News & Education

The Armbruster Capital Management News & Education section of our website incorporates articles, vidcasts, and newsletters specifically geared towards issues that our clients are facing today.

Are stocks and bonds skating on thin ice?

I’m not really a sports guy, but a famous Wayne Gretzky quote keeps rising to the top of my mind: “I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been.” Hackneyed? Yes. Insightful? Also yes. And, a particularly apt warning for stock and bond investors for today’s shifting economic environment.

Portfolio Review – Q3 2021 Newsletter

Stock market returns were effectively flat for the third quarter. July and August experienced fairly strong returns, but losses in September weighed on full quarter results. Mid-cap and small-cap stocks were slightly negative this quarter, but strong performance in the first half of the year has still provided attractive year-to-date returns.

A Sober Look Ahead – Q3 2021 Newsletter

Despite a weak September, the stock market has generally fared well of late. Returns have been strong year-to-date, and over pretty much any trailing period. There have certainly been bumps in the road, such as the COVID correction in March of 2020, but the last major disruption was thirteen years ago in 2008. While rising stocks are generally good, there can be too much of a good thing. We may be getting to that point, and the same may be true for the bond market.

Chris’s Corner – Q3 2021 Newsletter

Social Security is a topic that is sure to arouse emotions. The “entitlement” nature of it bothers some folks. Some just don’t like the thought of not working and surrendering their retirement security to the government. Others don’t believe it will be around since the Social Security Trust Fund is basically broke. Also, deciding when to take Social Security involves some uncomfortable topics, such as life expectancy. However, Social Security is really a good thing that should be part of a deliberate retirement income strategy. Spoiler alert: it will be there for you when you need it.

ACM VidCast – The stock market ahead: Inflation, Secular Stagnation, or Stagflation? – September 2021

Our latest InvestEd Vidcast discusses the current economic environment and thoughts about inflation, economist Nouriel Roubini and stagflation, and Larry Summer’s secular stagnation. While somewhat mutually exclusive, all three are possible in the coming years. None appear to be too rosy for investors and the stock market. We discuss each scenario and how to invest through what could be a challenging economic cycle.

Portfolio Review – Q2 2021 Newsletter

Investments returns were solid across all asset classes in the second quarter, as economic growth continued to rebound from last year’s pandemic.  U.S. stocks, international stocks, alternative investments, and bonds all generated positive returns.

Stone Ridge Alternative Lending Risk Premium Fund (LENDX) – Q2 2021 Newsletter

There has been quite a bit of activity lately for one of our alternative funds, and we thought it would make sense to provide an update.

The Stone Ridge Alternative Lending Risk Premium Fund (LENDX) buys small consumer, business, and student loans.  It does this through on-line lending platforms like Lending Club, Square, Sofi, and others.  These loans are made to high quality borrowers with average FICO scores above 700.  The interest rates on these loans are relatively high, as they are generally too small to be of interest to traditional lenders, such as banks.

Chris’s Corner – Q2 2021 Newsletter

Traditional retirement savings largely takes place within company-sponsored retirement plans, such as a 401(k) plan. The premise is simple: put money away directly from your paycheck and save money on taxes. However, for those with unique tax circumstances, Roth 401(k) plans are also available. The idea is the same as with a traditional 401(k), except that you don’t get a tax deduction when you make the contribution, and the money grows tax free thereafter and may be withdrawn tax free during retirement.

ACM VidCast – Stock Market Speculation and High Risk Strategies – May 2021

What do SPACs , NFTs, cryptocurrency , shortsqueeze, meme stocks, and WD-40 have in common? What could Bitcoin (BTC), Dogecoin (DOGE), or even Shiba Inu (SHIB) and household brand WD-40 possibly have in common? Join Mark Armbruster, CFA and Christopher Cebula, CPA in the latest ACM InvestEd VidCast to find out.

