Paying Hidden Costs Because your Broker’s not a Fiduciary?

Age based(1)

Investors often choose big banks and investment firms over smaller financial advisors because they think the brand name and size makes the service and product offerings better. In actuality, it’s often the reverse.

Unless your firm is a Fiduciary, chances are there are sales quotas and contests for the non fiduciary, “suitability” reps, who are often paid extra to put clients in proprietary funds that are not in the clients’ best interests, but that reap commissions for the brokerage house.

Last Friday the SEC issued a statement announcing that three investment advisers “have settled charges for breaching fiduciary duties to clients and generating millions of dollars of improper fees in the process.” The release goes on to say that “PNC Investments LLC, Securities America Advisors Inc., and Geneos Wealth Management Inc. failed to disclose conflicts of interest and violated their duty to seek best execution by investing advisory clients in higher-cost mutual fund shares when lower-cost shares of the same funds were available.”

And according to an article in Investment News last week, it turns out smaller credit card and savings customers may not have been the only ones who were misled in the Wells Fargo “fake account” scandal. The article states that “according to inside sources, some clients of the bank’s wealth-management division were steered into investments that maximized revenue for the bank and compensation for its employees.”

When will this stop and why would any one continue to do business with one of these non Fiduciary firms?

The big problem is lack of transparency. Most investors don’t understand how the business works and how broker-dealers make their money. That means the investors are, in effect, investing blindfolded. And while there are many good, principled people at the larger firms, because they are not bound by the Fiduciary Standard, there is lots of potential for recommending something that is “almost as good” as the best product for you.

The result is that, according to a survey just released by the CFA Institute, a majority of investors believe that their advisors fail to fully disclose conflicts of interest and the fees they charge. Only 35% of individual investors polled believe that their advisor always puts their clients’ interests ahead of their own and only 25% of the institutional investors who participated in the survey.

April is National Financial Literacy month and one of the most important Financial Lessons investors – and potential investors – can learn this month is what “Fiduciary” means and why it’s so critical to your financial health.

When you’re working with a fee-only Fiduciary, they have sworn to only recommend financial products that are the best for their clients. Most broker-dealers in large wire houses have only agreed to uphold the “suitability” standard, which means they are allowed to recommend investments that are “suitable” – not best – for you but potentially yield a markup for their company or bonus or commission for them.

If you’re unclear about what fees you are paying, share classes you own, or how much your funds are costing you in annual expenses, contact us for a free analysis of your currents investments and the costs associated with them.

Particularly during Financial Literacy Month, make sure your Financial Advisor is working for you.

 

Shocked by the Market’s Drop? Chalk it Up to Recency Bias

recency bias

Whether you realize it or not, chances are good that you are prone to something called Recency Bias, which is the common tendency to think that what has been happening recently will continue to happen in the near future.

If you, like many investors, are shocked and concerned about February’s sudden market volatility, it’s probably a result of Recency Bias. The last 18 months of smooth sailing without market volatility got many investors lulled into thinking that that trend would continue indefinitely.

The result is that a dramatic shift has occurred in investor emotions in just a month, as shown in this chart from CNN Money:

We all know that markets experience volatility and, until 18 months ago, it was considered reasonably normal, but no one likes the thought of taking a loss. It’s hard not to panic if your oldest child is in college and her 529 just took a hit or if you’re a year away from retirement and your IRA just lost 15% of it’s paper value.

Although you no doubt know that impulsive trading is one of the least efficient ways to reach your true long-term investment potential, emotions are powerful drivers. In fact, in Robert Shiller’s book “Irrational Exuberance,” he states that the emotional state of investors “is no doubt one of the most important factors causing the bull market” we just recently experienced.

The chart below shows that investor sentiment dropped 30% in the beginning of the year, suggesting that investors’ overall attitude may have been veering from bullish to bearish, although it did bounce back this week.  What it also suggests is that Recency Bias caused investors’ to react more strongly to typical market volatility because it was a-typical during the long period of calm we just experienced.

The key in times of volatility is to keep your eye on your long-term goals rather than reacting impulsively to temporary trends. In Taking The Sting Out Of Investment Loss, Brian Boch advises: “The golden rule is to differentiate between [decisions] based on rational and prudent trading strategies on the one hand and emotionally-based, panicky decisions on the other. The former generally leads to success over time, while the latter tends to lead to failure.”

