Investment Insights Podcast: Recent rally in European stocks

Jeff Raupp, CFARaupp_Podcast_Graphic, Director of Investments

Year to date, we’ve seen European stocks rally over 15%, just about double the return of the S&P 500 index.

So what’s not to like?

Listen to the latest Investment Insights Podcast to learn about Brinker Capital’s perspective on European stocks.

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The views expressed are those of Brinker Capital and are not intended as investment advice or recommendation. For informational purposes only. Holdings are subject to change. Brinker Capital, Inc., a Registered Investment Advisor.

Investment Insights Podcast: A quick review of April markets

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Leigh Lowman, Investment Manager

On this week’s podcast (recorded May 5, 2017), Leigh provides a quick review of April markets.

Quick hits:

  • After drifting lower for most of the month, risk assets rallied at the end of April and finished in positive territory.
  • The French election spurred a rebound in markets when both Republican and Socialist candidates were edged out in favor of a Centralist candidate.
  • On the domestic side, markets were relatively quiet.
  • We currently find a number of factors currently supportive of the economy and markets.

For Leigh’s full insights, click here to listen to the audio recording.

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The views expressed are those of Brinker Capital and are not intended as investment advice or recommendation. For informational purposes only. Holdings are subject to change. Brinker Capital, Inc., a Registered Investment Advisor.

 

May 2017 market and economic review and outlook

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Leigh Lowman, Investment Manager

After drifting lower for most of the month, risk assets rallied at the end of April and finished in positive territory. The French election spurred a rebound in markets when both Republican and Socialist candidates were edged out in favor of centralist candidate, Emmanuel Macron. The election has yet to go into the second round but political uncertainty has decreased as the French voting population appears to be favoring a more moderate political vision. On the domestic side, markets were relatively quiet. Data continued to lean positive with stablizing inflation expectations, continued growth in home prices and elevated consumer sentiment.  Business confidence continued to surge as expectations remain high on the Trump administration’s economic plan but much uncertainty still remains on the administration’s ability to deliver on its promised fiscal growth policies.

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The S&P 500 Index was up 1.0%.  Cyclical sectors outperformed more defensive sectors. Technology (+2.5%) posted the largest gain and leads year to date by a wide margin.  Consumer discretionary (+2.4%) and industrials (1.8%) also posted strong returns for the month.  Energy continued to lag and is down -9.4% year to date.  Both telecom (-3.3%) and financials (-0.8%) were negative for the month. Growth outperformed value for the fourth consecutive month and small cap led both large and mid cap, a reversal from last month.

Developed international equity was up 2.6% for the month, outperforming domestic equities. Positive news surrounding the French election boosted markets but problems remained in other areas within the European Union. UK economic data exhibited signs of weakening as Brexit continues to loom over the economy and debt levels of both Italy and Greece remain problematic. Economic data in Japan showed signs of improvement during the month but growth continues to move at a slow pace.  Emerging markets performed in line with developed markets. The region posted positive returns of 2.2%, fueled by strong growth in China and dissipating fears of US protectionism.

The Bloomberg Barclays US Aggregate Index was up 0.8% for the month with all sectors posting positive returns. The 10 year Treasury yield contracted 10 basis points, ending the month at 2.3%. After slightly widening last month, high yield spreads narrowed 12 basis points. Municipal bonds performed in line with taxable bonds, up 0.7%.  Increased demand and limited supply served as tailwinds for the asset class.

We remain positive on risk assets over the intermediate-term, although we acknowledge we are in the later innings of the bull market and the second half of the business cycle. While our macro outlook is biased in favor of the positives and recession is not our base case, especially considering the potential of reflationary policies from the new administration, the risks must not be ignored.

We find a number of factors supportive of the economy and markets over the near term.

