Welcome everyone to our final 2023 market update video. In today’s video, we’re going to be talking about quarter three look back, what happened in the markets, quarter four looking forward, what does the EWA portfolio look like and diversification asset allocation changes.
As always, please find your quarter three quarterly performance reports in your e -money vault and please reach out if you have any questions. This will include the since inception returns and then also one year trailing and last quarter data as well.
you I am joined by Stephanie and today we are going to walk through some of the firm initiatives before we get into our quarter three look back. So welcome Stephanie. Thanks Matt. So we’ve some exciting things happening or are in the process here at EWA.
So we’re going to walk through three of those that our clients we’d like to make them aware of. The first thing is some new AI tools that have been added to our website and I’ll let you talk a little bit about this but basically we have this amazing library of videos, blogs, podcasts and so forth.
You know we’ve created over the last couple of years and hopefully this new tool is going to help our clients and prospects really navigate through those resources in a more efficient way and answer questions they might have.
Yeah. We’re a firm believer technology should be a support system make humans more efficient but not ever replace the human touch. So why we’re really excited about this. We’ve created video libraries that have covered pretty much every category you can think of in financial planning.
Obviously this could be overwhelming to two clients or potential new clients. So what this chat bot does is we’ve taken the last two years well really three years since the WA’s inception is an RA that create weekly blogs to create quarterly market videos to create lots of video content.
And then most recently, I think we’re 30 episodes in now to our Finlet by EWA podcast. And so the cool thing about this chat spot, it’s an AI tool that has literally learned about financial planning specifically from the EWA content.
So if you go on the website, if you’re an existing client and start asking it questions, should I do a Roth conversion? Should I do a backdoor Roth? How to restrict it, restrict its documents work, whatever it is, it’s not only gonna give you answers in a voice that is EWA because it’s learned all this stuff from our content.
It’s gonna actually direct you to the videos, to the blogs, to the podcast subjects that we’ve done on that topic. And so it cannot be obviously utilized as official advice. It’s not advice by us, there’s clear disclosures on there.
But. As a client, what we hope to do is it’s a really easy and concise way to direct you when you have a question, to go find the tools and the resources, and then obviously, please reach out to us directly if you have any questions.
But we’ve created this for an educational purposes. You can pass on to you, your kids, et cetera. And so I think this is just a great tool to help leverage the existing content we’ve already created.
Yeah, absolutely. So definitely check it out. If you just log on to ewa -llc .com, you’ll find that in the lower corner, it pops up automatically. So you type in a question, type in a topic. I don’t ask you for your email address as well to kind of get through that.
And then, yeah, all that content will pop up, some great links in there. So again, give us some feedback as well. If you use it, how’s that working for you? But hopefully, again, it’ll make the process really efficient for people to find the information that they’re looking for.
So I’m very excited about that. Well, Stephanie, next up we have the internship program, which we test piloted. We’ve been doing it loosely, even at our prior broker dealer for the last 10 years, but we really made it official this summer.
And it went so well that we’re actually have made some directional epiphanies, changes, and how we’re gonna grow EWA. So fill us in on the internship program, how we’re gonna utilize that in the future.
Yeah, absolutely. So Matt, you mentioned we kind of test piloted this in the past. This past summer, we had two amazing interns that joined us for the duration of the summer. And that was a really great learning experience for all of us as to kind of what knowledge we had to impart on these newer people in our industry.
People are interested in potentially getting into the financial field, specifically in the advisory space. And one of the things that you and I talked about often was, how do we reach more clients and more prospects?
Because this is such a noble profession. And what we bring to our clients, we really feel is invaluable in terms of simplifying their lives, reducing stress, allowing people to live their life by design, that we want to bring more of that to the general population.
So how do we do that? We obviously need more bodies, advisors and more people that are trained to provide the great advice and recommendations that our team is already doing. So we sort of again had an epiphany where we said, you know what, we want to bring additional people into our fold and how best to do that.
Bring in a group of younger interns, junior seniors in college, perhaps right out of school, maybe a couple of months in the field, little dip their toes into the water, bring them in, utilize our training program that we have built and really, you know, ingrain them in the EWA culture, how we do things here as a firm and our client centric, you know, focus that we, that we put out there.
