In a recent visit to downstate Illinois, I stopped to talk to some farmers I know. First, I heard from a neighboring farmer who had lost his ability to obtain funds from the bank for seed, fertilizer and equipment. He was trying to pay down what he owed to suppliers and keep going for a while on cash only. After farming lots of acres successfully for decades, he was now in his last year.
Headlines were long and loud in mid-August when the United States 30-year Treasury Bond Yield dipped below 2% for the first time in history. To make matters worse, the 10-year bond yield fell lower than the 2-year bond yield. In fact, shorter term yields have been surpassing longer yields for months. When longer rates fall below shorter rates, it’s called an inversion.
Recently, Bank of America Merrill Lynch published data on cumulative flows (money movement) in equity and fixed income for their retail investor accounts, i.e., accounts not managed by an investment advisor.
In our June 2019 newsletter, Danielle Woods wrote an informative article - The Savings Crisis: Why are American’s so Ill-Prepared? In that article, she listed several recommendations to help create a personal financial plan as well as tips to set attainable savings goals. To reiterate and expand upon the points in that article, here are some planning and financial tools to help you save money.
In late May 2019, the House passed the Secure (Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement) Act by a bipartisan majority (417-3). The bill currently awaits passage by the Senate. Many analysts expect it to pass substantially as-is, although there is some squabbling over revised rules for 529 plans (college savings plans). The impetus behind the bill is to help rectify the looming retirement crisis – the majority of Americans are not on track with their retirement savings. One goal of the act is to incentivize employers to put retirement plans in place.
When we first bring up the idea of a Health Savings Account, we’re often met with reluctance. The general assumption seems to be that HSAs have too many stipulations and are too complicated to set up and maintain. That may have been the case several years ago when Health Care Savings Accounts and Flexible Spending Accounts (similar with different rules to HSAs) were first used regularly. Nowadays, HSAs are relatively simple to administer and provide a nice tax advantage for those that qualify.
Financial Stability does not have a simple definition in terms of the American household. We polled friends, family and clients to see how they would define it. Most of our responses alluded to having enough money to cover your bills and being able to address emergencies. One response was very direct and simply stated, “Uncommon.” My favorite response was, “when your kids move out of the house.”
One of my favorite financial activities of the year is attending the annual Berkshire Hathaway shareholders meeting in Omaha, Nebraska, in early May. There is always something to learn and interesting people to meet. A highlight of this year’s meeting was Warren Buffet’s claim that their Iowa utility customers would soon have 100% of their electric consumption provided by wind power. Berkshire Hathaway Energy, a 90.9% owned Berkshire subsidiary, has already invested over $25 billion in renewable energy generation with a plan to add $6 billion more through 2021.
This is a common question because many people believe that all investment people are the same. After all, it’s the same financial market, and they all buy stocks. But is there a difference? Propel Financial Advisors, LLC, is a registered investment advisor, not a broker at all. Investment advisors and brokers are covered under separate sections of the law and are very different. The key difference is that investment advisors owe a “fiduciary duty” to their clients, and brokers do not.