Friday, October 16, 2020

3rd Quarter Update – 2020 The Longest Year

What’s influencing markets:

  •  Market Update – Stocks up significantly in 3rd Quarter
  • Economic Rebound since March – Household net worth at a new record
  • Supportive Monetary and Fiscal Policy - Low interest rates, QE and lots of spending
  • Election risk diminished  
  • Planning Opportunities for 2020

It was the evening of March 12th and we were having what turned out to be the final soccer practice of the season. I have been coaching my daughter’s soccer team for years albeit with little knowledge of the intricacies of soccer. We missed the memo that the soccer league was cancelling activities, so we were the only team on the pitch that evening. 

Schools were closing and spring break was on the horizon so we thought maybe the kids would be home for a month before heading back to school to finish up the school year. I also thought soccer leagues might be suspended and then resume after the pandemic wrapped up in a month or so. That was a little na├»ve!  

Many adults continue to work remotely, and many kids are still homeschooling. And while there are still many people and businesses suffering right now, the overall economy has been able to recover much of what was lost early on in COVID. An upside-down world has evolved its everyday functions as a health crisis turned into an economic crisis. While government response cannot solve every problem, the policy responses to rescue the health and economy of citizens worldwide have been powerful and unprecedented. 

Market Update

During the third quarter of 2020, the equity markets continued to recover from the drawdown earlier in the year. Remarkably, and as the chart below indicates, large technology stocks did the heavy lifting for the markets, yet again, as indicated by the Nasdaq 100 outperformance during the quarter. While we do not expect the large cap U.S. growth stocks to outperform every quarter and every calendar year, the momentum and investment performance by that category has been striking.

The S&P 500 value of 3363 on September 30th is currently trading at 26 times estimated 2020 earnings of $130 and roughly 20 times projected earnings of $166 for 2021. Those valuations are a bit lofty, but not unreasonable when compared to a 10-year Treasury bond paying 0.68% annual interest. The returns generated by stocks and bonds might have exceeded expectations given the challenges faced by the economy this year.   


 

Economy

A robust economic rebound from the 2nd quarter when we saw a historic GDP drop is helping stocks continue to recover. The latest estimate from the Atlanta Fed is that GDP growth will increase 35% for the 3rd quarter 2020. This follows a 31.4% drop in real GDP during the second quarter. These are annualized figures so the actual change in economic activity is less than a 10% drop of roughly $2 trillion in economic activity for an economic base lever of $22 trillion. Depending on how the 4th quarter 2020 develops, the U.S. economy may only see a slight decrease on total economic output for the year of 2020. That would be an enormous success compared to what seemed possible in March and April of this year.

Of course, millions of workers remain without jobs. As the pandemic emerged and the shutdown began about 20 million jobs were lost, and at this point the economy has only recovered about 50% of those lost jobs. The unemployment rate, after spiking to 14.7%, declined to 7.9% in September.


 

An indication of American ingenuity and the resilience of the economy is the fact that new business applications and permits are rising faster than in recent years.  The stay at home economy is fundamentally changing the way we live our lives, so while some businesses may have difficulty sustaining, a whole new collection of business opportunities are presenting themselves. This is especially true in this unusual economy as new opportunities to serve a void are abundant as evidenced by the surge in new business permits.  

 

 

The improvement from the bottom instructs what is happening with asset prices like homes and stocks. Trillions already spent in government transfers are also helping families weather this economic storm and contribute to the rise in asset prices. Low mortgage rates and overall robust demand for homes has pushed housing prices higher by nearly 5% year over year. Household net worth reached a new high during the 3rd quarter of 2020, sustained by rising stock and home prices.  

 


Monetary and Fiscal Policy

While there are some positive economic trends that we have outlined above, there can be no questioning the role monetary and fiscal policy has had in supporting the economy as the country and the world continue to navigate this economy. The Federal Reserve extended several lending programs through the end of 2020 that were originally set to expire in September. The Fed is also likely to keep rates near zero for months or years to come until inflation exceeds its target of 2 percent. Below you can see the mind-boggling expansion of the Fed balance sheet increasing by $3 trillion this year.  

