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  • A Guide to Retirement Planning Services in Dover, Delaware

    Retirement planning is an essential step every individual should take to ensure financial stability and security during their golden years. With the increasing life expectancy and subsequent increase in healthcare costs, it has become more crucial than ever. Our services can provide future retirees with professional guidance and assistance in creating a comprehensive plan tailored to their needs and goals. Let's explore retirement planning, its benefits, and the services available in Dover, Delaware and beyond. The Importance of Retirement Planning According to the World Health Organization (WHO), global life expectancy increased to 73.4 years in 2019 and is expected to rise to 77.3 years by 2050. This news means that people will have more time to enjoy their golden years and need more time to financially support themselves. Without proper preparation, retirees risk outliving their savings and relying on government assistance or family members for financial support. Proper planning allows individuals to maintain their standard of living and achieve financial independence during their post-work years. Without an adequate plan, retirees may find themselves struggling to make ends meet or unable to pursue their desired lifestyle. By working with a financial advisor for retirement planning, they can assess their current economic situation, set realistic goals, and develop a tailored plan to reach those goals. Steps To Establish a Retirement Plan What are the first steps of retirement planning? Let's take a look at the essential steps involved: Financial Assessment: The first step is to evaluate your current financial situation. This process includes assessing your income, expenses, assets, and liabilities. A retirement planning advisor can help you analyze your financial standing and identify areas for improvement. Set Your Goals: Once you clearly understand your financial situation, setting specific goals is essential. These goals include determining when you want to retire, estimating your expenses, and setting a target income for this new period of your life. Your financial advisor can assist you in setting realistic and achievable goals based on your circumstances and aspirations. Develop a Retirement Plan: With your goals in mind, your financial advisor will work with you to develop a comprehensive plan. It may include strategies for saving and investing, minimizing taxes, managing debt, and calculating potential healthcare expenses. By creating a customized plan, you can feel confident in achieving financial security. Implement the Plan: Once your plan is final, it's time to implement it. You may start changing your investment portfolio, setting up IRA or 401(k) accounts, and establishing a savings schedule. Your financial advisor will guide you through the implementation process and monitor your progress. Benefits of Planning for Retirement Our services provide numerous benefits to individuals who are preparing for retirement, including the following: ●  Financial Security: Having a plan can help provide peace of mind by working towards sufficient savings and income to support your desired lifestyle. ●  Tax Efficiency: Proper planning can help minimize taxes during and after your working years, allowing you to keep more of your hard-earned money. ●  Goal Achievement: By setting clear goals and developing a strategic plan to achieve them, you can turn your post-work dreams into reality. ●  Flexibility: A well-designed plan offers flexibility to adapt to life's changes, such as unexpected expenses or shifts in market conditions. ●  Legacy Planning: Your plans shouldn't just revolve around your financial security. You can also leave a legacy for future generations. With the right strategies, you can ensure your loved ones are cared for after you're gone. Our Tips If you are starting your plan to retire in Dover, Delaware or nearby, here are a few tips to keep in mind: ●  Start Early: The earlier you begin retirement income planning and saving, the more time your investments have to grow. Even small contributions made consistently over time can significantly impact your savings. ●  Seek Professional Guidance: Working with a financial advisor can provide valuable insights and expertise to help you navigate the complexities of the process. ●  Review and Adjust Regularly: Life is unpredictable, and your financial situation may change over time. It's essential to regularly review your plan and make adjustments as needed to stay on track toward your goals. Expert Retirement Planning in Delaware For comprehensive and stress-free retirement planning in Dover, Delaware or from anywhere across America, a financial advisor can help you create a personalized strategy to meet your unique needs and goals. They will ensure that you go over all the things you need to consider. At B.I.G. Investment Services, we offer various retirement planning services tailored to your situation. Our expertise and personalized approach can help you achieve financial security and peace of mind. Final Thoughts Having a strong plan for your golden years is vital to financial wellness, allowing individuals to achieve their desired lifestyle and enjoy a secure future. In Dover, Delaware, B.I.G. Investment Services is ready to assist individuals in navigating the intricacies of retirement planning, providing personalized guidance and expertise every step of the way. Contact us today to learn more about our services and start building your dream plan!