Here at Sherman Wealth Management we believe there is productivity and security in planning for the unknown by defining what it is you already do know. Knowing yourself, your emotions, and the risk you are willing to take is the first step. The second is creating a long-term financial plan with a conflict-free, Fiduciary advisor.

In a recent post, Ben Carlson wrote:

“The prep time for a market correction or crash comes well before it actually happens by:

  • Setting realistic expectations.
  • Mapping out a course of attack for when losses occur.
  • Making decisions ahead of time about what moves (if any) to make and when depending on what happens.
  • Deciding on the correct level of risk to be taken.
  • Building behaviorally-aware portfolios.”

The best solution to financial and emotional volatility is to work with a financial planner on a plan that will make you feel comfortable through the market’s natural ups and downs. You may not be able to control outside factors but you can control your reactions by recognizing how bias works and by preparing both emotionally and financially to reach the long-term goals that matter to you.

And, as always, if you’d like to review your plan and how your allocations conform to your own risk tolerance and response to volatility, please let me know and we’ll schedule a call.

Sign of the Times

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Sign of the Times

It wasn’t too long ago that every teenager was fawning over the boy-band One Direction.  Now, only a few years later, the band members are all pursuing their own solo careers.  In his 2017 solo debut album, the former One Direction member Harry Styles sings the hook “Just stop your crying, it’s a sign of the times.”  While there are numerous interpretations of what the line is about, when I hear it my mind wanders immediately to investing.  

Maybe that makes me a finance nerd, but I connect these two because the world of investing is changing so rapidly, and that isn’t necessarily a bad thing.  It used to be that mutual funds were the be-all and end-all of getting exposure to diversified equity and fixed income returns.  Modern trends, though, show that millennial investors are increasingly enamored by exchange-traded funds (ETFs) and are pouring more money in these diversified low-cost, passively managed index funds than ever before.  A recent article reported that 66% of millennials say they expect to boost their holdings of ETFs over the next year, up from 61% in last year’s survey.

You can see a similar growth trend in the chart below.  We can see that while asset levels for actively managed mutual funds are still eight times higher than ETF asset levels, there is a staggering difference in their annualized growth rates.  While mutual funds are barely growing at .8%, ETF assets are growing at a pace of 21.4%.  

The conclusion is clear: ETFs took in more than three times the net inflows in the first half of 2017 because the world is changing.  Millennials are seeking out the funds as an alternative to traditional mutual funds in response to the changing environment around them, the preference for low-fees, and the flexibility of being able to trade in and out of the funds as frequently and as quickly as they desire.  The faster that advisors start to recognize and adapt to that changing world, the better they are able to meet the needs and desires of their clients.  

At Sherman Wealth Management, we understand that our clients are seeking low-cost, diversified portfolios and as a fiduciary, we feel it is our responsibility to take advantage of the opportunities posed by ETFs.  We were one of the early adopters of these diversified funds because we saw the value of having a low-cost, tax-efficient portfolio that, if done wisely, can be combined to meet target allocations that have diversification benefits creating worthwhile risk-adjusted returns.  

We see ETFs as an opportunity instead of competition.  Instead of individual stock picking, ETFs give us the ability to spend our time focusing on a top-down approach to asset allocation.  This means assessing where the opportunities lie within different asset classes and combining attractive ETFs in these high-probability sandboxes in a way that we feel will maximize risk-adjusted returns.  Instead of the cookie-cutter allocation achieved by working with robo-advisors, we have real people putting together your portfolio and looking under the hood of these funds to ensure that they are the best pick for you.  

At Sherman Wealth Management, we want to be ahead of the times – not stuck lamenting the past.  

So… just stop your crying, it’s a sign of the times.  

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The views expressed in this blog post are as of the date of the posting, and are subject to change based on market and other conditions. This blog contains certain statements that may be deemed forward-looking statements. Please note that any such statements are not guarantees of any future performance and actual results or developments may differ materially from those projected.
Please note that nothing in this blog post should be construed as an offer to sell or the solicitation of an offer to purchase an interest in any security or separate account. Nothing is intended to be, and you should not consider anything to be, investment, accounting, tax or legal advice. If you would like investment, accounting, tax or legal advice, you should consult with your own financial advisors, accountants, or attorneys regarding your individual circumstances and needs. No advice may be rendered by Sherman Wealth unless a client service agreement is in place.

