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A message from Associated Financial Consultants & Investor Services

Friday, March 20, 2020

To our valued clients, friends and family, 

In light of recent worldwide events which have had significant impact on the markets, all of us at Associated Financial Consultants & Investor Services wanted to reach out to remind you that we are here to support you as we navigate these times of uncertainty.

Remember, knowledge is power, and we’re committed to equipping you with the tools and information you need to weather this storm.

Understanding what “volatility” means in the financial markets is crucial to withstanding times of market movements.  As a basis, when markets fluctuate dramatically, they are in a period of instability.  While the specific causes are countless, and at times extreme, the root of nearly all volatility is uncertainty.  While market fluctuation is unavoidable, there are strategies that may help avoid long term negative impact on your portfolio.

A key concept in sustaining your portfolio through any market situation is having a clear understanding of your risk tolerance for market fluctuations.  Appropriate asset allocation and diversification can diversify your portfolio and deliver a broader safety net during phases of financial adjustment.  Also, keep in mind, market variability doesn’t automatically equal bad news, it can equal opportunity.  Though it may be natural to focus on declines caused by instability, it’s important to remember that market fluidity can also offer opportunity for future growth.

Enduring ambiguity and economic changes without reacting emotionally can be challenging, particularly the kind we are currently experiencing.  Market cycles are normal and expected.  Markets have proven resilient over time and it’s important to maintain discipline and focus on your long-term goals.

Since Associated’s investment management division started in 1989, we have been through numerous major market declines. If you’re feeling concerned about the market, let’s connect. 

We are always happy to revisit your goals, review your risk tolerance and ensure you’re on track. 

Wishing you and your family the best during this time,

Sincerely,

Luana




New NFL CBA Approved

On Sunday, March 15, 2020, the new NFL CBA was approved through 2030. The vote was certainly a close margin (1,019 to 959). While some players may still be debating the contents of the deal (and it may contain some decisions that are not ideal for everyone), it’s important to understand what current and former players can take advantage of now - and there are plenty of benefits.

Our team consists of me, an NFLPA Certified Player Financial Advisor, Paul Vladem, Evan Vladem and a longtime former player, Shawn Wooden, who is still very involved with the NFLPA.

Here are four player benefits coming out of the deal that we would like to hi-light:

  • BUDGETING- Being paid across 34 weeks (36 if season is 17 games) is going to serve as a beneficial cash flow tool. From a financial planning and budgeting perspective, spreading out a player’s paycheck across eight months rather than just four months is a huge advantage.
  • PENSION- Player pensions will increase by 10%, moving to $836 a month. The number of years for players to be vested is down from four years to three years, which should bring thousands of players into the pension plan. There was an increase for former players too.  Players that played before 2012 will see their pension move up to $550 per month per credit season (which may increase up to $600).
  • HRA- This is a medical expense benefit that will give you reimbursement of a wide variety of qualified medical expenses (health care insurance premiums, deductibles, prescriptions, exams, chiropractor treatments, dental and more). Players will have $35K allocated to their HRA in 2020 (which eventually moves to $50K by 2027). Note that the lifetime max will be $450K. For former players that did not have access to the HRA (with three credited seasons), it will be available now in the amount of $50K.
  • NFL-DEDICATED HOSPITAL NETWORK- This is a powerful benefit. With the new CBA, all vested former players will have access to hospital network in each NFL city. Primary care and a few other services will be free of charge, including mental health care. Soon, spouses will be included as well.

While this list is brief, there are a great deal of added benefits players can look forward to. Among them is the increased tuition reimbursement program, practice squad players being eligible for 401(k) contributions, group insurance and annuity increases and the new vision coverage.

If you’re a current or former player and would like to discuss your benefits in more detail, don’t hesitate to reach out to us.

Update on the Markets

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Dear Client Family and Friends,

I never cared much for Space Mountain at Disney.  My stomach lining was more agreeable with Thunder Mountain.  The Whipsawing (similar to Space Mountain) we have experienced in the market of late is very uncomfortable.  I get that.  We all know that we should never sell at the bottom or buy at the top, but that is exactly what fear will lead us to do, so I want to encourage you to not be discouraged, to stay calm, and not make decisions that you may come to regret later.

We are all asking a lot of questions.  How long is this going to last?  Can the market go down from here?  What should we do?  Are we going to be ok?  Will there be a recession?  Are we in a bear market?

I don’t know the answers to all those questions.  But I can share some of what I’ve been hearing from analysts and money managers in the past few days. 