  • Reflationary fiscal policies: With the new administration and an all-Republican government, we expect fiscal policy expansion in 2017, including tax cuts, repatriation of foreign sourced profits, increased infrastructure and defense spending, and a more benign regulatory environment.
  • Global growth improving: U.S. economic growth remains moderate and there are signs that growth outside of the U.S., in both developed and emerging markets, is improving.
  • Business confidence has increased: Measures like CEO Confidence and NFIB Small Business Optimism have spiked since the election. This typically leads to additional project spending and hiring, which should boost growth.
  • Global monetary policy remains accommodative: The Federal Reserve is taking a careful approach to monetary policy normalization. ECB and Bank of Japan balance sheets expanded in 2016 and central banks remain supportive of growth.

However, risks facing the economy and markets remain, including:

  • Administration unknowns: While the upcoming administration’s policies are currently being viewed favorably, uncertainties remain. The market may be too optimistic that all of the pro-growth policies anticipated will come to fruition. The Administration has quickly shifted from healthcare to tax reform legislation. We are unsure how Trump’s trade policies will develop, and there is the possibility for geopolitical missteps.
  • Risk of policy mistake: The Federal Reserve has begun to slowly normalize monetary policy, but the future path of rates is still unclear. Should inflation move significantly higher, there is also the risk that the Fed falls behind the curve. The ECB and the Bank of Japan could also disappoint market participants by tapering policy accommodation too early.

The technical backdrop of the market is favorable, credit conditions are supportive, and we have started to see some acceleration in global economic growth. So far Trump’s policies are being seen as pro-growth, and investor and business confidence has improved. We expect higher volatility to continue as we digest the onset of new policies under the Trump administration and the actions of central banks, but our view on risk assets remains positive over the intermediate term. Higher volatility can lead to attractive pockets of opportunity we can take advantage of as active managers.

Source: Brinker Capital. Views expressed are for informational purposes only. Holdings subject to change. Not all asset classes referenced in this material may be represented in your portfolio. Indices are unmanaged and an investor cannot invest directly in an index. All investments involve risk including loss of principal. Fixed income investments are subject to interest rate and credit risk. Foreign securities involve additional risks, including foreign currency changes, political risks, foreign taxes, and different methods of accounting and financial reporting. S&P 500: An index consisting of 500 stocks chosen for market size, liquidity and industry grouping, among other factors. The S&P 500 is designed to be a leading indicator of U.S. equities and is meant to reflect the risk/return characteristics of the large-cap universe. Companies included in the Index are selected by the S&P Index Committee, a team of analysts and economists at Standard & Poor’s. Bloomberg Barclays U.S. Aggregate: A market capitalization-weighted index, maintained by Bloomberg Barclays, and is often used to represent investment grade bonds being traded in United States.

Investment Insights Podcast: The rally in risk assets continues

Chris HartHart_Podcast_338x284, Senior Vice President

On this week’s podcast (recorded April 28, 2017), Chris discusses what has been the driving force behind the rally in April.

 

Quick hits:

  • The rally in April, despite a brief pause to begin the month, has been driven by positive macroeconomic data, better S&P earnings, and the potential for corporate tax reform.
  • From an equity perspective, stocks have moved higher despite increasing geopolitical risk both domestically and abroad.
  • We remain constructive on risk assets given good enough underlying macroeconomic data but also take notice of rising geopolitical tensions and continued lofty valuations across the equity markets.
  • Looking abroad, developed markets and emerging markets equities have rebounded solidly and now lead the U.S. thus far in 2017.
  • Within fixed income, the aggregate bond index has surprisingly moved higher along with equity markets, while high yield continues to lead.
  • We are keeping a watchful eye on rising global geopolitical tensions, but also note good breadth in the domestic equity markets and stronger corporate earnings.

For the rest of Chris’s insight, click here to listen to the audio recording.

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The views expressed are those of Brinker Capital and are not intended as investment advice or recommendation. For informational purposes only. Holdings are subject to change. Brinker Capital, Inc., a Registered Investment Advisor.

Individual or corporate trustee: Five things to consider before committing

John_SolomonJohn SolomonExecutive Vice President, Wealth Advisory

When establishing a trust, many people name a family member or friend to serve as trustee instead of appointing a corporate trustee to save the trust money. While it is an honor to be so named, this is a leadership position that plays a powerful role in managing a family’s wealth. Understanding that saving money is significant, it is important to fully explore both corporate and individual trustees to determine the most appropriate option for the trust.

