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

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Recruiter Spotlight

by Various

Visit our recruiter spotlight to hear from our monthly sponsors about opportunities available for advisors in the industry.

The Most Dangerous Financial Products

by Michael Edesess

What would we think of doctors who deliberately hurt patients by prescribing dangerous and unhealthful products in order to make more money? Fortunately, the medical profession is set up in such a way that such things virtually never happen. This is not so in the financial services industry, where hazardous products are routinely sold to unsuspecting consumers.

Sustainable and Responsible Investing: Is There a Price to Pay?

by Larry Swedroe

Consumers can use their market power to demonstrate their aversion to certain business activities by choosing not to purchase goods or use services from companies that, in their minds, are selling immoral products. Similarly, investors can decide not to invest in such companies. But do those investors sacrifice returns relative to a broad-based index fund?

Are Women Advisors the Future of Financial Advice?

by Dan Richards

Women advisors represent the future of financial advice. Some of the differences from men that held them back in the past will work to their advantage going forward.

The Question You Should Ask Every Prospect

by Dan Solin

Our social interactions – particularly in large groups – are invariably geared to extroverts, who are naturally comfortable in settings designed to interact with strangers. When you and a prospect first meet, you will be strangers. There is a question you can ask that will maximize your chances of establishing a relationship.

Net Promoters: The Best Marketing Money Can’t Buy

by Jeffrey Briskin

Advisors will become net promoters for fund companies they believe offer superior characteristics or benefits in addition to good performance. These advisors will highly recommend these firms’ products to their clients and to their peers. This word-of-mouth advocacy is the most effective marketing tool that money can’t buy.

“Moneyball” Investing: Factors without Fama or French

by Marc Gerstein

Eugene Fama and Kenneth French deserve enormous respect for the work they did in legitimizing an equity investors’ consideration of risk factors beyond the stock market itself and in identifying those factors. But to use factors as effectively as we can, we’ll have to use a framework that meets our client-centered concerns, which are not necessarily the same as those of academicians.

Six Keys to Confident Presenting

by Beverly Flaxington

The person who can best communicate thoughts and feelings to an audience gets heard. For financial advisors, effective communication with prospects, clients, centers of influence and peers is critical. I have developed the Six Keys to Confident Presenting as a guideline for the best way to deliver a message to any audience.

The Danger in Emerging Market Debt

by Robert Huebscher

Most observers saw the recent troubles in the high-yield markets – the gating of the Third Avenue and Stone Lion funds – as a precursor to a junk-bond crisis. Instead, investors should be focusing on a potentially bigger problem, according to Russell Napier. Open-end mutual funds holding emerging-market debt are at risk.

What Would Minsky Do Now?

by Laurence B. Siegel

In the two decades since his death, Hyman Minsky’s stature has grown enormously. He foresaw the great financial crisis of 2007-2009, and economists routinely refer to “Minsky moments” as the tipping point when seemingly stable financial markets collapse with catastrophic consequences. It’s instructive to speculate on how Minsky would view our post-crisis economic recovery, and a new book allows us to do just that.

Recent Commentaries

The Big Long

by William Smead of Smead Capital Management

I recently saw the movie, The Big Short. While the movie entertained as much as the book, the movie’s release coupled with the rough start to the year probably left a lot of investors feeling anxious. As long-duration common stock owners, we at Smead Capital Management believe a review of the circumstances preceding the financial meltdown of 2007-2009 and a comparison to where we are now in the U.S. economy would be helpful. Since residential real estate was the centerpiece of the movie, and traditionally is a centerpiece of our economy, we will dub our current view as "The Big Long."

Exploding Healthcare Costs Are Out Of Control

by Gary Halbert of Halbert Wealth Management

Today I want to address the soaring costs of healthcare, which are rising far more than the Obama administration and the Department of Health and Human Services will admit. While I personally don’t consider healthcare costs to be a political issue, many argue that it is indeed a political issue with regard to “Obamacare.”

Clueless Fed?!

by Axel Merk of Merk Funds

"The Fed doesn't have a clue!" - I allege that not only because the Fed appears to admit as much (more on that in a bit), but also because my own analysis leads to no other conclusion. With Fed communication in what we believe is disarray, we expect the market to continue to cascade lower - think what happened in 2000. What are investors to do, and when will we reach bottom?

Russia's Struggles

by Bill O'Grady of Confluence Investment Management

Over the past year, Russia has faced a growing number of challenges that have the potential to weaken President Putin’s hold on the reins of power. In this report, we will discuss recent trends in the country, including the economic problems caused by falling oil prices and the military operations occurring in Ukraine and Syria. We will examine the Putin government’s responses to these issues. As always, we will conclude with market ramifications.

