Purely Personal – Graduation Edition

Blog post #448

On Sunday, Rachel, my youngest child, will graduate from Kalamazoo College, a small liberal arts college.

Like so many other high school and college graduates around the world this year, she will not be able to have a formal ceremony. I am proud of her accomplishments as a student and as a passionate individual. I am grateful that I will be with her to celebrate, at a social distance on Sunday, as I have not seen her in person in many months.

As investors all know, investing can be difficult and challenging. You must be disciplined. There can be ups and downs.

Rachel has overcome challenges and shown determination throughout her life. She is very caring about others, passionate about her beliefs and is not afraid to stand up for what she believes in. This has been part of her for as long as I can remember.

Rachel advocated and worked for many causes throughout her college experience, from her first year on campus through her final weeks sheltering in place with her housemates. She has been a campus leader as well as a leader for two years in Kalamazoo College’s camping orientation program, LandSea.

Rachel canoeing as a LandSea leader in the Adirondack’s

She has wanted to do things her way. And she has. She told me in high school that she wanted to attend a small, most likely private, college. She didn’t want to attend the University of Michigan or Michigan State University, as most of her friends did. I told her that would be far too expensive for a general undergraduate education.

She showed me that I was wrong, as many small private colleges provide significant grants or scholarships that make the cost comparable to UM or MSU. Note to fellow parents or grandparents….it may be worth exploring small private colleges for your children if they are interested.

She has taught me other things during her four years at K College.

  • When I moved her into college, she quickly taught me that she was a “first year” student and not a “freshman,” as the gender-neutral term was very important to her. I tried my best to use the term she wanted and eventually, it came naturally to me. This taught me that we can change our habits if we concentrate on it. But change takes effort and persistence.
  • Rachel taught me that what she was learning at college, such as how to think and process ideas was most important, not the grades that she got. I don’t know what her GPA is, and I am OK with that. This may not apply to many students and parents. I trusted her. She has learned to be a better reader, writer and thinker. She has learned responsibility. She completed a massive senior thesis project that took 8 months and is 78 pages long, and with future efforts, hopefully will reduce sexual harassment at summer overnight camps in the future.
  • Rachel taught me that a semester abroad can be valuable (and lots of fun as well)
  • Thankfully, she pursued what she wanted and spent 4 months in Greece, followed by a month of traveling alone throughout Europe. This provided me with an opportunity to travel to Greece and Italy with my three children, which was a memorable family experience and one of the best trips I’ve had. Thanks Rachel!!
  • She has taught me to be a better listener, though I sometimes struggle with interrupting her, as we exchange passionate ideas and viewpoints. Rachel, please know that I try, and I do listen to you!

Rachel on her study-abroad term in Greece, overlooking Athens

People ask me what Rachel will be doing after she graduates. For several years, I have told others that “she will likely work in an organization of some type where she can change the world, as she wants to.” She is very passionate about what she believes in. She is not motivated by money. She is not materialistic. She is a leader and she is effective. She plans to spend the next year in Detroit with a non-profit organization dedicated to social change through service. I have no doubt that Rachel will succeed at causing positive change, in whatever areas of focus she decides to pursue.

In this time when health and social justice issues require change, I’m proud that my daughter will be graduating with leadership abilities, strong thinking skills and a passion to bring positive change to our world.

Just like investing, it will not be easy. But I am confident in the future.

We are excited to announce…..

Blog post #407

We are very pleased to announce that Wasserman Wealth Management has added a new member to our firm, to enable us to continue, and improve, the excellent guidance and service that we provide to our clients.

As we have grown over the years, we realized that we needed to expand our capabilities and depth to better serve our current clients, as well as to accommodate future clients.

After an extensive search, we are excited that Bradford Newsome, CFP®, joined our firm this month, having more than 10 years of extensive experience in the financial industry. Bradford will be an Associate Wealth Advisor (AWA), supporting our advisors, Brad Wasserman and Keith Rybak, as well as servicing and expanding his own client base.

Bradford holds the Certified Financial Planner™ (CFP®) designation, which represents extensive skills in areas such as investment planning, education planning, risk management, tax planning, retirement savings and estate planning. He graduated from Wayne State University’s School of Business with a major in Management Information Systems.

Bradford will be expanding our utilization of technology and software in many areas, including retirement and college planning, as well as working on client matters, such as trading, rebalancing and various research projects.

Bradford and his family, his wife Nina, their sons (ages 10 and 12), as well as their Airedale Terrier dog Max, live in Clinton Township, Michigan. They are very active in many sports, particularly basketball, baseball and football. Bradford enjoys coaching his sons’ basketball and baseball teams. Bradford has been a longtime member of the Central Macomb Optimists Club, including many years as a Board Member.

We look forward to you welcoming Bradford to our firm, as well as the benefits he will bring to our future interactions with you, our valued clients.


Giving Thanks

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

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.


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


We are thankful for our clients, who have placed their trust in our firm. We do not take your loyalty for granted.

We are very thankful for the referrals that our clients and friends have made to people they care about, so we can assist them and better their lives.

We are thankful for clients who have requested our advice on matters in addition to  investing and financial planning, such as helping them with life transitions, estate 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 you with better long-term investment results.

We are thankful for our business partners and relationships, which help us to be successful and operate our business efficiently.

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.

