- Merriam-Webster defines complacency as “self-satisfaction especially when accompanied by unawareness of actual dangers or deficiencies.” Currently, the US stock market reflects this definition. Identifying positive economic fundamentals is fairly easy, but at the same time, those subdued positive signs do not seem commensurate with the outsized market gains. Also, unpredictable governance and changing geopolitical conditions appear discounted even as they could provide a catalyst for future market volatility. Outside the US, developed international markets have also advanced due to improved metrics and lower valuations than the US. Lower valuations provide a buffer for those markets from unforeseen challenges. Emerging markets have performed extremely well, even better than returns in the US and developed markets. Emerging market performance is due to economic reforms, improved corporate fundamentals and superior relative valuations. From an asset class perspective, it was a “Goldilocks” quarter (not too hot and not to cold). As a result of these stable fundamentals, equities, fixed income and commodities all provided positive returns with most above the inflation rate therefore providing positive real returns. Continue reading.
- Redefining the Retirement Plan is Axia’s guide to trends and strategies that will help employers get the most out of their retirement programs. Defined Benefit plans and Social Security have been the simple answer to retirement for the past century. Life expectancy has improved though and an added strain has been placed on plan sponsors to help their employees replace their incomes in retirement. Fortunately, employers are equipped with more tools than ever before to help their employees retire with dignity. Continue reading.
The SSA highlights some sobering statistics that confirm what studies have shown: most people have not saved enough for retirement. As a result, people are not determining their Social Security benefit timing. Instead, benefits usually begin immediately after gainful employment ends as their savings buffer is limited. For prepared investors, the goal is to make an active decision on benefit commencement.read more
On June 9, 2017, the Department of Labor’s Fiduciary Rule went into effect. The rule, also known as the Conflict of Interest Rule, expands the fiduciary definition under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA). In the simplest terms, the DOL Fiduciary Rule will require advisors to put their client’s interests ahead of their own when giving advice to retirement accounts such as 401(k)s and IRAs. Further, any potential conflict of interest must be disclosed along with a clear statement of the fees and commissions received in exchange for the advice.read more
The future of the Department of Labor’s Fiduciary Rule is in limbo following a memorandum released last Friday by President Trump. While a draft memo released earlier in the day delayed the implementation date by 180 days, the final memo did not contain such language. Rather, the final version of the memo directs the Department of Labor to re-examine the Rule to determine whether it may adversely affect the manner in which American can receive financial advice.read more