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The World and Investing in 2030

The World and Investing in 2030

The world in 2030 may seem a long way off, but as investors it’s important to spend some time thinking about the distant future.

Imagining life in 2030 is not a hypothetical. In the portfolios we manage, the average holding period is about eight years, so we’re living that approach to investing. So, projecting out how life might change in the next decade is smart.

Here are seven portfolio managers’ perspectives on the world in 2030, and how these shifting trends influence their investment decisions.

  • COVID could be this generation’s Pearl Harbor
  • Cash is an endangered species
  • A cure for cancer may be around the corner
  • Health care innovation reaches warp speed
  • Renewable energy powers the world
  • Electric and autonomous vehicles hit the fast lane
  • What’s not changing? Successful investing

 

1. COVID could be this generation’s Pearl Harbor

 

Ten years from now we will look back on COVID as our generation’s “Pearl Harbor moment” — a period when extreme adversity spurs innovation and behavioral changes to help address some of the era’s biggest problems. When Pearl Harbor happened, the U.S. artillery was 75% horse drawn. Let’s put that another way: In 1941, three quarters of our artillery depended on horses. Yet by the end of the war we had entered the atomic age. That incredible transformation sparked a period of innovation and growth in the U.S. economy that lasted for decades.

COVID could be the trigger that spurs us to tackle critical issues over the next decade, such as the cost of health care, education and housing. We’ve already seen an almost magically rapid development of COVID vaccines at a speed few thought possible. And we’re doing things in our daily lives we never imagined would happen this quickly.

In 2030 we may be living, working, studying and playing in a radically new world. Our lives could be better, richer, healthier, cheaper and profoundly more digital, virtual and data centric. Many of the technologies already exist, but there’s still so much untapped potential for innovative companies to think bigger and use them in ways that solve societal problems.

 

2. Cash is an endangered species

 

A decade from now digital payments will be the norm, and people will give you odd looks if you try to pay with cash.

This is one area where emerging markets are ahead of the U.S. We’ve seen this trend for several years in developing countries — where many consumers had no bank accounts but did have mobile phones and adopted mobile payment technology quickly. The pandemic accelerated use of digital payments around the world, including places where it hadn’t previously been ingrained in daily life. Once this crisis is over, more people will be comfortable making digital payments, and they probably won’t feel the need to use cash as much as they did before.

investing in 2030 could mean digital payments

 

While cruising has resumed in Europe, the U.S. Centers for Disease As consumers become increasingly comfortable with the technology, companies with large global footprints could be poised to benefit. We’ve also seen strong growth in smaller companies outside the U.S. that offer mobile payment platforms for merchants.

 

3. A cure for cancer may be around the corner

 

A cure for cancer may be closer than you think. In fact, some cancers may be functionally cured with cell therapy between now and 2030. New, reliable tests should enable very early detection of cancer formation and location. Beyond that, cancer could largely be eradicated as a major cause of death through early diagnosis.

 

Investing in 2030 3 Cure for cancer

 

Vastly reduced costs and scientific developments have contributed to phenomenal growth in medical research. We’re in a renaissance period for R&D, and companies are investing aggressively to find unique ways to battle cancer and other illnesses. Genomics research and therapies derived from genetic testing have the potential to extend lives and generate billions of dollars in revenue for companies that develop them.

 

We should see increasing amounts of pharmaceutical innovation come from outside the U.S. In fact, many blockbuster drugs from China by 2030. The country has the biggest population of cancer patients in the world, and it’s significantly easier to enroll those patients in clinical trials. They will probably begin to produce novel drugs within five to 10 years and sell them at one-tenth the cost in the U.S.

 

4. Health care innovation reaches warp speed

 

Star Trek, the classic sci-fi TV series, depicted a far-off future where space explorers traveled the galaxies equipped with cutting edge technology such as the tricorder, a hand-held medical device that scanned a person’s vital signs, issued a diagnosis and prescribed treatment in minutes. While there may not be a single tricorder that does everything, by 2030 many of us might have devices like it that will analyze blood, do cardiology monitoring and even remotely check our breathing while we sleep, some of which are available today.

 

investing in 2030 4 healthcare

We are already experiencing a massive wave of innovation and disruption across the health care sector that has the potential to drive new opportunity for companies, reduce overall costs and, most importantly, improve outcomes for patients. Breakthroughs in diagnostics will help lead to earlier detection of illnesses, which can help make drugs more effective — or in some cases treat disease before it progresses. One of the most exciting things today is something known as liquid biopsy, whereby a sample of your blood can be used to identify a tumor at its earliest stages.