So this summer we’ll be looking for a group of individuals. So more than two to fulfill that program and we’ll be, you know, really putting some finishing touches and refining what that looks like over the next couple of months.
So if anyone listening to this knows somebody. looking to get into our field, to be interested in working with us. Definitely reach out, let us know, and we can have a conversation with those individuals.
So really excited. Thanks for that background. One other thing I’m gonna add to that is that we do plan on using potentially the internship program as a way for hiring EWA talent in the future. And so we are all lifelong learners.
We love continuous development. And one thing we found that we’re really passionate about is developing other people. So instead of going to recruit an existing advisor that’s been 20 years, our philosophy moved forward.
And why we’ve created another business actually called Wealth Advisor Training to make sure that financial advisors have the best resources. We feel like we didn’t have the best resources at our prior broker dealer.
So we’ve created this just to make the profession as great as possible to do the best work for as many clients as possible. We’re gonna leverage this when we hire interns that eventually come on full time as a accelerator roadmap to get on board with the EWA philosophies and then do the best planning possible for our clients.
Right, and I would just add to that super quickly that it’s not necessarily just for individuals that would be looking to be in a client facing advisor role. I mean, there’s so many roads into EWA if you would and so many career paths within our field, whether it’s portfolio management, whether it’s social media and marketing, things of that nature.
So I feel like people can really refine their interests and which portion of the business they’re interested in through a program like this. So definitely not solely for advisors or client facing. No question.
Well, that leaves us to our last initiative, which is the podcast. So, Stephanna, you’ve worked diligently on the content, the subjects we brainstorm, but then also just the execution on the backend of going on the channels and making sure it’s growing, et cetera.
So give us an update on that and where we’re headed moving forward. Absolutely, so the FinLit by EWA podcast was born this past spring. And we’re really excited to say we’ve had now our 30th episode.
is airing today the date that we’re recording this video. So that’s actually really monumental. We’ve read the statistic that most podcasts don’t make it past episode 21, so I consider that a big success for us.
We’ve covered topics, everything from our direct indexing platform to really have clients like a deep dive into those topics to understand what it is that is happening in the back end of their portfolios and what the philosophies are behind, what we’re recommending for them.
So everything from that to talking about risk management, planning for college, navigating divorce and marriages and having kids, all these life experiences that our clients are having. It gives them even more insight than they’re getting in their meetings with our advisors.
So with that being said, great milestone for us, but we’re still going to be putting that on a weekly basis. So if you haven’t had a chance and you’re listening to this, definitely check that out, whether it’s on our website, on our YouTube channel, on Spotify, or Apple Podcasts.
But one of the things that we noticed And, um, is that one of our most popular episodes actually chronicles the life and the career of one of our clients. Um, so sharing the experiences of our very diverse client base, the different paths that they’ve taken in life, how they’ve experienced, you know, financial wins and losses and success and how they eventually came to find us and the impact that we’ve had on their lives through planning.
Those stories just reach so many people. So if you’re watching this and you want to share your story, you want to come on and chat with Matt or your, you know, your advisor about your experience, we would absolutely love to host some additional clients.
So let us know, reach out to us at the info at EWA LLC .com, um, email address or email your advisor and we’ll get you on. Yeah. Very excited. They continue to grow the podcast and have more and more client share their stories.
I think people learn from other people. They can relate to more than, you know, us nerds. So absolutely. I mean, it’s such a personal experience and I think everyone who’s, um, you know, really engaged with us in that process said, wow, this is like a really cool experience.
It was kind of awesome to look back at my life, reflect a little bit and then really think about, you know, how my life’s been impacted and where it’s going in the future. So really cool exercise as well.
So definitely let us know. Chris and I are here. We’re going to talk about, um, what happened in the economy, equity markets, uh, looking back at quarter three of 2023. So just in general, we saw really a tale of two economies in the United States.
Um, really interesting when you break down the sector. So the service sector in the United States is, um, really performed really well. And then the manufacturing market and sector is more so showing signs of being in a recession.
And it hasn’t made that big of an impact on the U S economy because manufacturing only makes up 8% of all employment and almost 80% of the United States GDP is, um, based on is, is makes up made up of service businesses.