ACM VidCast – Investing: Hedging Inflation vs. Long-term Returns – May 2021

There are worrisome signs about inflation these days, but it is impossible to know for sure if it is coming. It is also very hard to hedge and can be costly if you are wrong. What about inflation protection by holding real assets such as commodities, gold, inflation-protected bonds or even real estate? Should we accept that inflation will be part of the investment experience, even if it causes some short-term disruptions? Join Mark Armbruster, CFA and Chris Cebula as they discuss the GDP, US debt, housing and consumer prices, and investing in times of inflation in the latest from the ACM InvestEd VidCast Series.

Portfolio Review – Q1 2021 Newsletter

The first quarter of 2021 was a solid one for stock investors, but not so great if you own bonds. However, for both stocks and bonds it was a period of transition, reversing trends that have been in place for many years.

Inflation on the Horizon? – Q1 2021 Newsletter

There is a lot of talk of impending inflation lately. Massive amounts of government stimulus during the pandemic have resulted in the largest rise in money supply on record, and the current administration promises far more in the future. Similar measures have been taken overseas, resulting in unprecedented global liquidity. Lots of money in the system, along with the reopening economy, will create a lot of demand for goods and services.

Chris’s Corner – Q1 2021 Newsletter

Some elements of the 2020 Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act have been extended into 2021. On the positive side, individuals who do not itemize deductions on their tax returns can still claim the $300 universal charitable deduction that was part of the original CARES act. Even better, the 2021 extension has doubled the amount to $600 for couples who file their tax returns jointly.

Compliance Corner – Q1 2021 Newsletter

We are in a highly regulated business, which causes a few headaches, but also offers our clients important protections. There are certain disclosures that we are required to make regularly regarding our policies and procedures, including

ACM VidCast – Factor Investing: Why doesn’t everyone use it? -March 2021

Factor investing is an investment approach that is deeply rooted in academic research. Using factors in investment portfolios can help dampen volatility, improve diversification and investment results. Join Armbruster Capital’s Mark Armbruster, CFA and special guest, Alex Botte CFA, CAIA from Two Sigma, as they discuss the attributes of factor investing in the latest from the ACM InvestEd VidCast Series. Learn what a factor is, how it relates to portfolio risk, and how it can improve portfolio construction. Warning – we got a little carried away and went over our typical ten minutes or less threshold.

Dow Jones Warning: 40,000 on the Horizon

The Dow will rise to 40,000 in the next 12 months. That’s not so much a forecast as it is a warning. Sure, a rising stock market may sound exciting, but too much of a good thing can pose eventual problems. And, if history is any guide, a quick jump to 40,000 is very possible, but so is a subsequent correction that could take the Dow to 18,000.

Portfolio Review – Q4 2020 Newsletter

Many are happy to see 2020 come to an end, but it was actually a pretty good year for investors. Just like every other aspect of life, the capital markets were a bit weird, but headline gains for both stocks and bonds were impressive.

Blue Light Special – Q4 2020 Newsletter

Stocks are trading at all-time highs and stocks of unprofitable companies seem to earn the largest gains. Technology, momentum, and growth are the order of the day. Is bargain hunting in such an environment a fool’s errand?

Chris’s Corner – Q4 2020 Newsletter

To convert, or not to convert, that is the question. While Hamlet dithered over trivial questions about life and death, the consideration of how to optimize the tax efficiency of your IRA is far more interesting and important, but it can also be just as tricky.

ACM VidCast – Stock Market Blue Light Specials: Growth to Value Rotation Opportunity? – December 2020

Is the growth to value stock market rotation just around the corner? Among the hot IPOs and the soaring technology stocks, there are still some underappreciated segments of the stock market that can be bought at reasonable prices, and there’s no flashing blue light to point out these stocks, but there’s an opportunity that could protect capital and also generate significant returns in the decade to come and avoid another “Lost Decade” of portfolio performance. Learn about the “Blue Light Specials” in value stocks.

ACM VidCast – ARKK Innovation Fund: Ride the Wave or Time to Bail? – December 2020

Quantitative factor analysis of ARKK ETF. In our latest ACM InvestEd VidCast we discuss the ARK Innovation Fund (ticker: ARKK) and it’s incredible price trajectory and increase in assets under management (AUM) during 2020. By examining factor exposures using the Fama French 5 factor model, Mark Armbruster, CFA and guest John Lyon, CFA try to break down Cathie Wood’s ARKK secret sauce, determine the drivers of the fund’s current rock star status, and what the future might hold.

