Dear Clients and Friends:
Sayonara 2020. Hello 2021. Most of us are typically reluctant for change, but not this year. So many people have expressed that they were anxious to reach the end of 2020, and hope 2021 will be different.
At DV Financial we are also excited for some change. While we have adapted and proven that we can remain operational while working remotely, effectively conduct telephone and live web “meetings”, and continuously explore new ideas to provide exemplary service, we miss the intimacy of close personal contact. We hope 2021 marks the end of the COVID-19 pandemic and that by this time next year, the phrases “social distancing” and “out of an abundance of caution” are no longer common vernacular.
To welcome 2021, we have a few exciting changes to announce. You may have already noticed our new website at www.dvfin.com. The update highlights DV Financial’s approach and adds some fantastic new functionality like Riskalyze. Riskalyze is a powerful analytic tool to define your appetite for risk and allows us to compare that with your portfolio. You can also now access both our Client Portal and the TD Amertrade website directly from our home page. So far, the feedback we have received has been very supportive, but we welcome your opinion too. Please let us know if you have any comments or suggestions for us.
We also have decided to “spread the word” about DV Financial with advertising on local radio. Listen for a variety of new commercials to be aired on Star 102.5, Lazer 103.3, EZ 104.1, KIOA 93.3, WHO 1040 AM, and KXNO 1460 AM.
Have you made any resolutions for change in 2021? The most common resolutions center on health and money. In this letter, we offer our assistance on financial goals and offer 7 financial resolutions to consider. Some may seem simple, but the foundation of any financial plan must be built on fundamental principles. We encourage you to consider which may apply to you and talk to us if you want to make any changes.
7 Financial Resolutions to Consider
1. Make a Budget. Any realistic financial plan must provide enough money to maintain your standard of living for as long as you need. Budgeting is not about restriction; it is about understanding how much you spend and what you spend it on. If you track it, you might be surprised by exactly where your money goes. Modern technology makes budgeting easier than ever. Automated systems (including our client portal) can link directly to your spending accounts at banks and credit cards and automatically categorize each transaction. If you would like help with this, let us know and we can show you how to put budgeting on auto-pilot.
2. Establish an Emergency Fund. Nearly 30% of Americans do not have enough savings for an emergency. The general rule-of-thumb is to have three to six months of expenses readily available (of course you need to know your monthly budget – see item 1). If your emergency fund is not currently sufficient, consider using any stimulus money to start or add to yours.
3. Save for Retirement. Except for a lucky few, a generous pension is no longer common. Today, most of your retirement income will come from the nest egg you build during your working years. Consider retirement savings as much of a monthly expense as any other recurring bill. If necessary, start small and increase your savings over time.
4. Pay Down/Off Debt. Too much debt is a heavy burden for any budget. If you feel burdened by debt, put away your credit cards until they are paid off. Pay more than the minimum and focus on high interest rate debt first. When you pay something off, reallocate that payment to the next item to pay off, although it is healthy to allow yourself a small indulgence as a reward and incentive to keep it up. Over time, even large debts can eventually be repaid, which increases your likelihood of achieving financial success.
5. Keep Debts Reasonable. Just because you can borrow, does not mean you should. The first goal should be to pay off credit cards, then student loans, and finally auto loans. Most budgets are successful if mortgage payments are no more than 25% of household income and total debts (including mortgage) are no more than 35% of household income.
6. Be Charitable. Consider incorporating financial gifts to causes you are passionate about. If donating your money is not feasible, you can always choose to volunteer your time. Either way, it is emotionally satisfying to make an impact.
7. Organize Your Affairs. Do you have a will? Is it up to date? When was the last time you reviewed the beneficiaries on your life insurance and retirement accounts? Are changes necessary? Consult with your attorney about Living Wills, Health Care Proxies, and Power of Attorney. Make sure your family knows your plans and where you keep important documents. These seven resolutions are suggestions. You do not need to accomplish all of them at once; begin by focusing on one or two. We are here to assist you, encourage you, and guide you. If you have any questions or want our help, schedule a call or meeting. We are here for you!
2020 Market Review
A rollercoaster of a year ended, financially, on a high note. The initial outbreak of COVID-19 and the related fears sent stocks and Treasury bond yields plummeting. The broad-based S&P 500 Index lost nearly 34% within a month’s time fueled by the uncertainty surrounding the lockdowns and unprecedented interruption of economic activity at home and abroad.
Table 1: Key Index Returns
|Dow Jones Industrial||3.3||7.3|
|S&P 500 Index||3.7||16.3|
|Russell 2000 Index||3.7||16.3|
|MSCI World ex-USA*||4.5||5.2|
|MSCI Emerging Markets*||7.2||15.8|
|US Aggregate Bond TR**||0.1||7.5|
Source: Wall Street Journal, MSCI.com, Morningstar, MarketWatch
MTD returns: Nov 30, 2020 – Dec 31, 2020
YTD returns: Dec 31, 2019 – Dec 31, 2020
*in US dollars **Bloomberg Barclays
The swiftness of the decline was unexpected, but the recovery also caught many analysts by surprise, which is yet another example of why we do not believe in market timing. To be a successful market timer, one must be right twice. You must correctly identify the peak of the market, so you know when to sell, then correctly identify the trough of the market so you know when to buy. No one can do that consistently.
As the major indexes rallied from the March 23 low, many analysts continued to warn of further declines, but they never materialized. These analysts are smart people. They know their craft and have access to more tools and data than the majority of investors. Yet even very smart people with ample resources cannot predict the future with certainty. No one can. Or, to quote baseball manager Yogi Bera, “It’s tough to make predictions, especially about the future.”