A broad range of traditional technology and medical technology companies have been working to develop home diagnostics for some time, and patients are now benefiting from their innovation. These are cost-effective devices that can collect all kinds of health-related metrics that not only help coach us to improve our own health, but can be immediately sent to our doctor for further consultation. We’re still in the early stages of development, but by 2030 it should be a routine part of our daily lives.

 

5. Renewable energy powers the world

 

We’ll see a dramatic shift toward renewable energy over the next decade. We are in the early stages of the transition to an electrification of the grid and green energy, and there are strong tailwinds that could drive growth through 2030 and beyond. Automation and artificial intelligence are setting the stage for a golden age in renewables — pushing costs down while boosting productivity and efficiency. 

investing in 2030 5 renewable energy

 

Renewable energy has historically been perceived as expensive, impractical and unprofitable — but all that is quickly changing. Some traditional utilities are already generating more than 30% of their business from renewables and are reaching an inflection point where they are being recognized more as growth companies rather than just staid, old-economy power generators and grid operators. The move toward renewables is most pronounced in European utilities, where their governments have set high decarbonization targets. For example, the Renewable Energy Directive stipulates that a minimum of 32% of energy in the European Union should come from renewable resources by 2030.

 

6. Electric and autonomous vehicles hit the fast lane

 

In 2030 we will have widely deployed fleets of autonomous electric vehicles operating in most major and many secondary cities around the world. Ownership of a personal vehicle will go from being a necessity to a luxury. Many people will still have vehicles — just like people ride horses or bicycles for fun. But personal vehicles will no longer be necessary as the primary form of transportation for most people in major cities.

investing in 2030 6 electric cars

 

This is an area where the market hasn’t fully appreciated yet. Right now, the market leaders are embedded in other companies — such as Alphabet’s Waymo, Amazon’s Zoox or the Cruise division of GM — so investors can’t buy a pure-play autonomous driving company. But as these fleets roll out more publicly, the market should start to reevaluate these companies and realize this is a real business, not a science project.

2030 is when we’re likely to see hybrid electric engines and hydrogen engines introduced into commercial aircrafts, with widespread deployment over the following 5–10 years. The impact on global emissions could be significant if we transition to a world where we’ve got huge fleets of autonomous electric vehicles on the road and aircraft transportation shifting from oil-based fuel to a mixture of oil, electricity and hydrogen.

 

7. What’s not changing? Successful investing

 

We may be able to look at the future and imagine new products and trends, but we’d like to predict one thing that won’t be different in 2030. Despite all the change going on in the world, the nature of our work and focus as financial advisors will be exactly the same.

In 2030 — just as we did in 2020 and 2010, and every year before that — we will come upon the right solutions for our client’s unique needs. That is our true north.

 

 

 

Are you on track for retirement?

 

Making sure you will be ready for retirement can be overwhelming. Funding your retirement accounts over the years is a critical part of your journey to the retirement of your dreams. An experienced Financial Advisor can help you navigate the complexities of investment management. Talk to a Financial Advisor>

Dream. Plan. Do.

Platt Wealth Management offers financial plans to answer your important financial questions. Where are you? Where do you want to be? How can you get there? Our four-step financial planning process is designed to be a road map to get you where you want to go while providing flexibility to adapt to changes along the route. We offer stand alone plans or full wealth management plans that include our investment management services. Give us a call today to set up a complimentary review. 619-255-9554.

Should I Invest in Private Equity?

Should I Invest in Private Equity?

In recent years, the private equity sector has attracted a lot of attention, especially from high net worth investors asking, “Should I invest in private equity?” These investments are in private, non-publicly traded companies, so many investors in mutual funds and stocks don’t necessarily have access to this sector. Private equity firms you’ve probably heard of include The Blackstone Group and The Carlyle Group.

 

Mechanics of investing in private equity

 

Typically, private equity investors are investing for ownership in mature businesses. Ordinarily, they claim to invest to maximize the company’s value and then sell it at a profit. In this, they’re similar to venture capitalists (VCs). 

However, unlike VCs, they usually purchase a majority ownership stake of 50% or more in the target company. Private equity firms own several businesses, known as portfolio companies, at the same time. It’s diversification in action, avoiding putting all their eggs in one company’s basket.

The strategy for private equity firms is to raise money from limited partners (LPs) to form a private equity fund. Once the capital goal has been reached, the fund closes. It then invests in the portfolio companies they’ve targeted. The firm’s team begins the work of turning around the portfolio companies and bringing them to profitability. 