  • Tips to Finding the Best Retirement Planning Advisor Near You

    Retirement is a significant season of life, and ensuring financial security during this period requires careful planning. Whether you're in Dover or any other location, having the right retirement planning financial advisor by your side is crucial. Let’s explore key tips on finding the best consultant near you, with a special focus on Dover, and the expertise offered by B.I.G. Investment Services. Understanding the Importance of a Retirement Planning Advisor This complex process involves considerations of income sources, investment strategies, and risk management. The guide plays a pivotal role in helping individuals navigate through these complexities to create a tailored plan for a secure future. Why Choose a Specialist? A retirement planning specialist possesses in-depth knowledge and expertise in crafting retirement strategies. They are well-versed in the intricacies of financial markets, tax implications, and succession drafting. The Dover Advantage If you live nearby, finding an advisor who understands the local dynamics is essential. They are familiar with the area’s unique economic landscape and can provide insights specifically tailored to your needs and goals. Tips for Finding the Right Advisor Near You Define Your Goals and Needs Before you start searching for an advisor, take the time to clearly define your goals and financial needs. Consider factors such as your desired lifestyle when you plan to retire, your expected retirement age, and any specific financial concerns or objectives. Knowing what you want to achieve will help you find someone with expertise aligned with your goals. Research Local Advisors Start your search by looking for consultants in your vicinity. A quick online search using keywords like "retirement planning advisor near me" can yield a list of professionals in your area. Explore their websites and check for client testimonials to gauge their reputation. Check Qualifications and Specializations Not all financial guides specialize in forethought. Ensure that the one you choose has specific expertise in these strategies. Look for certifications such as Certified Financial Planner (CFP) or Retirement Income Certified Professional (RICP) to validate their qualifications. As a fiduciary, we are required to always look out for the best interest of our clients Explore Succession Planning Expertise Succession design is a critical aspect of preparation when you stop working. A financial consultant with expertise in succession design can guide you on transferring assets efficiently and minimizing tax implications. In Dover, where local businesses often form the economic backbone, succession planning becomes even more crucial. Utilize Referrals and Recommendations Word of mouth is a powerful tool. Seek recommendations from friends, family, or colleagues who have experience dealing with these consultants. Personal referrals can provide valuable insights into a consultant's communication style, reliability, and overall satisfaction of their clients. Fee Structure and Transparency Understand the advisor's fee structure and ensure transparency in financial dealings. Different ones may charge fees in various ways, such as hourly rates, flat fees, or a percentage of assets under management. Be aware of any potential conflicts of interest and ensure that the advisor is transparent about how they are compensated. Compatibility and Communication Establishing good communication and a comfortable working relationship with your advisor is crucial. Schedule an initial meeting to discuss your goals, ask questions, and assess whether you feel comfortable working with the consultant. Clear communication and a positive working relationship are essential for the success of your retirement design efforts. Accessibility and Location Consider the accessibility and location of the advisor's office. While virtual meetings have become more common, some individuals prefer face-to-face interactions. Choose a consultant whose location and accessibility align with your preferences and needs. Continuing Education Look for a consultant who engages in continuing education to stay updated on industry trends, tax laws, and investment strategies. A commitment to ongoing learning demonstrates a dedication to providing clients with the most current and relevant advice. Consider B.I.G. Investment Services in Dover As a prominent financial services provider, we have established ourselves as a name you can trust. Our team of experts specializes in crafting personalized strategies that align with your unique financial situation and aspirations. Choosing B.I.G. Investment Services for Your Retirement Planning Needs Tailored Investment Planning Services We are committed to offering tailored investment design services that prioritize your goals. We understand the importance of individualized strategies, considering risk tolerance, time horizon, and specific financial objectives. Holistic Approach to Retirement Planning Our specialists take a holistic approach, considering not only your financial portfolio but also your lifestyle aspirations. We strive to create a plan that seamlessly integrates with your desired lifestyle, ensuring financial security and peace of mind. Transparent and Client-Centric Transparency is a core value here. We believe in keeping our clients informed and empowered throughout the design process. Our advisors work closely with you, explaining each step of the strategy and addressing any concerns you may have. Take the First Step Toward a Secure Retirement Ready to embark on your journey? Click here to explore our comprehensive investment planning services. To learn more about our company and the values we uphold, visit our About Us page. Remember, the key to a secure retirement lies in proactive drafting and the guidance of a knowledgeable advisor. Whether you're here or elsewhere, take the time to find a consultant who understands your unique financial landscape and can steer you toward a financially secure future.

  • Tips to Finding the Best Certified Financial Planner in Dover, DE

    When it comes to your personal finances, you want to make sure they are in safe hands. Seeking the guidance of a financial advisor can be important in navigating complex business decisions. If you're in Dover, Delaware, and Googling "best certified financial planner near me", you're on the right track! As expert financial planners with over 20 years in the business, we at BIG Investment Services would like to share with you some tips to help you find the best advisors in Delaware. Assessing Your Financial Situation To fully understand what services you require, assessing your current situation is very important. First, you need to consider your income, expenses, savings, investments, and debts. This will give you an idea of what areas you need help with. For instance, if you need to save more or need clarification on how to grow your wealth, you may need the assistance of an investment manager. On the other hand, if you're anxious about your standing in your later years or how your estate will be handled after your death, seeking advice from professionals specializing in retirement or estate planning could be beneficial. By aligning your status and goals with the expertise of financial advisors, you can ensure a more targeted and practical approach to managing your finances. Look for Certifications and Consider the Value of Experience Along with certifications that a certified financial planner (CFP) has undergone, it's equally important to consider an advisor's experience in the field. A seasoned business planner can offer refined advice from years of dealing with different scenarios and market fluctuations. They may have navigated through different economic cycles and helped clients achieve their business goals amidst these changes. Their experience can provide them with a unique perspective and enable them to offer strategies that are not only theoretically sound but also practically tested. While certification showcases an advisor's knowledge, their experience demonstrates their ability to apply it effectively in real-world situations. Therefore, when choosing a planner, consider both their qualifications and track record in the industry. Use Online Resources to Check their Credentials In the digital age, verifying the credentials of financial planners in Delaware has become simpler than ever. Many online resources can help in this process. For instance, the Investment Adviser Public Disclosure (IAPD) website allows you to check whether a planner is registered—a key indicator of their legitimacy. Also, the State of Delaware has a search function for various licenses, certifications, and registrations required by the state. Other resources include BrokerCheck, which provides information on a professional's employment history, certifications, licenses, and any violations. Additionally, websites like offer free search tools to help verify investment professionals. By leveraging these resources, you can ensure that your chosen advisor has the qualifications and a clean record. Evaluate Potential Conflicts of Interest Understanding the payment structure is crucial, but it's also important to recognize potential conflicts of interest. Some advisors may recommend specific products or investments because they receive a commission, which could influence their advice. To mitigate this risk, consider looking for fee-only financial advisors. These advisors are paid only by their clients, not by any outside companies for selling products. This type of advisor will likely provide unbiased advice in your best interest. Remember that every payment model has advantages and disadvantages, so choosing one that aligns with your comfort level and goals is essential. It may also be beneficial to ask potential advisors about their fiduciary duty, which legally obligates them to act in their client’s best interests. Schedule a Consultation Pay close attention to the business planner's communication style during the consultation. Effective communication is crucial in any financial planning relationship. The best financial planners can explain complex concepts involving money in simple, understandable terms. They should be willing to take the time to ensure you fully understand your situation and the strategies they propose. Note how well they listen to your concerns and whether they provide clear, straightforward answers to your questions. Also, consider whether their approach is proactive, informing you about your progress and any changes that may impact your plan. Ultimately, the consultation should leave you confident in the planner's ability to handle your financial future. Look for a Fiduciary The role of a fiduciary is crucial in the financial world. A fiduciary, as defined by various sources, including Investopedia and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), is a person or organization that is legally bound to act solely in your best interests. They manage money or property on behalf of someone else and are held to high standards of honesty and trust. This means they cannot recommend products or investments based on the commission they might receive. Suppose a potential advisor operates as a fiduciary. In that case, you can have greater confidence that their advice will be unbiased and tailored to your needs. When selecting an advisor, ensure they have a fiduciary duty to their clients, which strongly indicates their commitment to ethical practices. Seek Referrals and Reviews Word-of-mouth referrals from friends or family can be a great way to find a trusted advisor. You can also look at online reviews to see what other clients have said about their experiences. BIG Investment Services: Financial Planners in Dover Finding the right Dover financial advisor takes time, but the effort will pay off in the long run. With these tips, you're well on your way to securing your future. Our financial advisors here at BIG Investment Services are available to answer any more questions you have! Contact Us Today!

