February 2017 Newsletter

Welcome to the February 2017 edition of Views from the Crowsnest. It’s been quite some time since I donned my winter gear, climbed the mast to spend time drinking in the panoramic view from high above the water’s surface, and then had the quiet space required reflect and distill my observations. Thanks for your patience.

We each have our own unique sensitivity to current events, but the last six to eight months has felt eerily similar to the financial crisis of 2008-9 – energetically. Obviously, we’ve not had a market crash like 8 years ago, but the U.S. has definitely undergone, and continues to experience a very intense crisis driven by the sudden disruption of their political status quo. Love him or hate him, The Donald is the Molotov cocktail Americans were warned about. Things really are upside down when Michael Moore nails the story.

Nearly everywhere you look or listen, partisan invective continues to fly, with little relief in sight. The victors continue to dance in the end zone, and the vanquished are still weeping and screaming from their sideline; each side’s response is magnified and amplified by their respective supporters in media. The rhetoric from the left is perhaps more intense, as they grapple with the reality of having lost control of the political power structure – at least its Executive Branch. Can we provide them with participation ribbons? Now we’re facing four years of “Trump is literally Hitler” versus “All criticism of the President is Fake News based on Alternative Facts.”

Thank goodness we have the leadership of entertainment industry elites to show us the way toward peaceful, reasoned and solution-oriented dialogue. Where would we be without their hasty, awkward, angry and ignorant rhetoric? I think my sharp tongue just pierced my cheek…who else can I blame for my own actions? Shall I virtue-signal some more so I can win a medal in the “Oppression Olympics” and then give it away to someone I deem to be more deserving…or should I do something constructive and useful?

Since Mr. Trump is the President for the time being, my hope – as previously expressed – is that he follows through on some of his biggest campaign promises, and moderates the most controversial and extreme ones. Personally, I am very supportive of tax cuts (corporate and personal), term limits for Congressional Members, and School Choice driven by parents. All are controversial to someone in some way, but they’re all necessary to creating meaningful positive change. School Choice is bad for the teachers’ unions and the Democratic Party but offers genuine hope for inner city families yearning to break the cycle of violence and poverty.

No one is above criticism, especially those who volunteer for political office. My sincere hope is that the White House slows down and does a more mature, thorough and professional job as it moves forward. Tactically, why rush things and issue sloppy and incomplete Executive Orders? Haste makes waste.

Oh, how the status quo has started to shake at its core. Canada will have its turn, too, after France, The Netherlands, Germany, Italy, Poland and Hungary…with yet another “Greece fire” ready to trigger the alarms in the crowded theatre. The dark horse of populism gutted out an amazing “kick” in the final stretch of the Brexit vote, and has excellent financial support and tactical coaching for future races.

In my opinion, the success of populism depends on its various leaders’ ability to distance themselves from the genuinely dark elements on the fringes of their support base. This is the best political ad I have ever seen…it resonates elegantly and powerfully with the spirit of the age, in an obvious attempt to focus on the positive messages connected to LePen’s cause. Recent riots in France are serving to amplify this message…over-efforting creates countervailing forces.

Long-time readers are unsurprised by these events. Martin Armstrong’s Economic Confidence Model (ECM) has obviously been correct yet again: we’ve passed the peak of confidence in government. The non-stop hysteria around all things “Trumpian” is a formidable distraction for anyone focused on becoming or remaining financially independent. The negative energy of our public discourse is causing widespread battle fatigue and stress, and (almost) nobody makes optimal decisions under high stress.

Most of us have our “fight, flight or freeze” instincts triggered…very similar to investor responses during the 2008-9 financial crisis, except that more investors appear to be more influenced by their Fear of Missing Out (FOMO) than Fear of Loss of Capital. This observation inspired an article and a workshop. Last weekend, my colleague Randy Balkenstein and I participated in Michael Campbell’s World Outlook Financial Conference, with excellent attendance at our “Intelligently Investing Lump Sums” workshops. You can view a condensed video of this workshop by clicking here.

