There’s always something happening at IAG Wealth Partners. From “Power Break” seminars, client appreciation events, and our Wealth Management Symposium to community and charitable activities by our advisors and staff, we invite you to see what we’ve been up to!
Only a 10% chance.
According to the National Weather Service, there was only a 10% chance that last weekend’s monster snowstorm which we heard about for days would provide us with a mere 2-3 inches of snow. By their analysis, there was a 90% chance we would get more than 3 inches. See their explanation on the graphic by clicking this link, then click on the picture
Our first blog of 2020 is dedicated to helping you make 2020 a better year for you and your family.
We will forego all of the 20/20 allusions about vision and foresight, though they may prove irresistible throughout the year.
We will not remind you that the new year brought plenty of changes to retirement accounts. If you are interested in those, please see our previous blog on the SECURE Act.
We will not bore you with our market predictions for the year because, as usual, we do not know with certainty how 2020 will unfold. Only hindsight is 20/20.
Do you have your Christmas shopping done yet? While holiday retail sales figures have been impressive, I am pretty sure not everyone is quite done with their shopping yet.
The pressure to find the perfect gift is on, and it is only enhanced as the number of shopping days dwindles.
Imagine the anticipation as the first perfect gift was given. As promised that gift arrived in a stable in Bethlehem and his birth was announced by angels and a star.
Sometimes the perfect gift arrives in the strangest form.
After languishing for almost seven months, the SECURE Act is on the legislative move!
On May 23, 2019, the House of Representatives passed the SECURE Act by a vote of 417-3 and it stalled in the Senate.
Just yesterday the SECURE Act was folded into H.R. 1865 – one of the giant year-end spending bills that are likely to pass both the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate this week.
The temporary budget that is currently funding the government expires after Friday, December 20.
This is the time of year when eating healthy usually takes a back seat to an abundance of cookies and other Christmas delights.
It is also the time of year to check up on your financial health as one calendar year closes and another opens.
Before your calendar is filled with family visits, wrapping present, and holiday parties, take a few minutes to ensure you are making the most of 2019 and planning ahead for 2020:
While only a week ago, Thanksgiving is almost an afterthought for many people at this point. You may still be eating some turkey leftovers, but the house is probably clean(er) and families have travelled back into their normal lives.
Yes, the logistics of Thanksgiving can be challenging, but you will be pleased to learn that scientists almost unanimously agree that thanksgiving is good for you. And not just on Thanksgiving.
On Monday the Milwaukee Brewers unveiled their brand new logo and uniforms for their upcoming 50th season in Milwaukee. Their new logo is an updated version of the ball and glove logo they used from 1978-1993.
Except it isn’t a ball and a glove, it is really an M and a B for Milwaukee Brewers.
It is so obvious, yet it isn’t.
Required Minimum Distribution (RMD). If you are over age 70.5 or you inherited a retirement account you know what RMDs are.
RMDs are the absolute minimum amount you must take out your tax-deferred retirement account or inherited retirement account every year to avoid a 50% penalty.
If you have not taken your RMD for 2019, there are only a few weeks left to get it done or the IRS may assess one of the harshest penalties in the tax code when you file your taxes next year.
Over the last week the S&P 500 Index, an index that tracks U.S. large cap stocks, has set a number of new record highs.
The drought between record highs lasted from late July to late October as traders digested an on-again-off-again trade deal with China, gradually weakening economic reports, and political developments in the U.S. and Europe.
Reaching a record high and maintaining upward momentum are two very different things.
Children and their parents cumulatively spend millions of hours across the country carving pumpkins for Halloween.
Even IAG’s competitive pumpkin carving teams took part in the tradition this year.
Why do we cut holes in the top of large orange gourds, scoop out their innards, poke holes in them, and then light them up?
Every four years or so we find that reliable long-term investors become susceptible to a pernicious disease I like to call electionitis. This election cycle it seems to be getting an early start.
I believe electionitis is a contagious virus which cannot be treated with typical antibiotics. The major symptom of electionitis is that it causes otherwise rational investors to believe that cash is the only appropriate investment until the next election is over and “things settle down.”
“Fight for Freedom. Stand with Hong Kong.”
Those seven words were included in a now-deleted tweet by Daryl Morey, the general manager of the Houston Rockets.
Those seven words could result in the loss of millions (if not billions) of dollars of revenue for the National Basketball Association (NBA).
Whether you believe this is true in your personal relationships or not, it is as vital a truth in the financial markets as it is for a magnet.