 


 Meanwhile, there seems to be agreement by the President, Senate and House that there should be some additional fiscal support as the virus cases persist. Federal Reserve Chairman Powell has also encouraged the President and Congress to move forward with additional fiscal spending programs, but they haven’t yet reached an agreement on the scope of an additional spending package and may not do so until after the election. In any case, the prospect of additional fiscal support either later this year or early next year is likely having a positive effect on asset prices – all of this despite booking what will be a record $3 trillion plus budget deficit for fiscal year 2020. We are watching to see signs that the increased liquidity around the world will finally lead to inflation.     

Election Risk

I suspect that for many of us, November 3rd cannot come soon enough. In some ways, it seems the election risk has receded in recent weeks. Perhaps the market sees a more decisive outcome at least referencing recent polling data and prediction markets. Or perhaps the market sees one scenario with lower taxes and the other with greater stimulus. With every Presidential Election comes questions about whether the investment strategy should be adjusted based on the various outcomes. It is generally advisable to keep politics out of your investment portfolio. For example, it would have been a mistake if you had sold investments or adjusted your investment strategy in the wake of a Trump or Obama victory. 

As investment advisors, it is our responsibility to position our client accounts appropriately based on a wide array of conditions affecting investments. There is a “consequential” election every two years, and that is likely too often to consider deviating from your long-term objectives by trying to guess which sectors or companies are positioned best for each candidate. Conventional wisdom would have argued that a Trump win in 2016 would likely have benefited energy and financial stocks, because of potential friendly regulations for those sectors. Tilting your portfolio overly aggressively towards the conventional wisdom in this case, solely because of politics, likely would have left your portfolio underperforming. 

Planning Opportunities for 2020

2020 has been a year like no other in history for many reasons, but it’s also providing some unique financial planning opportunities before the end of the year. The uneven economy this year has created a great disparity in personal economies. Some ideas are going to be appropriate if you’ve had a relatively positive economic experience, while some options would be more fitting if your economic situation has been more of a challenge.

1.  Consider a Roth Conversion – There are no required minimum distributions from IRA accounts this year, so a Roth Conversion might make good financial sense. In fact, if your income is artificially low or you think you will be paying higher tax rates in the future a Roth Conversion may be worth considering.

2.  Refinance your mortgage – Mortgage refinancing is about to get more expensive starting in December. Mortgage rates are at historic lows as many are getting loans well below 3%. We continue to advocate refinancing into shorter term lower cost loans.

3.  Fund your retirement accounts – Another anomaly of 2020 are the super high savings rates. If you have extra cash on hand and have not fully funded your employer sponsored retirement account (401k, 403b, etc.) you still have time to increase your contributions. And of course, everyone with taxable income can contribute to a tax advantaged IRA or Roth IRA.

4.  Consider extra charitable gifts – The CARES act allows a cash charitable contribution deduction of up to 100% of your AGI this year, rather than the standard 60% maximum deduction. Coupling the Roth conversion with charitable contributions is a worthy strategy to consider.  

5.   Take an IRA Distribution – The CARES act also allows up to $100,000 distributions from retirement accounts if with special provisions for paying the tax and returning funds if you have been affected by COVID 19. We don’t ever recommend raiding retirement accounts, but if there is an emergency there are special provisions which make early distributions from retirement accounts less punitive than normal.

These are a few of the issues we are watching into the end of the year. We remain encouraged about the future, especially witnessing how our resilient economy has evolved this year. As always please contact us if you would like to discuss your investments or review your financial plans. 

While 2020 has been a challenging year like no other, it’s thus far been a satisfying year from an investment perspective. We hope you all are staying safe, healthy, and calm as we close out 2020.

Best regards,

Edward J. Wilcox, CFA, CFP

Thursday, September 3, 2020

Happy Labor Day!

In observance of Labor Day, the offices of Rollins Financial and Rollins & Van Lear will be closed on Monday, September 7th. Please note that all major U.S. stock exchanges and banks will also be closed due to the Labor Day holiday.




