Investment Insights Podcast: The yield curve – What is it and why does it matter?

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

On this week’s podcast (recorded January 26, 2018), Tim discusses a topic that’s been receiving significant attention from the media and investors, and that’s the yield curve.


Quick hits:

  • The yield curve is simply the spread or difference between the yield on the 10-year US Treasury Note and the 2-year US Treasury Note.
  • Usually, our economy is expanding and the yield curve is positively sloped.
  • Two forces typically cause the yield curve to flatten or invert: 1. the Federal Reserve raising the Fed Funds Rate, and 2. when investors continue to invest in the long end of the yield curve.
  • The yield curve has been flattening of late. So do we at Brinker think it might be signaling a recession?

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


investment podcast (21)

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.

Brinker Capital at FSI OneVoice 2018 in Dallas, TX

beaman 150 x 150Noreen D. BeamanChief Executive Officer

For the fifth year in a row, Brinker Capital is proud to be a Premier Sponsor of the Financial Services Institute OneVoice conference. This annual meeting provides meaningful education and networking opportunities for members of the independent broker-dealers we serve. The Financial Services Institute is important to the future of our industry as they continually advocate for a healthier, more business-friendly regulatory environment for independent financial services firms and independent financial advisors.

At the 2018 OneVoice event, we are pleased to be a part of the Advancing Women in Leadership Luncheon, a pre-conference workshop being held on Monday, January 29. At Brinker Capital, we believe creating an environment for professional development and networking for women in the financial services industry is critical to the enhancement of our industry.

On Tuesday, January 30 at 1:30 PM, Leigh Lowman, CFA, Investment Manager at Brinker Capital will be participating on the Processes and Procedures panel, where they will discuss Due Diligence team structure, tools, communication, and researching and monitoring of products. Leigh shares portfolio management responsibilities for the Brinker Capital Destinations program. She is also involved in the company’s investment process, including asset allocation, manager selection, and due diligence.

And, as part of the CEO Track, I will be participating in the Rep as Portfolio Manager panel on Tuesday, January 30 at 3:00 PM. This panel will address the many questions surrounding the proper usage of Rep as Portfolio Manager programs.

Be sure to follow FSI and the event on social media @FSIWashington

We’re looking forward to a great event in Dallas, Texas!

FSI OneVoice 2

Brinker Capital, Inc., a registered investment advisor

Investment Insights Podcast: Investor sentiment vs. corporate sentiment

Jeff Raupp, CFA
Director of Investments

On this week’s podcast (recorded January 19, 2018), Jeff focuses on two indicators we include on the Brinker Capital Market Barometer, namely investor sentiment and corporate sentiment, and our thoughts on how they impact markets.

Quick hits:

  • If investors are extremely optimistic their expectations are high, and a certain degree of good news is already priced into the market, whereas bad news may come as a surprise and cause markets to pull back.
  • If companies have a high level of confidence, they’re more likely to invest in capital expenditures or hire additional people, both of which are good for the overall economy.
  • Intermediate-term indicators like corporate sentiment are ones we weigh heavily. While short-term indicators like investor sentiment are considered, their impact on positioning is much smaller.

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

investment podcast (20)

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.

There will never be a perfect time to invest

Crosby_2015-150x150Dr. Daniel Crosby Executive Director, The Center for Outcomes & Founder, Nocturne Capital

Consider something you’ve always wanted to do but that you’ve put off doing because it scares you. In fact, just think of something you’d eventually like to do but haven’t yet, since you may not even be aware of all your reasons for not having embarked on that journey just yet. Maybe that something is having a child. Maybe it’s starting a business. Or perhaps it’s writing a book, getting serious with a romantic partner, or any number of other aspirations you’ve yet to reach. Let’s say for discussion’s sake that the thing you are considering is starting a business. You ask yourself…

“Should I or shouldn’t I start a business?”