ACM InvestEd – Election 2020: Will Investors Win? – October 2020

2020 Election vs the Stock Market – The question on everyone’s mind: How will the 2020 presidential election outcome impact investors and the stock market. Join us as Mark Armbruster, CFA & Chris Cebula, CPA discuss the subject – Regardless of who wins the election, should investors be concerned?

Portfolio Review – Q3 2020 Newsletter

The stock market’s movements so far this year can best be described as weird. That may not be an apt technical definition, but there’s no better way to put it.
The stock market dropped 35% in 31 days, and then recovered all of its losses just five months later. The S&P 500 is now close to its all-time high, which was reached in early September, post-Covid.

Chris’s Corner – Q3 2020 Newsletter

As we enter the final quarter of 2020 many of us start to think of year-end charitable giving. Despite a difficult year for the economy and wild stock market swings, preliminary data from Fidelity and Giving USA suggest that Americans have stepped up their philanthropy, increasing donations by almost 16% so far in 2020. Perhaps that should not be surprising, as it turns out America is the most generous nation when it comes to charitable giving. Per Philanthropy Roundtable, annual private philanthropy in the U.S. represents almost 1.44% of GDP This is twice as high as the 0.77% recorded in Canada, nearly three times as high as the U.K.’s 0.54%, and in stark contrast to China’s 0.03%.

Does the Election Really Matter? – Q3 2020 Newsletter

Vice President Joe Biden says the coming election is a “battle for the soul of the nation.” President Donald Trump has declared this the “most important election in U.S. history.” Perhaps. Or perhaps the nation’s deep partisan divide is just the way the world goes ‘round. Maybe, as John Prine suggests, we’re extrapolating out the worst-case scenarios because that is human nature.

ACM InvestEd – Gold: Attractive Investment or Shiny Distraction? – September 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic resulted in a government-forced shutdown of much of the economy, and subsequently, very large government stimulus packages from nations worldwide. This has amounted to trillions of dollars being pumped into the economy, including $6 trillion in the U.S. alone. Worse, this comes on the heels of massive government spending to help bail out the economy after the 2008 financial crisis, much of which is still sloshing around the global economy.
Many economists fear all this excess liquidity will result in rapid inflation in the years to come. Popular wisdom suggests that gold is a reliable hedge against inflation, and the price of gold has indeed risen recently. We’ve recently fielded a number of questions about gold investments. In our latest ACM VidCast, Mark Armbruster, CFA & Christopher Cebula, CPA, take a look at the merits of gold investments.

Stay the course on investment strategy, even in a narrow market

Here’s today’s dirty little secret that no one wants to talk about: your investment portfolio is likely underperforming the market this year. Worse, you are probably lagging behind school-aged day traders on the new Robinhood trading app.

ACM InvestEd – When Proven Strategies Aren’t Working – A Lesson from Warren Buffett – September 2020

Here’s today’s dirty little secret that no one wants to talk about: Like Warren Buffett, your investment portfolio is likely underperforming the market this year. Worse, you are probably lagging behind school-aged day traders on Robinhood. Why is that?

ACM InvestEd – Investment Fundamentals & Fear of Missing Out – August 2020

What do Sir Isaac Newton and the Kodak (KODK) traders on the Robinhood platform have in common? Join us as we explore the power of investor emotions and the fear of missing out (FOMO) over the commonsense of investment fundamentals.

ACM InvestEd – Stock Splits Explained – August 2020

Apple reported their quarterly earnings last week, and as part of the announcement, they declared a 4-for-1 stock split to be effective August 31st of this year. What does this mean for investors?

