Viewpoint

 


 


Year End 2017 - November 2017
The leaves were reluctant to reveal their fiery shades of orange and red this year. Our clocks are turning back and Christmas decorations are popping up at your favorite shops.  For us - and for you as well - it is a reminder of the year-end planning that lies ahead. We ask that you review this correspondence fully.
 

The Insanity of Entitlement - November 2017
When the British surrendered to General George Washington’s Continental Army at Yorktown in 1781, common lore has it that the British army band played the popular dirge “The World Turned Upside Down.” The idea that America’s ragtag, barely paid army - which had been defeated in battle time and time again - would prevail shocked the British and the world. Though the Revolutionary War would not officially end until 1783, global assumptions about the invincibility of the British Empire had been turned upside down. Even a cursory glance at recent headlines offers a warning that the United States economy is facing another ‘world turned upside down’ crossroads but the conflict is less defined and cleverly disguised by denial.


Equifax Security Breach, Cybersecurity, and Special Practice Update Conference Call - October 2017
A replay of our conference call hosted on October 26, 2017 with special guest Attorney J.P. Harris.
 

Cybersecurity and Elder Fraud Resources - October 2017
As a companion posting to The Sedoric Group of Wells Fargo Advisors Equifax Security Breach, Cybersecurity, and Special Practice Update, we have compiled a list of resources in which you can utilize and share. 
 

Educational Reconsideration - October 2017
Among his many talents, founding father Benjamin Franklin had a knack for getting to the core of transcendent issues of his times and remarkably ours too. The self-taught Franklin became a success because he understood rightly in the 18th Century that “the only thing more expensive than education is ignorance.”
 

Humanities and Finance - September 2017
When President Richard Nixon became the first American president to visit Communist China in 1972, the diplomatic gathering may have produced one of the best quotes ever by Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai on a historical perspective. When asked of his thoughts about the impact of the 1789 French Revolution, Zhou said “It’s too early to say”.
 

The Value of Asset Allocation - 2017 Mid-Year Update
Asset Class updates through July 31, 2017.
 

Who Doesn't Want Success? - August 2017
There is adequate anecdotal and scientific data suggesting bull markets breed foolish investor behavior. What makes this bull market a particularly interesting beast is that with each passing uptick and “new high”, the markets become more disconnected from economic fundamentals.
 

How Much Can One Kid Cost? - July 2017
A decade or two ago it would have been inconceivable for Americans to consider their family size as an economic decision. Even bringing it up now seems slightly un-American. No matter what the family size was during the unprecedented post-World War II economic boom, it felt that standards of living would continue to rise and rise.  For many, that model has now been reduced to a nostalgic mirage.


Corrections Playbook - June 2017
Market prognosticators love to predict what stock markets will do. We contend that we have no idea - nor does anyone else. When it comes to stock market corrections, planning ahead is far better than reacting. Understanding the anatomy of stock market corrections plays a key role in making good decisions when in the middle of one.  
 

Will the Can Kick Back? - May 2017
Regular readers know that we are not shy about tackling controversial issues that impact both our clients and the larger society. The very real and potential generational battle about the future is one deserving of thoughtful consideration and discussion.  This subtle clash is in the form of an inter-generational conflict between baby boomers and their successor generations, a battle that does not (so far) attract daily headlines.  This potential for conflict is nonetheless real and consequential. 
 

Client Recognition Program - April 2017
A number of years ago our team began discussions on how societal pressures often stand in-between the expressed goals of our clients and the daily decisions they may make. Our consumer-driven economy often rewards splash over pluck, and saving for a future goal is often delayed with one shiny object after another – providing myriad distractions along the way. Societal stimulations are now so extreme that being prudent, disciplined, and goal oriented can feel isolating at times. In an effort to “change the conversation”, we put together a proprietary analytical tool to help identify the characteristics and traits of successful plans and the clients that adopt them.
 

Hindsight- 30 Years of Lessons - March 2017
Just because someone is “smart” does not mean they are wise. You must actually learn from the past to develop wisdom. “Hindsight is 20-20,” but looking back is still not perfect and it never will be. You can look backward and note what you “should” have done differently, but there are an infinite number of variables that can affect each outcome. Learn from your experiences while always looking forward.
 

Critical Thinking - March 2017
The myriad choices we make over a lifetime regarding our finances, education, health, family, social life, and career often have a cumulative and profound impact on our financial security and our ability to enjoy the fruits of our labor. In an era of uncertain, and likely lower, financial returns and renewed political risk throughout the western world, it’s vitally important to recognize how economic, political, environmental, and social policies have a much greater impact on our lives than ever before.
 

