7 Things to Do During a Quarantine

The Coronavirus is spreading. Countries and cities are in lockdown. Our government and businesses are encouraging their employees to work from home, and senior citizens are advised not to leave their houses. It’s a dark and dire time for the global community, so how can you make the best of a bad situation? Here are seven ideas.

  • Go for a hike with your family and enjoy the great outdoors. You can explore new trails in your city while keeping a safe distance from others. My family and I hike our neighborhood trail with our dog Cricket. We put a bear bell on her to let the snakes and other creatures know we’re coming. The bell also helps us locate her because she’s a lab with a mind of her own. After being cooped up in our house, it’s nice to go outside and enjoy Mother Nature.
  • Read a book. It’s an excellent time to turn off your TV because there is nothing but bad news on the airwaves and there are no sports to watch. Here are a few of my favorite books: The Fountain Head, The Hunt for Red October, Jurassic Park, The Old Man and The Sea, Catch-22, American Rust, Atlas Shrugged, The Firm, Treasure Island, Oil!, The Invisible Man, The Adventures of Huckleberry Fin, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, The Count of Monte Cristo, The Once and Future King, Lone Survivor, Amateur’s, The Worst Hard Time, The Right Stuff, Moneyball, Into Thin Air, The Perfect Storm, The Grapes of Wrath, East of Eden, For Whom the Bell Tolls, To Have and Have Not, and The Hobbit.
  • Play a game. As a family, we’ve played board games for years. When my daughter was younger, most of the games involved horses like Herd Your Horses or Horse Show. We now play Catan, Ticket to Ride, Hive, Monopoly, Uno, or Mexican Train.
  • Learn a new hobby. You can access hundreds of thousands of free platforms online to learn a new language or skill from the comfort of your home. Numerous universities are offering free online courses because of the crisis. I’m learning to play the guitar. I’m horrible, but I’m having fun.
  • Fix up your home. Have you been waiting to paint a room, clean your garage, or wash your windows? With time on your hand, you can now tackle your growing to-do list. My daughter and I are going to build two vegetable boxes and a border for our rose garden.
  • Write a letter to a friend or family member. A handwritten note is a novelty, so spread some cheer with your penmanship.
  • Read the Bible. The Bible has about 365 verses on fear or worry, one for each day. Proverbs is a great place to find wisdom, and it has 31 chapters in Proverbs, one for each day. Psalms, Romans, Hebrews, Galatians, Song of Songs, Ephesians, Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, and the other 56 books are worth a read.

When I was growing up, I played baseball. During one game, while playing left field, a left-handed batter hit a line drive toward me, and because a left-handed batter hit it, it had a wicked slice. It was spinning away from me, and it was too late for me to adjust my path. It got past me and rolled to the fence. We lost the game; I burst into tears, and I thought my life was over. However, it wasn’t the end of the world. My dad, who is left-handed, spent hours hitting me fly balls, and I turned my weakness into a strength.

The world is not going to end tomorrow, and we will live to see another day. Don’t let the weight of the world keep you down. We will defeat the virus. Be strong and keep the faith!

The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling together; and a little child will lead them. ~ Isaiah 11:6

March 19, 2020

Bill Parrott, CFP®, is the President and CEO of Parrott Wealth Management located in Austin, Texas. Parrott Wealth Management is a fee-only, fiduciary, registered investment advisor firm. Our goal is to remove complexity, confusion, and worry from the investment and financial planning process so our clients can pursue a life of purpose. Our firm does not have an asset or fee minimum, and we work with anybody who needs financial help regardless of age, income, or asset level. PWM’s custodian is TD Ameritrade, and our annual fee starts at .5% of your assets and drops depending on the level of your assets.

Note: Investments are not guaranteed and do involve risk. Your returns may differ from those posted in this blog. PWM is not a tax advisor, nor do we give tax advice. Please consult your tax advisor for items that are specific to your situation. Options involve risk and aren’t suitable for every investor.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Too Late to Sell?

The Dow Jones is down 18.8% for the year, so is it too late to sell? Investors have sold $34 billion in equity mutual funds and $17 billion in bond funds as they seek safety from the rout in global assets.[1] The news is ominous, and the headlines are bleak. Investors are voting with their dollars, and it’s clear they don’t want to own stocks.

In December of 2018, investors sold $133 billion in funds before stocks rose significantly in 2019. In October of 2008, investors liquidated $128 billion in mutual funds, a few months before one of the great bull markets in history.

It’s never too late to sell because stocks can always fall further. William O’Neil, the founder of Investor’s Business Daily, recommends selling your shares if they fall 7% to 8% because a small loss can turn into a big one if you don’t cut your losses. He said, “You don’t want to take a loss, so you wait, and you hope, until your loss gets so large it costs you dearly. This is by far the number one mistake most investors make.” Enron shareholders had the opportunity to sell their shares at $90, or $80, or $70, or $60, or $50, or $40, and so on before it traded to zero. I’m sure investors in Enron would have loved to sell at any price above zero, regardless of their cost basis.