So service businesses, um, have a lot less, um, dependency on interest rates. So if you think about, um, a service business versus a manufacturing company, think about, uh, actually, that we’re a really good example of wealth management.
firm. We don’t have a lot of heavy equipment, heavy machinery. We don’t have to go to the bank and take out loans to buy that type of equipment. Whereas a manufacturing type of company has to do that, and they’re more dependent on interest rates.
So in general, the economy has not been affected as much by the higher interest rate environment because we are more of a service -based economy now. And in general, economy has begun to slow down, but not at a pace that the Federal Reserve is looking to for that goal of a 2% inflation rate.
So Chris, what along now that we’re on the topic of the Federal Reserve, what has happened with interest rates looking back in the last quarter? Yeah. So last quarter rates continue to climb up a little bit.
As a result, that’s impacted the labor market. Fewer people are leaving jobs with concern over whether or not they could find a new job. There’s also less job openings across the country as well. So those rates going up, we’re starting to see that trick once who affecting the labor market more and more.
Interesting. And then what about how have asset classes performed last quarter? Yeah, asset classes. It wasn’t a great quarter across the board. Real estate and government bonds performed the worst while commodities and high yield bonds were the best.
Commercial real estate specifically still struggling as office vacancies continue to increase. More people are still working from home. But fortunately, this kind of makes up a small portion of at least the overall economy.
So it’s not too big of a concern. And lastly, one of the positives that we’ve seen through 2023, the equity growth sector has been doing well. But a lot of this has been attributed to what we’re seeing in tech with AI and all those sorts of companies.
Yeah, a lot of the growth in stocks and government breakdown, the S &P 500 specifically, it is a lot of the tech companies, the huge, your Google’s, Apple’s, Amazon that are adopting some of these AI technologies.
And there’s really been a push towards that obviously in the last year that that’s made up a lot of the growth in the US stock market. So looking globally now, there are some, I guess we could say headwinds in a couple of different economies that are impacting the US.
So first off, China is experiencing much more slower economic growth than they have seen, I guess more so in the past year, but due to aging population, deglobalization, rising interest rates, and there’s some trade tensions with them as well.
And if we were to look at what’s going on in Europe, so Germany, which is the fourth largest economy in the world and the largest in Europe is actually into a, they’re in a recession mainly because they have a heavy reliance on exporting to China and to Russia and there’s again, there’s some trade tensions and a lot of that has slowed.
So those are really the big headlines internationally. But looking back at equity performance, this chart shows September, September, April, October, September actually looking back to 1926, if you look at the average return in the S &P 500 per month, September is the only month of the year that averages a negative return.
And then the chart on the right is a positive and negative return by stocks in each month. And September is about a 50 -50 chance of being positive in S &P 500 returns. So we’re going to talk about what that means heading into quarter four, but overall the outlook, you know, we’re in a late cycle, late business cycle in the U .S.
and anticipating, you know, we’ve seen some volatility due to uncertainty around policy and inflation and we’re going to talk about if that will continue in a second. Now I’m joined by Nick and Jordan.
They are the portfolio experts, market experts on our team. We’re going to look at quarter four outlook on what we’re seeing than any portfolio moves they’re going to specifically touch on, anything we’re doing with the EWA portfolio.
The global business cycle remains in a expansion phase in general, but there’s less sync based on what we just talked about with the US market and then some of the foreign markets as well. In general, Federal Reserve and Central Banks across the world have seen an increase in rate hikes.
Now we’re going to talk about if that will continue or not. So Nick, Jordan, what are some things that we are seeing in quarter four? What are some events that could impact the market and the economy?
Yeah, so taking a look into what’s going to happen in quarter four, first thing, the federal student loan repayments have resumed. The interest started in September and the first payments are going to be due in October and there’s over one trillion outstanding that is resuming.
So this is definitely going to impact the economy with the average student loan payment being about $400 a month and that’s obviously going to impact consumer spending. And this has been paused since March of 2020.
So it’s been a while. Yeah, so I know that retailers and lenders are preparing to take quite a big hit from this because consumer spending is directly linked to personal finances. So this will definitely decrease the expendable income due to their debt obligations.
