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2019 Annual Market Review

This report features world capital market performance for the last year. Overview: Market Summary World Asset Classes US Stocks International Developed Stocks Emerging Markets Stocks Select Country Performance Select Currency Performance vs. US Dollar Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) Commodities Fixed Income Global Fixed Income Impact of Diversification Market Summary Index Returns Past performance is not a guarantee of future results. Indices are not available for direct investment. Index performance does not reflect the expenses associated with the management of an actual portfolio. Market segment (index representation) as follows: US Stock Market (Russell 3000 Index), International Developed Stocks (MSCI World ex USA Index [net div.]), Emerging Markets (MSCI Emerging Markets Index [net div.]), Global Real Estate (S&P Global REIT Index [net div.]), US Bond Market (Bloomberg Barclays US Aggregate Bond Index), and Global Bond Market ex US (Bloomberg Barcl ...

Don’t Dilute Leadership Because of Family Name

All organizations, regardless of their ownership structure, need to have a strong leadership hierarchy in order to withstand the test of time. Two reasons commonly cited for family-owned business failure are poor succession planning and lack of next-generation leadership development. Since only 30% of family-owned businesses report surviving into the second generation, family business owners should certainly recognize the importance of solid leadership development and succession as well as formal hiring and promotion processes to attract and retain the highest quality talent. Family-owned businesses are unique in that their leadership team(s) are often part of the immediate or extended family; in other words, there’s a high probability that they all share the same last name. Determining the right family member to take the reins can often easily be identified, but there are instances when a son, daughter, or other family member just isn’t interested in working for the family business or the ...

Understanding Your Credit Report

Your credit report contains information about your past and present credit transactions. It's used primarily by potential lenders to evaluate your creditworthiness. So if you're about to apply for credit, especially for something significant like a mortgage, you'll want to get and review a copy of your credit report. You can see what they see: getting a copy of your credit report Every consumer is entitled to a free credit report every 12 months from each of the three credit bureaus: Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax . Besides the annual report, you are also entitled to a free report under the following circumstances: A company has taken adverse action against you, such as denying you credit, insurance, or employment (you must request a copy within 60 days of the adverse action) You're unemployed and plan to look for a job within the next 60 days You're on welfare Your report is inaccurate because of fraud, including identity theft Visit www.annualcreditrepo ...

Ten Year-End Tax Tips for 2019

Here are 10 things to consider as you weigh potential tax moves between now and the end of the year. 1. Set aside time to plan Effective planning requires that you have a good understanding of your current tax situation, as well as a reasonable estimate of how your circumstances might change next year. There's a real opportunity for tax savings if you'll be paying taxes at a lower rate in one year than in the other. However, the window for most tax-saving moves closes on December 31, so don't procrastinate. 2. Defer income to next year Consider opportunities to defer income to 2020, particularly if you think you may be in a lower tax bracket then. For example, you may be able to defer a year-end bonus or delay the collection of business debts, rents, and payments for services. Doing so may enable you to postpone payment of tax on the income until next year. 3. Accelerate deductions You might also look for opportunities to accelerate deductions into the current tax year. If you ...

Should I sign up for an identity theft protection service?

Unfortunately, data breaches are now normal, everyday occurrences in our society. As a result, many companies are offering services to help you protect your personal information. If you want an extra layer of protection, an identity theft protection service is a good option. However, the term "identity theft protection service" can be misleading. The reality is that no one service can safeguard all of your personal information from identity theft. What most of these companies actually provide are identity theft monitoring and recovery services. A monitoring service will watch for signs that an identity thief may be using your personal information. This typically includes tracking your credit reports for suspicious activity and alerting you whenever your personal information (e.g., Social Security number) is being used. The recovery portion of the service usually helps you deal with the consequences of identity theft. This often involves working with a case manager to help resolve identity the ...

