How We Invest in This Volatile Market

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As you have probably read in the news that the financial markets worldwide are pretty volatile recently. The S&P 500 index has lost more than 18% of its value year to date. To investors who want to seek safe shelters in the bond market, the sad news is that you most likely have lost over 9% year-to-date if you invest in a typical inter-medium term U.S. bond fund. Then, you may wonder what caused the volatility and how to invest in such a volatile market?

There are some unique factors combined to contribute to the market losses for investors:

  • Federal Reserve aggressively raising interest rates plus the reverse of its “QE” because of rising inflation in the U.S.
  • Supply chain disruptions due to COVID-19 lock downs
  • Rising commodity prices due to the uncertainties of the Russia – Ukraine War
  • Potential slowdown of the growth of world economy

How to invest in such an economic environment? Let me tell you how we help our clients invest in this kind of market.

We use an investment process that we call goal-driven, life-stage based investing.  First of all, investing is highly personal. That is why we design individual investment policy for each of our clients. First, we help clients define and prioritize their goals. Then we help them divide their goals into two big categories: short-term or long-term. And then, we further categorize these goals into “needs”, “wants” and “wishes”.  After we really know our clients’ goals and situations, we build each client’s strategic investment portfolios for long-term success. We select investment products to match their goals and life-stage they are in currently, taking into consideration their risk capacity and risk tolerance. Every year, our firm conducts macroeconomic conditions analysis as part of our evidence-based, data-backed investment research to design tactical investment strategies for the current market conditions.

During times like what we have recently been experiencing, we communicate with our clients, review with them their financial plans and explain to them the market impact on their plans. Knowing that they have sound financial plans in place, our clients are more confident that they will be able to make decisions rooted in reasons, not emotions.

“Pandemic Puppy” Deserves a Long-term Home

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Since the pandemic began early last year, there were increasing numbers of Americans who adopted so called “pandemic puppies”. These fur babies brought joys and companionship to many families who were confined to their homes due to governments’ lock down orders. Sadly, in a recent article USA Today reported that those dogs are being returned to shelters all cross the country.

I do not know all the reasons behind the surging numbers of returns of these dogs. But, I venture to say that if you have adopted puppies during the pandemic, with a little planning on your part things can work out pretty nicely between your puppies and you. The things you need to consider now that life has been gradually returning to pre-pandemic ways are how your new routines affect your dog and what the long-term costs of having a dog are. I will offer some tips on the financial part while leave it to you to figure out how to make your new routines work out for you and your dog.

 Depending on the breed of the dog, some dog could incur a large amount of medical bills down the road. One way to mitigate the financial burden is to buy pet insurance. Do a cost/benefit analysis. Does it make sense to buy pet health insurance in your individual situation? Many pet insurances only cover cats and dogs, but a couple of insurers will also cover birds and reptiles. Before you purchase health insurance for your dog, be sure you understand what covered and excluded conditions are and how you file an insurance claim. Some plans do not cover routine office visits. Many pet insurance companies put their sample insurance policies on their websites. Locate these policies and read them carefully.

Our pets bring us joys and companionship, but they also depend on us for continuous care. How to provide such care in case we are not able to? The pandemic taught us how important it is for us to have some kind of estate plan in place. Fortunately, pet trust can be a valuable tool for pet owners to do so. So far, all 50 states of the U.S have passed laws allowing pet owners to set up trusts for their companion pets. While considering setting up a trust for your dog, it is a good practice to designate different parties as caregiver of your dog and trustee that administers the funds in the trust for your four-legged companion respectively.

Alternatively, pet owners can opt for a pet protection agreement, which is simpler than setting up pet trusts, to protect their pet. With a pet protection agreement, pet owners can name their pets’ guardians, leaving funds, and providing instructions for how to care for your pets when you are not around.

Hopefully, with a bit of creativity and some planning by you, the “pandemic puppy” will be your companion for many, many years to come. 

The Recent GameStop Stock Phenomenon

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Even if you are not a stock investor or you don’t follow market performance like a religion, you have probably heard of the latest news on GameStop, the video game retailer.

GameStop’s stock spiked from roughly $65 a share just before this past Monday to an intraday high over $480 on Thursday before closing around $236. This stratospheric rise of the video game retailer alone is enough for an awe-inspiring financial news story. But who were buying that caused the stock to rise to such high? There is more to this story.

The rise is fueled by traders in the WallStreetBets Reddit group and caused a short squeeze for the hedge fund short sellers who have bet against GameStop and shorted its stocks. What is a short squeeze? A short squeeze occurs when a stock or other asset jumps sharply higher, forcing traders who had bet that its price would fall, to buy it in order to stop even greater losses, according to Investopedia. Their scramble to buy only adds to the upward pressure on the stock’s price. The Reddit group also pushed up prices of AMC and BlackBerry significantly. Trading restrictions on GameStop’s stock posed by brokerages and trading platforms angered traders and some lawmakers but also helped lowering the stocks’ prices.

The sudden surge of GameStop’s stock price created unintended consequences for funds containing GameStop. For example, two exchange traded funds, XRT and GAMR found that GameStop now accounts for 20% of their total assets. It also tests the SEC’s market manipulation rule and could have profound impact on the market in the future.