I’m New Here

Canva – Looking Ahead Time Clock Forecasting Prediction Future

Our summer intern turned part-time associate Dan McKenna wrote a great piece about his experience being new to the biz that I thought was worth sharing.

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I’m new here.  

The best word I can think of for explaining the experience of being a freshly-graduated analyst entering this market is… baffling.  Every week I read the news that markets are hitting new all time highs, that we have shaken off the effects of the global financial crisis and that excellent Q2 earnings reports are the catalyst that will push stocks higher.  There is almost a weekly reminder that markets do not die from old age.  Yesterday, the Dow climbed back above 22000 as investor fears retreated.

On the other hand, every week I also read articles from investors screaming that the end is near, markets cannot possibly keep up with their current pace, P/E ratios are outlandish and we need to be paring back risk.  For example, a month ago, the co-founder and chief executive officer of DoubleLine Capital LP, Jeffrey Gundlach, said that risky assets are overvalued and that investors should be “moving toward the exits.”  Since then, markets have pushed even higher.

No wonder the average client is looking to their advisor with a look of complete confusion and truthfully, a fair amount of fear.  In times like these, the words of my graduate-school mentor (one of the most brilliant finance professionals I know) often ring in my ears.  He always reminded me of a piece of wisdom I want to share with you:

Nobody knows anything in this field.

By that he means… nobody knows for certain what is going to happen.  If we truly did know the future, we’d never have to work again.  We could all leverage up, pick the winners, and make so much money our eyes would glaze over.  But we don’t know the future.  That’s why we spend so much time crafting diversified portfolios and picking the right amount of risk for each individual’s unique tolerance.  Face it: you’re probably not going to achieve your daydream of being the protagonist of The Big Short who calls the financial crisis before it happens.

We have to understand that the difference of opinion is what makes a market exist.  Don’t forget that there is an incremental seller for each and every buyer in the market.  Right when you’re convinced to buy a security, someone else is convinced to sell.  That is just how it works.  

The simplest thing to do is to remain calm and stick to your plan.  At Sherman Wealth Management, we use broad-based financial planning that is designed around your unique risk tolerance and your goals.  Unless it directly affects your financial plan, ignore the noise in the markets and that nagging voice in the back of your mind that screams sell every time you read a negative piece of news.  

I might be new here, but I can predict the future just as well as the next guy.  

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The views expressed in this blog post are as of the date of the posting, and are subject to change based on market and other conditions. This blog contains certain statements that may be deemed forward-looking statements. Please note that any such statements are not guarantees of any future performance and actual results or developments may differ materially from those projected.
Please note that nothing in this blog post should be construed as an offer to sell or the solicitation of an offer to purchase an interest in any security or separate account. Nothing is intended to be, and you should not consider anything to be, investment, accounting, tax or legal advice. If you would like investment, accounting, tax or legal advice, you should consult with your own financial advisors, accountants, or attorneys regarding your individual circumstances and needs. No advice may be rendered by Sherman Wealth unless a client service agreement is in place.

Is Financial Well Being the Key to Emotional Well Being?

financial well being

When you think of your financial advisor or financial plan, how do you feel? Gratified? Anxious? Indifferent? How much would you say your advisor has contributed to your sense of emotional and financial well being?

Most of us probably don’t ask ourselves those questions and yet, according to a 2016 Morningstar study, When More Is Less: Rethinking Financial Health, our sense of well being is an important element to consider when thinking about wealth management and financial planning.

A simple way to look at financial well being is that it’s the ability to:

  1. Fully meet your current and ongoing financial obligations
  2. Feel secure about your financial future
  3. Make choices that allow you to enjoy life

Seen that way, it’s clear how feeling secure financially can contribute to our overall emotional well being as well.

At the same time, not having a sense of overall emotional well being can have a negative, sabotaging effect on our financial well being, via decisions driven by anxiety, fear, insecurity, or some common behavioral biases.

Which comes first, emotional or financial well being?

The short answer is that either can.

While health, family, and friends are the most important things in life, we all know that feeling anxious financially can affect our important relationships. And we know that having a sense of financial well being can give us peace of mind that lets us more fully enjoy the life and relationships we have.