And Americans had a lot of extra money from the pandemic with stimulus checks and then they just were spending less money because you couldn’t really do anything. Yeah. And I saw there’s a study that that’s going to be expected to run out in early 2024.
So that along with student loan payments kicking back in which obviously $400 a month is a big number for most Americans could have a huge impact on consumer spending. Yeah. Big time changes to the budget coming.
Yeah, and I saw that. So when a consumer’s debt to income ratio increases by 1%, their consumption decreases by 3 .7%. Wow. So it could have a huge impact on spending. Yeah, there’s money going into the economy.
Okay, and so inflation is another indicator that’s dictating a lot of the interest rate. So it has dropped drastically since June of 2022 at the high of 9 .1%. Federal Reserve’s targeting 2% inflation rate, which has dropped but still not there yet.
So due to this, we’re expecting the Federal Reserve to remain tightening through the end of the year, and there is an increasing risk of recession as they continue to raise or maintain these high interest rates.
However, interest rates are not always bad news for the economy, because in return you have savings accounts that are going to pay higher interest rates, different bonds, treasury, different types of…
Investment vehicles that are going to yield a higher return, obviously debt is more expensive, but that could offset some of it. And then many elderly homeowners, so again, we have a very aging population in general as baby boomers are starting to face retirement.
And so elderly homeowners and renters don’t have mortgages, which makes up a large portion of the population. So from a consumer standpoint, the higher interest rates have not had that high of an impact and may not have too high of an impact because of that.
And again, with savings rate, savings accounts and interest rates on some investment vehicles being higher that can help offset some of the high interest rates. So all things are monitoring that will impact what happens in the markets and the stock market.
But Nick, what else are we anticipating as we head into quarter four? So yeah, just looking at some of the markets in general, value stocks are at very, very low levels right now, which may make them a little more attractive undervalued companies.
Growth stocks are pretty elevated. So you’ll see a lot of higher PE ratios in domestic equity in the large cap sector, in large cap space for sure. It doesn’t necessarily mean high PE ratios mean it’s a good or a bad investment, but we are bullish on growth in the short term, moving into 2024, especially in the large cap space.
So it just means people are more willing to pay more money for these big, reputable, successful companies. So higher valuations, but we still feel that investors are willing to invest their money here.
So we see some chop coming in the market still in the short term, rest of 2023 into 2024. I don’t foresee a smoothing curve just yet, but again, we’re long -term investors here. We feel very confident.
that with the longer term goals and investment nature that you have, you’re gonna see positive returns. It’s most difficult to remove the emotion in the short term swings. So we anticipate you’ll still see some of those swings.
Awesome, and then stock prices are generally a leading indicator of economic activity. So if we were to look back, do you know when did the market, the S &P hit the bottom sometime in 2022? Bottomed out like right, oh, you’re talking 2022.
I was gonna say had the real steep drop off in the beginning of COVID, in March, beginning of COVID. And then 2022 there was like over a 20% dip, but 2023 has been positive. And so that’s a leading indicator that that started, that the stocks are starting to come back up, meaning that exactly you said could see choppiness towards end of the year, but hopefully this is light.
Light at the end of the tunnel as some of these other economic indicators, inflation, interest rates, you know, maybe. you see rise or act not in a favorable way, knowing that stocks are coming up. We again hopefully are coming to an end.
But one other thing I want to note before we dive more into specific portfolio recommendations, this chart is going to show S &P 500 returns in an election year. And so the left side is US election years, presidential election years, which 2024 will be the S &P 500 has averaged 11 .7% rate of return.
So elections in general are positive for the US stock market. And then the chart here on the right shows the average US stock performance again, measuring the S &P 500 in quarter four before an election year.
And so if we look at the far left, the yellow box, the S &P 500 on average returns about 5% in the quarter leading up to next year. So again, this is looking at the end of 2023 with an election year, hopefully see positive returns.
And then October, November, December in general, historically have always been positive returns. People spend more money as they’re heading into the holidays. And there’s usually a positive outlook on S &P 500.
So Nick and Jordan, what are we doing with the EWA portfolio? How is this now impacting investment strategy? Yeah, so for Q4, we are not going to make any changes to our portfolio in the way we’re allocating.
We are going to rebalance all the accounts like how we typically do every quarter to just align them back to their target allocation. But we just want to stick with our current portfolio and stand our ground.
