Full Stop

Full stop. The end. Period. No more. No Mas. I’ve noticed lately that politicians, commentators, and other public figures have been using the term “full stop.” I guess they want to punctuate their point, so the viewer or reader knows they’ve stated their position, and there will be no more discussing the issue. They’re moving on to the next item.

On November 25, 1980, Roberto Duran was fighting Sugar Ray Leonard. During the fight, Mr. Duran raised his arms and said, “No Mas.” He had enough and didn’t want to finish the fight.[1] He was done – a stunner for the boxing world.

According to Webster’s Dictionary, full stop means period, and it was first used in 1643, and the origin is “chiefly British.”

The financial planning and investment management industry has their version of full stop items where no more explanation is needed. Here’s a shortlist.

  • Individuals who complete a financial plan have three times (3X) the assets of those individuals who do little or no planning.[2]
  • Stocks outperform bonds. The 92-year average annual return for common stocks has been 10%, while long-term government bonds returned 5.5%. A $1 investment in large-company stocks is now worth $7,0257, while $1 invested in bonds is worth $142.[3]
  • Small-company stocks outperform large-company stocks. The Dimensional U.S. Small Cap Value Index averaged 13.1% from 1928 to 2018. A $1 investment is now worth $72,335. The Dimensional Large-Cap Value Index averaged 11%. A $1 investment in this large-cap index is now worth $13,442.[4]
  • Asset allocation accounts for 93.6% of your investment return. The remaining 6.4% is attributed to market timing and investment selection.[5]
  • Passive index investing is better than active stock picking. The Standard & Poor’s study of passive v. active reveals that over a 15-year period, 95% of active fund managers fail to outperform their benchmark. The data is similar for 1, 3, 5, and 10 years.[6]
  • Lower fees are better than higher fees. Less is more.
  • Working with an investment advisor can help you increase returns. A study by Vanguard quantified an advisor relationship can add 3% in net returns.[7] An advisor can help with financial planning, estate planning, investment planning, charitable planning, and much more.

Full Stop.

The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever. ~ Isaiah 40:8

October 10, 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://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sugar_Ray_Leonard_vs._Roberto_Dur%C3%A1n_II, Website accessed October 10, 2019

[2] http://www.nber.org/papers/w17078

[3] Dimensional Funds 2019 Matrix Book.

[4] Ibid.

[5] 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.

[6] https://us.spindices.com/documents/spiva/spiva-us-year-end-2016.pdf

[7] https://www.vanguard.com/pdf/ISGQVAA.pdf

Yard Sales and Investing

Twice a year, my neighborhood holds a yard sale. It’s well advertised, so people come from all over town to hunt for trinkets and treasures. The buyers arrive with a plan and a purpose.

The people who visit our neighborhood are seasoned yard sale shoppers. Arriving in trucks with trailers, they scour our streets looking for bargains. Most were looking for clothes or small household items. I had several drive buys, but nothing the shoppers wanted. I guess they didn’t need tennis rackets or baseball mitts.

One shopper had a trailer full of used equipment like bikes and lawnmowers. The items he found needed repair, and I’m sure he’ll fix them up to resale them at a higher price. His specialty appeared to be items that were broken or needed a little TLC. One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.

In addition to being value shoppers, the buyers haggled for lower prices. If it cost $10, they’d offer $5. If the seller didn’t budge, the buyer moved on to another house. They’re patient and shrewd buyers.

Now and then, a buyer finds a rare gem. One man found an original signed copy of Ernest’s Hemingway’s The Old Man and The Sea. He purchased the book for $2, and it’s probably worth more than $30,000. A buyer in Fresno, California bought a box of photo negatives for $45 and later found out they belonged to Ansel Adams. The images are worth more than $1.8 million. An Arizona buyer found a Jackson Pollack painting worth more than $5 million.[1] It pays to hunt for a bargain.