One of the “diamonds” uncovered in this media-driven war on free speech is – for me – the very calm, respectful and articulate Dave Rubin . This self-described “progressive liberal” recently discovered that his love of personal liberty forced him to re-think his political allegiances. My hope is that more people like him will emerge; we need people like him to lower the intensity and raise the intelligence of public discourse on political issues. The two videos linked in bold above are well worth the time investment.

One of the most challenging elements of writing and editing material for any audience – especially for a discerning audience with a rapidly shrinking attention span – is being disciplined and humble enough to say only what is absolutely necessary. This practical constraint is a yoke upon all who step into the public forum, and frustrating for those who crave nuance and subtlety – audience and presenter alike. This modern reality is clearly juxtaposed to what we do…which requires time.

Our professional expertise -and passion – is the collaborative creation, real-time implementation and ongoing management of our independent-minded Clients’ wealth management plans. In part, this requires us to listen and think both fast and slow, to reflect and distill the core principals driving our Clients’ decision-making (their Life Goals™) and to work in partnership with Clients in their quest to become and remain financially independent. It also requires us to constantly filter and discard endless streams of trivial information, so we’re left with actionable wisdom.

In an effort to bridge the chasm between communicating both fast and slow, we’ve made the decision to begin the process of mapping, creating and producing a series of videos shorts on both time-sensitive and timeless topics related to comprehensive holistic wealth management. We look forward to sharing more on this project as we progress.

And we’re edging ever closer to the launch of our Socrates-based investment platforms. We have tentatively scheduled a webinar for Saturday March 25th at 11:15 am (Mountain Time) to explain more on how our Portfolio Managers will utilize Martin Armstrong’s system. We will have limited space available for this event, and you can reserve your participation by simply replying to this email with your name and other contact information.

Patience, discipline and compassion are accretive to your wealth, health and happiness – so focus on these.

Cheers,
Andrew H. Ruhland, CFP, CIM
Founder, Integrated Wealth Management Inc.

Pointed Questions for a New Advisor

Selecting a new wealth management firm for your investment accounts can be stressful. Following are some very specific questions you should ask of any new advisor you are considering hiring. The advisor should be able to answer these questions without advance notice. You might want to copy and paste these questions into your own document for reference purposes.

Questions about the Advisor’s Services and Business Structure:

  • Besides access to investments, what services do you provide? (E.g. Financial Planning, Tax and Retirement Planning, Collaboration with Accountant and/or Estate Planning Lawyer, Life and Health Insurance Services, Parent Care & Health Planning, etc.)
  • How many client families do you currently serve?
  • What’s the maximum number of client families you will work with?
  • How many people do you have in your team? What’s your business’s succession plan?
  • If we become clients, how often would we meet in person, conference call, etc.?
  • What are your professional designations and experience?
  • Where do most of your new clients come from? Referrals from related bank branches, referrals from clients, content-based marketing?
  • How are you paid? Commissions, hourly fee, or fee-based?
    • If commissions, how much (%) and how long does that keep me in those investments?
    • If fee-based, what are your fees and how do they scale down as the size of our portfolio grows or we bring over new money?
  • What are your minimum investment amounts for a new client family?
  • What specific attributes of your advisory business differentiate you from competitors? How exactly do these differences benefit me? Please be specific.
  • Are you free to share your own original ideas or research, or those from independent research sources?

How would your friends and clients describe you re: being more of a mainstream thinker and advisor, versus being an independent thinker and innovator?

  • Are you familiar with Martin Armstrong? Please share your views on his work, etc.
  • What are your views on the safety and investment potential of long term govt. bonds?
  • How are my accounts protected from theft or fraud?

Questions about the Advisor’s Firm:

  • Does your firm have investment banking operations (aka corporate financing relationships) with any public securities issuers?
    • If yes, please explain exactly how we are protected from conflicts of interest created by these investment banking relationships. Are any of these securities issuers represented in any of your portfolios?
  • Does your firm have proprietary investment platforms like mutual funds or separately managed accounts?
    • If yes, what % of your clients’ investments are in these proprietary investment choices? If over 10-15%, why such a high %? Are there any incentives (financial, recognition, educational) for recommending proprietary investments? Do you own shares of the company?
    • If yes, how does this affect your objectivity in respect of your firm’s proprietary investment offerings?
  • What pressures do you have from branch or senior managers in respect of your average revenue per client?