Magnets have a north pole and a south pole. Try to push two north poles together and you will find repulsion; but hold a south pole and a north pole near each other and there is instant attraction.
Similarly, the financial markets require the presence of two poles to function — sellers and buyers.
On September 5 the Brewers’ playoff prospects looked fairly grim. On that day they lost to the Chicago Cubs by a score of 10 to 5 at Miller Park, their record was a mere 3 games over .500, and they had several teams in front of them for the second wild card playoff spot.
Many Brewers fans were resigned to missing the playoffs this season after almost making it to the World Series last year. Very disappointing!
The next 17 games were a complete surprise.
Celebrate diversity. This is a pretty common phrase I am sure you have seen on bumper stickers or heard in conversations.
Babies born on September 11, 2001, turn 18 years old today.
They were born on a day that altered our entire country’s view of the world. On that day Americans’ belief that our country was safe from terrorist attacks was destroyed along with thousands of lives.
The Green Bay Packers begin their 2019 season against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field tomorrow evening.
The remaining players have survived numerous mini-camps and a long training camp which prepared them for the regular season. All of those preseason camps are designed to reinforce the basic fundamentals of the game.
Teaching players to instinctively use optimal strategies for ball handling, body positioning, and foot work should free them from thinking about those fundamentals during the regular season.
Yet we know football players are human, and sometimes mental mistakes create fundamental problems.
The U.S. economy is facing a similar funda-mental challenge right now.
This Week’s Blogger: Scott D. Heins, CFP®, IAG Chief Investment Officer
Hootie and the Blowfish released their debut album Cracked Rear View on July 5, 1994, just over 25 years ago. Track 8 on that album is entitled “Time,” which includes the following refrain:
The back to school shopping season is in full swing. Kids are excited to get new clothes and school supplies. Parents are excited because a new sense of normalcy and structure is on the horizon.
The trade and currency conflict between the United States and China continues to escalate.
One of the potential risks for financial markets this fall had been the potential political firestorm over raising the federal government’s debt limit. In the past the suspenseful debate over the debt limit led to tension in the financial markets.
Reduce. Reuse. Recycle.
At my house the recycling bin is often more full than the garbage bin when the carts are rolled out to the curb for collection. We use our plastic grocery bags to clean up after the cats and dog. Unfortunately, reduce is a far more elusive objective with three kids. If anything we are ducing instead of reducing.
Today is yet another cold and miserable day this spring, and forecasters are predicting another 1 or 2 inches of rain for southern Wisconsin.
The National Weather Service reports that so far 2019 has been above average for snow and overall precipitation, and we have employees and clients whose basements have suffered from this overabundance of water.
Last week the trustees of the Social Security trust funds issued their 270-page annual report on the financial security of the Social Security program. As the trustees have warned for many years, the current structure of the Social Security program is not sustainable beyond the mid-2030s.
The “R” word went viral in OctobeR, NovembeR, and DecembeR last year as traders extrapolated 2018’s economic pattern into 2019.
Economic output in the U.S. grew at a torrid 4.2% annual rate in the second quarter of 2018. It slowed to a 3.4% growth rate in the third quarter and slowed further to a 2.2% in the fourth quarter.
I would bet that my third grader can spot the pattern here:
- 2% minus 0.8% is 3.4%
- 4% minus 1.2% is 2.2%
Once we recognize the pattern we can extrapolate into the future:
- 2% minus 1.6% is 0.6%
- 6% minus 2.0% is economically ugly
This simplified exercise in extrapolation resulted in a market meltdown in the months ending in R.
But the economy is not as prone to predictable patterns as traders would like to think. Slowing growth does not always result in a recession. Sometimes slowing growth simply stops slowing and rumors of recessions recede.
It certainly appears that when the Bureau of Economic Analysis releases the first of three Gross Domestic Product estimates on Friday, April 26, that the recessionary economic growth pattern will be broken. Most economists expect a growth rate comfortably exceeding the pattern’s 0.6% “prediction.”
Does that mean our economy is now recession-proof? Absolutely not. There will undoubtedly be a real recession at some point in the future.
We also believe there is a high likelihood that the number of impending recession rumors will exceed the actual number of recessions. However, the very last one of those many rumors will in fact be correct and precede the next recession.
Whether we are experiencing an economy that is roaring or receding, our passion is to help you confidently create and adjust your financial plan and portfolio as life unfolds. We recommend using our Portfolio GPSTM process instead of relying on rumors to guide your way.