Easy enough, right? You make a t-chart, list the pros and cons and then make a decision! Well, let’s examine how you go about dissecting this question. You do your best to dispassionately weigh the pros and perils, but if you’re like most folks (and you are, remember, you’re not special) there is a flaw in the system. Drawing on his background in evolutionary psychology, James Friedrich has concluded that as we evaluate important decisions in our life, our primary aim is to avoid the most costly errors. That is, we make decisions that make us “not unhappy” rather than “blissful.” We want to be “not broke” more than we want to live abundantly. To use the above-mentioned example, you’re far more likely to focus on the potential perils of failing at business than you are the happiness and freedom that might accrue to you.

Never a good time to invest

The evolutionary roots of this system of self-preservation make sense. It was not all that long ago (in terms of evolutionary time) that our forebears were called upon daily to make life and death decisions. For people living on the savannahs of Africa, choosing to zig when you should have zagged could spell the end. Historically, decision-making has been very wrapped up in preserving physical safety and ensuring that physical needs were met. In this life-and-death scenario, minimizing risk at the expense of self-actualization is only logical. However, in the intervening millennia, things have changed and our thought patterns have not kept pace. At least in the US, we now live in a service economy that produces more ideas than it does “things.” We have moved from an agrarian to an industrial to a knowledge-based economy and our ability to cope with personal stressors has not kept pace.

What we are left with is a brain and a decision-making modality that is ill-suited for our modern milieu. We are programmed to choose safety, even at the expense of joy, in an environment where safety abounds and joy is hard to find. Daniel Kahneman and others have shown that people are twice as upset about a loss as they are pleased about a gain. Unless we learn to train our brains to evaluate risk and reward on a more even keel, we will remain trapped in a life of risk-aversion that keeps us from taking the very risks that might make us happy.

Because of the asymmetrical means by which we evaluated risk, it could be truthfully and plainly said that there is never a good time to invest…or have a baby…or start a business…or fall in love. After all, each of these requires us to make ourselves vulnerable, either personally, financially or both, to an unknown future with a very real downside. Markets crash, kids talk back, and businesses fail. But a life lived in shades of grey is the only thing less satisfactory than a life lived at risk of loss. There will always be worries, some founded, others not and investors who are paying attention will never have a sense that it is “all clear.” This uncertainty, this pervasive not knowing, is the hallmark of both life and capital markets and those that have mastered both come to love and embrace it.

The Center for Outcomes, powered by Brinker Capital, has prepared a system to help advisors employ the value of behavioral alpha across all aspects of their work – from business development to client service and retention. To learn more about The Center for Outcomes and Brinker Capital, call us at 800-333-4573.

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.

Video Blog – Recessions: what, why, and when?

Welcome to the inaugural post of the Brinker Capital Vlog, a monthly video series where we tackle timely market and economic topics. We hope you find the following video content valuable.

On today’s vlog, Tim Holland, Global Investment Strategist at Brinker Capital, discusses recessions – what they are; what causes them; and his predictions for when the next one will hit.

A Bitcoin primer

Dressel 150 x 150Ryan Dressel, Investment Analyst

There is a famous scene in Seinfeld, where outspoken character George Costanza pitches a TV studio executive “a show about nothing.” When pressed to elaborate, he simply re-iterates “nothing!… that’s the show!” I jokingly refer to this scene when people ask about Bitcoin, and if it’s a good investment. The parallels to “nothing” are plentiful: Bitcoin is not tangible, it is hard to find, nobody is responsible for its success or failure, and the buyers and sellers in the marketplace are untraceable ghosts. If the above is true, how can one explain Bitcoin’s meteoric rise in price and press coverage?! The price of one Bitcoin has risen from approximately $1,000 to $13,600 over the past year. The number of searches for Bitcoin on Google has exploded by 4,200% since July.

What is Bitcoin and why are people so interested in it?

Bitcoin is one of many digital currencies that have gained popularity since 2009. It has no value by itself; it only has value because an ever-growing community of Bitcoin adopters have agreed to trade goods and services in exchange for a higher amount of the digital currency, to which the community has trusted each other to do the same. This basic concept is no different than the use of fiat currencies such as the US dollar or the British pound. But that’s where the similarities end.