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Individual trustees often have broad powers, a good deal of responsibility, and, in turn, accountability. Trustees must interpret and follow the terms of the trust agreement, oversee the asset management of the funds held in trust, make distributions from the assets, keep records, and do the necessary tax reporting. Here are five things the job description might not tell you, but are important to know:

  1. Fiduciary first. Trustees have what is called a fiduciary responsibility. What that means is that as trustee, you are legally bound to fulfill your duty of putting the benefactor’s welfare first when carrying out the settlor’s (the person who created the trust) wishes. In carrying out your duties, individuals must work to remain impartial and not let emotions cloud any judgment. In instances where this becomes too difficult a task, a corporate trustee may be the right choice.
  2. Managing the bottom line. One of a trustee’s key responsibilities is to manage the assets in the trust. This duty requires ongoing portfolio monitoring and responding to market conditions to ensure that the trust assets are managed in accordance with its investment objectives. Investment allocation decisions must be made in light of the changing needs of the beneficiaries, and the asset managers require ongoing oversight. A corporate trustee can assist by representing the collective interests of investors and ensure the company offering the investment complies with the trust deed.
  3. Mistakes can be costly. A beneficiary could challenge any and all of a trustee’s decisions, from the allocation decisions made, to the investment losses the trust incurs. Many trust agreements have language that attempts to protect the trustee from liability except for cases of gross negligence or willful misconduct. A corporate trustee administers trusts under the supervision of bank regulators. While individual trustees are expected to fulfill the same duties, they are not generally subject to regulatory scrutiny or accountable to regulators to the same degree.
  4. You may need help. Due to the complexities and requirements of trusts, often individuals must hire outside professionals, such as Trust Companies, to assist in carrying out the trust terms. Professional trustees can be added at any time to serve as co-trustee along with you. Combining the services of a corporate trustee with the personal connection of an individual trustee can help to provide peace of mind. In this situation, the responsibilities of each of the co-trustees should be clearly outlined in the trust document.
  5. It’s not entirely thankless. You are entitled to compensation. Typically, trustees are given a trustee fee in connection with the performance of their duties. The fee arrangement varies depending upon the state fee schedules for trustees and the terms of the trust. Professional corporate trustees typically charge approximately one percent of the total net worth of the estate. While this expense initially may appear greater than those of an individual trustee, the individual trustee may need to utilize the services of an investment manager, tax accountant and other professionals to fulfill trustee duties, which could add to overall expenses.

By enlisting the services of a corporate trustee, the trust would benefit from the continuity, prudence and expertise that a professional organization can provide. A corporate trustee brings experience in trusts and investments, accounting, record keeping and trust laws that an individual may not possess. In addition, a corporate trustee offers unbiased decision making that may be difficult for an individual trustee that has been appointed by the family.

To help decide which corporate trustee is appropriate, you may consider engaging in some of the services that are offered through investment management firms that have relationships with a wide array of organizations. Brinker Capital Wealth Advisory works with business owners, individual investors and institutions with assets of at least $2 million and has partnerships with firms that can assist with corporate trusts.

To learn more about Brinker Capital, a 30 year old firm following a disciplined, multi-asset class approach to building portfolios, and an overview of the services available through Wealth Advisory, click here.

The views expressed are those of Brinker Capital and are not intended as investment advice or recommendation. For informational purposes only. Brinker Capital, Inc., a Registered Investment Advisor.

Investment Insights Podcast: What’s right: The hard or soft data?

Holland_Podcast_150x126Tim Holland, CFA, Senior Vice President, Global Investment Strategist

On this week’s podcast (recorded April 21, 2017), Tim addresses an ongoing stock market and economic debate that has been widely reported on by the media – “What’s right: the hard or soft data?”.

