We have a great vibe in Raleigh!


It's no secret we live a great place, just ask Amazon and Apple. Two amazing projects are underway in our city that citizens should take time to notice and get involved; Dix Park and the Southeast Raleigh YMCA. I recently had the opportunity to tour both these sites and am sure these places will energize and enhance our community in different ways for decades to come.

Insurance By Any Other Name

It has become routine with virtually all retail purchases. I recently bought my son a $25 box fan at Target and was asked if I wanted "protection coverage" for it. I gave the clerk a quizzical look and asked, "For a fan?" She shrugged and answered, "we're required to ask for any appliance purchase."

It goes by any number of names: extended warranty, protection coverage, purchase protection. Anything other that what it truly is - insurance. Whether you buy a car, cell phone or box fan, chances are some type of insurance is available for it. One publication estimates roughly $35 billion is spent each year on these type of coverages, which mostly translates into profit for retailers. A couple of behavioral finance principles are at work whe...

Form v. Substance

A few years ago a friend suggested I might enjoy meeting the management team of a newly formed investment firm. A specialty insurer decided to expand their service offering to include wealth management. They believed their insurance niche would provide them easy entree' to the professional community they served.

I'm always interested to learn about others in our industry and how they stake out a value proposition. Very few professions are as homogenous as the wealth management business. While everyone professes to have great service, best of breed investment strategies and unmatched focus on individual client goals, the reality is consistently distinguishing oneself on those measures can be challenging.

While I enjoyed our meeting, I cam...

Warren Buffett's Hedge Fund Bet Comes Home to Roost

During the mid-2000s I was a partner in a private trust company that was in the midst of reinventing itself. For years the firm had used a regional large cap investment firm to manage client portfolios, but at my urging the firm adopted a markets-based investment approach using DFA funds in 2003. Our clientele and new business focus were mostly inheritors of wealth with portofolios of $5 million or more. This was during the "heydey" of hedge funds, and we encountered many a prospective client that scoffed at the DFA approach, insisting their investment needs required more sophistication, sophistication that only hedge funds provided. Despite academic evidence that most hedge funds were unlikely to outperform, the power of narrative, over...

Should You Change Financial Advisors?

The "Groundhog Day" stock market correction has lots of investors casting a wary eye on CNBC wondering if this is the beginning of another major market decline. In just two trading days (FEB 2 & 5) the Dow Jones declined roughly 1500 points or about 8%. While we would urge investors to remain disciplined and not sell in a panic, it may be an appropriate time to reassess the value you receive from your financial advisor.

If you're like most people, it takes a substantial nudge to get you to change an existing business relationship. This is especially true of one's financial advisor. Most people equate satisfactory service with the growth of their account. The market's tailwind of the last 9 years makes that a very low bar - if you haven't...

Why We Believe Dimensional's Approach is Superior to Indexing

For decades Wall Street has promoted the idea that investment success can only be achieved by entrusting one's money to the smartest, hard-working analysts who consistently pick the "right" stocks, the ones that will do better than the market. I can recall in the late 1990's suggesting to the trust department where I worked that perhaps we should index a portion of our client portfolios. It was not well-received.

As time passed and heavyweights from academic finance researched the actual results of fund managers, the wisdom of index investing became hard to refute. Given the popularity and success of index investing, why should investors consider deviating from the index recipe?

The co-founder of Dimensional Fund Advisors, David Booth, w...

What Happened to My Social Security COLA?

The Social Security cost of living adjustment (COLA) increased 2% for 2018. However, some recepients will be surprised to find that this COLA was actually offset by higher Medicare Part B premiums, which are deducted directly from benefit payments. Higher income retirees can see their Part B premiums increase due to a surcharge known as Income Related Monthly Adjustment Amount. Depending on one's income, the Medicare B surcharge may exceed the COLA.

We review our clients tax returns and potential tax changes each year for these type of traps and to help you keep more of your money.

Five Financial Mistakes to Avoid in 2018

Have you resolved to get your financial house in order in 2018? Here are five financial mistakes to avoid in the new year.

  1. Roth or not? The new tax laws make Roth IRAs and 401ks more appealing. Make sure you take advantage!
  2. Let it run? The equity markets were good to most investors in 2017. However, don't overlook the importance of rebalancing your portfolio.
  3. Are you taking unnecessary risk? Most investors view bonds as the "safe" part of their portfolio. Make sure you understand the risk in your bond investments.
  4. What's your number? How much do you need to save for a secure retirement? If you don't know, now is the time to find out.
  5. Who gets it when your gone? Nearly 50% of Americans don't have a will. Others wrongly assume their will determines who will get their IRA and 401k accounts. Make sure your legacy goes to those for who you intend it.