As you are reading this, I will hopefully be arriving in Athens, Greece, along with my two sons, to visit my daughter, who is studying abroad this semester. We will be staying in Athens, then going to Florence and Rome, Italy over the next week. 

Note: As next week is Thanksgiving, there will not be a weekly blog post email next Friday. The next email will be November 30th.

Reaction to the Federal Reserve’s Inaction

The Federal Reserve again left short term interest rates unchanged at near zero, at the conclusion of their two day September meeting yesterday.  They will next meet in October and December, 2015.

When was the last time the Federal Reserve increased interest rates?

There has been no change to short term rates since 2008, which have basically been at 0% since then. They last raised rates in 2006.  The Federal Reserve directly influences short term interest rates and indirectly can cause changes in longer term interest rates.

Was the Federal Reserve expected to raise interest rates yesterday?

The Federal Reserve dual mandate is to “foster maximum employment and price stability” (keep inflation around 2% annually).  Many forecasters expected at the beginning of 2015 that there would have already been at least one .25% raise by now.

Due to “recent global economic and financial developments,” the Fed decided to leave the fed funds target range at 0 – 1/4%.  This implies that the Fed did not raise short term rates yesterday due to their concern about the Chinese economy and the huge decline in oil prices and other commodities.  These “are likely to put further downward pressure on the inflation in the near term.”

In her press conference after the Fed press release, Fed chairwoman Janet Yellen said that thee US economy has been performing well, but they did not raise rates at this time primarily due to the recent financial uncertainty.

When is the Fed expected to increase interest rates and by how much?

In their projections, 13 of the 17 Federal Reserve board members believe the Fed will raise rates before year end, in either October or December.  This initial rate increase would likely be .25%.  The key factors are “developments abroad,” labor markets and oil prices.

The board members short term interest rate expectations by the end of 2017 are 2.6%, which is lower than the 2.9% they predicted in their June, 2015 release.  This would imply that short term interest rates on investments like 1-3 year CDs would be around 2.5-3.0% by the end of 2017.  The Fed board member projections have been consistently inaccurate the past few years, but are helpful as an indication of their expectations.

What does the Fed think of the US economy?

The formal Federal Reserve statement “suggests that economic activity is expanding…moderately.” Household spending, business investment, housing and the labor market all continue to show progress and improvements.  These all appear to be positive comments.

How does this meeting and the related information impact our investment strategy?

We expect that the Fed will increase interest rates very gradually, beginning later in 2015.  This bolsters our confidence about the US and world economy.  A very gradual increase in interest rates should be welcomed.

The continued recovery of the economy and still historically low interest rates should provide for growth in corporate earnings.  This should lead to gains in stocks over the long term, of course with volatility along the way.

We remain committed and confident in our long term philosophy of a globally diversified stock portfolio along with an appropriate fixed income allocation, based on your personal situation.

Welcome to our new website!

After months of work, we welcome you to our new website.

We are excited by the new, modern look of our website. We hope you enjoy the sketches that are incorporated throughout, which provide clarity and insight better than words and pretty pictures.

Our previously separate blog is now fully integrated into the website. We look forward to writing more frequently, about investment topics, issues our clients face and planning concepts.

Special thanks to our web designer (and also my son),  Scott Wasserman, for his excellent work, suggestions and creativity.  We would also like to thank Carl Richards, who has provided a unique method of financial clarity with his sketches. We appreciate his creating a sketch for our firm, which is at the top of the Working With Us section of the website.

A few weeks ago, Keith and I attended the BAMAlliance National Conference, where we heard an incredible keynote speech by Seth Godin. He conveyed so many messages in one hour.  Seth focused on connections and relationships, taking risks and the concept of change.  He pointed out how the world is continuously changing and that we (all of us) need to adjust and change as well.  He stressed the importance of being different and bold, in a positive manner.

This website is different than the typical website of most financial advisors and wealth management firms. We think it is different in a very positive way!  We think Seth would like it.  And we hope you do as well.


Firm News: New Credentials

We are pleased to announce that both Brad Wasserman and Keith Rybak received designations as Personal Financial Specialists (PFS), during March 2010.

This designation, which can only be acquired by CPAs, requires a minimum of 3,000 hours of financial planning experience, in addition to extensive continuing education requirements and passing a rigorous examination. As CPAs, this credential represents the highest professional standard of any financial planning credential and sets the PFS holder apart from other financial planners.

The PFS credential was established for CPAs who specialize in personal financial planning, and is awarded exclusively to AICPA members who demonstrate considerable experience and expertise in this area. Currently, the AICPA has granted only 3,800 PFS designations throughout the country.

We are proud to have earned this new designation, as it reflects our extensive experience, which has benefited and will continue to benefit our clients in the future.

Source: AICPA.org

We Are Pleased to Announce….

We are pleased to announce that Wasserman Wealth Management, LLC was named as the second largest Wealth Management firm in Michigan which is affiliated with a CPA firm and has a CPA within the wealth management firm. The rankings, based on the above criteria and assets under management as of December 31, 2008, were published in the July, 2009 issue of Accounting Today.

We thank our clients for their loyalty in helping our firm grow.

And now for the legal disclosure:

The ranking may not be representative of any one or all of Wasserman Wealth Management’s clients’ experiences because the rankings reflect only the size of the firm. Past performance is not a guarantee of future results. Investments involve risk, including the risk of loss of principal.