ACTIONABLE ADVICE FOR FINANCIAL ADVISORS: Newsletters and Commentaries Focused on Investment Strategy

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Can American Funds Sustain Its Outperformance?

by Larry Swedroe

Among actively managed funds, American Funds has a reputation for providing investor-friendly, low-cost products with sustained records of outperformance. But has it outperformed comparable funds from Vanguard and Dimensional Fund Advisors (DFA)? If so, should investors expect its funds to maintain their edge?

Evaluating Investments versus Insurance in Retirement

by Wade Pfau

In the past, I’ve described two fundamentally different philosophies for retirement-income planning: probability-based and safety-first. Those philosophies diverge on the critical issue of where an individual must place their trust: in the risk/reward tradeoffs of an equity portfolio, or on the contractual guarantee of insurance products. Here’s how to overcome that challenge and integrate the two approaches in a retirement plan.

Three Responses When a Prospect Already has an Advisor

by Dan Richards

Advisors often run into prospects who already have an advisor in place. Here are three hot buttons to engage those who already have an advisor.

The Epiphany that Changed Everything

by Daniel Solin

Every time I coach a group of advisors, I invariably learn something new in the process. Here is how my time working with practitioners led to an epiphany that changed the focus of my coaching – and drove better results for my clients.

Dealing with a Difficult Partner

by Beverly Flaxington

Our advisory business is going very well. The better it goes, the less involved my business partner becomes. She will come in late, leave early and generally be disruptive when she is here. God forbid I say anything and she bursts into tears. What can I do?

Stop Ignoring Millennials: They’re The Future of Your Company

by Lauren Hong

Millennials are bucking trends day-in and day-out. As of 2013, they’re officially the largest, most diverse generation in the U.S. As a financial advisor, you cannot ignore them. Here’s how to include millennials in your marketing plan.

Career Center

by Various

Find career opportunities for firms that seek to add financial advisors and planners to their staff. Read more to find out how to post opportunities at your firm.

A Case Study for Using Life Settlements

by Stephen Terrell

I recently sat down with one financial advisor who truly believes that life settlements serve a great purpose for the right client in the right situation. And his case study is emblematic of how these transactions, which enable a senior to sell a life insurance policy for immediate cash, can be an appropriate option for the right client.

Sallie Krawcheck’s Solution to the Retirement Crisis

by Justin Kermond

Sallie Krawcheck is a woman with a cause. She has a solution to the retirement crisis and a strategy for advisors to grow their female client bases.

Grantham: Stocks Will Continue Upward until the Election

by Justin Kermond

Jeremy Grantham says equity valuations are heading toward the “two-sigma” level that is the requisite threshold for a true bubble. At some point – which is not imminent – he says a “trigger” will precipitate the reversion back to mean levels. The market will continue to deliver positive returns until the next election, according to Grantham.

Recent Commentaries

A Week of Unseen Things

by John Mauldin of Mauldin Economics

We Americans are celebrating our Independence Day this weekend. The news our ancestors read on this day in 1776 wasn’t so great – but the US survived its rough start. China, Puerto Rico, and Greece will survive, too. But the decisions their government make, just like the ones our fledgling government made all those years ago, will make a great deal of difference. Let’s get past the gloom and doom to see if we can find some good news.

International Economic Week in Review For June 29-July 30; Greece and Canada Creating Problems, Edit

by Hale Stewart of Hale Stewart

Greece is obviously the big wild card going into next week. And while the damage appears to be contained for now, there is no guarantee we won't see a negative feedback loop filter out into the market and EU economy. Canada's four months of GDP contraction are also getting a bit concerning. Even though we knew this was coming, it's still a most unwelcome development. However, other economies are at least holding their own for now.

US Participation Rate Drops To October 1977 Levels

by Eric Bush of GaveKal Capital

At first glance, the most eye-opening stat in the latest monthly employment report is the fall in the participation rate from 62.9% to 62.6%. This latest level is the lowest level since October 1977.

Why the Greek Bailout Failed

by Kenneth Rogoff of Project Syndicate

As the crisis in Greek demonstrates, imposing structural reforms from outside a country is unlikely to succeed without the willingness of a capable government. If a bailout program requires a wholesale change in a country’s economic model, moving swiftly to write down outstanding debts may be the more sensible option.

All That Crap About Not Panicking?

by Roger Nusbaum of AdvisorShares

It is still true. As I write this post Monday after the close there is still a lot of uncertainty on how Greece will precisely play out. Markets were down on Monday of course, right now the S&P 500 is at 2057 right around where it started the year and is flirting with its 200 day moving average.