Investing in a 3-D World

by Bill Nasgovitz of Heartland Advisors

Demographics, debt, and the fear of deflation are posing challenges for investors, but we believe some areas of the market are better insulated from the headwinds than others. Please do not hesitate to ask if you have questions or would like any additional details.

Bear Market Ahead?

by Brad McMillan of Commonwealth Financial Network

As I’ve said many times lately, I do not believe we’re heading for a repeat of 2008–2009. A number of factors—a stronger U.S. economy, a less leveraged financial system and consumer, and an absence of imbalances like we saw with housing—suggest that we’re not in for a 2008-style collapse. Although the economy may be entering a slowdown, growth is likely to continue.

70 Is the New 65: Demographics Still Support 'Lower Rates for Longer'

by Matthew Tracey, Joachim Fels of PIMCO

The so-called demographic cliff remains at least a decade away; meanwhile, global demographics should continue fueling the savings glut.

Fear Trade: Metals Up, Stocks and Jobs Down.

by Clint Siegner of Money Metals Exchange

Precious metals banked another solid week of gains as investors looked for alternatives to the stock market and U.S. dollar. Both gold and silver pushed through important technical resistance levels. Metals bulls hope to see markets enter a virtuous cycle; improving charts followed by more speculative long interest leading to improved charts.

If Retirement Time Is on Your Side, Use It Wisely!

by Richard Davies of AllianceBernstein

Younger American workers are eager and engaged. According to our latest DC participant survey, they’re enthusiastic and confident about saving for retirement. But they have very low scores on just how to do it.

Recent dshort Posts

S&P 500 Snapshot: Fed in Focus, Market Goes Nowhere

Day one of Fed Chair Yellen's congressional testimony was the market's main focus today. The S&P 500 opened higher and rose to its 1.59% intraday high in the opening minutes of her 10:30 AM start. The sellers quickly erased most of that gain. The index then rose through the lunch hour, at which point a second wave of selling took the index to its -0.02% finish, just a tad above its -0.10% intraday low just before the final bell. The 500 is now down 9.40% for the year and at a new interim closing low, down 13.09% from its record close last May.

Weekly Heating Oil Price Update: Now at $2.09 per Gallon

With winter in full swing, we've been thinking about the cold weather and thus our heating bill. Commodities saw their prices drop in 2015 with a 41% decline in energy. With the warmer weather this holiday season and warmer forecasts thanks to El Niño, heating oil prices will likely continue to drop. We're already seeing lower prices than at this time last year.

What Would It Take for the Prime U.S. Workforce to Fully Recover?

We've updated our workforce analysis to include last week's Employment Report for January. The unemployment rate ticked down to 4.9% and the number of new nonfarm jobs (a relatively volatile number subject to extensive revisions) dropped to 151K with December's number revised downward by 30K.

Demographic Trends for the 50-and-Older Work Force

Note: This commentary has been updated with the latest numbers from last week's Employment Report.

This is not the scenario that would have been envisioned a generation ago for the "Golden Years" of retirement. Consider: Today nearly one in three of the 65-69 cohort and about one in five of the 70-74 cohort are in the labor force.

The Latest Look at Long-Term Trends in Employment by Age Group

The Labor Force Participation Rate (LFPR) is a simple computation: You take the Civilian Labor Force (people age 16 and over employed or seeking employment) and divide it by the Civilian Noninstitutional Population (those 16 and over not in the military and or committed to an institution). The result is the participation rate expressed as a percent.

Multiple Jobholders: Two Decades of Trends as of December

What are the long-term trends for multiple jobholders in the US? The Bureau of Labor Statistics has two decades of historical data to enlighten us on that topic, courtesy of Table A-16 in the monthly Current Population Survey.

At present, multiple jobholders account for about five percent of civilian employment. The survey captures data for four subcategories of the multi-job workforce, the current relative sizes of which we've illustrated in a pie chart.

Job Openings & Labor Turnover: Clues to the Business Cycle

The latest JOLTS report (Job Openings and Labor Turnover Summary), data through December, is now available. The first chart below shows four of the headline components of the overall series, which the BLS began tracking in December 2000. The time frame is quite limited compared to the main BLS data series in the monthly employment report, many of which go back to 1948, and the enormously popular Nonfarm Employment (PAYEMS) series goes back to 1939. Nevertheless, there are some clear JOLTS correlations with the most recent business cycle trends.