Is Your House an Asset or Not? - February 2017
Just as we have questioned the true value and cost of higher education in an era of increasing student loan debt (and stagnating wages), how we handle the questions of where to live and how much to spend on housing should also come under scrutiny.  
 

To Insure or Not - That is the Question - February 2017
A key aspect of our job is to expose financial risks that may be overlooked. When we save and invest for retirement or buy insurance to protect our family or assets, we are often and perhaps wisely hedging our bets against an uncertain future.  We have learned that insurance – how much at what cost – often baffles the public and even our clients.  And full disclosure; we do not sell insurance of any sort. 
 

The Active or Passive Management Debate - January 2017
After almost 8 years in a U.S. bull market, there seems to be an incessant drumbeat for passive investment strategies by both institutional and individual investors alike. The ongoing debate around active vs. passive management stems from the fact that on average, the majority of active investment strategies have struggled to outperform their low-cost passive counterparts. Because of this, many active managers are struggling to justify their expense - and with future returns expected to moderate, this is an issue that remains directly in the cross hairs. 
 

2017 Stakeholder Report - January 2017
We embrace the year ahead and prepare this annual stakeholder report for those that are extended members of our family. In preparing to put fingers to keyboard, it is always helpful to reflect back on prior client missives over the better part of the last decade. We’ve communicated countless times on market volatility, the importance of leaving less to chance, taxes, the influence of central bankers, and geopolitics. We’ve also shared stories with you regarding the growth of our practice and team, and the new process pieces we’re always putting in place to help ensure that our clients achieve the financial security they desire.
 

The Educational Dilemma - December 2016
Does spending $120,000 or more at the age of 18 without a committed and viable career path realistically prepare our young adults for the evolving demands of a modern workforce and the financial realities of today? Or, would it make more sense to utilize high quality lesser expensive programs for foundational learning (prerequisites, trade, or certificate) before spending top dollar in pursuit of a specialized career or highly regarded diploma.  It’s also common for two year programs to allow matriculation to a four year degree at a much lower cost. At roughly $6,000 per year (in-state), programs like GBCC and others have the potential to save families and students thousands of dollars while simultaneously helping them develop a foundational set of values and skills.  
 

2016 Holiday Thank You - December 2016
We are grateful for the support of our clients that allow us to invest in our community in multiple ways.  Our primary areas of interest and investment relate to civics education and financial literacy to support future engaged, citizens.
 

What is Your Succession Plan? - November 2016
When your plumber who has kept your toilets flushing happily for 25 years says he is retiring, what is your plan?  Demographics and professional transitions have been a topic of discussion on our team over the past few years and should be for your family as well.
 

Donald Trump as President-Elect - November 2016
Now that we know the outcome of this remarkable and unpredictable election, what might it mean for you? Obviously, no one knows for sure, but this could likely be a long-term positive for risk assets in spite of the uncertainty that exists. 
 

Year End 2016 - November 2016
Election fatigue will abate and we pray civil discourse will return as our nation heals and looks to the future after one of the most impassioned elections of a lifetime. In spite of the election rhetoric, 2016 has been a remarkable year for The Sedoric Group, and even more for the evolving needs of the clients we serve.
 

How Clients Communicate - October 2016
Today, everyone has their own unique style of communication, and these various modes can be both a blessing and a curse for the engaged relationship. However, it is a real dilemma when a client chooses to sporadically siphon information using various mediums and neglects to openly and consistently communicate with those they’ve installed as partners in their financial security.
 

Fraud Prevention Conference Call - October 2016
The Sedoric Group has observed more instances of this type of abuse in recent years and has learned that the “ounce of prevention” can help you avoid unnecessary identity theft and other frauds in the future. Mr. Ron Long discussed the dramatic increase in online and elder fraud impacting the investing public and the steps needed to help clients and friends assure their security in a wired world. Mr. Long received his law degree from Georgetown University and was formerly in enforcement with the SEC before joining Wells Fargo Advisors.
 

Getting All of the Details Right - September 2016
Imagine this scenario:   A client has a number of various retirement accounts that have grown over decades of work. The client has divorced and remarried.   Years later, her first husband passes away for any number of reasons (a busy life and career to name a few), yet remains the beneficiary of an account worth more than a half-million dollars for several years after his death. We were recently faced with this very issue while onboarding a new client into our practice. The client was stunned by the oversight, and immediately changed the beneficiary to her current husband after seeking legal counsel at our suggestion.
 