Investors can learn much from weekend yard sale shoppers like focusing on value, being patient, and having a plan. Patient investors can take advantage of market drops to find companies in the bargain bin. When stock prices drop, most investors tend to look the other way. Not so with value investors. If a company has issues, value hunters know they’re going to get a reasonable price. Sellers, on the other hand, are liquidating because of fear. For example, Kraft Heinz, Nordstrom, Walgreen’s, 3M, Pfizer, and Schwab are all down more than 10% this year, and investors don’t appear interested in these blue chips. It’s unlikely these companies will stay down forever, so at some point value investors will swoop in and start buying.

As we approach the end of the year, look for investments that are down and out that may rebound in a year or two. If you currently own poor-performing investments, be patient.

To improve your investment results, consider a financial plan. A well-constructed financial plan will help you identify and quantify your financial goals. A Certified Financial Planner® will use your financial plan to assist you with managing your debt, taxes, investments, retirement, education, philanthropic and estate planning needs.

“I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore, be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.” ~ Matthew 10:6.

October 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. 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 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] https://bestlifeonline.com/garage-sale-finds/, Alex Daniel, February 22, 2019

Are Zero Commission Rates Good?

Schwab dropped a bombshell on Tuesday when they announced they’ll reduce commission rates on stocks, ETFs, and options to zero! Not to be outdone, TD Ameritrade and E*Trade quickly followed suit. As a result of the announcement, Schwab’s stock fell 14%, TD Ameritrade slumped 28%, and E*Trade plunged 19%. The loss of trading commissions will result in a significant drop in revenue for these firms. Their pain is your gain.

Trading with zero commission reminds me of a visit to an all-you-can-eat buffet. Walking into a buffet is exciting when you see the endless sea of culinary delights. On your first pass through the buffet line, you pile your plate high with a wide variety of food items. You know it’s not a good idea to make a fifth trip through the buffet line, but you need to try several desserts before you leave. Eating at all-you-can-eat buffets will have harmful consequences on your health as will excessive trading on your wealth.

Now that commission-free trading has gone mainstream, this may entice individuals to trade more often, and more trading is not good. During the internet boom, Morgan Stanley introduced a commission-free trading account called Choice. Clients paid a fee based on the level of their assets. As a branch manager, I reviewed accounts and trades. One of our clients was trading more than 200 times a month, and it wasn’t going well. She was not a good trader, incurring significant losses. The losses didn’t detour her because she felt empowered to trade by not paying commissions on each trade.

An unfortunate byproduct of excessive trading is short-term capital gains. Short-term capital gain rates are much higher than long-term capital gain rates because they’re taxed as ordinary income. Another potential issue is the wash rule. The wash rule disallows a loss if you buy or sell the same security within 31 days before or after your trade.

Warren Buffett, Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos, Mark Zuckerberg are billionaires because of their stellar business skills and the excellent performance of their company stock. A significant portion of their wealth has come from sitting, not trading. Most of the time, they’re doing nothing with their shares. Do you think Bill Gates and Warren Buffett day trade their accounts? LOL.

Commission rates were deregulated on May 1, 1975. With commission rates no longer fixed, Wall Street firms were now able to set their own rates. Charles Schwab (the person) launched his firm as a result of the new rule, and a revolution was born.[1] Commission rates have been low for years, and some firms already offer free trades through zero-fee trading on ETFs.

Long-term wealth is created by being patient, and one of the best ways to increase your wealth is to buy and hold a globally diversified portfolio of low-cost mutual funds.

As commissions drop, how can you take advantage of lower rates and fees? Here are a few ideas.

  • Move your account to a custodian currently offering zero-rates for trading like TD Ameritrade, Schwab, or E*Trade.
  • Most registered investment advisors work with a custodian to handle client accounts. Make sure your advisor uses one of the custodians from above.
  • Hire a Certified Financial Planner® with low fees, ideally well below the industry standard of 1% of your assets.
  • Conduct a fee audit on your accounts. Brokers post their charges, and advisors list theirs in their ADV. A Certified Financial Planner® can help you review your statements to make sure your costs are low.
  • Hire a firm that offers financial planning in addition to investment management. The financial plan should be included in the fee you’re being assessed to manage your assets
  • Avoid manufactured products like annuities or permanent life insurance. These insurance products have substantial fees and deferred sales charges, meaning if you sell your investment early, you’ll incur heavy penalties.

