Nathanomics

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10 Things You Should Absolutely Ask Your Financial Advisor.

(Part 1)

by Nate Oeming, CFP®, AIF®

Published:  April 1, 2019

 

Either you’ve been saving and investing, or you know you really need to start. Either way, you’re going to need financial advice you can trust. So how can you possibly know if your planner is the best person to see you through to retirement? Ask these ten questions and you’ll find out quickly if you’re a good match.

 

  1. Are you a Fiduciary? You want this answer to be YES. Why? Because Fiduciaries are legally obligated to give you advice that is in your best interest. Advice you are paying for! There are plenty of advisors out there who are not true fiduciaries, and thus they are not bound to present you with investment options that may have lower fees, etc.
  1. How do you get paid? It’s important to know what motivates your financial advisor. Fee based advice (a percentage of your total assets) is preferable because your success is their success too. Getting paid on trades simply motivates an advisor to trade a lot, no matter how well your investments are performing. Expert advice is well worth the cost. Just make sure you’re getting value that exceeds it!
  1. Do you (or your firm) have any legal or regulatory issues? We’ve all heard nightmare stories about people who’ve worked hard all their lives but couldn’t retire when they wanted to. It makes good sense to ensure that the person planning your financial future is on the up and up. Start by looking them up on the FINRA BrokerCheck website. And you can check CFP.net to find out if they’re a certified financial planner too.  
  1. How long have you been doing this? When it comes to trusting someone to build a roadmap to your dreams, you want someone who is very familiar with the territory. If they’ve been at it for 10 or more years, you can be confident they’ve seen enough situations to guide you successfully through. No two client’s needs are the same, but an experienced planner will have a historical perspective and take into account all of your individual goals.
  1. Is Your Financial Planning Comprehensive? A good financial advisor knows they can’t plan your retirement in a vacuum. After all, success isn’t just about growing your funds. A good advisor will look at your entire financial picture and fine-tune your plan wherever it’s needed. For example, tax strategies, insurance planning, income strategies and cash flow and asset preservation. Wealth is built in many ways, and a comprehensive plan betters your chances of success.

 

Read Next Month’s Article for five more questions you should absolutely ask your advisor. At the Oeming Group in Eugene, we’re happy to schedule a time to discuss these and any other questions you may have. Come have a cup of coffee and ask us anything! http://www.theoeminggroup.com

Securities and advisory services offered through Commonwealth Financial Network®, Member FINRA/SIPC, a Registered Investment Advisor.  Fixed insurance products and services offered by The Oeming Group. The Oeming Group 2282 Oakmont Way Eugene, OR 97401 541-228-9924

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Smarter than Mr. Market? Probably Not.

by Nate Oeming, CFP®, AIF®

Published:  March 1, 2019

 

People say the stock market has had a volatile year.  The Dow Jones Industrial Average and the S&P were both in correction and on pace for their worst December performance since the Great Depression in 1931.

However, shifts in the market shouldn't be cause for panic. During times of volatility (real or perceived), seasoned investor Warren Buffett (as well as The Oeming Group) says it's best to stay calm and stick to the basics, buy-and-hold for the long term.

So, during downturns as well as periods of accelerated growth, "heed these lines" from the classic 19th century Rudyard Kipling poem "If" which help illustrate this lesson:

If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs ...
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting ...
If you can think – and not make thoughts your aim ...
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you ...
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it.

Market downturns are inevitable. Using Berkshire Hathaway as an example, we can see how price randomness in the short term can obscure long-term growth in value. For the last 53 years, the company has built value by reinvesting its earnings and letting compound interest work its magic. Berkshire Hathaway went through many steep share-price drops, but the most recent was from September 2008 to March 2009, when shares plummeted 50.7 percent.  As of this writing, since March 2009, the shares are up 383%. 

Major declines have happened before and are going to happen again. No one can tell you when these will happen. The light can at any time go from green to red without pausing at yellow. Rather than watch the market closely and panic, success depends on keeping a level head. Market downturns may offer extraordinary opportunities to those who are not handicapped by debt.

This brings up another pillar in The Oeming Group’s philosophy: Never borrow money to buy stocks. There is simply no telling how far stocks can fall in a short period. Even if your borrowings are small and your positions aren't immediately threatened by the plunging market, your mind may well become rattled by scary headlines and breathless commentary. And a fearful mind will not make good decisions. Staying true to your long-term goals, and being disciplined in following your plan, is always the smartest way forward.

Securities and advisory services offered through Commonwealth Financial Network®, Member FINRA/SIPC, a Registered Investment Advisor.  Fixed insurance products and services offered by The Oeming Group. The Oeming Group 2282 Oakmont Way Eugene, OR 97401 541-228-9924

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2018 - Year in Review.

by Nate Oeming, CFP®, AIF®

Published:  February 1, 2019

 

Two thousand eighteen was perhaps the strangest year I've experienced in my career as a financial advisor. Most importantly, it was one of the truly great years in the history of the American economy, and by far the best one since the global financial crisis of 10 years past. Paradoxically, it was also a year in which the equity market could not get out of its own way.

It is almost impossible to cite all the major metrics of the economy which blazed ahead in 2018. Worker productivity, which is the long-run key to economic growth and a higher standard of living, surged. Wage growth accelerated in response to a rapidly falling unemployment rate. Household net worth rose above $100 trillion for the first time, yet household debt relative to net worth remained historically low. Finally—and to me this sums up the entire remarkable year—for the first time in American history, the number of open job listings exceeded the number of people seeking employment.

Earnings of the S&P 500 companies, paced by robust GDP growth and significant corporate tax reform, leaped upward by more than 20%. Cash dividends set a record, in fact, total cash returned to shareholders from dividends and share repurchases since the bottom of the Great Panic reached $7 trillion.

