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Articles on Wealth Management Topics

Check Up on a Financial Advisor by Checking BrokerCheck

"Advisor Background Checks a Must, Warn Regulators." "SEC Urges Consumers to Run Background Checks on Advisors." These were recent headlines in Financial Advisor magazine and the by-product of a campaign by the SEC and by other regulators of financial advisors to raise public awareness of the BrokerCheck tool. The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) manages the BrokerCheck website, and this online database allows consumers to investigate their current or prospective advisors, and the firms that employ them.

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Financial Advice from Utah's Credit Unions May Not be What it Seems

Credit unions are a big part of the financial services landscape here in Utah, much more so than in other states. I use a credit union for both my personal and Five Seasons Financial Planning bank accounts, something I never even considered when living in the Northeast. And many clients also use them for banking and loans. But apparently the investment services and financial advice being offered by credit unions here in Utah are not necessarily what they seem.

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Financial Markets Update for Wealth Management Clients 3

“You make most of your money in a bear market, you just don’t realize it at the time.” This statement must seem like a paradox when your portfolio balance is declining at an alarming rate on a weekly basis. But "money is indeed made" in a variety of ways during financial market upheavals like this one. And doing so doesn't require any particular market-timing skills or short-selling prowess, but it does require a disciplined and consistent approach to portfolio management, a focus on the longer term, and a certain amount of courage and conviction.

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Financial Markets Update for Wealth Management Clients 2

At the risk of overdoing it with client communications, I'm feeling that developments in the financial markets in the past week warrant another outreach to all of you, and in particular to those of you who weren't Five Seasons clients during the October 2007 - March 2009 bear market. In the interest of brevity, this missive will take the form of a list of talking points that have occurred to me, or that have cropped up in one-on-one correspondence with clients, this week. Here's hoping the following will calm nerves, provide perspective, satisfy curiosity, or simply help you to pass time while "social distancing":

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Financial Markets Update for Wealth Management Clients 1

Despite the confidence exuded by the talking heads on financial news networks like CNBC and Bloomberg TV, it's always a tenuous business to try to assign big stock market moves (down or up) to one specific root cause. And frankly it's not a particularly productive exercise to try to do so, other than for the benefit of TV ratings. That being said, in my humble opinion, while the coronavirus was certainly the catalyst for, and is still an ongoing contributing factor to, this stock market correction or bear market, there are several other factors at work:

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The Relationship Between Economic Growth and Stock Market Returns

The most widely-followed U.S. stock market indices now all sit at or near record highs. One of the factors often given credit for our stock market's resilient performance is the recent strength in economic indicators. But should a strong economy lead us to believe that the outlook for future stock market returns is rosy? The indisputable answer is, surprisingly, "No".

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Investors Must Beware of Exchange-Traded Fund (ETF) Closures

It's no secret that the popularity of exchange-traded funds, or ETF's, has sky-rocketed since the very first one, the S&P 500 SPDR, was introduced more than 25 years ago. Investment flows continue to pour into these vehicles, and ETF sponsors continue to oblige investors by rolling out a never-ending stream of new products. The dark side of this onslaught of ETF introductions is that record numbers of mutual funds are also closing, and fund closures can have serious repercussions for the investors owning them.

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How a Financial Advisor's Business Model Affects the Advice They Provide

Financial advisors vary widely in the business models in which they operate and in the standards of care that they owe to clients. These factors determine the quality of advice provided, and of products recommended, by any given financial advisor as much as his/her education, experience, and professional designations.

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There's an ETF for That: Exchange-Traded Fund Issuers Get More Creative

Now there are almost 1800 ETF's being traded in the U.S., a remarkable number considering that there are less than 4000 companies listed on exchanges here. To distinguish themselves from the competition and to attract investment assets, these fund sponsors have stopped at nothing to slice and dice the financial markets in innovative, and in many cases just plain silly, ways.

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Consumers of Financial Advice Beware: Not All CFP® Practitioners Are Created Equal

The Certified Financial Planner (CFP®) designation is the most widely recognized certification for financial advisors. However, CFP® certificants vary enormously in the regulatory environments and business models in which they operate. These differences have tremendous implications for the quality of financial advice that a consumer should expect to receive from a given CFP® practitioner.

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