Are zero commission rates good? Lower rates are a boon to investors. The less you pay, the more you keep. However, there’s no free lunch, so read the small print to find out how your firm makes money.

 “I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”—but not everything is constructive.  No one should seek their own good, but the good of others. ~ 1 Corinthians 10:23-24

October 3, 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 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] https://www.wsj.com/articles/charles-schwab-ending-online-trading-commissions-on-u-s-listed-products-11569935983, By Alexander Osipovich and Lisa Beilfuss, October 1, 2019

 

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

Want More Income?

Interest rates are falling, and investors are starving for income. Coupon rates on U.S. Treasuries are paying less than 2% except for the 30-Year U.S. Treasury bond, which is paying 2.25%. Corporate bonds, CD’s, and tax-free bonds aren’t paying much more. The Federal Open Market Committee recently lowered interest rates by a quarter of a point, and they’ll probably do it again at their next meeting. With rates falling, how is it possible to generate more income?

One strategy to incorporate is a systematic withdrawal plan (SWP). This approach allows you to receive income from your mutual funds while taking advantage of the long-term growth from the stock market. Your payout will be a combination of income, dividends, capital gains, and principal. For example, if you invest $100,000 in a globally diversified portfolio of mutual funds and instruct your advisor to send you a monthly check for $400, then your payout will be 4.8% of your principal.

Your payout can be fixed or variable. With a fixed payout you’ll receive the same dollar amount regardless of your account balance. A variable payout will pay you a percentage of your account balance annually, so if your account rises, you’ll earn more income.

Let’s look at a few real-world examples.

Since 1926, a 60% stock and 40% bond portfolio has produced an average annual return of 8.92% while inflation averaged 2.89%, so the real return was 6.03%.[1]  Starting an example in 1926 is not realistic, so let’s look at three different periods: 2000, 2007, and 2009.

Each example will begin with a value of $100,000 and an annual withdrawal rate of 4% of the account balance. The mutual funds are managed by Dimensional Fund Advisors, and they’ll be rebalanced annually. The asset allocation mix is 60% stocks, 40% bonds. Here is the list of funds:[2]

  • DFA Large Cap Value (DFLVX) = 20%
  • DFA Large Cap International (DFALX) = 20%
  • DFA Small Cap (DFSTX) = 5%
  • DFA International Small Cap (DFISX) = 5%
  • DFA Real Estate (DFREX) = 5%
  • DFA Emerging Markets (DFEMX) = 5%
  • DFA Intermediate Government (DFIGX) = 20%
  • DFA Two-Year Government (DFYGX) = 20%

Example 1: January 1, 2000 to December 31, 2010. During this stretch, the S&P 500 lost 14.4%. Your original investment of $100,000 grew to $106,667, and you received $66,471 in total income. The average annual return was 6.6%.

Example 2: October 1, 2007 to August 31, 2019. From October 2007 to March 2009, the S&P 500 fell 48% during the Great Recession, so your investment timing was horrible, one of the worst times to start investing in history. As a result of your poor timing, your $100,000 sunk to $77,640, but you received $58,512 in income. Your average annual return was 3.4%. Despite the initial drop, you still made money.

Example 3. March 1, 2009 to August 31, 2019. During this stretch, the S&P 500 soared 298% or 14.05% per year. As a result of your great timing, your $100,000 is now worth $137,036, and you received $90,071 in income. Your average annual return was 10.98% per year.

Example 4. January 1, 2000 to August 31, 2019. During this time, the S&P 500 averaged 2.25% per year. Your original investment of $100,000 is now worth $99,975, and you received $121,534 in total income. Your average annual return was 6.27%.

A globally diversified portfolio of low-cost mutual funds gives you an opportunity to receive above-average income. You probably won’t start investing at a market top, or bottom, so rather than trying to time the market or trade your way to wealth, focus on your long-term goals. A diversified portfolio will allow you to capture global market returns over time, and over time, stocks win.