Questions about the Investment Managers the Advisor Recommends for Clients:

  • Are your investment managers Fiduciaries? Would our accounts be considered to be under Fiduciary Care, or is our risk framed by industry “Suitability Requirements?”
  • Given the low interest rate environment, what specific strategies and investments do your managers use to increase yield in the non-equity portion of our portfolio, without taking on unnecessary capital risk?
  • Do your managers typically hold more than 40 stocks in their core equity portfolios?
  • How free are your managers to make significant adjustments to country, asset class and sector allocations in order to take protect and grow our capital…or are they restricted in terms of the changes they can make?
  • How do your managers deal with risk and reward in the currency markets?
  • Do your managers actively use option overlay strategies in your equity portfolios?
  • What are the risk management parameters in place on the securities your managers select, or is it more buy and hold?
  • Can you please provide a summary of your clients’ investment performance?
  • How much flexibility is there for your portfolio managers to make higher allocations to high growth sectors such as precious metals, energy, technology, etc.?
  • Do your Portfolio Managers use independent research sources, or only those from the firm’s research department?
  • Are your Portfolio Managers familiar with Martin Armstrong’s Socrates/ECM™ system? Are they both willing and able to incorporate Socrates™ into how they manage my portfolio?
  • How often do you (the advisor) communicate directly with the people who make the day to day investment decisions for our portfolio? Can I speak directly with the portfolio manager? If yes, how often?
  • Given that wealth creation and preservation is firstly about avoiding wealth destruction, how exactly will you protect our nest-egg from catastrophic losses whenever the next major financial crisis starts to unfold?
    • Are they willing and able to fully “de-risk” our portfolio when necessary?

We look forward to participating in the upcoming 2017 World Outlook Financial Conference, including presenting information-packed Personal Finance Workshops. We hope to see you there.

Cheers,

Andrew H. Ruhland, CFP, CIM

Founder of Integrated Wealth Management in Calgary

www.integratedwealthmanagement.ca

What I Learned at Martin Armstrong’s Orlando Conference

Last week I attended the Institutional and Technical Analysis sessions at Martin Armstrong’s World Economic Conference in balmy Orlando, along with the Chief Investment Officer of one of our discretionary Portfolio Managers from Toronto. This trip was the most recent step of my 22 year project of bringing Marty’s precision models into how our Clients’ money is managed.

martyface

The three most important takeaways were: we’re on the right track, most people using the Socrates system as a standalone are still challenged, and Socrates is a very precise tool best used by skilled hands. Here’s a bullet-point summary:

We’re on the right track:

1) Marty’s major forecasts around currency allocation, gold, stocks and government bonds have been exceptionally accurate, so our Client portfolios are well –positioned, and ready for what lies ahead

2) Trump’s election does NOT change the bigger picture long-term trend directions, but he may help to steepen/accelerate a few of them, like:

  • capital inflows to the $USD, stocks, etc. by virtue of proposed reductions in corporate taxation
  • rising bond yields based on promises of massive infrastructure spending that will need to be financed with additional debt…pushing the U.S. closer to the crest of the slippery slope

3) The fact that Trump’s election and some of his early Cabinet appointments have shaken things up in virtually every major Establishment institution (EU, UN, MSM, the Fed, et al) probably means he’s headed in the right direction. In particular, the MSM snowflakes are proving why their trust ratings are bunched up down around their collective ankles

4) I met conference attendees from about 10 different countries, and a clear theme emerged: very successful non-mainstream people have become successful mostly because they understand that being non-mainstream is not “extreme.” The masses are – by definition – wrong at the extremes, but they create the trend in between. Being an independent thinker means that you are willing and able to “ride the herd without becoming one of them,” and you don’t really care at all about being popular

  • Most people who are using Socrates as a standalone platform are having trouble:

1) Marty’s ECM and Socrates works very effectively when used properly, but it’s a new and different framework with its own language