We also know that emotional well being – feeling emotionally secure and supported – can ground us so that we make better, more measured financial decisions. And that emotional distress can lead us to make reckless, impulsive, or biased decisions that can negatively affect achieving a secure and prosperous future.

What kinds of behaviors can derail financial well being?

Behavioral Science researchers have identified many simple yet critical attitudes and biases that can keep us from acting in our own best interest. Unconscious biases that can wreck havoc with financial well being include:

  1. The tendency for investors to react more strongly to negative news than to positive news
  2. Placing more weight – positive or negative – on current news than on the big picture
  3. A “herd mentality” that leads investors to follow the crowd, buying securities at their peak prices as a result

What’s the first step in achieving financial well being?

A good first step towards achieving financial well being is becoming aware of the role that our emotions and biases may be playing in our financial decisions, choices, and habits. Think about your financial choices and some of the last few big financial decisions you made: were there emotions involved, however subtly, that may have influence your choices? A good Financial Advisor, particularly one well versed in Behavioral Finance, can be enormously helpful. “By identifying specific patterns of thought that may sabotage a client’s overall financial health,’” writes Sarah Newcomb, Ph.D., a behavioral scientist for Morningstar, “an advisor can help guide clients into making better financial decisions and increase their satisfaction and peace of mind.”

An added benefit of identifying some of the emotions or biases that may be driving financial decisions: some of my clients have told me that discovering a bias that has affected their financial decisions has lead them to understand other ways that same bias has been affecting their life as well!

Nothing beats a sense of well being, and feeling more secure financially definitely contributes to a greater overall sense of well being and peace of mind. And emotional wellbeing – along with a good financial advisor – can keep you from sabotaging your own progress, and put you back in control and on your way to achieving your financial goals.

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The views expressed in this blog post are as of the date of the posting, and are subject to change based on market and other conditions. This blog contains certain statements that may be deemed forward-looking statements. Please note that any such statements are not guarantees of any future performance and actual results or developments may differ materially from those projected.
Please note that nothing in this blog post should be construed as an offer to sell or the solicitation of an offer to purchase an interest in any security or separate account. Nothing is intended to be, and you should not consider anything to be, investment, accounting, tax or legal advice. If you would like investment, accounting, tax or legal advice, you should consult with your own financial advisors, accountants, or attorneys regarding your individual circumstances and needs. No advice may be rendered by Sherman Wealth unless a client service agreement is in place.

5 More Financial Mistakes to Avoid in Your 20s and 30s

Young Father Building Financial Foundation

You’ve made the commitment to start “adult-ing,” a very important first step. Don’t start to build from the roof down, though: make sure that you’re laying a strong financial foundation.

In our last post we talked about 8 Financial Mistakes to Avoid in Your 20s and 30s. Here are five more money mistakes to watch out for:

1. Going on a Financial Blind Date With Your Significant Other: Not Having the Money Talk First

Talking about money isn’t romantic and can be downright uncomfortable. That’s why many couples go into marriage—a financial partnership—without knowing exactly who they are partnering with. Discussing personal finances, debt, goals, spending patterns and how you make financial decisions with your partner before marriage, or soon thereafter, is critical to your short- and long-term financial health. (For related reading, see: Don’t Let Financial Differences Lead to Divorce.)

2. Living la Vida Loca: Splurging on the Wedding or a Baby

Important milestones like a wedding, a first child or even your first house are exciting and make precious memories that last a lifetime. But be careful not to let them put you in debt or divert you from a financial plan that allows you to make other great memories down the road. Know what you can afford, get creative within your budget, and make sure you’re investing in your partner’s and children’s future as well. The kids won’t mind—or even remember—that you didn’t buy them that top-of-the-line stroller. What they’ll remember is your smile and their favorite red ball. #Priceless

3. Not Buckling Your Seat Belt: Neglecting Insurance

It’s tempting to skimp on insurance once you’ve covered your basic health and homeowner’s policies, but that’s a big mistake many young adults make. Insurance is an uncomfortable topic—and the options can be very confusing—so covering yourself with health, life, car, home, disability and long-term disability insurance often gets put on the back burner. Cover yourself adequately now so that when the unexpected happens, it’s not a financial disaster. (For related reading, see: Introduction to Insurance.)