Yeah, absolutely. We’re going to stick to our fundamentals here. We feel the changes that we’ve made so far in 2023 have positioned us pretty well for the rest of 2023 and moving into 2024. So we’re kind of in late cycle dynamics here.
So our portfolio has great exposure to minimum volatility. And we also made some shifts into quality stocks this year. Minval and quality as well as growth stocks tend to perform pretty well in the late cycle.
So being that we’ve already made some of these moves this year, we don’t see any big changes coming on the horizon to our portfolio where we feel we’re well positioned and we’re going to stick the course there.
But earlier in 2023, we made some moves into these quality stocks. So domestically and internationally, we shifted in the quality stock exposure. Then we still have minimum volatility exposure, which is more so heavily invested in defensive sectors.
Defensive sectors tend to hold up pretty well in late cycle and potential downturn market scenarios as well. Let’s dive into that a layer deeper. So we’ve talked about this before, but we’re not shifting anything from we’re not getting out of the market.
We’re not anticipating there’s going to be this. big market drop. We’re staying the course long -term equity investing, diversification, asset allocation. Nick, dive a layer deeper into why, let’s start with Minval.
Why are companies that would be qualified as Minval be a better, be a good choice in late cycle potential volatility? We kind of just view it as companies that the consumer needs these companies, utilities, healthcare, consumer staples.
It’s more so companies that regardless of what’s happening in the market, they’re going to be here and the consumer will need them. So people will pay for these before they’ll go out and spend frivously on additional things.
So in a market downturn, people will have to spend money in certain sectors and defensive tends to be where some of that money flows. So healthcare, energy, people have to buy groceries, things like that.
And then quality holdings, let’s give us a breakdown of what a quality company actually is and why that’s important. Yeah, quality companies, we kind of view it as companies that have real strong positive profitability, earning stability, strong balance sheets, in a way kind of like a growth stock.
But quality companies are big companies that are very financially sound and a lot of money has been flowing into these this year. We did position maybe three to six months back. We started shifting into some domestic quality.
We also then trailed into international quality exposure as well. But we feel very comfortable that if there were to be a big downturn in the market, these types of stocks, these types of companies are ones that will hold up significantly better.
So that’s really important with interest rates. If we were to think about a lot of small companies, whether you’re a startup, you rely on, you have to get funding somehow, whether it’s in investors or you’re going to a bank in taking out debt to fund your company.
And so very small companies are going to have a harder time to get, banks are making it much harder to lend money out right now with high interest rates than with the Silicon Valley Bank situation. So small companies may have a harder time getting money from investors or banks.
And so quality companies, they have, like you said, very quality, really robust balance sheets, but they may have a lot more cash on the balance sheet. And why that’s important is you don’t have to go to a bank or an investor to get money to operate.
They may have a run rate of cash for the next couple of years that, you know, this type of interest rate environment or market down towards not going to affect them at all. But in general, so no major changes with the portfolio outside of what we did last quarter when we stayed the course position well, anything else to add?
No. At this point, we feel pretty positively about things. Could be some short term chop, like we’ve already said, but the portfolios are positioned well to be ready for that. And it’s more so about staying the course and remaining disciplined with your investment strategy.
Actually, one more question. So internationally, I know we did make a shift into, so you said international quality, and then international ex -China. So what’s the strategy in the international space?
We did make a little shift into a fund that primarily targets emerging markets exposure minus additional Chinese exposure. So it’s not that we’re saying don’t hold China at all. Certainly China has its own dynamics going on right now, but a lot of emerging markets holdings as a whole tend to invest heavily in China.
And that play earlier in the year was remaining disciplined and continuing to invest in the international space, but let’s shift a little bit of the emerging markets exposure outside of China into some additional emerging markets.
So Brazil, India, et cetera. Yeah, it was just like further diversifying our international sector. Exactly. And the additional plays that we made in the international space, again, was mirroring the quality stocks that we moved into and domestically.
We did that abroad as well, primarily in developed markets. So we made just a small internal tilt out of some of our active international plays into quality on the international side as well. Awesome.
