All arrows point up this quarter where stocks, bonds and REITs performed positively for the quarter. The US Stock Market gained 4.10% followed by Developed Stocks at 3.79%. Large Cap US stocks led the way with Large Cap Growth returning a 4.64%. However, bonds were not far behind either with US Bonds up 3.08% and Global Bonds up 2.75%. US Bonds saw interest rates drop causing prices to increase which act inversely. Global bonds saw interest rates also generally decline.
If you are part of the 68 percent of U.S. households that own a pet, you probably think of it as a true member of the family—one you love and cherish. But what would happen to that cherished family member if you were to die suddenly? Have you taken any steps to ensure the family dog, cat, horse or other animal will be well taken care of if it outlives you?
If not, it’s probably time to think about how to make your treasured pet part of your estate plan. Even if you do have a plan, it might make sense to review and revisit it to ensure it’s still on track.
Here are some key steps to take and resources that can help.
“I have found that the importance of having an investment philosophy—one that is robust and that you can stick with— cannot be overstated.”
The US stock market has delivered an average annual return of around 10% since 1926. But short-term results may vary, and in any given period stock returns can be positive, negative, or flat. When setting expectations, it’s helpful to see the range of outcomes experienced by investors historically. For example, how often have the stock market’s annual returns actually aligned with its long-term average?
Exhibit 1. S&P 500 Index Annual Returns
Life insurance can be an extremely important, even essential, part of your financial plan. One of its most attractive aspects for many individuals and families is the death benefit of the policy—the money that the insurance company pays out in the event of the insured’s death.
But navigating the life insurance landscape can be tricky—and people often make costly mistakes. Three of the biggest we see regularly:
Buying too much—or too little—insurance due to a lack of understanding of their true financial needs
Paying for life insurance using a less-than-ideal method or executing that payment method poorly
Misunderstanding life insurance’s purpose and the reasons for having it
In order to make smart life insurance decisions, there are three questions you need to ask yourself and answer.
DO WELL BY DOING GOOD
A growing number of individuals and families want to use some of their wealth to support the causes and organizations they care about most. From helping those less fortunate to facilitating scientific breakthroughs, from providing safe habitats for wildlife to sharing the arts, philanthropy is a core value for many.
Of course, it’s important to engage in smart philanthropy by using certain tools and strategies that can help you have a much bigger charitable impact than you otherwise could—while simultaneously enhancing your own financial flexibility.
In short, philanthropic planning can help you—as the old saying goes—“do well by doing good.”
With that in mind, here’s a closer look at one philanthropic tool that many charitably minded people and families use: charitable remainder trusts. CRTs can be extremely useful and powerful wealth planning tools that allow you to have a major impact on a charity you value while also providing benefits like lower taxes and a regular income stream.
Over the last several years, index funds have received increased attention from investors and the financial media.
Some have even made claims that the increased usage of index funds may be distorting market prices. For many, this argument hinges on the premise that indexing reduces the efficacy of price discovery. If index funds are becoming increasingly popular and investors are “blindly” buying an index’s underlying holdings, sufficient price discovery may not be happening in the market. But should the rise of index funds be a cause of concern for investors? Using data and reasoning, we can examine this assertion and help investors understand that markets continue to work, and investors can still rely on market prices despite the increased prevalence of indexing.
In Q2 stocks completely reversed their late 2018 sell off with almost double digit returns in every sector. US stocks outperformed Non-US Developed and Emerging Markets. Small Caps outperformed Large Caps in all the Developed Markets but under performed in Emerging Markets. Value stocks generally under-performed Growth in all regions. Additionally we included an article about fashionable investments and why more reliable approaches lead to better success.
What it is and why it matters
Elite wealth planning often plays a key role in the lives of today’s highly successful individuals and families—as well as those who are on the path toward great financial success.
With that in mind, here’s a closer look at just what elite wealth planning is—how it works and how it can potentially have a powerful impact on your life as you seek to build, preserve and protect your wealth.
If a few million dollars—or more—fell into your lap tomorrow, what would you do?
Sudden wealth isn’t a common or reliable way to get rich, but it can and does happen. Some big drivers of sudden wealth include:
Receiving a substantial inheritance
Getting a major settlement in a divorce or a lawsuit
Receiving a big payout because of stock options or the sale of your company
Winning the lottery
But while sudden wealth may sound like a dream come true, it’s often accompanied by serious challenges resulting from the “sudden” aspect of that money. With sudden wealth, everything about being rich—the good and the bad—happens all at once. In contrast, most people who build wealth slowly are able to address issues and concerns incrementally over time.
The latest way to do well by doing good
Impact investing—using wealth to create positive change in the world while also benefitting financially—has become increasingly popular, as the idea of “doing well by doing good” has gained traction among investors.
Now there’s a new type of impact investment—called Qualified Opportunity Funds—that is worth checking out if you’re looking to build wealth, reduce a capital gains tax, and improve communities across the country. For investors with these goals, the funds can potentially be a powerful part of an overall wealth plan.
As 2019 approaches, and with US stocks outperforming non-US stocks in recent years, some investors have again turned their attention towards the role that global diversification plays in their portfolios.
For the five-year period ending October 31, 2018, the S&P 500 Index had an annualized return of 11.34% while the MSCI World ex USA Index returned 1.86%, and the MSCI Emerging Markets Index returned 0.78%. As US stocks have outperformed international and emerging markets stocks over the last several years, some investors might be reconsidering the benefits of investing outside the US.
