Newsletters

Year-end Reflections and a Look Ahead

As 2013 comes to a close, it is a good time to reflect on the many things that have transpired.  For us, the year brought the start of a new firm and the opportunity to place new emphasis on our clients and the comprehensive nature of our work.  We are grateful to our clients and to the professionals who showed support during the year.  We look forward to providing many years of dedicated service and working together to navigate the numerous financial needs that will arise throughout the course of our relationship. Equity markets continued to show strength in 2013 and portfolios benefited as a result.  We remained diligent, yet cautious throughout the year.  Diligence came in the form of keeping fixed income and hybrid investments at targets.  Caution was exhibited by seeking quality, valued oriented equity investments and by keeping higher than normal levels of cash.  The result was moderate, yet steady growth in portfolios with reasonable downside protection when markets retreated.  Growth is more uncertain in 2014.  Interest rates remain low, but tapering by the Federal Reserve seems Read on! →

What really drives our financial decisions? – November 2013 Newsletter

All of us like to think we are rational beings, weighing the pros and cons of a situation and then making a well-informed decision.  What we sometimes don’t realize is there are forces at work in our subconscious which can sway us toward irrationality at precisely the wrong time.  However, if we take the time to examine what those forces are and how they affect our decision-making, we should be able to recognize and avoid some of the misdirection in our lives. Behavioral finance is a study in both finance and human behavior and seeks to understand how people make financial decisions, what factors influence them, and how to help them make better decisions.  These forces, or biases can skew our decision-making and act in such subtle ways that we may not even know they are at work.  Biases in the financial realm are particularly fascinating, as they can move entire markets or simply prevent one individual from taking the next critical step in securing their financial future.  These may be deep-rooted in our family history, cultural or religious based, Read on! →

MARKET-VIEW 3RD QUARTER 2013 – October 2013 Newsletter

While fears over Federal Reserve (the Fed) tapering and some uneven economic data hurt stocks earlier in the quarter, September was a surprisingly strong month for equities. The Fed’s decision to keep its quantitative easing program going, combined with moderating tensions in Syria, helped stocks to easily outperform bonds for the third quarter.  Three other market themes emerged during 3rd Quarter 2013:  cyclical stocks outperformed defensive stocks, the equity market rally widened its focus to include international stocks and emerging markets, and corporate and municipal bonds outperformed Treasuries.  Despite a mediocre jobs market, retailers and other consumer discretionary stocks continued to outperform. US Economic Outlook As we enter the fourth quarter, the debate over funding for the federal government and the need to increase the debt ceiling are leading to risks in US credibility on the fiscal front.  Just two years after Congress led America to a fiscal cliff that prompted Standard & Poor to downgrade the United States’ long-term credit rating; we now appear poised to repeat the same fiasco. Despite the political dysfunction in Washington, the private sector Read on! →

Taxing Times – September 2013 Newsletter

While you may not want to begin thinking about it in September, there are some “taxing” issues that you need to be aware of for 2013 and on the horizon for 2014.  As you may recall from early January, the Fiscal Cliff law resulted in a number of federal income tax changes, some permanent and others just extended for one year. Medicare Surtax Net Investment Income Tax (NIIT) Tax Rate Changes for High Income Earners Roth Conversion Opportunities Expanded Temporary Tax-related Extensions for 2013 A 2014 Tax Preview for North Carolina Residents Medicare surtax For high earning individuals, you may already have noticed a slight decline in your take home pay, for as you surpassed $200,000 in wages, your employer was required to begin deducting an additional 0.9% on your Medicare-eligible wages.  This is in addition to the 1.45% you are already paying in Medicare taxes. While this new surtax will result in automatic additional withholding for an individual with earnings above $200,000, the tax can also be triggered by combined earnings of spouses, or the combination of wage earnings Read on! →

Market-View 2nd Quarter 2013

After some hair-raising summers over the past several years, calm, almost boring, trading has settled in on Wall Street – at least for the time being.  2nd Quarter 2013 earnings season has passed its peak and results have largely been better than expected on the bottom line (earnings), while top-line results (revenues) have been less impressive, but good enough for the drifting stock market to maintain an upward bias. Perhaps the best takeaway has been the positive view of the domestic side of the ledger, while international results have largely disappointed. US Economic Outlook Mixed economic data has been good enough to help corporate earnings, yet weak enough to prevent the Fed from acting aggressively.  We have had a domestic bias for some time now, and we believe the US continues to be an attractive place for investors with sustainable slow GDP growth, low interest rates and inflation, and improving unemployment.  Although the gains in equities seen in the first half of the year shouldn’t be expected in the second half, we remain positive on the potential for further upside. Read on! →