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Aug
16
What Keeps You Up At Night?
The condition of our finances and health are the two biggest worries that keep people up at night.  Although, how much we worry about these two areas tends to vary with age.  Finances tends to be a consistent worry throughout most people’s lifetime, however surprisingly worry about finances drops as we age.  Perhaps because our spending drops and there’s not much that can be done to significantly change them once you reach your 60’s, 70’s and 80’s.   Understandably, our health shows the opposite pattern and our worries about it tend to increase sharply as we age.  Health is an area that most approaching and current retirees probably don’t spend enough time planning for; studies show that taking the time to plan for your health may lead to a...
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Jul
25
Fund Flows Dominated by Two Firms
Fund flows into mutual funds and ETFs continue to be dominated by two fund families: Vanguard and BlackRock. Passive strategies continue to be the big winner when it comes to attracting new assets, while active managers struggle to attract assets.  It's now estimated that passive funds represent a little more than a third of all assets in the U.S. We would not be surprised if this trend continues and passive funds approach 50% of the market over the next few years.
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Jun
09
FAANG Stocks Lead the Way
The following post is from the Yardeni.com blog:  FAANG-led melt-up. The market cap of the FAANGs is up 41.4% y/y to a record $2.49 trillion, while the market cap of the S&P 500 is up 14.3% to $20.95 trillion over the same period. The FAANGs account for 27.8% of the $2.6 trillion increase in the value of the S&P 500 over the past year. The FAANG stocks now account for 11.9% of the S&P 500's market capitalization, up from 5.8% on April 26, 2013. Collectively, over this period, they've accounted for $1.6 trillion of the $6.9 trillion increase in the S&P 500! Their collective forward P/E is now 27.1 and 42.8 with and without Apple, respectively. The S&P 500's forward P/E is 17.7 and 16.9 with and without the FAANGs. These elephants continue...
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May
09
What to Expect Next
One of the most common (and costly) mistakes an investor can make is chasing great performance.  The cartoon below by Carl Richards is a great visual and reminder that we must always be looking forward. When forecasting expected returns, we evaluate the research from several different firms we respect.  Below are the 10 year expected 'real returns' from Research Affiliates.
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Apr
07
Demystifying the Fee Confusion
According to a recent survey by J.D. Power, most clients don't understand the fees they pay their advisor or broker.  We can help demystify the industries hidden secrets!
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Mar
29
Wealth Management Table of Experts
Last month, Business First gathered financial experts from seven local wealth management firms, including Steve Giacobbe, to discuss their outlook on key issues impacting financial markets and investors.  Tom Monohan, former publisher for Business First, led a 60 minute dialogue on the following topics: • What is your market outlook for 2017? • How to digest news that may negatively affect the market? • How to determine tolerance for risk? • Why the government delayed the fiduciary rule and what does it mean for investors? • How has the fee structure evolved over the past 10 years and where is it headed? • What goes into helping boomer clients get ready for retirement? • What are key factors to consider for building wealth and...
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Mar
14
March 2017 Investment Newsletter
Equity returns continued their positive momentum as investors bet that the Trump administration will create faster growth if he follows through on campaign promises. Conversely, core fixed income markets were up slightly for the month, as yields stayed in a trading range.   There are a number of key events in March we are watching closely, including several key elections, which may have a significant impact on global market on.  In addition, the actions and commentary from the Federal Reserve and Trump administration policy will play a key role in investors’ sentiment and returns going forward. In this month's newsletter, we discuss the following topics: • Market performance review – investor exuberance pushes equity returns higher •...
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Feb
03
Actively managed fund expenses are dropping as investors move towards passively managed funds
Investors have been moving their money away from actively managed investments into passive investment funds in search of lower fees and better performance.  The good news is the flow of money into passive funds is causing active fund managers to react by lowering their fees.  Although the cost gap is still fairly wide between active and passive funds, the trend is definitely headed in the right direction.  We are big believers that the odds of outperforming go up sharply as fees come down! Source: Morningstar
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Feb
03
The vulnerability of China’s financial system is growing
The Bank for International Systems published a warning about China's banking system in late 2016 due to the increase massive increase in their credit/GDP gap ratio.  This indicator has a good history of predicting financial crisis when a countries credit/GDP ratio exceeds 10% and China's current reading is a troubling 30% (see the chart below).  China, however has a centrally managed economy and banking system with little foreign ownership, so they may be able to navigate way through this period of excessive leverage without triggering a financial crisis.  How this unfolds will have a large impact on the global economy and we will be watching  closely. Sources: BIS and Morningstar
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Jul
18
New Highs.........