Greek Default is Everyone’s Fault

by Carl Tannenbaum of Northern Trust

We do not expect widespread global contagion, but reducing the risk of this outcome will require renewed cooperation between Greece and its creditors. They created the problem together, and neither side can claim the high ground. It is about time that they came back down to earth and worked this thing out.

Eurozone Contagion Fears Flare as Greek Crisis Enters Crucial Phase

by David Zahn of Franklin Templeton Investments

Whatever the outcome of the Greek referendum on Sunday (July 5), the result is likely to mean more uncertainty and possibly pain for the people of Greece. So far, according to David Zahn, head of European Fixed Income, Franklin Templeton Fixed Income Group, the economic fallout of the crisis appears to be mostly contained within Greece, and the likelihood of longer-term contagion to other eurozone economies seems to be limited.

Looking for Income in All the Right Places

by Morgan Harting, Martin Atkin of AllianceBernstein

Investors and advisors know they can’t depend solely on the old standbys—bonds, high-dividend stocks and cash—to produce income today, and they’re ready to try a new approach. But which one?

The Business Cycle—Middle-Aged or Elderly?

by Erik Knutzen of Neuberger Berman

When it comes to the duration of the business cycle, 50 is the new 40. Much the way that better diet, health care and exercise have helped double life expectancy over the past century, central banks have prolonged the current expansion using new elixirs such as zero interest rates and quantitative easing. At 72 months, the business cycle has well surpassed the 58.4-month average of the modern era and is now more than twice the length of the pre-WWII average.

Recent dshort Posts

World Markets Weekend Update: The Shanghai Bear in Ten Sessions

The India's BSE SENSEX was only index in our eight-index world market focus group that posted a weekly gain, up 1.01%. The attention grabber was, again, China's Shanghai Composite, down -6.68% for the week. From its 59.72% year-to-date gain on June 12th, it took the Shanghai a mere 10 sessions to warrant the stigma of bear market (a -20% decline) on Monday of this week, and it's now down -24.26% three sessions later in its holiday-shortened week. Meanwhile, the drama in Greece continues to pummel the European Indexes.

S&P 500 Snapshot: Flat for the Day, Down 1.18% for the Week

The financial crisis in Greece continues its slow-motion journey to resolution, whatever that may be. But today the attention grabber for the US markets was the generally disappointing June employment report. Fewer jobs added than expected, downward revisions to the past two months, and a smaller unemployment rate largely driven by a labor force that shrank more than the number of unemployed. The S&P 500 opened higher and hit its 0.37% intraday high a few minutes later.

The Big Four Economic Indicators: Nonfarm Employment

Nonfarm Employment has been in a steady upward trend. Today's report of 223K new nonfarm jobs in June was a bit below expectations. More significant is the fact that May nonfarm payrolls were revised downward by 26K from 280K to 254K and April downward by 34K from 221K to 187K, a total revision of -60K for the two months. The unemployment rate ticked down two notches from 5.5% to 5.3%, a drop driven by a larger decline in the labor force (432K) than the reduction in the unemployed (375K).

The Market Remains in Overvaluation Territory

Here is a summary of the four market valuation indicators we update on a monthly basis.

  • The Crestmont Research P/E Ratio
  • The cyclical P/E ratio using the trailing 10-year earnings as the divisor
  • The Q Ratio, which is the total price of the market divided by its replacement cost
  • The relationship of the S&P Composite price to a regression trendline

The Civilian Labor Force, Unemployment Claims and the Business Cycle

What does the ratio of unemployment claims tell us about where we are in the business cycle and our current recession risk? At present, the ratio for Continued Claims has been trending down. Excluding the 1981 recession, the Initial Claims trough lead time for a recession has ranged from 7 to 22 months with an average of 12 months if we include the 1981 recession and 14 months if we exclude it. Admittedly, the last recession is an extreme example, but the Initial Claims trough preceded its December 2007 onset by a whopping 22 months.

ECRI Weekly Leading Index: Little to No Change

ECRI's most recent article suggests that wage inflation does not support the case for a rate increase. "The recent rise in wage inflation, having become an obvious fact, is increasingly being used to support the case for rate hikes – including by Fed Chairman Janet Yellen, who now sees these “tentative signs of stronger wage growth” as a harbinger of inflation."

Market Valuation, Inflation and Treasury Yields: More Clues from the Past

Our monthly market valuation updates have long had the same conclusion: US stock indexes are significantly overvalued, which suggests cautious expectations on investment returns. In a "normal" market environment -- one with conventional business cycles, Federal Reserve policy, interest rates and inflation -- current valuation levels would be a serious concern.

But these are different times.