Market Month: November 2019

The Markets (as of market close November 29, 2019) Stocks grew for the third straight month as each of the benchmark indexes listed here posted solid returns in November. Despite unrest in Washington as the impeachment process drones on, investors were encouraged by the possibility of favorable movement toward a resolution of the trade war between the United States and China. While inflation remained stymied, consumer spending remained solid and business fixed investment perked up. By the close of trading on the last day of the month, each of the benchmark indexes listed here posted gains, led by the Nasdaq, which climbed close to 5.0%. The small caps of the Russell 2000 advanced nearly 4.0%. The large caps of the Dow and S&P 500 also posted solid monthly gains of well over 3.0%. Year-to-date, the Nasdaq is more than 30.0% ahead of its 2018 closing value. In fact, of the indexes listed here, only the Global Dow has not gained at least 20.0% for the year. By the close of trading on November 29, th ...

Market Month: October 2019

The Markets (as of market close October 31, 2019) Investors continued to buy stocks, pushing values higher in October. Each of the benchmark indexes listed here posted solid monthly gains despite signs that the economy is slowing, both domestically and globally. Businesses remain hesitant to invest in nonresidential structures, equipment, and software, exports are lagging in volume, and prices remain subdued. Manufacturing continues to wane, and residential sales have been erratic at best. However, there may be headway in the negotiations between the United States and China, as the two economic giants try to resolve their ongoing trade war (although rhetoric from either side changes almost daily). The labor market continues to add new jobs, although wage inflation was muted last month. Since the beginning of the year, interest rates have been reduced by 75 basis points to their lowest levels since May 2018. The last day of the month saw the House of Representatives pass a resolution establishing a framewor ...

Tips for Managing Your Holiday Spending

Like almost everything else these days, the holidays have become a barrage of options and choices, with nearly limitless opportunities to overspend. Here are some tips to help you make sure your family's spending remains in check this holiday season. Develop a spending strategy First and foremost, develop a budget. Involving family members will help you establish and maintain realistic expectations at the outset. Remember to include not just gifts, but also holiday meals and parties, travel, greeting cards and stamps, gift wrap, decorations, and any other category you deem necessary. This is also a good time to commit to using cash or charging no more than you can pay off in one month. Next, devise a method of tracking all your purchases, receipts, gift recipients, and the locations of hidden gifts that you might otherwise forget about. This will make life easier as the chaos ramps up. Review your credit cards to see if you have any perks. Could you use earned points for travel, or cash-back ...

Don't Want to End Up in Business with a Total Stranger? Have the Right Documents in Place.

One of the keys to happiness in life is marrying the right person. We guard ourselves against marrying the wrong person and we certainly avoid marrying people at random. Likewise, a key to successful business is working with the right partners. Much like the perfect union, business partners often rely on each other for the success of their business and their economic prosperity. Business owners are careful to avoid going into business with the wrong person and they do not pick random partners. Business ownership is more fluid than marriage. Partners may come and go from a business by buying and selling equity in the venture. Often, these moves are constrained by carefully negotiated partnership agreements, and new partners only enter the business with approval of existing partners. Sometimes, however, the law will dictate that a partner must transfer his or her equity to an unrelated party, allowing new partners into a business without approval of the other partners. David Frederick, J.D., LL ...

A Lifetime of Retirement Saving

In the 20th century, the American retirement system was supported by three financial legs: employer pensions, Social Security, and an employee’s personal savings. Essentially, employees shared the responsibility of saving for retirement with their employers and the federal government. Life is different in the 21st century. Now employer pensions are all but history, and there is constant concern for the viability of Social Security. Employees are now principally responsible for saving for their own retirement. Fortunately, employees today tend to have broad access to retirement accounts such as 401(k) accounts, Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs), and Roth accounts. These accounts provide substantial incentives and benefits for retirement savings. Even with these tools, retirement saving is a lifetime endeavor that requires constant diligence and perseverance. David Frederick, J.D., LL.M., SVP First Bank Wealth Management The Early Years Retirement savings is most effective ...

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All First Bank blog information and content is strictly informational. It is not intended to be specific investment, tax, or legal advice. If you need detailed financial, investment, or tax advice, please contact a First Bank qualified professional. Please note, First Bank occasionally shares third-party content we find to be relevant and helpful to our audiences.