THE TACTICAL ADVISOR
BCA’s Tactical Advisor newsletter is emailed to clients throughout the quarter. Each issue includes information on active management – to help build an understanding of our investment approach – as well as articles on financial issues we hope you will find of interest. To receive email copies of the newsletter, please register through the signup form in the footer. Remember, all investing carries the potential for loss as well as gain. Past performance is not indicative of future returns.
Brian R. Carruthers, CFP®, CMTSM
First Quarter 2019 Articles
Can investors trust their gut reactions or intuition in times of uncertainty? The answer is … it depends.
Most hacking exploits and computer scams rely on human error. The best virus protection software can’t help when scams rely on tricking the user. Fear, greed, sex and cluelessness are the hacker’s most important tools.
Today’s 20- and 30-year-olds have come up with a new movement with the potential to change life as we know it – the Financial Independence/Retire Early, or FIRE, movement. The idea is relatively simple – save like crazy so you can retire early.
Retirement account contribution limits are on the rise in 2019, with IRAs experiencing their first increase since 2013. Following are maximum amounts employees can contribute to their retirement plan in 2018 and 2019.
There is a very narrow window for future retirees to enroll in Medicare or face lifelong delayed enrollment penalties.
Fourth Quarter 2018 Articles
With September – historically the worst month for the financial market –now behind us, it’s time to look forward to the fourth quarter. While retailers anticipate strong fourth quarter sales to put their earnings solidly in the black, investors also cross their fingers and hope that the fourth quarter’s traditionally strong performance holds true for yet another year.
There’s a curious tendency among individuals to be relatively complacent about their ability to retire financially secure right up until they top age 60. Then the worries take over.
For many parents, one of the greatest gifts they believe they can give their children is financial security. Unfortunately, without also giving their children money smarts, there’s no such thing as financial security. Even among America’s wealthiest families, by the second generation 70% have lost their wealth and by the third generation, only 10% of the families are still among the wealthy.
An older client, when asked why she did not have a will, replied that if she wrote one, she would die. And as it turns out, she isn’t the only one reluctant to deal with the idea. It’s amazing how many people leave considerable estates to the whim of the courts. The good news is you don’t have to have a will to make certain major assets go to the individuals you would like to see have them.
At least annually, make time to sit down with your financial adviser, whether by phone or in person, and review your financial situation, changes in your life, issues that are worrying you, and where you are in achieving your goals. If you have a particular concern, reach out to us at any time.
Third Quarter 2018 Articles
Risk amnesia happens when investors forget the pain of bear markets and begin to think that this time is different.
Has the idea of retiring been on your mind more and more? If your answer is yes, it’s time to take a hard look at your finances and find out how you can make retirement a reality.
Wire fraud has become the fastest-growing form of real estate cybercrime in the United States. Hackers access the title companies’ computers and records of upcoming home closing or intercept outgoing emails and then email fraudulent wire transfer instructions to buyers.
As one gets older, a curious dilemma arises – how to give away one’s money to someone other than to the government in the form of taxes. There may also be reasons to move assets out of a future estate if you anticipate disputes.
Money is a leading source of stress for Americans, according to the American Psychological Association. The curious thing about money is that it doesn’t seem to matter how much you have, you still worry about it. For most people, there is a touch (and sometimes a lot more than a touch) of irrationality as well as a lot of deep-seated emotions in our attitude toward money.
Second Quarter 2018 Articles
Every lesson of past market history tells us that the cycle from bull to bear, and repeat, is inevitable. There is something in the human psyche that pushes us to extremes, from extreme optimism to extreme pessimism; from overbought to oversold; from rise to fall of enthusiasms.
The Dow Jones Industrials and S&P 500 Index may be the most widely known stock market indexes, but they are actually rather antiquated. The Index Industry Association surveyed their members to find out how many indexes they maintain and found out that there more than 3.2 million financial market indexes.
Often the defining moment when one is no longer able to live independently is the loss of the ability to drive. Which is why the development of driverless cars opens the potential to age in one’s home without being stranded; to continue favorite activities and social interaction, with the simple words, “Home, car.”
“Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.” The one thing we can count on in the future is that there will be surprises. In financial planning, as in all aspects of our life, we must build in flexibility, i.e. the mental capacity to adjust when life happens outside of our planning zone.
Most of the coverage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act passed in December 2017 has centered on business and individual income tax impacts. But the legislation also made some major changes in estate taxes that may require a review of your estate planning and the provisions of your will.
First Quarter 2018 Articles
Wondering where the stock market is going in 2018? Based on prediction data collected from market forecasters since 1998 by CXO Advisory Group, market experts accurately predicted market direction 48% of the time. A coin toss would have been just as accurate.
The U.S. Stock Market is in New Territory
In 1996, there were 7,322 domestic public company listings. Today there are 3,671. That’s not to say that there are fewer businesses today than in 1996. In fact, the number of businesses has increased from nearly 4.7 million in 1996 to 5.9 million in 2015. But fewer are choosing to list on the stock exchanges.