Well, thanks for sharing guys. These two are the brains behind all the investment operations. We try, we try hard. Bottom line, stay the course, no real shifts, and hopefully anticipate some volatility, but hopefully in the next six months or so we start to see a significant uptick in stocks in the economy.
So now that we heard a recap of what happened in quarter three in our online class, look on quarter four is, and our portfolio recommendations, we’re going to talk, Ben, Chris and I are going to talk about financial planning specific things to consider as you head into quarter four.
So, Chris, what are some planning topics that someone should know as they wrap up 2023 before we head into the new year? Yeah, so a couple items that we have tracking on our tax loss harvesting, Roth conversions, making sure retirement plans are on track to be maxed out, tax audits, HSAs and FSAs.
So starting with tax loss harvesting, if you have non -qualified accounts, which many of our clients do, this isn’t something that you have to do as a client, but something that we’re doing behind the scenes.
We’re able to tax loss harvest to generate losses that can offset $3 ,000 worth of W2 income this year or any capital gains in the portfolio or any capital gains for future years. I know we’ve talked.
in depth about the direct indexing strategy. This is something that goes hand in hand with that. Moving on to Roth conversions, we just talked about Q3 being a bad quarter in the markets. I mentioned that because if we do see a downturn in any specific asset class, if you’re a client that we’re looking to do Roth conversions for, we’re likely gonna be reaching out to recommend that before the end of the year.
That’s a 1231 deadline that if we’re gonna do a conversion, it has to be made by the end of the year. Retirement plans, it’s 22 ,500 that you can do if you’re under 50. If you’re over 50, it’s 30 ,000, including the catch up contribution.
So we’re likely gonna be in touch with you asking for pay stubs. We’re gonna check to make sure that you’re on track to meet those limits. Same with HSA, make sure that if you’re funding that, if you’re on a high deductible plan, that you’re maxing that out.
And then lastly, FSAs, those accounts, as we know, do not roll over. So I wanna make sure that the full balance is used prior to 1231. Awesome. Yeah, I’d say in general, just look, get a pay stub as you’re heading into the last couple of months here.
Check all of your retirement accounts, they just say everything you said, and then check your taxes. If you’re a NWA client, we’ll be reaching out to do a tax audit, but just making sure that there’s no surprises come April that you owe a big tax bill, or if you were anticipating a refund, making sure we’re planning around that.
And then as we head into October, November, generally is open enrollment for benefits for next year. What do we need to be aware of for health insurance or benefits in general? Yeah, I think just with open enrollment coming up, being hyper aware and very cognizant of what health insurance plan you’re on, and what the differences between the two main types are.
So generally speaking, two main types of health insurance plan, there’s a high deductible plan and a low deductible plan. Low deductible plan as the name suggests, low deductible, but in turn, higher premiums.
So generally speaking, if you’re older, if you have health conditions and you think the load deductible is going to be reasonably used, that’s a good plan to be on. Generally speaking, if you’re young, just need young, healthy, and don’t need anything more than just preventative care or just an annual checkup, there are a lot of benefits to opting into a high deductible health insurance plan.
So first of all, lower premiums than a load deductible plan. The big downside to the high deductible plan is that there is a higher deductible, as the name suggests. So more out of pocket costs initially, but then once that high deductible is met, insurance pays the remainder of the amount of the actual need.
The access to the high deductible plan allows you to contribute to what’s called a health savings account. So this is an account that is 7 ,700 approximately if you’re a family that you can contribute to on an annual basis.
And as Chris suggested, we do recommend maxing that out, generally speaking. triple tax advantage. So there’s a tax deduction on your actual contributions that you put in. All of the growth inside of the HSA is tax -free and then if you take distributions from it for qualified medical expenses, all of those distributions are tax -free as well.
So three separate tax advantages to the HSA and generally speaking, maxing that out and seeing the tax advantages from that make the high deductible plan well worth the health insurance plan. I think video is online and then we have a podcast where we talk about this as well.
So if you have any questions, feel free to reach out. We’re happy to analyze specifically to your situation. And one other thing to note, be on the lookout. 2024 annual limits for 401k, HSA, any type of account funding will be released in the next couple of weeks or months.
So we’ll be proactive as soon as we see that. Make sure we’re on track to start off 2024 on a good foot and max everything out.