4. Going for the Gold: Taking a Job for the Pay

While a great offer is always tempting, make sure that any job you take is something that will advance you in the direction you want to go. Don’t take a job just because the money is great, although that’s important too. If you do, you could get stuck in a job you don’t love with nowhere to go. Take a job that is going to move you closer to the job you want—and the even-higher salary you want—in a couple of years.

5. Putting Too Many Eggs in the Wrong Basket: Not Prioritizing Savings

Maxing out your 401(k) or IRA is smart, but don’t forget to save for other major purchases that may be coming up sooner than you think, like buying a new home, having children, or continuing your education. Multiple savings accounts can be a great way to keep your eye on multiple baskets! Be careful, too, not to prioritize your children’s education over saving for your own retirement. Student loans are less expensive than the kind of loans your kids would have to take out to support you if you haven’t set enough savings aside to support your own retirement.

Enjoy this special time, living your life to the fullest. If you make sure you’re also making smart financial choices, you’ll really enjoy your 20s and 30s, knowing that you’re building a solid future.

 

The views expressed in this blog post are as of the date of the posting, and are subject to change based on market and other conditions. This blog contains certain statements that may be deemed forward-looking statements. Please note that any such statements are not guarantees of any future performance and actual results or developments may differ materially from those projected.
Please note that nothing in this blog post should be construed as an offer to sell or the solicitation of an offer to purchase an interest in any security or separate account. Nothing is intended to be, and you should not consider anything to be, investment, accounting, tax or legal advice. If you would like investment, accounting, tax or legal advice, you should consult with your own financial advisors, accountants, or attorneys regarding your individual circumstances and needs. No advice may be rendered by Sherman Wealth unless a client service agreement is in place.
If you have any questions, please Contact Us.

 

8 Financial Mistakes to Avoid in Your 20s and 30s

8 financial mistakes to avoid in your 20s and 30s

Your 20s and 30s are an exciting time. You’re starting to build the life you envision for yourself, or perhaps you’re still seeking out new experiences to learn more about yourself and your goals.

These are years when we expect to learn and grow by exploring jobs and careers, cultural experiences, social experiences and other educational opportunities. But too many of us forget to explore and master one of the most critical parts of building the future we want: financial literacy and financial planning.

The result is that many people enjoy their 20s and make important life changes in their 30s (or vice versa) without understanding how best to support their career and personal goals with a rock-solid financial plan. You could end up flying high, but forget to build a safety net!

Here are some key mistakes to avoid as you’re getting started:

1. Letting the Chips Fall Where They May: No Budget

A first job—or second, or third—is a great feeling. You’re earning money and it’s yours to spend. And too often, we spend it until it’s gone. While a budget may sound restrictive, it actually gives you more freedom because it keeps you from overspending in areas you don’t care about so you have the money you need for what’s important. A budget helps you understand where to splurge—on quality that lasts longer, for instance—and where it’s best to economize, such as buying a used car instead of a new one.

2. Keeping Too Low of a Profile: No Credit Rating

Many people just starting out have low credit ratings, or worse, no credit rating at all (if you’ve always used your parents credit cards, for instance). With a low credit score, your costs will be higher for things like insurance, car financing and mortgage rates. Building good credit now, by getting your own credit card and paying it diligently, or even getting a credit-building loan, will establish a good rating that will help you down the road.

3. Putting It off Until Tomorrow: Living on Credit Cards

Credit cards can be a godsend, particularly the ones with loyalty points. But those points pale in value beside the damage that finance charges can do. Do treat your credit cards like a smart way to keep track of your spending, but don’t spend more than you actually have. Paying credit cards off in full each month not only keeps you within your budget and keeps you from accruing finance charges, it also helps you build a great credit rating for when you do need to borrow money. (For related reading, see: 10 Reasons to Use Your Credit Card.)

4. Living on Perks Instead of Salary: Not Paying Yourself First

We’ve all been to that job interview where they say that the salary is low but they have a great exercise room, volleyball team and popcorn machine. That popcorn won’t pay the rent and it won’t pay a down payment when you find that great condo. Create a savings plan and pay yourself first before you splurge on lifestyle perks like vacations and expensive shoes. That plan should include saving for short-term goals, saving for an emergency fund, and starting to save for retirement. While retirement may seem a long way off, the earlier you start, the more you harness the power of compound interest. Make sure your budget includes saving and contributing, on a regular basis no matter how small the amount, to an IRA or 401(k) before you start spending.