According to Phil Blancato, CEO of Ladenburg Thalmann Asset Management, Monday we officially entered Bear Market territory.  A recession could be coming in the 2nd quarter.  More likely it will look like a recession, but things will probably come back quickly.

According to Brian Salerno, CFA, Senior Portfolio Manager of City National Rochdale, we may see a quick but deep recession.  It will be painful for three to six months, but likely there will be a rapid recovery.   And yes, the market could drop more before it begins its recovery - a good reason to have cash set aside for income needs, and to keep the rest of the portfolio invested.   Something Brian said that I liked, “for the first time in a long time, the country is valuing life over money.”

According to Robert C. Doll, CFA, Senior Portfolio Manager and Chief Equity Strategist at Nuveen, last Friday, we are probably at the beginning of the bottoming process.  He felt that the 2nd quarter would certainly be negative GDP growth, but in 3rd and 4th quarters GDP growth would probably be positive.  He was quick to point out that the “market bottom” is not an event, it is a process.  The process is usually a “Shock and Awe” low, followed by a rally, and then a retest.  In the retest, the market will go down with a whimper, and then it is usually the time to buy.

Also consider that, historically, bear markets have come and gone.  In other words, they happened and we recovered.   They are a normal part of the permanent historical uptrend.  Granted, they are unpredictable, but should be expected and embraced by disciplined long-term investors.   As the old saying goes.  It is time in the market, not timing the market.  It is the reason for having an asset allocation that is appropriate for your risk tolerance, your timeframe, and your goals.

I don’t know how many calls I have had during the past few years asking to “invest” emergency fund money because interest rates were so low.  My answer is always a resounding “NO!”.  Even if your emergency fund money is earning zero, it needs to be there if you have an emergency.  If you invest that money and the market drops and then you need it for an emergency – like being unable to work due to a Covid-19 quarantine, it is no longer available.  The money that is for long term can be invested appropriately, considering how long “long term” is and what your risk tolerance and goals are. 

There is never a bad time evaluate your portfolio to see if you are in the right place for where you are in your life.

To summarize:

 What we do NOT know:

  1.  How long this will last or when the markets will recover
  2.  When the next 30% gain or 30% decline will commence 

What we do know: 

  1. The economy had been showing tremendous strength before this current panic.
  2. No person, investment adviser or government can consistently predict the future.
  3. The vast majority of mankind has a massive internal motivation to innovate, grow, work and succeed.
  4. Good times in this world come and go, but the spirit of the human soul continues.
  5. The past never guarantees the future. 

What should you do? 

  1.  If you have been implementing the comprehensive financial planning principles we have historically, currently and continually advocate, our advice is to do exactly what you were doing BEFORE this current panic showed up
  2.  If you need cash, let us know and we will get you what you need
  3.  If your long-term financial goals have not changed, we do not recommend changing your portfolio (from our perspective, the word “portfolio” includes the entirety of your financial resources: all accounts and products you own).
  4. If you have some additional cash, we should talk about deploying it along in here
  5. If you find yourself home more than usual because of “social distancing”, shut off your electronic devices, spend time in real conversation with your family.  Cook as a family.  Make up some silly games and have family “Olympics”.  Do devotions as a family.  Make some memories.
  6. If you live alone, “partner” with someone else who lives alone with a commitment to check on each other frequently with a phone call or a text.  A phone call is better, because it does a heart good to hear the sound of another human besides the voice that comes from your TV set.
  7. Don’t hoard.
  8. Don’t spend hours fixated on the news.  Limit your time on the TV.   If you miss the evening news – trust me – they will be covering the same thing first thing the next morning. 
  9. Live with hope and faith and gratitude.  Living with an attitude of gratitude will go along way in keeping you healthy.
  10. Laugh.  A good belly laugh is great for reducing stress.
  11. Remember, this too shall pass.  We will get through this.  

If you have questions or concerns, PLEASE call me – 954-983-5600 Ext. 119, or text me – 954-880-3410.  My assistant, Danielle, can be reached at Ext. 154.  We are working remotely more these days because of “social distancing”.  Temporarily we have halted face to face client meetings (my favorite way to interact with you) to protect you and your families and us and our families.  I can set up a zoom meeting so we can be “face-to-face” from wherever we are.   If we don’t pick up your call, please leave a message.  We promise to return your call as soon as possible. 

Praying for your good health.

Sincerely,

Luana

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