Our offices will reopen for business on Tuesday, September 8th at 8:30 a.m. If you require immediate assistance on Monday, please do not hesitate to contact our staff via email:

Joe Rollins at jrollins@rollinsfinancial.com
Robby Schultz at rschultz@rollinsfinancial.com
Eddie Wilcox at ewilcox@rollinsfinancial.com

Please be safe, and have a great holiday weekend!

Best regards,
Rollins Financial, Inc.

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

The Economy Continues To Improve, Not Withstanding The Media's Attempt To Talk It Down

From the Desk of Joe Rollins

The month of July 2020 will clearly be one to look back on in financial history as an important month. After an avalanche of negative publicity regarding the economy and the prospects for the U.S. to pull out of the pandemic, the economy continued to strengthen and the stock market reflected that strength. It has been absolutely amazing that for all of the negative headlines we have read regarding the economy and the spread of the virus, that the stock market has dramatically improved over four straight months. July was an extremely strong month for all financial assets.

I have a lot I want to discuss in this posting and some of it is quite valuable information. I want to explain why the stock market is not likely to have a major downturn due to negative real rates of return. I also want to rebut the so-called “pundits” that argue that the rise in the stock market is a bias against the working class and mainstream. Obviously, they do not understand, as do I, the Wealth Effect which I will explain later in this posting.

Partner Eddie Wilcox and his wife, 
Jennifer, walking the beach
 
Most of the general public has completely missed the implication of Zero-Sum economics. They just do not understand that if one segment of the economy suffers, by the effect of Zero-Sum, some other segment of the market must be strong. That has proven so clearly true in these very difficult times. The most important real-world example I can give you is from the famous comedian, George Carlin, as he described why this country became so fixated on germs. Even though this famous comical dialogue was recorded 20 years ago, it is so very true in today’s economy. I will give you his thoughts.

Before I launch into those fairly interesting subjects, I need to cover the markets for July which were excellent. The Standard & Poor’s Index of 500 Stocks was up a sterling 5.6%, during the month of July. Year-to-date this index broke into the positive 2.4% and for the one-year then ended in July, it is up 12%. In the first couple trading days of August, this index is now less than 1% below its all-time high level. The NASDAQ Composite continues to be the forerunner in all the indexes, up 6.9% during July and year-to-date is up 20.4%. The one-year return on this index is an almost unbelievable 32.8%. This index has outperformed mainly because it is where so many of the young tech companies reside. If you think this is just a flash in the pan, the ten-year return on this index is an excellent 18.2% annually.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 2.5% during July but continues to be down 6.1% for the year. The one-year return on these 30 largest stocks is, however, positive at 0.8%. Just for purposes of comparison, the Bloomberg Barclays Aggregate Bond Index was up 1.4% for the month of July, up 8% for the year 2020 and for the one-year period up 10.2% for the period ending July 2020. While this was an excellent year so far for the bond index, a couple things are truly interesting.

Ava and her mask social distancing

Most times the stock market and the bond market move in opposite directions. If stocks are up, bonds are down and if bonds are up, then stocks are down. However, this year those stocks and bonds have rallied significantly so far. That is not normally the case, in that the ten-year annual returns for all the stock market indexes are double digits. The ten-year return on the bond index is a meager 3.8%. I will explain later in this posting why one of the major reasons the stock market continues to go up in an otherwise negative economy has much to do with the real-world effect of negative normalized rates of returns.

Almost every day I am confronted by an investor asking with great anger and disbelief, “How can we continue to be invested in stocks when the valuation is absolutely crazy at the current time? As of the end of July, the 12-month trailing P/E for the S&P is 26.8 versus 18 at the end of March.” They give me this example with the conviction that this level of P/E earnings is unsustainable and is at a historic height. I am always confused why investors always look at the past and never the future, which is much more important.

