Jeff Benjamin

Investment Insights: The Blogblog

Jeff Benjamin breaks down the game for advisers and clients.

6:30 am EST

Catching a ride on the next oil-market rebound

By Jeff Benjamin

In case you didn't believe the last oil market rebound, here's another opportunity to jump on the bandwagon. The chance to get in is coming up for long-term investors. The Fed is taking action against Goldman Sachs that could include a hefty fine. New York regulators have already fined Goldman $50 million. Hedge funder puts Deutsche Bank on his short list, and claims the bank is going to be nationalized. That's gotta hurt. The “best hedge of any portfolio.” If you're going to stare at your phone, anyway, why not load it up with some useful financial apps? Getting some technological help making savvy financial moves. ... Read full post

Jul 26, 2016

Bond investors should be sweating a looming Treasury glut

By Jeff Benjamin

Brace yourself for the next big Treasury sale as deficits swell. Net issuance seen rising. Time to take a closer look at the real costs of socially responsible investing. Some controversial issues can be financially more attractive than others. The when, how, and why on bond investing. No free lunch. The nitty gritty on qualified charitable distributions. A how-to guide. ... Read full post

Jul 25, 2016

Decades after being barred, 85-year-old investment fraudster strikes again

By Jeff Benjamin

Forty-five years after being barred from the investment industry by the SEC, Donald Conrad was still able to rip off investors. The SEC said he worked with his son to defraud investors. The SEC is going to make it easier for asset managers to roll out active ETFs, but the questions remain whether investors will notice, or care? “This is a pivotal moment for the ETF industry.” Meanwhile, despite all their promise and hoopla, investors have mostly ignored active ETFs. So far, 2016 has been the year for buying stocks during those big market pullbacks. Some call it trying to catch falling knives, while others call it making bank. This has become a trader's market. This is how much money your clients need for retirement. Figuring out the income gap. ... Read full post

Jul 22, 2016

Keep index funds in perspective in the active-passive debate

By Jeff Benjamin

Since the start of the year, the average large-cap growth mutual fund has gained 2.31%, while the benchmark S&P 500 Index has increased 7.14%.Sounds like an open-and-shut case for passive indexed investing over active management, right? Well, maybe. As clear cut as the passive-active debate might appear from some perspectives, it is usually measured in a way that either purposely or unwittingly favors passive management.Let's start with that actively managed category average of large-cap growth funds.That humble 2.31% average is made up of fund performance ranging from a 12.79% decline by the John Hancock Technical Opportunities Fund (JTCDX) to a 13.08% gain by the Equinox EquityHedge US Strategy Fund (EEHIX).Some might argue that those extremes, including a technical opportunities fund and another with hedge in its name, is the outer limits of basic large-cap growth investing. But that's how averages are calculated, and that's also... Read full post

Jul 22, 2016

Step aside bears, the market's next growth mode is kicking in

By Jeff Benjamin

Despite some technical signs pointing toward a bearish run, the market might be shifting into another growth stage. It's a brighter growth outlook, not low rates, that's fueling the latest rally. Emerging market bond ETFs are moving into the limelight. Previous causes for concern have subsided. What might be going through the mind of Pimco's new boss. Why is Pimco in such a pickle? Taking advantage of passive investing to tilt the odds in your favor. Avoiding poor timing. ... Read full post

Jul 21, 2016

Goldman says U.S. investors should keep their portfolios local

By Jeff Benjamin

Most U.S. investors, who are already too heavily exposed to domestic stocks, should keep investing along those lines. According to Goldman Sachs, the U.S. is the only real safe haven right now. The U.S. is still in better shape than the rest of the world. Don't make the mistake of assuming that exchange-traded fund is providing your client with a diversified portfolio. There are plenty of ETFs that hold only a single asset. With fewer jobs available to cut, Wall Street is now cutting pay to help make ends meet. This is a sign of peak efficiency. Do either of the Presidential candidates have what it takes to take on Congress? The key ingredient will be an ability to cross party lines with actions, not just words. ... Read full post

Jul 20, 2016

The fiduciary conundrum of charging lower fees for bond allocations

By Jeff Benjamin

Can charging lower fees for bond investments be both the right thing to do and a violation of your fiduciary duty as a financial adviser? The answer is, yep. As bond returns grind lower, the focus on cost has grown. Turns out, the Federal Reserve is just spit-balling when it comes to forecasting the economy. So, trying to forecast the Fed's next move is sort of a waste of time. Is the Fed even paying attention to the appropriate indicators? Happy birthday, Dodd-Frank. Six years and counting. Are the financial markets any cleaner, and are consumers better off? The good, the bad, and the ugly. To really add value, try helping your elderly clients find a quality assisted living facility. The retirement scan. ... Read full post

Jul 19, 2016

Investors pour into junk bond ETFs, signaling more upside for stocks

By Jeff Benjamin

Investors are flocking to junk bond ETFs, showing another leg of risk-on investing. This is looking a lot like early 2012. If income is your goal, dividend stocks represent one of the few remaining choices. Time to get some REIT exposure. Allocation funds for those clients who like their equity exposure on the heavy side. AMECX, FFNOX, TRSGX, TESTX The upside of giving. It's a good thing, and it's easy. You don't have to be rich to give. ... Read full post

Jul 18, 2016

Jeffrey Gundlach's 'Bond King' crown comes into question

By Jeff Benjamin

The new “Bond King,” DoubleLine's Jeffrey Gundlach, might have the assets, but his performance has been lagging. The flagship fund, DBLTX, is 2.1 percentage points behind the benchmark and is among the bottom tier of comparable funds this year. Indexers are quietly becoming the world's most powerful investors. Channeling the collective feedback of investors. Practice management: Avoiding the hard sell with clients and prospects is usually the best approach.The starting point is developing a trusted relationship. A summer reading list for financial services wonks.Oldies but goodies, and some new stuff, too. ... Read full post

Jul 15, 2016

BlackRock's stock buyback plan at odds with CEO Larry Fink's statements

By Jeff Benjamin

That awkward moment when an ongoing policy of buying back shares of your own stock conflicts with the CEO's mantra of the downside of the practice. Welcome to BlackRock. Larry Fink has been critical of the buyback trend, but that hasn't stopped BlackRock from buying back $275 million worth of its own stock on a quarterly basis. Oops. The housing market is being taken over by third-party investors, which could spell trouble. Gaining a bigger share of a shrinking pie. Turns out, saving too much for retirement can be harmful to your pre-retirement life.The more you save, the less financial danger you face. It's summer and it's hot. Maybe this will help. The moveable air conditioner, or a big fan. ... Read full post

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