2) Socrates does not prevent people from making foolish investment decisions based on their own biases and psychological weaknesses

3) The people who are using Socrates unsuccessfully have some common traits: insufficient diversification, undisciplined trade execution, hyper-active trading frequency, and very sloppy risk management

  • Socrates is a very precise tool best used by skilled hands.  As one of Marty’s team explained it, a wise parent wouldn’t give a sniper rifle to a child…because they can hurt themselves and others without the proper training and maturity. Specifically:

1) Socrates is NOT supposed to be used as a day-trading platform

2) Socrates should be used in tandem with an existing disciplined framework, including proper diversification, disciplined trade execution, moderate trading frequency, and with very disciplined risk management in place

3) Our managers will utilize Socrates to make sure Client portfolios:

  • Are on the right side of every major currency move
  • Are over-weighted in asset classes that have the best risk : reward potential
  • Avoid major losses from high-risk asset classes, and possibly benefit by shorting these asset classes
  • Click here to find out more about how this works https://integratedwealthmanagement.ca/special-video/

Our team is looking forward to hearing Marty again at Michael Campbell’s upcoming World Outlook Financial Conference, as well as sharing our insights with attendees during the Personal Finance Workshops.

Patience and discipline are accretive to your wealth, health and happiness – so focus on these.

Cheers,

Andrew H. Ruhland, CFP, CIM

Founder and President

Integrated Wealth Management Inc.

Dealing with Lump Sums

Are you sitting with a large cash position and wondering what to do? Are you feeling anxious over the market conditions based on the U.S. election, and not sure about making the next move? You’re not alone, and this article can help.

deer_in_the_headlights

Whether the cash came from the sale of a business or real estate, a pension roll-out or stock option exercise, an inheritance or simply seeking shelter from the next anticipated market downturn…having a large amount in cash is both comforting AND anxiety provoking.

The older you are and the bigger the lump sum, the more challenging this becomes. It’s easy to over-think the situation and end up feeling like the proverbial “deer in the headlights” especially if you’re concerned about market valuations and event risk.

A wise mentor once told me that “when your principles are sound, they can never fight you,” so in our firm we’ve designed principle-based processes to deal with almost every major situation that clients experience over a lifetime…we live the mantra “process provides protection.” Maybe that’s why intelligent and analytical people are drawn to us? What I know for certain is that this methodical process dramatically reduces stress and improves the longer-term outcomes. Here it is:

  • Assess how this lump sum needs to complement the other investments you currently have, including these questions:
    1. How confident are we in how the rest of our portfolio is being managed, especially regarding risk management?
    2. Does our current financial advisor have all the tools necessary to deal with future challenges and opportunities?
    3. If you’re self-managing, do you still want to have the primary responsibility for day to day investment decisions?
    4. If you have your portfolio divided between multiple advisors, have you considered the potential cost savings, portfolio coordination benefits and additional tax deductions that you could be missing out on?
  • Once you’ve carefully answered the questions above, and are comfortable with the asset mix and investment vehicles you’ll be buying into, we get to the most stressful part. Just like eating an elephant, we recommend doing it one bite at a time. Here’s how we implement:
    1. Decide on how many tranches you want to divide your lump sum into. It could be 3 or 4 equal portions, or another number you’re comfortable with.
    2. Decide on the frequency of getting the subsequent tranches of capital invested, perhaps monthly or every six weeks.
    3. Add tactically to each asset class as it experiences its own natural dip
    4. Be ready to pounce. Crisis contains danger for the unprepared, and opportunity for the well-prepared and patient types. If a major buying opportunity materializes during the systematic implementation process described so far, that’s the best thing that could possibly happen. You get to buy under-valued assets while others are selling them in a panic, thus taking advantage of “Mass Psychology” instead of being the victim of it.
  • Once fully implemented, monitor and adjust as necessary, using the risk management parameters and systems that you’re comfortable with. If someone else is managing the portfolio, get clarity on exactly how they manage downside risk.

This process works like a charm, but you need to follow it systematically.

Patience and discipline are accretive to your wealth, health and happiness, so focus on these.