  • Tips on How to Find a Financial Planner in Delaware

    In the land of tax-free shopping and scenic byways, Delaware holds more than just its charming coastline and historical landmarks. It nurtures a treasure trove of opportunities for savvy money-related planning. As you navigate through the waves of budgeting, investing, and planning for a safe future, having a skilled and experienced financial planner in Delaware can make all the difference. A highly knowledgeable professional will understand your unique financial landscape and can help you chart a course towards your goals. Understanding the Need for a Certified Financial Planner The experts serve as a guiding light through the complex maze of your finances. Their tailored strategies can help you meet your individual goals. Their role encompasses various aspects, such as budgeting, investment planning, retirement savings, and risk management. For instance, their specialized knowledge helps navigate uncertainties, optimize investment, and align money-related choices with specific aspirations. They can provide you with the clarity to intricate your fiscal products, offering insights that empower informed decisions. Nevertheless, they render a proactive approach, adapting strategies to life changes or market fluctuations, ensuring long-term fiscal stability. How to Find a Financial Planner Here, we are rolling up the top factors that can help you find the best financial planner in Delaware. Identify Your Needs: Before you dive into the search, take a moment to identify your fiscal needs. For example, do you want retirement planning, investment advice, debt management, or a comprehensive money-related plan? Having a clear goal will help you find a professional who specializes in the areas you need most. Seek Experience and Certification: CFPs undergo rigorous training and adhere to high ethical standards. It ensures they can handle diverse money-related needs accurately. Experience matters too! Experts weathered various money-related situations often provide more nuanced and practical advice. A blend of certification and experience ensures you are entrusting your money-related journey to someone with both expertise and a track record of navigating the fiscal landscape effectively. Leverage Referrals and Recommendations: Sometimes, your friends, family members, or colleagues can offer valuable insights based on their experience. Trusting the referrals often leads to finding a CFP who resonates with your needs and goals. Therefore, leveraging these recommendations provides you a head start to find a planner with a proven track record of success and client satisfaction. Utilize Online Resources: There are various online platforms, such as directories and financial planning websites that serve as a valuable resource in your search for a CFP. These platforms offer comprehensive information, allowing you to filter based on specialities, location, and credentials. They provide a convenient way to explore various options, read reviews, and compare their services. Conduct Interviews: You can schedule meetings or calls to discuss your fiscal goals, approach, and communication style. These interactions offer insight into their expertise and how well they align with your needs. It is a perfect chance to gauge their communication skills and determine if their methods resonate with your preferences. With the help of interviews, you can ensure a good fit, and establish trust, and confidence in your chosen CFP for a successful partnership. Check Fees and Services: Some CFPs charge hourly rates, while others work on a commission or fee-based structure. Therefore, you need to understand the fee model to help manage expectations and budgeting. It ensures you know what to expect in terms of money-related planning, investment advice, or other specific needs. Their fees and services lay the groundwork for a transparent and satisfactory partnership. Align Values and Philosophy: Consider their approach to investing, ethical considerations, and their stance on fiscal matters. If you prioritize socially responsible investing or have specific ethical concerns, find a planner who shares these beliefs and fosters a harmonious partnership. It ensures mutual understanding and compatibility in decision-making, leading to a more fulfilling and purpose-driven fiscal planning journey. Your Financial Success Starts Here! Are you ready to take charge of your financial future? At B.I.G. Investment Services, we can assist you with retirement planning, investment strategies, debt management, and more to help you achieve your goals.

