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

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The Investment Portfolio of the Future

by Bob Veres

I envision a world where advisors are vetting a growing number of nontraditional investments for their clients.

Why Advisors Should Use Deferred-Income Annuities

by Michael Finke

I will show that an eminently effective way to fund retirement is through a deferred-income annuity, particularly if it is purchased through an IRA as a qualified longevity annuity contract (QLAC). The advantages of purchasing a QLAC include the ability to avoid RMDs.

How Male Advisors Should Dress to Win Clients

by Dan Solin

I have found the single most significant factor in increasing my clients’ closing ratio has been their willingness to substantially upgrade their wardrobe. In this article, I will discuss my experience with men. Next week, I will discuss dress for women.

Reflections on Four Decades of Economic Forecasting

by Harald B. Malmgren

Timeworn economic forecasting methodologies on which we rely -- whether prepared by governments, central banks or private economists -- are gradually becoming less relevant and reliable.

The Surprise Inside the Surprise Index

by Michael Lebowitz

Appreciation for the multitude of messages provided by Citigroup’s Citi Surprise Index allows investors to stay a step ahead of the economic models that Wall Street, and -- by default -- most investors, rely heavily on to forecast market levels and securities prices.

How to Develop a Growth Game Plan

by Kristen Luke

Growth. When you’re a financial planning or wealth management firm, how do you do it right? From implementing a precise, uniform sales process to creating an annual marketing strategy, you need something – a game plan – that shows how you should grow and when you’ve actually succeeded.

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.

Action-Oriented Teambuilding

by Beverly Flaxington

We want to do a teambuilding activity for our advisory firm. We get along reasonably well, but we are always passing one another in the hallways on our way to our next meeting or phone call. I run the firm, and I’d really like to get everyone engaged in an activity that would be fun but also meaningful. Do you have any ideas?

Gundlach – The Scariest Indicator in the World

by Robert Huebscher

Those Federal Reserve governors who intend to vote for an increase in rates at their December meeting need to take a close look at some of the charts Jeffrey Gundlach presented on Tuesday. One chart – which Gundlach called his “scariest” – carried a particularly ominous signal for the global economy.

A New Challenge to Factor-Based Investing

by Robert Huebscher

Disciples of factor-based investing need to respond to a new challenge. According to Mark Kritzman, investors will be better served by a strategy based solely on allocating to asset classes.

Recent Commentaries

Time to Bring Active Back into a Portfolio?

by Russ Koesterich of BlackRock Investment Management

The value proposition of active management simply hasn't materialized in recent years. However, this could be changing. Russ explains.

Exploring the Mysteries of Productivity

by Byron Wien of Blackstone

Thousands of jobs in manufacturing and services have been eliminated by technology. This has resulted in favorable productivity figures over the last fifty years and sent profit margins to an all-time high, allowed the stock market to recover and increased the perception of inequality. Both corporate profitability and the standard of living are tied to productivity. If productivity is being properly measured and is, in fact slowing, it will have a profound impact on the future outlook for the economy and the financial markets.

Thanksgiving amid the Threats

by John Mauldin of Mauldin Economics

For today, in this week’s letter, I’m going to let other people do most of the talking. I gave you my own thoughts on the Paris attacks and Europe’s future last week in “The Economic Impact of Evil.” Today I’ll share some of the most interesting post-Paris analysis that has crossed my path over the last two weeks.

Why Argentina's New Leader Is Good for Latin America and Global Investors

by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors

This week, Argentina said no, gracias to further leftist rule when it elected conservative businessman and two-term Buenos Aires mayor Mauricio Macri to succeed Cristina Fernández de Kirchner as president. It was an upset victory for the people of Argentina, who have seen their once-prosperous nation deteriorate under decades of Marxist policies. It was also a strong win for investors around the globe. Not since Narendra Modi's election last year has a leader's entry on the world stage inspired such bullishness.

Diversification: A Hedge Against Market Uncertainty

by Jeff Hussey of Russell Investments

Global CIO Jeff Hussey takes a look at three key diversification strategies to help hedge against volatility in 2015 and beyond.

Technically Speaking: The Real Value Of Cash

by Lance Roberts of Streettalk Live

With the "inmates running the asylum" during a holiday-shortened trading week, the upward bias to the market is set to continue.