Cheers,

Andrew H. Ruhland, CFP, CIM

Founder and President

Integrated Wealth Management Inc. in Calgary

Never ever count out the dark horse

Hangover, shock, disbelief, anger, damaged egos…all part of the aftermath of the U.S. elections. Oh, and a very different tone on mainstream TV shows.

Martin Armstrong’s models got it right once again. 3 out of his 4 models called a Republican victory with > 80% voter turnout. This is yet another confirmation that Armstrong’s computer is truly special.

US equity futures plummeted as the Trump victory started to emerge last night but have recovered most of the declines just as markets are poised to open.

The very best thing about Trump’s victory last night is that “the little guy” who has been disenfranchised by the elitist power structure exercised their democratic franchise to push back against the corrupt political classes.

Trump himself is still a buffoon in many ways, but he and his team proved that they had superior focus, determination, and commitment. Most importantly they understood the widespread feelings of powerlessness within the very divided states of America. And they did it with less than 25% of the media spend than the other side.

I’m quite enjoying watching the talking heads on every US network choke on their humble pie. It’s also interesting to note that they actually understand the populist essence of this victory. Joe Scarborough on MSNBC just admitted the arrogance and advocacy role of the mainstream media.

The US has now elected one of its two deeply flawed candidates to be President and the hard work begins…with roughly 49% of the electorate hating him. We’ll see what he does with 2 years of Republican majorities in the House and Senate.

Never EVER count out a dark horse. They have depth, desire and focus…and they thrive on the challenge of beating the odds.

It’s interesting that Hillary hasn’t spoken publicly yet. Was she asleep before the final results or perhaps having one of her legendary meltdowns? Or maybe “putting out a contract” on Donald Trump like she has with roughly 66 previous political opponents? Will she contest the results?

Cheers,

Andrew

A bold prediction…we’ll see how it turns out

First of all, I wish to express my sincere regrets that the U.S. elections are such big news even here in Canada…collectively it feels like we need to be deloused and scrubbed with disinfectant.

I’ve been pretty clear in my various newsletters, articles and conversations that I believe that neither of the two leading Presidential candidates are worthy of the Office they seek. To be brutally frank, both candidates have disgusted me in ways that were unthinkable until about 16 months ago. I cannot cast a ballot, nor do I endorse either candidate.

I’ve unequivocally stated – ad nauseam for some – that whomever wins, America loses. And whomever loses, they will call for vote re-counts and accuse the other side of voter fraud. I’ve already seen numerous stories of fraud in respect of counting early voter ballots, and that story will explode. Neither candidate can be accurately characterized as a gracious loser.

I believe the Whitehouse will be occupied starting in late January 2017 by the candidate whom the largest block of voters “fear and hate less.” Will that be one misogynist or two?

I’ve also stated that the popularity of Trump is not based (primarily) on Trump himself even though I’m sure The Donald secretly wishes it were so…it’s because he has aligned his campaign with an incredibly large segment of the U.S. electorate who feel – for a variety of reasons – that the corruption and elitism of the U.S. system needs to be cleaned up, and that Donald Trump is brazen enough to actually do it. It’s elitism/status quo versus populism and necessary change.

Whether or not he could or would follow through on his promise to “drain the swamp” of Washington, D.C. is quite another matter, but Trump has become the candidate who gives many people their first real hope of actually dismantling the expensive corruption that pervades all federal institutions – regardless of which party is in power in Congress or the White House. Trump gives many disempowered people the hope of actually being empowered. He’s not particularly articulate, but this serves to endear him to many people who have learned by experience to distrust people who are too articulate, too polished, and got too rich while working in “public service.”

One of the great things about this election is the fact that the mainstream media (excluding Fox and Rebel.Media) has been outed as being horribly biased, scheming, misleading, disingenuous and downright dishonest colluding cheerleaders for the Clinton campaign. They have basically given the Clinton campaign a free ride, and the polls are still incredibly close. This speaks to the weakness of the Clinton campaign, which has spent most of its time trying to suppress investigations and actively manipulating media coverage of the MANY Clinton scandals…and more recently trying to run out the clock.