The ideal candidate for private equity investment is a company that’s either stagnant or in some trouble but, with some capital and management oversight, has the potential for good growth. It does take time to turn troubled companies around, and the lifespan of a private equity fund is typically ten years. It’s not a fast cash strategy.

When the fund successfully sells a portfolio company, profits are returned to the LPs after fees. On occasion, the company goes public instead.

 

Who can invest in private equity?

 

It’s been a somewhat exclusive club for a long time because many investments are only available to accredited investors. The SEC doesn’t regulate Private companies that don’t trade on a public exchange. 

Therefore, accredited investors must have a net worth of at least $1 million and an income of $200,000 or more ($300,000 for married couples) over the past two years. These investors have to have more investing experience and therefore are up to doing their research and making decisions about private firms.

The buy-in for traditional private equity is usually pretty significant as well. Though some funds allow a minimum contribution of $250,000, others require millions.

There are some other ways to invest for those who don’t meet the accreditation minimums. Equity crowdfunding allows you to buy an ownership stake for as little as $2,000, depending on income. As a bonus, the SEC regulates these platforms.

Or you can buy shares of private equity ETFs (exchange-traded funds). They’re publicly traded, like all ETFs, but invest in private companies.

 

Types of private equity to invest in

 

Often the deal is done via leveraged buyout or LBO. The purchase involves both equity and plenty of debt (hence the “leveraged”), which the company eventually must repay. Once the company regains and improves its profitability, the debt becomes less of a burden.

Another type of private equity investing is “distressed funding,” which involves companies filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Sometimes the goal of the fund is to restructure the firm and turn it around to sell at a profit. Other times it’s to strip the business for spare parts and gain on the assets, which is why some private equity firms have a bad reputation.

Venture capital is a type of private equity investing. Unlike other private equity funds, however, VCs usually don’t buy an ownership stake. They go after promising new businesses to take to profitability and sell instead of mature ones.

Finally, there are specialized LPs, which often invest in real estate. Most of their investments are in commercial or multifamily real estate. Specialized LPs may also take on infrastructure projects like bridges and roads.

 

Advantages of private equity investing

 

 

Potentially high reward

Because these are private companies, the information publicly available is minimal. Good private equity funds have a substantial investment team that picks great candidates for turnaround. The potential profit from rescuing a portfolio of troubled businesses and turning them around is massive.

 

Passive income

As a limited partner, you’ll just be sitting back and letting the money flow. The fund’s investment team are the general partners (GPs) doing all the work.

 

Disadvantages of private equity investing

 

Illiquid assets

Unlike public investments that trade on an exchange, you can’t just sell your stake in the fund any old time you feel like it. Investors are usually required to keep their money invested for a minimum of three to five years.

That allows the GPs to work their magic, but it also means that money is not available to you if you need it.

 

High fees

Think mutual fund fees are high? If so, you might get blown away by the payment structure of private equity, which is similar to hedge funds. They’re allowed to charge an unlimited amount of fees because SEC doesn’t regulate them, unlike mutual fund managers.

Performance bonuses are standard for the GPs in a private equity fund. The fee structure is usually the “2 and 20” approach. The annual fee is 2% AUM (assets under management) with a 20% performance bonus on the profits.

 

Potentially high risk

As you know, there’s no free lunch in investing! The high potential upside comes along with a high potential downside. Even a talented team isn’t guaranteed to turn every company around, and you could very quickly lose money in this investment.

 

Reporting issues

With publicly traded stocks on an exchange, it’s tough to fudge prices or performance. However, private equity firms typically use IRR (Internal Rate of Return) to demonstrate performance. However, that number isn’t realized until the business is sold. 

Therefore, over the life of the fund, they’re reporting interim, estimated IRRs. They can pick and choose comparable businesses to generate a number that looks better than the ultimate return.

 

Ways to invest intelligently in private equity

 

Skip the funds and their high fees

Investing directly into a firm allows you to avoid all the layers of the management structure. If you still prefer a more passive investment, use private equity ETFs.

 

Commit capital to specific deals

Instead of investing in one fund, you can agree to buy in deal-by-deal. This way, the management fees don’t start ticking until the money is invested. Not only that, you decide which deals you want to be a part of.

 

Diversification across GPs

Just as you diversify your stock investments in different companies and funds, do the same for your private equity investments. Research the fund managers and make sure you’re comfortable with their style.