Quick hits:

  • One of the more contentious market topics of late has been the divergence between hard and soft economic data – and which data set is correct about near term and future economic performance.
  • Hard data refers to quantifiable economic data points such as GDP and retail sales. Soft data refer to surveys of how consumers and businesses feel about current and future economic prospects.  The former has been a bit disappointing of late while the latter has been coming in at multi-year highs.
  • We believe that ultimately the hard data will close the gap with the soft data, reflecting a strengthening economy. We would also point out that several hard data points reflect a robust US economy, including the unemployment rate.
  • We remain constructive on risk assets and see little in the way of typical excesses that would suggest a bear market or recession are imminent.

For Tim’s full insights, click here to listen to the audio recording.

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The views expressed are those of Brinker Capital and are not intended as investment advice or recommendation. For informational purposes only. Holdings are subject to change. Brinker Capital, Inc., a Registered Investment Advisor.

Investment Insights Podcast: A few things we’re paying close attention to right now

Goins_PodcastAndrew Goins, Investment Manager

On this week’s podcast (recorded April 13, 2017), Andrew discusses a few things we’re paying close attention to right now.

 

shutterstock_9514525Quick hits:

  • After two Fed rate hikes within 4 months, we’re seeing a bit of a reversal.  We’ve seen empirical evidence highlighting the improvement across active managers in the first quarter.
  • Over the last few months we’ve seen correlations across stocks come down significantly, and is now at the lowest level since 2001.
  • We are beginning to see signs that inflation is ticking up, and should only continue if Trump’s pro-growth policies come to fruition
  • The market is likely overdue for a near term pull-back and we are somewhere in the back half of this business cycle

For Andrew’s full insights, click here to listen to the audio recording.

The views expressed are those of Brinker Capital and are not intended as investment advice or recommendation. For informational purposes only. Holdings are subject to change. Brinker Capital, Inc., a Registered Investment Advisor.

April 2017 market and economic review and outlook

lowmanLeigh Lowman, Investment Manager

Risk assets finished the quarter in strong positive territory but experienced a pullback in March after notably strong performance for the first two months of the year. In a widely anticipated move, the Fed increased interest rates by 25 basis points on March 15 and rhetoric alluded to the possibility of an additional 2-3 rate hikes this year. However, headlines during the quarter were dominated by speculation surrounding the Trump administration economic plan. After initially surging in the post-election market, investor confidence began to wane as pro-growth policies have yet to come to fruition. Efforts to reform Obamacare were thwarted just prior to the Congress vote on March 24, but uncertainty still remains on the future of healthcare. Overall, economic data remains positive with low unemployment and positive earnings reports and we continue to see signs of improved global growth.

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The S&P 500 Index was flat for the month but finished the quarter up 6.1%. Sector performance was mixed with the technology sector (+12.6%) posting double-digit returns for the quarter. Likewise, healthcare (+8.4%) posted strong quarter returns, a sharp reversal from the sector’s poor performance last year. Energy was negative for both the month (-1.0%) and the quarter (-6.7%). Financials lagged in March (-2.8%) but remained positive for the quarter (+2.5%). Growth outperformed value and large cap led both mid and small cap.

Developed international equity outperformed domestic equity for both the month and quarter, up 2.9% in March and 7.4% for the first quarter. Economic data leaned positive for the European Union and Japan as both regions experienced a pick-up in global earnings and nominal growth. Recent outcomes of European regional elections may also have signaled a weakening in the populist movement, but political uncertainty is still apparent as upcoming elections begin to unfold.

Emerging markets were up 2.6% for the month and 11.5% for the quarter. The region rebounded from a difficult fourth quarter as fears of US protectionism began to dissipate.

The Bloomberg Barclays US Aggregate Index was flat for the month and up 0.8% for the quarter. During the month, the 10 year Treasury yield rose as high as 2.6% in anticipation of the Fed raising interest rates, but finished the quarter at 2.4%, slightly lower than where it started in 2017. After steadily contracting during the first two months of the year, high yield spreads slightly widened in March but still remain at relatively low levels. Municipal bonds outperformed taxable bonds during the quarter, largely due to limited supply and solid demand.

