Giving Thanks

giving-thanks

Warren Buffett has often cited what he calls “winning the ovarian lottery,” which he feels Americans win the day they are born in the US. In lengthier speeches on the same topic, he cites the many aspects of your life which are determined at birth: the political and economic system you are born into, your health, gender, skin color and your level of intelligence.

While our country is certainly not perfect, we are thankful for its many virtues and the opportunities it has provided to so many of us.

As we will soon celebrate Thanksgiving Day, we hope you appreciate the good fortune that so many of us have, simply by being born and able to live in the US.

**********************

We are truly thankful for our clients, who have placed their trust in our firm.

We are very thankful for the referrals that our clients and friends have made, as we have been able to assist their friends and relatives.

We are thankful for the clients who have requested our advice for matters beyond investing and financial planning, such as helping them with life transitions, estate and charitable planning, real estate transactions and the sale of businesses.

We are thankful that our clients understand the importance of focusing on their long-term goals, and not on short-term market swings, as this will provide them better long-term investment results.

We are thankful for our long-term business partners and relationships, which help us to be successful.

We are truly thankful and positive, and hope you are as well.

We wish all of you a very Happy Thanksgiving and hope you are able to share it with those who are most important to you.

Does your financial advisor….

….use a consistent and understandable strategy for investing?

….develop a relationship with you that helps to reduces your financial stress?

….help you feel more confident and financially secure? And especially about retirement planning and withdrawal strategies?

….provide you financial advice in many areas beyond just investing?

….realize that over many decades, small and value stocks outperform large company and growth stocks? Does your portfolio reflect this?

….own the same general type of investments that you are invested in?

….accept that you cannot time the financial markets and cannot predict in advance which money manager will consistently outperform others in the future, so their strategy is based on these concepts?

….explain their fees in a detailed and transparent manner, as well as the fees of any investments that they recommend?

….strive to minimize and reduce your taxes by using tax-managed mutual funds and take pro-active steps throughout the year, and not just at year end?

….always make recommendations which are in your best interest (as a fiduciary)? If you have an account with a bank or major brokerage firm, the answer is most likely NO and this really matters.

….lead by example and walk the talk, by having their own succession plan in place (planning) and by using a computer password management program?

….take the time and effort to write their own weekly essay to clients, to communicate with you?

 

If you are a WWM client, the answer to all of the above questions is YES.

If you are not a WWM client, YOU have some questions to consider. We welcome the opportunity to talk to you.

 

As next week is Thanksgiving, the weekly email will be sent on Wednesday, November 23, not on Friday. 

The Election Aftermath: The Financial Impact

In this post, we will provide our initial thoughts based on the outcome of this week’s national election and the implications to you financially. As we have said many times, you can only plan and focus on what you can control and know.

There is much uncertainty about the specifics of Trumps plans and how a Republican Congress will work to enact his forthcoming proposals.

Stock Market:

The huge election night drop in the stock market “futures” turned into a strong rally on Wednesday, with 1-3% gains for large company and small company stocks, respectively. The swing was astounding and remarkable. It shows again to expect the unexpected, and by owning a broad, globally diversified portfolio, you can benefit from unexpected positive market surprises.

After 9 straight days of losses (which in total were only down a few percentage points), broad US stock market indexes have increased significantly from last Friday afternoon and are now near all-time highs, going into Thursday.

Remember, in the long term, stock markets reflect expectations of companies’ future earnings growth. We remain rationally optimistic that companies will continue to innovate, adopt and succeed. That has been the long-term trend for many, many decades and we do not think that will change.

We remain very confident in our investment philosophy. During a period of change, our investment strategy may be even more valuable. We do not plan any significant changes to our core principles and investment strategy.

If you have questions about your portfolio, please contact us.

Income Tax changes:

The election of Donald Trump, along with the Republican Party controlling both the Senate and House, will likely lead to major individual and corporate tax changes.

Based on Trump’s tax plans, he will likely push for major tax cuts, which will mostly benefit upper income taxpayers. On Wednesday, House legislators already began drafting tax proposals which they plan to introduce in the first 100 days of Trump’s presidency.