5. Living on the Edge: No Emergency Fund

While it’s hard to imagine needing emergency funds when you’re young and just starting out, you never know what the future can bring. Crises like Hurricane Sandy and the 2008 crash left a lot of people struggling without a safety net, but even something as simple as a pet’s sudden illness can present a huge challenge when you’re on a tight budget. Try to start contributing to an emergency fund that you keep in highly liquid funds for when the unexpected happens. (For related reading, see: Building an Emergency Fund.)

6. Playing the Odds: No Health Insurance

Many young people who are in peak health think that they can skip—or skimp—on health insurance. While you may indeed be fit and healthy, that doesn’t protect you from potential sports injuries, appendicitis, bouts with the flu or—perish the thought—a car accident. High medical bills are the biggest cause of personal bankruptcy. Get the best coverage you can afford: you’ll be amazed how quickly it pays for itself.

7. Going With the Flow: Not Setting Financial Goals

“If you do not change direction, you may end up where you’re heading,” goes the famous quote attributed to Lao Tzu. That means it’s a good idea to think about where you’d like to be—in a year, in five years, in 20 years—and make sure that’s the path you’re on. Simple goals like “I want to save $20.00 a week,” or more elaborate ones, like “I’d like to work for myself from a house on the beach,” all begin with awareness and taking the first small steps. Set a few goals; you can always change them later, but if you don’t, you’re drifting without being mindful of where the currents are taking you.

8. Taking Your Eye off the Ball: Using a Non-Fiduciary Advisor or Commission-Based Investment Site

It’s never too late to become financially literate. The internet is full of great tips (like these) and sites that can help you organize your finances, and it provides access to a range of advisories. Having a financial advisor guide you is an excellent idea but blindly trusting just anyone can be dangerous. Many non-fiduciary advisors are compensated by the financial products they recommend, products that may not be the best ones for you. Make sure the advisor you consult is a fiduciary, i.e. someone who is legally obligated to only recommend options that are in your best interest.

Be sure to check out our next post: 5 More Financial Mistakes to Avoid. You’ll enjoy your 20s and 30s even more knowing that you’re also building a solid future.

The views expressed in this blog post are as of the date of the posting, and are subject to change based on market and other conditions. This blog contains certain statements that may be deemed forward-looking statements. Please note that any such statements are not guarantees of any future performance and actual results or developments may differ materially from those projected.
Please note that nothing in this blog post should be construed as an offer to sell or the solicitation of an offer to purchase an interest in any security or separate account. Nothing is intended to be, and you should not consider anything to be, investment, accounting, tax or legal advice. If you would like investment, accounting, tax or legal advice, you should consult with your own financial advisors, accountants, or attorneys regarding your individual circumstances and needs. No advice may be rendered by Sherman Wealth unless a client service agreement is in place.
If you have any questions, please Contact Us.

Your Financial Plan Depends on More Than Your Age

financial plan

Your Financial Plan

We live in a time of great personal freedom when we have the opportunity to choose our own life goals and paths.

While it’s true that very few 26-year-olds are likely to be retiring, you might be that lucky one who just sold an app to Facebook and is considering philanthropy. While most people start families in their 20s or 30s, you might be that 40-year-old who’s just about to adopt a first child. And while most 60-year-olds have hopefully accumulated some retirement savings, you might be that entrepreneurial baby boomer who is moving to Detroit to launch a startup or open a coffee bar.

In spite of this brave, and exciting, new world of personal choices, what’s the first question a financial advisor or online financial site generally asks you? Chances are it’s your age. Then that answer determines the next question, and the next.

Too many financial planners and investment sites, unfortunately, use age to make assumptions that then dictate investment recommendations.

The internet, too, is filled with articles like “Financial Planning Tips Every 30-year-old should know” and “The best financial goals for every age.” There are books and studies that break your life down into age-based phases like “early career phase” and “peak accumulation phase” then make generalization based on those neat buckets.

What’s more important than age?

We’re all individuals, with different dreams, goals, and life situations and when it comes to financial planning, age is not as important as it used to be.

Your goals and your risk tolerance should be the factors to consider first in devising a personalized financial plan or investment plan that works for you.