Despite all this good news, the equity market had other things on its mind. Having gone straight up without a correction throughout 2017, the S&P 500 came roaring into 2018 at 2,674.  This excitement was dashed in February with a 10% correction, followed by several months of consolidation. The advance resumed as summer waned, with the Index reaching a new all-time high of 2,931 in late September. It then went into a savage decline, falling to the threshold of bear market territory: S&P 2,351 on Christmas Eve, off 19.8% from the September high. A rally in the last week of trading carried it back up to 2,507, but that still represented a solid six percent decline on the year, ignoring dividends. Two thousand eighteen thus became the tenth year of the last 39 (beginning with 1980) in which the Index closed lower than where it began. At the long-term historical rate of one down year in four, that’s just par for the course.

Uncertainties such as Fed policy and global politics were weighing heavily on investor psychology as the year drew to a close.  However, for what it’s worth, my experience has been that negative investor sentiment juxtaposed against the resulting equity price weakness have usually presented the patient, disciplined long-term investor with enhanced opportunity. Readers know that I believe Warren Buffett is the G.O.A.T. when in comes to investing, and as the wise Oracle of Omaha wrote in his 1994 shareholder letter, “Fear is the foe of the faddist, but the friend of the fundamentalist.”

Dear readers, I invite you, and indeed encourage you, to raise with me any questions prompted by this very brief summary. That's what I'm here for.

Securities and advisory services offered through Commonwealth Financial Network®, Member FINRA/SIPC, a Registered Investment Advisor.  Fixed insurance products and services offered by The Oeming Group. The Oeming Group 2282 Oakmont Way Eugene, OR 97401 541-228-9924

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Optimism.  The ONLY Realism.

by Nate Oeming, CFP®, AIF®

Published:  January 3, 2019

 

It appears to me that society is extraordinarily skillful at perceiving negativity – the hole rather than the donut, a glass half empty instead of a glass half full.  Lately, I’ve found people’s thinking to be beyond skeptical and possibly borderline delusional.  My father and I were talking about this recently and he said, “In my 40 years in the business, I don’t think I’ve ever seen people so morbidly focused on the negative while so much around them is so overwhelmingly positive”.  I find this, to say the least…curious.
 
Here are a few summaries of late-breaking headlines from the real world:
 
  • For the very first time in this century, all the major economic theaters of the world are growing, and at an accelerating pace.  We are thus virtually in a Goldilocks period of coordinated global growth.
  • The U.S. unemployment rate in April was 4.4%, down from 9.9% in April 2010, long after the Great Recession was held to have ended.  Plus, part-time workers are increasingly able to find full-time work. 
  • Americans’ balance sheets are healthier than they have been in decades. Household net worth in surged above $95 trillion, with both single-family home values and financial assets making new all-time highs.
  • Corporate cash as a percentage of current assets remains about twice what it was heading into the stock market collapse of 2000.
  • Combining elements of the two bullet points above, we may observe that never in American economic history have the balance sheets of banks, corporations and households been simultaneously stronger.
 
I can go on and on like this.  There's nothing the least bit ambiguous, let alone curious, about any of it.  These are the incontrovertible economic and financial facts of our situation today.  What I do find curious is consumers’ abilities to set all these benchmarks aside, and instead, obsess about every headwind (real or imagined) that will somehow wreak havoc on society.
These include, but are certainly not limited to: (a) crypto-currency; (b) tariffs and trade-wars; (c) mid-term elections; (d) fed-rate hikes; (e) “historically unprecedented overvaluation” in the stock market; and last but certainly not least (f) Trump - whatever that controversial monosyllable is held to imply.
 
If there were ever a moment to be transcendently optimistic about our capacity to do good and to prosper mightily, surely this is that moment.  If there were ever a moment to be optimistic about America's and the world's economic future, with the cloud, big data, AI, robotics, 3D printing, fracking, etc. – this is that moment as well.
 
The Oeming Group believes a good advisor is the antidote.  I have often said to clients that on any given day, we may be the only vibrant voice of long-term rational optimism you will hear.  Moreover, when the equity market happens to be down twenty percent, I guarantee you that we will be that lone voice.
 
This attitude takes a resoluteness which many lack.  We take our responsibility as your advisors seriously.  To wit, we don’t fake it.  We will never successfully inoculate people with a faith in the future if we don’t possess that belief ourselves.  Because If we allowed fear to manifest into confusion and pessimism, our clients would fail to reach their potential.
 
Securities and advisory services offered through Commonwealth Financial Network®, Member FINRA/SIPC, a Registered Investment Advisor.  Fixed insurance products and services offered by The Oeming Group. The Oeming Group 2282 Oakmont Way Eugene, OR 97401 541-228-9924
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Raising Financially Independent Children.

by Nate Oeming, CFP®, AIF®

Published:  December 27, 2018

 

When it comes to retirement planning, most parents fail to realize that their children have a significant role to play on their “retirement team.” While addressing children’s needs is a core element of most financial plans, parents tend to focus on education costs rather than also helping their kids learn to achieve financial independence.

This challenge can be daunting for many clients. After all, it’s hard enough for parents to decipher financial concepts if it’s not their area of expertise. But learning these concepts can create tremendous opportunities for parents to strengthen their relationships with their children by teaching them about money. Here are some important tips:

1. Create a rapport with your kids about money. Just as married couples can run into problems if they don’t cultivate communication skills about financial issues, parents can run into problems later in life if they don’t involve their children in financial conversations early on.

This doesn’t necessarily mean discussing salaries with kids, or the price of your house. It means looking for ways to help your children understand the concept of costs in everyday ways. Try letting them hand money to the cashier or take them to the bank to open their own savings account or let them sit with you when paying bills online.

2. Encourage your kids to build their own savings and spend wisely. Nothing is more empowering for kids than learning that they can save their own money and make their own spending decisions. In my view, a child’s progress toward building their own savings is an excellent barometer of their overall progress toward financial literacy.

Getting your kids to this point, however, involves intermediate steps – like communicating clearly that they’re expected to earn their own money, first through chores, and later through outside jobs. This process can be just as tough on you as it is on your kids, but a good advisor can help by providing ongoing encouragement and reassurance.