The November 10th Wall Street Journal stated that Trumps plan was for the top individual rate to drop from 39.6% to 33%. The 39.6% bracket now starts at taxable income above $467,000 for married couples. The current 33% bracket, which would likely be reduced, now starts at taxable income above $232,000 for married couples.

Action step: If you think you would be in a lower tax bracket or your tax rate would be reduced in 2017, it would be advantageous to accelerate your payment of tax deductions like property taxes, state taxes and charitable contributions into 2016, rather than paying them in 2017. If possible, it may make sense to delay income into 2017.

For businesses, corporate tax rates are likely to drop significantly. The current 35% top corporate rate could be reduced to 15-20%, depending on the various proposals. Other tax rate reductions for pass-through entities and businesses are also likely.

Estate taxes:

Trump and many Republicans have advocated for a complete repeal of the Federal estate tax. We recommend that you do not make any changes to your estate plans at this time. Do not act in this area until proposals become laws and are effective, or certainly without consulting an estate planning attorney.

Spending, Interest Rates and Deficits:

Trump has talked about much greater infrastructure spending. This type of stimulus could benefit the economy, put people to work, as well as have other longer term benefits to the country, depending on the projects.

His planned combination of large tax cuts for individuals and corporations, along with increased fiscal spending, has led many to be concerned that the budget deficit will increase significantly. It will be interesting to see how traditional Republicans in the House and Senate balance these conflicting impacts on the Federal deficit.

Due to anticipated increased government borrowing and economic growth, interest rates have risen relatively sharply since the election, as the 10 year US Treasury bill broke above 2% for the first time since January 2016. The rate was below 1.5% in July.

We view the increase in interest rates as positive, as corporations and individuals have had long opportunities to refinance their debts at very low interest rates. For savers, higher interest rates will be welcomed and we think the economy can easily continue to expand with modestly higher interest rates in the near term.

Action steps:
* If you were considering refinancing an existing mortgage, don’t wait.
* You should generally not pre-pay current low rate mortgages, as they will become more valuable as interest rates on fixed income investments rise, both in the near and long term.
* In general, if you have a large fixed income portfolio, you should avoid bond funds. When interest rates go up, bond prices go down. In a rising interest rate environment, bond mutual funds will incur losses, as bond prices decline. If you hold individual bonds, the impact of this inverse reaction is more muted than if you own a bond mutual fund. We generally will hold individual bonds to maturity, so you should ignore the fluctuation of the bond prices.

Summary:

This will certainly be a time of change. There will likely be increased stock market volatility, as proposals and unexpected events occur.
* Volatility is a part of stock market investing.
* As I wrote last week, declines are temporary on a long-term upward move.
* There will be periods of declines, usually at some point in every year. And major declines occur on average every 5 years.

Our views in this essay are non-political and are to provide analysis for you to understand the impact of the election, based on Trumps proposals. Through these weekly blog posts, we will keep you informed of policy changes which affect your financial lives.

We remain rationally optimistic, as we have stated many times. We are committed in our role as financial advisors to help you and your family meet your financial goals, in a secure manner.

As always, please contact us to discuss any specific questions you may have.

The next stock market move

It could be up.

It could be down.

For down stock markets, the question is not if, but when.

Stock markets will go down. You have to fully accept this reality.

But this is the KEY:

          Down stock markets are only temporary.

The stock market goes down frequently. Sometimes the declines are short and don’t hurt much.

Sometimes the declines are long and painful. These are the hard ones to endure and are the times when we, as your financial advisor, can be most valuable.

Worldwide stock markets have always gone back up. Downturns get recovered. New highs are reached.

Since the declines are temporary on a long-term upward move, new historical highs will be reached.

New market highs are not an if, but a when.

We don’t know when new market highs will be reached, but we know they will be.

Many times and at higher and higher levels.

You need the patience and confidence to reap the rewards that the financial markets can provide.

And we can help you have the confidence and ability to reap these rewards, as you plan for your financial future.

So remember, declines are temporary. This will be valuable advice again in the future.