ACM InvestEd – Dividends: Investing for Income or Outcome? – July 2020

In today’s ultra-low interest rate environment, it’s tempting for investors to take additional risk to generate the income they need from their portfolios. While that may seem like a rational response to today’s economic realities, there are too many pitfalls with this approach, and focusing on…

Portfolio Review – Q2 2020 Newsletter

The second quarter was marked by a global pandemic, a largely paralyzed global economy, racial tensions that boiled over into violence, heightened political discord, record jobless claims with 40 million people unemployed, continuing business failures, geopolitical tensions with Hong Kong largely being subsumed by China, locusts in India and Pakistan that could result in famine, and even murder hornets in the pacific northwest. So, of course, the stock market rose, posting its best quarterly performance in over 20 years.

Value Stocks: Overdue? – Q2 2020 Newsletter

Making and saving money is hard. Perhaps that is why human beings are wired to look for bargains. We’re constantly looking for sales, coupons, rebates, and discounts. It feels better to know you didn’t overpay for something.

Chris’s Corner – Q2 2020 Newsletter

When the CARES Act was signed into law on March 27th it suspended Required Minimum Distributions (RMDs) from Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs) for 2020. It also allowed account holders to redeposit any prior distributions up to 60 days from the date of withdrawal. This was good news for many, as it potentially meant a lower tax bill for 2020 since there could be less reportable income.

New Benchmark – Q2 2020 Newsletter

Investment performance needs to be put into context to be truly meaningful. For example, assume you earned a 10% return over some period. Is that good? It seems so at first, but what if all your neighbors got returns of 11%? Or, what if the overall stock market was up 15%? The same return can look different under different assumptions.

Firm News – Q2 2020 Newsletter

Our newest team member is Kim O’Brien. Kim will be helping with reception, account maintenance, cashiering requests, and other service-related duties.

ACM InvestED – Party Like It’s 1999 (Stock Market Déjà Vu) – July 2020

’ve seen a lot of craziness. Just five stocks now account for over 20% of the entire market value of the S&P 500. There’s irrational trading in stocks of bankrupt companies. There’s a lot of highly speculative trading going on by uninformed investors. Interestingly, these are all hallmarks of the 1990s as well when…

ACM InvestED – Rethinking the 60/40 Portfolio – June 2020

The golden age of fixed income is over. That means we have to rethink portfolio management and risk control. The days when investors could rely on traditional bonds as safe, income-producing securities that hedge equity risk and deliver returns that keep pace with inflation are …

Redefining Fixed Income

The golden age of fixed income is over. The days when investors could rely on traditional bonds as safe, income-producing securities that hedge equity risk and deliver returns that keep pace with inflation are finished. While it may not have felt like it, long-term investors had it pretty easy over the last 90-plus years.

ACM InvestED – Portfolio Management & Trading – June 2020

Behind the scenes at ACM – We firmly believe that management and custody should always be separated as a safeguard for clients. Many of you may recall Bernie Madoff, who ran one of the biggest Ponzi schemes in investment history…

ACM InvestED – Value Investing – An Historic Opportunity – May 2020

We’re here today to discuss value investing and what could turn out to be a once in a lifetime opportunity for investors. Value investing is simply trying to buy stocks that are cheap relative to their intrinsic value. Tesla is clearly a growth stock with accelerating sales and growing market share…

ACM InvestED – Active vs Passive Investing – May 2020

The core promise underlying active management is that smart, hard-working investment managers with cutting-edge technology can outperform the overall stock market by actively buying and selling stocks or other investments. Although it seems intuitive that this approach would produce positive results, the evidence indicates…

ACM InvestED – Inflation : A possibility in the near future? – May 2020

We’ve been thinking lately about inflation. It hasn’t been a big factor in the economy in many years, but the topic seems relevant lately with all the government stimulus programs that have recently been announced…

ACM InvestED – Stock Market Drop & Investment Risk – April 2020

We just finished up the most volatile quarter ever for the stock market. The Dow Jones Industrial Average is currently down 24% from its high, but it is also 20% above its recent low, which I think…

Playing the long game can earn your portfolio big rewards

The song “Mr. Bojangles” is a staple on radio stations that feature songs from the 1970s, even though it was written in 1968. Most of us have heard the popular version, by the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, which hit No. 9 on the Billboard charts. However, the original version by upstate New York native Jerry Jeff Walker is still relatively obscure.