Invest globally, receive locally.

Here is part of the tradeoff with diversification. You must be diversified enough to survive bad times or bad luck so that skill and good process can have the chance to pay off over the long term. ~ Joel Greenblatt

September 26, 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] Dimensional Fund Advisors Returns Web, 1/1/1926 – 7/31/2019.

[2] Morningstar Office Hypothetical, gross returns before taxes and fees.

Certainty

We want certainty in an uncertain world. We want to know the weather report, and what’s for dinner, and where we’ll spend our vacation, and how our stocks will perform. If given a guaranteed chance of receiving $100 or a 50% chance of receiving $200, most of us will opt for the certain payout of $100.[1]

This past Saturday Saudi Arabia’s Abqaiq oil processing facility was attacked. The world’s largest oil field can produce close to 10 million barrels of oil per day, and this attack could knock out 50% of the kingdom’s production.[2] Because of the attack, West Texas intermediate crude oil spiked 14%.[3] How do you plan for a strategic strike on the world’s largest oil exporter? You can’t.

In 2016 Dennis Gartman said oil would not trade above $44 “in my lifetime.”[4] Crude oil closed at $61.56 on Monday. He was certain in his prediction.

Last year, Jamie Dimon, the CEO of JP Morgan Chase & Co, predicted the 10-year U.S. Treasury would hit 5%. It currently yields 1.79%.[5] He’s now preparing for 0% interest rates. Mr. Dimon has his pulse on the economy as the CEO of the world’s second-largest bank, and if he can’t predict the direction of interest rates, let alone the level, who can?

I feel sorry for analyst and experts who are forced to give price targets or predictions because it’s an impossible task. However, investors and the media want answers. If an analyst provides a price target, they must know something we don’t. But they don’t. It’s an educated guess. It gives us a false sense of security because we want the assurance that somebody somewhere knows something.

I worked for Morgan Stanley for several years, and after Dean Witter merged with Morgan Stanley, I was talking to an analyst about stock research reports. He said institutional clients focus on the depth of the research while retail investors look to the price target. Retail investors are looking for certainty.

Certainty is safety. If you bought a U.S. T-Bill and held it to maturity, you would never lose money because they offer a guaranteed return. T-Bills have generated an average annual return of 2.3% for the past 15 years while inflation averaged 2%. Stock market returns are uncertain and not guaranteed. The S&P 500 has returned 6.8% annually for the past 15 years, despite a 56% drop during the Great Recession. Certainty and lower returns are linked.

How can you plan for certainty in an uncertain world? Here are a few suggestions.

  • Financial Plan. Your plan will account for uncertainty, chaos, and disorder. The Monte Carlo simulation outlines several outcomes – some good, some bad. Money Guide Pro financial planning software will run 1,000 different scenarios to provide you with a range of possible results. John Maynard Keynes said, “I would rather be vaguely right than precisely wrong.” A Monte Carlo analysis will give ranges that will be vaguely right.
  • Short-term bonds will give you predictability and liquidity. When the world erupts in bedlam, short-term bonds provide a high degree of safety. Bonds and stocks are inversely correlated, so when one rises, the other falls.
  • A cash reserve will give you access to your money without having to sell your stocks when they are down and out. Cash levels vary depending on your situation. A recommended amount is three to six months’ worth of your household expenses. If you’re about to retire, I suggest holding three years’ worth of cash in a money market fund or investing in short-term bonds.
  • A globally balanced portfolio will give you exposure to thousands of securities scattered around the world.
  • Embrace uncertainty. Chaos and disruption allow you to purchase stocks and other risk assets at deep discounts. Buy low and sell high. When others are panic selling, you can buy great companies that should eventually rebound.

The only certainty is uncertainty.

