Financial Stocks Join the Party

Financial stocks have been a controversial sector since suffering massive losses in 2007-08, much like Tech stocks were following the bursting of that bubble in 2000. Financials have also generally been out of favor during the recovery of the last few years. In 2011, they were the worst performing sector in the S&P 500, and apart from a vicious two-month bounce off the bottom in 2009, they’ve been underperforming for years. In addition, they’ve been battling increasingly negative public opinion in regards to business practices (most of which is probably deserved, and largely self-inflicted).

The Case of the Unwanted Inheritor

Last month a grandson of one of our clients called me with the sad news that his grandfather had passed away. I knew his health had been fading over the past year, so while I was sorry to hear it, I wasn’t entirely surprised. It was a difficult conversation, as those things are, and the only comfort to come out of it was the fact that the elderly man had prepared for this day through proper planning. By keeping all of his documents current and in good order, he was able to ensure that his assets would pass to his loved-ones according to his wishes.

Surviving the Death of Your Spouse: Advice from a Financial Planner

On July 29, 2011, my father died in a single car accident, leaving my 73 year old mother — and his children and grandchildren — behind. While my mother has a great network of friends, this is a time of change and transition for her. She must get used to cooking for one, being alone in the house, and managing what used to be done by two (while my father was not all that helpful, he did do some things). Fortunately for her, she was already handling the household affairs, so she has a good understanding of the domestic finances. Not everyone is so lucky.

A Mystery Solved: The Case of the Sharpe Ratio

In the December Journal of Financial Planning, Michael Kitces, Sauro Locatelli, and I published a study entitled, “Improving Risk-Adjusted Returns Using Tactical Asset Allocation Strategies.” The title is a mouthful, but we were basically asking if changing the asset allocation of a portfolio can increase your returns relative to the amount of risk that you take, compared to just buying and holding stocks in your portfolio. Around here we call changing the asset allocation “tactical asset allocation.”