  • Things to Consider When Retirement Planning in Delaware

    Retirement is a beautiful phase of life where you get to live on your terms, embrace newfound freedoms, and savor the rewards of your hard work. If you are considering Delaware as your retirement destination, you are onto something truly special. From its charming communities to tax-friendly perks, Delaware offers a promising landscape for your golden years. But before you delve into this important journey, let’s check out the essentials of retirement planning in Delaware and how to find a financial planner that fits your needs. Understanding Retirement Planning in Delaware Located on the East Coast, Delaware boasts not only picturesque landscapes but also an array of advantages for retirees. Its tax-friendly policies, including no sales tax and favorable income tax rates, make it an appealing choice for people looking to make the most of their golden year’s income. Top Things to Consider When Retirement Planning in Delaware Start Early, Plan Smart The foremost key to securing your post-career years is to plan early. You should try to engage in comprehensive retirement planning services tailored to your needs. Consider consulting a certified financial planner who is an expert in preparing you in this state. Their expertise can pave the way for a customized roadmap toward a comfortable retirement. Retirement Income Planning It involves strategizing to secure a reliable financial stream post-career. It entails assessing various income sources, such as your savings, pensions, investments, and social security benefits. In Delaware, leveraging the state’s advantageous tax policies and low cost of living can optimize this planning. However, crafting a well-balanced approach as per your needs ensures a steady and sufficient income to support a comfortable lifestyle in the long term. Explore Communities It involves researching and assessing various areas to find the ideal living environment for your post-career life. Factors, such as healthcare accessibility, proximity to family, recreational opportunities, and lifestyle preferences play an important role. Moreover, from coastal tranquility to vibrant urban settings like Wilmington, the state provides various amazing options. Choosing the right community is paramount in your ability to seamlessly integrate your interests and needs to create the thriving retired life that you deserve. Healthcare Expenses Evaluating healthcare expenses involves ensuring convenient access to quality healthcare facilities and specialists. Therefore, understanding insurance coverage options, considering potential medical expenses, and factoring in the healthcare service's proximity are important. The state provides commendable healthcare resources, making it vital to incorporate these aspects into life after-work plans for comprehensive and reliable healthcare access during your golden years. Financial Advisor Expertise It’s critical to find an experienced financial planner in Delaware.  These experts provide tailored guidance on tax advantages, investment strategies, and income planning specific to the state. Their expertise maximizes benefits from the state’s tax-friendly environment,. These advisors offer personalized plans aligned with individual goals. Understanding Retirement Income It involves strategizing to secure a consistent money flow post-career. It encompasses evaluating various income sources, such as savings, pensions, investments, and social security benefits. Crafting a customized approach helps you get a reliable income supporting a comfortable lifestyle. It also helps you consider your needs and optimize available resources for long-term financial security. Investment Strategy It involves tailoring a plan as per your money-related goals and risk tolerance. Special attention is given to leveraging the state’s tax benefits and low-cost living. Collaborating with financial experts ensures a diversified portfolio, maximizing returns while mitigating risks. Long-Term Care Planning A top financial advisor retirement planning expert will help you prepare for your potential future health needs and associated costs. The process encompasses exploring insurance options, considering available healthcare services, and understanding the state’s provisions for long-term care. Factoring in these elements helps you have comprehensive coverage and financial preparedness for extended healthcare requirements. As a result, you will get peace of mind and security throughout your later years in this supportive environment. Wrapping Up At B.I.G. Investment Services, our dedicated retirement planning advisors stand ready to help you sculpt a retirement plan that encapsulates your vision. Our experts will craft a strategy that aligns with your goals and leverages Delaware’s advantages, while guiding you towards retiring years that are not just secure but truly fulfilling. Get in touch with us to begin your journey and embrace the best that retirement in Delaware has to offer.

  • The BIG Report: January 2024

    Updates and Information for our valued clients Hello and Happy New Year from all of us here at B.I.G.! 2023 is officially in the books and what a great year it was for the market and our clients. We were fortunate to “listen” to what the market technicals were saying despite a lot of fear and worry early last year. As such, we got fully invested in March of 2023 and were ableto fully realize last year’s gains. As we move into 2024, we are cautiously optimistic believing the market will likely have a tumultuous yet positive year. The charts and recent accomplishments of the market suggest we will go higher especially if we soon clear the all time high of two years ago but there are a few fundamental challenges that still face us. First, recession risk is still looming. Yet, the labor market continues to be very strong which makes it hard to envision a significant one. Everyone that wants a job can get a job and most everyone that has a job is getting raises. Credit card and car loan delinquencies have been climbing indicating increasing weakness for the U.S. consumer which accounts for 70% of the U.S. economy. That said, these delinquencies have risen to a point of “normalcy” not what would be considered “recessionary”. The current economic backdrop and some of the work done by leading technicians make me think a recession is more likely in 2025/2026 rather than 2024. Secondly, it is a presidential election year. And although that should fall into the “positive” column as politicians will work hard to avoid a recession during an election year, this cycle is shaping up to be quite a circus. Historically, the U.S. Presidency has very little impact on the direction of the market. However, the election process itself could certainly cause some market moving headlines. Third, geopolitical risk is still quite prevalent with the Russia/Ukraine war, the Israel/Hamas conflict and China’s thirst for Taiwan. If the wars stay contained to the current parties and China behaves regarding Taiwan, these issues should not have much of an impact on markets. If the Israel/Hamas conflict broadens, it could send oil prices higher becoming a headwind for the market. A China/Taiwan conflict would be a tremendous initial shock to markets but we think that is unlikely as China witnessed the blowback against Russia with its incursion into Ukraine. We would expect China to try and reunify with Tawain via political and other inadvertent channels before seriously considering military options. Russia’s reactions to Ukraine and how they react to our involvement will remain a wild card as well. Fourth, inflation. Outside of reactions to corporate earnings, I think the inflation story and the Federal Reserve’s reaction to it could be the biggest cause of volatility for 2024. The markets are pricing in six Fed rate cuts beginning in March of this year. I do not believe that’s going to happen. The Federal Reserve officials are terrified of having a repeat of the “Great Inflation” of 1965 to 1982. We had a significant spike of inflation into 1975. The Fed raised rates and inflation dropped in 1975 at which time the Fed eased up too soon. This led to inflation not just coming back but coming back with a vengeance! It led to hyperinflation and double-digit interest rates. Mortgages were 12% and car loans over 20%, it was a bad time. Our Fed is very afraid of making the same mistake. Inflation moved down rapidly from 9.1% in 2022 to 3.1% in 2023 but the Fed wants to see 2% and the move from 3% to 2% is proving to be incredibly difficult. Wages have continued to be on the rise and this keeps pressure on inflation. All of this taken into consideration, I think the Fed will be much slower and more measured in reducing rates than the market currently expects. And if there is a surprise uptick in inflation, that could be quite a shock to market expectations. Finally, there’s U.S. fiscal policy risk. I don’t think this is an issue for 2024 but it is quickly becoming a major problem for America. I’ve had many clients express concern over America’s solvency over the last 25 years and I’ve always expressed that it's important to look at our national debt in “relative” terms. Don’t just look at the headline number and say “It’s the highest in history and therefore we’re doomed”, look at it as it relates to Gross Domestic Product (GDP). After all, most of our retired clients paid more for their most recent automobile than they did their first home but they’re also making a lot more money. So it’s not the raw dollar figure we want to focus on but how it relates to the bigger picture. For the national debt, look at “Debt compared to the total U.S. Economy or GDP” The worst shape we’ve ever been in was World War II when we hit 120% debt to GDP. We just hit 122% debt to GDP but there’s a HUGE difference this time. The last time we saw this level of debt, Social Security had just started and only covered the primary worker. Neither Medicare, NASA, the CIA, Department of Education or Homeland Security (just to name a few) existed at the time. There were no student loan programs, goose poop studies in Montana or taxpayer funded research on the social habits of primates. You see where this is going right? Unlike the last time we hit 120% debt to GDP, we now have 212 TRILLION dollars of unfunded liabilities on top of it! That’s $630,000 per U.S. citizen of bills to pay in addition to the 34 trillion dollars of U.S. debt. We are not in the fiscally lean and mean position we were in post World War II. No one seeking office seems to be taking this issue seriously. President Trump signed a 1 trillion spending bill PRE COVID and President Biden signed a 3 trillion spending bill POST COVID. Neither were COVID related. The government has RECORD revenues coming into the Treasury yet it is disappearing like water through a sieve. Perspective... you could wrap the equator of the earth 3,300 times with one trillion dollars! We owe 34 trillion and have 212 trillion in bills coming due. I believe we still have some time. As witnessed during COVID and the 2022 bear market, the world still sees the U.S. as a safe haven during times of economic stress. However, if our safe haven status changes, it could be devastating. This is not hyperbole, it’s mathematics. We had the opportunity to refinance our debt out to 20 years for 1% to 2% during the last two administrations. They didn’t do it. Now, 80% of our debt is coming due within the next 5 years at rates of 4% to 5% instead of 1%. Our interest payments alone are on a fast track to becoming America’s largest annual expense!!! This is a problem, one that you need to keep in mind as we enter the 2024 election cycle. One you need to keep in mind when you rub elbows with members of Congress or the Senate as I know some of you do from time to time. In closing, we wish you a GREAT 2024! We will be monitoring these issues closely and reacting accordingly to work through what we expect to be a volatile yet positive year. As always, we appreciate your trust and confidence. Be on the lookout for information on the B.I.G. phone app due out in the coming weeks! Happy New Year!

