How Markets Work and the FAANG Mentality

Is the market getting by with a little help from the FAANGs? And does their performance stand out historically? Investors may be surprised that it's common for a subset of stocks to drive a sizable portion of market returns. 

The stocks commonly referred to by the FAANG moniker—Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix, and Google (now trading as Alphabet)—have posted impressive gains through the years, with all now worth many times their initial-public-offering prices. The notion of FAANG stocks as a powerful group holding sway over the markets has sunk its teeth into some investors. But how much of the market’s recent returns are attributable to FAANG stocks? And does their performance point to a change in the markets? 

Three Possible Paths for Fed Interest Rate Policy in 2020

The US Fed held rates steady in December and plans to continue that stance through 2020. But a lot can happen to change the Fed’s mind—after all, it entered 2019 expecting to hike rates and ended up with three cuts. What does 2020 have in store?

The outlook is unusually cloudy. Geopolitical events like the US-China trade war could reignite, and the looming US elections, with every House seat, 35 Senate seats and the presidency on the ballot, could leave the US economy and financial markets on volatile ground. 

Given the substantial amount of uncertainty, we don’t think it’s practical to put a single forecast on the Fed’s policy actions for 2020. We think a better approach is to establish a range of scenarios and what the Fed might do in each case. As the year progresses, we can better evaluate which path the US economy is on and update expectations accordingly.

As we see it, there are three main paths that could influence the Fed’s next moves (Display).

What Happens When You Fail at Market Timing

It’s hard to predict the best days in the markets, and the cost of missing them can be high.



Resources We Use To Stay Current for Our Clients

When Megan Rinaudo joined our firm earlier this year as a financial advisor, she immediately asked me for resources that would help her continue to expand her knowledge of financial investing and the myriad of factors that affect its various outcomes.

As I prepared a list for her, it occurred to me that clients might be interested in knowing what resources I use to keep up-to-date and to be in the best position to offer sound financial advice.  I’m not talking strictly about investing, either.  Wealth management is about looking at a bigger financial picture, not just buying various investment products.  Understanding many factors helps me to do appropriate analyses and make recommendations based on my findings.

Quantifying the Value of Financial Advisors

In a successful financial advisor-client relationship, one would hope the value of the advice would be self-evident.  In other words, if clients didn’t recognize a benefit of the relationship, they likely would not remain clients.

However, can that value be quantified?   Some relatively recent studies by prominent financial organizations were designed to do just that.

Review Tax Withholding Now To Avoid Unwanted Surprise in April

Last spring, many people were disappointed when their tax refund turned out to be smaller than they’d anticipated, or when they unexpectedly owed money to the IRS instead of obtaining a refund.

Much of this can be attributed to changes in federal tax laws and changes in federal withholding tables that became effective in 2018 -- changes that many filers failed to account for in their withholding amounts during the year.

Given that the 2018 changes are still in effect, this might be a good time to review the amounts withheld from your paychecks, pensions, social security checks, or other sources of income.  Ideally, you should have enough – but not too much – withheld.

We are happy to welcome Megan Rinaudo to our team

I’m pleased to report that our client base at Thorley Wealth Management has been steadily increasing over the years.  In fact, the rate of growth accelerated in 2018 and 2019.

To continue to provide award-winning financial services, it became clear to me that we needed to add another CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER Practitioner (CFP®).  It was also clear that we needed to find “the right fit,” someone who not only had the requisite expertise and experience, but also shared our philosophy of working closely and personally with our clients.

Retirement Confidence Rises For Workers and Retirees

The 29th annual Retirement Confidence Survey, conducted in 2019 by the Employee Benefits Research Institute, indicates that 67% of US workers are feeling confident in their ability to live comfortably throughout their retirement years.

This represents an increase over the 2018 results, which showed 64% expressed the same level of confidence.  In fact, worker confidence now matches levels reported in 2007 – before the 2008 financial crisis.

Social Security Trustees Offer Recommendations to Congress

The Social Security and Medicare Board of Trustees recently issued their annual report on the financial health of those institutions, and they offered a number of recommendations for lawmakers to consider.

Since Social Security and Medicare accounted for 45 percent of Federal budget expenditures in 2018, financial analysts and planners always look forward to reviewing the Trustees’ findings.

Health Savings Accounts Can Hold Real Value

A health savings account (HSA) is a savings/investment vehicle established to set aside funds, tax-free, to pay for health care expenses.  I’ve written about them in the past, but I want to re-emphasize what an attractive option these can be for handling health care costs in retirement.

For example, one of my recent blogs discussed the cost of premiums for Medicare and how they can be quite expensive for some – as high as $460.50 a month.   An HSA would allow one to pay these premiums with tax-free money.