3. Be a teacher, not a giver. Many successful parents pride themselves on their ability to give their kids the world. In fact, the desire to be a great provider is often a central and commendable driver of their success. But it’s crucial to know that this impulse can be harmful to your children if it leads to shielding them from important financial concepts and realities.

4. With entrepreneurial kids, stress the importance of profits—not just revenue. Once your child understands their role in controlling their own finances, they may want to start a side business. Obviously, you should celebrate this type of entrepreneurial spirit, but probably shouldn’t think your job is done just because your kids are doing yard work to pay for college.

If your child is earning money mowing lawns for example, try helping them deduct the cost of gas out of their revenue. While it may be tempting to absorb these costs, doing so can create unrealistic expectations of easy success for your kids while denying them the opportunity to learn valuable lessons about how a business functions.

If you’re looking ahead to retirement, remember to consider that your children can be a major asset in helping you achieve your goals.  Teaching your kids to be part of your family’s financial team from an early age is a great way to start. As trusted financial experts, advisors at The Oeming Group can add tremendous value by helping you meet this challenge head-on. To learn more, give us a call or schedule a cup of coffee with us today!

Securities and advisory services offered through Commonwealth Financial Network®,  Member FINRA/SIPC, a Registered Investment Advisor. Fixed insurance products and services offered by The Oeming Group. The Oeming Group 2282 Oakmont Way Eugene, OR 97401 541-228-9924

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Dread.  It's not an Investment Philosophy.

by Nate Oeming, CFP®, AIF®

Published:  December 5, 2018

 

Perhaps the most important thing we teach our clients is the critical difference between having an investment philosophy and having a market outlook. Successful investors work from a philosophy rather than an outlook. Unsuccessful investors work from a market outlook, which is what ultimately renders them less than ideal results.

The challenge we face is that the entire world conspires to make investors believe that the essential question in investing isn't "What are your goals?" but rather "What is the market going to do?"

However, even clients who’ve been taught this critical distinction, and who claim to have accepted it when the sun is shining, will often default to their old system of thought during a significant market swing. This helps to explain why equity mutual funds remain in net liquidation through one of the longest bull markets on record (see last month’s article). Fear remains the dominant presenting emotion in many or most of our interactions with investing.

Here are 4 ideas to help you from falling victim to unfocused dread:

1. The only sane definition of "money" in the long run is "purchasing power." The "safety" of an asset class should therefore be measured by the lifetime/multigenerational investor in terms of the extent to which it defends purchasing power.

2. Equities have a peerless long-term record of preserving and enhancing purchasing power, far superior to that of bonds. The Ibbotson/Morningstar blended equity portfolio produced a real return more than two and one half times that of bonds. When one factors in taxation (immediately and at ordinary income tax rates on bonds interest, postponed until sale and at capital gains rates on equity appreciation), the real return gap widens even further in favor of equities. Hence, in terms of building and preserving real wealth over time, equities are safer than bonds.

3. The premium returns of equities can be purchased, in an efficient market, only by one's willingness to accept equities' incremental volatility. Fortunately, the premium returns abide, while the volatility evanesces.

4. Unfortunately, the declines cannot consistently be predicted, much less "timed." Thus, the only way one can be sure to capture all of equities' permanent return is to ride out all of equities' temporary volatility. As demanding and strenuous as buy-and-hold must surely be at times, it remains the only way to be sure of getting the full permanent returns of equities.

If we start with this bedrock philosophy, we can turn all dread—focused or unfocused—aside. The simple fact is that dread can never be an investment policy, because the action dictated by dread—fleeing the market—can never be a valid investment strategy.

The impulse to flee the market in advance of, or even during, a significant market decline is both very human and very irrational. This is exactly the reason The Oeming Group focuses on behavioral management first in order to achieve success in portfolio management. If you’re looking for sound investment strategy and an advisor to help you weather the storm, schedule a cup of coffee with us today!

Securities and advisory services offered through Commonwealth Financial Network®,  Member FINRA/SIPC, a Registered Investment Advisor. Fixed insurance products and services offered by The Oeming Group. The Oeming Group 2282 Oakmont Way Eugene, OR 97401 541-228-9924

 

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Preparing for Medicare Enrollment.

by Nate Oeming, CFP®, AIF®

Published:  September 11, 2018

 

It’s a few months before you turn 65. You check the mail and find the box overflowing with materials from companies discussing Medicare enrollment, Medicare Advantage plans, and other pharmacy-related plans. The amount of information is overwhelming—how will you possibly sort through it all and figure out what you need to do?

Although many third-party providers offer legitimate products and services, it’s often difficult to differentiate between these marketing materials and official mailings from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. As the Medicare enrollment period approaches, it’s best to map out a plan ahead of time to avoid making poor decisions.

Steps to take before you turn 65:  To help ensure that you make the best Medicare choices, it’s a good idea to check the following items off your list before you turn 65.

Set a reminder.  When you turn 64, mark the calendar for your Medicare enrollment period. If you already receive social security or Railroad Retirement Board benefits, you will be enrolled automatically in Part A and Part B coverage on the first day of the month you turn 65. If not, you may enroll during the three months before your 65th birthday or during the three months after you turn 65. If you don’t sign up for Part A, Part B, or both when you are first eligible, you can enroll between January 1 and March 31 every year, but you may be required to pay a penalty for late enrollment.

Research Medigap and Medicare Advantage plans. It’s wise to look into how Medigap and Medicare Advantage plans work and decide if either type of plan would benefit you. Here’s an overview:

  • Sold by private companies, Medigap policies—also called Medicare Supplement Insurance policies—can help pay for some of the health care costs that original Medicare doesn’t cover (e.g., copayments, coinsurance, and deductibles). Medigap policies require you to pay premiums, which are standardized according to federal and state laws.
  • Much like HMOs or PPOs, Medicare Advantage plans (sometimes called Part C or MA plans) are health plans offered by private companies approved by Medicare. These plans provide Part A (hospital insurance) and Part B (medical insurance) coverage, not original Medicare. You can search and compare Medicare Advantage plans on the Medicare website at www.medicare.gov/find-a-plan/questions/home.aspx.