The bear market of 2020 was not a typical of most bear markets (defined as a 20% or greater decline in a key index such as the S&P 500). Since World War II, bear markets have lasted an average of 14 months and the S&P 500 has fallen an average of 33% during bear markets. The bear market of 2020, which was the first since the 2008 financial crisis, lasted barely over a month although the peak-to-trough selloff was in line was past bear markets.
Perhaps 2020 was different because the Federal Reserve announced massive new programs designed to cushion a significant blow to the economy. Meanwhile, Congressional leaders passed the bipartisan $2 trillion CARES Act which was far greater than any previous fiscal stimulus in history. As a result, second quarter’s record decline was followed by a record rebound in the third quarter. Coupled with low interest rates, stock gains exceeded all expectations. In one hundred trading days following the trough, the S&P 500 Index and the better-known Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) recorded their best 100-day advances since 1933.
Still, the economy has not yet recovered to pre-COVID levels. While some sectors have performed admirably, GDP and employment remain below prior peaks. Even with stimulus incentives in place, the unemployment rate is well above the early 2020 lows and layoffs continue at elevated levels. Moreover, industries that rely on person-to-person interactions such as travel and entertainment, among others, continue to face adversity.
The development of COVID-19 vaccines bring with them hope to alleviate health and economic concerns, but as the year ended the rollout had been underwhelming. The year-end rally was due, in large part, to optimism that the vaccines will be widely available by mid-2021 and we are hopeful that the massive undertaking of vaccinating the United States will ultimately be successful.
What Might Happen in 2021
We are an optimistic nation. During the record breaking 100-day recovery, speaking at Berkshire Hathaway’s first-ever virtual shareholders meeting, Warren Buffett opined “I remain convinced… nothing can basically stop America. The American miracle, the American magic has always prevailed, and it will do so again.”
At the risk of repeating one of the foundations of the DV Financial Approach, stocks have a long-term upward bias that has withstood the test of time. We seek to capitalize on this trend through patience and discipline. This upward bias is incorporated into your portfolio, but stocks do not rise in a straight line.
Since 1980, the average intra-year decline in the S&P 500 has been 14.2% yet, over the same period including dividends, the S&P 500 has averaged 13% growth per year. In the 41 years from 1980 through 2020 there have been 7 down years, with the average decline during a down year of -13.1% and 34 up years, with the average increase during an up year of +18.4%. As we have already pointed out, last year the S&P 500 intra-year decline was 33.9% but the total return, including dividends, was +18.4%. Only once during this 41-year period were there consecutive down years (2000-2002).
Though we have no special insight as to what 2021 may bring, we remain resolute that a diversified portfolio, including stocks, continues to be an integral component for long term investors seeking growth and protection from inflation.
May 2021 be a year of hope, happiness, prosperity, and good health for you and your family.
If you have any questions or would like to discuss any matters, please give our team a call. We are honored and humbled to serve as your financial advisors.
Sincerely on behalf of the DV Financial team,
Art Dinkin, CFP® Patrick Owens
This newsletter contains general information that may not be suitable for everyone. The information contained herein should not be construed as personalized investment advice. Past performance is no guarantee of future results. There is no guarantee that the views and opinions expressed in this newsletter will come to pass. Investing in the stock market involves gains and losses and may not be suitable for all investors. Information presented herein is subject to change without notice and should not be considered as a solicitation to buy or sell any security.
The Six Month 95% Probability Range is calculated by Riskalyze from the standard deviation of the portfolio (via covariance matrix), and represents a hypothetical statistical probability, but there is no guarantee any investments would perform within the range. There is a 5% probability of greater losses. The underlying data is updated regularly, and the results may vary with each use and over time.
IMPORTANT: The projections or other information generated by Riskalyze regarding the likelihood of various investment outcomes are hypothetical in nature, do not reflect actual investment results and are not guarantees of future results. These figures may exclude commissions, sales charges or fees which, if included would have had a negative effect on the annual returns. Investing is subject to risk and loss of principal. There is no assurance or certainty that any investment strategy will be successful in meeting its objectives. Indices are unmanaged and investors cannot invest directly in an index. Unless otherwise noted, performance of indices do not account for any fees, commissions or other expenses that would be incurred. Returns do not include reinvested dividends.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) is a price-weighted average of 30 actively traded “blue chip” stocks, primarily industrials, but includes financials and other service-oriented companies. The components, which change from time to time, represent between 15% and 20% of the market value of NYSE stocks.
The Nasdaq Composite Index is a market-capitalization weighted index of the more than 3,000 common equities listed on the Nasdaq stock exchange. The types of securities in the index include American depositary receipts, common stocks, real estate investment trusts (REITs) and tracking stocks. The index includes all Nasdaq listed stocks that are not derivatives, preferred shares, funds, exchange-traded funds (ETFs) or debentures.
The Standard & Poor's 500 (S&P 500) is an unmanaged group of securities considered to be representative of the stock market in general. It is a market value weighted index with each stock's weight in the index proportionate to its market value.
The Russell 2000 Index is an unmanaged index that measures the performance of the small-cap segment of the U.S. equity universe.
The MSCI All Country World Index ex USA Investable Market Index (IMI) captures large, mid and small cap representation across 22 of 23 Developed Markets (DM) countries (excluding the United States) and 23 Emerging Markets (EM) countries*. With 6,062 constituents, the index covers approximately 99% of the global equity opportunity set outside the US.
The MSCI Emerging Markets Index is a float-adjusted market capitalization index that consists of indices in 21 emerging economies: Brazil, Chile, China, Colombia, Czech Republic, Egypt, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Korea, Malaysia, Mexico, Morocco, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Russia, South Africa, Taiwan, Thailand, and Turkey.
Barclays Aggregate Bond Index includes U.S. government, corporate, and mortgage-backed securities with maturities of at least one year.