  • The BIG Report: October 2023

    I want to start this note with a B.I.G. thank you. We were recently voted best investment firm/financial planning practice by the readers of both the Delaware State News and the U.S.A. Today’s Delaware papers. Two papers, two polls and two wins voted on by the readers. Thank you so very much for your trust and confidence and for taking the time to both nominate and vote for us. As you may have noticed, the market softened August through September. If you read last quarter’s newsletter, you know we were expecting some volatility during this time and were prepared. We’ve taken this recent weakness as an opportunity to do some buying. BUYING? You might be asking. ARE WE CRAZY? You may be wondering. Yes, we’ve been buying and no we’re not crazy. But what about..... “enter your biggest market concern here”? There is no shortage of concerns. Recession fears continue to loom, interest rates continue to spike, consumer debt and defaults are rising, inflation is proving slow to soften, global geopolitical tensions are increasing and Washington D.C. appears to be ineffectual. Well, I have some good news for you today. I found an old crystal ball that I used early on in my career. In this edition of the B.I.G. Report, I’m going to lay out exactly what you can expect in the coming months and years and remove all of the worry about the markets. But I warn you, it’s not for the faint of heart. You think inflation is bad now? Expect a resurgence of inflation that will hit double digits and send interest rates SOARING. Never mind 8% mortgages, think more like 14% mortgages and 21% car loans and that’s if you have good credit. We will suffer a few recessions, two of them back-to-back beginning this year. Geopolitical tensions will explode to some of the highest tensions between superpowers in modern history and the U.S. will engage in a Middle Eastern war. Unfortunately, terrorism will increase and run rampant including a bioterrorist attack on U.S. soil. Businesses will fail at record rates. Banks will fail at record rates causing a historic crisis in the financial sector. I’m saddened to say there will be an attempted assassination on a future U.S. president and finally, the U.S. stock market will suffer a historic crash so jaw dropping and sudden that many people will get out of the market with big losses and never invest again. I know this outlook sounds horrific and I’m sorry to have to tell you that my crystal ball is INFALLIBLE. Let that sink in for a second... digest everything you just read maybe even read it Again. My crystal ball is 100% accurate exactly 20 years into the future from the date that it was manufactured. That said, it was manufactured on January 1, 1980. Everything you just read happened between 1980 and 2000. Rampant inflation, double digit interest rates on mortgages and auto loans, three recessions, incredible political tensions with Russia, The Gulf War, plane hijackings by terrorists, bombing in Beirut, the Oregon salad bar salmonella (bioterror) attack in 1984, the Savings and Loan crisis of the late 80’s causing 1,042 Savings and Loan failures, the attempted assassination of President Regan and the October 1987 stock market crash costing the market 22% in a single day. If today was December 31, 1979 and you read this and believed it was all going to happen, would you invest in the stock market? Of course not. Yet, this period of time covered one of the most prolific secular bull markets in U.S. history. The Dow Jones gained over 1,000% return over this period of time. Yes over 1,000%! Despite all of the existing fear and worry, we are in a strong secular bull market that began around 2013. A bull market is a market headed higher while a bear market is one heading lower. A “secular” bull or bear is a trend that spans many years. When in the midst of a secular trend in the market, “cyclical” bear and “cyclical” bull markets will happen along the way. Cyclical moves are much shorter term and more muted than their secular trends. I know that last year’s -20% bear market doesn’t sound “muted” but consider that the S&P declined 46% during the 2000 – 2002 bear market and 56% in the 2008 – 2009 bear market. Both of those declines took place during a “secular” bear lasting 13 years. What we have witnessed since is definitely muted by comparison. Given the timing of when this secular bull began, we could easily see this trend continue into the early to mid 2030’s which would mean a lot of potential gain for markets in spite of the long list of worries facing the economy and investors. Last October, the market came right down to a key level that if broken, could have technically ended the “secular bull”. Instead, the market rallied significantly right after touching that key level and the long-term trend of the secular bull is soundly intact. This doesn’t mean a recession isn’t on the way although the data does not reflect one being imminent. It also doesn’t mean the market won’t fall or have ordinary volatility over the course of time. We mentioned in the July newsletter that the market could move lower August into September and that we had raised cash in anticipation. That has happened and we have taken this weakness to do some buying. History suggests that the market could end the year quite strong. I wish my crystal ball could tell me for certain if this is the case but as previously mentioned, it can’t see past the year 2000. As such, we have maintained a position in bonds for protection. Earnings estimates appear to be improving or at the least, stabilizing and when all things are considered, the market cares most about earnings expectations. It is the number one driver of stock prices. After all, when you buy a stock, you are buying a piece of a business. You buy a piece of this business because you have an expectation that it’s going to make money and benefit you in the process. The fears, concerns and looming recession are all very real and in the case of recession, it’s not a matter of “if” but “when”. But as we learned in the 1980’s and 90’s, a lot of money can be made during challenging times especially when the market is in a secular bull trend and we are firmly in a secular bull trend today. So, we are staying engaged in the market, trimming when it’s high, buying when it’s low and maintaining a position in bonds in case things take a sudden turn for the worse. We will likely experience more volatility now that rates are higher but 5 steps forward and 2 steps back still keeps things moving in the right direction. Until someone invents a time machine to let us take this crystal ball back to January 1, 1980, being diversified and flexible is a sound way forward. Thank you for your trust and confidence.

