September 11, 2001: A day to remember

beaman 150 x 150Noreen D. Beaman, Chief Executive Officer

As today marks the 16th anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks, we remember those who lost their lives and honor those still fighting for our freedom. We grieve, empathize, and reflect on the day’s events that forever changed our country. From the pain of this unspeakable tragedy, American’s came together to build a stronger, more resilient community.

Since then, we continue to come together in times of adversity. Whether it be Hurricane Katrina, Super Storm Sandy or most recently, Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, the people of this country always can be counted on to reach out and help those in need.

In response to Hurricane Harvey’s destruction, Brinker Capital employees generously donated to the Houston Food Bank, which provided 36,960 meals to help those affected by Hurricane Harvey. Additionally, Brinker Capital will be taking new donations to help those who have been displaced by Hurricane Irma in the coming days.

On behalf of the Brinker Capital family, our thoughts are with the everyday heroes who have helped make our nation stronger today.

Follow the earnings, my friend

Wilson-150-x-150Thomas K.R. Wilson, CFA, external Chief Investment Officer, Wealth Advisory

In meeting with clients this summer, the most frequently asked question was, “Why does the stock market keep going up?” Of course, there are variations of this question which range from “How does the market go up with all the distraction in the U.S. government,” to “This bull market is very long, how can it continue?”

On the surface, it does seem odd that the market continues to move higher. There have been a lot of ‘interesting’ comments coming from the White House, which in a different time may have caused the equity market to decline or at least pause. The average economic expansion since 1900 lasted 47 months, however, the one we are currently in has lasted 98 months, thus far. The economic expansion has contributed to a bull market, which began in March 2009, that is now up close to 260%! In addition, there are a litany of geopolitical issues ranging from riots in Venezuela, an expanding Chinese navy, and North Korean missile tests, which combined are pushing the rise of populism in Europe and the constant Middle East conflict to the backburner. Besides, whatever happened to the old cliché of sell in May and go away? For the year, the S&P 500 is up just over 11%, which includes more than 1.5% appreciation since June 1.

There are a variety of reasons why the U.S. equity market is up, but arguable the most important factor is the earnings of U.S. companies. Earnings have been good this year, very good. And, expectations for earnings for the remainder of the year and into 2018 are solid. This comes on the heels of flat to down earnings from 2014 through the first half of 2016. Furthermore, once earnings are finalized for the second quarter, it looks like operating margins achieved their highest level of any quarter in the last decade!                                                               Follow the earnings my friend

James Carville, campaign strategist for President Bill Clinton, is credited with the phrase “It’s the economy, stupid.” As we think about the gains in U.S. equities this year, perhaps a variation of this phrase, “Follow the earnings, my friend” is more appropriate.

For 30 years, Brinker Capital has served financial advisors and their clients by providing the highest quality investment manager due diligence, asset allocation, portfolio construction and client communication services. Brinker Capital Wealth Advisory works with business owners, individual investors and institutions with assets of at least $2 million. To learn more about the services available through Brinker Capital Wealth Advisor, 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.

Source:  JP Morgan

Investment Insights Podcast: Forgotten fundamentals

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

On this week’s podcast (recorded September 1, 2017), Tim discusses how recent current events are not fundamental to the market’s long-term performance.

Quick hits:

  • In the first half of 2017, the S&P 500 delivered year over year earnings growth of 12%, driven by double digit gains in both the first and second quarter.
  • The robust earnings performance of the S&P 500 is important for several reasons.
  • The underlying economic and market fundamentals are what matter most over the long term, and for the time being the news on both fronts is much more good than bad.

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.

Investing in Game of Thrones

Williams 150 X 150Dan Williams, CFA, CFPInvestment Analyst

Nothing else could make me, and many others, actually look forward to Sunday night like Game of Thrones. Of course I felt a need to draw some wisdom to the investment world from this show if for no other reason than I get to relieve my separation anxiety from the many months until the show comes back for its final season. Thankfully this season lends itself easily to the task.