The S&P 500 recently made a new 52 week and all-time high.  The index had gone 413 days without making a new one-year high, making it one of the longer streaks on record. In similar periods the median return for the S&P 500 one-year later tended to be up strongly.  The chart below from Ned Davis Research also looked at new all-time highs after bear markets and also suggests more gains are likely to follow.  However, given high valuations for stocks we would suggest tempering your expectations for future returns, but acknowledge that near-term momentum is in favor of the bulls.
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Jun
07
The Coppock Curve Turns Positive
In the midst of a lot of negative headlines, there are positive signs for the bull market to continue.  According to Leuthold , the Coppock Curve recently turned positive.  This indicated has a decent long-term track record.  The charts below show the history of the indicator.  It doesn't always mean it will be right, but thought it was worth sharing in the face of all the pessimism.
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May
10
Where Are We In The Credit Cycle?
When we think about the credit cycle, we divide it into three broad stages: the recovery, the expansion, and the downturn. Based on qualitative and quantitative factors, we believe we are in the later innings of the expansion phase. While there are still a number of positives, some metrics we monitor are starting to show signs of fatigue. To be clear, these are cracks as opposed to outright erosion, and it's quite possible this cycle will persist longer than prior cycles. Also, it's important to note that none of these factors in and of themselves dictate where we are in the credit cycle, rather it's their cumulative impact. On the positive side, from a fundamental perspective we think the backdrop for credit, in aggregate, is relatively...
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May
05
The Predictive Power of Fees
A fund's expense ratio is one of the best predictors of future success, it's not the only criteria to look at but it's a great place to start!  The below chart from Morningstar sorts funds from the cheapest quintile to the most expensive and shows the success ratio for each.  The results clearly show that cheaper funds produce better success ratios than the second-cheapest and so on, demonstrating how important costs are to successful investing.  FYI- the success ratio looks at what percentage of funds survived and outperformed their category group, funds that do both are counted in the success ratio.
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Apr
08
Historical Volatility to Start 2016
The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) did something that it has only done 3 other times since 1900. After dropping over 10% during the quarter, it recovered to close the quarter positive. Zero Hedge
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Mar
28
Value is Starting to Outperform
In the battle of growth vs. value, growth stocks have been winning handily for several years. However, over the past couple of months we have seen value stocks start to take the performance lead.  Now is a good time for investors to review their portfolios and make sure they haven't become too complacent in letting their growth or "FANG" stocks become too large of an allocation in their portfolios.   We don't know if the outperformance of value stocks will continue in the short-term, however history has shown the cycle of growth vs. value tends to revert to the mean and that over the long-term value tends to outperform.
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Mar
16
The Trend in Nominal GDP Growth is Declining
We have talked about the "New Normal" for many years and how it is translating into slower economic growth in the U.S.  The charts below from ECRI show that a similar trend is happening around the world.  The charts below show the trend in nominal GDP growth for five of the largest developed economies and how it has trending down for many years. The only exception is Japan the past couple of years, however that is mainly because their economy has been trending in and out of recession for several years.  The implication is that monetary policy alone is not likely to reverse the trend, it is time for global policy makers to focus on other ways to boost long-term trend growth.  Unless appropriate action is taken the risk will be that economies...
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Jan
28
Reasonable values are returning to the markets
One of the valuation metrics we like to follow is the Morningstar Fair Value indicator. The indicator takes all of the stocks rated by the Morningstar analysts to arrive at a composite value for the market.  The recent correction is starting to create some reasonable valuations in the market… making it a good time for investors to get their watch-lists ready! Source: Morningstar
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Jan
28
The employment numbers are not as healthy as they appear
The sustained decline in the official jobless rate – now near the Fed's estimate of "full employment" – is a misleading indicator of labor market health. Indeed, the stagnation in nominal wage growth is consistent with the weakness in the employment/population (E/P) ratio. After dropping to three-decade lows in the wake of the Great Recession, the E/P ratio has barely improved since the fall of 2013, reversing only a quarter of its decline from its pre-recession highs. Furthermore – as a breakdown of the E/P ratio by education level shows – even this modest improvement is illusory. Since 2011, when the E/P ratio for those with less than a high school diploma bottomed, that metric has regained almost two-thirds of its recessionary losses...