We remain positive on risk assets over the intermediate-term, although we acknowledge we are in the later innings of the bull market and the second half of the business cycle. While our macro outlook is biased in favor of the positives and recession is not our base case, especially considering the potential of reflationary policies from the new administration, the risks must not be ignored.

We find a number of factors supportive of the economy and markets over the near term.

  • Reflationary fiscal policies: With the new administration and an all-Republican government, we expect fiscal policy expansion in 2017, including tax cuts, repatriation of foreign sourced profits, increased infrastructure and defense spending, and a more benign regulatory environment.
  • Global growth improving: U.S. economic growth is ticking higher and there are signs growth outside of the U.S., in both developed and emerging markets, is improving.
  • Business confidence has increased:  Measures like CEO Confidence and NFIB Small Business Optimism have spiked since the election. This typically leads to additional project spending and hiring, which should boost growth.
  • Global monetary policy remains accommodative: The Federal Reserve is taking a careful approach to policy normalization. ECB and Bank of Japan balance sheets expanded in 2016 and central banks remain supportive of growth.

However, risks facing the economy and markets remain, including:

  • Administration unknowns: While the upcoming administration’s policies are currently being viewed favorably, uncertainties remain. The market may be too optimistic that all of the pro-growth policies anticipated will come to fruition. We are unsure how Trump’s trade policies will develop, and there is the possibility for geopolitical missteps.
  • Risk of policy mistake: The Federal Reserve has begun to slowly normalize monetary policy, but the future path of rates is still unclear. Should inflation move significantly higher, there is also the risk that the Fed falls behind the curve. The ECB and the Bank of Japan could also disappoint market participants, bringing the credibility of central banks into question.

The technical backdrop of the market is favorable, credit conditions are supportive, and we have started to see some acceleration in economic growth. So far Trump’s policies are being seen as pro-growth, and investor confidence has improved. We expect higher volatility to continue as we digest the onset of new policies under the Trump administration and the actions of central banks, but our view on risk assets remains positive over the intermediate term. Higher volatility can lead to attractive pockets of opportunity we can take advantage of as active managers.

Source: Brinker Capital. Views expressed are for informational purposes only. Holdings subject to change. Not all asset classes referenced in this material may be represented in your portfolio. Indices are unmanaged and an investor cannot invest directly in an index. All investments involve risk including loss of principal. Fixed income investments are subject to interest rate and credit risk. Foreign securities involve additional risks, including foreign currency changes, political risks, foreign taxes, and different methods of accounting and financial reporting.

Barclays Municipal Bond Index: A market-weighted index, maintained by Barclays Capital, used to represent the broad market for investment grade, tax-exempt bonds with a maturity of over one year. Such index will have different level of volatility than the actual investment portfolio. S&P 500: An index consisting of 500 stocks chosen for market size, liquidity and industry grouping, among other factors. The S&P 500 is designed to be a leading indicator of U.S. equities and is meant to reflect the risk/return characteristics of the large-cap universe. Companies included in the Index are selected by the S&P Index Committee, a team of analysts and economists at Standard & Poor’s. World Index Ex-U.S. includes both developed and emerging markets. Bloomberg Barclays U.S. Aggregate: A market capitalization-weighted index, maintained by Bloomberg Barclays, and is often used to represent investment grade bonds being traded in the United States.

Brinker Capital Inc., a Registered Investment Advisor.

Investment Insights Podcast: Despite the number of headlines last week, markets proved their resilience

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Andrew Rosenberger, CFA, Senior Investment Manager

 

On this week’s podcast (recorded April 10, 2017), Andy discusses sentiment, job growth, and earnings season.

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Quick hits:

  • Despite the number of headlines last week (Syria, China, France, Jobs), markets proved their resilience by finishing the week flat.
  • Sentiment has come down from peak optimism seen in February.
  • Despite the weakness in the headline number, the underlying trends in job growth continue to be favorable.
  • Earnings season kicks off this week with Financials being the first group up.  Investors are looking for comments on loan growth & loan demand.
  • We continue to favor an overweight to risk assets within our discretionary portfolios.

For Andy’s full insights, click here to listen to the audio recording.

