Dear Clients and Friends:
Spring is typically a time for re-birth and optimism. The cold, gray winter has passed and we finally get to enjoy sunshine, green grass, and being outdoors again. Would you agree that after an entire year of quarantine and social distancing, that this spring brings with it even more hope and cheer than most? The past year has been a challenge and certainly more challenges await us in the future. But with vaccines now available to all adults, it feels like we just may be through the worst of COVID. Knock on wood.
That said, it’s as important as ever to keep safety in mind. We continue to remain open and available to you. If you want to meet virtually, we can make that happen. If you feel comfortable and would rather come to the office for an in-person meeting, we can make that happen too. Our mission at DV Financial is to make you comfortable both with your money and with respect to your safety.
Last quarter we mentioned that we were launching an advertising campaign on local radio. Maybe you have heard the ads, but if you haven’t you can listen to them on our website. We would love to hear your feedback! The ads are uniquely DV Financial. The message is all about getting comfortable with your finances, but we try to convey it with some humor. If nothing else, we are confident our ads set us apart from other financial organizations.
COVID: One year later from an investor’s perspective
This time last year, the World Health Organization had recently declared that the spread of Covid-19 constituted a worldwide pandemic. In the U.S., stringent measures were being taken to slow the spread of Covid and “flatten the curve”. Lockdowns and shelter-in-place orders dealt a heavy blow to U.S. economic activity.
Investors had no prior experience guiding them through a shutdown and eventual reopening of the economy. It was as if we were driving through a dark and foggy night with no headlights to guide our path. Consequently, investor reaction was swift, and we descended into the first bear market since 2009. Volatility was intense. In just one day, the Dow Jones Industrial Average lost nearly 3,000 points, or 12.9% which accounted for over 25% of the Dow’s nearly 11,000 point peak-to-trough loss. The major market indexes bottomed a few days later on March 23, 2020. Using the broader-based S&P 500 index as the barometer, it was a swift decline but the shortest bear market in history.
The ensuing rally has been nearly unprecedented. Since bottoming, the S&P 500 Index advanced an astounding 77.6% through March 31, 2021. The end of the first quarter 2021 close (3,972.89) put it within 1.65 points of the prior March 26, 2021 closing high, which was after a series of new highs since the beginning of the year. Early in the second quarter of this year the S&P 500 has gone on to top 4,000.
History does not necessarily repeat itself; past performance does not guarantee future results. However, by examining history we can gain perspective. The S&P 500’s advance over the first 12 months of this bull market tops the first 12 months of the six longest bull markets since WWII.
In second place, at 72.4% over the first 12 months was the bull market which began in March 2009 and lasted until the onset of COVID in February 2020. In contrast, in the first 12 months of the 1990’s bull market, the S&P 500 advanced 32.8%. While that is an excellent return for a 12 month period, it was the worst performance of the six longest running bear markets since WWII.
Perhaps more relevant to the next 12 months would be performance of the second 12 months of bull markets following bear market drops of at least 30% in the S&P 500. Again, since WWII there have been six other bear-market selloffs of at least 30%. In each case, the market posted strong returns in the first 12 months (averaging 40.6%) and the gains continued into the second 12 months (averaging 16.9%). However, the second 12 months also included pullbacks which averaged -10.2% which may indicate the possibility of some bumps in the road ahead.
Meanwhile, Treasury bond yields have jumped as the government has embarked on an expensive $1.9 trillion stimulus package and talk of new spending from Washington is gaining momentum.
So far, investors have focused on the rollout of vaccines, the reopening of the economy, and the benefits which may result. However, questions remain. Might the economy overheat and spark an unwanted rise in inflation? Will rising bond yields temper investor sentiment?
Momentum has favored bullish investors, but valuations may be stretched, at least over the shorter term. When markets are surging, some are tempted to load up on risk. Just as having an investment plan takes the emotional component out of the decision-making process when stock prices are falling, it also erects a barrier against the impulse to take on too much risk when share prices are skyrocketing. Life changes. When it does, adjustments may be appropriate, but the gyrations of the stock market are rarely reason enough to make emotionally based investment decisions.
Table 1: Key Index Returns
|Dow Jones Industrial Average||6.6||7.8|
|S&P 500 Index||4.2||5.8|
|Russel 2000 Index||0.9||12.4|
|MSCI World ex-USA*||2.1||3.4|
|MSCI Emerging Markets*||-1.7||2.0|
|US Aggregate Bond TR**||-1.2||-3.4|
Source: MSCI.com, Morningstar, MarketWatch
MTD returns: Feb 26, 2021 – Mar 31, 2021
YTD returns: Dec 31, 2020 – Mar 31, 2021
*in US dollars **Bloomberg Barclays
Avoiding 7 Retirement Traps
In a recent conversation with a client, we made the analogy of retirement to going sky diving for the first time. Imagine your nerves as you approach the open door of an airplane, thousands of feet above the ground, getting ready to jump. Theoretically, you know that sky diving has been around for a long time and thousands of others have successfully jumped before you. Intellectually, you know the parachute is supposed to open and return you safely to the ground. Before you even got on the plane, you were trained in what to do in case everything did not go exactly as planned. A plan was in place and you got on board confident the outcome would likely be wonderful. Yet, as you pull the cord for the first time, you have to rely on the experience of and faith in the people, their training, and the equipment.