Seek advice from a trusted resource. When faced with an array of Medicare choices, it’s easy to become confused and frustrated with the enrollment process. Unfortunately, many people aren’t aware of the decisions they will need to make or the factors they should consider. By planning ahead, you’ll pave the way for a smooth transition to Medicare.

 

This material has been provided for general informational purposes only and does not constitute either tax or legal advice. Although we go to great lengths to make sure our information is accurate and useful, we recommend you consult a tax preparer, professional tax advisor, or lawyer.

 

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The Sky Is Not Falling.

by Nate Oeming, CFP®, AIF®

Published:  August 20, 2018

 

I, like tens of millions of Americans, have an iPhone. There is a stock market tab on my phone, which gives me current prices on several indexes, as well as a smattering of current “news” headlines from around the financial ethos. Except that the “news”, often contained thinly disguised items of commentary, or the predictions of some more or less obscure “expert.” Then it occurred to me that I was seeing a pattern, a method to the madness, in which these often quite weird headlines were targeting me on my iPhone.

The guilty headline at the genesis of my musing was, “The S&P 500 just logged its longest stretch in correction territory in nearly a decade.” It appeared on the financial clickbait site MarketWatch on May 1. When I clicked on the headline, the “story” appeared under an image of –what else? A bear.

Fascinated, I began writing down the more pronounced negative headlines from my phone and continued the process for a few days. 

Here is a smattering of what I discovered:

  • The big squeeze: why the stock market's bull run faces its biggest threat in years
  • Watch this for early signs the US is tipping toward a debt crisis, says Deutsche Bank
  • How to ‘get out of the way' of a bubble bursting for stocks
  • Stock volatility and changing Fed policy have killed the ‘buy the dip' mentality
  • Big bear market for stocks lasting several months appears to have begun
  • Dow poised to extend longest losing streak in a year as earnings fail to excite, bond yields rise
  • The market will crash this year—and there's a good reason why
  • Jeremy Grantham forecasts rough seven years for equities, bonds
  • Morgan Stanley warns markets the best times may be at an end
  • Mobius says there's a 30% correction coming for U.S. stocks
  • 75% of the ultra-rich forecast a U.S. recession by 2020, says JPM survey

So surely there must be a bit of cherry-picking here. Surely, there must have been roughly as many countervailing positive stories on any given day? I found ONE. Am I suggesting that somewhere there’s a dark, sinister force that’s deliberately selecting the most Armageddon-like headlines to place on the iPhones of already terrified people? Well, something like that. And that’s not all. My point is to reinforce, with as much ferocity as I can muster, that investors today are being water-boarded with negativity, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and365 days a year by financial media whose only interest is in gaining your click.

At the Oeming Group, we may very well be the single voice of rational optimism in your day. But we’d like to be more than that. Our advisors believe in showing you the antidote to financial hysteria and click bait frenzy.  Start by considering these two questions:

  • Given that your goals have not changed, in what way would you want to alter your long-term, plan-driven investment strategy (if you were to believe the fear-driven headlines)?
  • If a financial apocalypse fails to materialize, what would be your plan for catching up on the returns you'd have missed by then?

 

If your advisor isn’t asking you these types of questions, or if you ‘re trying to navigate the map to retirement all on your own I hope you will consider giving us a call. We’re always here for you with a free cup of coffee and second opinion.

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Smart Summer Jobs for Kids: Part 2

What to do with the Money?

by Nate Oeming, CFP®, AIF®

Published:  August 1st, 2018

 

Earning It. Managing It.

Last month I talked about ideal summer jobs for kids. No matter what your age, from the 85-year old retiree to the fussy toddler, work can give us a sense of purpose and a feeling of self-worth in our lives. Having some income and assets allows us the luxury of freedom and flexibility.

Once your child begins making some money, they can also be taught how to manage it appropriately.  Kids don’t learn good money habits from friends or at school. The fact is, most kids learn about money by watching their parents.  And with the current state of pensions and social security, it’s becoming even more important to help our children understand the value of their hard-earned cash.

Here are two simple ideas The Oeming Group believes can help guide kids into making wiser choices with their money.

 

1) Make it real.

The money your child earns over the summer should be budgeted and utilized. Have them bring you their paystub, or ask the employer to share with you how much the child was paid. Then, talk with your child about their goals, and help them to establish a budget. E.G., saving for a new video game, buying concert tickets, and spending money on food. Don’t forget to plan for taxes and SAVING.

The sooner you introduce kids to the idea of spending less than they make and saving, the better off they will be as adults.  And that’s the goal, isn’t it - raising kids to become functioning adults?

 

2) Use financial products.

Money should be earmarked for specific goals and then placed into appropriate vehicles for those goals. Tempting as it may be, cash should not be placed in the back of a sock drawer or under the mattress.  As soon as you can, open a savings account in your child’s name. When they receive money from allowance, gifts, or a wage-earning job, add some to the account. Go over the monthly statement with your child and show them how compound interest works to grow the money.

 

For extra encouragement, offer to make a matching contribution for every dollar your child saves. Say your son has his heart set on a new bike but doesn’t have enough saved for the purchase. Consider putting in an additional dollar for each dollar that he saves, until he reaches the amount needed for the set of wheels.

You can even open an investment account and help your child purchase investments from companies they tend to utilize. Depending on your child’s interests, there is likely a company available who operates in a field they are familiar with. Together, track the investment and see how it’s doing.  Or, consider opening an IRA or ROTH IRA for your child.  There are specific rules around these accounts, but the extra years of potential tax-deferred growth will be very useful in your child’s future.

Any of these ideas can be easily implemented as your child matures and earns. If your kids are like mine, they won’t likely listen to you, but they will listen to someone else.  So feel free to contact our office for a no-obligation conversation about kids and money.  We’ll do our best to help you and your kids make smart choices. Contact us at theoeminggroup.com.