There is absolutely no questions that based on the disappointing earnings for 2020, that stocks are historically high. However, history will always rate 2020 as an outlier. What good information do we have in valuing stocks at a 26 multiple when we know that earnings are depressed - but earnings are likely to improve. It is now the current projection of the S&P, that earnings over the next 12 months should improve by over 48%. If earnings are to improve, as suggested, at 48% should you evaluate the market based on the trailing price earnings or evaluate it on its prospects? Clearly, anyone who has been investing for any period of time knows that whatever has happened in the past is in the rearview mirror, but what we should all be considering is not the past, but the future. Based on future earnings, the market is more closely valued at its March levels than its July levels. Some segments will see greater than 48% – think airlines and hotels.

The Schultz family at Sea Island

The evidence that the economy is improving is virtually everywhere, but you just have a hard time evaluating it because the media is so negative on the economy. In reading the news over the last couple of weeks I picked out items that were clearly positive for the economy, yet seemed to be ignored by the public. The State of Georgia recently announced that their collections of income tax and sales tax for the month of July was 17% higher than the month of July 2019. Take into perspective that analysis. All of us will acknowledge that in July 2019 the economy was very strong and the population was almost fully employed. However, during the month of July 2020 unemployment was high and the economy sputtering. But the reason should be fairly clear.

Retail sales have taken a major move up since the lockdown. Part of this, of course, is pent-up demand, but yet retail sales have come back a lot quicker than anyone expected. I will explain this phenomenon later on based on Zero-Sum economics. Also, even though there were huge amounts of the population not working in July, that doesn’t mean that they weren’t being paid. Due to the massive Federal Reserve influx of money, most of these unemployed were making similar amounts of compensation unemployed as they were making employed. People forget that unemployment benefits are taxable and withholding is required. Once again, even though the media would like you to believe the economy is completely in a state of disaster, the facts belie such headlines.

There seems to be a general lack of knowledge of Zero-Sum Economics. I have clients come in all the time and complain to me that it is impossible for the market to go up because all we have to do is look at the restaurants, airlines, cruise industry and retail to know that the economy is in shambles. Yes, no question, those statements are true, but where did the dollars that would have been spent on those industries actually end up?

Harper Wilcox, age 10, getting
some fresh air at the beach

In a Zero-Sum Economy, if money is not spent on one item, but gets spent on another item, then the economy is at zero. If a family does not spend money on going out to restaurants, going on cruises, flying in airplanes or taking vacations, that is clearly a loss to those industries. If, however, that money is spent somewhere else, the economy does not suffer or, just as good, a family saved more. That is exactly what we are seeing today. Do you believe that there are not shortages in certain aspects of the economy? There clearly are, you see them every day, but you just do not realize it.

Why do you think the grocery stores cannot keep up with toilet paper and paper towels? Those industries are clearly booming as others fail. New car sales have been at historic highs recently. Does that not mean that the manufacturing industry of cars is working overtime to meet the demand? It is my understanding now that golf courses are overwhelmed with people wanting to play and golf equipment and golf clothes reached all-time highs during the month of July. Once again, those dollars are being shifted from one segment of the market to another. One client reported to me that they had ordered a brand-new golf cart for their vacation home but there is such a backlog of orders that delivery has been postponed. Everywhere in the economy you see a negative, you need to look at the other industries in the economy that show strength. While certainly restaurant sales are down, pizza deliveries are skyrocketing. It is everywhere, but due to the negative influence of the media you just cannot see it. What is so clear to me has been largely ignored by the media, is there a reason the media emphasizes the negative and not the positives?

As mentioned in previous postings, the Federal Reserve and Federal Government have dumped over $3 trillion of money into the economy. If anyone understands the velocity of money, then you understand what $3 trillion dumped into the economy over 90 days does. The acceleration of spending must occur or there would be a huge savings component. In real dollar terms, that means if you received this money you had two options. If you elected to spend it, the velocity of money being at 7, would generate $21 trillion of economic growth. However, in times of great uncertainty with the unknown future of your job and family security, the other possibly was that you just saved the money for a so-called “rainy day”.