“What you should learn when you make a mistake because you did not anticipate something is that the world is difficult to anticipate. That’s the correct lesson to learn from surprises: that the world is surprising.” ~ Danny Kahneman, Nobel Laurette – Economic Sciences (2002)

September 18, 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] https://www.gsb.stanford.edu/insights/why-uncertainty-makes-us-less-likely-take-risks, by Dylan Walsh, June 1, 2017

[2] https://www.cnbc.com/2019/09/16/aramco-saudi-arabia-attacks-on-oil-supply-wipes-out-spare-capacity.html, by Huileng Tan, 9/15/2019

[3] https://www.cnbc.com/2019/09/15/dow-set-to-fall-on-fears-spiking-oil-will-slow-the-global-economy.html, By Fred Imbert, 9/15/2019

[4] https://finance.yahoo.com/news/dennis-gartman-best-contrarian-indicator-165610794.html, By Wayne Duggan, June 8, 2016

[5] https://www.marketwatch.com/story/jamie-dimon-warns-of-5-treasury-yields-but-sees-stock-run-lasting-a-few-more-years-2018-08-06, by Rachel Koning Beals

A Weekly Budget

While playing football, my coaches corrected my behavior If I made a mistake. They’d stop me in my tracks to point out what I did wrong. The feedback was instantaneous. If they had waited months or years to highlight my error, it wouldn’t have been useful. Because of their enthusiastic shouting, I usually didn’t make the same mistake twice. Correcting behavior needs to be consistent and immediate.

You may need help in correcting a bad habit, like poor budgeting. If you’re like most people, you might check your balance once or twice per year – if at all. As a result, you probably don’t have a good idea of how you’re spending your money.

To improve your cash flow and spending patterns, consider reviewing your budget weekly. This small change in behavior will help you identify spending issues sooner rather than later. It will allow you to make changes to your spending patterns.

To simplify your budgeting process, consider automating it with an app like Every Dollar from Dave Ramsey: https://www.daveramsey.com/everydollar. Another great resource is Mint from Intuit: https://www.mint.com/. These apps will make it easier for you to reign in your finances. And, if it’s easy, you’re more likely to stay with it.

Consumers must get a handle on their spending because debt is spiraling out of control. Mortgage debt is $9.4 trillion, student loan debt is $1.5 trillion, and auto debt is $1.3 trillion.[1] Unfortunately, our government is not good at budgeting either. The budget deficit recently surpassed $1 trillion, and our national debt is north of $22 trillion.

How much debt is appropriate? Your total debt should be less than 38% of your total monthly gross income. If your gross income is $10,000, then your debt should be less than $3,800.

What about spending? According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics[2], here’s how much people are spending on certain items as a percentage of their gross income. How do you compare?

Food = 12.9%

Housing = 32.9%

Transportation = 16%

Healthcare = 8.1%

Utilities = 6.5%

Entertainment = 5.6%

Cell Phones = 1.9%

Pets = 1.1%

Are you ready to start working on your weekly budget review? Here are a few steps to help you get started.

  • Gather your bank and credit card statements from the past six months.
  • Input the data to Excel to Identify amounts and patterns. Most financial institutions will allow you to import the data directly to Excel, saving you a few hours of number crunching.
  • Automate your bill-paying to avoid late payment fees.
  • If you’re no longer using a service, turn off the automatic payment.
  • Download an app to track your spending.
  • Review your budget weekly.
  • Eliminate or reduce unnecessary expenses.
  • Use the extra savings to reduce your debt.
  • If your debt level is low, then set up an automatic investment plan.

A Certified Financial Planner™ can help you with your budgeting and planning needs. They’ll review your spending to help you develop a budget. They can also meet with you quarterly to evaluate your progress and hold you accountable, like a coach – without yelling!

A budget will bring you financial peace, and you can spend your money without guilt or worry.

For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. ~ Matthew 6:21

September 14, 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] https://www.bls.gov/home.htm

Construction Project

My neighborhood is in the middle of an enormous construction project. It’s chaos. Dump trucks and bulldozers are moving massive amounts of dirt to expand our roads and intersections to handle more traffic. A new retail shopping center and access road are also under construction. Commuters are challenged with lane closures, lane shifts, and traffic jams.