 

Are you interested in further diversifying your portfolio? Please feel free to give us a call at 619.255.9554 or email us to set up an appointment.

 

 

 

Are you on track for retirement?

Making sure you will be ready for retirement can be overwhelming. Funding your retirement accounts over the years is a critical part of your journey to the retirement of your dreams. An experienced Financial Advisor can help you navigate the complexities of investment management. Talk to a Financial Advisor>

Dream. Plan. Do.

Platt Wealth Management offers financial plans to answer your important financial questions. Where are you? Where do you want to be? How can you get there? Our four-step financial planning process is designed to be a road map to get you where you want to go while providing flexibility to adapt to changes along the route. We offer stand alone plans or full wealth management plans that include our investment management services. Give us a call today to set up a complimentary review. 619-255-9554.

Why you should be tax-loss harvesting

Why you should be tax-loss harvesting

Tax losses can be constructive when it comes time to add up what you owe Uncle Sam. Especially when you’re in a high tax bracket and especially in years where you have gains that you’d like to offset.

Losses need to be realized before the end of the year, December 31, to qualify for that tax year. There are a few other things that you need to know to take full advantage of them.

 

What is tax-loss harvesting?

If you have an investment that’s lost value compared to its basis, selling it at a tax loss allows you to offset other capital gains in your portfolio. You can even use some losses against your income. If you have more losses than gains, you can use an additional $3,000 more tax loss to offset your income. Carry the remainder forward into future tax years, known as a carry-forward loss.

After freeing up cash in the portfolio from the sale, you can buy another similar security. Or use the money available to rebalance your portfolio back to its intended allocation.
Tax-loss harvesting doesn’t work for your tax-deferred accounts, so only your taxable brokerage account provides you this opportunity.

 

Beware the wash-sale rule when tax-loss harvesting

The IRS doesn’t let investors take a capital loss of one security against the same security gain. The wash-sale rule prevents you from buying a substantially similar investment (or even an option to do so) within 30 days of the date the loss was realized by selling the security.

It’s critical to remember that the 30-day period applies before the sale in addition to after the fact. If you’re planning to buy a similar investment, you’ll need to do so more than a month before you sell the one for a capital loss.

Even if you don’t want to reallocate your portfolio, you can still purchase a security that’s like the original investment but not substantially similar to avoid falling afoul of the wash-sale rule. Investors often buy a mutual fund or ETF in the same sector as the stock they sold to maintain the same allocation.

 

Costs of tax-loss harvesting

If you’re planning to harvest losses every time the market drops, tax prep will be much more difficult. Remember that you probably have shares at different cost bases within your investment because you bought them at different times.

You’ll need to have records of the basis of every share so that you can sell the correct shares to generate the loss. This is why tax-loss harvesting can be very costly in terms of actually carrying out the program!

Given the costs of trading, make sure that the loss you’re going to harvest is of greater value than the expense. If you want tax-loss harvesting to be a part of your plan, you should do it more than once a year in December before the deadline.

Instead, consider rebalancing more than once a year. As you identify securities that you need to sell to rebalance back to your allocation, you may spot some opportunities to take losses.

 

Harvesting losses for improving your portfolio

Taking capital losses is especially important if you end up realizing short-term gains. The short-term capital tax rate is the same as your ordinary-income rate, so it’s best to avoid them whenever possible. The long-term capital gains tax ranges from 0 to 20%, depending on your income. Selling a purchase within twelve months of buying is considered short-term, and 12 months plus is long-term.

When it comes to the mechanics of your tax return, like-losses are applied against like-gains first. Long-term losses offset the long-term gains, and then short-term losses offset short-term gains. If you have more losses in one category and gains in another, the remaining loss offsets the gains.

For example, suppose you have $20,000 in capital losses, half short-term and half long-term, to offset $15,000 in capital gains, also half-and-half. The long-term $10,000 loss offsets the $7,500 long-term gain, with an excess of $2,500 in losses. The short-term $10,000 offsets the $7,500 short-term gain, again with an excess of $2,500, so you now have $5,000 of losses.

If you’re married filing jointly, you can take up to $3,000 of these losses this year on your income tax. (For singles and filing separately, it’s $1,500.) That means you have $2,000 to carry forward into the next tax year.

 

Tax-loss harvesting when you don’t have capital gains to offset

You still reduce your taxes by taking capital losses because up to $3,000 can be used against your income tax every year. By reinvesting your “harvest savings” back into the portfolio, you can accumulate a bit more to compound for the next few years.