Retirement, in many ways, is similar. It is, for most people, a once-in-a-lifetime experience. It is scary to leave behind the comfort and security of a regular paycheck. It is only normal to question if your preparation is sufficient to carry you through successfully.
This is where DV Financial can help. While we have not yet personally had the pleasure, over many decades we have helped many others prepare to “jump” successfully into retirement. For us, retirement is a regular event. We have the experience, equipment, and people on which you can rely.
Here are 7 retirement traps we can help you avoid:
1: Not Adjusting Risk Exposure – When you are young and saving for your future, risk and volatility can be a benefit. By investing regularly and consistently, regardless of fluctuations in the market, you take advantage of market dips by purchasing more shares when prices are low and fewer shares when the prices are high. But in retirement, market volatility can be significantly more disruptive. A big decline in market value at the onset of your retirement can create issues later on. It is not about completely avoiding risk; it’s about finding the balance between risk, growth, and stability.
2: Taking Social Security at the wrong time – Social Security is a balance between receiving more, smaller payments versus receiving fewer, larger payments. There may be some reasons for taking Social Security as early as age 62, but for many that will reduce the amount you receive over your lifetime. Today, “Normal Retirement Age” (NRA) is somewhere between age 66 and age 67 depending on the year you were born. People who begin benefits at age 62 will receive 25% less per month than they would have received at NRA. Delaying payments until age 70 increases monthly payments by 32% more than you would have received at NRA. The rules governing Social Security are complex, and many factors need to be considered when making your decision about when to begin Social Security payments. This is where our tools and experience can be invaluable. We can help you model and analyze various strategies, so you are equipped to make the best decision about your benefits.
3: Failure to have a distribution plan – Taxes, Required Minimum Distributions (RMDs – which by the way, now begin at age 72), and penalties for early distributions all must be considered, but there are tools and strategies which you may not be aware of. For example, did you know that you can take pre-tax money from retirement plans, without penalties, before age 59.5 is you follow the IRS rules for Substantially Equal Periodic Payments (SEPP or Section 72(t) distributions)? Or, that you can reduce your RMD’s by purchasing a Qualified Longevity Annuity Contract (QLAC) and deferring some of your retirement income? Again, we must emphasize that this is a complex topic but we can recommend strategies to fit your specific needs and goals.
4: Spending too much or too little – When you retire, your lifestyle will change. You will have the opportunity and the time to enjoy new experiences on your own terms. Yet you need to find a balance when it comes to your retirement spending. You will be living on finite assets and your ability to earn more may be limited. If you overspend, especially early in your retirement, the impact could linger for the rest of your life. Yet spending too little may mean you don’t fully enjoy retirement within your means. Our planning system has the capability to express your planned spending in terms of probability of success, which becomes an incredible tool to determine your spending balance.
5: Scams – There is a reason why retirees are favorite targets of scams. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Legitimate organizations should never put pressure on you to send money before you have the chance to check them out. The IRS will never call you and chances are, that isn’t your grandchild calling for bail money. If your bank calls or emails asking for personal information, don’t respond and contact them yourself. Safety first.
6: Medical Expenses – If you are over 65 years old, Medicare becomes your primary insurance but it is important to also have a Medicare Supplement policy. Even those coverages do not pay for everything. Make certain you have a budget for medical expenses (including a plan for Long Term Care) in retirement.
7: Longevity – Don’t let the success of your retirement plan rely on a short life span! Life expectancy and longevity can only be estimated; no one knows with certainty how long they will live. More and more, people are living well into their 80’s and 90’s. Plan as if you will be relying on your savings for 30+ years in retirement.
As a bonus, here is one more trap to avoid in retirement, although it has nothing to do with your finances. Consider how you will spend your time in retirement. Stay active. Volunteer. It will help keep you physically fit and mentally sharp. Retirement is the opportunity to follow your dreams. It is vital that your plan include activities that will help you enjoy what should be the best years of your life.
If you have any questions or would like to discuss anything in this newsletter or your money in general, 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.
 March 16, 2020 – St. Louis Federal Reserve
 St. Louis Federal Reserve
 St. Louis Federal Reserve