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Final Thoughts on 2018

by Kaydee Haug Kaydee Haug No Comments

2018 has come and gone, and we are already a month into the new year.

Last year ended with significant volatility in stock prices, but has anyone noticed that people only talk about volatility during declines, and don’t mind volatility when it ends in a net gain?

What’s most interesting about 2018, and only time will tell, but “the big one” many people had been waiting for may have happened late in the year. On August 29, 2018, the S&P 500 closed at 2,914. That same day, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was at 26,124.

On December 24th, the S&P 500 closed at 2,351, which would be a decline of about 13% from its previous high. The DJIA that day closed at 21,792, which is about 17% lower than where it had been on August 29th.

When looking at prices throughout the trading days during 2018, there was a point in which stocks were very close to 20% lower than they had previously been when at an all-time high within the calendar year.

What is the takeaway? By most definitions, a “Bear Market” happens when there is a 20% decline. As I said before, only time will tell, but we may learn that this downturn was the end of the “bull market” that started in 2009, and the beginning of a new one.

What’s most important? As is the case month after month and year after year, the way a financial plan should be invested is based on the need or desire for risk and rate of return, and not on short-term moods related to stock prices or market movements.

As we look ahead to 2018 income tax returns, many will be identifying for the first time exactly how the 2018 tax legislation may have impacted their bottom line on the tax return.

I suspect many parents with children under 18 years old will be surprised to learn they are receiving a $2,000 tax credit per child; which means this $2,000 tax credit is similar to the IRS putting a cash deposit down on your tax due bill.

Separately, I can’t stress enough that we should be mindful of these low tax rates in a moment in history when federal budget deficits and total debt are at all time highs. The 2018 tax law is scheduled to expire after the 2025 tax year, and with no action, many of the new provisions revert to 2017 tax law. This is very likely to end up in higher tax rates for many, if not most, taxpayers.

There may be ways for us to take advantage of this, and I think this tax window may be providing one of the biggest long-term tax opportunities we’ve seen in my 18+ years of financial planning. Considering there can be so many variables in investing outcomes, proper tax planning is an area where we can greatly increase certainty with good planning.

By Jeff Coplan, AAMS®, CFP®
Registered Principal, RJFS
Financial Advisor

 

*Expressions of opinion are as of this date and are subject to change without notice. Investing involves risk and investors may incur a profit or a loss. Past performance may not be indicative of future results.

Raymond James and its advisors do not offer tax or legal advice. Any opinions are those of Jeff Coplan and the professionals at Integrity Wealth and not necessarily those of Raymond James. Changes in tax laws may occur at any time and could have a substantial impact upon each person’s situation. While we are familiar with the tax provisions of the issues presented herein, as Financial Advisors of RJFS, we are not qualified to render advice on tax or legal matters. You should discuss tax or legal matters with the appropriate professional. There is no guarantee that these statements, opinions or forecasts provided herein will prove to be correct.

The S&P 500 is an unmanaged index of 500 widely held stocks that is generally considered representative of the U.S. stock market. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA), commonly known as “The Dow”, is an index representing 30 stocks of companies maintained and reviewed by the editors of the Wall Street Journal.

Keep in mind that individuals cannot invest directly in any index, and index performance does not include transaction costs or other fees, which will affect actual investment performance. Individual investor’s results will vary.

Jeff’s Economic Commentary – Fall 2017

by Jeff Coplan Jeff Coplan No Comments

 

(Note: based on client survey feedback, we are pleased to fulfill your request of providing more economic commentary by adding this new quarterly column.)

The most prevalent question we are hearing is whether or not we are at “the top” of the stock market.

Just as I predicted in late 2007 (ten years ago!) we currently may be experiencing the top of the market, or we could soon face an “epic” downturn.

I had no intentions of predicting the future in 2007, but looking back, it turns out the latter was closer to the truth and we faced an epic downturn.

Although I don’t see any reason to believe we are facing a similar market crisis, events have a way of changing the mood of investors quickly.

The most important thing you should be aware of are the philosophical drivers that are true, regardless of short term market conditions.

These are statements that will be true at market high points and market low points:

  1. There are variables we control, and others we do not. We can control the level of exposure we take to stocks, bonds, and other investment categories, as well as the level of discipline we employ as we go through market cycles. We cannot reliably predict the movement of stock prices over any given month, year, or any other time period.
  2. Over history, stock prices have always gone from all-time highs to new all-time highs. Downturns have always been temporary, regardless of the circumstances that surround the downturn. The length of expansions and recessions varies; however, historically one cycle has always followed the other.
  3. Our level of exposure to stocks is directly related to the time frame we have for needing those investment dollars. For those investors that are relying on their savings for income, there will be areas of diversification within the plan that are designed to experience far less fluctuation than others.
  4. The longer we hold an investment portfolio, we believe the more likely we are to see the intended results.
  5. Comparing the total market value of an investment plan from one month to another is not necessarily the best way to determine its results. Evaluating an investment portfolio over full market cycles is far more realistic.
  6. There is no assurance that there will be a gain in value in any given month, or any given year. Negative individual months or years are not necessarily a reason to change our investment approach.

We have certainly enjoyed an extended period of low volatility and strong market gains over the last twelve months, but be aware: eventually there will be a downturn!

Unfortunately, I can’t tell you when it’s coming, or how long it will last, but I stand by each of the six statements above, and will continue to do so when the downturn arrives.

Estate Planning Best Practices

by Kaydee Haug Kaydee Haug No Comments

Clients and friends,

Jeff Coplan recently wrote an article about estate planning that was published in Retirement Weekly. We are sharing it with you today. The article provides a detailed strategy for leaving money to heirs and charities. If you haven’t thought past leaving a “money pot,” you’ll want to read this article.

Holistic planning is a key component of our financial mindset; we hope you find the article informative!

 

How To Avoid Common Estate Planning Missteps