An investor who sold their holdings in August of 1987, avoided the stock market crash on October 19, 1987. If you knew the Oil Embargo of 1973 was coming, you could have sold your stocks in 1972 and avoided a 41% drop in the S&P 500 from 1973 to 1974. If you sold your shares in 2007 before the Great Recession, you missed a 50% drop in the market. Of course, selling before a correction when stocks are at an all-time high is difficult, and predicting the future is impossible.

When stocks are falling, emotions transcend facts. Not many people care that stocks produce superior long-term results when their accounts have lost 20% in a few weeks.

It’s easy to look in the review mirror and say what you would have done, but what should you do today? Should you sell? Here are a few suggestions to help you decide.

  1. If your stocks are keeping you up at night, then sell your shares. If you’re losing sleep, you own too many stocks.
  2. If you need your money in one year or less, do not invest in stocks. My nieces and daughter must use their money to pay for tuition, room, board, and books, so they invested in a money market fund. I don’t need my retirement money for 10 to 15 years, so I’m 75% invested in stocks.
  3. If you’re retiring in the next two or three years, invest in U.S. Treasury Bills to cover three years’ worth of household expenses.
  4. If you don’t have a safety net, sell stocks. A recommended safety net is three to six months of expenses. If your monthly expenses are $10,000, keep $30,000 to $60,000 in cash.
  5. If you have high levels of debt, sell your stock to reduce your obligations – returns are fleeting, expenses are forever.
  6. If you need money to purchase a home, car, boat, plane, or any expensive item, sell your stocks and move the proceeds to cash.
  7. If you’re 100% allocated to stocks, reduce your equity exposure, and sell some of your holdings.
  8. If you know stocks are going to drop 20% tomorrow, sell today.

With the drop in stock prices and interest rates, bonds may be a riskier investment than stocks. The current yield on the 30-Year U.S. Treasury is 1.5%. The ten-year average Is 3.1%, and if rates rise back to the average, bonds will fall by 20%. In 1980, the 30-Year U.S Treasury yield peaked at 15.08%. If rates returned to their all-time highs, bonds would fall 75%![2] The iShares 20+ Year Treasury Bond ETF (TLT) is up 26.3% for the past year, but it fell 10.5% this week as interest rates rebounded from their remarkable lows.

Money market funds and savings accounts offer low rates. The one-month U.S. T-Bill is yielding .33%.  The current inflation rate is 2.33%, so you’re losing 2%, before taxes, to park your money in a safe account. Cash accounts and short-term bonds are not sustainable solutions for creating wealth over time.

The Dow is down 18.7% year-to-date and off 9.8% for the past year. It’s up 30.6% over the past five years, 118% for the past ten years, and 9,390% since 1930.[3] It’s impossible to know what stocks will do tomorrow, but over time they will rise.

My first full year in the investment business was in 1990, and the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 4.25% that year; from June to December, it dropped 21%. I was devastated because every stock I bought plunged in price. However, 30 years later, the Dow is up more than 740%.

Is it too late to sell? If selling your stocks will bring you peace, then sell. However, stocks have always recovered, so make sure you’re selling for the right reasons and not from a position of fear.

Be strong, keep the faith, follow your plan, think long-term and good things will happen.

We have nothing to fear but fear itself. ~ Franklin Delano Roosevelt

March 15, 2020

Bill Parrott, CFP®, is the President and CEO of Parrott Wealth Management located in Austin, Texas. Parrott Wealth Management is a fee-only, fiduciary, registered investment advisor firm. Our goal is to remove complexity, confusion, and worry from the investment and financial planning process so our clients can pursue a life of purpose. Our firm does not have an asset or fee minimum, and we work with anybody who needs financial help regardless of age, income, or asset level. PWM’s custodian is TD Ameritrade, and our annual fee starts at .5% of your assets and drops depending on the level of your assets.

Note: Investments are not guaranteed and do involve risk. Your returns may differ from those posted in this blog. PWM is not a tax advisor, nor do we give tax advice. Please consult your tax advisor for items that are specific to your situation. Options involve risk and aren’t suitable for every investor.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

[1] https://ici.org/research/stats/flows/combined/combined_flows_03_11_20, Website accessed 3/14/2020.

[2] https://www.macrotrends.net/2521/30-year-treasury-bond-rate-yield-chart

[3] YCharts

How to Survive a Stock Market Correction

The Dow Jones Industrial Average was less than 500 points away from touching 30,000 before the Coronaviraus arrived and spooked investors. In less than two weeks, the Dow Jones has fallen almost 13%, and it appears the selling will continue until a vaccine arrives, hopefully soon. As the market climbed higher, bears were calling for a correction and they finally got their wish. Stock market corrections are common, and they occur about every three to five years. A bear market lasts approximately 18 months, while a bull market will run for about eight years.[1]

How can you protect yourself against a bear market attack? Here are a few suggestions.

