Broker Check

Everything in life that matters requires risk

| March 13, 2020

Conventional wisdom can be useful, even necessary. For example, panic rarely if ever is useful. Conversely, I'm less sure about "Don't change horses in the middle of the stream." Maybe. Maybe not.

If your professional - in any field - is authentic with you, s/he will share their principles, processes, preferences and biases. Also their requirements.

For example, as repeated in the link below, your fiduciary must have all your documents and data. This seems obvious to me, but sometimes honored in the breach. These days, when you see an MD, certainly in my own experience, as part of their questions about your medical history they ask about supplements.

Some financial "folks" require exclusivity. They may even state that is the only way to be Fiduciary. I disagree partially. Exclusivity is the most straightforward to be fiduciary. If the client has financial substance with more than one person, then to be fiduciary at all, the fiduciary must have all of the information - complete and updated. Not so simple to accomplish ongoing.

Having all the information and documents is necessary but not sufficient. Changes occur over time in everyone's lives. Changes in facts. But also changes in feelings, attitudes, values etc. So it is possible and normal for a Financial Plan, goals & objectives, to require updating, changing or adjusting.

Revisiting conventional wisdom, many at or near retirement learned or felt for many years that it was unwise to attempt to time the market. Stay the course was the advice. And for someone who started 30 or more years ago, that advice likely turned out pretty well. But. Here is where my preference, opinion and bias comes in. I have rarely, if ever, been a fan of periodic (e.g. monthly)) withdrawals from stocks or stock funds holdings to generate needed regular retirement income. Partially ditto for stock dividends, but that might depend on the amount taken relative to the entire portfolio size.

I'm a much bigger fan of using the other 4 categories shown in the chart below for regular retirement income. Along with, of course, Social Security and a pension if it exists.

In my early adulthood interest rates were quite high. As was inflation. So the goal of at least maintaining if not actually increasing purchasing power is near and dear to me and nearly all clients. And while stocks are not the only way to address this issue, they often are or should be under meaningful consideration.

But stocks can face a double-whammy. If the Conventional Wisdom 60-40 .... or 40-60 ... portfolio doesn't generate livable retirement income from the bond portion, that means periodic withdrawals must be made from the stock portion. And if the stock portion gets hit with a big market loss, the periodic withdrawals on top of that loss can be damaging if not unrecoverable to the clients' goals. 

So, squaring the circle, if a new plan is required to meet client goals and values, that I feel is not quite the same as switching horses midstream. It might be more like getting out and walking for help when you run out of gas in your car.

The views stated in this letter are not necessarily the opinion of Cetera Advisors LLC and should not be construed directly or indirectly as an offer to buy or sell any securities mentioned herein. Due to volatility within the markets mentioned, opinions are subject to change without. Information is based on sources believed to be reliable; however, their accuracy or completeness cannot be guaranteed. Past performance does not guarantee future results. Investors should consider their financial ability to continue to purchase through periods of low price levels. All investing involves risk, including the possible loss of principal. There is no assurance that any investment strategy will be successful. Investors cannot invest directly in indexes. The performance of any index is not indicative of the performance of any investment and does not take into account the effects of inflation and the fees and expenses associated with investing. Exchange traded funds (ETFs) and mutual funds are sold only by prospectus. Investing in ETFs and mutual funds is subject to risk and potential loss of principal. ETFs incur trading and commission costs similar to stocks and frequent trading can negate the lower cost structure of an ETF. There is no assurance or certainty that any investment or strategy will be successful in meeting its objectives. Investors should consider the investment objectives, risks and charges, and expenses of the fund carefully before investing. The prospectus contains this and other important information about the fund. Contact your registered representative of the issuing company to obtain a prospectus, which should be read carefully before investing or sending money. The return and principal value of fixed income securities fluctuate with changes in market conditions. If bonds are not held to maturity, they may be worth more or less than their original value. All investing involves risk, including the possible loss of principal.  There is no assurance that any investment strategy will be successful. Guarantees are based on the claims paying ability of the issuer.

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