Portfolio Review – Q1 2020 Newsletter

Our discussion of the capital markets for the first quarter could be quite brief: it was bad. However, there are some interesting sound bites worth noting:

What Are Factors? – Q1 2020 Newsletter

Factor-based investing, or what has become known as “Smart Beta” is a strategy that has been prevalent in academic and larger institutional realms for many years. However, it is just recently trickling down to the investment advisor and retail investor world.

Chris’s Corner – Q1 2020 Newsletter

Relief for some is on the way. As during most times of economic stress, our elected officials are racing to roll out multiple programs to help reduce the financial impact to businesses and individuals. Here are a few provisions that have been put into action that may be of help.

Firm News – Q1 2020 Newsletter

Last year was a good one for our firm. We wrote previously about adding Steve Sheflin to our investment team. We’ll likely add another capable body or two in the coming year, and are already interviewing to support our growth.

Compliance Corner – Q1 2020 Newsletter

We are in a highly regulated business, which causes a few headaches, but regulations are largely good; they offer our clients important protections. There are certain disclosures that we are required to make regularly regarding our policies and procedures.

Portfolio Review – Q4 2019 Newsletter

The S&P 500 rose 32% for 2019. Looking at data back to 1926, that was the 18th best year for the stock market, placing it in the top 20% of annual gains. However, that understates the actual achievement, as many of the better years occurred during or in the wake of the Great Depression when stocks fell and rose wildly.

Chris’ Corner – The SECURE Act – Q4 2019 Newsletter

On December 20th, the President signed into law the Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement (SECURE) Act. The law is intended to increase retirement savings by expanding investment options and changing some of the qualified account rules. The SECURE Act may help some savers, but it comes with some negative consequences for estate planning and inheritors. Let’s look at how some of the changes affect you.

Firm News – Q4 2019 Newsletter

Last year was a good one for our firm. We wrote previously about adding Steve Sheflin to our investment team. We’ll likely add another capable body or two in the coming year, and are already interviewing to support our growth.

Portfolio Review – Q3 2019 Newsletter

The third quarter was mediocre in terms of investment returns. Large-cap stocks in the U.S. were up 1.7%, but most other stocks lost money. Bonds actually outpaced stocks in the third quarter, with a gain of 2.3%. Real estate was the bigger winner, earning 7.3% as investors sought out more stable segments of the stock market. See full investment returns for the quarter and year-to-date in the nearby chart.

Chris’ Corner – Year End Planning – Q3 2019 Newsletter

As the days grow short and foliage begins to change, our thoughts naturally are drawn to year-end financial planning. Maxing out contributions to 401(k) or IRA accounts (2019 limit is $19,000, plus $6,000 catch-up), making sure your beneficiaries are up to date on your accounts, and satisfying your Required Minimum Distributions (RMDs) if you are over age 70.5, are popular items to consider. However, a few lesser known topics are also worthy of consideration:

Firm News – Q3 2019 Newsletter

We are excited to announce that Steve Sheflin is our new Chief Investment Officer. We’re also proud that Colby Feane was recently named as a 2019 Forty Under 40 honoree by the Rochester Business Journal.

401(k) investor plans that use index funds save time and money

The share of 401(k) assets invested in index funds has risen from 17 percent in 2006 to 33 percent in 2016, a recent report from financial data firm Brightscope and the Investment Company Institute shows. While that is impressive growth, the share of retirement assets in index funds should be much larger, probably close to 100 percent.

Portfolio Review – Q2 2019 Newsletter

The second quarter was another strong period for stocks, and surprisingly strong for bonds. Large-cap stocks, as represented by the S&P 500, led the way with a gain of 4.3%. Mid-cap, small-cap, and international stocks all generated respectable returns, but lagged the S&P 500.

Challenging Times Ahead – Q2 2019 Newsletter

A year and a half ago, we wrote articles on how the economy could continue to grow for three more years and the stock market could increase 30% from March 2018. We based our stock market forecast on valuations, despite the fact that many thought stocks were already overvalued.