The article below is from Breitbart, one of several “deplorable, Alt-right” news sites that I visit in order to counter-balance the bias of CNN, MSNBC, ABC/NBC/CBS/GLOBAL/CBC and most of traditional print journalism. Mainstream journalism has openly shown that it is part of the Establishment itself, so they won’t report honestly on their own corruption. This includes Facebook, Twitter and Google…all of whom have been caught red-handed suppressing trending stories or search results that hurt Clinton or favor Trump.

http://www.breitbart.com/2016-presidential-race/2016/11/07/vegas-oddsmaker-predicts-brexit-victory-trump/

With almost every influential celebrity, media outlet and popular technology platform on her side, shouldn’t this already be a blow-out in Clinton’s favor? Even Hillary admitted in one video a month ago that she should be ahead by 15 % points.

This is definitely a change election, and the article above is a very thorough explanation of how Trump just might pull off a dark horse victory, similar to the surprise “Leave” victory in the Brexit vote back on June 23rd. Our managers are watching today’s market surge which has been attributed to traders’ belief that Clinton will win…and are prepared for all outcomes.

To me, this feels a lot like the market top that happened back in May 2, 2011 when the Obama administration proudly announced the capture and killing of Osama bin Laden, which makes me very cautious. The principles of Mass Psychology don’t apply only to the investment markets.

What I do know with certainty is that public confidence in government will continue to decline in the U.S., and this trend is just getting started. It’s good for U.S. stocks because the U.S. is the relatively-strongest economy in the world, and investors have more confidence in corporations than they do in governments. Eventually it will also be VERY good for precious metals investments as well.

Like everyone I discuss this with, I am happiest that the election is finally about to be over with…though the consequences will be felt for years to come. Buckle up, everyone…this is just about to get REALLY interesting.

Namaste 🙂

~ Andrew

Special U.S. election note October 29 2016

Yesterday afternoon, FBI Director James Comey dropped a bombshell into the middle of the last 11 days of the U.S. elections. Will it be enough to tip the balance? Can the mainstream push any harder on the scales than they already have been?

Over the last 3 to 4 months some friends (?) and family have fallen silent due to my continued non-support of Hillary Clinton, based on my extensive research into her 30 + years of corruption, and my ongoing criticisms of the incredible bias in the mainstream media.

Some have suggested I was being “extremist” for taking this stance. I acknowledge that in addition to dealing with our own life challenges, many of us have been overwhelmed by the intense negativity and shallowness of the mainstream media analysis re Donald Trump, while completely ignoring, denying and dismissing credible evidence of massive corruption throughout the entire Democratic party apparatus.

It has now been revealed by hard video evidence that the Democratic party and Hillary Clinton herself were all aware of and – in fact directed – the incitement of violence at Trump rallies, on the ground voter fraud, and that the person who directed all these activities has visited the White house 342 times including 47 meetings with Obama. This has been widely ignored by the mainstream media…being dismissed as yet another “right wing conspiracy.” It’s has now been proven true.

I have also been extremely clear that I think that Donald Trump is NOT a worthy candidate either. I have never defended his integrity or style and have openly questioned his debate skills and called out his lack of discipline and massive/fragile ego. I have also written and repeated verbally that whomever wins the White House, America loses. I stand by my position.

I felt so strongly about this that I wrote this article about taking action before the volatility starts for the Money Talks website, and even did a sponsored email to Alberta subscribers to Rebel.Media.

This is the the beginning of the acceleration of the decline of confidence in government. Corruption is everywhere, and this will hasten the rise in interest rates based on investors demanding a higher risk premium for lending to government. This election is a referendum on whether or not systemic corruption is acceptable…in a democracy, you get the government you deserve.

Of course if Donald Trump wins on November 8th and we experience market volatility, it will be blamed on Donald Trump. If Hillary still wins on Nov 8th, and then gets indicted and possibly even charged, America will be thrown into chaos. Will this be attributed to “yet another vast right wing conspiracy” or will the mainstream media finally admit that they have been bought and paid for, and perhaps admit their role in lying to the world based on their own ideological framework?