For those unfamiliar with the show let me sum it up as briefly as possible (warning vague spoilers). There exists a continent called Westeros that is divided into numerous houses/kingdoms that swore fealty to the House that sits on the Iron Throne. In the recent past, there was a rebellion that disposed of the longstanding ruling House Targaryen and drove the surviving member(s) of the house off the continent into hiding. The show opens with a member of House Baratheon sitting on the throne. Well, that king gets killed “by accident on a hunting trip.” His best mate, who is head of House Stark, becomes involved in investigating the situation in the capital city and gets beheaded. House Lannister slides onto the throne by a member of the house being conveniently married to the former king. This whole situation causes much trouble as House Stark wants revenge, House Targaryen and Baratheon want to take back the throne, and the rest of the Houses see opportunity to reposition themselves. A bunch of people kill some other people by various methods. Some body parts get cut-off. Some dragons show up. Some people come back from the dead by unnatural methods. Really a classic story. So that is it.

Wait! I forgot! Up north there are reports of a huge frozen undead army being formed that threatens to sweep down and kill everyone. This threat is summed up as “Winter is coming.” No biggie, right? Oops!

GOT.Winter is Coming
The parallel that can be drawn to the investment world is that while people are chasing and comparing themselves to each other’s performance and asset class benchmarks, they take the eye off the primary goal – survival. The Houses all want more castles and the glory to sit up on the Iron Throne while John Snow, one of the show’s main protagonists who has been positioned up north for the majority of the show, said this season “If we don’t put aside our enmities and band together, we will die. And then it doesn’t matter whose skeleton sits on the Iron Throne.”

While we are not necessarily battling our neighbors – like the houses of Westeros – for bragging rights of investment returns, it is still the wrong struggle to have. The great threat to the north is our inability to meet our goals due to poor investment planning. We can go off track by spending too much or saving too little. We can take on too much or too little risk or invest in the wrong account types. We can be operating tax inefficient. We can fail to insure against the unlikely but devastating potential life events. Planning with an advisor should be focused on setting a path that provides the best likelihood for success against this enemy of insufficient assets for our goals rather than the bragging rights of a few year of investment returns.

During this season, attempts were made by John Snow to refocus the warring houses to the real threat of the north. This threat has been lurking for all seven seasons of the show and the big question is – is it too late for them? Similarly, the challenge of investment goal planning is easiest when taken on as early as possible or before winter comes. The adviser’s role is similar of that to John Snow’s, get their clients to start to properly prepare as early as possible for the threats that matter.

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: September could be a grueling month in Washington

magnotta_headshot_2016

Amy Magnotta, CFASenior Vice President, Brinker Capital

On this week’s podcast (recorded August 29, 2017), Amy discusses how the agenda in Washington, during the month of September, will be grueling.

Quick hits:

  • Lawmakers must deal with raising the debt ceiling, government funding to avoid a shutdown, and a new budget that will provide a reconciliation vehicle so that tax reform can pass with a simple majority vote.
  • We faced a similar situation in September 2013 when the government did shut down for sixteen days.
  • We believe that the Administration serves as both a positive tailwind for the economy and markets, as well as a significant risk.

For Amy’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: US Equities & Constitutional Crises

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

On this week’s podcast (recorded August 23, 2017), Tim examines how the stock market fared during recent Constitutional crises

Quick hits:

  • During that tumultuous Watergate Period, the S&P 500 sold off approximately 30%, easily clearing the Bear Market threshold of a 20% correction.
  • During the 13 months of The Whitewater / Monica Lewinsky Period, the S&P 500 was up approximately 20%, a far better showing than its return during The Watergate Period.
  • While the two periods had much in common politically, why were they so dissimilar when it came to stock market returns?

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.

Business ownership…its personal

Coyne_Headshot-150x150John Coyne, Vice Chairman

We recently held the second call in our Business Owner Transition series with Matt Coyne, author of Straight Talk from the Front Lines and CEO of Brandywine Mergers and Acquisitions.  Matt’s presentation primarily focused on the idea that an advisor must play the emotional therapist as much as the transition planner. He emphasized that an advisor’s role is to help the business owner realize the purpose of owning a tangible asset is to maximize its value, not to infuse it with a personality like a favorite old retainer in Downton Abbey.

Many years ago, I had the opportunity to hear the great Peter Lynch of Fidelity Magellan fame and he said something so profound that it’s been my mantra ever since.  He said, simply, “stocks don’t know you own them.”  He went on to state that stocks don’t care if you’re a Bishop or an axe murderer; they don’t know that your dad worked at the company for 30 years; or, that your grandmother made you swear you would never sell good old Texaco (my mom in this case).  These lessons apply equally here with some variations.

