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The Rates, They Are a Rising

10 Year US Treasury Yield via CNBC

By Jordan Cole, CFP®

Interest rates aren’t a prime example of an exciting topic. After all, most people only care about interest rates when they’re in the market for a new home or looking to refinance an existing loan at a lower rate. Even those capable of drawing a connection between interest rates and retirement portfolios struggle to find clarity with the relationship, finding it mostly affecting bonds, the boring part of the portfolio. I would argue, stay with me here, not only are interest rate movements key drivers of portfolio returns, but we’re living in a fascinating moment in time for interest rates.

Traders vs. Investors, Timing is Everything

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What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you think of the stock market? A horde of frantic New Yorkers standing around a trading floor yelling? The daily reports of the Dow Jones being up 30 points or down 20 points? The bold proclamations of Jim Cramer types to BUY, BUY, BUY, or SELL IMMEDIATELY! To be completely honest, these are some of the first images I think of as they are the noisiest and most prominently featured members of the stock market. However, there are actually two main categories of stock market participants, and all of these images are from the first category, traders.

The Mysterious Case of Missing Volatility

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By Jordan Cole, CFP®

2017 was a mysterious year in the U.S. stock markets. Volatility, the constant up and down of stock markets, virtually disappeared. For longtime investors, it was as if the waves at the beach suddenly died down and the Pacific Ocean was flat as far as the eye could see. As of January 2018, the U.S. stock market had gone 394 trading sessions without going down 5%, the longest streak in over 20 years. The S&P 500 was up every single month of the year. WSJ Market Data Group measured the daily percentage change for the S&P 500 as 0.3%, the lowest since 1964. Goldman Sachs proclaimed it to be the lowest measured volatility since the Great Depression, calling low volatility “the defining characteristic of the U.S. Equity Market in 2017.”

2017 Year in Review

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It’s tough to make predictions, especially about the future.” -Yogi Berra

Economists and meteorologists have difficult jobs. Both examine hundreds of data points with constantly changing variables to make predictions about what’s coming next. Complex computer models help sort through the deluge of data, but often tiny shifts in the interplay between these variables turn what should have been a howling winter storm into a drizzle and light breeze. Despite these inherent difficulties and frequent failures, we keep tuning in because, sometimes, they get pieces right. Since we can’t ignore them altogether, it’s helpful from time to time to look back at the predictions of yesteryear and see how they held up.

Another Victory for the Long-Term

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By Jordan Cole, CFP®

One of the key investing principles at Sage Advisors has always been: if you are investing for the long-term, you need to keep a long-term perspective. If you’ve been a client for a while, you’ve probably heard us say this many, many times. The reason we continually harp on this point is that the number one reason investors fail to reach their long-term goals is an inability to stay focused on those goals amidst short-term volatility. In the chaos of a financial meltdown, it’s very easy to believe that this time is different; this time the sky really is falling, and it’s time to abandon the long-term goals and run for the safety of cash or gold. However, if you are investing for retirement that may be years away and want your money to last for decades after you retire, it makes much more sense to measure results in decades rather than quarters.

Sustained Success: Seahawks and Stock Markets

By Jordan Cole, CFP®

The Seattle Seahawks have been one of the most consistent teams in the NFL over the past 6 years. I know this, because I am obsessed with this team and have watched every game (pre-season, regular season, and post season), read every article I could find, and generally spent far too much time thinking about this football team. A key question in this golden age of Seahawk fandom isn’t if the team is good, but why is it good?

An Optimistic Beginning

By Russell Cole, CLU, ChFC

The first quarter of 2017 is under our belt, and it was a very good start to the year in many ways. Small U.S. stocks, as measured by the Russell 2000, were up 2.47%; large U.S. stocks, as measured by the S&P 500, were up 6.07%.; international stocks, as measured by the MSCI EAFE, were up over 7%; U.S. bonds, as measured by the Barclays Aggregate Bond index, were up 0.82% (Source: Bloomberg). Yes, it feels good to start the year well, especially given the rough start to 2016.1

The Trump Effect: What Really Drives Stock Returns

By Jordan Cole, CFP®

The past several weeks have been a turbulent time in American politics. If you’ve watched any news these past days, you would be led to believe that we are living in an unprecedented era, a time when risks are higher than at any other point in the republic. With executive orders signed, new policy enforced, and massive protests in the streets, it would be easy to assume that your hard-earned retirement savings are at risk. While I can’t make the argument that nothing is different under this new administration, I do want to spend some time examining what actually drives stock returns and the true effect that our newly inaugurated President Trump may have on your portfolio.

Millennials and the Market

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By Russell Cole, CLU, ChFC

We’ve all heard the many stereotypes about Millennials. They are so into social media, they don’t connect with people. They don’t start families or buy homes. They don’t date appropriately. They don’t know how to work hard. In fact, I Googled these, and the list of generalizations went on and on.

Swinging for the Fences: Emergency Funds

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By Michaela Anderson

Major league baseball teams have a 25-man, active roster. I’m going to make an assumption that you have seen a baseball game and recognize that, no, they don’t all play at once. With only 9 on the field at a time and about 12 total playing in a game when relief pitchers are added, why have extras?

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Securities and advisory services offered, in states where licensed, exclusively by Russell D. Cole, CLU, ChFC, Jordan Cole, CFP®, Katherine Benjamin, CFP®, CLTC and Michaela Anderson, CFP® through KMS Financial Services, Inc., Member FINRA/SIPC and an SEC Registered Investment Advisor.

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