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While most of us were sipping a cocktail preparing to watch the fastest two minutes in sports, Mike Maloney was holding a ticket, which in two minutes could be worth well over $200,000. The year was 2007 and Mike was gathered with close friends and relatives in a private room within Keeneland, 75 miles down the road from Churchill Downs. The bell rang, the gates swung open and Street Sense broke on the inside taking home the first leg of the famous Triple Crown at 9/2.

You’ll have to read the book to learn how that day played out for Mike, which is the opening chapter of his incredible page turner, Betting with an Edge, available through the DRF store HERE. While the book spends many chapters knee deep in the science and art behind handicapping, there are countless stories that had me on the edge of my seat and making this one of my truly ‘must reads’ for 2018.

Mike is a born and raised Kentucky boy with roots going back many generations. His first experience within the horse playing world came through his father, who Mike describes as being a ‘fantastic handicapper’ but to his detriment an ‘overly aggressive bettor.’

Having been a professional horse player for the last 18 years, Mike clearly has been able to strike a balance between the two tenants, which has resulted in not only a professional career but a private office within the confines of Red Mile in Lexington, complete with a semi-private bet taker.

Mike Maloney is regarded as one of the world’s elite horse players and has the stories to back this up.  Whether it was a busted day with his father, sitting in a pickup truck, stuck in a parking snafu outside of Churchill on Derby day or nailing his first big ticket as the single holder of a $75,000 pick 6 in the early 80’s, this podcast is a must listen and the book is a must read.

Enjoy!

Where To From Here?

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After a few weeks of increased volatility and pullbacks across stock indices, a subtle calm has returned to the market. Stocks trended higher through the week with little fanfare. Is it time for investors to breath a sigh of relief from the recent market correction?

Psychology and Your Portfolio

Many of the market's movements can be attributed to the psychology of market participants. After a ten percent pullback in the markets, accompanied by soaring volatility, the recent week has been marked by a sense of calm and a steady move higher in stocks. Much of this calm may simply be investors' sense of relief that the market has "stopped going down" and is why an investor who lost 10% from recent highs suddenly feels better while the market has recovered only half of that move. It's also the same psychology that makes the recent lows an import point to watch.

Inflation Perks Up

This week's CPI numbers highlighted inflation picking up steam. In fact, shortly after the numbers were released the market saw a pre-opening move lower to the tune of 1%. The question investors now must face is whether inflation is getting ahead of the Fed and their tightening cycle. If so, then some of the key inflation names may be an option for investors to find opportunity in this environment. We'll highlight a few of the areas we've been looking at recently to find potential opportunity in this stage of the economy.

Time For A Plan?

If you're concerned with the recent moves in the market or how inflation could affect your portfolio, it may be time to run your numbers. Completing our LIFE Plan process will give you some of the confidence you need to know your investments are aligned with your required rate of return.  Contact us to find out more.

What’s Your Plan?

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As volatility in the markets remains high this week it may be time to consider what your plan is for the turbulence. While this may depend on your life stage it will also depend on your temperament.  On this week's episode, we'll provide a look behind the scenes of how we're managing through the recent market pullback and ask some pointed questions that might help you develop your own plan as well.

Danger On The Horizon?

It's been over a year since we've seen volatility like this in the markets. However, it doesn't matter how much time transpires between pullbacks, they can always be a bit nerve-wracking. Becuase of this, it's important to understand where you are in your investing journey and how that might affect the steps you might consider taking. For instance, are you in the accumulation stage of your investing journey with your goals still far off? If that's the case you might be best served by steadily contributing, even if the market continues its decline from here. Are you getting close to retirement or already there? If so, you might want to make sure you know what the plan is for your investments, what that means for your retirement journey through the regular ups, and downs on the market.

Changing With The Market

Since many of our listeners, and clients, are in the life stages of approaching retirement or already retired, managing risk is one of the key components of their plan. We'll take a behind the scenes look into what we're doing as investment advisors, in a market such as this, to attempt to protect portfolios from the potential for large swings in the stock market.

Index or Momentum Fund?

Are all those popular index funds really just a momentum fund in disguise? Have the indices become lopsided? We'll take a look at how an index fund works and why it might not be much different from the momentum strategies that many index adherents talk down. After all, many index funds follow market cap weighted indices which, by their nature, overweight higher moving stocks and underweight lagging stocks. While this momentum can be incredibly useful on the upward moves in the market it is also possible that same momentum could accelerate moves to the downside. 

What's Our Plan?

Volatility rarely vanishes quickly. If this is a change in mood for the markets, investors might want to settle in for increased volatility going forward. With that in mind we've begun prudently cutting positions in our client portfolios to free resources up to find new opportunities should the market continue lower. Now that you know our plan, what's yours? Maybe now is the time to give yourself some peace of mind and complete your LIFE Plan.

Pullback Action Plan

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On this week's episode of Tape Talk, we talk all about pullbacks in the market. In every healthy market, investors see and live through healthy waves of rotation and correction before the next leg higher. With months of market gains behind us it begs the question of whether or not investors should be preparing themselves for volatility ahead.

