Financial Insights : Q3 Newsletter

The end of August is here, which means summer is officially coming to an end. As we reflect back on the last few months here at Financial Insights, we smile, remembering the events and experiences that took place this summer as a team. Our summer started off with a bang as we celebrated Girls & Women in Golf with the First Tee of Puget Sound in June. Later that month, we all had a blast gambling with "fun money" at Emergency Food Network's Casino Royale Event! We definitely won't forget how nice it felt to sit in the sunshine while supporting the Tacoma Lawn & Tennis Club's PNW Open Tennis Championships in July. I think we can all agree that ending the summer with an incredible solar eclipse was an experience that will be with us for a lifetime. From all of us here at Financial Insights, we hope you had a wonderful summer as well. Please enjoy our latest newsletter, which includes articles on the economy, retirement, military changes, social security, and more.

CLICK HERE TO READ FINANCIAL INSIGHTS' Q3 NEWSLETTER

Have You Signed Up For Investor Access?

Have you enrolled in Investor Access? Connect to your accounts anytime, anywhere for a clearer, more complete view of your finances. Investor Access is a free, secure, online portal designed to help you get the most out of your Raymond James accounts. It brings your day-to-day finances and long-term investments together in one place - from your computer or mobile device. It puts instant insight and control at your fingertips. To set up your free account, click the link below and then click "Enroll in Investor Access" directly under the login ID in the top left corner - see picture -->

Once you're registered, simply log on to review activity and balances in all your accounts - individually or combined. You can opt for a high-level summary or a more detailed view. You can view current and historical statements, account balances, account activity, key data including gains and losses, and tax-reporting documents. Is it safe, you're wondering? Protecting your financial information is a top priority. That's why Investor Access employs authentication procedures, several layers of firewall protection and encryption technology to keep your critical data safe and private.

Investor Access also allows you access to the Vault, which gives you a place to store and share digital copies of your important documents, from financial statements and legal agreements to passports and photos of valuable assets. The Vault enables you to quickly, conveniently and securely share files for purposes of collaboration with your financial advisor, their support staff, and authorized representatives. Authorized representatives are those parties that have previously been granted view-only access to your accounts).

Need assistance? Give Kelsey a call in our office. She is happy to walk you through the process or answer any questions you may have.

Dow Sails past Notable Milestone: 20,000

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The Dow Jones Industrial Average peaked over 20,000 in the early morning of Wednesday, January 25. This is the first time that the average has topped this historic level.

The Dow is a stock market index that tracks 30 of the largest publicly-owned companies in the United States. Almost every investor in the United States has exposure to these companies through their 401k or other investment accounts. This rings in an important moment for market watchers and economists alike that have long waited and some predicted this historic day.

What does this signal?
Some are saying that many of Trump's executive orders are driving the increase in our domestic equities; coupled with the fact that consumer confidence is at an all time high. The global economy is also posed to rally as well. The number "20,000" is more of an investor psychology number then a tangible data point. Some claim this signals that the market is wildly overvalued. Either way, it tells us that a lot of people are buying US equities right now.

What should we do?
Be thankful that your accounts are more than likely performing very well. Stay focused and do not make any rash decisions to sell. 21,000 could be hiding behind the next corner.

-Ali A. Criss, CFP

Five New Year’s Resolutions for Your Finances

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Instead of hauling out those familiar New Year’s resolutions about eating less and exercising more, how about focusing on something that’s also very good for you in the long run – and even sooner? We’re talking about your financial plan – your fiscal health, if you will. Now that 2017 is underway, this is a great time to review your plan and make whatever revisions might be indicated. With that in mind, here are five suggested resolutions that, if followed, will go a long ways toward helping to ensure that your later years will be financially secure.

1. Get your balance sheet in order

You can’t realistically expect to reach a goal without knowing where you’re starting from. Using 12/31/16 as the effective date, update your personal balance sheet (assets versus liabilities, broadly speaking). Everything else really proceeds from this, so take the time to bring all the numbers up to date.

2. Review your budget and spending habits

How close did you come to what you had planned to spend last year? Where did you go off-track and what can you do about that? Has something fundamental changed in your life that affected your expenses, and is that a one-time item or an ongoing cost? Where can you trim expenses? Although some budget items are fixed, a sharp pencil can produce significant savings on other costs.

3. Designate and update your beneficiaries

If you don’t correctly document and update your beneficiary designations, who gets what may be determined not according to your wishes, but by federal or state law, or by the default plan document used in your retirement accounts. This is especially important if something has changed in your life that could affect your beneficiaries or heirs, such as divorce, remarriage, births, deaths or your state of residence.