Business Ownership Its Personal

 
Every business owner must consider the impact of a sale on their employees, their customers, and their families.  But, that should be as dispassionate in the analysis as any other valuation they will be conducting.  A buyer, no matter how invested in the industry or this acquisition, is only looking at the purchase for the opportunity it presents to make money for themselves and their investors.  They will happily listen to war stories and personal histories at the closing dinner, but these will never move the EBITDA one dollar.

An advisor needs to help the business owner recognize that the business was a means to an end.  And, it is this reward that should have the personal feelings attached to it because it represents that they, their families and their legacy will enjoy the fruits of their labor.  It is like the young woman in the Liberty Mutual ad who loved but totaled her car “Brad” until the insurance company called and she broke into her happy dance.  So we all need to put on our tap shoes and get our owners out on the dance floor!

For 30 years, Brinker Capital has served financial advisors and their clients by providing the highest quality investment manager due diligence, asset allocation, portfolio construction and client communication services. Brinker Capital Wealth Advisory works with business owners, individual investors and institutions with assets of at least $2 million. To learn more about the services available through Brinker Capital Wealth Advisor, 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: A quick review of July markets

Lowman_150x150px

Leigh LowmanInvestment Manager

On this week’s podcast (recorded August 11, 2017), Leigh provides a quick review of July markets.

 

Quick hits:

  • After a strong first half to the year, positive economic growth continued into July.
  • Second quarter earnings came in strong with both revenue and earnings surprises accelerating from already strong levels.
  • the Senate’s failure to pass a healthcare bill cast a shadow on the “Trump trade”, bringing forth concerns on whether meaningful tax and regulatory reform can be accomplished.
  • Overall economic data leans positive and we expect markets will continue to trend upward over the near term.

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.

 

August 2017 market and economic outlook

Lowman_150x150pxLeigh LowmanInvestment Manager

After a strong first half to the year, positive economic growth continued into July.  Risk assets were up across the board and volatility was notably muted. Second quarter earnings came in strong with both revenue and earnings surprises accelerating from already strong levels, helped by a weaker US dollar and depressed oil prices. On the political front, the Senate’s failure to pass a healthcare bill cast a shadow on the “Trump trade”, bringing forth concerns on whether meaningful tax and regulatory reform can be accomplished. However, this failure may serve as a catalyst for other pro-growth initiatives, such as tax reform, to be pushed through in the near future.  Overall economic data leans positive and we expect markets will continue to trend upward over the near term.

The S&P 500 was up 2.1% in July and reached a record high mid-month, stemming from many large corporations reporting stronger than expected second quarter earnings. All sectors posted positive returns with the largest outperformers being telecom (+6.4%) and technology (+4.3%). Large cap stocks outperformed mid cap and small cap stocks and lead year to date.  Growth outperformed value and leads by a large margin year to date.

market outlook

Developed international equities outperformed domestic equities, returning 2.9% for the month.  Improving fundamentals and increased investor sentiment in both the Eurozone and Japan helped spur continued positive economic growth.  Both regions remain heavily reliant on central bank stimulus programs and speculation has begun on whether the European Central Bank or Bank of Japan will begin easing in the near future. Emerging markets rallied, gaining 6.0% for July, with all BRIC countries posting positive returns.  Brazil was up over 11%, stemming from initial failed corruption allegations of the country’s president, Michel Temer.

Likewise India and China posted strong returns, fueled by strong economic growth and evidence of reform.

Fixed income markets were quiet during the month.  The July Fed meeting was relatively uneventful with an expected announcement of no changes to interest rates. The Bloomberg Barclays US Aggregate Index returned 0.4% with all fixed income sectors posting positive returns. The 10 Year Treasury yield ended at 2.3%, relatively unchanged from the beginning of the month.  High yield spreads contracted an additional 12 basis points. Municipals were up 0.8%, outperforming taxable counterparts.

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 this cycle has been longer in duration compared to history, the recovery we have experienced has been muted. 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: Despite a rocky start, we still expect fiscal policy expansion out of the Trump Administration, potentially including some combination of 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 is evidence growth outside of the U.S., in both developed and emerging markets, is improving. Earnings growth has improved across markets as well.

Business confidence has increased: Measures like CEO Confidence and NFIB Small Business Optimism have improved since the election. This typically leads to additional project spending and hiring, which should boost growth.