Understand Your Risk

The first step in your pullback action plan should be understanding what you have at risk in your investments. Have you set aside enough cash to meet your immediate financial needs without stressing about small market moves? Do you (or your advisor) have pre-determined risk levels on your investment positions? Do you understand the risk associated with your selected allocation level? These are all important questions to be asking when the market is near highs, not in the midst of a correction.

Revisit Your Allocation

The stock market has experienced some significant gains over the past year. Have you and your advisor reviewed your account to ensure your allocation still meets your target? As your investments move it's normal for your allocation to drift. This is why you need to review and rebalance accordingly on an annual basis to ensure your actual allocation lines up with your desired allocation. Having an over-allocation in any asset can be great when it's moving higher but may be tough to stomach when it goes through a healthy correction.

Have A Plan

What's the plan for the investments you own? Are you in a long-term accumulation phase and dollar-cost averaging every month? Are you approaching retirement and need to curb the volatility in your portfolio? Have you run your financial plan to determine your required rate of return and understand what it will take to get there? Investing is not a guessing game, it may feel easy when the market marches constantly higher but, when pullbacks come, your plan can act as the foundation for the decision that need to be made.

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On this week's Tape Talk we're talking all about diversification. While it can be an important component of any well-managed portfolio it is also often misunderstood. We'll break through some of that misunderstanding by reviewing five common misconceptions we've seen when it comes to the discussion of diversification of your investment accounts.

But first, Headlines.

We take a look back at the previous week and the government shutdown that wasn't. Over the week Washington scrambled to put together a deal and passed it Monday afternoon. This made for a brief and utterly non-event shutdown of the government which was far from the fireworks some expected. What happened and what does it mean for the markets here?

Five Diversification Myths

It Means Owning Lots (and lots) of Stocks

Diversification means more than just owning lots of different stocks or funds. In fact, equity diversification begins peaking out around 20-30 individual stocks. Instead, diversification should be more appropriately understood as owning different asset classes with different risk/reward ratios as well as varying correlations to each other.

It's Static

Just because you diversified your portfolio once doesn’t mean you’re good to go. Investors need to reexamine their portfolio at least annually to ensure their allocation lines up with their desired risk level, allocation target, and required rate of return. This is because assets drift, diverge, and converge over time.

I'll Get The S&P 500 Returns

While the S&P is the most talked about benchmark it’s far from a guarantee or suggestion that everyone can or should get the same returns as the index. In fact, unless you are investing solely in an S&P 500 index fund your return will likely vary from the S&P 500, sometimes by multiple percentage points. Since assets produce different returns, and you may hold many different assets, your return will be closer to a weighted average of your asset selection.

I'll Just Buy Lots of Funds/ETFs

Just because you own a handful of different funds doesn’t always been you own different asset classes or investments. In fact, many funds in the same category have almost identical holdings. This means an investor might own 10 different funds but be no better diversified than if she simply held one of those funds. True diversification means knowing what you own, what each fund owns, and how each of those assets moves with the others.

It Removes Investing Risk

Risk is better understood as the potential to not reach your goal. In investing there are two types of risk; systematic risk and unsystematic risk. The later is found in individual investments (companies, bonds, small businesses, property, etc) and can be diversified away. The former is the nature of the market and can’t be diversified. In other words, if you own investment assets when the market goes through a major correction, recession, or crash, there’s always a chance those assets will fall, even alongside supposedly non-correlated assets.

Time For A Plan?

Are you unsure if your portfolio is diversified and allocated the way it should be? Are you investing without any idea what your required rate of return is or what your goals are? It may be time to get a plan. Learn more about our LIFE Plan process to discover how to align your investments with your goals and no longer simply guess when it comes to your money. Download our planning questionnaire HERE or contact us to get started on your personalized plan.

Shutdown Standoff

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On this week's show, we examine the news surrounding the government shut down and what it means for investors as well as their portfolios.

As both sides of the aisle in Congress continue to stare each other down investors may wonder what they should be doing here. We'll take a look at what we're doing as a firm and give you a peek under the hood of investment management. 

Taking Gains

What does it mean to take some gains in the market here? Find out why we're rotating out of some profitable investments and raising a little cash in our equity allocation. 

Two Concerns

When looking at the market here there are two things that stand-out. First, the complacency taking over investors as the market continues its march higher. The second, is the lack of a reasonable and healthy correction in over a year. Combine these two concerns and you have the potential for investors to be shocked the next time a healthy rotation or correction bubbles up. 

Flexibility Is Key

In investing as in sports flexibility and being nimble are key. There are times when your strategy needs to adjust and respond to the realities as they present themselves. Unless you're a completely passive investor, who is willing to accept the natural cycles inherent in investing in the markets, there will be times when it's appropriate to raise some cash with a goal of investing it in new opportunities as they present themselves. Being flexible is key, few investments are standouts forever and a willingness to be nimble may just help you see a potential new investment with much greater clarity. 

What to do here?