Firm News – Q2 2019 Newsletter

A year and a half ago, we wrote articles on how the economy could continue to grow for three more years and the stock market could increase 30% from March 2018. We based our stock market forecast on valuations, despite the fact that many thought stocks were already overvalued.

Prospect of Lean Returns For Stocks, Bonds Suggest Getting Creative

Most investors have a mix of stocks and bonds in their portfolios. Stocks are there for long-term growth, whereas bonds are generally purchased for stability and income generation. This has worked out pretty well historically, as stock returns averaged over 10 percent annually since the 1920s, and bonds have yielded over 5 percent, according to Ibbotson data. A balanced portfolio of 60 percent in stocks and 40 percent in bonds has become the de facto standard for many investment portfolios, as the returns have been substantial enough to meet most investors’ returns, while keeping risk in check.

At This Stage of Economic Expansion, Is It Like 1996 or 1999

In a recent interview with CNBC, famed investor Warren Buffett marveled at the current economic environment. He not¬ed that unemployment is at multi-decade lows and the federal budget deficit is at an all-time high, yet inflation and interest rates are historically low. No economics textbook, in Buffett’s estimation, could have predicted such an environment.

Buy-and-rebalance Approach Best Course for Long-term Wealth

The current economic expansion is now 117 months old. Looking at data that goes back to 1854, this is just shy of the record 120-month expansion that occurred from 1991 to 2001. It seems likely we’ll soon exceed the prior record, but how long can the economy continue to grow, and how long can the stock market continue its associated bull run?

Economic and Investment Overview – Q1 2019 Newsletter

Lately, the stock market has been a lot like the weather in Rochester, NY. If you don’t like it, you only have to wait three months for things to radically change. The fourth quarter of last year was one of the worst since the Great Depression. But we didn’t have to wait long for redemption. It arrived early this year, with a 13.6% gain in the first quarter (see market segment returns in the nearby graph).

A True Investment Loss – Q1 2019 Newsletter

Perhaps the fiercest advocate for the individual investor and shareholder rights ever to walk the planet died during the first quarter: John C. Bogle, who preferred to be called Jack by his legion of friends, founder of the Vanguard Group. Jack was best known for launching the first index mutual fund in 1976. This new approach to investing would ultimately revolutionalize the entire industry

Compliance Corner – Q1 2019 Newsletter

We are in a highly regulated business, which causes a few headaches, but regulations are largely good; they offer our clients important protections. There are certain disclosures that we are required to make regularly regarding our policies and procedures.

Portfolio Review – Q4 2018 Newsletter

Stocks posted their worst returns since 2008 last year. Most of the damage occurred in the fourth quarter when stocks dropped 13.5%. This was the 12th worst quarterly performance since the Great Depression.

Should I Stay or Should I Go? – Q4 2018 Newsletter

The stock market declined by 4.4% in 2018. It was the first year stocks posted a loss since 2008. The S&P 500 rose 20% in 2017, 12% in 2016, and more than 13% annualized over the last decade. Yet, a one-year decline of 4% has caused all sorts of consternation. I admit that the peak-to-trough loss was much larger (17.5% so far), and the fourth quarter was one of the worst on record (down 13.5% in just three months).

Alternatives Out Of Focus – Q4 2018 Newsletter

They say all the world loves a clown. That may be true, but one thing I know that is even truer is that all the world currently hates alternative investments.

Flourish Cash Management – Q4 2018 Newsletter

Interestingly, cash was the best performing asset class in 2018, earning 1.8%. That’s a pretty meager return, but it was better than losing money in stocks or breaking even in bonds.

Dying Without a Will Could Cause Hardship for Heirs

Prince, or the artist formerly known as Prince, or whatever his name ultimately was, made headlines throughout his life for his talent and eccentricities. However, the headlines after his death in 2016 revolved around the fact that he died with an estimated $200 million estate and no documents in place to guide its disposition.

