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Passing the Stress Test

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November 04, 2014The headline jumped from the TV screen, “After Record Highs, the Fall is Here.” Being the good investment advisor that I am, I of course stopped to see what had triggered the latest round of market selling only to learn that it was a weather report! What if this had been a stock market report instead? Just how should we react upon hearing of volatile stock market moves? Think carefully now, because your answer likely will determine not only your portfolio returns but your very ability to enjoy your retirement years.European banks underwent a Stress Test in October to determine the soundness of their financial system. Perhaps we as investors could look upon the Stock Market Pullback of September as a Stress Test of sorts to assess the soundness of our own personal financial system. After crossing 2,000 for the first time in history, the S&P500 Index reached a closing high of 2,011.36 on September 18, 2014. Less than one month later, we had dropped almost 7.50% to ...
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Watch What They Do, Not What They SayOctober 08, 2014High school football is in full gear. But for the best players -- those who will be receiving major college scholarships for their prowess on the gridiron, the journey is all but over. For the seniors, it started two or three years ago. During that time, these teenagers have been making grown men (coaches) kowtow – calling, texting, visiting their high schools and homes, and begging these youngsters to visit their universities and hopefully commit to their team. But the coaches are not the only ones. High school recruiting is big business. At least four national online recruiting sites, many connected with university alumni and major television sports outlets, cover these recruits, rating them with numbers and stars to signify their skill level and predicting their college choice. Rabid college football fans hang onto every word from both these adolescent stars and the “analysts” that cover them. Vibrant message boa...
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The Right Way to Invest

