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A Delicate Balance

Did you know the Federal Reserve (aka The Fed) is not a part of the federal government and was created by an act of Congress? Its purpose is to serve the public but when you throw politics and the almighty U.S. dollar into the mix, it can be a delicate balance of power.

Created in 1913 to address financial crises, the central banking system was designed to control the monetary system and help alleviate panics (most notably the panic of 1907) and has three main objectives: maximizing employment, stabilizing prices, and moderating long-term interest rates.

It can create money. It can set the rates that large banks borrow from each other. Every move it makes has reverberations throughout our economy. It commands and wields power. Now, if you’re the president, can you see how you would want to influence The Fed? Job creation, fat portfolios, and easier borrowing; all of this is a winning recipe for the American consumer. And that can translate into a nice memoir and certainly a re-election for a sitting president.

The Fed doesn’t report to the president; however, The Federal Reserve Board (FRB) controls them which is appointed by…wait for it, the president! And here’s where it can get complicated because when you can appoint the Fed board the hope is you will be rewarded by a favorable monetary policy.

In 1972, former President Nixon arm-twisted the Fed Chairman, Arthur Burns, to continue a loose monetary policy during his reelection campaign. As a result, the economy continued to grow but by the 1980s inflation took root and The Fed was forced to sharply tighten policy which led us into a recession. Presidents give the thumbs up to The Fed when things are good but once the economy starts to shift, soften, and weaken they are not quite as gracious. President Trump has recently been more critical than past presidents but make no mistake, he is is only one of a long list of presidents to try and influence monetary policy.

But, throughout its history, The Federal Reserve System has been fiercely independent, and they strive to make decisions based on economics whereas politicians tend to make, well, political decisions. And, as an investor, you want this independence. 

Current Chairman Jerome Powell (a Trump appointee) recently said “We do our work in a strictly non-political way, based on detailed analysis, which we put on the record transparently, and we don’t … take political considerations into account. I would add though that no one in the administration has said anything to me that really gives me concern on this front.”

What The Fed does or does not do can impact your financial objectives, and things can get complicated when it comes to politics, the economy and your investments. At Optivest, we understand we are your portfolio’s first line of defense and your navigator through the high and low tides of the economy. We monitor The Fed’s actions and more importantly, how the markets react to their moves.

We are here to humbly serve you and encourage you to contact us with any questions you might have.

All the Best,

Mark, Bart, Leslie & Stella

1) Do: Focus on your financial plan. Make sure you have a long-term financial plan that focuses on holistic planning. A holistic plan focuses on your ideal life and goals and takes into account your Family Index, which is the pre-determined rate of return needed for you to achieve your identified longterm financial success. 

2) Don’t: Overreact and Lock in a Loss. One of the worst things you can do is sell during a market dip. Too many people make the mistake of buying high and selling low. Selling when your portfolio is down will lock in your loss instead of giving your investments time to recover. Market sell-offs are often followed by rebounds!

3) Do: Understand and Define Your Risk Tolerance. Your risk tolerance can change over time, and if current market volatility is making you weak in the knees, it might be time to reassess your tolerance for risk. Your individual situation, including your age, how close you are to retirement, your long-term goals, and how you are invested are a few factors to consider as you evaluate your tolerance and make portfolio adjustments. 

4) Don’t: Get Emotional Over Your Portfolio. Fear of loss is a normal reaction during market volatility, but don’t panic and let your emotions push you into making hasty decisions. It is important to remember that market corrections and downturns are normal and healthy. 

5) Do: Review Your Portfolio with a Financial Advisor. One of the reasons you have a financial plan is so that you can weather market ups and downs, so take this opportunity to meet with your financial advisor and get a portfolio checkup. Now is a good time to discuss your risk tolerance and re-evaluate your overall asset allocation. A good financial advisor will be able to guide you along a path that minimizes your risk and maximizes your upside. 

6) Don’t: Try to Time the Market. Here is an important phrase to remember: time in the market is what matters, not timing. Far more people have lost money than made money trying to time the market. Instead, stick to your long-term plan and set yourself up for long-term success. 

7) Do: Diversify. Diversification is one of the most important components of investing that helps you reach long-term financial goals while minimizing your risk. Though diversification does not guarantee against loss, it does maximize return by investing in different areas that each would react differently to the same event. At Optivest, we use a four-sector diversification strategy (equities, fixed income, real assets, alternative investments) rather than the standard two-sector (60/40 equities and fixed income split).

We are here to humbly serve you and encourage you to contact us with any questions you might have.

 All the Best,

Mark, Bart, Leslie & Stella

for High Net Worth Families

Strategic tax planning for high net worth individuals and families is not a passive exercise. Reducing your tax liabilities takes careful planning and knowledge of the complex tax system. Failing to consult with a financial expert may result in you paying more than your share, as well as not maximizing your income streams.

Here are three strategies we recommend you take advantage of  (if applicable): 

1. Tax Loss Harvesting: Tax loss harvesting provides a way to improve your after-tax return on taxable investments. It is a  strategy that entails selling securities at a loss and using those losses to offset taxes from gains realized from other investments and income.  Your financial advisor can help you identify investments that have realized gains incurred for the year and find losses to offset those gains. Tax-loss harvesting allows you to avoid paying capital gains tax. If you would like to keep your position in the account, it is possible to repurchase the same investment after the 30-day wash rule expires.  

2. Charitable Donations: With tax rates poised to go down because of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, you may get more “bang for your buck” if you give as much as you can this year while you can still deduct under the existing tax rules.  One way to accomplish this is through a Donor-Advised Fund  (DAF). Consider a DAF to be your own personal charitable savings account. For example, you might consider transferring your appreciated securities into a DAF, which would allow you to deduct the full current value of those securities from your taxable income this year. This powerful strategy allows you to take the tax deduction now and give the money away later.  

3. Bond Portfolios: Municipal bonds might not get the same amount of attention as stocks, cryptocurrencies, and other hot assets, however, when allocated appropriately, they can play an indispensable role in a well-balanced portfolio.  If you are currently holding a corporate bond portfolio and need to reduce your tax liability, you may benefit by converting it to a municipal bond portfolio to create a tax-free income stream.

Municipal bonds are always exempt from federal taxes and bonds issued by your home state are double tax-exempt – you will potentially avoid state and local taxes as well. For more detailed strategies that will help reduce your tax liability for 2018, please visit our blog at www.optivestinc.com. Take the time to review your tax planning strategies with your wealth management advisor or contact us for a complimentary second opinion. Wealth is built through making smart and informed choices. Optivest, Inc. provides true wealth management with extensive expertise in complex financial issues. Our holistic and integrated approach includes advanced planning for tax efficiency, wealth transfer, wealth protection, and philanthropy.

We are here to humbly serve you and encourage you to contact us with any questions you might have.

 All the Best,

Mark, Bart, Leslie & Stella