Our neighborhood is cluttered with barricades and orange pylons. It doesn’t look good. It may be this way for another year or two, but when it’s finished, it will look amazing.

Projects of this size require years of planning, vision, persistence, and grit. Developing a financial plan and building an investment portfolio also requires imagination and perseverance.  Initially, your plan is a dream, and it will only take shape after you commit your goals to paper. The foundation for a successful investment experience is a financial plan. Your plan is your blueprint. Can you imagine construction workers working without a plan? I can’t.

A plan can take years, sometimes decades, to see it come to fruition. It’s challenging to plan for a retirement that’s more than 45 years away. Likewise, retirees might find it hard to rely on investments to generate a steady stream of lifetime income.

The construction projects succeed because electricians, plumbers, and masons have different specialties. Similarly, a successful investment portfolio requires investments scattered around the globe. Large, small, and international stocks deliver long-term growth. Bonds provide income and safety. Cash offers liquidity.

A general contractor coordinates and oversees the project and workers to keep it moving forward. A Certified Financial Planner® is your general contractor. He guides your steps to keep you focused on your goals and make appropriate adjustments.

Regular maintenance on buildings, lights, and sprinklers will keep the area looking good and functioning correctly for generations.  Your portfolio will also need regular maintenance to weather market and economic cycles. Rebalancing your portfolio will keep your asset allocation and risk tolerance in check. Your financial plan needs reviewing annually to keep you focused on your goals. A monthly savings program should help your account grow.

A good plan doesn’t matter if you don’t implement it and follow the instructions. It’s imperative to put your plan into action so you can enjoy the fruits of your labor.

“Plans are worthless. Planning is essential.” ~ Dwight D. Eisenhower 

September 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. 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.

 

 

 

 

Sixteen Ways to Manage a Concentrated Position

Warren Buffett, Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos bet on themselves by concentrating most, if not all, their wealth in their company stock. Shares of Berkshire Hathaway, Microsoft, and Amazon have created enormous wealth for these billionaires, and they’re currently the three wealthiest individuals in the United States.

A concentrated equity position is a blessing and a curse. Shareholders of Berkshire Hathaway, Microsoft, and Amazon have enjoyed significant price appreciation and wealth creation from their stock holdings.  Investors in Enron, Lehman Brothers, and WorldCom lost everything.

What is a concentrated equity position? A stock position accounting for more than 25% of your investable assets is considered concentrated. Your definition may vary depending on your appetite for risk. It can be as low as 5% or more than 50%. You may have acquired your stock through incentive stock options, restricted stock grants, an employee stock purchase plan, 401(k) contributions, company bonus, or acquisition. Regardless, protecting your asset should be a primary goal.

Concentration is a great way to create wealth; diversification is the best way to keep it. Dealing with a large stock position presents unique challenges.

Let’s examine a few strategies to help you manage your position. The ideas range from holding your stock to giving it all away. As a note, these strategies assume your shares are free and clear, and you’re not subject to insider information, trade windows, lockups, vesting, or other restrictions. If you’re not sure, please check with your corporate counsel or attorney.

Hold. Retaining your current position may pay dividends, especially if you want to increase your wealth. As we have seen, this strategy has treated Warren Buffett, Bill Gates, and Jeff Bezos well. Your tolerance for risk is a factor if you want to retain your shares as some stocks carry more risk than others. For example, Amazon has a daily standard deviation of 3.7%, Pepsi’s is 1.53%, and Beyond Meat is 8.7%. Holding your stock will also allow you to defer your gains if you own them in a taxable account.

Sell. Selling your shares is the fastest way to reduce your position and diversify your holdings. However, if you sell your shares in a taxable account, it can trigger substantial capital gains.

Direct Gift. A direct gift to your favorite charity is efficient and straightforward. In transferring your shares to a charity, you’ll be able to deduct the fair market value of your gift at the time of the transfer. The charity can sell your shares in their account and avoid capital gains.