The views expressed are those of Brinker Capital and are not intended as investment advice or recommendation. For informational purposes only. Holdings are subject to change. Brinker Capital, Inc., a Registered Investment Advisor.

Retirement planning: Ten numbers you need to know

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Brad Weber, Regional Director, Retirement Plan Services

When investors or financial planners talk about a retirement number, often it is the amount that you should try to save.

As this year’s National Retirement Planning Week comes to a close, it is an appropriate time to take a closer look at ten important numbers to consider when contemplating your retirement.

  1. Your current retirement account balance. This is the amount you’ve saved-to-date that is just for retirement and excludes illiquid assets.
  2. The number of years you expect to work before retiring. Do you think you will be working another six months or six years?
  3. The amount of money you plan to set aside each year you remain employed.
  4. The number of years you can expect to live. While no one can accurately predict this number, your average life expectancy is a critical variable in retirement planning. According to the Social Security Administration, a man reaching age 65 today can expect to live until age 84, while a woman of the same age can expect to live until 86. Tools such as the Living to 100, or the more simplified LifeSpan Calculator from Northwestern Mutual, will generate a prediction based on your responses to lifestyle type questions. The point of this exercise is less about trying to predict when you will die than it is to help you prepare for the reality of a retirement of unprecedented length.
  5. A projected rate of inflation throughout your retirement. As Roddy Marino explained in his recent blog post, even mild inflation over a 40-year span can erode your purchasing power and negatively impact your standard of living. Retirees must continue to invest in risk assets that they can reasonably expect will outpace inflation to retire comfortably.
  6. The amount of retirement income you expect to receive, from all sources, including social security, income on rental property, pension payments, and annuity income.
  7. Your anticipated monthly expenses in retirement. A good rule of thumb in thinking about future expenses is to take a hard look at your existing expense structure. While some may disappear or decrease significantly, you may find them being replaced by other expenses. For example, instead of daily commuter costs you may take longer trips so overall transportation expenses may not fluctuate that much.
  8. The percentage of stocks vs. bonds in your portfolio. You should know your portfolio allocation, and its associated level of investment risk. Throughout your retirement, your portfolio will have to provide both income and growth to maintain your purchasing power and support your lifestyle. It’s helpful, however, to know where you stand so you can assess whether your portfolio mix will help you achieve your retirement goals.
  9. The amount of financial support you will likely supply to your loved ones. Care for loved ones can play a significant role in shaping your retirement experience. As John Solomon, EVP of our Wealth Advisory group, points out in a recent blog, the number of adult children who provide personal care and/or financial assistance to a parent has more than tripled in the last 15 years. Currently, 25% of adults, mostly Baby Boomers, provide some care to a parent.
  10. Your anticipated medical expenses. Like predicting longevity, it is hard to know how much you will spend on medical expenses in retirement. According to recent estimates by Fidelity Investments, the average American couple spends nearly $260,000 in retirement on health-related expenses, excluding monthly insurance premium costs.

While all of these numbers play a critical role in shaping your retirement experience, probably the most important one you should know is the telephone number of a financial advisor.

An experienced financial advisor can help you manage your retirement portfolio to meet your preservation and growth objectives, establish an income strategy matched to your spending needs, and track your spending versus assumptions. Regardless of the situation, you know that your trusted financial advisor understands your financial history and can help make decisions that are in your best interests.

For over 10 years, Brinker Capital Retirement Plan Services has worked with advisors to offer plan sponsors the solutions to help participants reach their retirement goals. When plan sponsors appoint Brinker Capital as the ERISA 3(38) investment manager, this allows them to transfer fiduciary responsibility for the selection and management of their investments so they can focus on the best interests of their employees.  This fiduciary responsibility is something that Brinker Capital has acknowledged, in writing, since our founding in 1987.

For additional information on National Retirement Planning week from Brinker Capital, please review Frank Randall’s blog debunking common retirement myths.

The views expressed are those of Brinker Capital and are not intended as investment advice or recommendation. For informational purposes only. Brinker Capital, Inc., a Registered Investment Advisor.