  • The BIG Report: July 2023

    You may have heard the saying “Even a broken clock is right twice a day.” The same could be said for what our industry calls “perma bears or perma bulls.” These are folks that are always adamant that the market is either going to go up or adamant that it’s going to go down. Both opinions will eventually be right but waiting for that day to come can be extremely expensive if you’re an investor. This is why we try to maintain an open mind about what the market may or may not do and not become dogmatic about any one point of view. 2023 is a classic example. We, like most professionals in the industry came into this year expecting with near certainty that a recession was coming and the market was headed lower. There were and continue to be plenty of reasons to worry about what lies ahead for the economy and therefore the stock market. The lingering Russia/Ukraine war, tensions with China, U.S. debt levels, elevated inflation, and rates at the highest levels they’ve been in almost 20 years after the most aggressive rate hiking cycle in U.S. history. On top of that, the COVID money sloshing around in our economy is dwindling as consumer credit usage has exploded suggesting that consumers may be getting stretched. Many of the “economic indicators” continue to show warning signs of a recession. Well... all of that might be quite true but there’s nothing recessionary about this economy at the moment. Will that continue? It doesn’t seem logical but I learned a long time ago that the markets and economy don’t necessarily follow what seems logical. This is why we don’t just make all of our investment allocation decisions based on fundamental economic data and instead rely on a combination of fundamental and technical data to guide us. As we mentioned in our last newsletter, the market technicals were extremely compelling and as such, we made significant changes in March to be better positioned to make money in a market that might continue to climb in spite of all of the negativity. I’m glad we did because the market has done just that. The market rise hasn’t fully quelled the chorus of naysayers that are still insisting that the logical scenario will still unfold and the market will head lower. There’s no shortage of permabears on CNBC every day making these claims and in large part they are really hoping for a decline because they’ve missed out on a significant portion of this year’s gains. In the very short term they may get their chance. At the moment, the market is looking a bit extended to the upside. Corporate earnings expectations are still declining but at a slower rate. The key word there is “declining”. The stock market cares about earnings and not the earnings reported today but what’s expected for the upcoming quarter and beyond. Additionally, we are entering into the weakest period of the year seasonally speaking. August and September are traditionally two of the worst months of the year. In light of this, we have been raising cash in recent weeks by trimming profits from our largest gaining stocks. If the market does pull back, we can take that opportunity to do some buying and add money back to the market at a lower level. As for the longer term outlook, I have to admit, I am just as baffled that the market has gone up so much this year for the same reasons as the naysayers. The only difference being that we didn’t sit on the sidelines insisting that our expectations were the only way forward. The naysayers on the other hand keep pushing their dire warnings back 3 to 6 months at a time. The good news for them is that if they just keep at it, they will eventually be right! It might be five years from now but they WILL be right someday! It’s common knowledge that the market has a tendency to lead the economy by 6 to 9 months. It will usually decline significantly 6 to 9 months prior to a recession and start to rebound long before the recession is over. Most professionals view this as the market being predictive of recessions and rebounds but they might have it wrong. It could be the cause. When the market falls significantly, people feel poorer. They tend to batten down the hatches and become more sensitive to spending. When the market moves significantly higher, they tend to feel better and more comfortable spending. This incredible rise in the market since October might actually help ward off a recession due to better household economics of investors. The labor market also continues to be extremely strong and it’s very hard to envision a recession with a labor market as strong as the one we have now. Even so, the threat of recession and a stock market decline will loom over us because of things that have happened in the past. When certain economic indicators have been at the levels they are now, we’ve always had a recession shortly thereafter. This is looking like it could be the first time it doesn’t happen, but we can’t discount the possibility just yet no matter how high the market climbs. As such, we will continue to keep an allocation to bonds for protection. The interest we can earn is better than it has been in years and after last year’s historic bond market decline, bonds look much more attractive with little downside risk. Maintaining a more balanced approach will allow for flexibility moving forward. In closing, the market has made a bold statement that the worst is behind us and based on the research we’ve done, we believe it is likely telling the truth. Even if that’s the case, markets don’t go up in a straight line and we expect some normal volatility maybe as soon as the next couple of months. We welcome any correction as an opportunity to do some buying because we think the market is likely to have a strong finish to the year. That said, all of those pundits that insist that a recession is coming and the market is going to crash, are correct. A recession is coming and the market will crash just as sure my broken watch that shows a date of April 11th will be right again on April 11th next year. The only difference between the insistent naysayers and my watch is that the naysayers don’t know when they’ll be right once again. I hope it’s not any time soon but we’ll be ready just in case. We appreciate your trust and confidence. Please continue to listen to our weekly podcasts by asking Siri, Google or Alexa to “play the latest episode of the Big Money Report podcast”. Or listen through our website or follow us on Facebook for the latest news and updates to the market and your money.

