March 2018

Your Relationship with Your Phone – All Egos Aside Please!


“Engaging people is about meeting their needs, not yours”

                          Tony Robbins

by Carol Duschinsky

Have you ever sat in a meeting or at lunch with a friend and instead of getting their full attention it is distracted attention – quick looks at the cell phone, or “I need to take this call”, just when you are on a roll? What is the message given? “Everything else is more important”.

“I am more important”.

Or have you ever observed a parent watching their children play, or walking them in their baby carriage – parent intent on their cell phone rather than engaging with their children. How sad for both.

I would venture to say we have all been guilty of these habits without even realizing the message we are delivering. The phone has become another appendage. But in truth, it is really an object – just equipment. It should not be our point of focus most of our awake time.  So, how do we break this habit – how do we “break-up” with our phone?

Client Questions on Recent Volatility

Our office has received a few queries from nervous clients regarding the recent ups and downs the market has taken. The main concern expressed is “is this normal?” or “is this an indicator?”.  The U.S. Wealth of California client base is quite diverse, varying ages, varying professions and most relevant varying degrees of investment experience. We just want each of you to know that we are here to answer all concerns or needed clarity. We understand how important your investments are to you. Since we are experiencing recent volatility we thought it would be helpful to address the volatility the market is displaying.

First, historically speaking, volatility is a characteristic of healthy, functioning markets. Markets have periods of rise, periods of adjustment, and periods of falling. What causes these reactions are many factors. Employment, wage growth, inflation, interest rates, just to name a few. And then there are the abstract reasons, news media, public speculation, political changes, elections etc. The abstract reasons are more reactionary volatility than foundational. So, if we accept that volatility is normal in a healthy market we have answered the first client question.

Risk Tolerance Probably Isn’t What You Think

                                  “Risk comes from not knowing what you’re doing”

                                                           Warren Buffet

by Michael Velazquez

This was the title of a Wall Street Journal article from several months ago. Whether you invest on your own or are our client, this is a simple but really important point: you need to understand the relationship of risk to how your assets are managed. A little story for background first.

I still cringe from my first real investing experience I had as a customer, when I was much younger. I had received a bonus from my employer at the time and decided I should get help to invest some of it. I walked into a financial services office and told the receptionist proudly that I had a whopping $10,000.00 to invest. Since it was a lot of money for me then, I had thought surely every broker in that office would be tripping over themselves to work with me. Instead, I got one of the youngest people in their office who proceeded to ask me “what kind of investor are you”? After reading the confusion on my face, he struggled to find the words to explain what he meant. In hindsight, I had no clue what he was trying to tell me, so I accepted the biggest potential for gains, without respect for downside risk. I traded on margin, I was doing options of all kinds, and for a few months I did very well. It didn’t matter, because shortly thereafter was what became known as Black Monday. Worldwide, markets reacted to program trading and a few days later I cashed in about 25% of what I started with. Lesson learned. Nowadays, as an investor and advisor, I have a lot more respect for risk because I understand its repercussions.

What to Do After a Strong 2017? Rebalance

As appeared in Independent Investor – February 2018

By now, you have probably received year-end statements   for your investment accounts and retirement plan. If your investments include a large share of stocks or stock funds, the news was probably good. In fact, 2017 was a banner year   for stocks in general. The S&P 500 increased by 19% for the year, the Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 25%, and    the NASDAQ Composite increased an impressive 28%.  Growth and value stocks both did well, while large, mid, and small cap indices all saw double-digit gains.1

This strong performance adds to an already solid bull run — the second longest in history. From the start of 2009 to the end of 2017, the Dow Jones Industrial Average increased approximately 180%, the S&P 500 almost 196%, and the NASDAQ Composite an impressive 338%.2

Market analysts are at odds as to where the market will go from here. But they do agree on one thing: such a run-up is likely to leave many a portfolio heavily weighted in stocks.  For many, it could be a good time to rebalance.