These unprecedented times will further expose the weaknesses of traditional passive investing strategies, and the shallowness of fundamental-only security analysis. This confirms the wisdom of adding Martin Armstrong’s Socrates(TM) system into the investment processes of our already-excellent Fiduciary Portfolio Managers.

I’m looking forward to hearing Martin Armstrong’s perspectives on the future, while learning more about how to best utilize his models to protect and grow client capital. I must admit that I’m not thrilled about travelling to Orlando on Tuesday November 8th.

If you would like to explore how we can be of service to your family, please respond to this note. Please feel free to forward this note to friends or family who are concerned as well.

Patience, discipline and compassion are accretive to your wealth, health and happiness – so focus on these.

Cheers,
Andrew H. Ruhland, CFP, CIM
Founder, Integrated Wealth Management Inc.

Andrew Ruhland on MoneyTalks Radio

Andrew Ruhland was recently on MoneyTalks radio with Michael Campbell speaking about wealth management in 2016

Shelter BEFORE the storm

lightning stormMoney Talks listeners and readers have heard and read recent very clear expressions about pending equity market risks in the U.S. (from Martin Armstrong) and Canadian markets – especially in the Energy sector (from Josef Schacter). But what should you actually do? Should you seek shelter before the storm?

In 2008, many investors were either caught unaware of the systemic risks, or chose to ignore warnings of a major market crash. The financial pain from that (passive or active) decision to do nothing was profound; pain burns deep emotional scars that can be difficult to reverse. The theme of this article is simple: don’t make the same mistake again.

To be clear, our firm’s view is not an apocalyptic one. Our consistent investment thesis for the last 5 years has been (and still is) focused on over-weighting equities versus fixed income, U.S. equities versus Canadian and global equities, and tactical over-weights to stronger currencies like the $USD. Precious metals miners will eventually be very attractive as well. This thesis is the direct result of great work by our Portfolio Managers, including watching global capital flows (et al) via Martin Armstrong. This has resulted in our clients enjoying very solid risk-adjusted returns.

With the ongoing integration of Armstrong’s Socrates™ system into our managers’ processes, we remain optimistic about investment performance going forward. I’m certainly looking forward to attending the next WEC with Marty in Orlando on November 10th and 11th, and tapping into his models and systems to help enhance portfolio results going forward.

Given the downside risks (seasonality, U.S. election chaos, rising war-risk with Russia, stagnant global GDP, et al), each reader should carefully consider if it makes sense for them to lock in recent gains in stocks, bonds and currencies for a portion of one’s portfolio. This decision should be made BEFORE any major downturn begins, and should be made coolly and calmly in candid discussions with your trusted financial advisor – someone who really understands your goals, circumstances and “financial pain threshold.”

If your concerns are (even politely) dismissed as being irrational and you’re told to simply do nothing, then that in itself should be cause for a “mindful pause.” After all, it’s your money and dealing thoughtfully and respectfully with the emotions that surround your nest-egg is a critical part of the role that a great advisor plays in the journey toward achieving your Life Goals™. Tax consequences should also be part of the discussion, but remember the old age, “Don’t let the tax tail wage the investment dog.”

Minimizing the volatility during periods of market turmoil is something that most investors think is an implicit part of the investment management services that Canadians pay for. It should be, but the ability and willingness of large investment managers to be nimble within capital markets is shackled by three important limitations:

  1. The standard Prospectus (or equivalent) of most mutual and segregated funds typically requires each fund to be > 95% fully invested within their mandate;
  2. Mutual funds impose minimum holding periods and limit the frequency that an investor can make in-out-in tactical moves; and most importantly
  3. Canada’s investment management landscape is dominated by the major chartered banks, a few massive insurance companies, and several big mutual fund companies. Besides having an obvious bias toward riding through all short-term volatility, big money managers have a little-known practical problem: if they make major defensive moves by selling down a significant portion of their portfolios, they can actually cause turmoil by “spooking the market.” Translation: being too big limits their ability to be nimble. The result is that their size can actually work against your best interests.