Suppose you’re in the 30% tax bracket, and you have $3,000 of capital losses you could take. The immediate savings is $3,000* 30%, which is how much you’d otherwise pay in tax, or $900. Reinvesting that amount every year for the next twenty years, assuming a reasonable average rate of return of 6%, would result in an accumulation of about $35,000.

 

Other tax-loss harvesting considerations

Be careful when considering capital losses against gains on mutual funds. At the end of the year, most funds pay out capital gains distributions, in addition to making others throughout the year.

While you can use capital gains to offset long-term realized gains on mutual funds, they can’t be used against short-term distributions. Those are treated as ordinary dividends, and the mutual fund company will identify which is which.

You’ve probably already figured out that this strategy works best in high marginal tax brackets. If you take a year off with no income, that’s not likely to be the right time to wield this particular tool. Younger investors who are not in the high tax brackets yet may not see much benefit.

If you’ve invested your whole portfolio in index funds, you’re not going to squeeze many tax reductions out of your tax-loss harvesting. Because these funds are not actively managed, most of the securities are held for the whole year (or longer), with very few sales to generate either a gain or a loss.

However, if you invest in actively managed funds or ETFs, or stocks, you may find more opportunities to decrease your tax burden. Turnover in actively managed funds tends to be high, and all the buying and selling generates the potential for capital gains and losses.

Note that you don’t have much control over the gains that mutual funds distribute because an equal share is portioned to every owner of shares. You also generate gains or losses when you sell the fund yourself. By contrast, stocks are entirely within your control.

Are you interested in learning more about tax-loss harvesting for your portfolio? Please feel free to give us a call at 619.255.9554 or email us to set up an appointment.

 

 

 

Are you interested in tax savings by tax-loss harvesting?

It might be time to check and see if your investments are exposed to excessive taxes. An experienced Financial Advisor can help you navigate the complexities of investment management, advantage opportunities and avoid costly mistakes. Talk to a Financial Advisor>

Dream. Plan. Do.

Platt Wealth Management offers financial plans to answer your important financial questions. Where are you? Where do you want to be? How can you get there? Our four-step financial planning process is designed to be a road map to get you where you want to go while providing flexibility to adapt to changes along the route. We offer stand alone plans or full wealth management plans that include our investment management services. Give us a call today to set up a complimentary review. 619-255-9554.

GameStop Gambling

GameStop Gambling

GameStop: A David and Goliath story or a cautionary tale of feverish gambling?

The GameStop David and Goliath story has given us a short break from 2020 doom and gloom. It’s a surprising story of how masses of small amateur investors managed to bid the share prices of three largely-unprofitable companies—GameStop, AMC Entertainment Holdings, and Blackberry—up nearly 1,000 percent, collectively. GameStop alone rose more than 14,300%—a record for a firm whose market share is eroding and which most analysts think is clinging to an outmoded business model. (The company sells video games through bricks-and-mortar retail outlets competing in a streaming internet world.)

The story was allegedly about David (the small investors) pitted against Goliath (several prominent multi-billion-dollar hedge funds). The only reason you heard about it is that the small investors won and nearly put the hedge funds out of business.

The GameStop short squeeze: a pessimistic gamble

Market professionals recognize the story as a classic short squeeze. Investors on one side (in this case, the hedge funds) borrow the stock of companies they think are overpriced, expecting to buy them at a discount after the price falls. They pocket a quick profit. These short sales have an expiration date, so if the stocks unexpectedly rise in price, the short-sellers have to scramble to buy the stock at the inflated price to limit their losses.

On the other side of the gaming table were a group of amateur investors who engage in online conversations on subreddit r/wallstreetbets, who ganged up to raise each others’ bids. When the hedge funds had to buy to close out their positions, the share prices went through the roof. The hedge funds, meanwhile, lost an estimated $5 billion on their bets. Roughly $1.6 billion on January 29, when GameStop’s stock jumped 51%.

The financial media neglected to mention that this activity is not investing; instead, it is a form of gambling, and the story tells us a great deal about the mindset of many retail investors these days.

When their goal is to make bets and destroy other gamblers at the table, the game for everybody else becomes increasingly dangerous. Take a look at the past six months of GameStop’s stock price and see if you can pinpoint when the gamblers started taking an interest.

