Broker Check

February Newsletter 2024

January 31, 2024


“What’s Good for the Goose Is Good for the Gander”

January has flown by!  January is always a very busy month with all the year end activities, new year paperwork changes, RMDs, Forms 1099, and on and on. During this process reflecting always seems to “ground me” as I ponder what is ahead. I read and review numerous economic and investment analyses focusing on what James and I need to do going forward as active managers, to “keep the train on the track”, generating meaningful returns to meet our clients’ long-term investment goals.

From time to time, this process has us considering changes to both individual positions, as well as increasing percentage allocations within positions already included in the broadly diversified portfolio. With 2023 in the rear-view mirror (where equity markets were driven by volatility and momentum came from a limited number of large-cap tech companies) and all things AI are now influencing industries and companies throughout our economy; we are focusing on funds and fund managers with a broader view of growth and income opportunities as they actively prepare for “fewer forgiving times”. The managers of Tri Continental (one of our long-term large-cap fund positions) have said it best, in their guide to investing in 2024: focus on quality and pricing power (strong balance sheets); benefit from the potential for income and capital appreciation (dividend growers); identify long-term industry change (tech stocks utilizing AI); lock in yields on bond ladder positions; higher yielding income alternatives; mitigate risk.

It sounds like they have taken our lead! We have been doing just that for many, many years now. James and I have recently been busy making changes to client portfolios to participate in the shift that we see coming. Only time will tell, but our previous moves to account for economic changes, the pandemic and its aftermath, and geo-political events have proved beneficial, if only to protect the invested principal by focusing on quality.

In the process of researching and building our diversified portfolio of equity and income positions, we have always lived by the motto: “What’s Good for the Goose is Good for the Gander”. We can set mine and Jeannie’s retirement account portfolio side-by-side with any client portfolio and see the names of the same positions in both portfolios. The percentage allocations may be different based on risk profiles and time frames, but the categories and individual positions are generally the same. In the process of testing out new positions, we have used our retirement portfolio as the “Guinea Pig”. If expectations were met, we would then add the position to client portfolios. The same is true when deleting a position from the portfolio. Now time-tested, we use our portfolio as an illustration of our management strategies when meeting with prospective clients that have been referred to us by another satisfied client.

I recently came across an alarming fact while reading one of the many industry publications that I monitor to keep up with trends and events: “Out of the nearly 10,300 mutual funds and ETFs in the United States, there are more than 5,900 where the listed portfolio managers own NO shares in the fund they manage”. (Morningstar: A Wealth of Common Sense). In addition to our individual accounts holding the same positions as our client accounts, we would not think about including a fund in our portfolio that the managers are not invested in! Although shocked at first, we now know why many investment advisors are not Certified Financial Planners (CFPs). Our CFP fiduciary responsibility to our clients is clearly exemplified by our practice of including all positions in both Goose (client) and Gander (advisor) accounts.

2024 will certainly continue the “Push and Pull” experience of 2023 as our world currently does not provide much clarity of what may come. Nevertheless, our many years of managing client portfolios during a variety of times does give us some reasonable expectation of future returns. We all know that “past performance does not guarantee future results”, but experience does count for something. By category, these are the results from mine and Jeannie’s retirement portfolio for the period, January 1, 2010, through January 30, 2024 (which includes a lot of “push and pull” in some very volatile times):

  • Domestic Equity 324%
  • Total Equity 161% (note that Alternative Equities were not included for the entire period)
  • Bond Ladder 63% 
  • Alternative Income 156% 
  • Total Income 92%.

 

Our portfolio is currently allocated 62 percent to equity and 38 percent to income (a 60/40 portfolio in most periods). For that entire period, the bottom-line portfolio for our retirement accounts returned income and growth totaling 125 percent. Note that we do not pay an IIM investment management fee. The average annual return for the roughly fourteen-year period is approximately nine percent. Client accounts would have netted roughly seven to eight percent after-fees-average annual returns. Most economists and market watchers are expecting 2024 to produce reasonable economic growth and corresponding market returns, projecting returns in excess of our long-term returns. In either case, client goals will be achieved with the averages earned over the last fourteen years.

Laura has prepared the “green line” graph below depicting the bumpy path of the Wheeldon Retirement Portfolio Equity Category-Domestic Equity, Large, Mid, and Small Cap, the largest category allocation for most managed portfolios.

 

The merger of TD Ameritrade and Charles Schwab in 2023 continues to create some confusion for some clients. Charles Schwab has announced that clients will receive two Form 1099 documents for 2023, for their taxable accounts.  As a client, you will receive these documents via your chosen method of communication: electronic or paper. If you need copies of any tax documents you can login to the Schwab Alliance website with the link provided here:  https://client.schwab.com/Login/SignOn/CustomerCenterLogin.aspx.  You can also call our office and ask Laura for assistance in getting these documents.

We also want to help those clients that would like to remain paperless.  If you originally opted for electronic statements from Charles Schwab, they are requiring clients to create a Schwab Alliance login prior to March 27, 2024.  We will be sending you each an invitation to create your login for the Alliance website next week.  Please look for this invitation in your email inbox.

Do you know which member of the IIM team was a part of the halftime entertainment show at the Bi-Centennial Super Bowl? Here’s a clue: It wasn’t me! 

Enjoy the Big Game with your favorite Goose (or Valentine)!

 

Sincerely,

Intelligent Investment Management, LLP