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

Administration unknowns: While the upcoming administration’s policies are still being viewed favorably by investors, 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: While global growth has improved, it is important that central banks do not move to tighten too early. The Federal Reserve has begun to normalize monetary policy, but has room to be patient given muted levels of inflation. The tone of the ECB has begun to shift slightly more hawkish.

The technical backdrop of the market is favorable, credit conditions are supportive, and we have seen acceleration in economic growth. So far Trump’s policies are being seen as pro-growth, and investor confidence is elevated. The onset of new policies under the Trump administration and actions of central banks may lead to higher volatility, 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.

Brinker Capital Market Barometer

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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. Brinker Capital Inc. and Santander Investment Services are independent entities and neither is the agent of the other.

 

Diversification: The power of winning by not losing

Crosby_2015Dr. Daniel Crosby, Executive Director, The Center for Outcomes & Founder, Nocturne Capital 

The image is indelibly etched in the mind of baseball fans everywhere. In 1988, an injury-hobbled Kirk Gibson, sick with a stomach virus to boot, limp-running around second base and pumping his fist. Without a doubt, Gibby’s homerun is one of the most memorable in baseball history, setting up the Dodgers for an improbable Game One “W” and eventual World Series win. But in remembering the heroics of the moment, we tend to forget all that came before.

The score at the time of Gibson’s unexpected plate appearance was 4 to 3 in favor of the Oakland Athletics, whose mulleted (and we now know, steroid-fueled) superstar Jose Canseco had hit a grand slam in the first inning. Canseco had an outstanding year in 1988, hitting .307 with 42 homeruns, 124 RBIs and, eye-popping by today’s standards, 40 stolen bases. Loading the bases in front of Canseco was massively risky as was throwing him the hanging slider that he eventually parked over the center field fence. But riskier still was sending Gibson to bat sick with the flu and hobbled by injuries sustained in the NLCS. That we don’t perceive it as risky is an example of what psychologists call “counterfactual thinking.” It turned out in the Dodgers favor, so Tommy Lasorda is viewed as a strategic genius. But had it not, and simple statistics tell us that getting a hit is never in even the best hitter’s favor, Lasorda would have been a goat.

Just as we laud improbable and memorable athletic achievements without adequately accounting for risk and counterfactuals, we do likewise with large and singular financial events. Paulson’s shorting of subprime mortgage products. Soros shorting $10 billion in currency. These events are so large, so memorable and worked out so favorably that we ascribe to them a level of prescience that may not actually correspond with the expected level of risk-adjusted return. A friend of mine once joked that, “every man thinks he is ten sit-ups away from being Brad Pitt.” Having observed significant overconfidence among both professionals and novice traders alike, I might similarly assert that “every stock market enthusiast thinks that (s)he is one trade away from being George Soros.” The good fun we can have talking about, “The Greatest Trade of All Time” notwithstanding, most real wealth is accumulated by not losing rather than winning in spectacular fashion.

Diversification.Power of Winning by not Losing

The danger in taking excessively risky bets with the hope of a spectacular win is best illustrated by what is formally known as variance drain. Variance drain is the difference between mean return and compound return over a period of time due to the variability of periodic returns. The greater the variability from peak to trough, the more the expected returns will deviate negatively. Confused?

Say you invest $100,000 each in two products that both average ten percent returns per year, one with great volatility and the other with managed volatility. The managed volatility money rises 10% for each of two years, yielding a final result of $121,000. The more volatile investment returns -20% in year one and a whopping 40% in year two, also resulting in a similar 10% average yearly gain. The good news is that you can brag to your golf buddies about having achieved a 40% return – you are the Kirk Gibson of the market! The bad news, however, is that your investment will sit at a mere $112,000, fully $9,000 less than your investment in the less volatile investment since your gains compounded off lower lows.

A second, behavioral implication of volatile holdings is that the ride is harder to bear for loss-averse investors (hint: that means you and everyone you know). As volatility increases, so too does the chance of a paper loss which is likely to decrease holding periods and increase trading behavior, both of which are correlated with decreased returns. Baseball fans know the frustration of watching their favorite player “swing for the fences”, trying to end the game with a single stroke of the bat, when a single would do. Warren Buffett’s first rule of investing is to never lose money. His second rule? Never forget the first rule. The Oracle of Omaha understands both the financial and behavioral ruin that come from taking oversized risk, and more importantly, the power of winning by not losing.

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.