While there is little we can do to prevent natural disasters, we can be prepared to weather their effects intact. This article provides some basic steps to surviving a disaster.
Medicare Primer for Individuals Nearing Retirement
One of the big unknowns when it comes to planning for retirement is the cost of medical care. One resource Americans can count on – at least at this point – is Medicare. But it helps to understand what Medicare is and isn’t and its limitations.
Fourth Quarter 2017 Articles
Only by knowing a total solar eclipse is a recurring cycle, created by the predictable movement of the earth, moon and sun, does an eclipse turn into a festival. Bear markets need the perspective of knowledge as well if investors are to survive them and move on to the next phase of the market.
It’s Time to Start Thinking About Taxes
The best time to reduce the impact of taxes on your income is long before you start compiling information for filing your taxes. By the fourth quarter of the year, the countdown is on for putting effective strategies in place.
As if we didn’t have enough to worry about as we age, from medical costs to fears of outliving our money and more, it turns out there is yet another threat ahead – grumpiness.
Really big numbers are hard to conceptualize. Without perspective, data is easily distorted to tell a story that is misleading at best and outright deceptive at its worst.
Australian millionaire and real estate mogul Tim Gurner predicts that millennials will never be able to afford many of the benefits their parents enjoy from home ownership to financial security. The reason? They eat too many avocados, among other expensive habits.
Third Quarter 2017 Articles
The problem with writing a financial newsletter is that so often the topics seem to be downers – avoiding fraud, estate planning, market risk, etc. In this article, we promise nothing but good news.
There’s a one-size-fits-all mentality to much of the news coverage of investing, which typically defines successful investment strategies and successful investment managers as those that “beat the market.” In reality, the success of an investment strategy is determined how well it meets the investor’s goals. While most investors would prefer higher versus lower returns over a given period, they also have a wide range of objectives that don’t necessarily include beating the market, particularly when it comes with the risk of market downturns.
One of the big unknowns bearing down on the U.S. will be the impact of underfunded state and local government pension plans. On a national basis, public pensions are short an estimated $5 trillion of the funds they need to meet future obligations according to the Actuarial Standards Board’s Pension Task Force.
read more …
Effective June 9th, the U.S. Department of Labor imposed a fiduciary standard that requires stewards of retirement savings accounts to act in their clients’ best interest. Many elements of the 1000+ pages of regulation are currently in force; other provisions will become active in January 2018. This article provides an introduction to the standard and its impact on investors.
read more …
To combat financial exploitation of investment accounts of the elderly, the SEC has approved the adoption of new FINRA Rules to permit brokerage firm representatives/members to place temporary holds on disbursements of funds or securities from the accounts of specified customers where there is a reasonable belief of financial exploitation of these customers; and requiring members to make reasonable efforts to obtain the name of and contact information for a trusted contact person for a customer’s account.
read more …
Second Quarter 2017 Articles
One of the most common arguments against trying to actively position assets to take advantage of market trend is “Missing the Best.” In this approach, the supporter of passive management points out that no one is able to perfectly forecast the market and if you miss just the best 10, 20 or 40 days of the market your returns decrease dramatically.
Which makes it interesting to take an updated look at the data behind the argument.
The Pluses and Perils of a Longer Life
Before you start planning your finances around a projected average life span of 84 (men) or 86 (women) years, remember that you could be among the 50% that live much longer. About one out of every four 65-yearolds today will live past age 90, and one out of 10 will live past age 95.
Checking the Facts
The headline was quite clear – THE MISERY INDEX IS ON THE RISE. The rest of the copy explained that increases in the misery index are followed by market downturns and that investors need to move now to position their assets safely. But was the message accurate? Thanks to the Internet, we have an incredible opportunity today to check the reality of facts that media, marketers and con artists throw at us each day. Before you panic, despair or bite on a dangling worm, take a moment to check the facts. …read more
From the Movie “The Big Short”…
“The Big Short,” released in December of 2015, chronicles a small group of investors who collectively made billions off of the housing collapse in 2008. To explain complex financial transactions, the viewer encounters a model in a bubble bath, a chef, an alligator in the swimming pool and other incongruent explanations that work amazingly well.
The Number One Source of Identity Theft is Your Wallet
When it comes to identity fraud, the biggest source of information isn’t online, but in your wallet, warns crime prevention officers. Purse snatchings, pickpocketing, theft of purses from locked vehicles and robbery are the biggest sources of identity theft. While the victim may not be able to prevent the theft – and the officers urge individuals NOT to fight back or resist – they can avoid handing the thief all of their information…read more
First Quarter 2017 Articles
In Anticipation of Higher Interest Rates
On Jan. 20, 2017, Donald Trump will be sworn in as the 45th President of the United States. Two months prior, Wall Street began betting that interest rates are about to rise, with bets on U.S. short-term rates at $2.1 trillion. Expectations for a Trump presidency include a Federal Reserve that will be under pressure to raise interest rates in a way that hasn’t been seen for more than a decade. What will rising interest rates mean for investors?