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Smart Summer Jobs for Kids.

by Nate Oeming, CFP®, AIF®

Published:  July 5th, 2018

 

So, your teen wants to make some money this summer? Or maybe your children want cash, and you've told them they need to work for it? Whatever your situation, here are some ideas and opportunities for your kids to earn money over the next few months.

 

Ages 4 to 10:  Jobs to consider include raking leaves, gardening, taking out the trash and cleaning their room. Really, these are the allowance years. An allowance can help teach them how to recognize coins (though they're also more likely to lose them), add up their earnings, and save for a goal.

Issues to consider:  Safety, of course. If your child is going to set up a lemonade stand, a carwash, or help run the family garage sale, etc., make sure you're around as they may be interacting with strangers. As well, assist them in reaching tools, rakes, and other equipment.

 

Ages 11-13:  Kids of this age can do everything mentioned in the last category – raking leaves, yard work – plus a bit more. Dog sitting might work out well, or perhaps unsupervised or supervised baby-sitting depending on your child's maturity and the age of the child being watched. lawn mowing is often cited as a good job for this age group, but the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children be at least 12 years old to operate a walk-behind power mower or hand mower. Kids should be 16 before operating a riding lawn mower, according to the academy.

Issues to consider:  The law. Even if your kids are mature, at this age they generally can’t work behind an actual counter ringing up charges at a cash register, or work in an official capacity

 

Ages 14-17:  Your teen can theoretically apply for almost any job, but make sure it's safe and the company has a good reputation. Retail and food service are popular industries for teens to make money. Jobs as lifeguards and camp counselors are nice for those who can snag a position. If your teen doesn't need the money, volunteering might be the way to go. It’s also a good time to get CPR training which is required by some jobs (lifeguarding) and a plus in others (babysitting).

Job interviews are also a great way to learn about the real world. Kids must think about what they're going to wear, and young people can never be underdressed. They’ll learn how to respond to interview questions, including trick questions. Make sure they absolutely follow-up with the thank-you note after the interview. But be careful not to hover. Sometimes swooping in to rescue the child sends a message that your teen can't think for themselves.

Issues to consider:  Safety and the law, as mention above. Plus taxes! If your teen gains employment, this will likely be his or her first experience with being on a payroll and reporting to the Internal Revenue Service. While this is new, it doesn’t have to be hard.

 

Check out our follow up article next month when we talk about smart choices for your child’s summertime income. At The Oeming Group, we can assist you and your children with all your financial needs. To learn more about us, just visit theoeminggroup.com.

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Spring Cleaning.

by Nate Oeming, CFP®, AIF®

Published: April 16th 2018

Spring is in the air, which for many means waking up from hibernation and cleaning out the clutter. But don’t forget about clearing the cobwebs from your “financial house,” too! Even if you recently took a look at your finances as you prepared for tax season, there still may be some items that could use your attention. The following list highlights five commonly neglected areas.

Dust off your credit report and score

If you’re planning to buy a home or make another major purchase, a good credit rating can be critical. Businesses also inspect your credit history when evaluating applications for insurance, employment, and even leases. With so much in the balance, it’s important to review your credit report for accuracy at least annually. Plus, it’s a good way to catch signs of identity theft.

Revamp your emergency fund

If you don’t have one already, starting an emergency fund should be on your spring cleaning to-do list. The size of your fund depends on your particular situation and factors such as:

  • Family size
  • Current debt
  • Insurance coverage

The standard is to set aside three months of expenses in case you or a family member encounters the unexpected, such as losing a job. Because it may take longer to find employment or to recover from a financial setback in the current economic environment, if you already have an emergency fund, you may want to increase your savings to six months of expenses.

Revisit credit cards

Review the terms and conditions of your credit cards to ensure that they’re still in line with what you originally signed up for.

Go paperless

If your home office is overflowing with statements and receipts, switching to paperless transactions is a pretty simple way to streamline your life—and help the environment. Besides minimizing desktop clutter, online financial management may offer access to tools that help you become more efficient and organized.

  • Online banking. Switching to electronic statements can conserve tons of paper and save you loads of time and trouble. You can track your balances in real time on your bank’s website and transfer funds from your desktop.
  • Electronic bill payment. You can arrange online payments with your bank or through various service providers. Bills from public utilities and mortgage and credit card companies often highlight the availability of this option.
  • E-delivery of investment statements. We encourage you to sign up for electronic delivery of your account statements and trade confirmations. Going paperless is a simple, secure, and eco-friendly way to receive your documents.

Do an overall financial review

Take the pulse of all your accounts regularly. This includes reviewing your insurance policies, annuity contracts, retirement plans, and educational savings accounts. Are you on track to achieve your goals? Do you need to make adjustments? Are your beneficiary designations up to date? Be sure to discuss any changes in your situation with us so that we can update your financial plan accordingly.

Although these financial spring cleaning to-dos may take a few hours, checking them off your list will free you up to enjoy the season—and ultimately save you time throughout the year.

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How to Create a Wealth of Security and Opportunity.

by Nate Oeming, CFP®, AIF®

Published: February 14th 2018

 

On Wednesday, May 4th, 2011, my daughter, Caitlyn Grace Oeming, was born. My father, Jack, and I, have reflected on that day over the years. That day changed the way we both look at life and wealth.

For me, life suddenly had a greater purpose. The instinct to protect her, and to provide her with stability and opportunities became my personal goal. Suddenly, I knew that my choices would have a lasting impact on someone other than myself.

To my father, who, as a baby boomer is by default part of the biggest, most affluent generation in history, Caitlyn’s birth both clarified and solidified the way he thought about personal wealth. Caitlyn is the first-born child from his first-born son. The life-changing event of becoming a first-time grandparent illustrated how his life would ultimately affect hers, and his grandchildren to come. No matter how long or how eagerly one looks forward to becoming a grandparent, nothing fully prepares you for the experience. A new generation of Jack’s family had begun.

