing for benefits, Social Security increases your eventual benefit by two-thirds of 1 percent — a total of 8 percent for each year you wait. For example, wage earners who reach full retirement age at 67 but delay claiming benefits until 70 will get an extra 24 percent tacked on to their monthly payment.
(5) BONUS: You may be able to collect SS as a divorced spouse and then wait to claim on your own work history. You can file what Social Security calls a “restricted application” to claim only ex-spousal benefits and postpone claiming your retirement benefits if: You were born before Jan. 2, 1954. You have reached full retirement age (currently 66, gradually rising to 67 over the next several years). You were married for at least 10 years to your former spouse. You are currently unmarried. Your former spouse has filed for his or her own Social Security benefits or your ex-spouse is at least 62 and you have been divorced at least two years.
SHOULD YOU DO NEXT? Create your own online SS account https://www.ssa.gov/site/signin/en/
REQUEST Free No Obligation SS Planning Tool
OTHER ARTICLES/RESOURCES Thinking of retiring? https://www.ssa.gov/osss/prd/pdf/en/55-plus-insert.pdf
COLA raise likely for 2021 -- Kiplinger forecasting 1.2% https://www.kiplinger.com/retirement/social-security/601286/2021-cola-a-raise-likely-for-social-security-recipients-after-all?rid=EML-retire&rmrecid=4628004169&utm_campaign=20200902-retire&utm_medium=email&utm_source=retire
Did the Market just give us a gift?I wanted to share a video that illustrates what I was saying back in February. In my post here, about bonds, I was discussing the importance of changing your allocation and taking advantage of trends based on what the market is giving you. Once you enter retirement you may be relying on Stocks more than you think to achieve your desired income as interest rates are low and may be stuck lower for longer.
At that time, the market was one day from all-time highs and, I had suggested being ready for what may come; however as you all know I do not predict what the market does next. Although it looked obvious the market was going to get tired and that bonds were showing us some underlying fear, in reality, a virus ultimately was its undoing in the end.
If I told you that we could go back in time and sell that day we would all take that gift. As I write this today, maybe you have not looked... The SP500 Index, my choice guide, is only 14% from the February highs! This is surely surprising as we have shut down most of the country for over 2 months and things will be slow to recover.
So where does this leave us? As I said above I don't predict, and I will still allow assets and trends to guide us; however, I am not very comfortable here and suggest starting or investigating these actions listed below. With market returns projected to be on the lower end of historic averages and bonds yielding near nothing, we need to realize we are in for a different retirement plan than many of us originally had.
We need to consider the following:
- Opportunistic rebalancing
- Creating fixed income streams
- Use alternative tools such as structured notes
- Adjust portfolio with lower volatility holdings
- Decide what your core portfolio percentage is
(The long term Core holdings you will not touch)
The video below suggests how devastating retirement portfolio dips can be; therefore, it is very important to plan for such occurrences as you will most likely experience a handful in a 30-year retirement. Most importantly when they happen is a factor that can change your retirement trajectory forever.
I wish everyone well and hope you and your family are staying positive and healthy. Take care.
I'm think you're probably saying... yes John I care what should I do!?
Ultimately I care, of course, at the same time however I am truly looking at this as a long term opportunity than a long term crisis. I am not completely comfortable on how this will all end nor do I care to predict as I said in my last piece, Bonds at all-time highs, however, history has shown 20%+ sell offs are rare and 30% drops are even rarer. Here is a chart that shows the draw-downs we have experienced and the ending market return for that year. The key here is to see that there are not many market drops over 20% and when there are it is often an opportunity at some point around that drop. Another takeaway market drops are not substantial until they hit 12%.
We have to look out a bit to when the Coronavirus slows and we feel we have good control over things, more importantly, the travel and business that continues to get canceled is no longer being canceled. At that time we will be sitting on free money, 10yr bond under .50%, cheap energy as oil is selling off as well, and fair market valuations.
Sure all this may need some time to get sorted out but in the meantime work with your advisor or shoot me a call/email to take a second look because if we approach this correctly there is a huge opportunity here. If you are in the first few years of your retirement please seek advice as that would be the time frame which I am the most concerned. As you can see below, we often are higher after sell-offs like these. Below highlights months where we experienced the largest sell-offs and the subsequent return after in 1, 3 and 5 years. (bottom)
As we can see time is the key factor here, so in the meantime, we should be doing a few things in our financial plans.
As you may be reading or watching on the news, we are starting to see some cracks in the armor of this market, more on this later.