Quote of the week: John Kenneth Galbraith: “There are two kinds of forecasters: those who don’t know, and those who don’t know they don’t know.”
The English language fascinates me. On Monday I heard the same phrase used to reflect two entirely different sentiments.
On Monday afternoon the phrase “on fire” rang throughout the world as millions watched a tragedy unfold at Notre Dame in Paris. Hundreds of firefighters responded to the scene and desperately made every effort to save an 850-year-old landmark that was previously saved from disrepair by Napoleon.
Unless you live in Massachusetts or Maine the federal tax filing finish line falls just 5 days from now on April 15. Either you must file your taxes by April 15 or file an extension which permits you to delay the inevitable until October 15 — as long as you pay what you think you owe now.
Bipartisanship in Congress is a rarity these days, so when key leaders of Democrats and Republicans develop and introduce legislation together it catches one’s eye.
Last week the leaders of the House Ways and Means Committee unveiled the soundly bipartisan SECURE Act. SECURE stands for Setting Every Community up for Retirement Enhancement. I suspect the acronym came before the title, but I will let you be the judge.
The SECURE Act includes some interest
One very important market indicator has plunged 25% since November 8, 2018, and has not bounced back with the stock market. Can you name it?
Here is a hint: Agent 007 encounters this indicator at a low-traffic intersection in Washington, D.C. that he travels through only once per decade.
Basketball is a truly American game. It was created in December 1891 by Dr. James Naismith in Springfield, Massachusetts, to help keep young athletes in shape during winter.
Less than thirteen years later basketball’s popularity had grown enough to make it a demonstration sport at the Summer Olympics. By 1936 it become an official Olympic sport and by 1939 led to the creation of the NCAA basketball tournament.
This coming Friday we celebrate the Ides of March.
I personally celebrate the Ides of March because it marks the (almost) halfway point of my least favorite month of the year. March is not warm enough to start outside spring activities, but not cold enough to extend fun winter activities. The cold rains of March melt away the snow piles, revealing the winter’s accumulated dirt and grime.
They grow up so fast.
March 9, 2009, seems like just yesterday, but it will be a full ten years in just a few days.
Ten years ago a precious little baby bull market was born. This baby bull didn’t look like much at the time and didn’t garner much attention at first.
IAG’s advisors have been serving our clients for almost 34 years now. Since our founding in 1985 there have been some significant trends that have led to substantial changes for our clients.
The most obvious of these is technology. Our clients now have instant access to more information than ever before. While mostly beneficial, it can also lead to overconfidence in the “right” answers for the wrong questions.
On Monday IAG Wealth Partners held its annual State of the Company meeting. It is an opportunity for our team to gather off-site to review accomplishments, focus on better ways to serve our clients, and do some team building.
This coming Monday, February 18, is President’s Day. I am sure you have all of your family gatherings and celebrations planned at this point.
Will Christmas Eve come again in the next few months?
Based on my calendar the answer is a definite no. It appears Valentine’s Day, Easter, and Mother’s Day are more likely.
Checking in with the financial markets, the odds seem a little higher.
People generally prefer to have a sense of security and control in their lives, and modern technology has done wonders to give people the illusion of control.
Need to know exactly when it will start snowing? Check the radar on your phone. Want to know what your destination looks like? Check Google Maps for a street view. Want to see how busy a restaurant is before you head out? Your phone can tell you.
While the calendar turned to 2019 just over three weeks ago, your mailbox will likely be full of important memories of 2018 in the coming weeks.
‘Tis the season to collect, organize, and eventually file your 2018 income tax returns. Here are some important reminders as you begin your process:
The aftermath of a natural disaster is ugly. We have all seen the pictures of flooded homes, burned vehicles, and scattered debris. People’s lives and property are disrupted and destroyed by forces beyond their control.
Since the September 20th S&P 500 Index all-time record high the financial headlines have focused on the stock market’s choppy decline. However, there is another equally fascinating half of the story in the financial markets over the last three months.
The other half of the story is the bond markets where expectations have turned 180 degrees over the last three months.
Hopefully you were celebrating Christmas with family and friends for the past week or so instead of paying attention to the financial markets. It has not been enjoyable.
On Christmas Eve the S&P 500 teetered on the brink of a bear market. At that point it had lost 19.78% since its record high on September 20. Many other common stock market indices are already in bear market territory – small cap stocks, international stocks, and emerging market stocks to name a few.