Little has Changed in Retirement Account Contribution Limits
Retirement account contribution limits remain the same for 2017 with minimal adjustments in income limits for various account types. Remember to fully fund your account(s) for 2016 by April 15th and start funding your 2017 contributions as soon as possible to take advantage of compounding. …read more
Combining Active and Fundamental Investing – or Why We Invest the Way We Do
Investopedia defines investing as the act of committing money or capital to an endeavor (a business, project, real estate, etc.) with the expectation of obtaining an additional income or profit.
At its core, investing seeks opportunities where the addition of money can create value in excess of the original investment. With respect to publicly owned companies, the addition of money/capital occurs when the company makes a public offering, exchanging stock for money, or issues debt, promising to repay the money with interest. In the process, shares of the company or debt obligations are created that can be traded among investors…read more
The Improbable Success of Seasonality Trading
When it comes to active investment strategies, one of the most fascinating – if simply because it worked for many years – is seasonality trading. Seasonality trading is based on the premise that there are good days and bad days to be invested and these days can be identified by looking at historical patterns. How can such simple systems work? Wharton University Professor Donald Keim asked the same question and confirmed that there are distinct calendar-based patterns to how stocks trade. …read more
Fourth Quarter 2016 Articles
Are Minimal Returns in the Future for Equities?
With nothing but good news in recent market performance, why are an increasing number of big name firms and analysts projecting minimal returns for the stock market over the next five to ten years? At the root of their concerns is that the current market is speculation driven. For stocks to move higher – beyond the impact of pure speculation – according to fundamental valuation, they have to increase real revenues and earnings. The source of those increased earnings is the big concern. The U.S. economy has failed to achieve significant growth momentum for 10 years and the recent trend is not encouraging…read more
Passing on Assets Without a Will
Wills get a lot of attention because once they go through probate court, they become public documents. A copy is given along with a listing of all the assets of the estate to all the heirs and beneficiaries as well as the estate’s executor, lawyer, accountant and even the IRS. That’s a lot of disclosure that you may not want to happen. In which case, it’s time to look at how to die without having the majority of your assets and how you choose to dispose of them disclosed to the public or for that matter, family members and other potential heirs…read more
Metaphors of Investing
Sometimes, when investing seems to get entirely too dry and calculating, it helps to toss in a few metaphors to lighten the conversation. Black swans, castles in the sky, unicorns, witching hours and more terms have a very different meaning in the financial markets…read more
Outliving the Doomsayers … the One Constant is Change
In 1798, Thomas Robert Malthus predicted a grim future for mankind predicting famine and starvation, unless populations were controlled. Fortunately, he proved spectacularly wrong. Malthus was not the first, nor will he be the last to overlook the power of human ingenuity and technology to change the course of history. Before you accept any forecasts of impending catastrophe take a moment to consider how often the experts have failed to anticipate new technologies and how fast the world can change…read more
Third Quarter 2016 Articles
Waiting for the Recession
Recession – a period of temporary economic decline during which trade and industrial activity are reduced, generally identified by a fall in GDP in two successive quarters.
When it comes to investing, recessions matter. They matter a great deal. Major stock market declines have occurred during recessions. When recessions start with stocks at high valuations, the largest declines have followed. …read more
Missing the Good Old Days of 2000
The good news – Americans on the whole are feeling a lot more confident of their future than we were in 2009. For that matter, we are more confident than we have been …read more
Financial Tool #1 – The Budget
“Budgets are what separate the financially successful from the financially mediocre.” Mindy Crary
Think of a budget as a brake. To become financially successful, you have to spend less than you earn. To control our spending, most of us need some form of a brake, a reality check as to how much we actually have and how much we spend. ..read more
Age is a Matter of Perspective
The odds are we are going to be around a lot longer than prior generations. The life expectancy for women is now 81, while men will reach an average age of 76. Keep in mind those are averages. At least half of us will live longer, some quite a bit longer. Now the trick is to make those years productive and enjoyable, and it turns out there is a relatively simple way to do so…read more
A Mind is a Hard Thing to Change
Can you trust your mind? Maybe. Maybe not. It really depends.
Our natural inclination is to cling to our beliefs, particularly if recent experience has reinforced them. The problem is that when we run into something that contradicts our beliefs, our mind works to reject the conflicting information even when we know it’s true. Scientists call this cognitive dissonance…read more
Second Quarter 2016 Articles
Living with your Investments in Volatile Markets
Yo-yo markets that are up one day, down the next, continually promising gain or loss, are among the hardest to endure. To be able to stay committed to investing in volatile markets…read more
Not on My Watch – Keeping a Great Depression at Bay
Could interest rates in the U.S. go negative? If they do, the rationale may be the memory of the Great Depression…read more
Fully Fund Your Retirement Accounts for 2015 and 2016
Before April 18th, fully fund your retirement accounts for 2015, and we would recommend that you begin to fund 2016 as well. The sooner your accounts are funded, the sooner your money goes to work for you. The following table shows contribution limits for 2015 and 2016…read more
Debts Can Live On After You
Toward the end, my grandfather paid for everything with a credit card, explaining that if he died, it would be like getting everything free. While great in theory…read more