Most importantly rather than focusing on all the negativity and stories surrounding the markets today along with all the political garbage going on I wanted to point out some actual news that should be making us take action or at the least getting a game plan together.
Bonds are at all time highs and don't really have much room to go up as the 10 years is sitting at sub 1.5%, couple this with markets being just under their all time highs! See above...
As you can see the yellow line above shows a path that would take the 10 yr to 0% which has very low probability of happening. If this were to be the case your bond would increase roughly 4-5% and would yield 0%. Most studies show your projected rate of return on your core risk free bonds at the moment is the yield it currently is earning. So look to earn 1.5% on your bonds over the next few years which puts real returns into the negative.
So what does this mean, we have a defined risk asset and a high probability outcome ahead of us. In some views it's worry and fear that dominate the conversation. In my eyes it's opportunity, here are some of the outcomes that stem from this situation:
As for the market, yes this signals some flight to safety and may be start of something larger but if you are in good position tactically just be aware of the idea that a small sell off could become larger and be ready. Don't try to predict just have a game plan on what you would do if stocks went down over 10%. It's not about predicting more than it is about knowing your plan when and if something does change.
I'll assume most of us have more to do than worry about the market like, creating strategic allocation, Core allocation minimums and planning around what is actually happening NOW...Bonds are at all time highs and it's an opportunity!
PS Go talk to your bankers and mortgage reps to see if you can't lower some of your rates on debt!
With a Happy New Year come new tax laws… Well, in 2020 they did! Below I go through some of the changes that may in fact affect you in one way or another but first I wanted talk a bit about RISK and share a great read with you. It's an interesting way of looking at risk and it's really fascinating how we can't predict the risk but we surely need to prepare for it. I'd say it helps us realize why us financial advisors can be so boring and negative at times, we don't have a crystal ball and we never will, so if we seem to over do it in the protection department then you can see why! Take care and enjoy.
You have probably seen the news that the SECURE Act (which stands for Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement) was signed into law on December 20, 2019. The goal of the new law is to take steps towards solving the retirement crisis in the United States.
Some of the new law’s provisions may affect your retirement plan.
Here is what’s inside.
Bottom line: This is good news for those who want to work and contribute to retirement savings accounts.
Similar to the old rule, first-time recipients of RMDs can still delay the first distribution until April 1 of the year following the year in which they turned 72… although that extension only applies to the first distribution, not any of the subsequent RMDs.
Important note: This change only applies to individuals who turn 70 ½ in 2020 or later. So, if you turned 70 ½ on December 31, 2019, you will have to follow the old rules.
Bottom line: If you are already withdrawing more than the required minimum amount from your IRA, the new law likely won’t affect you. If you would prefer to delay the stay of RMDs and qualify under the age rules, then the new law may create some tax planning opportunities for you.
This rule comes with a few exceptions. If the beneficiary is disabled, chronically ill, or no more than 10 years younger than the original IRA owner, then lifetime distributions are still allowed. If the beneficiary is a minor, the 10-year rule doesn’t kick in until the child reaches 21 years old.
Bottom line: Check your listed beneficiaries, and talk to your financial planner about a Plan B for your IRA.
One notable exception to this rule: it does not apply to employees who are a part of a collective bargaining agreement.
Bottom line: If you are a part-time employee, you may be eligible to participate in a retirement plan at work.
What does all of this mean for your retirement?
The answer is, as always, “It depends”. There are some things you may consider doing on your own (like checking beneficiaries on your IRA and inquiring with your employer about your eligibility for new benefits). However, there’s no substitute to working with a professional financial advisor that you trust.
If you have any questions about how the new SECURE Act will affect your retirement, give us a call.
The Pic will tke you to the linked site.Using the new platform Halo I can now get back to looking at these fascinating investments called structured notes. Below I will provide and info graphic that will highlight much of the moving parts within them but the exciting part is the increase in offerings, ideas and liquidity because of partners like Halo. Take ca look, if your curious please reach out, take care. The graphic will take you to the linked site.
From the pile of things I read of late I think these could be of use and if not interesting to ponder at the least.
Interesting updates across entire article regarding some laws but about mid article an interesting development about the elimination of the stretch IRA as the Secure act tries to balance creating revenue but adding some flexibility, take a look...
Just below in this same article they talk about Indexing capital gains with inflation! This is very interesting and could be helpful for many in the future although it may be a way for more people to actually cash in profits of low cost basis holdings rather than holding them beyond death in which then they are stepped up in cost basis and passed on to heirs essentially tax free!
The Agile Investor is a blog that focuses on being prepared and informed within various topics of wealth management, investments, financial markets and investor psychology. Enjoy