Investment Insights Podcast: One market has made some major headlines in recent days: Bitcoin

Rosenberger_Podcast

Andrew Rosenberger, CFA, Senior Investment Manager

On this week’s podcast (recorded May 30, 2017), Andy discusses how Bitcoin isn’t necessarily something that we consider a long-term investable asset for our client portfolios, but it’s certainly been an attention grabber as of late.

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Quick hits:

  • After crossing the $2,200 per bitcoin mark on Monday, I had no less than 3 separate conversations after an article was released on how if you had purchased $100 dollars worth of bitcoin in 2010, it would be worth $72.9 million dollars today.
  • Bitcoin is a digital currency, not backed by any central government or entity, and it relies on a community of supporters to maintain the infrastructure.
  • The underlying technology behind bitcoin is getting the attention of many major players including banks, credit card companies, and technology giants.

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.

The “Don’ts” for Periods of Market Volatility

Crosby_2015Dr. Daniel Crosby, Founder, Nocturne Capital

Having checked in this week with many of our advisors and the clients they serve, we know that this has been a stressful week for everyone involved in the market. On Monday, we wanted to provide a few proactive starting points and created a list of “do’s” for volatile markets. However, at times like this, knowing what not to do can be just as important as knowing what to do. With that, we present a list of things you should absolutely not be doing in periods of market volatility.

  • Don’t lose your sense of history – The average intrayear drawdown over the past 35 years has been just over 14%. The market ended the year higher on 27 of those 35 years. A relatively placid six years has lulled investors into a false reality, but nothing that we have experienced this year is out of the average by historical measures.
  • Don’t equate risk with volatility – Repeat after me, “volatility does not equal risk.” Risk is the likelihood that you will not have the money you need at the time you need it to live the life you want to live. Nothing more, nothing less. Paper losses are not “risk” and neither are the gyrations of a volatile market.
  • Don’t focus on the minute to minute – Despite the enormous wealth creating power of the market, looking at it too closely can be terrifying. A daily look at portfolio values means you see a loss 46.7% of the time, whereas a yearly look shows a loss a mere 27.6% of the time. Limited looking leads to increased feelings of security and improved decision-making.
  • Don’t forget how markets work – Do you know why stocks outperform other asset classes by about 5% on a volatility-adjusted basis? Because they can be scary at times, that’s why! Long term investors have been handsomely rewarded by equity markets, but those rewards come at the price of bravery during periods short-term uncertainty.
  • Don’t give in to action bias – At most times and in most situations, increased effort leads to improved outcomes. Want to lose weight? Start running! Want to learn a new skill set? Go back to school. Investing is that rare world where doing less actually gets you more. James O’Shaughnessy of “What Works on Wall Street” fame relates an illustrative story of a study done at Fidelity. When they surveyed their accounts to see which had done best, they uncovered something counterintuitive. The best-performing accounts were those that had been forgotten entirely. In the immortal words of Jack Bogle, “don’t do something, just stand there!”

Views expressed are for illustrative purposes only. The information was created and supplied by Dr. Daniel Crosby of Nocturne Capital, an unaffiliated third party. Brinker Capital Inc., a Registered Investment Advisor

Tech Talk: Disrupting the Industry

Brendan McConnellBrendan McConnell, Chief Operating Officer

Over the last two years we have seen a tremendous amount of change driven by technology in the financial services industry—an industry that has gone from lagging around technology innovation to one that is very much at the forefront. With change comes disruption, and we are beginning to witness a tremendous amount as wealth management firms adjust to offer technology-driven investor experiences.

One recent disruption that has seemingly dominated headlines is that of the online digital advice firms, perhaps more widely known as the “robo advisor.” In most cases, these platforms provide a lower-cost, time-saving alternative for the average investor complete with a more frictionless experience through the use of technology. These firms have set a new baseline around portfolio management, and traditional advisory firms are reacting.

Charles Schwab, Fidelity and Vanguard are three major institutions now offering, or planning to offer, their own digital wealth platforms. They are making a conscious and deliberate investment to deliver this type of technology to the segment of investors who would prefer less human interaction and faster execution of transactions. These platforms also allow the financial advisor to bring additional scale to their own practices.

At Brinker Capital, we hear concerns from financial advisors on how this new class of investment management is impacting the industry and, more importantly, how it’s impacting them. Suffice it to say that the real impact on the rise of technology in the industry will ultimately be a positive impact for advisors and investors. These new technology innovations are making their way into the hands of financial advisors to in turn offer to their clients. This will lead to a more efficient and productive advisor with the ability to serve a broader audience of consumers looking for financial planning and advice. The future-ready advisor will be one that can offer comprehensive financial planning while maximizing the technology available in the industry.

Technology is changing the way consumers view financial advisors. The services that consumers value most from advisors has certainly started to shift. This has upended the advisor value stack. At a recent Fidelity Investment conference, Sanjiv Mirchandani, President at Fidelity National Financial Clearing and Custody, outlined Fidelity’s vision of the future advisor (images below) with a simple and easy-to-understand visual of the current advisor value stack.