Surveying The Commodity Carnage

by Doug Ramsey of Leuthold Weeden Capital Management

Commodities and commodity stocks have been a disaster in recent years, but fortunately one that our Group Selection (GS) Scores managed to avoid. Underperformance in both the Energy and Materials sectors during the last 12 months in particular (Chart 1) is so severe that any contrarian with a pulse probably can’t help but take a peek. We’ll admit the wreckage is beginning to look interesting, and—what with our cautious stance on the stock market—it would be fun to be bullish about something. But both our GS Scores and our intuition suggest it’s still too early.

Innovation and Scotch Tape

by Tony Scherrer, CFA of Smead Capital Management

In business and economics, a “first-mover advantage” is defined as the benefit accrued to a company whose product is the first to enter a market. These products often create or define an entirely new market opportunity that the world hadn’t known before. Some “first-mover” examples have created very attractive long-duration opportunities. EBAY (EBAY), a company we own in our portfolios, was the first online auction service. It has maintained leadership in that area for the last two decades.

China’s Macro Disconnect

by Stephen Roach of Project Syndicate

China has been highly successful in transforming the industrial structure of its economy from manufacturing to services, but it has made far less progress in boosting private consumption. The country now has no choice but to address the causes of households' high precautionary saving and low discretionary spending.

Recent dshort Posts

World Markets Weekend Update: The Rally Moderates

Six of the eight indexes on our world markets watch list posted gains last week, down from all eight the previous week, and the weekly advances were noticeably smaller. Germany's DAX was the top performer, up 1.56%, well off its 3.84% gain the previous week. India's SENSEX had the next best week, up an even one percent. The FTSE and CAC 40 straddled the half percent line, up 0.64% and 0.39%, respectively. The S&P 500 and Nikkei hovered just above the flat line. The worst performers were the Hang Seng and Shanghai Composite, with -3.02% and -5.35% declines.

Moving Averages: Month-End Preview

Here is an advance preview of the monthly moving averages we track after the close of the last business day of the month. At this point, before the open on the last day of the month, all three S&P 500 strategies are signaling "invested" — unchanged from last month's signals. Three of the five Ivy Portfolio ETFs — Vanguard's Total Stock Market (VTI), iShares 7-10 Year Treasury Bond (IEF), and Vanguard's REIT Index (VNQ) — are signaling "invested", unchanged from last month's signals.

S&P 500 Snapshot: A Tiny Thanksgiving Week Gain of 0.04%

Despite the avalanche of economic during the first three days of the holiday-shortened week, the benchmark S&P 500 traded in a fairly narrow range and ended the day with a tiny gain of 0.06% and a weekly gain a bit lower at 0.04%. Barring an exogenous shock of some sort, the next potential market mover will be employment report for November released on Friday. And that report will be preceded by the November Vehicle Sales, ISM Manufacturing and Non-Manufacturing, and of course the ADP Nonfarm Employment, which will give a mid-week clue to the Friday report.

Market Cap to GDP: A Fractional Decline in the Buffett Valuation Indicator

With Wednesday's release of the Second Estimate for Q3 GDP, we now have an updated look at the popular "Buffett Indicator" -- the ratio of corporate equities to GDP. The indicator has been hovering just over 2 standard deviations above its mean. The current reading is 118.6%, down from 118.8% on the Advance Estimate. It is off its 126.8% interim high in Q1 of this year and a drop below the +2SD level after seven quarters at or above that benchmark.

ECRI Weekly Leading Index: Fractional Increase from Previous Week

ECRI's latest weekly data point shows a fractional increase from the previous week's number and their latest feature commentary published earlier this week points key points on the current cyclical outlook.

Two Measures of Inflation and Fed Policy

The BEA's Personal Consumption Expenditures Chain-type Price Index for October shows core inflation below the Federal Reserve's 2% long-term target at 1.28%, a slight decline from the previous month's 1.33%. The latest Core Consumer Price Index release, also data through October, is higher at 1.91%. The Fed is on record as using Core PCE data for its primary inflation gauge.

The "Real" Goods on the October Durable Goods Data

Earlier today the Census Bureau posted the Advance Report on October Durable Goods New Orders. This series dates from 1992 and is not adjusted for either population growth or inflation. Let's now review Durable Goods data with two adjustments. In the charts below the gray line shows the goods orders divided by the Census Bureau's monthly population data, giving us durable goods orders per capita. The blue line goes a step further and adjusts for inflation based on the Producer Price Index for All Commodities, chained in today's dollar value.