  1. Don’t panic! A market drop is normal, painful, but normal.
  2. Don’t make any changes to your portfolio during the initial phase of a market correction. Let the market find its footing before you make any significant changes to your investments.
  3. Cash is king. If you have a cash cushion, you’re less likely to make rash decisions regarding your stock holdings. How much cash is enough?  My recommendation is for you to hold three to six months of expenses in cash. If your monthly expenses are $10,000, then your cash account should be $30,000 to $60,000.
  4. Invest in U.S. T-Bills if you’re nearing retirement. A suggested amount is three years’ worth of expenses. If your annual expenses are $100,000, invest $300,000. The safety of T-Bills will allow you to survive a typical correction. If you invested in October 2007, you could have lived off your T-Bills for three years while waiting for the Great Recession to end. The Great Recession lasted from 2007 to 2009, where stocks fell 53%, so your bonds allowed your stocks to recover.
  5. Diversify your assets. A balanced portfolio of stocks, bonds, and cash will help cushion the blow from a market drop. During a market drop, your bonds will perform well.  During the 2008 market selloff, long-term U.S. government bonds rose 25.9%.[2]
  6. Rebalance your portfolio. You will sell appreciated investments to buy depressed ones, or buy low and sell high. If you rebalance your portfolio, you can take advantage of lower stock prices. Rebalancing allows you to keep your risk level and asset allocation in check.
  7. Eliminate your margin balance. A sure way to lose more money than you intended is to use leverage.  If you use margin to buy securities, I would encourage you to eliminate it. The best way to make a bad situation worse is to employ excessive margin in a down market.
  8. Stay invested. The two days following the stock market crash of October 19, 1987, the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 16%. Despite the dramatic drop on Black Monday, the Dow ended 1987 in positive territory, and it has since risen 1,380%, including the recent selloff.[3]
  9. Look for bargains. Is your favorite stock now 25% cheaper? If you’re not sure what to purchase, buy a broad-based index fund.
  10. Think long term. A bear market lasts about 18 months. You may own your investments for years, maybe decades, before you need the money, so think generationally to help you get through the dark days of a market downturn.
  11. Markets recover. The stock market has always recovered! It may take time, but they eventually rebound.
  12. Have fun. The market will go up, down, and sideways long after we’re gone. Instead of worrying about the daily moves in the stock market, get outside, and enjoy your friends, family, and hobbies while you wait for stocks to bounce back.

Stock market corrections come and go. The market is a long-term wealth creation machine occasionally disrupted with short-term pullbacks. If you apply these ideas, you may have an opportunity to benefit from the long-term performance of the stock market.

Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.  ~ Psalm 23:4.

February 27, 2020

Bill Parrott, CFP®, is the President and CEO of Parrott Wealth Management located in Austin, Texas. Parrott Wealth Management is a fee-only, fiduciary, registered investment advisor firm. Our goal is to remove complexity, confusion, and worry from the investment and financial planning process so our clients can pursue a life of purpose. Our firm does not have an asset or fee minimum, and we work with anybody who needs financial help regardless of age, income, or asset level. PWM’s custodian is TD Ameritrade, and our annual fee starts at .5% of your assets and drops depending on the level of your assets.

Note: Investments are not guaranteed and do involve risk. Your returns may differ from those posted in this blog. PWM is not a tax advisor, nor do we give tax advice. Please consult your tax advisor for items that are specific to your situation. Options involve risk and aren’t suitable for every investor.

 

 

[1] https://www.forbes.com/sites/robertlenzner/2015/01/02/bull-markets-last-five-times-longer-than-bear-markets/#12745f772dd5, Robert Lenzer, January 2, 2015, site accessed 3/10/17.

[2] Dimensional Fund Advisors 2016 Matrix Book.

[3] YCharts. DJIA – October 19, 1987 to February 27, 2020.

Are You Emotionally Attached to Your Stocks?

It’s easy to fall in love with a stock, especially if you handpicked it yourself. Over the years, I’ve talked to scores of investors about their favorite stocks, and most prefer to hold on to them forever regardless of allocation or performance. If you’re emotionally attached to a company, try not to overlook several risk factors.

It’s easy to get anchored to your original purchase price. If your stock falls below your purchase price, you might be reluctant to sell it for a loss for fear of admitting you were wrong. Another challenge for investors is when a stock drops below the all-time high. If it hit the high price once, it must do it again. Of course, it doesn’t have to do anything.

Enron traded at an all-time high on August 23, 2000, closing at $90.75 per share. At its peak, Enron’s market-cap was more than $70 billion, and, at the time, it was the 7th largest publicly traded company.[1] Two years later, it would be worthless. As a comparison, Berkshire Hathaway is currently the 7th largest publicly traded company.

Here are a few companies that are currently trading off their all-time highs: IBM peaked at $215 on March 14, 2013. It’s now trading at $135, down 37%. Boeing peaked at $440 on March 1, 2019. It’s currently trading at $339, down 23%. Tesla traded to an all-time high of $385 on September 18, 2017. It’s currently trading at $328, down 15%. Exxon traded at $104.37 on June 28, 2014, and it is now $69.25, down 34%. 3M sold at $258 on January 26, 2018. It’s currently selling for $166, down 36%. These companies may return to their peaks, but in the meantime, they’re a drag on portfolios.

During my career, I’ve found investors fall in love with three types of stocks. The first is a company located in their backyard, the second is a story stock highlighted on TV, and the third is a mega-cap stock.