True Portfolio Diversification Involves Multiple Asset Classes

The diversification of an investment portfolio has been described as the one “free lunch” in the investment world. That is because holding a portfo¬lio of assets with unique risk and return characteristics can result in higher long-term returns and a lower risk profile.

Sensible Investment Strategies Can Help Weather Gloomy Market Forces

October has come and gone, which is likely a relief for investors. October gets a bad rap when it comes to the stock market, and perhaps deservedly so: It was October of 1929 when the slide into the Great Depression began in earnest with a 20 percent dip in the stock market. It was also October, in 1987, when Black Monday resulted in the stock market falling over 20 percent in a single day. October of 2008 saw stocks decline 17 percent.

Portfolio Review – Q3 2018 Newsletter

The third quarter of 2018 was a mixed bag for investors. Stocks, at least domestic stocks, performed admirably. The S&P 500 rose 7.7% in the quarter and is now up 10.6% year-to-date. Small-cap stocks have performed even better so far this year, rising 14.5%.

Mid-term Elections and the Market – Q3 2018 Newsletter

The mid-term elections are right around the corner. That means that the phone is ringing with questions about how the elections could impact the stock market. Generally, we prefer to keep politics and investing separate, but we grudgingly accept that they can influence one another in the short run.

Firm News – Q3 2018 Newsletter

October 1st was our ten-year anniversary. It is true that Armbruster Capital was incorporated a little over nine years ago. However, Mark started working at our predecessor firm, and building what would become Armbruster Capital, a decade ago.

Eight More Years of Economic Expansion? – Q3 2018 Newsletter

Where is the US economy headed?
Recent news coverage about an inverted yield curve, potential trade wars, and troubles in emerging markets have created some unease.

The US Economy: Eight More Years of Expansion?

Mark Armbruster, CFA. Where is the US economy headed? Recent news coverage about an inverted yield curve, potential trade wars,

Inverted Yield Curve May Not Always Signal Recession On The way

The stock market achieved an all-time high in late January, but then saw a subsequent drop of more than 10 percent. Since then, it has vacillated wildly, reacting to strong economic news, yet also showing signs of concern. The Fed has been raising short-term interest rates, and volatility has returned in earnest. This has set up a “Tale of Two Markets” scenario, which is making investors question if they should get out of stocks altogether.

Portfolio Review – Q2 2018 Newsletter

While it may come as a surprise, the second quarter of 2018 was actually quite strong for stock investors. The S&P 500 rose 3.4%, mid-cap stocks gained 4.3%, and small-cap stocks returned almost 9.0%. Even REITs rebounded in the quarter for a gain of 7.8%.

A Tale of Two Markets – Q2 2018 Newsletter

Certainly, we’re in a divided age currently where the glass could look half full or half empty depending on which side of the political aisle you sit. Unfortunately, that has been true for some time now. The same dynamic is also at play in the stock market.

Financial Exploitation of Specified Adults – Q2 2018 Newsletter

The SEC recently approved two new rules: (1) the adoption of new FINRA Rule 2165 (Financial Exploitation of Specified Adults) to permit members to place temporary holds on disbursements of funds or securities from the accounts of customers where there is a reasonable belief of financial exploitation of these customers; and

Small-cap Value Stocks May Be The Way

Small-cap value stocks have been uniquely poor performers recently. They posted strong returns in 2016, but otherwise, each of the past seven years small-cap value stocks have either significantly lagged or just barely beaten large-cap growth stocks.

Beware of Experts Bearing Forecasts

Mark Armbruster, CFA. I read another article recently that warned of an impending market downturn and cited Nobel laureate Robert J.

Portfolio Review – Q1 2018 Newsletter

Volatility has returned. While stock market returns were truly remarkable in 2017, the good times only continued into late January of this year. Since then, the market declined more than 8% from its peak into the end of the quarter. However, the downturn isn’t the real story.

Alternatives In Focus: Alternative Lending – Q1 2018 Newsletter

We started using the Stone Ridge Alternative Lending fund (LENDX) roughly a year and a half ago. It has returned around 6% annualized since we started investing, which is in-line with our long-term expectations for alternative investments.

