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Articles on Wealth Management Topics

Mean Reversion in Financial Markets: The Case for a Contrarian Approach to Investing

Returns in financial markets are often cyclical. That is, multi-year periods during which asset classes or investing styles or mutual fund sectors succeed in generating above-average returns are usually followed by multi-year periods of disappointing returns, and vice versa. Since this market behavior is a key tenet on which our contrarian investment philosophy rests, let's explore the academic research supporting it and the ramifications for successful long-term investing.

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Is Now the Time to Rollover a Retirement Plan Account to an IRA?

One of the major factors to consider when deciding whether to rollover a retirement plan account to an IRA is investment flexibility. An IRA typically allows its owner almost unlimited investment flexibility. In contrast, a 401k, 403b or 457 retirement plan account-holder is constrained to choose from among the menu of investment options made available by the plan's sponsor and service provider.

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Target-Date Mutual Funds: A Step in the Right Direction, But Far From Ideal

Target-date mutual funds have been attracting more and more assets during the last decade, primarily as a result of their burgeoning use in 401k and 403b plans. Plan sponsors and participants alike are drawn to the simplicity of TDF's, but as is often the case, the easy solution is not the best one. The weaknesses of target-date funds stem from three words: lack of customization.

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DJIA vs. S&P 500: Which Should You Use As An Indicator of Stock Market Performance?

If you rely on the media, and particularly the local media, for your coverage of the stock market, you will find that the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) is the most oft-quoted measure of how the stock market performed on a given day. And yet most stock market professionals - portfolio managers, analysts, strategists and the like - will refer to the S&P 500 Index instead of the DJIA as their preferred yardstick of market performance. Why is this?

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Financial Advisory Standards of Care and Rollovers to IRA's

The decision as to whether or not to rollover a retirement plan account to an IRA should be based on more factors than just the associated mutual fund management expenses. On its website, the Dept. of Labor provides guidance to retirement plan participants, i.e. employees, on how to evaluate the fees and expenses associated with their plan: "... don’t consider fees in a vacuum. They are only one part of the bigger picture including investment risks and returns and the extent and quality of services provided. Keep in mind the importance of diversifying your investments."

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An Introduction to Closed-End Mutual Funds

One of the investment universes that Five Seasons Financial Planning monitors in an ongoing search for value to exploit for the benefit of client portfolios is that of closed-end mutual funds. At this time of year, when tax-loss selling is prevalent, there are often compelling values to be found, and this year is no different. Since you may be somewhat less familiar with the concept of closed-end mutual funds than with other types of mutual funds, here's a quick primer:

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Dollar-Cost Average or Invest In One Lump Sum (or Pay Down Debt)?

With the bond universe ranging from " ... obscenely overpriced to somewhere on the expensive side of fair value", and with most major U.S. stock indices within shouting distance of all-time highs, the current market environment is presenting a quandary not just to financial advisors but to investors as well. The investing public with cash on the sidelines seem torn between the fear of missing out on a further rally in stocks and the fear of committing capital at valuations that have often presaged middling returns, if not nasty bear markets. Consequently, a question clients have been posing recently is: Is it better to commit new money to the markets as fast as possible, or is it better to dollar-cost average our way into the markets over time?

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