So what should individual investors be doing here as the market complacently marches higher while Washington displays a lack of willingness to cross things off their task list? Here are three key things you may consider adding to your "to do" list:

  1. Get your financial life in order. Pay-off the debt you've been thinking about getting rid off. Stop putting off completing your financial plan. Understand your required rate of return and what that means to you and your investments.
  2. Check your allocation. Stocks have had a great run lately. But, that might mean your portfolio is much more exposed to stocks than you mean to be. Unless you're in a plan that rebalances automatically, it may be time to review your portfolio and make sure your allocation matches your goals and temperament.
  3. Think about reducing market exposure if prudent. If you're following a strategic approach it may be time to review your cash levels and think about raising more for future opportunities.  

 

Inflation Bubbles Up

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On this week's episode of Tape Talk we explore the state of inflation in today's economy. After years of fairly low inflation, the Fed has started raising interest rates to try and mitigate the potential for too much inflation and to stay ahead of it in the future. We consider this week what inflation is, how the Fed's interest rate hikes might affect it, and how inflation affects an investor's financial plan.

Inflation Explained

Simply put, inflation is the increase in prices over a period of time, typically measured year-over-year. Generally, a bit of inflation can be a good force in the economy, but too much (or too little) can be a recipe for disaster. This is why the Federal Reserve seeks to promote a healthy level of inflation in the economy. We take some time to break down how inflation manifests itself in everyday life and the signs investors can look for to determine where it currently stands and where it might be headed in the future.

Rising Rates and Inflation

Typically, the Federal Reserve raises interest rates in an effort to control or curb inflation. By effectively reducing the amount of cash available in the financial system they attempt to decrease demand and keep prices stable. However, the economy is a fairly dynamic environment and simple logic doesn't always work in life as it does on paper. We'll take some time to ponder if, contrary to popular belief, interest rate hikes might actually spur inflation prior to curbing it. Could it be that the Fed's favored tool to combat this elusive force of economics actually helps spark it?

Inflation and You

As prices rise so often do wages which helps mitigate the effect of inflation on consumers' pocketbooks. However, what if you're affected by only a part of that equation? For many retirees or those approaching retirement, higher than expected inflation could be a serious detriment to retirement expectations. Find out how you can incorporate inflation considerations into your financial and retirement plan. When you do so, you may just find that a small change can have big impacts!

5 Themes for 2018

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On this week's show we're taking a look at the five major themes that may take center stage in the markets through 2018, where might the opportunities be, and how do these themes affect your portfolio?

5 Themes for 2018

Rotation Continues

Over 2017, Technology took the spotlight as the sector's rally allowed it to take on an ever-increasing role in the major indices. While this trend can continue for some time, all good things have their limits. The tech rally is no different. Investors should be mindful that even the best growth companies have their limit and rotation inevitably takes over as one sector becomes overvalued and opportunities turn up in recently overlooked areas.

Infrastructure Builds

With the recent focus in Washington over restoring our nation's focus on domestic affairs, the focus has been on business growth and the US infrastructure. This combined with the potential for inflation as well as potential rotation out of technology means that industrials, materials, and commodities could begin a new trend higher. These areas may be key to watch in 2018.

Inflation Grow

It's been some time since inflation has been worthy of talking about, mostly because it has been hardly existent in recent years. However, as demand picks up and businesses focus on investment and growth, investors may need to be mindful of rising prices leading to inflation. While the Federal Reserve has started raising interest rates in anticipation of this move they're doing so from historically low levels. This means if inflation does pick up steam it may be an area of opportunity for a prudent investor who's ready and waiting.

Interest Rates

For the first time in history, we have an overly transparent Federal Reserve, so far as it comes to their intentions and direction on monetary policy. After three broadcasted rate hikes in 2017, the Fed is pointing towards two to three more in the coming year. It's been a long time since investors have needed to worry about surprises from the Fed and all signs point to this year being no different. Investors' might do well to take the Fed at their word and expect interest rates to move higher from here.

Volatility Shows Up

When reflecting on the fact that we just came from a +20% gain in the broad market indices it wouldn't be uncommon for one to think it came from a landscape of increased volatility. However, the environment over the last year has been quite the opposite, coming in at historically low levels of volatility. Investors may find that extremes in either direction can only last so long and volatility may be poised to show up again soon. Is "this time different"? Maybe. But if not, investors should expect to see less of a steady march higher in the coming year and more short-term ups and downs in the market, as have happened in the past.

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There's been a lot of headlines and talk about the recent tax bill that Republicans managed to pass before Christmas. However, it can be difficult to dissect fact from fiction in many of these accounts. Some sources cite the middle class getting a great tax cut for Christmas. Other sources point towards the majority of Americans getting lumps of coal and a higher tax bill. We'll break down some of the noise and review the key changes of the plan to see how it might affect you.

What is Bitcoin?

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On this week's episode of Tape Talk we're talking all things Bitcoin. What is a bitcoin? Why are people so excited about cryptocurrency? What implications does it have for the future? We'll dive into all this and more with special guest Shane Hadden.

Shane Hadden is a lecturer at the University of Kentucky and the founder of GlobalCurrencyReport.com a fantastic resource for breaking down the world of cryptocurrency and staying up to date on recent developments. Quint and Daniel ask Shane to explain this new technology and currency in the most basic way possible so listeners (and they) can finally understand this interesting new world.

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