The traditional financial advisor value stack:

Advisor_Value_Stack_Traditional

Source: Sanjiv Mirchandani, Fidelity

Now, technology and investor preference has upended and squeezed the top-end of the value stack:

Advisor_Value_Stack

Source: Sanjiv Mirchandani, Fidelity

What Fidelity is identifying here is that investors are putting greater importance on financial planning and behavioral management when selecting a financial advisor. This is the opportunity for a financial advisor to demonstrate their value and justify their fee over the digital advice offering. Fees are less of a concern with advisors who are following this new value model. The new future-ready architecture is one that supports goal-based financial planning and a digital experience. Advisors who focus on these values seem better positioned to succeed in this evolving landscape. Advisors should focus less on the portfolio management, outsourcing these duties, and more on a planning centric client relationship maximized by technology.

The views expressed are those of Brinker Capital and are for informational purposes only. Brinker Capital, Inc., a Registered Investment Advisor.

Implementing Technology

Sue BerginSue Bergin, President, S Bergin Communications

You don’t necessarily need the most cutting-edge technology to get to the top of your game. According to a recent study, you can start by leveraging the technology you already have.

Fidelity Institutional Wealth Services’ 2013 RIA Benchmarking Study reveals that high-performing firms—those in the top quartile for growth, profitability and productivity—focused on smart technology and adoption, not getting the latest and greatest. These high-performing firms focus on optimizing their technology in three areas: portfolio management, service, and client reporting.

Here are ten steps you can take to make sure you get the most from your technology.

  1. Make adoption a priority. Commit putting in the time and effort to learn how best to maximize all of the system’s features. If you can’t do it yourself, make someone else in your office accountable.
  2. Plan. Learning a new software program is like learning a new language. It’s hard to know where to start. Your technology provider should be able to give you an implementation guide to show you the steps to follow, and milestones to hit.
  3. Set aside time. If you don’t carve out time on your schedule, it isn’t going to happen.
  4. Network. There are relatively few programs out there that haven’t already been tried and tested by others in similar positions as yours. Talk to everyone you know who has gone through the implementation process and find out what they did and what they wished they had done better.
  5. Gather resources. Request an inventory of the training your technology provider makes available. Once you know what they have for support materials, you can choose the format that best matches your learning style.
  6. Optimize Your TechnologyGet names and numbers. You need to have key information handy in a few different areas. Know the software name, version number, and license holder so that when you call or go online for help you can be sure you are asking about the right program. Also know the names and numbers of customer support persons at your technology provider.
  7. Troll the internet. Use social media find online user groups or other social media sites that could provide helpful implementation hints. For example, there may be a LinkedIn User Group already established for the purposes of optimizing your software.
  8. Monitor progress. Perform periodic self-checks to monitor your progress towards the goals set in your implementation plan.
  9. Celebrate incremental success. Even if you haven’t learned everything there is to know, make note of how the technology improves your efficiency. Success is a powerful motivator and will prompt you to plow through your learning curve.
  10. Provide feedback. Software engineers constantly strive to innovate. If there is something you don’t like about your program or would like to see handled differently, let them know. You may just have a function named after you in the next version!

The views expressed are those of Brinker Capital and are for informational purposes only.

The Magic Number Is…

Sue BerginSue Bergin

There was a time when someone earning a six-figure salary was said to be doing well.  Is that the case today?

Towards the end of 2010, in a survey by WSL/Strategic Retail, we learned that 18% of American households earning between $100,000 and $150,000 said they could only afford the basics.   Another 10% in that salary range reported that sometimes they couldn’t even meet their obligations.

The conclusion of the survey identified a magic number—$150,000.  This was the level with which the vast majority of consumers (88%) said they could buy what they need while still being able to afford extra items and have some savings.

A more recent study by Pew Research Center puts the $150,000 figure at a higher standard of living than just being able to meet basic needs and afford a few extras.  According to Pew, $150,000 earns a family of four the status of “rich”.  This is geographical; Northeast and suburban respondents upped that amount to $200,000 while their rural counterparts said that a family making more than $125,000 could be considered wealthy.

Whether the income level is $125,000, $150,000 or $200,000 doesn’t really matter.  Incomes this high are out of reach for the vast majority of Americans.  In fact, according the Census Bureau’s September 2012 report, annual household income has fallen for the fourth straight year to an inflation-adjusted $50,054.

Let’s assume for a moment the majority of your clients earn more than $150,000.  Do they all feel rich?  Many probably do not, particularly if they are among 29% of Americans underwater on their real estate.[1]

In fact, that rich feeling is fairly elusive.  Many millionaires don’t even feel rich.

According to Fidelity Investments’ latest report on millionaires’ attitudes towards investing, 26%of millionaire respondents said they did not actually feel rich, and that they would need an average of $5 million of investable assets to begin to feel wealthy.

Politicians, economists, sociologists and even our brethren in the financial services industry continue to confuse comfort and net worth, and perception and reality.  The fact of the matter is that the words “wealthy” and “rich” more aptly describe an emotional state than a statement of net worth.


[1] The Week, Real estate crisis:  Americans Underwater 12.2.11