It is now reported that the American economy has over $5 trillion in cash sitting in checking accounts in banks and other places. Given that this savings rate would be deteriorating daily with the level of inflation, it is a pretty good bet that this money will either be spent or invested over the next 12 months. If spent, then the economy will continue to grow and if saved the financial markets will continue to go up.

As stability occurs in the economy, a greater percentage of this money will be spent creating a higher economy. Rather, if invested it will create a higher stock market going forward. One of the reasons that the stock market held up in this recent crazy time is the argument that there is really just nowhere else to put the money. Already the 10-year Treasury Bond is trading at 0.5% and is at a negative real interest rate. If you calculate the cost of inflation, the rate of return on that bond is likely negative at 1% per year. That means that every day that you hold that bond, you lose money after the cost of inflation. It is the same if you hold money with cash. You are losing money every day against inflation.

Lucy Wilcox, age 8, playing in the sand

Cash may give you a warm and cuddly feeling by having it on hand but the fact that every day you hold that cash you are losing the value of purchasing assets since the rate of return is now negative. So, the argument must be that I will hold bonds because I believe they will appreciate it the future because I know that they do not pay any rate of return. Remember that a $100,000 bond generates roughly $500 a year in income and every year that income is less than the cost of inflation.

But now we have come to the point where bonds have actually run out of basis points to decline. The ten-year treasury is at 0.5%, it does not have much further it could fall. Couple that with the fact that the Federal Reserve is in an all-out war to create inflation. By virtue of the Federal Reserve, flooding the economy with money is a clear reason to try to increase inflation to increase the economy. Nothing could be clearer than recently the price of the U.S. dollar has fallen as the price of gold has gone up. Gold moves inversely to the U.S. dollar since most of the gold is held outside of the United States. But these are clear signs that the Federal Reserve’s effort to increase inflation is working. With a very low return on bonds and a very real possibility of increased inflation, you are locking in real-value losses by holding either cash or bonds. This is one of the reasons why the market continues to be held up, notwithstanding the avalanche of negative publicity.

Three or four times a day, I am approached by investors saying “What if the Democrats were to win the election in November. Won’t the stock market suffer a major decline?” While certainly no one knows how the election will turn out, you must be prepared on all fronts. If the Democrats do win the election, and certainly if they win the Presidency and both bodies of Congress, I expect the market would decline, but not appreciably. The reason why it will not decline appreciably is for the reasons above - what are your alternatives? You may be in cash temporarily, but you will eventually migrate back to stocks. Will that period be a week, a month? Certainly, no one knows. However, it will not be long-term and certainly the period of time when the correction occurs would certainly not be worth the effort to trade around it.

I get so very tired of hearing the pundits criticizing the stock market as being only for the wealthy. Their argument is that the average person’s life is not improved by the value of the stock market and, therefore, any attempt to make it go higher is only focused for the rich and not the middle class. Obviously, those people are not very well educated in economics or the wealth effect.

First off, the general public is very much invested in the stock market. It is believed now that $2 billion per day flows into 401(k), 403(b) and 457 Plans which flow directly into the stock market. Fidelity Investments, the largest holder of 401(k) money, reported that during the March 2020 selloff, the 401(k) investors made little or no changes to their asset mix. This is the way it should be. Long-term investors should never react to short-term market fluctuations. It seems that 401(k) investors are becoming better educated on how to deal with huge market fluctuations that are principally controlled by market manipulators.

However, these pundits do not really understand the wealth effect. The wealth effect happens when the market goes up and money is withdrawn from those profits and spent on other things. Almost every day we have a client withdrawing money from their account to buy or construct something. It may be to buy a new car, it may be to go on vacation, but more times than not it relates to improving their home.

Reid and Caroline Schultz watching 
the sunset on the water - ages 4 and 6

When money is withdrawn from the stock market and used to add an addition to your house, suddenly that money employs people. It employs people from the Main Street economy for both the construction workers and the people who build the materials. If a client takes money out of the stock market to buy a car, does that not put money in the pockets of the people who manufactured that car? There are so many examples of money coming out of the market to create liquidity to Main Street, for those pundits to argue that it is immoral to advocate stock market performance have, by the definition of the wealth effect, been proven incorrect.

