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Articles on Wealth Management Topics

The Relationship Between Economic Growth and Stock Market Returns

The most widely-followed U.S. stock market indices now all sit at or near record highs. One of the factors often given credit for our stock market's resilient performance is the recent strength in economic indicators. But should a strong economy lead us to believe that the outlook for future stock market returns is rosy? The indisputable answer is, surprisingly, "No".

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How a Financial Advisor's Business Model Affects the Advice They Provide

Financial advisors vary widely in the business models in which they operate and in the standards of care that they owe to clients. These factors determine the quality of advice provided, and of products recommended, by any given financial advisor as much as his/her education, experience, and professional designations.

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There's an ETF for That: Exchange-Traded Fund Issuers Get More Creative

Now there are almost 1800 ETF's being traded in the U.S., a remarkable number considering that there are less than 4000 companies listed on exchanges here. To distinguish themselves from the competition and to attract investment assets, these fund sponsors have stopped at nothing to slice and dice the financial markets in innovative, and in many cases just plain silly, ways.

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Predicting Future Investment Returns: Implications for Retirement Planning

In the last installment of Articles on Wealth Management Topics, we discussed academic research on different ways to estimate the magnitude of future stock market returns. As a refresher, the worst of the ways studied was to extrapolate future returns from past returns. Nearly as ineffective is to base estimates of future returns on surveys of individual and institutional investors.

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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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