GameStoppers take note: the gambler always loses

 

Toward the end of every bull market cycle, there is an invisible line crossed. The public starts to look at the stock market, not as participation in the growth and profits of public enterprises, but as a roulette wheel where the ball keeps stopping at a higher price. These shareowners cease to be long-term investors and bid prices up- not based on the underlying value of the companies- but on the expectation that whatever you buy, at whatever price, someone else will come along and pay even more.

Of course, markets only work that way for a short time, typically at or around market tops. Eventually, the share prices of GameStop, AMC Entertainment Holdings, and Blackberry will return to something that more closely resembles the real value of the actual company. Long-term investors have tended to win the kitty over every past historical time period. Gamblers have seen their short-term winnings evaporate in the ensuing bear market. The jubilant traders on subreddit r/wallstreetbets can enjoy their winnings today, but it may not be long before they’re counting their losses and wishing they hadn’t gambled away the money they could’ve used to buy shares when they finally go on sale.

 

 

Are you on track for retirement?

Making sure you will be ready for retirement can be overwhelming. Funding your retirement accounts over the years is a critical part of your journey to the retirement of your dreams. An experienced Financial Advisor can help you navigate the complexities of investment management. Talk to a Financial Advisor>

Dream. Plan. Do.

Platt Wealth Management offers financial plans to answer your important financial questions. Where are you? Where do you want to be? How can you get there? Our four-step financial planning process is designed to be a road map to get you where you want to go while providing flexibility to adapt to changes along the route. We offer stand alone plans or full wealth management plans that include our investment management services. Give us a call today to set up a complimentary review. 619-255-9554.

Why You Need to Hire the Best Financial Advisor Today

Why You Need to Hire the Best Financial Advisor Today

With the advent of online trading platforms and information available for free on the Internet, many investors have decided to take a do-it-yourself approach to manage their money. Managing your portfolio is perfectly fine, especially those who are just starting, have little money, or have less complicated financial situations.

 

However, once investors begin accumulating wealth and add to their financial complexities by purchasing homes or running their businesses, it’s often a good idea to hire an advisor. There are several reasons people in these situations benefit from hiring an advisor to help them with their investment needs.

You don’t know what you don’t know

 

The world of finance is complex and ever-changing. If you have a full-time job that does not involve investments, it’s unlikely that you have the time, much less the inclination, to keep up with the continual adjustments in the space.

You may have a solid grasp of the fundamentals of stocks, bonds, and mutual funds. But do you know what the rules are on employer-sponsored retirement plans and Roth/IRAs and when you qualify for each? Do you understand the difference between HSAs and FSAs, and how to use them as an investment vehicle? Are you clear on whether you should pay down your mortgage, increase your savings, or do something else with your raise?

A financial advisor is required to keep up with changes in the marketplace. They understand how things like the CARES and SECURE Acts might affect your finances. They also know what they don’t know when it comes to finance, and will pull in other experts when necessary.

 

Goals and guidance: the best financial advisors do more

 

  • Help you determine your goals

Most investors understand that they need to save for retirement, given the lack of pensions and the uncertainty around Social Security. But what other goals do you have when it comes to money? Many people have goals that will impact their finances, but they might not realize how short-term goals can have big impacts on their future retirement plans.

 

  • Provide a sounding board 

Just as business owners have an advisory board to help them get unstuck when facing issues and provide advice to help them grow, your advisor can provide commentary and guidance when it comes to your money.

 

There are many financial decisions for which there is no objectively correct answer. Whether to invest in a traditional IRA versus a Roth is one example. There are circumstances that better fit one than the other, but because they rely on assumptions about future taxes and earnings, there’s no right answer.

 

Similarly, people often need help thinking through the wisdom of buying into a retirement community or continuing care retirement community. Or even deciding whether to pay down the mortgage or invest some extra funds. Again, there are no objectively correct answers. Bouncing your questions off a third-party who’s knowledgeable about the issues can help you reach a satisfying decision for you and your family.

The best financial advisors provide a steady hand

 

Emotions often get caught up in finances. When tech stocks prices go through the roof or housing finance options are attainable for everyone, it’s easy to be carried away by exuberance. No matter how irrational it might be. 

 

The financial press will cover these types of booms in breathless detail, adding to the perception that everybody’s doing it, and you’ll miss out if you don’t.

 

Similarly, during market volatility, watching your portfolio value decrease every time you look is painful. Many investors soothe the pain by selling out. It’s not a rational response, because it locks in the losses that would otherwise only be on paper. 

 

But at least when all the money is in cash, there are no fluctuations. Of course, leaving it too long exposes the capital to inflation, which eats away at spending power.