Every day we see the effect of low interest rates improving the economy. Housing sales are booming, and construction workers are working at maximum levels. As clients take money out of the stock market and benefit from lower interest rates to refinance their mortgage or add additions to their house, they create wealth, as almost assuredly inflation will positively impact the value of their home ownership. Every day we see the wealth effect taking place as the market moves up.

The exact opposite happens as the market moves down. What you see are people who are invested that are less likely to take profits since the profits are lower and, therefore, there is negative wealth effect. It is not that investors use their excess cash to invest, but it is rather that they do not withdraw from their investments in a period of a down stock market. Over the last four months we have seen extraordinary gains in the stock market, and we are seeing extraordinary withdrawals to buy consumer goods. I do not understand how you could argue that this is anything but good for the economy.

Since there is virtually nothing to watch on T.V. nowadays except for Major League Baseball, in my case, I often drift into old YouTube comedy routines. During my era, one of the most famous was the comedian George Carlin. I ran across a couple of his concerts over the last few weeks and enjoyed his complete “off the wall” look at his neighbors and the American economy. One that I found terribly interesting was his analysis of the fear of germs. In his way of thinking, this country has become completely neurotic, with the population in the U.S. obsessed with security, safety, crime, drugs, cleanliness, hygiene, and germs. His words, not mine. But clearly, he has a point since we have, in my opinion, so grossly overreacted to this pandemic that it warrants further discussion. My favorite example is how we have become so neurotic with germs that even in prisons they swab the prisoner’s arm with alcohol before giving him a lethal injection! Think about that for just a second. For a person that they are clearly trying to put to death, they are concerned that he might get an infection. Overreaction – no question.

Each time I read the statistics of the pandemic, I wonder whether it is political in nature. Why are some states more restrictive than others when it comes to allowing the population to go back to work? In New York, as an example, they have still not even reopened their indoor dining rooms, yet they have announced that schools will be open in the fall. So, how does that even break down in economic terms?

The famous comedian George Carlin

If you analyze the various states for joblessness claims and those that are receiving benefits, it should be clear which states are abusing those rights and those that are not. In the most recent employment report dated July 18, 2020, 18.1% of all workers in the state of California are receiving unemployment benefits. In New York, that ratio is 16.3% and in Connecticut it is 15.2%. If, however, you compare it to other states, 3.6% of the workers in Iowa are receiving benefits, 4.5% in Utah, and 4.9% in Alabama. You do not have to be a mathematical wizard to see the contrast between those states that would prefer a change in administration as compared to those states that are likely not to want a change. Political – who knows?

The evidence is everywhere that the economy is improving, notwithstanding the horrific headlines you read daily. It is also fairly clear that earnings next year will rebound to normalized levels and, therefore, the value of the stock market is not overvalued, but is at a reasonable level. I do not expect a major downturn, but if there is, it will quickly recover and your long-term investment goals should be reached. This virus is a terrible plague on the economy, but it is time that all of us recognize what the risks are and move forward. We turned loose the American spirit and put Americans back to work at home, now we need to turn loose the American spirit and have the public eat in restaurants, fly on planes, stay in hotels, and move on with the rest of their lives.

The month of July also brought another recognition for Rollins Financial, Inc. It is a very humbling thought that for three years in a row we have been selected as one of the Top 300 Registered Investment Firms in the United States. That is really hard to contemplate given the scope of that recognition. To put it into perspective, there are probably 300 companies in the Greater Atlanta area alone that classify themselves as Registered Investment Advisors and we were in those that were selected out of all of the firms in the United States. I guess you can always say that it wasn’t an overnight success, since it took us 30 years to get here. When we received the recognition back in 2015 by CNBC TV as being the 20th best Registered Investment Advisors in the United States, we had $272 million under management. Today we manage for clients’ roughly ¾ of a billion in assets. Obviously much of our success is from the willingness of our clients to let us help them in planning for their retirement, but all of us should acknowledge the fact that we continue to grow and get referrals when clients make money. No other attribute is more important in the growth of a firm like ours. If we have not said so recently, we certainly appreciate all our clients that we help to reach their goals.

