Wow, what a start to the 2012 year!
Notes from Sandy:
I had the honor of attending the invitation only Barron’s Winners Circle Independent Advisors Summit in Phoenix, AZ last month. Hosted by Barrons Magazine, the elite advisors gathered to promote best practices in the industry and the value of advice to the investing public. Of the 350 advisors, I would estimate 35 women were invited. This reminded me of the early days in 1986 with my broker dealer and I was one of three women in a sea of five hundred male brokers. It is still a male dominated industry but the female ranks are growing.
"Never consider the possibility of failure; as long as you persist you will be successful." Brian Tracy
My second accolade of the year is to be featured in Financial Planning magazine, April issue. The magazine sent two photographers out to the office and spent roughly six hours doing the entire photo shoot. The magazine likes that I go “against the tide” of mainstream advisors that use all mutual funds. Combine that with the fact I am still swimming competitively in the pool and the ocean, they decided to take photos on the beach next to the Seal Beach pier. They took photos until it was pitch dark. The photo they used was taken with three long exposures. The wind was cold and blowing so hard, they put my goggles on my forehead to keep my hair in place. I would never want to be a model! We will send reprints as soon as we receive them.
To make it a perfect quarter, the Nasdaq was up 18%, Dow up 8.1% and S&P up 12%. My favorite stock, Apple, gained 48% in this quarter. I do expect a market correction fairly soon. These performance numbers are fantastic but not sustainable as the market basically increased straight up. I have trimmed a few positions and await a buying opportunity when it corrects. China is my biggest fear as their real estate property market has peaked, and if they follow our path, they will fall into recession just as we did. A recession in China will have a global impact and will ripple here to our market also.
“No man's life, liberty, or property is safe while the legislature is in session.” Mark Twain (1866)
Ah, yes, it is also a presidential election year. There are several areas of the tax code that will change as a result of the election. Under a second Obama term, tax rates for most of our clients will rise. If there are changes to the long term capital gains rates, we will be evaluating each taxable account and acting to minimize taxes. Since the Republican party candidate is not finalized but it appears Romney will be running as the choice, modifications may be coming to our tax brackets and estate planning. It will be an interesting year ahead, filled with uncertainty over our elections, tax code, European and China concerns.
Notes from Carol:
The current bull market just celebrated its 3rd birthday. It has experienced more 5% corrections in the first three years than any bull market of the past. Each of these corrections was a wild ride. One of the toughest tactics in a volatile bull market is to sit back and stay on course. As Sandy mentioned we have made some allocation changes and will likely make more ahead. Our focus has been on domestic stocks and bonds and that will continue. International stocks have had a strong 1st quarter but headline risk is still strong and any news (good or bad) leads to major moves.
FYI - In case you haven’t heard, the U.S. government just released records from the 1940 Census. I am fascinated by this information. I will now be able to go on-line and learn much more about my family (see if the stories I heard were true) and share it with my children. The web site is http://1940census.archives.gov. Access to the records is free and open to anyone online, but it is not yet searchable by name. You need to know the county or city where they lived. The name search is coming. There was so much interest that the web site could not handle all the traffic and is being upgraded to handle all the demand.
Tax season is almost over! You still have time to make 2011 IRA contributions. Please send them to us by April 10 so that we can get it posted to your account by April 15.
Notes from Erin:
This quarter was particularly exciting for me as I completed the final requirement to become a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™. To become a CFP®, one must hold a bachelor’s degree, complete a comprehensive financial planning coursework from a board approved program, pass a 2 day examination, have 3 years of direct personal financial planning experience, and undergo a background check. Maintaining the CFP® designation requires 30 hours of continuing education every two years, along with adhering to the board’s ethical & professional standards.
An additional bit of news is the Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP) was expanded this month in an effort to allow more people to refinance into lower rates. The program’s aim is to help people that are current on their mortgage payments but can’t refinance due to negative equity. More information about HARP 2.0 & can be found at http://www.fhfa.gov/ . If you are looking to refinance & believe you might qualify, please be advised that lenders may have additional requirements on top on HARP 2.0 for refinancing. This means if you if you are denied at one place, make sure you clarify if you are being denied by the lender or the program. If it is just a company requirement that is left unmet, you should try other lenders. We have a couple of mortgage brokers we trust if anyone would like a referral.