Gift to Children. You can gift your shares to your children, but they’ll retain your cost basis. This strategy will reduce your estate while building up theirs. You’re allowed to give away $15,000 per person, per year so donating stock to your kids below this threshold does make sense.

Retirement Account. If you hold your stock in your 401(k) or IRA, you can sell them without tax consequences allowing you to reduce your position and diversify your assets. Distributions from your retirement account are taxed as ordinary income, and you won’t be able to take advantage of more favorable capital gain rates.

Qualified Charitable Deduction (QCD). If you’re older than 70 ½, the government allows you to distribute up to $100,000 to charities directly from your IRA. This type of distribution will satisfy your required minimum distribution (RMD). For example, if your RMD is $100,000 and you donate $40,000 to your favorite charity, then your taxable distribution will be $60,000. You won’t be able to deduct your charitable contribution since it’s being sent directly from your IRA.

Net Unrealized Appreciation (NUA). The net unrealized appreciation allows you to transfer shares of your employer stock from your 401k to your taxable account at a more favorable tax treatment than a distribution. The NUA is the difference between the fair market value and your cost basis.[1] When you receive your shares from your plan, only the cost basis is taxed. The remainder will be taxed as capital gains when you sell your shares. For example, at the time of your distribution, your cost basis is $25 per share, and the fair market value is $60. The $25 is taxed as ordinary income, the remainder, $35, will be taxed at long-term capital gain rates when the shares are sold. If the stock rises to $80 per share, then the $20 gain above $60 will be short or long-term depending on when they are sold.[2] If your shares had been withdrawn from your IRA, without the NUA, your entire $60 position would be taxed as ordinary income.

Put Options. If you want to hold your shares, but you’re concerned about a falling stock price, you can purchase put options. Put options increase in value when stocks fall. It’s a short-term insurance policy against a market decline. This strategy allows you to retain your stock, but at a price. Buying put options to protect your shares is expensive, especially if you repeat the process a few times a year. Let’s look at buying put options to protect 10,000 shares of XYZ Inc. trading at $215 per share. The January 2020 $215 strike price is offered at $15.75 per contract, so protecting your shares will cost you $157,500. One contract equals 100 shares of stock. If XYZ Inc. falls below the $215 strike price at expiration, the option will increase in value. If XYZ Inc. closes above $215 at expiration, you’ll lose 100% of your proceeds on the put purchase. If the put is losing value, your stock is gaining value. Ten thousand shares of XYZ Inc. at $215 per share equals $2.15 million. The put purchase represents 7.3% of your holdings. You can sell your option at any time before it expires in January.

Call Options. A call option replacement strategy allows you to sell your equity shares and purchase a corresponding amount in the form of call options. The ratio is 100 shares to 1 option contract. If you own 10,000 shares, you can buy one hundred contracts. This strategy allows you to sell your stock but maintain a position in the company at a reduced amount through your option contracts. For example, 10,000 shares of ABC Inc. are currently worth $2.2 million at $220 per share. The January 2020 $220 strike price has a current price of $14.25 per contract, so 100 contracts cost $142,500. The contract value represents about 6.5% of your stock holdings. If you sell your shares, you can use a small percentage of the proceeds to buy the option contracts and diversify the remainder. The downside is that you’ll pay taxes when you sell your shares.  Another disadvantage is the call option has a limited life; it will expire on January 17, 2020. If ABC Inc. is trading above $220 at the time of expiration, the call option will finish in the money, and you can take your gains. If ABC Inc. is trading below $220, your option will expire out of the money, and you’ll lose 100% of your investment.

Option Collar. A collar utilizes calls and puts to generate income and protect your equity position. The collar surrounds your stock. For example, If ABC Inc. is trading at $220 per share, you can sell a call option at $220 to generate income and buy a $210 put to protect the downside. If ABC Inc. rises above $220 at expiration, you must sell your shares at $220 regardless of how high the market price rises above the strike price. If ABC Inc. falls below $210, your put option will protect the downside. The ABC Inc. January $220 call strike price is currently selling for $14.25 per contract. If you own 10,000 shares, you will sell 100 contracts to generate $142,500 in income (before fees). The ABC Inc. January $210 put currently costs $13.25, so your cost to purchase the put is $132,500. The call generated $142,500 in income, and the put cost you $132,500, for a credit of $10,000. The collar can be widened or narrowed based on your situation. If the collar expands, you’ll generate less revenue.