Locals in California, pick Apple. Oregonians run with Nike, Washingtonians click on Amazon or Microsoft. Texans ooze over Exxon and Tennesseans like the way FedEx delivers. Investors who own homegrown stocks like to hold them forever.

Story stocks get big headlines. Tesla gets a lot of screen time, as do recent IPOs like Uber, Peloton or Beyond Meat. If it’s new, it must be a winner, but not always.

Mega-cap stocks like Apple, Microsoft, Alphabet (Google), Amazon, Facebook, Berkshire Hathaway, Visa, JP Morgan, Walmart, and Procter & Gamble are popular holdings, and, rightfully so. These battleship stocks have stood the test of time and have rewarded shareholders handsomely. Mega-cap stocks also have another benefit to shareholders in that consumers use their products daily.

By investing in homegrown stocks, you might miss opportunities in companies scattered around the globe.  Advantest Corporation is a Japanese company, which is up 148% year-to-date. Fortescue Metals Group in Australia is up 137%. Li Ning Company in China is up 213%, and Hotai Motor in Hong Kong is also turning in a stellar performance, up 108%.

A basket of globally diversified index funds will remove the emotional attachment of investing and give you exposure to thousands of companies. It’s easy to fall in love with Tesla, not so much with a small-cap international index fund. Also, your diversified portfolio will allocate a portion of your assets to bonds, and no one falls in love with a bond fund. However, when the market corrects, you’ll be glad you own a bond fund or two.

A financial plan will also help you with your emotional attachment. A good plan will quantify and prioritize your financial goals. Your plan will also direct your advisor on how best to construct your investment portfolio. Your plan and portfolio will synch to your goals.

Despite the numerous benefits of financial planning, a recent study by Vanguard found, “many advisors are not preparing financial plans for their clients.” Their study found that only 47% of advisors created a formal plan for clients with $100,000 to $1,000,000.[2]

To achieve long-term financial success, create a financial plan, invest in a globally diversified portfolio of mutual funds, and keep your fees low.  If you follow this plan, you might fall in love with your results!

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. ~ 1 Corinthians 13:4-7

 

October 28, 2019

Bill Parrott, CFP®, CKA®, is the President and CEO of Parrott Wealth Management located in Austin, Texas. Parrott Wealth Management is a fee-only, fiduciary, registered investment advisor firm. Our goal is to remove complexity, confusion, and worry from the investment and financial planning process so our clients can pursue a life of purpose. Our firm does not have an asset or fee minimum, and we work with anybody who needs financial help regardless of age, income, or asset level. PWM’s custodian is TD Ameritrade, and our annual fee starts at .5% of your assets and drops depending on the level of your assets.

Note: Investments are not guaranteed and do involve risk. Your returns may differ from those posted in this blog. PWM is not a tax advisor, nor do we give tax advice. Please consult your tax advisor for items that are specific to your situation. Options involve risk and aren’t suitable for every investor.

 

 

 

[1] https://www.begintoinvest.com/enron-stock-chart/, Website accessed on October 23, 2019

[2] The Vanguard Advisor’s Alpha® Guide to Proactive Behavioral Coaching, Donald G. Bennyhoff, November 2018.

Should You Invest in an IPO?

We like shiny new objects. For investors, the object is the initial public offering or IPO. Getting in on the ground floor of a hot offering is a huge draw. A few high-profile private companies are now publicly traded. Companies like UBER, Pinterest, Slack, Lyft, Chewy, Beyond Meat, Levi Strauss, Zoom Video, Smile Direct, and Peloton are now trading publicly. How have they performed?[1]

  • UBER = Down 24%
  • Pinterest = Up 11%
  • Slack = Down 41%
  • Beyond Meat = Up 110%
  • Lyft = Down 47%
  • Zoom Video = Up 28%
  • Chewy = Down 23%
  • Levi Strauss = Down 16%
  • Smile Direct = Down 13%
  • Peloton = Down 7%

According to CNBC, 120 IPOs have come public this year, and 57 are trading down, 48% of the issues are trading in negative territory.[2] Not all IPOs are bad, of course, as Coke, Pepsi, McDonald’s, Starbucks, Home Depot, Costco, Walmart, Amazon, Apple, and Google have performed well over time.

When a company issues shares to the public, the founders and early investors are cashing out. Companies hire investment banks like Goldman Sachs or Morgan Stanley to help sell and market their shares. The banks conduct roadshows to introduce the company to investors and receive indications of interests. If you’re lucky, your broker will give you a few shares of the offering. Once the deal closes, the stock will start trading on the open market where investors who weren’t able to get shares during the offering phase can now purchase the stock.

For Example, the IPO price for Beyond Meat was $25 per share. It started trading at $46 and quickly popped to $72.95 before closing at $65.75. The founders, owners, and early-stage investors were in well before the offering. Investors in the IPO received shares priced at $25. The public was able to buy it between $65.75 and $72.95. On the first day of trading Beyond Meat soared 192%! However, only early stage investors and IPO participants realized this gain. If you bought it at the top, you lost about 10% on the first day.