The Christmas season is supposed to be full of joy – the birth of a Savior, the gathering of families, and giving of gifts.
Yet for many people Christmas can be a struggle. The message of a Savior can easily be missed, the family gatherings turn lonely, or the gift-giving focuses on what you get instead of what you give.
Final exam time is approaching for high school and college students. They will test how much cumulative knowledge they have gained from their studies over the last four months. Hopefully they will earn a passing grade from their teacher.
As the year winds down, Congress is faced with the task of deciding whether they wish to extend certain tax provisions that expire every year on December 31.
On November 26, the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee unveiled his year-end proposal which included some interesting retirement account proposals.
December 14 marks the end of 2018.
It is amazing how the end of the year creeps up on you when you subtract 17 days from the calendar.
The more people who believe in an unpredictable future economic event, the more likely it will happen.
These “economic prophecies” have the potential to become self-fulfilling because people alter their behavior based on their newfound belief in future events.
I must write our weekly blog on Tuesday morning so that it can be reviewed and approved in time to share it with you on Wednesday.
That seems like a pretty strange greeting for this particular holiday. What exactly is happy about celebrating Halloween? I guess one could point to the smiles on children’s faces as they infuse themselves with sugar or creative costumes that bring a chuckle, but Halloween’s roots are much darker.
The clock is ticking on 2018. The end of the year may seem pretty far away, but Christmas Eve is just two months from today.
As you likely know, the tax rules for 2018 changed substantially and the IRS is very busy writing new forms to help you abide by the new rules. You can take a sneak peek at their latest draft of the 2018 Form 1040 here. It certainly looks different than 2017.
The recent turbulence in the stock markets created some excitement for the attention-span-challenged talking heads over the last week or so.
These attention-seeking distractors feel compelled to go searching for causes, assigning blame, and stirring up the worst instincts in long-term investors’ minds whenever there is a bit of turbulence.
The gulf continues to grow.
The political theater last week highlighted one of the more challenging aspects of living in a country with an economy based on capitalism and a government based on a “small r“ republican form of government.
Identifying when it is time for change in leadership is very difficult for any organization. Has the current leadership team performed as expected? Are the stakeholders pleased with the results? Are the current leaders living in the past or preparing for the future?
Crucial. Must-win. Crunch time. Winner takes all.
Sports announcers are typically full of hyperbole as they work to build the drama for an important game.
Now that the kids are back to school, the Halloween decorations are out in force. It is truly the scariest time of the year.
According to computer models, Hurricane Florence appears poised to make landfall along the Carolina coastline in the coming days. But that wasn’t always the case.
Tropical Depression 6 was a clump of fluffy clouds that formed off of the west coast of Africa on August 30. It was a nonevent. No headlines. No warnings. No danger.
Then Tropical Depression 6 organized into a tropical storm and received its name from the U.S. National Hurricane Center. Since most of the tropical storms that form off the coast of Africa do not make landfall in the United States, Florence only garnered a few media mentions.
Florence grew quickly into a formidable Category 4 hurricane far off the east coast of the United States, but then wandered into an unfavorable environment that reduced her once again to a tropical storm. This, too, occurs more frequently than making landfall in the United States.
A couple of days later Florence bumped into favorable conditions and rapidly grew back into a Category 4 hurricane that is now poised to unleash its destructive forces on millions of Americans, and we pray for their well-being.
The story of Florence is very similar to the storms that occasionally impact the financial markets, except financial hurricanes cannot be detected by satellite images or radar. There are no “cones” that illustrate where destructive financial forces are likely to make landfall. There are no reliable evacuation warnings.
As horrible as a Category 4 hurricane is, there is some comfort in knowing when and where it is most likely to make landfall.
In the financial markets no such warning system is available. Every day there are fluffy financial clouds in the sky and we could spend all of our time worrying which ones will evolve into rain showers, thunderstorms, tropical storms, and the occasional hurricane.
In our view, a better approach is to embrace the uncertainty of living in a financial world where there are both sunny and cloud days; always be prepared for financial hurricanes by having enough cash on hand to make ends meet no matter what the financial weather is like tomorrow; and hunker down when the occasional hurricane hits knowing that it will pass in due time.
Our specialty is not financial weather forecasting. Our specialty is helping our clients prepare for storms while enjoying the sunny days.