Nearly 70% of the wealth in our country has been earned, invested and saved by a generation that is now becoming, or has become, grandparents. Conventional wisdom amongst baby boomers is to spend down their assets, or as Jack says, "using up all their money before using up all of their heartbeats.” But as my father approaches his golden years, he now feels that is a somewhat empty, and perhaps even selfish way to view wealth. 

As my siblings and I have grown into brave adults with our own dreams and goals, Jack began thinking about what his wealth might mean to us. And, what it might mean to the legacy we can then leave to our children. Rather than looking at money as a finite resource, he began thinking of wealth as a river that is capable of growing deeper and wider as it flows downstream to the next generation.

Caitlyn, along with all the other laughing, wide-eyed miracles of her generation, clarified his view of wealth as multigenerational. He sees the river widening and deepening, in ways unimaginable. He can’t know the future glories of the world his grandchildren will live in any more than his own grandfather could have imagined Jack and I video chatting with his granddaughter from the other side of the country.

He is also aware that he must be careful not to let his affluence, or even his good intentions, weaken his children’s ability to both provide for themselves and deepen the river. He is careful to insist that his children, and his grandchildren, will stand on their own two feet and make their own way in the world.

My father says he is no longer just an investor. He is a riverkeeper.  He doesn’t claim to own the river, but is acting merely as its steward. He will draw water from the river as he grows older. He’ll preserve it with an eye toward the days when Caitlyn, and her sister and cousins, are tending it for their grandchildren.  Having been taught by the riverkeeper, I will do the same.

Financial advisors who care for numbers more than they care for people usually believe that money is simply money.  But advisors who teach to their clients the values and skills of the riverkeeper know that money is security and opportunity, and therefore, it is love. They see financial planning as a process of widening, deepening, and thereby extending, the life of the river. Call us, and let us help you with your river.

© The Oeming Group.  All rights reserved.

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The Financial Lure of Wanting More.

by Nate Oeming, CFP®, AIF®

Published: November 8, 2017

 

In the Book of Genesis, God gives Adam and Eve dominion over all the earth, forbidding them only from tasting the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil. And for a moment, their innocence is perfect.

Then, being only human, they succumb and bite the apple. This is the original transgression, and when they have committed it, everything bad about earthly life comes rushing into the world: sin, shame, toil, sickness and death. They just made one mistake, but it was the one and only thing they were forbidden to do.

I think that, in a strange way, good investing is a little like that earthly paradise. Because when it's done right, long-term investing is always seamlessly aligned with the lifetime goals of the investor and his or her family. There is a perfect integrity about goal-driven investing. It is an appropriate means to a healthy end of financial peace in the current generation, and important legacies to the generations that follow. And so long as the portfolio remains the servant of the plan, harmony reigns.

But then, being only human, we start listening to the blandishments of the serpent of markets that say: you can beat this thing. You're smart. You don't have to rely on the cardinal virtues of personal initiative, hard work and thrift for your fortune. You don't have to be bound by the tiresome practice of faith, patience and discipline. You can find more lucrative strategies than asset allocation, diversification and rebalancing. You can outperform.

For the serpent is everywhere. Most Americans get a high percentage of their financial input from electronic and print journalism. But financial journalism profits from the toxic assumption that you should be trying to beat the market; to select the mutual funds with the highest returns; to time your entrances into, and exits from, the markets; and to switch asset classes, market sectors and even countries in an actively opportunistic way.

The critical issue here is that “outperformance” isn't a financial goal. So, what is? A true financial goal is; an income we don't outlive in a three-decade retirement full of dignity and independence; meaningful legacies to our children, delivered in tax-efficient ways; or the ability to be of significant financial help in the education of our children.

Goal-focused investing gives the investor a basis on which to consistently act and adjust, fine-tuning your way to financial peace. Market-focused investing leaves you reacting to the fads and fears of the moment. And simply put, you can never react your way to financial security, nor to superior returns.

Patience is perhaps the rarest quality in the American psyche. And impatience, is even more true of investors as a class. The Oeming Group counsels our clients that the essential characteristic of a successful portfolio is that it is in alignment with what’s historically appropriate to your most deeply cherished life goals. And in building such a portfolio, we advise the best course of action is to practice faith, patience, and discipline in your plan. In our experience, this approach to investing is what leads to a genuinely successful life outcome.

 

© The Oeming Group.  All rights reserved.

 

 

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So, who's buying stocks?

by Nate Oeming, CFP®AIF®

Published: September 7, 2017

 

It seems to me that there is quite a bit of pessimism surrounding the value of thestock market lately.  Everywhere I turn, I seem to hear about people who don’t want to buy stocks or who seem to think that because the market is hitting new highs, it must in fact be over-valued.

All this pessimism begs the question, if everyone doesn’t like stocks, then why is the market going up?  Who’s buying all the shares?

Stocks Blog
 

 

This graph places corporate share purchases in a much larger context. Namely, that corporations have not merely been by far the largest buyers of common equities since the Great Panic burned itself out, but that in fact U. S. households and institutions have over that same period actually been net equity liquidators. Overall, they have missed this entire bull market.

Institutions (Yale, Harvard, and other similar entities) have been cascading into “alternatives,” with disastrous results.   Purblind performance-chasers that they are; they shunning mainstream equities for lack of sophistication.

With respect to the individual investor, Gallup's annual Economy and Personal Finance survey of 18,000 U.S. adults, conducted in April, found that only 54% of Americans reported owning stocks. This is down from 62% going into the crisis in 2008, and almost matches the lows of 52% which Gallup found in its 2013 and 2016 surveys. Equity ownership was down across all major subgroups of the population except those age 65 and older.  Ironically, these people would be classified as investors that need more fixed income.  They own equities en-mass because they have seen this movie several times before.