 

When other people are selling out, it seems like the smart thing to do to avoid being the last one left holding the bag. The stock market doesn’t work like that, but it’s persuasive messaging since the financial press will have been covering the bust in breathless detail.

 

Having someone who can talk you off the ledge and prevent you from doing long-term damage to your portfolio is priceless.

 

The best financial team

Once your finances start getting complex, so does your tax situation. Your accountant focuses on reducing this year’s taxes, but that may not be the right thing to do for the portfolio overall. You need someone who understands investments from a taxation point of view.

 

Similarly, as you increase wealth or develop a blended family, your estate planning needs increase too. In California, most people who have accumulated assets need a trust. 

 

If you have children from a previous marriage, you’ll need to protect their inheritance, no matter what happens with your current spouse. Most of these issues are too complicated for people to do it themselves, even though there are plenty of forms online of the unwary. 

 

While your advisor probably doesn’t do estate planning, they’re aware of the different kinds of asset ownership implications. They can often recommend an estate planning professional who will take care of you. 

 

No professional wants to recommend someone who isn’t competent, because it reflects poorly on them. A good advisor will only want to recommend the best estate planning attorney and tax professional too.

Here at Platt Wealth Management we’re working remotely, and we’re happy to answer questions or schedule a virtual meeting. Feel free to call us at 619.255.9554 or email us.

Sleep well at night with the best financial advisor

  • Understand your risk tolerance

What do the words “aggressive” and “conservative” mean? It depends on the person. For someone very comfortable with investment risk, “conservative” might mean having 20% of the portfolio in cash and bonds. Others with a lower risk tolerance would consider that aggressive.

 

A financial advisor will tailor the risk of your portfolio to the point where you can sleep at night. A portfolio invested entirely in small company assets and international stocks, particularly emerging markets, has demonstrated high performance. But very few investors can stomach the roller coaster ride it takes to get there. 

 

For investors who are very afraid of risk or not very knowledgeable about the market, the advisor may coax them into taking on a little more risk or else the portfolio won’t grow. 

 

Still, a good advisor wants you to be comfortable and able to sleep at night. They’ll try to find the sweet spot where you are relatively comfortable and yet earn some return on your money.

 

  • Objective advice

Have you ever noticed that when your friends come to you for help, you can easily see the problem? You have no problem explaining the consequences and pros and cons of their decision. Yet when it comes to your own life, you don’t even know where to start when a problem arises.

 

Your financial advisor has that objective viewpoint that you need. They see the market as a whole, not just the parts of it that concern you. They can widen out and look at the bigger picture, which is hard for individual investors to do when faced with a decision.

Need some objective advice or want a second opinion on your investment portfolio? Feel free to give us a call at 619.255.9554 or email us.

Questions You Should Ask When Looking for a Financial Advisor

Questions You Should Ask When Looking for a Financial Advisor

Choosing a financial advisor is an essential step in taking control of your finances. You’ll want to complete your due diligence before you even start talking to an advisor you’ve selected as a possibility. 

Find a financial advisor

 

If you have friends or family who are happy with theirs, you can ask for an introduction. But don’t stop there. Look at their website and social media sites. Most financial advisors should have a profile on LinkedIn.

In most cases, advisors who manage money and make stock, bond, and mutual fund recommendations must register with the regulatory agency FINRA (which used to be the NASD). You can look them up by name on BrokerCheck and see if they have any violations or complaints. 

If there’s more than one, you should probably move on to another advisor in your search. Most financial professionals have none, but a disgruntled client can make a complaint. However, more than one charge (or violation) is a worrisome trend.

Once you have a name or two that appear to be a good fit, you can start meeting with them and asking them questions. Feel free to write the questions down and bring them with you, because you want to make sure that you’re comfortable with the person you’re entrusting with your money.

For most investors, having more than one advisor doesn’t make financial sense. People sometimes aren’t sure whether they can trust one advisor, so they split the difference with two. Using two advisors causes issues with your portfolio since neither advisor has a full view of your money. With an incomplete picture, they may not be able to make the right recommendations.

Find an advisor you trust, by checking their bona fides and getting satisfactory answers from them. You may not invest all your money with them at once, but give them a portion to manage for at least a few months, to determine your comfort level with giving them more.

 

 

The financial advisor fit for you

Before you meet, ask if they offer a free consultation or “get-to-know-you” meeting. Good advisors usually don’t take all the clients who come to them. They want to have long-term relationships with the people who entrust them with money. 