The IPO market is reeling because of the poor stock performance of Peloton, Uber, Lyft, Slack, and a few other high-profile names. As a result, We Work, and Endeavor Group Holdings canceled their offerings. Endeavor has sited “weak stock market demand” as a reason for suspending their IPO launch.[3] We Work, on the other hand, will be a Harvard Business School case study someday on how not to handle an IPO. Investors grew concerned with the company’s valuation, the CEO, and the lack of profitability. Since We Work announced they’re terminating their IPO, the CEO has stepped down and the company may lay off one-third of their workforce.

Mutual funds and large institutions are significant players in the IPO market, and some are speculating that they may forego investing in IPOs in the future because of the recent poor performance. Don’t hold your breath. Do you remember the Tech-Wreck? From April 2000 to October 2002, the S&P 500 fell 44% because of the extreme valuation in technology stocks, and the feeding frenzy with dot.com IPOs. Investors bid up the prices of Pets.com, eToys, and Webvan only to have them evaporate into thin air a few months later. Despite the disastrous performance of the IPOs in the early 2000s, large institutions are still investing in new offerings.

I worked at Morgan Stanley during the insane days of IPO listings and investors couldn’t wait to buy a new offering regardless of what the company did or where it would price. They didn’t care because their intent was to flip the stock as soon as possible and pocket big money. This strategy worked until it didn’t. Tulip Mania?

Should you invest in IPOs? Most brokerage firms have strict policies on who gets shares. You won’t be able to cherry-pick the best stocks and you’ll be forced to buy both good and bad names. And most allocations to retail investors are small. In a hot IPO like Peloton, you may only receive 25 shares. If you want to participate in this arena, limit your allocation to 3% to 5% of your investment capital.

Shiny objects eventually fade, but speculators will always be attracted to peddlers promising short-term gargantuan gains. If you’re late to the party, you could lose a significant amount of money.

Be careful. Do your homework. Invest wisely.

What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun. ~ Ecclesiastes 1:9

September 27, 2019

Bill Parrott, CFP®, CKA® is the President and CEO of Parrott Wealth Management located in Austin, Texas. Parrott Wealth Management is a fee-only, fiduciary, registered investment advisor firm. Our goal is to remove complexity, confusion, and worry from the investment and financial planning process so our clients can pursue a life of purpose. Our firm does not have an asset or fee minimum, and we work with anybody who needs financial help regardless of age, income, or asset level.

Note: Investments are not guaranteed and do involve risk. Your returns may differ than those posted in this blog. PWM is not a tax advisor, nor do we give tax advice. Please consult your tax advisor for items that are specific to your situation. Options involve risk and aren’t suitable for every investor.

 

 

[1] YCharts

[2] CNBC, Carl Quintanilla Twitter @carlquintanilla, September 26, 2019 @ 10:54

[3] https://www.cnbc.com/2019/09/26/endeavor-pulls-plug-on-ipo-day-before-debut-wsj-reports.html, Riya Bhattacharjee, September 26, 2019

The Crow and the Pitcher

The Crow and the Pitcher is a famous Aesop fable. The crow is thirsty and stumbles across a pitcher of water, but he can’t reach the water because the neck of the pitcher is too narrow. The crow picks up small rocks and pebbles to drop them into the pitcher and raise the water level. His plan works, and he’s able to get his drink.

As investors, we can learn much from the action of the crow. If we invest a little money systematically, it will eventually grow.

Investing $100 per month into Vanguard’s S&P 500 index fund grew substantially over time. Here’s how much the account balance was worth after each decade.[1]

  • 10 years = $23,812.
  • 20 years = $64,815.
  • 30 years = $180,228.
  • 40 years = $673,745.

Ignore the market turbulence, invest always, focus on your long-term goals, and good things will happen.

A bird is three things: feathers, flight and song, and feathers are the least of these. ~ Marjorie Allen Seiffert

August 27, 2019

Bill Parrott, CFP®, CKA® is the President and CEO of Parrott Wealth Management located in Austin, Texas. Parrott Wealth Management is a fee-only, fiduciary, registered investment advisor firm. Our goal is to remove complexity, confusion, and worry from the investment and financial planning process so our clients can pursue a life of purpose. Our firm does not have an asset or fee minimum, and we work with anybody who needs financial help regardless of age, income, or asset level.

Note: Investments are not guaranteed and do involve risk. Your returns may differ than those posted in this blog. PWM is not a tax advisor, nor do we give tax advice. Please consult your tax advisor for items that are specific to your situation. Options involve risk and aren’t suitable for every investor.

 

Illustration credit = Campwillowlake

 

[1] Morningstar Office Hypothetical. VFINX, month end July 31, 2019.

Can I Get A New Toy?

On a recent trip to Target I heard several kids asking their parents if they could buy a toy, a shirt, a game, and so on. The kids were relentless in their pursuit of acquiring something, anything. Their parents were equally relentless in the denial of their children’s wants. This is a battle that will be waged for years to come.