Coaching Millennials - August 2016
As we age, it is not uncommon to reflect on our successes and failures throughout our life – those involving our family, our careers, and even our financial decisions.  Have we met our goals, or fallen short? Of course, nobody wakes up in the morning and declares ‘today is the day I’m going to ruin my retirement,’ yet we see it more often than we should. Why does this happen? As many find out too late, the decisions that we make while we’re young have lasting implications and often mean the difference between financial distress and financial well-being in our later years.
 

Learning from Experience - July 2016
Just recently, we came across a powerful quote belonging to John Dewey, the great American education reformer, who stated: “we don’t learn from experience, we learn from reflecting on experience.” The idea struck a chord because it’s one the fundamental pillars of our practice, and a key philosophy in our process to help clients prepare for the future.
 

Low Rates and Complacency - June 2016
Expectations can be a funny beast. When I was in college and then early in my career in the 1970s, my father and his friends felt ‘terrible’ about the world being handed to my generation. It was the end of the Vietnam War and for the first time an American President had resigned. There was skyrocketing inflation and soaring interest rates (also known by that dreaded term of stagflation), and the post-World War II era of cheap oil that helped fuel historical levels of economic growth was over. Overall market returns in the 1970’s were dismal, at best. Yet, as the Broadway song famously said, “it’s not where you start, it’s where you finish.” 
 

2016 Mid-Year Outlook - June 2016
We've been through a lot in the first half of 2016. We began January with the worst start to a calendar year in history for domestic equities. Concerns about China's growth rate, slowing U.S. growth, and a new downturn in oil prices had many questioning the viability of the recovery and an aging bull market.
 

Sequence Matters - May 2016
Of all the tools at the disposal of investors, few people recognize the financial significance of sequencing. Sequencing has the potential to add great value, but when ignored can be a devastating mistake for those seeking financial security and independence. In fact, when it comes to financial decisions, proper sequencing is as important as the benign task of putting socks on before tying your shoes. – to complete this exercise in any other order would seem illogical to most. 
 

Are you Ready for Rising Taxes? - May 2016
With another tax season in the rear view mirror, the last thing most people want to think about is tax planning. But here’s the honest truth: wise tax planning is a life-long activity and pays untold and tangible benefits when properly attended to. In more than three decades of working with clients, we have found that year-round diligent tax planning offers multiple teaching opportunities as to how we might best handle our assets and create maximum financial flexibility.
 

Let's be Clear - Planning is Everything - March 2016
What does planning-dependent mean? First, it requires a sense of clarity about expectations, opportunities, risks, weaknesses and sequence.  Whether it’s at the beginning phase of accumulating your first nest egg or later on in the process, it is critical to know why you are investing before considering what you should actually invest in. We like to think we are in control of our destinies, but in reality none of us control markets, interest rates, currency flows, or much that makes up the global macroeconomic picture puzzle.
 

You're Only Human Part II - February 2016
As an investor, it would be natural if you’ve started to question the proposed benefits of diversification – why not just put all your money in the market that did best last year?  It’s a reasonable question based on recent results, but in the long run, not a prudent strategy for those looking to meet their goals. Below are a few reminders as to why diversification is not just important, but can be vital in maintaining a healthy investment portfolio.
 

Lunch with Paul Volcker - January 2016
Recently, I had the pleasure of an extended lunch with one of my all-time heroes, Paul Volcker, former Fed Chairman (1979-1987) and the first Chair of the Economic Recovery Advisory Board (2009-2011). I was curious to learn and discuss his opinion on many economic and political topics, but in particular how the Volcker Rule has played out as part of the larger Dodd-Frank financial reform legislation.
 

2016 Stakeholder Report - January 2016
Our team appreciates the opportunity to send you our annual Stakeholder Report because we know knowledge is power.  We often refer to the now famous perspective of the legendary Sy Syms who, like us, believes “an educated consumer is our best customer”. We value the time you invest in reading these important periodic updates.  We strive to provide content that is meaningful, actionable and concise.
 

The Era of Coflation - January 2016
Historians will likely look back at this post-2009 period as one of coflation. A caveat is worthy here because if you haven’t heard of this, you aren’t alone. It is a new concept first mentioned in 2010, and expanded upon in our practice over the past 5 years.  It helps us explain to clients what is happening today at both macro and micro levels.


Tax Alpha Across the Generations - January 2016
Tax efficient planning may help determine which type of account is most suitable for the stock-heavy portion of a portfolio; it may help someone decide to strategically pay taxes early in the form of a Roth conversion so they have tax-free withdrawals down the road. Or, whether to suspend contributions within a traditional 401k if there is a likelihood of paying higher future income tax rates.