  • The BIG Report: April 2023

    You’re about to witness something historic. I say this without hyperbole or sensationalism. Now it might not be as exciting as the Moon Landing, the fall of the Berlin Wall, the 1980 U.S. Olympic Hockey team defeat of the Soviets, the advent of the Internet, or Cal Ripken Jr. breaking Lou Gehrig’s record (yes, I’m an Orioles fan). And it won’t likely be as gut-wrenching as some of the more negative history we have witnessed over the years, well at least not gut-wrenching for long. But history will be made and very few people will even notice. Conflicting narratives have developed in the markets and economy that are unprecedented and something is going to give. There are three main points to be aware of: 1) There are economic indicators that have a 100% track record of predicting recession and they are boldly predicting an imminent recession. If a recession does NOT happen, it will be historic. It will impact the fundamental studies of the U.S. Economy forever as people will say “Every time these indicators have reached these levels, we’ve always had a recession EXCEPT for 2023. 2) The stock market has only bottomed prior to a recession once and that was in 1942. That particular market was much stronger and more robust than the one we have now. If a recession does come but the market does not fall to a lower low than October 2022 it will be historic. It will impact market expectations forever as people will say “The market has always bottomed in the midst of a recession and never prior EXCEPT for 1942 and 2023. Now I think we can agree these first two points speak to more pain to come for the markets. If a recession is imminent and the stock market never bottoms prior then it would stand to reason there’s another round of painful declines yet to come. Ah.... not so fast. 3) The stock market, as measured by the S&P 500, has had technical achievements since the October low that no market has ever accomplished unless the “low was in” and the worst was behind us. If the market fails at this point and moves down to a lower low it will impact the technical studies of markets forever as people will say “The worst has always been behind us when the stock market has accomplished these things EXCEPT for 2023. And that’s where we find ourselves today. In the middle of two opposing narratives. A potential recession around the corner that should lead to another market decline and a market that suggests the worst is behind it. I know the idea that the market could be right is the most difficult to believe but that is exactly how new bull markets begin. The stock market makes significant moves off of its low point and no one believes in it because the news is still worsening. By the time the news cycle improves, the stock market is up 20% to 30% and investors have missed out on the recovery. The question can be asked, “How can that be the case if a recession is imminent?” Well, a couple of points on that as well. If it happens, this would be the most telegraphed recession in U.S. history. As such, the corporate community has been extremely proactive with many companies laying off employees even though their corporate earnings have been fine. All of this preparation could cause us to avert the recession altogether at worst make it very mild. The market could very well be looking past a mild recession and taking a place in history next to 1942. All of that said, history could be made the other way. Maybe after accomplishing all the market has accomplished since October, it does fail and reach new lows. In that case, there’s another round of pain coming and believe me, it will be painful. The last leg of a bear market is usually the most gut-wrenching but also very short-lived. In that scenario, I expect the market to move down to a level of 3000 to 3200 on the S&P 500 which could mean as much as a 27% decline from the close of the first quarter. So.... what to do? Well, if you’ve been watching your accounts, you will see we have made very big changes to the models over the last few weeks. Coming into 2023 we were expecting a big move lower before rebounding. We had all our models positioned with let’s call it, “aggressive defense”. Defense that would make a greater return if the market fell further. After the market clearly demonstrated the possibility that the worst could be behind us in early February, we changed course and looked for the first opportunity to remove the “aggressive defense” and add more traditional defense that would not work against us if the market continued to climb. We’re back to using bonds for that defense and we were able to add them on their most recent pullback in March. In addition to this change in defense, we’ve been buying. We have been adding to positions on dips in recent weeks. At this point, if the market fails, we expect bonds to do their job and perform quite well which would provide protection in the downturn and allows us to use those funds to buy stock at a lower level. If the market does not fail, the bonds will continue to pay interest and we can migrate funds from bonds to stocks as the market continues to improve. It's easy to let feelings get in the way of facts. With fundamentals showing such strong signs of recession and the many other fears out there like bank failures, Russia/Ukraine, and China/Taiwan, being afraid is easy. Most everyone is aware of some of the fundamentals, hears the news and therefore most everyone, including market commentators and TV pundits are negative. Technicals however speak to the psychology of the market and the facts are, it has improved and improved greatly. This isn’t to say the market won’t fail and hit a lower level but it is to say that many others are not expecting or prepared for the market continuing to improve. We’re prepared for both potential outcomes. I’m about out of room and haven’t addressed the recent banking scare. That’s because it isn’t that important. The whole issue has been over- hyped by the press. We see no reason to fear the safety of the banking system. This is NOT a systemic 2008/2009 issue. Our research indicates that this involves a couple of bad actors that deserved to fail. Their depositors were made whole by the FDIC fund, but the banks were allowed to fail and rightly so. We see no systemic risk at this time. In closing, something is going to give, and it will be historic. For most, it might be as obscure as when American, William Walker became president of Nicaragua in 1856 but it will be historic and we’ll be ready for it either way.