Today’s fiat currencies are managed by central banks around the world. The US dollar is regulated by the Federal Reserve, the Yen is regulated by the Bank of Japan, and the Pound Sterling is regulated by the Bank of England, to name a few. Conversely, Bitcoin is autonomously managed within an open source network of computers known as “blockchain.” Think of blockchain as a community of referees that allow two parties to make an exchange. The rules that the referees use to enforce an exchange can be reviewed by anyone that is part of a network. Every transaction prior to the one being made must be reviewed before it can take place, hence the term “blockchain,” which is intended to make the network more secure with each transaction.

To visualize the application of blockchain, think about a transaction at a farmer’s market. If you use a dollar to buy a vegetable, the farmer puts his faith in you to truthfully hand over a dollar that can be used to buy other goods & services and assumes it is not fake and that you won’t just steal his vegetable. On the other end of the transaction, you put your faith in the farmer that his product has all the properties of a vegetable as advertised, and does not contain defects such as poisonous pesticides. Additionally, nobody but you and the farmer knew that transaction occurred and nobody reviewed the accuracy of the exchange except you and the farmer.

Conversely, a digitalized farmer’s market transaction using blockchain would be reviewed by every computer that is part of a network (consisting of digital farmers and digital vegetable buyers). The predefined rules of the blockchain are also reviewed to ensure that all qualifications are met by both parties before one item is exchanged for another. If any criteria are not met, the exchange will not occur. After all criteria have been met, each party is rewarded their contractual obligation. This technology can be used to exchange Bitcoin, as well as a seemingly infinite amount of applications involving two or more parties i.e. physical property exchange or even corporate mergers.

blockchain 2Graphic Source: Thomson Reuters

Why adopters love blockchain

The primary benefit of blockchain technology is that it breaks down the barriers of trust, allowing any two parties to transact directly with each other without the need for a third-party to broker a deal. This creates transparency that we simply do not have today. Our third-party brokers take many forms, ranging from banks to cashiers, to Facebook, to Lawyers. These intermediaries act as agents of two or more parties, but you cannot see every message, transaction, or exchange that happens within them. Blockchain provides complete transparency for all to see.

In the example of the farmer’s market exchange, the dollar that was used to buy a vegetable is an example of a central repository holding information. The dollar had a state-sponsored (US government) serial number on it that is part of a taxable transaction. In the case of Bitcoin, no third-party owns the record, there is no third-party manipulating the data or supply of a good or currency. Cryptocurrencies rely on this benefit and offer additional benefits such as the ability to make transfers without geographic limitation, the finality of settlement, lower transaction costs compared to other forms of payment, and the ability to publicly verify transactions.

Today’s fiat currencies are also underpinned by central banks, tax systems, judicial systems, militaries, and any number of other connections to a governing body. The freedom from these agencies is very enticing to Bitcoin users. In areas outside of the developed world, this technology could be life changing due to corrupt governments manipulating currencies or transactions.

Buyer beware

History has shown that innovation and competition are great for markets and consumers. If credit cards weren’t accepted, we’d still be using paper and coins to make purchases. Prior to paper and coins, different societies used items such as beaver pelts or stone carvings as currency. Without currency, one would have had to travel great distances to make physical exchanges with their personal items of value.   Despite the innovative allure of Bitcoin, it is important to recognize its shortcomings as well.

To date, no cryptocurrencies have been registered with the SEC, whose stated mission is to protect investors, maintain fair, orderly, and efficient markets, and to facilitate capital formation. As such, no licenses are required to sell Bitcoin, which makes the cryptocurrency market subject to volatile market manipulation and scams such as scalping, “pump and dump,” and other types of fraudulent schemes.[1]

Cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin are not backed by any government body, and thus are not regulated and could be subject to illicit transactions. Buyers and sellers remain anonymous, which holds nobody liable if a transaction fails on either side (Kim Jong Un has even been linked to the marketplace[2]). The ability to exchange Bitcoin for traditional currency is subject to change at any time, without notice. Cryptocurrency networks are also subject to malware and hacking.