There is a practical solution to this limitation, which you can find by clicking here: https://integratedwealthmanagement.ca/special-video/

Remember as well, that if you do decide with your advisor to partially “de-risk” your portfolio temporarily, that you need to be willing (and able) to buy back in again during a period of market panic. Don’t worry about timing this “perfectly,” because you’re improving your long-term returns as long as you get back in at a lower level than where you took money off the table.

Cheers,

Andrew H. Ruhland, CFP, CIM

Founder & President of Integrated Wealth Management Inc. in Calgary

Solution to Low Interest Rates

Arithmetic is beautiful, elegant, and stunningly objective. Sometimes the truth of our own arithmetic is unpleasant…but if you can accurately identify the core problem to be solved, then you can get to work on actually solving it.

So let’s start with some typical retirement Arithmetic. If you need $50,000 of pre-tax income from your portfolio, at a 3% yield you need $1.67 million. At a 5.5% return (including current income AND capital gains), you need $909,090. The difference is significant, and affects when you can retire, or how much you can receive in retirement income.

Are you just going to sit back and take this “yield abuse” dished out on mature investors by Central Banks who’ve helped drive down interest rates, or recognize the problem and get it solved? Let’s get to work.

Having been indoctrinated for decades about how “safe” top-rated government bonds are, we find ourselves at or very near historic low yields, with lots of risk to your principal if you’re investing in long-term government debt. It’s happened before, at least a couple times in your grandparents’ lifetime. The problem is real, the results are serious, only the timing is unknown.

As Jim Dines says, “Over-efforting creates countervailing forces,” so don’t ignore volatility of market prices simply because an investment has a high yield. Focus on total return, with yield (interest and dividends) as part of the overall return, along with prudent capital gains.

Below is a compilation of strategies for dealing with the low interest rate environment from the IWM stable of discretionary portfolio managers…not specific recommendations for the reader. All portfolios are managed within the framework of an Investment Policy Statement (IPS), which is a best practice among Fiduciaries. “Process provides protection,” and here’s an intelligent process:

  • Step 1: Seek Higher Yielding Fixed Income alternatives to Government Bonds, with a focus on credit quality, including:
    • Corporate Bonds, preferably under 5 years to maturity to be able to reinvest at higher rates in the future
    • Preferred Shares with a guaranteed floor-rate reset provisions, ideally at rates 3% or more > 10 year govt. bond yields…and tax efficiency
    • Commercial Mortgages, with Loan:Value ratios > 75%, and
    • Structured Real Estate Trusts
  • Step 2: Consider “higher than traditional” allocations to High-Yielding Equities. The old rules about no more than 30 or 40% equities in retirement are outdated. Consider the following:
    • Blue-Chips are boring and effective. Utilities and other sectors like telecoms and consumer staples with stable cash flows and great dividend coverage are a start
    • High Yielding Corporate Bonds behave more like Equities, so an ETF helps diversify away individual credit risk but not sector risk. HYG, JNK and XCB are a few well-known options that can fit the bill, but see notes on timing and currency below
    • Alternatives like structured Asset-based Lending and Factoring pools yielding 6 to 8%
  • Step 3: Dynamic Strategies. Markets are fluid and dynamic, and management of your portfolio should be as well:
    • Writing Covered Calls on your blue-chip equities to add 1 or 2% to your current yield
    • Active Currency management, sometimes to grow but most importantly to protect
    • Buy volatile assets like stocks and high-yielding corporate during pullbacks, not just because you have cash
    • Think of cash as a tactical asset class, not a strategic one, unless you’re already drawing income during retirement
    • Lock in gains with a disciplined risk management framework. Be one of the strong hands who are selling to the late-comer weak hands when valuations are stretched. You never go broke by taking a profit, and great assets can be bought back later at lower prices.

Increasing the yield within your portfolio almost always decreases its volatility, and the less volatile your portfolio is, the less likely you are to do something that is financially destructive like selling volatile assets near panic lows.

And remember, everything included in your Investment Plan should be consistent with the Life Goals ™ expressed in your Wealth Management Plan.

– Andrew H. Ruhland, CFP, CIM

Founder and President, Integrated Wealth Management Inc. in Calgary