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Nov
24
Five Questions and Answers about New Social Security Claiming Rules
When Congress unexpectedly eliminated two Social Security claiming strategies as part of the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015, retirement planning got a little more complicated for people who expected to use those strategies to boost their retirement income. Here are some questions and answers that could help if you are wondering how the new rules might affect you. Social Security Claiming Rules
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Oct
19
G7 Deflationary Forces Remain Intact
The chart below, from ECRI, shows that inflation remains well contained in the G7 countries, with core inflation staying close to 1.5% and headline inflation near zero.  The shaded areas are recessionary periods and illustrate how inflation drops when a business cycle recession occurs.  With inflation so low, and weak economic growth in China and around the world, it seems clear why the major central banks have not been in a hurry to raise rates.
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Aug
31
STOCK MARKETS ARE NARROWING IN 2015
According to a recent study by Ned Davis 11 stocks in the NASDAQ 100 account for 100% of the returns thru 7/31 of this year, while only 3 stocks (AAPL, Amazon and Google) account for 50% of the gains.  It is not unusual for the breadth in the market to narrow, particularly during the later stages of a market rally.  It is also a good illustration of why it is so hard for active managers to keep up with the passive indices, if a manager doesn't own the few stocks that are leading the index it is next to impossible to keep up!
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Aug
31
IT HAS BEEN A WHILE SINCE WE'VE SEEN A CORRECTION
The chart below from Ned Davis Research shows the number of days since we have seen a correction of 5, 10 or 20%. The length of time since the last significant correction is near record levels, suggesting that complacency on the part of investors is increasing. The chart doesn't suggest that a correction is imminent, but it does suggest a corrections is overdue and likely to occur this year. The longer it takes for a correction to occur, the greater the magnitude of the decline is likely to be.
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Aug
31
EURO_DENOMINATED DEBT ISSUANCE IS GROWING
The widening gap between U.S. and Euro area corporate interest rates is driving U.S. companies to issue more euro-denominated. The first chart below shows the increasing divergence in the investment grade corporate bond yields that is now approaching 2%. The second chart shows the significant growth in euro-dominated corporate debt, which is back near the 2007 high. Given the divergence in monetary policy, the U.S. likely to raise rates while the euro area ramps up QE, the trend is likely to persist. The growth in euro-denominated debt and the divergence in interests needs to be monitored, as it will increase foreign exchange and interest rate risk for some U.S. companies.
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Aug
31
THE LAW OF LARGE NUMBERS
One of our research providers, the Leuthold Group, recently published an interesting study of individual companies whose market value has grown large enough to comprise more than 4% of the S&P 500's market value. Something that has only happened 5 times, with Apple being the most recent addition to that club. The chart below shows how long the previous members of the "4% club" stayed at that level and how they performed afterwards. The Leuthold Group concludes that the law of large numbers will combine to drive Apple below the 4% threshold. We have been long time holders and admirers of Apple the company and the stock, however with a market capitalization well over 700 billion it is hard to argue with Leuthold's logic.
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Aug
31
THE AVAILABILTY OF SOVEREIGN BONDS IN THE PRIVATE SECTOR IS SHRINKING
According to the BCA the availability of bonds in aggregate for the U.S., Eurozone and Japan is declining, creating a mismatch in the supply and demand for these bonds in the private sector. This mismatch of supply and demand is a big reason why global interest have fallen.
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Aug
31
SINCE 1871, US EQUITIES HAVE NEVER RISEN 7 CONSECUTIVE YEARS IN A ROW
Will 2015 be different? Trends are made to be broken and each market cycle is unique. We would never recommend relying on one data point as an indicator of future trendes, however, we are watching a number of key variable, including the US dollar, US bond yields, commodity prices, actions of foreign central banks and global economic activity as part of our assessment.
