Would you go to Pfizer for a Physical?

Soon I will have my dreaded annual appointment with my doctor. There is a high chance she will make me go through at least one uncomfortable test, tell me to take it easier on my knees by doing fewer trails runs, perhaps even give me a shot.
 
In general, I follow her advice (except the less running part) because I believe my doctor has my best interests at heart when she makes recommendations. But what if my doctor worked directly for Pfizer, or any company whose main business is selling a specific product? What if I developed a heart condition and she prescribed a Pfizer drug, would I be confident that a prescription for a Pfizer drug was the best solution to my specific issue, or was it simply the one her company was selling? How would I know? Continue reading

A Checklist for Retirement

ChecklistWith life expectancy rates increasing, an abundance of information at everyone’s fingertips and more options than ever before, it can be difficult to know where to start when it comes to planning your future in retirement. While the possibilities may seem endless, adding a little structure and organization to the thought process can provide your clients with clarity and direction that allows them to breathe a little easier…and opens the door for you to guide them. For your clients who are approaching this phase of their life, consider sharing this self-assessment tool to create a catalyst to important conversations. Continue reading

No One Knows What Will Happen with Brexit… But Long-Term Investors Probably Shouldn’t Worry Too Much

This blog is from the July issue of Portfolio Perspectives.
 
Unlike fans of horror movies, markets hate scary surprises.
 
On June 22, many markets, even betting parlors, were predicting that British voters would opt to stay in the European Union (the odds went as high as 80% for staying). On June 23, gamblers and markets were proven wrong and stocks fell precipitously around the world, plunging more than 5% in the U.S. in just two days.
 
Some of the doomsayers from January, when the S&P 500 Index sank more than 10% and then rebounded to positive territory again by the end of Q1, came out of the woodwork to predict new Brexit-related disasters. Even European Council President Donald Tusk said, “I fear that Brexit could be the beginning of the destruction of not only the EU but also of western political civilization in its entirety.” Continue reading

Investment Committee Briefing – Q2 2016: Understanding the Role of REITs in Your Portfolio

The story of the U.S. stock markets this year has been fairly straightforward. Stocks slid lower at the start of the year, fueled by concerns over the falling price of oil. By mid-February, however, the worries about oil abated as oil prices returned to a more normal range.
 
With no major concerns on the horizon, stocks began a slow and steady climb from their lows in mid-February to a peak in mid-June — a recovery of more than 15% off the 2016 low. Much of the enthusiasm behind this rally was driven by the belief that the Fed, having promised a series of tightenings starting in December 2015, might be changing its mind.
 
In fact, instead of rising, short-term interest rates during Q2 continued their sharp 2016 decline. In Q2 alone, the ten-year U.S. Treasury yield fell 28 basis points and actually hit a historic low. Shorter rates (e.g. the two-year U.S. Treasury) have followed a slightly more volatile pattern during 2016, rising earlier in the year on the Fed’s announcement that it would raise rates. As it became clear to all markets (stocks, bonds, shorter notes) that the Fed was not in fact going to raise rates, even shorter-term rates have fallen. Across Q2 2016, the two-year Treasury yield fell 15 basis points. Continue reading

U.S. Presidential Elections and Financial Markets

This article is featured in the summer edition of our 360 Insights Quarterly Client Newsletter.
 
For those of us who have experienced more than one or two presidential election cycles, the 2016 campaign seems to be more heated and contentious than usual. The stakes are high for the economy and financial markets, as new political leaders will need to address a wide range of pressing issues.
 
While political decisions can and do have long-term impact on measures of U.S. economic performance, we need to remember what University of Chicago Professor and former chair of the President’s Council of Economic Advisors Austan Goolsbee said:
 
“I think the world vests too much power, certainly in the president, probably in Washington in general for its influence on the economy, because most all of the economy has nothing to do with the government.”1 Continue reading