 

You want to have a good relationship with your advisor. You need to be comfortable calling them if you have questions. If you feel that they don’t take you seriously or talk down to you, you won’t be able to build that level of trust you need to consult with them when necessary.

 

Your financial advisor should assist you with different financial decisions: buying a home, choosing a retirement community, saving for college, etc. Make sure you have someone with who you feel comfortable discussing your finances.

 

The relationship may not be a good fit, and it’s best to find that out ahead of time. If the advisor doesn’t offer free initial consultations, scratch them off your list and move on to the next.

 

Many people prefer to meet in person, but with the current COVID-19 restrictions, that may not be possible. See if you can set up a video conference so that you can see them and with potentially other members of the team. Just bear in mind that web conferences are a new technology for many financial advisors, so there might be some technical glitches at first.

Look for a fee only fiduciary

You want an advisor who tells you they act as fiduciary. This ethical promise is common in firms that are Registered Investment Advisors (RIA) and financial advisors who are also CFP® professionals. They are fee-only and must abide by strict fiduciary guidelines. 

 

A fiduciary is someone who has the legal duty to put your interests above their own. That means they have to recommend an investment right for you, and cannot receive product incentive pay or product commissions.

 

Advisors who are not fiduciaries have less restrictive suitability standards. That means they only need to recommend suitable products. They can suggest a product that pays them better over an equivalent that might be cheaper for you, as long as it’s suitable for your portfolio.

Financial advisor investment approach

  • What is their investment philosophy?

Depending on your risk tolerance and what stage of life you’re in, the financial advisor’s philosophy may or may not match with your own. When you’re young and looking for growth from your investments, you don’t want an advisor who says they’re conservative and focuses on protecting investments. You want a financial advisor to build a custom portfolio for your life priorities, time horizon, and risk profile.

 

 

  • Do they perform a risk assessment with their clients?

The asset allocation, or how much money is in different kinds of stocks compared to bonds, is an important indicator of how much and how volatile your portfolio performance will be. The best financial advisors will match your portfolio to your risk tolerance, within reason, so they need to know what your risk tolerance is.

 

If they don’t use a risk assessment with you, they’re most likely to use a cookie-cutter allocation for everyone. You may not get the performance you need to achieve your goals or take on too much risk for your time horizon. 

How does the financial advisor get paid?

There are many different ways advisors get paid, some of which come with conflicts of interest. The advisor should disclose all fees and methods of payment to you.

Fee-only is an excellent way to align the advisor’s incentives with the client’s. The more your account grows, the more your advisor’s compensation grows too. Many advisors use the Assets Under Management (AUM) model and get paid a percentage of the assets under management, which should be well under 2%.  

Or you may be charged on a retainer basis. 

The other model is commission-based, and you should steer away from financial advisors who are either 100% commission or fee-based with some investments on commission. Here you’re charged a fee for each transaction. There’s little to no incentive for the advisor to grow your account, and they do have incentives to keep you buying and selling, which is known as churning.

  • How often will you contact me?
    • Meeting schedules vary widely, and it’s up to you to decide if that frequency works for you. Typically, for accounts that are less than six figures, you should expect less contact and fewer meetings.

       

    • Who will have custody of my assets?
      • You want the advisor to have a third-party custodian. TD Ameritrade and Schwab are popular ones, but there are others. Having a third-party custodian provides you the ability to look at your accounts and see your account statements. Advisors who offer custody can make their account statements, structuring them in a complicated or misleading format.

         

        Without a third-party custodian, major crooks like Bernie Madoff got away with millions. He created fraudulent statements that showed the client making what he’d promised them.

      What are the financial advisors qualifications?

      There are websites where you can check what specific designations mean. If you’re starting out investing, you might be OK with someone else who has a bit less experience and is currently working on their qualifications, because they will likely charge you less.

      A financial advisor should have a minimum of five years’ experience, preferably through years of market volatility. Credentialed financial advisors, such as CFP Professionals must complete rigorous study and experience requirements. To keep their credentials active, they attend conferences and classes to stay informed and knowledgeable. CFA, CPWA and other credentials deepen an advisor’s knowledge and expertise to apply to complex planning and investing.

      Ideally, you want to see on the advisor’s website and hear from the advisor that they are familiar with your specific issue and that they’ve helped clients like you. 

      If you own your own business, you’re better off with an advisor who specializes in such clients because they know the typical problems and can help you solve them. 

       

      Interested in meeting with us for your initial consultation? Give us a call at 619.255.9554 or email us for an appointment.

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