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Aug
31
THE FUTURE OF RETAIL BANKER
Online banks continue to take market share from traditional banks, according to a recent article from Morningstar. The combination of a low-cost position due to a lack of physical branches, shifting customer preferences, and superior customer service is strengthening the competitive advantages of the bank subsidiaries of companies like Discover Financial Services and Charles Schwab. We believe this trend will continue to favor online banks, pressuring traditional banks, especially smaller banks that do not have the resources to invest in a competitive online presence.
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Aug
31
WINNERS AND LOSERS OF THE OIL PRICE PLUNGE
With oil prices dropping close to 50% the past six months, it's important to think about who wins and who losses. The chart below shows a summary of the countries that are the biggest oil importers and exporters, with importers being the obvious winners. Here's a quick run-down of some of the winners and losers from the recent oil price decline: Winners:  • Countries and regions that are big importers of oil (i.e. Japan and China)  • Global consumers will have extra discretionary spending dollars  • Retailers- good timing with Christmas right around the corner  • Transportation stocks (i.e. airlines and delivery companies) Losers:  • Countries that are large oil exporters (i.e. Russia and Venezuela)  • Energy stocks- both...
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Aug
31
LONG END OF THE US YIELD CURVE FLATTEST SINCE JAN 2009
The spread between 30-year treasury yields and 10-year treasury yields fell to 65 basis points yesterday which is the lowest spread since January 21st, 2009. Since April 2013, the spread has narrowed by 59 basis points.
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Aug
31
CHARITABLE GIVING
The last few months of the year make up what is commonly called the Giving Season for the nonprofit community. Include charitable giving in your financial plan and support the causes that mean the most to you.
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Aug
31
INTERNATIONAL MARKETS LOOKING MORE ATTRACTIVE
International developed and developing markets have lagged the U.S. markets for several years, mainly a result of slower economic growth and declining currencies. We believe valuations in those markets are becoming more attractive on a relative basis, and would consider further underperformance as an opportunity to increase positions. Below is a snapshot of normalized P/E valuations from the Leuthold Group, indicating the better relative valuations in foreign developed and developing markets.
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Aug
31
TAX CHANGES FOR ESTATE PLANNING
The Internal Revenue Service announced Thursday that in 2015 the estate-tax exemption will rise to $5.43 million per individual ($10.86 million for married couples) from $5.34 million this year. The top estate and gift-tax rate remains at 39.6% for 2015. The increase in federal estate tax exemptions and portability has left many people less concerned with updating their estate plans. However, there are many reasons other than taxes to keep your estate plan current, including protecting your beneficiaries and minor children, asset-protection, and privacy, etc. Often, the need to update your plan is triggered by a life changing event such as the birth of a child or a marriage. Here is a more complete list of life-events that may trigger the...
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Aug
31
MID-TERM ELECTIONS
Markets have been extremely volatile of late, however history suggests they could improve post the mid-term elections. The resolution of election uncertainty, and the negative rhetoric that comes along with campaigning, has historically been a positive for the stock market. The chart below shows that 6 to 12 months after the mid-term elections stocks have tended to show significant gains. If history holds we think the correction in October may be setting up for a pretty good buying opportunity...
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Aug
31
THE GREYING OF AMERICA
The chart below shows the growth rate of people in different age categories. Clearly, growth in the over 65 age group will dominate the other categories for the next couple of decades. The implications to the economy and industries will be significant, we expect the biggest changes to occur in healthcare spending, housing and social welfare programs. Investors and advisors need to incorporate these changes into their investment strategies and financial plans...
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Aug
31
A PENNY SAVED IS A PENNY EARNED
Money continues to gravitate towards Vanguard and Blackrock. What do they have in common? Mostly, low costs and market leading ETFs... we are glad to see that investors are waking up to the notion that costs matter!
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Aug
31
INVESTMENT HUMOR
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Aug
31
A CASE OF DISAPPEARING FUNDS
Dimensional Fund Advisors (DFA) recently published a study of mutual fund performance that had some eye-popping statistics. The chart below shows the number of equity mutual funds that outperformed their respective benchmarks over multiple time-frames and the number of funds that survived over those same time-frames. The number of funds that outperformed their benchmarks over the different time-frames is astoundingly low, and progressively got worse the longer the time period. However, the "survivorship" numbers are even more surprising, with only 52% of funds surviving over the 10 year period ending 12/31/13. Both the low outperformance and survivorship statistics are damaging evidence that the mutual fund industry is more interested in...