Quote of the week:
Daniel Crosby, Ph.D.: “I have 10 commandments, if you will; they sort of cover the waterfront for me, if people would do these things: First, in all markets, up down and sideways, you control what matters most. Second, thou shall understand risk. Third, start now, start again tomorrow, and start again the next day. Fourth, trouble is opportunity. Fifth, do less than you think you should. Sixth, forecasting is for weathermen. Seventh, if you’re excited about an investment, it’s probably a bad idea. Eighth, this time isn’t different, and neither are you. Ninth, you should be the benchmark. Tenth, excess is never permanent.”
Summer is over. The kids are back at school. If you look carefully a few trees are not quite as green as the used to be. Yes, fall is underway.
Late August is one of the least desirable times to mow my lawn. It is not the heat and humidity that get to me, but the poor decision-making by amphibians.
Frogs have great hearing. They need it to survive. They hear predators, find food, maintain territories, and find a mate using their ears. Therefore, I know they hear me when I start the lawnmower.
There are typically only two types of people that enter your house through the back door – family and friends or thieves.
In the new tax law, Congress clarified that assets entering a Roth IRA account through the back door are your friends.
Life can be a game of inches. Sometimes mere seconds separate us from safety or tragedy. Or keep us from setting new records.
Our current bull may become the longest bull market on record within the next few weeks. This is true if you believe the current longest bull market on record lasted from October 12, 1990 to March 24, 2000 – a total of 2,388 trading days.
The National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) acts as our country’s official economic expansion and recession referee. Given that they often do not “make the call” until 12 to 24 months after a recession starts and ends, one could say there is nothing instant about their officiating.
As I sat atop the Summit of Mount Quandary in Colorado a few weeks ago, I couldn’t help but realize how spectacular the world we live in is. There’s really nothing like standing 14,265 feet up in the Rocky Mountains after climbing for three and a half hours.
The baseball stars came out last night for Major League Baseball’s All Star game at Nationals Park in Washington, D.C.
Next year’s All Star game will be held at Progressive Field in Cleveland for the first time since 1997. However, as of this writing MLB has not yet announced the players who will be participating or starting for next year’s All Star game.
Last week the Bureau of Labor Statistics announced that the unemployment rate jumped up from 3.8% to 4.0% in June and the ranks of the unemployed rose by 499,000 people.
That is great news for the economy.
When I volunteered to write the blog a month or so ago, I knew that I wanted it to be family focused. Just this past weekend, my Facebook post stated that “family dinners are my favorite time of life.”
Last week I took full advantage of a beautiful summer afternoon to go for a jog around my neighborhood. As I passed by neighbors waving and children playing, I was overcome with gratitude. I felt grateful for the safe, vibrant, and diverse community that I call home.
For years I have been told that parenting involves “launching” our children into new situations from early on - think 1st day of kindergarten to the “Big Launch”, also known as going off to college. The fact that I have had 18 years to prepare for this made me believe that I would be ready for this time in my life.
Time is running out for Wisconsin parents to claim their 2018 Child Sales Tax Rebate. If you are a Wisconsin parent with minor children, now is the time to sign up for this rebate before the opportunity closes on July 2.
There was a giant party on the deck at my house over the weekend. When the temperatures start climbing all my neighbors come out for a good time – especially when we have the floodlights on.
I have attached a picture in case you are curious what kind of raucous parties I throw on my deck.
Yesterday we unveiled our new name and logo at our 23rd annual Wealth Management Symposium.
Investors Advisory Group is now IAG Wealth Partners.
We are the same people with the same commitment to serving our clients — just with a new name and logo.
We believe IAG Wealth Partners fits us better for several reasons.
Life is often full of unexpected outcomes. Every unexpected event or difficult decision in your life has a ripple effect on your and your family’s future.
Dictionary.com defines a wedge as a “piece of hard material with two principal faces meeting in a sharply acute angle, for raising, holding, or splitting objects by applying a pounding or driving force.”
A wedge is a simple machine. You can use it for gaining some height, driving a golf ball, or splitting logs.
.2, 4.6, 11.4, 16.5, 4, and 10.
Those are the inches of snow recorded in Milwaukee from November 2017 through April 2018. Everything looks pretty normal – except for the last two numbers which normally would be reversed.
This is a custom post excerpt
On Saturday, April 21, America laid to rest former first lady Barbara Bush. Over one thousand people paid their respect in person while millions watched across the world.
You likely know the attention-grabbing headlines of Barbara Bush’s life already: married for 73 years, wife and mother of U.S. Presidents.