What do corporations know that almost nobody else seems to know? They certainly know that there'll be corrections along the way, and even a bear market or two and when those come, the Oeming Group and our clients will experience them as opportunists rather than as victims, joyously remembering that during bear markets, common stocks are returned to their rightful owners.

Meanwhile, with most Americans either still shunning equities or simply being terrified of the equities they own, the “alternatives” delusion metastasizes all around us.  Here is a wonderful trifecta of headlines and subheads from Financial Advisor's weekly online digest of “alternatives” news, dated July 18:

 

 

UBS Invests in iCapital, Initiates New Partnership.

UBS will leverage iCapital to automate its alternative investment offerings within its wealth management business.

 

Blackstone Establishing Major Alternatives Presence With Advisors.

Blackstone executives note that more advisors want to diversify after eight years of a bull market.

 

 

And my personal favorite:

 

Liquid Alternatives May Be A Good Choice Now.

The risk of a market correction has increased, and liquid alternatives are a good diversifier and can act as shock absorbers.

So, here’s when I’m going to get bearish - when all the wirehouses and all the product manufacturers shut down their retail alternatives shops, and there are no ads for gold on Fox News for twelve months.

 

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The Big Mistake (How to deal with financial regret.)

by Nate Oeming, CFP®AIF®

Published: July 3, 2017

 

As a financial advisor, it’s my philosophy that the relative performance of your investments has very little to do with your long-term, real-life financial outcome.  Where you end up financially is more determined by your behavior. In other words, the critical issue isn't what your investments do; it's what you do.

Recently, it seems that more investors are bent on swinging for the fences in order to make up for their previous mistakes. Many are trying to compensate for missing out on the great bull market of the past eight years, by making riskier and larger investments. But trying to predict the market is impossible, and this investor behavior is like committing suicide in order to keep from getting killed. In essence, it’s the act of doubling down on The Big Mistake.

Imagine you’ve been cruising along with a nicely diversified portfolio of quality equities when a bear market strikes. Assuming it is an average post-WWII bear market, it takes the general level of stock prices down by about a third over a period of roughly 15 months. (The Oeming Group can show you a table of these episodes).

Then the media portray this ordinary market hiccup as the end of economic life as we know it, remember 2007? At some point (usually very close to the trough) investors sing the four-word death song “This time it's different”. Investors panic and sell, trying to stop a loss. When enough investors have done this, the market resumes its long-term advance.

Between 2007 and 2009, this pattern asserted itself when the broad equity market declined 57%. And on March 1 of this year (2017), just eight days before the anniversary of the 2009 panic bottom, the S&P 500 reached a level that was more than 350% of that closing low. Compounding the problem, investors either regard the subsequent recovery as a head-fake or decide to wait for “the pullback” before re-entering the market.

This is doubling down on The Big Mistake. Having given in to panic, the investor now finds him or herself driven nearly mad by regret.  But trying to make up for lost time by chasing returns far above the equities' trendline, an investor cannot merely fail to catch up, but may lose a significant portion if not all his remaining capital. There are any number of readily accessible vehicles for doing this, among them:

  • buying on margin
  • speculating in commodity, interest rate and foreign exchange futures
  • alternative investments
  • narrowing your portfolio down to a very few very hot growth stocks
  • short-term trading

If you’re unaware of these terms, you have my permission to thank both heaven and your advisor. Suffice to say, for the moment, they are extreme methods of turning investing into gambling, with the inevitable result.

The best way to fix The Big Mistake is to sit down with a trusted advisor, review your past mistakes, then map the proper course of lifetime focused investing with steady progress. Experience has taught me that it’s never too late to make the best of your situation. A good financial planner should be your steadfast guide. I’m happy to have that conversation with you.

Partial content © May 2017 Nick Murray. All rights reserved. Used by permission.

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The Importance of Keeping a Historical Perspective in Your Plan for the Future

by Nate Oeming, CFP®AIF®

Published: May 9, 2017

 

Back in 1998, technology stocks going public (IPO) were all the rage.  The most egregious example of this mania was theglobe.com going public.

In a gross understatement, underwriters priced the stock at $9. The very first trade in the aftermarket was at $87, and the price subsequently rose to $97, before closing that day at $63.50. At 606%, that was a new record increase over its offering price of any IPO in history and the record still stands.

In 2000, the founders were forced out of the company. By 2001, the stock's price was down to ten cents a share. After having never made a profit, theGlobe.com ceased operations in 2008.

I'm guessing you have long since forgotten the dot.com mania of which theGlobe.com is simply the most ludicrous example, not least of all because the intervening two decades have been so horrible.

It's going on seventeen years since the dot.com bubble burst, and the intervening years have seen the 9/11 terrorist atrocities, two bloody wars in the Middle East, Enron, the accounting scandals, the Ponzi scheme of Bernard Madoff, the subprime mortgage crisis, the longest and deepest recession since World War II, Lehman Brothers' bankruptcy, the AIG bailout, the failure of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the implosion of the Eurozone, the first-ever downgrade of U.S. Treasury debt, the “flash crash” of 2010, Brexit—and, oh yes: the two worst bear markets in stocks since the 1929-32 experience.

We have been running this gauntlet now for almost two decades, getting tomahawked repeatedly by market volatility. It's always something…however, there is one detail that needs to be mentioned.  The day theGlobe.com went public, the S&P 500-Stock Index closed at 1,126. Today, April 13th, 2017 it closed at 2,328, up over 100% in the intervening eighteen years.  All of this without including dividends. Is it possible that the theGlobe.com's IPO to Brexit, and everything in between—was just noise?

I’m simply asking you to consider that equity prices haven't usually gone down a whole lot when most investors were terrified that they might do so at any moment, and for any reason. Historically, the equity market has gone down most seriously only when investors have become convinced that it can't go down at all.

You may have just had or are scheduling your annual review with your financial advisor. I would encourage you to add this item to your agenda—just to get some longer-term perspective on the market cycle. If your advisor doesn’t seem to have that perspective, consider getting a cup of coffee with me.  Perhaps together we may arrive at a better sense of where we may really be on that cycle.