On that note, come visit with us and discuss your goals and financial plans. If you are interested in discussing your specific financial situation, please feel free to call or email.

As always, the foregoing includes my opinions, assumptions and forecasts. It is perfectly possible that I am wrong.

Best Regards,
Rollins Financial, Inc.

Friday, August 7, 2020

The Number One Lesson (Re)learned from the COVID Correction/Recession

Discipline might be the most important and most difficult principle for investors to follow. While the coronavirus pandemic progressed, financial markets experienced unparalleled volatility as the world faced economic shutdowns designed to keep the virus from spreading. A natural and justified human reaction to the uncertainty is to protect and preserve the resources you have. While this might be the right strategy in some respects, staying disciplined and invested is consistently the most productive solution for long-term savings like retirement accounts which are designed to provide decades long retirement income stream.

The S&P 500 experienced the best 50 trading days in history as markets recovered from the March 2020 swoon. The S&P 500 increased by a historic 37% from late March into June. This was immediately preceded by the sharpest correction ever, falling 35% late February into March. Missing out on those 50 best days ever, or even a few of the really powerfully positive days, could have put your long-term retirement plans in jeopardy.

The chart below illustrates the intra-year declines experienced during each of the past 20 full calendar years. In 11 out of 20 years, the markets fell by at least 10% at some point during the year.



Source: Morningstar Direct, as of 12/31/2019. Indexes are unmanaged, do not incur management fees, costs, or expenses, and cannot be invested in directly. Past performance does not guarantee future results

Financial markets are nearly impossible to time exactly right because investor psychology is unpredictable. Additionally, the financial markets typically recover from a shock or economic setback before the data suggests the worst is over. For instance, stock markets bottomed in March of 2009 in the wake of the housing crisis before recovering over 60% by the end of 2009 – even as job losses continued, foreclosures accelerated, and real estate prices continued lower.

During a severe correction or crisis, it’s not uncommon for us to receive client requests to sell investments and then wait for the situation to stabilize and reinvest. There are a few problems with this strategy: First, when we get this request, the markets have almost assuredly already reflected at least some of the uncertainty, so we are selling after some or most of the decline has already been suffered. Second, if you are lucky enough to not be selling at the bottom, there is little chance investors are going to be courageous enough to reinvest as markets continue falling. There is, however, a good chance that by the time the environment has stabilized, stock prices will be higher – possibly significantly higher. We often ask our clients, “Do you think market prices will be higher or lower when you feel comfortable investing again?”

The data below illustrates the unpredictable duration of past corrections. In some ways, the stock market recovery this year also feels premature as the virus persists and layoffs continue. So, to those who wonder if there’s a playbook that works for all corrections, we would say probably not; the irregular durations of prior corrections and the difficulty timing them reflect otherwise.


In the wake of the pandemic there was a remarkably swift policy response, which served to reduce the magnitude and shorten the duration of the stock market correction. No question, markets have benefited from government stimulus in the form of loans to companies, extra unemployment payments, stimulus checks and the like. These government transfers helped bridge the economy through the economic shutdown much of the country experienced the past several months.

The fiscal actions of Congress and money policy responses by the Federal Reserve and how markets react to these policy responses are also challenging to forecast ahead of time. Financial markets have reacted incredibly favorably to the government financed response to the economic damage across the globe since March. While we don’t know exactly how the pandemic will progress over the following weeks and months, we believe focusing on a disciplined investment strategy while taking advantage of some of the evolving investible themes is likely to produce a winning result.

On that note, come visit with us and discuss your goals and financial plans. If you are interested in discussing your specific financial situation, please feel free to call or email.

Best Regards,
Edward J. Wilcox, CFA, CFP
Rollins Financial, Inc.

Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Rollins Financial, Inc. Named to 2020 Financial Times 300 Top Registered Investment Advisers


Rollins Financial, Inc. is pleased to announce it has been named to the 2020 edition of the Financial Times 300 Top Registered Investment Advisers. This represents the third year in a row Rollins Financial, Inc. has been included in this exclusive list, which recognizes top independent registered investment adviser (RIA) firms from across the U.S.

This is the seventh annual FT 300 list, produced independently by Ignites Research, a division of Money-Media, Inc., on behalf of the Financial Times. Ignites Research provides business intelligence on investment management.

Registered investment adviser (RIA) firms applied for consideration, having met a minimum set of criteria. Applicants were then graded on six factors: assets under management (AUM), assets under management (AUM) growth rate, years in existence, advanced industry credentials of the firm’s advisers, online accessibility, and compliance records. There are no fees or other considerations required of registered investment advisers (RIAs) that apply for the FT 300.

The final FT 300 represents an impressive cohort of elite registered investment adviser (RIA) firms, as the median assets under management of this year’s group is $1.9 billion. The FT 300 Top Registered Investment Advisers represent 39 different states and Washington, D.C.

The FT 300 is one in a series of rankings of top advisers by the Financial Times, including the FT 401 (DC retirement plan advisers) and the FT 400 (broker-dealer advisers).

Joe Rollins, the firm’s founder, said, “Since founding my CPA practice, Rollins & Van Lear, P.C., in 1980 and my registered investment adviser (RIA) firm in 1990, I have always worked diligently to ensure the members of our team place our clients' interests above our interests. This philosophy has served our clients well and now, 30 years later, we are both excited and honored to announce that we have, once again, been named to the Financial Times 300 Top Registered Investment Advisers – making the list in 2018, 2019 and 2020.”

FT 300 Report - https://www.ft.com/content/6a45556e-6c21-4770-bc94-468fee0de563

Official Press Release

Best Regards,
Rollins Financial, Inc.

Monday, July 27, 2020

Rollins Financial, Inc. Named to the investor.com 2020 Top Firms in Georgia List


During the last several months, many Americans have faced financial uncertainty. However, for those looking for financial guidance, how do they know who they can trust with their hard-earned money?

That’s where investor.com comes in.

A consumer advocacy project with the mission of serving Americans as a trusted resource for researching and comparing financial advisors, investor.com analyzes 28 million data points from 690,000 financial professionals and 16,000 firms across the country on a monthly basis to determine which firms can be trusted and which ones have red flags consumers should know about.

“Our goal at investor.com is to make it easy for Americans to find a firm and advisor they can trust,” said Blain Reinkensmeyer, investor.com’s co-founder. “My grandparents spent over $100,000 on excessive fees alone, working with a financial advisor they thought they could trust, and I don’t want to see that happen to anyone else. In fact, Americans lose billions of dollars to excessive fees and overly expensive financial products each year, so we truly want to highlight fiduciaries—those who have a legal obligation to be unbiased and to put the interests of their clients first.”

Today, investor.com is making it easier for residents to find an advisor they can trust, with the release of its 2020 Top Firms in Georgia list, which includes Rollins Financial, Inc., a Registered Investment Advisor (RIA) headquartered in Atlanta.

Joe Rollins, the firm’s founder said, “Deciding whom to entrust with your finances can be a daunting task. The last thing you want from your financial advisor is investment advice driven by paid sales commissions. Fee-only advisors act according to the fiduciary standard, a responsibility to act in their clients’ best interests. Therefore, fee-only advisors have fewer inherent conflicts of interest, and can provide more comprehensive, unbiased advice. I founded the firm 30 years ago on this premise and we continue to work diligently to deliver comprehensive, unbiased advice to each client.”

investor.com’s Trust Algorithm combines both publicly accessible data from the Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) as well as proprietary information such as the security of a firm’s website.

Joe Rollins has said, “When I started Rollins Financial in 1990, my goal was to serve the investment needs of the clients of my CPA firm. We continue to serve many of those clients, as well as many who come to us seeking only investment services. We are honored to be included in the 2020 Top Firms in Georgia list.”

 https://investor.com/financial-advisor-firms/georgia

Best Regards,
Rollins Financial, Inc.