My daughter wasn’t immune to acquiring new toys. She had a strong desire to own as many My Little Ponies and Breyer Horses as she could. Her mom and I had to tell her no quite often. When she’d get upset, we called it the Green-Eyed Monster from the Bernstein Bears Book: The Bernstein Bears and the Green-Eyed Monster.

When she was five years old, we gave her a weekly allowance of $1. When she received her first dollar, she wanted to visit the toy store to buy a very large Breyer Horse. I knew how this was going to turn out as her dollar was going to fall about $45 short of her goal. She was not going to be happy. When we arrived at the toy store, she pointed to the horse she wanted to buy and together we looked at the price tag – instant tears. She was upset because she couldn’t buy the horse, and, worse, it would take her months to save enough money to buy it. It was a great learning experience.

Her allowance taught her how to save money for buying things she wanted. More importantly, she stopped asking us if she could get a new toy every time we went shopping. If she had the money, she could buy what ever she wanted. In addition to saving her money, she started to give some of it away to her Church. She was learning the gifts of saving money, living within her means, and giving money away to help others. As a young adult, she has kept these important habits.

Here are a few suggestions to help you turn your child into a super-saver and smart spender.

  • Give them an allowance. A few dollars a week will allow them to start saving money and give them a sense of ownership.
  • Establish a savings account. It’s easy to open a savings account. Since they’re young, you’ll need to be listed on the account as well. They will, or should, get excited to see their account balance grow. I still remember my first savings account at a local bank, I was thrilled to see it climb above $60.
  • Let them spend their money. If they have $50 in their wallet, let them spend $50 at the store. At some point, they’ll get tired of spending their own money on things that won’t last. It will also be painful for them to see their bank account get depleted.
  • Encourage them to give money away. Let them decide on how best to donate their money. They can decide when and where it makes sense to help others. The joy of giving brings happiness to all.
  • Teach them to invest. After they have saved a few dollars, teach them how to buy a stock or mutual fund. Let them identify a few companies they have an interest in owning like Apple, Facebook, Coke, Pepsi, McDonald’s, etc. They’ll take pride in their ownership. They’ll also learn about the stock market, the economy, and investor behavior.
  • Invest for growth. Young investors should invest 100% of their funds in stocks or growth-oriented investments.
  • Open a Roth IRA. Once your children start working and earning income, open a Roth IRA. A summer job might pay them a few thousand dollars, so contribute a portion of their salary to a Roth. Kids can invest 100% of their income or $6,000, whichever is less, per year to an IRA. Contributing to an IRA at age 18 will pay huge dividends when they get older. In fact, your kids can let their money grow tax-free for more than 50 years! Investing $1,000 per year in the Investment Company of America Mutual Fund (AIVSX) for 50 years is now worth $2.14 million![1] Not bad for a summer job.

It’s unlikely your five-year-old will ask you to open a Roth IRA or set up a dollar cost averaging program. However, giving your child money to spend, save and give away will establish lifelong benefits. It will change their narrative and make your trips to the store more enjoyable.

Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity. ~  1 Timothy 4:12

July 9, 2019

Bill Parrott, CFP®, CKA® is the President and CEO of Parrott Wealth Management located in Austin, Texas. Parrott Wealth Management is a fee-only, fiduciary, registered investment advisor firm. Our goal is to remove complexity, confusion, and worry from the investment and financial planning process so our clients can pursue a life of purpose.

Note: Investments are not guaranteed and do involve risk. Your returns may differ than those posted in this blog. PWM is not a tax advisor, nor do we give tax advice. Please consult your tax advisor for items that are specific to your situation.

 

 

 

[1] Morningstar Office Hypothetical: June 30, 1969 to June 30, 2019.

Stocks or Funds?

Is it better to buy individual stocks or mutual funds? It depends, of course, on several factors like how much to invest or how much risk you’re willing to take. If you have a high tolerance for risk and millions of dollars to invest, you may be a good candidate to own individual stocks. If you only have $1,000 to invest, a mutual fund is a better option.

When building a portfolio for your future focusing on your goals will help you determine the best strategy. How much to invest? What is your tolerance for risk? How involved will you be in managing your assets? How much time will you commit to researching new investment ideas?

A portfolio of 30 individual stocks or more is recommended for a diversified portfolio.[1] A report on Morningstar’s website suggests 18 to 20 names.[2] When individuals pick their own stocks, they focus primarily on large companies with brand name recognition like Apple, McDonald’s, or Pfizer. Few investors add small or international stocks to their portfolio.

RiskAlyze® helps investors and advisors quantify risk. The risk score for the S&P 500 is 74 on a scale of 1 to 99. A T-Bill, by comparison, has a risk score of 1. I sent a list of 20 large-cap companies to a client for review. The risk profile for the portfolio was 73, or 1 point lower than the S&P 500 Index. If the risk levels are similar, why not buy the index? The Vanguard S&P 500 fund owns 500 companies with exposure to every sector; it’s also cheaper than buying 20 individual stocks.