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Why Diversify?

by Nate Oeming, CFP®AIF®

Published: February 24, 2017

 

If you are a client of ours, you know that we have spent time talking to you about diversification.  The importance of it, the implementation of it, and the monitoring of it.  What we haven’t done though, is give you a good visual of what diversification looks like. 

diversify

 

Imagine you are about to board a plane with no tail fin, missing landing gears and no communication devices for the pilots to talk to the air control tower.  How would you feel about your flight?  I think it’s safe to say you wouldn’t be thrilled about your prospects.

A truly diverse portfolio includes assets from all types of categories as well as investments in multiple countries. 

The next time you board a plane, think about this graphic and why The Oeming Group should be a part of your life.

Source: http://www.businessinsider.com/boeing-787-dreamliner-structure-suppliers-2013-10

If you want to know more about The Oeming Group and how we can help, feel free to contact us for a free consultation.

Diversification does not assure a profit or protect against loss in declining markets, and diversification cannot guarantee that any objective or goal will be achieved.

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Is Your Advisor A Fiduciary?

by Nate Oeming, CFP®AIF®

Published:  February 6, 2017

 

President Donald Trump is attempting to halt one of former President Barack Obama’s regulations, hated by the financial industry that requires advisers on retirement accounts to work in the best interests of their clients. Trump’s order will give the new administration time to review the change, known as the fiduciary rule.  

If you think you misread that sentence about "requiring advisers to work in the best interest of their clients" wrong, think again.  It's been a long held secret of the industry that financial service professionals don't have to act in the best interest of their clients; instead they are held to a standard of suitability rather than fiduciary care.  This may seem like a parsing of words, but in the world of proprietary products it has become a big deal.  

This doesn't mean that all advisors that aren't held to a fiduciary standard don't work in their client’s best interest.  It's just important that the consumer know what they are getting into when entering a "professional" relationship.

Here a short list of questions you might consider asking your advisor:

 

How often do you monitor my investments?

What is your investment philosophy?

How much am I really paying?

Are you a fiduciary?

 

If you want to know more about The Oeming Group and where we fit into this equation, feel free to contact us for a free consultation.

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New Website

by Nate Oeming, CFP®AIF®

Published:  January 6, 2017

 

We are pleased to announce the launch of our new website, www.theoeminggroup.com. With the intention of better serving your financial needs, we have designed this site to provide quick and efficient access to our information and services, and it is now mobile friendly.
 
We are committed to working with you to achieve your financial goals, and we hope that the new website will only enhance our relationship. Please visit the site often, as we will frequently update content and continue to improve our online presence.
 
Please note: Any browser Bookmarks or Favorites you previously set up to pages on our website will now go to a designated welcome page on our new site. Therefore, you will need to remove them and recreate them from the new pages.

If I can be of service or answer any questions you may have, feel free to contact me at 541-228-9924.

 

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A Christmas Carol

by Nate Oeming, CFP®AIF®

Published:  December 23, 2016

 

On December 19th, 1843 Dickens published A Christmas Carol.  Since its initial printing, it has never been out of print.  My favorite scene in the book takes place in Scrooges nightmare; it is where all his assets are transformed into “a mere United States’ security.”
 
To understand the magnitude of this statement, you have to possess an understanding of world history.  Back in the 1840’s America was a capital-starved emerging market, and when the wealthiest of Britain sought profitable investments across the pond, they didn’t look to the USA. The severe depression of the early 1840s, caused U. S. state debt to plunge fifty cents on the dollar. Many states defaulted on their debt and even U.S. government bonds were shunned everywhere.
 
George Peabody, an American banker who had vouched for so many of these loans, said in those days that whenever he met a British investor, he felt shame. However, inside 10 years, Peabody had built a partnership with Junius Spencer Morgan, the father of John Pierpont Morgan, and they would finance the emergence of the United States as the most powerful economy in the world. Pierpont, born the year that Andrew Jackson finally killed America’s central bank, would die the year the Federal Reserve was created. That at his birth America was in financial chaos, and when he died, he had built the most powerful economic engine ever conceived by man and not since replicated or improved upon.
 
Fast-forward about 100 years after A Christmas Carol was published; you’ll note that America appears to fall on many occasions, only to rise again to new and undreamed-of heights. America went from providing six billion of the seven billion barrels of oil the Allies consumed in WWII to abject dependence on a foreign oil cartel. It’s not too hard to find people who remember the days, specially 1968 when U.S. sovereign debt was unsalable in Paris, as Europe expected us to abandon the gold standard at any moment. Between that year, and the year I was born (1980), U.S. common stocks (adjusting for inflation) lost over 70% of their value. Most recently, we watched the entire global financial system go to the brink, driven by an implosion in the value of the American single-family home.
 
Even with all of this going on, the US is still the predominant economy of the world, with the values and dividends of our great companies setting records, and household net worth’s at an all-time high. Inflation-adjusted GDP was $2 trillion 100 years after Dickens published this story.   At the end of this year, the inflation-adjusted GDP will be just shy of $17 trillion.  This is an increase of eight and a half times, yet population has barely grown two and a half times. Surely this is the greatest leap in per capita GDP in the history of the planet. This does not however constitute the entire story of good news.  The S&P stock index has gone from 12 to 2,200, ignoring dividends. Equity values have increased 180 times, while the Consumer Price Index rose just fourteen times. U.S. common stocks have , despite all the instances of crisis, been the greatest generator of real wealth for the largest number of people that the world has ever experienced. This is all happening while equities continue to be the only asset class that fully captures human ingenuity.
 
Our core belief is that building a plan around your most deeply held and longest-term goals is the best way to build a fulfilled life.  It is from this  perspective we want to share with you and your families.  Therefore, we spend time trying to understand your goals so that we may deliver on our promise to always try to help you achieve those very same goals. We wish you the most joyous and peaceful of holiday seasons, and a healthy, happy and prosperous 2017.