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Articles on Wealth Management Topics

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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Mean Reversion in Financial Markets: The Case for a Contrarian Approach to Investing

Returns in financial markets are often cyclical. That is, multi-year periods during which asset classes or investing styles or mutual fund sectors succeed in generating above-average returns are usually followed by multi-year periods of disappointing returns, and vice versa. Since this market behavior is a key tenet on which our contrarian investment philosophy rests, let's explore the academic research supporting it and the ramifications for successful long-term investing.

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Is Now the Time to Rollover a Retirement Plan Account to an IRA?

One of the major factors to consider when deciding whether to rollover a retirement plan account to an IRA is investment flexibility. An IRA typically allows its owner almost unlimited investment flexibility. In contrast, a 401k, 403b or 457 retirement plan account-holder is constrained to choose from among the menu of investment options made available by the plan's sponsor and service provider.

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Target-Date Mutual Funds: A Step in the Right Direction, But Far From Ideal

Target-date mutual funds have been attracting more and more assets during the last decade, primarily as a result of their burgeoning use in 401k and 403b plans. Plan sponsors and participants alike are drawn to the simplicity of TDF's, but as is often the case, the easy solution is not the best one. The weaknesses of target-date funds stem from three words: lack of customization.

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DJIA vs. S&P 500: Which Should You Use As An Indicator of Stock Market Performance?

If you rely on the media, and particularly the local media, for your coverage of the stock market, you will find that the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) is the most oft-quoted measure of how the stock market performed on a given day. And yet most stock market professionals - portfolio managers, analysts, strategists and the like - will refer to the S&P 500 Index instead of the DJIA as their preferred yardstick of market performance. Why is this?

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An Introduction to Closed-End Mutual Funds

One of the investment universes that Five Seasons Financial Planning monitors in an ongoing search for value to exploit for the benefit of client portfolios is that of closed-end mutual funds. At this time of year, when tax-loss selling is prevalent, there are often compelling values to be found, and this year is no different. Since you may be somewhat less familiar with the concept of closed-end mutual funds than with other types of mutual funds, here's a quick primer:

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An Allocation to Investment-Grade Fixed-Income Securities in the Current Market Environment

If recent conversations with clients are any indication, a primary worry out there is how to plan for, or guard against, the "inevitability" of higher interest rates, a.k.a. falling bond prices. Most of these discussions arise from genuine concerns about the future performance of fixed-income investments given this backdrop. Some arise from a touch of performance-chasing, i.e. "Stocks have done so well in the last few years, so why not allocate more of our portfolio to them at the expense of our bond allocation, which has been languishing?".

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