Even though the number of exchange platforms is emerging, it is still not very easy to trade Bitcoins for goods and services. Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are also extremely volatile, which displaces one of the most important features of fiat currency: a stable store of value. How can buyers and sellers expect to make a transaction if the exchange rate of Bitcoin changes substantially every 2 minutes?

Despite the innovative advances in blockchain, it is important to remember that the technology is in its infancy. Both improvements and loopholes are being added every day. Bitcoin shares features of a currency, commodity, or a security, but is nothing more than a figment of our human imagination. One might say it’s a show about nothing!



Investment Insights Podcast: A review of 2017 markets

Leigh Lowman, CFA, Investment Manager

On this week’s podcast (recorded January 5, 2018), Leigh provides a quick review of the markets over the past year.


Quick hits:

  • 2017 was quite the year. After a prolonged period of sluggish economic growth, 2017 was marked by synchronized global expansion across all major economies.
  • The S&P 500 Index finished the year up 21.8%.
  • Developed international equities underperformed domestic equities for the fourth quarter but led for the year.
  • Treasuries and government bonds were flat for the quarter as rising 10-year Treasury yields and an additional 25bps Fed rate hike created headwinds for the sectors.
  • We remain positive on risk assets over the intermediate-term.

Listen_Icon  Listen to the audio recording.

Read_Icon  Read the full January Market and Economic Outlook.


market outlook (4)


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.


Top blog posts of 2017

We’re closing out the year with our top five blog posts of 2017. From retirement and behavioral finance, to in-depth market perspectives, these are the best of 2017. Enjoy!

Jeff Raupp, CFARaupp_Podcast_Graphic, Director of Investments

Investment Insights Podcast: Where markets go from here now that they’ve rallied post-election




Paul Cook, AIF®, Vice President and Regional Director, Retirement Plan Services

Avoiding retirement regrets

A dozen steps to a smooth transition to retirement


Crosby_2015-150x150Dr. Daniel CrosbyExecutive Director, The Center for Outcomes & Founder, Nocturne Capital

Can money buy happiness?

Purchasing power and the big power of small changes

Investment Insights Podcast: US vs. International

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

On this week’s podcast (recorded December 15, 2017), Tim discusses why Brinker Capital has a bias toward US equities relative to developed international equities.

Quick hits:

  • Our clients are US based; they make their money in US dollars, they save in US dollars and they spend in US dollars.
  • Primarily because of the currency dynamic, international stocks are more volatile.
  • From an investment and relative attractiveness perspective, we would first say we don’t dislike developed international equities, we simply like US equities more, on both a near term and long-term basis.
  • Brinker Capital has been overweight emerging market equites since 2016.

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


investment podcast (19)

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. Emerging markets generally do not have the level of market efficiency and strict standards in accounting and securities regulation to be on par with developed economies, but emerging markets will typically have a physical financial infrastructure including banks, a stock exchange and a unified currency. Brinker Capital, Inc., a Registered Investment Advisor.

Investment Insights Podcast: A review of November markets


Leigh Lowman, CFA, Investment Manager

On this week’s podcast (recorded December 8, 2017), Leigh provides a quick review of October markets.


Quick hits:

  • After a short pause in the beginning of the month, it was more of the same for equity markets as the investment themes that have been apparent for most of the year were again evident throughout November.
  • The S&P 500 Index was up 3.1% in November.
  • Developed international equities were up 1.1%, underperforming domestic equities for the second month in a row.
  • Emerging markets were up 0.2% for November.
  • Fixed income was down in November with most sectors posting negative returns.

Listen_Icon  Listen to the audio recording.

Read_Icon  Read the full October Market and Economic Outlook.


market outlook

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.