What about the FAANGs – Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix and Google? Yes, if you owned these 5 stocks you destroyed the S&P 500 over the past 5 years. The FAANG portfolio soared 272%, bettering the S&P 500 by 205%!  How do you identify these companies in advance? The best performing stock in the S&P 500 index this year is Xerox, a stock that has underperformed the market by more than 100% for the past 10 years. Last year it dropped 30%. Xerox was probably not on your radar screen. The other stocks rounding out the top ten are Cadence Design, Advanced Micro Devices, Chipotle, MSCI, Anadarko Petroleum, Total System Services, Synopsys, Global Payments, and DISH Network. These 10 stocks have outperformed the FAANGs by 33% this year! Finding consistent winners to beat the market each year is tough – if not impossible.

Investing in large companies with brand name recognition makes sense on the surface, but it ignores a fair chunk of the global market. Vanguard’s Total World Stock fund invests 73% of its assets in large-cap stocks with 57% allocated to the United States. An all large-cap U.S. portfolio ignores bonds, small companies, real estate, gold, and international investments.

Picking individual stocks also takes time. An hour per stock, per week has been suggested. If you own 20 stocks, you’ll need to set aside 20 hours per week for research. Can you commit 20 hours per week to review your portfolio?

For most investors a globally diversified portfolio of low-cost mutual funds based on your financial goals is the best path to take.

Diversification is your buddy. ~ Merton Miller

July 5, 2019

Bill Parrott, CFP®, CKA® is the President and CEO of Parrott Wealth Management located in Austin, Texas. Parrott Wealth Management is a fee-only, fiduciary, registered investment advisor firm. Our goal is to remove complexity, confusion, and worry from the investment and financial planning process so our clients can pursue a life of purpose.

Note: Investments are not guaranteed and do involve risk. Your returns may differ than those posted in this blog. PWM is not a tax advisor, nor do we give tax advice. Please consult your tax advisor for items that are specific to your situation.

 

 

 

[1] https://www.investopedia.com/articles/stocks/11/illusion-of-diversification.asp, Jason Whitby, June 25, 2019.

[2] https://news.morningstar.com/classroom2/course.asp?docId=145385&page=4

Dry Powder

Active stock traders need to keep some dry powder so they can buy stocks when the stock market falls. Dry powder usually means cash. Allocating a portion of your portfolio to cash will be a drag on your returns, especially in a low interest rate environment with a rising stock market.

Traders need to be nimble so they can pounce on stocks when they drop. A cash hoard gives them the opportunity to act quickly without selling another position. This strategy works well when stocks fall, and they act on their impulse. If they time their purchase correctly, they can make a lot of money. Of course, if they don’t act quickly or time their purchase correctly, their strategy is for not. In a stock picker’s market cash is needed.

Traders look for fallen angels and Boeing is a classic example. Due to their unfortunate tragedies, the stock has dropped from its high of $440. Traders felt that Boeing below $400 was a bargain. The stock went through $400 like a hot knife through butter, falling another $62 to $338. Traders took their dry powder to buy it at $400 only to see their investment fall 15%.

Timing the market is extremely difficult. According to one study, asset allocation accounts for 93.6% of your investment return with the remaining 6.4% attributed to market timing and investment selection.[1]

During the fourth quarter of 2018 the Dow Jones fell 12.5% and investors withdrew $183 billion in mutual fund assets. Investors were storing up some dry powder, I guess. This year investors have added $21 billion to mutual funds, or 11.5% of what they took out last year. Meanwhile, the Dow has risen 13.8%. Dry powder?

A better strategy for most investors is to own a portfolio of low-cost index funds, diversified across asset classes, sectors and countries. This portfolio will give you exposure to thousands of securities doing different things at different times. It will allow you to stay fully invested because you never know when, where, why, or how the stock market will take off. It reduces your risk of market timing and eliminates the cash drag on your performance.

But what if, or when, the market falls? In a balanced portfolio you will own bonds of different maturities. For example, during the Great Recession stocks fell 56%. Long-term bonds were up 16.6% while intermediate bonds stayed steady at 2.94%. Dimensional Fund Advisors Five-Year Global Fixed Income fund rose 4.9%. True, they did not offset the entire drop-in stocks, but they did hold their own.

It’s possible, and recommended, to rebalance an index portfolio on a regular basis. When your asset allocation changes, rebalance your portfolio to return it to its original allocation. This strategy allows you to buy low and sell high on a regular basis. I once heard an advisor compare rebalancing to getting your haircut. When your hair gets too long, cut it back to its original length.

Shouldn’t stock pickers make money in a stock picker’s market? According to Morningstar only 24% of active equity mutual fund money managers beat their passive index over a 10-year period.[2] Is it possible to pick the top quartile funds every year for the next ten years? Doubtful.

Dimensional Fund Advisor’s found that over a 20-year period only 42% of equity funds survived. Their database started with 2,414 funds and only 1,013 survived twenty years. If more than half the funds fail, how will you be able to pick the top 25%?[3]

Rather than keeping dry powder or trying to time the market, focus on your financial goals and invest in a balanced portfolio of low-cost index funds.

Don’t let dry powder blow up your portfolio!