  • The BIG Report: January 2023

    After guiding clients through the “Tech Crash” early in my career, I was told that it was a once in a lifetime event on par with the Dutch Tulip Mania of 1636. A few years later we had the “Great Recession”, arguably the worst financial conditions since the Great Depression circa 1929, a once in a lifetime event. 2020 brought the COVID pandemic, the first global pandemic since 1918 and yes, you guessed it, a once in a lifetime event. And now we have 2022 in the record books, a year that will go down in history as one of the worst years ever for moderate and conservative investors only rivaled by 1871. Why was 2022 so bad for investors? Because we just experienced one of, if not the very worst year in U.S. history for the bond market. The bond market is supposed to be your shelter in the storm but in 2022 it was the storm. This was something we talked about in last January’s newsletter and the reason why we eliminated bonds altogether from most of our models in late 2021. There was no shelter for the storm in 2022 and that is why it will go down in history as a once in a lifetime kind of year. So now that it's over, where do things go from here? The good news is, I think the market goes a lot higher. The bad news is, I think the market goes lower first. This time last year, none of the standard warning signs for recession were flashing “red”. Now, nearly every single sign is flashing red and some of these indicators have track records of up to 100% accuracy. We must view market and economic expectations through the perspective of “probabilities” and the probabilities for a recession are the highest I’ve ever seen in my career. If a recession is imminent, then the probabilities are extremely high that the market has not seen the bottom yet. The stock market has never bottomed prior to a recession since 1945 and the 1945 market was MUCH stronger technically than the one we have today. So, if a recession is probable and the stock market usually bottoms in the midst of a recession then we should be positioning ourselves for a lower low and that’s exactly what we’ve done. Our cash levels are the highest they’ve ever been. For moderate and aggressive risk portfolios, we added a hedge by shorting the stock market with a percentage of the models. This hedge will rise when the market falls helping to create a buffer in the portfolio. I keep watching the bond market for a good time to add them back into the mix as protection in the portfolios, but I still don’t trust the interest rate outlook and bond market just yet. I’d like to see more confirmation that inflation is subsiding significantly before adding bonds back to the mix. The next question is, how low will it go? Well, it can go quite a bit lower. The average decline for a recession driven bear market tends to be quite a bit lower than what we’ve seen so far. The high end would be around 3200 on the S&P 500 and the low end would be around 2800 on the S&P 500. The S&P started the year at 3840 so that equates to a 16% to 27% drop from where it sits today. First, I don’t think the lower level is as likely given the strength of the economy heading into this “expected” recession. Secondly, our portfolios should move less than half that much or less given the cash. positions and the short hedge that’s in place. But half of that move can still feel painful. Just remember, it’s the down markets that really allow you to make significant returns. We will look to sell the hedge and buy the market very aggressively on the way down to the bottom. We obviously will have no idea of where the bottom will be, no one will and that’s why we shouldn’t and won’t wait for the “all clear” to make these adjustments. We want to buy low and buy more if it goes lower. This is how we will position ourselves for the second part our expectation for 2023... when the market hopefully goes up a lot. Speaking of which, the market has been down 2 years in a row just twice in 70 years. I doubt this will be a third. Just like there are signs and indicators for a potential recession and lower move in the stock market in the near term, there are also signs and indicators for a significant gain maybe by year end. We’ve seen bearish sentiment indicators in recent months that have historically preceded significant double-digit gains looking out one year later. I know it’s scary to see purchases being made in your portfolios when things seem like they’re terrible and getting worse but remember, THAT is the time to buy. That is when the most significant returns are made .... buying when everyone else is selling is when the greatest gains are made. I believe there’s as much potential for a significant double-digit gain from January 1st by year end as I believe there is for a double digit decline beforehand. By buying stock at lower levels, our returns should be enhanced. The single thing bothering me about this 2023 outlook is that many professionals are feeling the same way. I get concerned when there’s great consensus in the market because markets tend to shun consensus. This is why we do NOT gamble with portfolios. This might be the first time since 1945 that the market DID bottom before a recession. This could the be first time where some of these recession indicators are wrong and a recession doesn’t even happen. Therefore, we are STILL invested in the stock market and will remain invested in the stock market. If things turn for the positive in a sharp and sudden fashion, we won’t be missing out on the gains. Then we can reassess, take off the hedge and put the cash to work at levels that give us more confidence that the worst is truly behind us. People lose the most, not by staying invested when the market drops, but by selling it all near the bottom and not getting back in early enough to recoup the gains. We work to avoid this by “leaning” towards our convictions about what lies ahead rather than investing with 100% certainty about what we think lies ahead. This gives us protection if the market does the exact opposite of what we expect. As a side note, clients ask about crypto currency and bitcoin etc. Many of you already know, I’m not a fan. I think the underlying technology is fantastic, but I cannot justify the valuations of the coins. There’s simply no intrinsic value and therefore they can easily go to zero. We have made no investments in anything related to crypto and have no plans to at this time. In closing, I know 2022 was a particularly difficult year. The market did not act as it normally does in the initial stages of a rate hiking cycle and the bond market gave us no place to hide. Although we think there is a potential lower move still to be had, I don’t think it will last long and believe the year will likely end very strong. So, hang in there for a little bit longer. We are well positioned moving forward.

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