10b5-1 Plan. A 10b5-1 plan allows insiders to sell their stock holdings without regard for trade windows, corporate events, or insider activity. You can determine the number of shares, price limit, and duration. If the price of the stock trades at your limit, the shares will be sold regardless of a trade window or other insider activity. For example, if you want to sell your shares at $100, then they’ll be sold at that price or higher.[3]

Donor-Advised Fund (DAF). A Donor Advised Fund allows you to transfer appreciated shares to the fund. Once inside the DAF, you can sell your shares and purchase new investments without realizing a capital gain. You can deduct the contribution from your taxes, and it occurs in the year of your gift, not in the year of distribution. You don’t have to distribute the proceeds immediately, so if you’re not sure which charities to support, you can defer the payment until you identify the organizations. For example, if you transfer $100,000 worth of ABC Inc. stock to your Donor Advised Fund, sell it, reinvest the proceeds, and then send a portion of the funds to your favorite charity. The funds that remain inside your DAF will grow tax-free.

Charitable Remainder Trust (CRT). This trust allows you to transfer your shares to a Charitable Remainder Trust, sell your holdings, diversify your assets, and receive income from the proceeds. At your death, the remainder of the trust assets will be sent to your pre-determined charity. The stock, once transferred, can be sold free of taxation and the proceeds reinvested into a diversified portfolio of stocks, bonds or funds. Your contribution to the trust qualifies for a charitable deduction. The amount of income you can receive from the trust is between 5% and 8% of the portfolio value. You will pay ordinary income tax on the income you receive.

Exchange Fund. As the name implies, you exchange your shares for a basket of stocks allowing you to defer your gains. The minimum is steep, and you’re required to hold the fund for several years.  According to a Forbes article on exchange funds, the minimum investment for some funds is $5 million with a required holding period of seven years.[4]

Private Annuity.  A private annuity works well with colleges and universities. If you donate your stock to your alma mater, they can establish a private annuity for you so that you can receive income for life or a certain number of years. Your alma mater can sell the stock free of taxation and use it to fund their operations. You’ll get a deduction based on the fair market value of your gift.

Pledged Asset Line (Loan). If you’re heavily concentrated in stocks and you need liquidity, consider a pledged asset loan. The amount of your loan is based on the equity of your investment holdings, like a line of credit on your home. The loan will allow you to access capital without selling your investments and realizing capital gains. If your holdings aren’t restricted, this strategy makes sense, and it’s a better option than using margin to access the capital in your account.

The only difference between death and taxes is that death doesn’t get worse every time Congress meets. ~ Will Rogers

August 29, 2019

Bill Parrott is the President and CEO of Parrott Wealth Management firm 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.

Note: Investments are not guaranteed and do involve risk. Your returns may differ than those posted in this blog. Options involve risk and are not suitable for every investor. Please consult your CPA or tax advisor before implementing any of these strategies to see if it makes sense for your situation.

[1] https://www.investopedia.com/terms/n/netunrealizedappreciation.asp#targetText=The%20net%20unrealized%20appreciation%20(NUA,market%20value%20of%20the%20shares., Reviewed by Alicia Tuovila, July 1, 2019

[2] Cannon Financial Institute: A Complete Library of Essential Financial Concepts, 2008. Net Unrealized Appreciation page 538.

[3] https://www.investopedia.com/terms/r/rule-10b5-1.asp, Reviewed by Will Kenton, updated on April 2, 2019.

[4] https://www.forbes.com/sites/agoodman/2016/01/10/one-way-some-wealthy-investors-can-avoid-big-capital-gains-taxes/#1680ec4f324e, Andrew Goodman, 1/10/2016

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.