My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style. ~ Maya Angelou

June 19, 2019

Bill Parrott, CFP®, CKA® is the President and CEO of Parrott Wealth Management located in Austin, Texas. Parrott Wealth Management is a fee-only, fiduciary, registered investment advisor firm. Our goal is to remove complexity, confusion, and worry from the investment and financial planning process so our clients can pursue a life of purpose.

Note: Investments are not guaranteed and do involve risk. Your returns may differ than those posted in this blog. PWM is not a tax advisor, nor do we give tax advice. Please consult your tax advisor for items that are specific to your situation.

 

 

 

 

[1] Determinants of Portfolio Performance, Financial Analyst Journal, July/August 1986, Vol 42, No. 4, 6 pages; Gary P. Brinson, L. Randolph Hood, Gilbert L. Beebower.

[2] https://office.morningstar.com/research/doc/911724/U-S-Active-Passive-Barometer-7-Takeaways-from-the-2018-Report, Ben Johnson, February 7, 2019

[3] file:///C:/Users/parro/Downloads/2019%20Mutual%20Fund%20Landscape_%20Report.pdf

Stocks & Yogurt

Consumers are stressed out over yogurt.

The Wall Street Journal recently published an article about declining yogurt sales – Yogurt Sales Sour as Options Proliferate. The main theme of the article is that consumers have too many choices.

According to the article “the average U.S. Supermarket carries 306 different yogurt varieties”[1] and the consumer is overwhelmed. The article added: “Some consumers say all that choice is giving them yogurt fatigue.”

Investors face the same dilemma as yogurt shoppers – too many investment choices. Morningstar’s database includes the following securities:

  • 115,000 Global Stocks
  • 27,000 U.S. Mutual Funds
  • 17,000 Global Exchange Traded Funds
  • 5,000 529 Portfolios
  • 13,000 Closed-End Funds
  • 15,000 Separately Managed Accounts
  • 208,000 Variable Annuity Subaccounts
  • 14,000 Unit Investment Trusts
  • 6 Million Individual Bonds

Wow! If a consumer is anxious about 300 different types of yogurts, how will they pick a few choice investments from more than 2 million securities? Information overload can cause investors to suffer from financial paralysis.

Being exposed to more choices doesn’t make things easier or better. In a famous 2000 study on jams, psychologist Sheena Iyengar and Mark Lepper published a paper on choices. The first test included 24 varieties of jam; the second sample included six. They found that the larger sample attracted more people, but less buyers. The smaller sample yielded ten times more purchases.[2]

Here’s a simple portfolio consisting of five different exchange traded funds. The funds are allocated to 60% stocks, 40% bonds and rebalanced annually. Dating back to 2003 it generated an average annual return of 7.05%. A $50,000 investment in 2003 is now worth $144,650. The best year was in 2009 with a gain of 15.89%, the worst year occurred in 2008 when it lost 20.05%.

The funds include:

  • iShares Core S&P 500 Fund – IVV
  • iShares Core S&P 600 Fund – IJR
  • iShares MSCI EAFE Fund – EFA
  • iShares US Real Estate – IYR
  • iShares Core US Aggregate Bond Fund – AGG

If five funds are too many, here’s a portfolio consisting of three Vanguard mutual funds. The funds were allocated to 60% stocks, 40% bonds and rebalanced annually. This portfolio originated in 1996 and it has generated an average annual return of 6.63%. A $30,000 investment in 1996 is now worth $130,793. 2009 was the best year for this portfolio when it jumped 25.21%. The worst year occurred in 2008 when it fell 23.3%.

The three funds include:

  • Vanguard Total Stock Market Index – VTSMX
  • Vanguard Total International Stock Market Index – VGTSX
  • Vanguard Total Bond Market Index – VBMFX

If three funds are too much, here’s one mutual fund – Dimensional Fund Advisors 60/40 Global Allocation Fund (DGSIX). Since 2003 it has generated an average annual return of 6.2%. A $10,000 investment in 2003 is now worth $25,180. Its best year was 2009 when it climbed 25.5%. Its worst year occurred in 2008 when it dropped 25.7%.

As you decide on the best investments for your portfolio, don’t make it complicated. A simple portfolio of a few, low-cost, funds is all you need. Your account will be easy to understand and follow. In addition, with fewer moving parts you’ll no longer have to watch the daily moves in the stock market.

So, dig in and simplify your investments.

The more you have, the more you are occupied. The less you have, the more free you are. ~ Mother Teresa

April 11, 2019

Bill Parrott, CFP®, CKA® is the President and CEO of Parrott Wealth Management located in Austin, Texas. Parrott Wealth Management is a fee-only, fiduciary, registered investment advisor firm. Our goal is to remove complexity, confusion, and worry from the investment and financial planning process so our clients can pursue a life of purpose.

Note: Investments are not guaranteed and do involve risk. Your returns may differ than those posted in this blog.

 

 

 

 

 

[1] https://www.wsj.com/articles/yogurt-sales-sour-as-options-proliferate-11554811200?mod=searchresults&page=1&pos=2, Heather Haddon, 4/9/2019

[2] https://hbr.org/2006/06/more-isnt-always-better, Barry Schwartz, June 2006 issue