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Aug
31
THE MIDDLE OF THE YIELD CURVE IS ACTING LIKE THE FED JUST COMPLETED A TIGHTENING CYCLE
While yields at the long end of the US Treasury market have been heading lower all year (the 30-year has fallen from 3.93% to 3.32% and the 10-year has fallen from 2.94% to 2.56%) the middle of the yield curve has been acting entirely differently. The 7-year yield has fallen only slightly by about 20bps to 2.23%, while the 5-year yield is actually 1bps higher at 1.75%. Moreover, since the middle of 2012 5-year yields have risen by 216% and 7-year yields have risen by 146% (chart 1 below). The result has been a substantial flattening in the spread between the long end and the middle of the yield curve (chart 2 below). One interesting observation here is that this flattening is very similar to the flattening that occurred during the last...
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Aug
31
WHY ECONOMIC MOATS MATTER
The term "economic moat" is widely credited to Warren Buffett, and simply means that a firm possesses a sustainable competitive advantage over its competition.  Allowing them to fend off their competitors and earn high rates of return on their capital.  Identifying moats is a key part of our investment strategy and the reason is clearly illustrated below.  Firms that have sustainable competitive advantages (economic moats) will earn a higher return on their capital for longer than firms that have no moats. Obviously, we want to own the firms that have wide (strong) economic moats and avoid the firms that have none. Examples of economic moats we like to see in an investment are: high customer switching costs, a network effect, valuable...
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Aug
31
BEHAVIORAL ECONOMICS: A FUNNY ILLUSTRATION OF THE "HERDING" EFFECT...
Mutual of Omaha "Lone Gazelle"
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Aug
31
AN INSIDE LOOK AT THE S&P 500 P/E BY MARKET CAP
The S&P 500 is a market weighted index, meaning that companies with the largest market capitalizations have the biggest impact on the overall performance and valuation of the index. The table below, provided by GaveKal, shows the forward P/E valuation for the S&P 500 broken into three market cap categories: top 10, top 50 and bottom 450. The table clearly shows that the largest companies (top 10 and top 50) are trading at significantly lower valuation multiples than the smallest companies (bottom 450). Making the overall index appear less highly valued than the majority of individual stocks would indicate, and demonstrating that the largest companies in the index can skew index level statistics like P/E. To get a true sense of valuations in...
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Aug
31
INVESTORS ARE STRETCHING TOO FAR FOR YIELD
The table below shows the effective yield, option adjusted spread and expected nominal returns for different categories of corporate bonds. It's clear from the table that buyers of lower quality bonds are not being adequately compensated for taking on the added risk of owning low quality bonds. Default rates are currently low, however this will change when we enter the next recession. In our opinion, it's not always worth stopping to pick up the extra pennies, especially if the steam roller is right behind you.
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Aug
31
REITS VS COMMERCIAL REAL ESTATE
How do Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) compare to direct exposure in Commercial Real Estate (CRE)? There are many pro's and con's when investing in REITs vs. CRE. The pro's are: easy diversification; decent yields; and no fixed real real estate costs. The con's include: higher volatility, lower yields than direct CRE and less diversification benefits. As investment managers we like the greater volatility of REITs because we believe it creates opportunities for patient investors to capitalize on temporary price dislocations. The chart below, from BCA, is a good illustration of how volatile REITs can be compared to CRE. In today's enviroment, REITs look a little expensive and we would not be big buyers of the asset class. However,...