After logging strong returns in 2017, global equity markets delivered negative returns in US dollar terms in 2018. Common news stories in 2018 included reports on global economic growth, corporate earnings, record low unemployment in the US, the implementation of Brexit, US trade wars with China and other countries, and a flattening US Treasury yield curve. Global equity markets delivered positive returns through September, followed by a decline in the fourth quarter, resulting in a –4.4% return for the S&P 500 and –9.4% for the MSCI All Country World Index for the year.
The fourth quarter equity market decline has many investors wondering how equities may perform in the near term. Equity market declines of 10% have occurred numerous times in the past. The S&P 500 returned –13.5% in the fourth quarter while the MSCI All Country World Index returned –12.8%. After declines of 10% or more, equity returns over the subsequent 12 months have been positive 71% of the time in US markets and 72% of the time in other developed markets.
When business owners start a new venture or seek out funding, they always create a detailed business plan first. But chances are, most parents have never once thought about creating a similar type of plan for their most important asset: their families.
Your family may not be a business, but clearly it can be a good idea to foster it like good business owners do with their companies. By taking steps to formally identify your family’s values and goals, as well as to assess the quality of the relationships you have with each other, you can start to strengthen existing bonds—and repair any bridges that are in bad shape. By actively working together toward family goals, you can instill greater resiliency, competency and life skills in your children.
Here’s why it’s so important to create family plans along the lines of highly successful business plans—along with actionable advice for creating these plans in your own life.
If you’ve amassed sizable wealth, or are on the right path and getting there, it may be time to consider how to pass on some of that money to children and grandchildren—without creating big problems that could harm their futures and destroy family harmony.
The fact is, family wealth—how it’s managed, transferred and used—can generate major drama among family members. As wealth grows, so does the potential for that money to foment conflicts and bad financial decisions that can reduce a family’s financial position and even ruin intra-family relationships forever.
The good news: We can look to the strategies used by today’s ultra-wealthy families to avoid or mitigate such negative outcomes—and find ways to adopt similar strategies in our own families.
One of the most effective tools harnessed by the ultra-affluent is the family meeting—which is used to educate heirs and potential heirs about sound financial decision-making, to identify shared family financial values and to maintain (and grow) family wealth in a unified manner.
What would happen if you or your child caused a car accident that resulted in serious injuries or the deaths of others?
How would you pay for the treatment and damages of someone who was hurt in your home and claimed negligence? What happens when they claim to have suffered greatly because of the injury?
What if your dog was attacked by a stranger on your property and bit the person in self-defense—but you were still sued?
These are questions that anyone could face. However, one component of a wealth protection plan that is often overlooked or underused—even by the affluent—is the umbrella policy.
Here’s why an umbrella policy can make sense if you have significant assets.
In the third quarter of 2018 domestic stocks (+7.12%) continued to outpace other regions (Developed +1.31% and Emerging -1.09%) and Large Caps outperformed Small Cap stocks. Real estate investment trust (-0.17%) under performed equities. While value stocks only out performed growth stocks in emerging markets and were actually the only positive performing stocks for the group. In the US interest rates increased. The US Bond Market barely stayed positive (0.02%) while the Treasury Yield Curve maintained a similar and relatively flattening shape as last quarter calling into question the need for longer dated maturities. The international bond market was slightly down (-0.17%).
Many successful families use trusts to minimize taxes, transfer wealth and protect assets from creditors and others. You may have already set up a trust, or you may hold an inheritance you received in a trust that was created decades ago.
Trouble is, too many families relinquish more control over their trusts than they need to, basically hoping that the trustees they have put in charge will serve them well. They take a passive role in their trusts rather than an active or proactive role.
The result: Families can potentially put their goals at risk. Yes, trustees have a legal obligation to serve you and your family. But they also have a duty to serve their owners and shareholders! These corporate trustees have a real financial interest in retaining control over your trust. They also try to avoid controversy: If a dispute among beneficiaries breaks out, they often become passive and look to a court to instruct them.
Nike has introduced two choices in its stock compensation for certain employees. Restricted Stock Units (RSUs) and/or Non-Qualified Stock Options (NQSO). We produced this video to help clients decide which program or combination is better for them.
It’s what no one ever wants to hear: “The test resu
lts have come back positive.”
And yet it’s quite likely that you, a loved one or both will one day be given a serious health diagnosis that throws your world into uncertainty, confusion and fear. That means you have two choices:
- Wish and hope that you or someone you care about never gets really bad news from a physician—and be forced to react quickly and emotionally if that does happen.
- Be proactive and get a handle now on the best steps to take if you’re faced with a major medical diagnosis.
You can likely guess which approach we recommend. With that in mind, we asked one of the nation’s top concierge physicians—Dr. Dan Carlin of World Clinic—for his best advice on what to do (and not do) when the news about your health is really bad.
An Enduring Investment Philosophy
Investing is a long-term endeavor. Indeed, people will spend decades pursuing their financial goals. But being an investor can be complicated, challenging, frustrating, and sometimes frightening. This is exactly why, as David Booth says, it is important to have an investment philosophy you can stick with, one that can help you stay the course.
This simple idea highlights an important question: How can investors, maintain discipline through bull markets, bear markets, political strife, economic instability, or whatever crisis du jour threatens progress towards their investment goals?
1. Jack Canfield, The Success Principles: How to Get from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be (New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 2004).