Is your primary goal buying a house, is it wealth creation for early retirement, is it having income so you can bike around the world for a year? Those answers are more important than the fact that you are 32.

Does a volatile stock market make you anxious? Do you prefer slow and steady to winner takes all? While it’s generally assumed that young people can afford greater risk and volatility because they have time on their side, you may be that 24 year old that wants or needs to preserve savings first and foremost.

Goals differ and investment always involves a certain amount of risk. That’s why a fee-only fiduciary financial advisor works with each client individually to manage goals and risk in a way that works for them. It is vital for success to determine the level of risk each client can afford to take, how much risk is necessary to help them achieve their personal goals, and how much risk and volatility they can comfortably live with emotionally.

You Are Unique

Each of us is unique and that means that no two people will have the exact same goals + risk profile, in spite of being the same age. Yes, living off retirement savings is different than living off a first salary, but the amount may be the same. And paying off student loans is really not all that different from paying off a mortgage.

What’s important is that you find a good fee-only fiduciary financial advisor who looks beyond pre-programmed, one-size-fits all recommendations for 20-30 year-olds or 60+ year-olds and focuses to your goals, your risk preferences, and your uniqueness to create a personalized plan that works for you and evolves as you evolve, not one designed for an entire generation.

 

This article was originally published on Investopedia.com

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The views expressed in this blog post are as of the date of the posting, and are subject to change based on market and other conditions. This blog contains certain statements that may be deemed forward-looking statements. Please note that any such statements are not guarantees of any future performance and actual results or developments may differ materially from those projected.
Please note that nothing in this blog post should be construed as an offer to sell or the solicitation of an offer to purchase an interest in any security or separate account. Nothing is intended to be, and you should not consider anything to be, investment, accounting, tax or legal advice. If you would like investment, accounting, tax or legal advice, you should consult with your own financial advisors, accountants, or attorneys regarding your individual circumstances and needs. No advice may be rendered by Sherman Wealth unless a client service agreement is in place.
If you have any questions regarding this Blog Post, please Contact Us.

 

 

 

 

The Problem with “Buy Low, Sell High” Advice

Buy Low Sell High

Of the many common sayings in the finance industry, the most popular is undoubtedly “buy low and sell high.” While it sounds simple enough, it’s actually significantly more complex than it seems.

Not Following the Herd

Buying low comes from an investment philosophy known as value investing. The basic concept of value investing is to buy investment instruments when they are “on sale.” That means buying when everyone else is selling (and prices are down) and vice versa. A bargain-hunting value investor looks for what they consider to be healthy companies that are – for whatever reason – severely undervalued. A smart value investor buys low, then patiently waits for the “herd” to catch up. Unfortunately, most investors tend to do the exact opposite. We tend to chase trends and follow the herd. (For more, see: Don’t Let Emotions Hinder Your Investing Goals.)

Sounds Easy. So Why is it Hard?

A huge part of smart investing is psychological and this chart illustrates of one of the many psychological roadblocks we have as investors.

We may want to buy low and sell high, but that goes against our instincts and biases. When a stock is falling, we dump it. When a stock is rising, we buy it. We sell a company when the price is falling because we are afraid of losing more money; we buy a stock when it is rising because we have a fear of missing out. To compound the problem, most investors are not experts at realizing when something high or low “enough.”

At times, investing can feel like quicksand: the more you do and the harder you try, the more you sink. It requires effort to overcome the psychological biases that often prevent us from acting in our own best interest. It is human nature, for instance, to continue to make the same mistake over and over again, or to not let go of stocks when we should through either familiarity bias or disposition effect.

Goals and Risk Tolerance

So what can you do to avoid to avoid the pitfalls of trying to buy low and sell high?

  1. Understand your goals and risk tolerance: before you get started investing, it is critically important to understand what it is you are trying to accomplish and how much risk you are comfortable taking. Once you have that figured out, you can create an investment plan that is appropriate for you and comfortable enough to keep you from impulse buying high and panic selling low.
  2. Avoid market timing: instead of trying to time investments perfectly and squeeze every last cent out of each one, focus on building a diversified portfolio of stocks and bonds that give you the greatest chance to succeed over the long term.
  3. Leverage your resources: having a great financial plan and a diversified portfolio is irrelevant if you don’t follow through and stick to it. Becoming self-aware of the pitfalls is a great first step. Having a good financial advisor is a good step too. Just make sure that they are a fee-only fiduciary, so that they have your best interests in mind at all times.