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Aug
31
COSTS MATTER
A recent study from Morningstar confirms what we intuitively already know, mutual fund performance is closely linked with expenses. The chart below summarizes the performance and fees of the leading mutual fund families; with the lower left representing weaker risk-adjusted returns and higher costs and the upper right being higher returns and lower costs. Some of the fund families that stand out for good performance and low fees are no surprise: Vanguard, Dodge & Cox, T. Rowe Price and PIMCO all of which have long been some of our favorites. For more information on the Morningstar report click here http://goo.gl/p6wjEq
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Aug
31
BILL GROSS AND THE "NEW NUETRAL"
In his most recent investment outlook Bill Gross discussed the concept of a New Neutral, and its importance to the pricing of financial assets.  Historically the real (after inflation) fed funds rate has followed a long trend from 4% in the 70's to 2% before the financial crisis. This is important because the fed funds rate is central to the pricing of most financial assets, including stocks and bonds.  Gross' thesis is that the long-term real fed funds rate is moving towards zero, if that is the case it will have wide ranging implications for the pricing of financial assets going forward.  Suggesting that some assets may not be as "bubbly" in price as they now appear, however it may raise the specter for larger corrections down the road if...
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Aug
31
WORKING WITH A FINANCIAL PLANNER
When starting a relationship with an advisor, we believe it is important to ask the right questions. The Certified Financial Planner Board, which is regarded as the standard for practitioners, list "10 Questions to Ask a Financial Planner." Two questions that stood out to us were, "What are your qualifications?" and "Could anyone besides me benefit from your recommendations?" Our team is highly credentialed and experienced to address the complex needs of our client's wealth management goals. Accredited Wealth Management is a fee-only firm dedicated to providing objective, conflict-free advice. We do not participate in soft-dollar trading, nor do we accept referral fees or commissions for selling products such as insurance and annuities....
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Aug
31
THE NEXT BLACK SWAN
The next Black Swan may come from "geopolitical tapering" not the tapering of the Federal Reserve's bond purchases according to Harvard historian, Niall Ferguson. In a recent speech, Niall provided an interesting perspective on the scaling back of the U.S. military presence around the world, at the same time that we are seeing China, Japan, Russia and others start to assert themselves globally. Black Swans by definition are low probability events, however this is an area that investors should keep an eye on. To read more on Niall's perspective click here http://goo.gl/WK6dpJ
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Aug
31
YIELDS AND VALUATION
We are starting to see some interesting divergences in the 10 year yield and valuations.  The chart below from GaveKal (www.gavekal.com) illustrates that the forward p/e on the S&P 500 has continued to drift higher while yields have pulled back.  Note that bond yields are at an interesting technical level that could add to the divergence; we will continue to monitor these relationships closely.
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Aug
31
INCOME INVESTING
Written by MIAGD Thankfully we were early to recognize the secular theme of a rising demand for investment income in an era of low interest rates. Based on demographic trends, slower economic growth (New Normal), monetary policy and other factors we have tilted our portfolios towards higher income from multiple sources, which has resulted in improved returns with lower risk. In essence, we have been able to" have our cake and also eat it too." For many investors, there is an intuitive appeal to owning income-producing investments and living on the cash flow they produce, while leaving the principal untouched. For us it simply came down to valuation and expected return, which we viewed as attractive for many years. The challenge going...
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Aug
31
TIMING A TURN IN THE MARKETS
Written by Accredited Wealth Management As we write, the current rally which dates to November 20, 2012 has become the second longest in the past thirty years. For this purpose we define a rally as the number of weeks the S&P 500 stays above its 200 day moving average (DMA). By most measures the current rally seems a little "long in the tooth", but that in itself is not necessarily a reason to sell. We have also been on record that valuations for the stock market look stretched, but have not reached extreme levels. And, of course, valuation by itself is a notoriously poor market timing tool. Anyone remember what year Alan Greenspan's Irrational Exuberance speech took place? It was 1996, right before the market went on to produce 20% +...
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Aug
31
PIMCO
Written by MIAGD The investment team at PIMCO recently shared a chart and commentary that does a nice job of summarizing asset classes in a way that is consistent with our view of the investing landscape. On the surface the chart looks rather simplistic with the safest asset classes in the center and the riskiest on the outer circles. The safest securities start with Treasury bills and gradually move out the risk curve to equities and real estate. Suggesting the obvious conclusion that higher returns are correlated with higher risk, with investors seeking higher returns moving towards the outer rings and those more comfortable with lower risk (and returns) moving towards the center. The real insight comes from recognizing that the very...
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 Accredited Wealth Management
6010 Brownsboro Park Boulevard
Suite F
Louisville, KY 40207
Office: 502-290-1905
Fax: 502-290-1908
Email:  awm@accreditedwm.com


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