4. Revisit your portfolio’s asset allocation

The ups and downs of the markets will affect your asset allocation over time. Appreciation in one asset class or underperformance in another can leave your portfolio with an asset allocation and risk profile that differs from what you originally intended. It’s important to revisit both your current and ideal asset allocation at least annually and rebalance as needed.
Asset allocation does not guarantee a profit nor protect against loss. The process of rebalancing may result in tax consequences.
5. Check to see if your retirement plan is on track
Many investors have delayed their retirement plans for various reasons. The important thing is to respond and determine – promptly and realistically – what changes might be needed given your current lifestyle and market environment. In evaluating the current state of your plan, don’t fixate solely on a number – “We’ll be fine when our retirement portfolio is worth $X” – that just isn’t the way retirement works anymore, if it ever did. The truth is that retirement has a lot of moving parts that must be monitored and managed on an ongoing basis.

Since we all know that many New Year’s resolutions don’t survive that long, resolve to really follow through on these – and give yourself permission to spend a day lazing around watching movies and eating ice cream when you’re done! Just one day, though.

Q4 Newletter

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We are thrilled to share our latest newsletter with you! Here you will find information on Dorothy's medical update, our community engagement highlights, Medicare supplement changes, tech hacks, what to expect when expecting returns, information on a home mortgage refinance and more. As we jump into the Holiday season, we wish you all the best.

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Enjoy!

A Historic View of Volatility

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A Historic View of Volatility
With the markets reacting to the election results, consider a broader historical perspective before changing your financial course.

November 9, 2016

Periods of market volatility – especially pullbacks – can trigger emotional responses in investors. You may feel upset or worried about the results of the election. It happens. And it’s normal. Volatility can also appear as rapid upswings causing sometimes-unbridled euphoria that can also impact judgment. That’s why the best response to market volatility is to contact your advisor for a heartfelt conversation about what the numbers really mean.

Pullbacks Throughout History
Pullbacks can make investors want to pull up stakes and pull out – a common reaction and a common mistake, especially for long-term investors. The right knowledge can help us avoid this mistake, and when we are willing to learn, there’s no better teacher than history.

By looking at the market over a long period of time, we’re provided with a true testament of resiliency. Each decline along the way felt terrible. And declines today feel just as bad. But when we track the overall growth the market has achieved, we learn a lesson in persistence, patience and commitment.

Remember:

The stock market is cyclical.
You will likely encounter numerous pullbacks and/or corrections as a long-term investor.
A study of the stock market shows its resilience.
The upturns have always been stronger than the downturns in the long run.

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Source: Morningstar

Over Time, Returns Have Been Positive
For every action, there’s a reaction. While Newton applied this law in the physical world, it also holds true in the realm of human emotion. When we perceive that things aren’t going our way, we react. And when coping with seemingly unpredictable returns, knowledge and time can once again be our allies. As shown in the chart below, returns over short periods of time have been typically unpredictable. But things tend to become less volatile when you expand the time horizon to five years or more using rolling returns.

Rolling returns show the behavior of returns for holding periods like those experienced by long-term investors. In the chart below, we see positive returns over every 20-year period in the S&P 500. Remembering your long-term time horizon can help when facing short-term disappointments.

Remember:

Returns have been less volatile over longer holding periods.
Returns over time have been positive.
Dollar-cost averaging can help take advantage of volatility.

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Source: Morningstar

Especially during declines, your advisor can act as a sounding board for your concerns. By talking about current events in light of your overall financial plan, your advisor can help provide reassuring perspective to help you stay the course, even when the market seems relatively tumultuous.

Read the full Weathering Market Volatility brochure.

Past performance may not be indicative of future results. There is no assurance these trends will continue. The market value of securities fluctuates and you may incur a profit or a loss. Investing involves risk including the possible loss of capital. This analysis does not include transaction costs which would reduce an investor’s return. The S&P 500 is an unmanaged index of 500 widely held stocks. An investment cannot be made directly in this index. Real estate securities are susceptible to the many risks associated with the direct ownership of real estate. International investing is subject to additional risks such as currency fluctuations, different financial accounting standards by country, and possible political and economic risks, which may be greater in emerging markets. Commodities are generally considered speculative because of the significant potential for investment loss. Fixed income investments may involve market risk if sold prior to maturity, credit risk and interest rate risk. Dollar cost averaging does not assure a profit and does not protect against loss. It involves continuous investment regardless of fluctuating price levels of such securities. Investors should consider their financial ability to continue purchases through periods of low price levels.

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