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October 06, 2014As financial advisors it is our goal that all of our clients have the most successful investing experience possible, but for many investors, their experience has been more confusing and overwhelming than anything else. More information is available now than ever before, yet that has only served to make the investment process even more complicated. We wanted to take this opportunity to remind you of the different types of investment management approaches and which philosophy guides our investment decisions, so that you can feel as confident in this process as we do. CONVENTIONAL MANAGEMENT: Conventional management can also be called “active management” and you have heard us discuss this philosophy and its shortcomings on multiple occasions. Conventional management believes that it is possible to time the market, identify winning stocks, and predict the future. Conventional managers promise investors that they have superior research and insight that will enable them to ...
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September 09, 2014My first year playing fantasy football, I started the season 0-8. I seemed to consistently make the wrong line-up choices, I was always leaving points on the bench, and even when I had the best team possible, something unpredictable would happen (like Baltimore’s defense scoring 28 fantasy points), once again leaving me winless. The frustration was maddening. Last year I was champion of our fantasy football league.So what changed over 3 years? I started to treat fantasy football like my job. Literally. As a financial advisor one of my responsibilities is to strip emotion out of the equation – and let me tell you, it’s not easy because human beings tend to fall prey to a number of behavioral biases and pitfalls that keep them from having a successful investment experience. I realized that if I wanted to be successful at fantasy football, I needed to take the same disciplined approach I take when it comes to investing. Lesson #1: Don’t Draft with Your Heart In 2011 ...
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August 21, 2014Even if I was not in the profession, I would have to be living under a rock to be unaware of the fears associated with the looming retirement years for baby boomers. This is a concern across the board. Those who have been fortunate and those who have been less than fortunate have the same worry: "will I have enough???" This begs the question, “What is enough?” As one would surmise, the answer is different for everyone. The starting point begins with reviewing what you have, where you want to be, what are your expectations, and what, if anything, do you want to have left (for heirs, charity, etc.)? With longevity on the rise, the length of retirement is quickly approaching 20 years. Less than half of the adult population has no pension benefit, 35 percent have no money set aside for retirement, and Social Security – well – who can count on that?? Those facts equate to a nervous bunch of future retirees. Conventional retirement planning has long advised clients to hold...
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August 04, 2014This past Christmas, my two oldest sons got an 8 foot foam surfboard. Last fall, my wife found an amazing deal at Sam’s Club and bought it for them. I don’t know who was more excited on Christmas morning, them or me. We all have been looking forward to catching some waves on this bright yellow 8 foot surfboard for the past 6 months. In mid-July, we went on a family vacation to Atlantic Beach for a week and were able to use the surfboard. Prior to entering the ocean to attempt to catch some waves, my sons and I talked about the fundamentals of surfing. We practiced the right form. We practiced popping up. We focused on the right footwork. We had a game plan before we entered the water. Finally, we went out in the ocean with the 8 foot surfboard we call “Bright Banana”, and we positioned ourselves to catch waves. Both of my sons were able to ride a number of waves during the week, and they had an absolute blast. They experienced all the emotions – fear, euphoria, conf...
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Old and Fat, Lazy and InfertileJuly 22, 2014No, we’re not talking about your brother-in-law. Rather, it’s a fair description of the underlying trends that are helping to define the future global economy. Let’s take them one at a time: OLD Humans have been adding to their life expectancy for centuries.* The average lifespan for Romans during the Roman Empire was 22 years. In 1900, the world’s average human life expectancy was only 30, and in 1985 it was 62 years. All these figures calculate at birth. If someone lives through their first year, their expectancy increases dramatically. The average life expectancy in the US is currently around 77 years. It is calculated that over a third of children born today in a developed country will live to age 100. Food supply, nutrition, healthcare technologies and increased personal hygiene are deemed to be the major reasons for this. Bottom line -- we are living longer, and this will have major ramifications for families, go...
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June 26, 2014The San Antonio Spurs just dispensed of LeBron James and the defending champion Miami Heat in five games in the 2014 NBA Finals. They did so in impressive fashion with another lopsided victory en route to their 5th championship.As a financial advisor and avid sports fan, I couldn’t help but reflect on the past decade and a half of excellence by the Spurs and how we can apply their model to investing. I believe that the following five strategies employed by the Spurs should also be remembered when investing.1. Boring can be beautiful.Even the casual NBA fan can tell you they’ve heard this a hundred times. “The Spurs are boring.” Today’s SportsCenter culture loves the “Lob City” LA Clippers with highlight reel dunks and above the rim hijinks. There’s no doubt that’s it’s a lot more exciting to watch a lob being slammed down by the likes of All-Star forward Blake Griffin or DeAndre Jordan than a perfectly executed back door pass.However, basketball purists appreciat...
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June 02, 2014As a Chartered Retirement Planning Counselor designee, I spend a lot of time working with clients to carefully chart out the financial side of their retirement. During our meetings I will often mention the need to do the other type of retirement planning also – the personal side – the side that involves deciding how they will spend each and every day when they no longer have to punch the ol’ time clock. I ask them to carefully envision that side of retirement and make plans accordingly. Rather than me try to address that concept, I asked my good friend and wise life coach, Kelly Walsh to pass along some guidance. How to Create Your Retirement Life Preparedness KitBy Kelly Walsh, President of 1 Smart Life, LLCWe spend our lives planning for retirement often with a focus on money. We carefully imagine stepping into the world of receiving paychecks from our investments rather than an employer and wonder how that will feel. But what else can we be preparing? We can Google i...
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It's Not So Bad

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May 22, 2014On May 13th, 2014 the S&P 500 grazed the 1,900 mark for the first time ever. In the past two years we have seen this index cross new thresholds repeatedly, reaching 1,600, 1,700 and 1,800 in the last year alone. With each new high investors are asking the question, “How long can this continue?” Many are bracing themselves for the inevitable pullbacks that are inherent in capital markets, pullbacks which unnerve us but are often healthy after experiencing extended periods of market growth. I am a planner by nature. I often try to assume the worst case scenario that could occur in a particular situation and make plans for what I would do should that scenario arise. Not to mention driving me crazy, this planning has added about five pounds to my purse, since who knows when you might need an extra pair of shoes, pepper spray, a sewing kit, band aids, or batteries? Investors are the same way. They try to predict the future by anticipating all possible financial or economic...
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