Think about it: if it were easy – if everyone bought low and sold high – there would be no high or low because the market prices would be continually correcting. Bargains do exist and sometimes the wisest choice is to lock in earnings. The safest financial plan for the long run, however, is to understand your goals and risk tolerance, then work to create an investment plan that builds on gains over the long term, rather than continually outguess the market.

(For more, see: Which Investor Personality Best Describes You?)

This article was originally published on Investopedia.com

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The views expressed in this blog post are as of the date of the posting, and are subject to change based on market and other conditions. This blog contains certain statements that may be deemed forward-looking statements. Please note that any such statements are not guarantees of any future performance and actual results or developments may differ materially from those projected.
Please note that nothing in this blog post should be construed as an offer to sell or the solicitation of an offer to purchase an interest in any security or separate account. Nothing is intended to be, and you should not consider anything to be, investment, accounting, tax or legal advice. If you would like investment, accounting, tax or legal advice, you should consult with your own financial advisors, accountants, or attorneys regarding your individual circumstances and needs. No advice may be rendered by Sherman Wealth unless a client service agreement is in place.
If you have any questions, please Contact Us.

Election Volatility Had You Spooked? Think of Your Goals

election volatility

Were you keeping an anxious eye on your investment accounts leading up to last nights’ election? Are you relieved they seem to be climbing again?

In spite of the plunge in the futures market last night as it became apparent that Donald Trump would beat favored Hillary Clinton to become America’s 45th President, much of the market has now climbed back even higher than it was yesterday and are close to their all time highs.

That’s important to note for several reasons.

As our friend Josh Brown put it, “it starts with understanding why you’re investing in the first place—a detailed financial plan with hard objectives and goals.” To do that, we work with our clients to focus on short-, medium- and long-term goals so that you can understand what your time frame is and what is needed to achieve it.

The short-term nature of much of the volatility that characterizes the markets is exactly why dollar-cost averaging is such a smart way to invest. If you stick to a plan of investing in new shares on a regular basis—no matter what the current cost is—you will be buying during dips as well as peaks.

The volatility we’re experiencing now—similar to the volatility we experienced earlier in the year during “brexit“—are also great litmus tests to determine whether you have a properly diversified portfolio and whether or not it’s an accurate match for your risk tolerance.

If you know your true risk tolerance and have already planned effectively, you’ll have a balanced portfolio that contains the right balance of stocks and other less volatile instruments before volatility sets in. With a fully diversified asset allocation strategy, there will be parts of your portfolio that go up, as well as other parts that go down, during times of stress. That way you’ll be comfortable sticking to your investment strategy and plan through peaks and dips. Not only that, but you will have purchased those less volatile instruments before pundits start shouting and everyone starts panic-purchasing, driving the costs up. (For more from Brad Sherman, see: Don’t Let Emotions Hinder Your Investing Goals.)

Volatility is what makes the stock market the stock market.

The one thing that is certain about the markets is that there will always be volatility and uncertainty.

Even if we are currently experiencing a bit more than just normal market volatility, remember that the markets have historically rebounded extremely well after corrections (drops of at least 10%).

If current market conditions or any paper losses you may be experiencing are making you feel uncomfortable—or keeping you up at night—please give me a call and let’s talk about re-allocating your assets

If not, just remember that dollar-cost averaging is a great long term strategy for your investments.

 

This article was originally published on Investopedia.com

***

The views expressed in this blog post are as of the date of the posting, and are subject to change based on market and other conditions. This blog contains certain statements that may be deemed forward-looking statements. Please note that any such statements are not guarantees of any future performance and actual results or developments may differ materially from those projected.
Please note that nothing in this blog post should be construed as an offer to sell or the solicitation of an offer to purchase an interest in any security or separate account. Nothing is intended to be, and you should not consider anything to be, investment, accounting, tax or legal advice. If you would like investment, accounting, tax or legal advice, you should consult with your own financial advisors, accountants, or attorneys regarding your individual circumstances and needs. No advice may be rendered by Sherman Wealth unless a client service agreement is in place.
If you have any questions regarding this Blog Post, please Contact Us.