Small Cap Value…Time to Shine? – Q1 2018 Newsletter

Small-cap value stocks have been uniquely poor performers recently. They posted strong returns in 2016, but otherwise, each of the past seven years small-cap value stocks have either significantly lagged or just barely beat large-cap growth stocks.

Rising Interest Rates Change Strategies for Investors

Stock and bond market investors watch with trepidation as the Federal Reserve Board determines how much to raise interest rates this year. The Fed has already taken short-term interest rates from roughly zero percent to a target of 1.50 percent to 1.75 percent, and promises further hikes throughout 2018.

The Case For Further Stock Market Gains

Mark Armbruster, CFA. The stock market’s valuation recently surpassed its 1929 peak, and the S&P 500 now trades near the

Caution Flag is Up When Considering Purchase of an Annuity

Perhaps no financial product is more controversial than annuities. At best, an annuity is an insurance offering that provides a guaranteed stream of income that you cannot outlive. At worst, it is a high-cost way to earn subpar investment returns.

Certain Investors May Find Privately Traded REITS to Their Liking

With both stock and bond market valuations at lofty levels, many investors are starting to wonder if they will be able to continue to earn the types of returns they have enjoyed over the past nine years. Continued gains in the stock market would push valuations to potentially dangerous levels, and bond yields aren’t that far north of zero currently.

Current Thinking – Q4 2017 Newsletter

With the exception of Donald Trump and Bitcoin, stock market valuations seem to be making the most headlines these days.

Index Investing – Q4 2017 Newsletter

Index investing was much in the news in 2017. An article in the Wall Street Journal in late November noted that U.S. index funds have seen cash inflows of around $1.7 trillion since 2009, compared with outflows of nearly $1 trillion for actively-managed mutual funds. Another article noted that investors had collectively invested $436.5 billion this year into index funds globally through December 20, according to EPFR Global.

Alternatives in Focus – Q4 2017 Newsletter

While 2017 was a great year for stocks, it was mediocre for alternative investments. The benchmark index we often look at, the HFRI Fund-Weighted Composite Index, earned 8.5% last year. While that isn’t too bad, our alternative investments did not produce returns in that range.

Portal Launch – Q4 2017 Newsletter

With the new technology we implemented last year, we have been able to offer clients a portal to log into their accounts to run various detailed reports on their portfolios. We believe this has been a great success.

2018 Tax Facts – Q4 2017 Newsletter

1.$18,500 maximum salary deferral to a 401(k) or 403(b) plan (up $500 from 2017).

Compliance Corner – Q4 2017 Newsletter

We are in a highly regulated business, which causes a few headaches, but is largely a good thing that offers our clients important protections. There are certain disclosures we are required to make regularly regarding our policies and procedures. A few of them are

Bitcoin phenomenon illustrates importance of rational investing

As of this writing, cybercurrency Bitcoin has appreciated in value in excess of 1,500 percent so far this year. That makes it one of the best performing investments ever, even when considering tulip bulbs in 1636, stock in the South Sea Company in 1720, and internet stocks in the late 1990s. Most of the academic studies written on financial markets start with a few basic premises: investors are rational, they want to maximize returns, and they want to minimize risk. Is it possible that the move in Bitcoin is a rational response to new data that has emerged over the course of the past year? Probably not. Bitcoin remains largely the same from a structural standpoint today as it did a year ago.

Socially Responsible Investing in the US

Today, socially responsible investing, or SRI, accounts for around 25 percent of all managed assets in the U.S. The percentage is even higher in Europe and is rising fast in parts of Asia. SRI investing can take many forms, but the most popular is negative screening. That means excluding companies that participate in undesirable activities, such as the manufacture of tobacco products, weapons or fossil fuels. However…

Study of Stock Bubbles Debunks Theory of Impending Crash

Most of us have seen the recent headlines about the stock market hitting new highs. By some measures, stocks now trade at valuation levels only seen twice before: in 1929 and in 1999. If you recall, the aftermath of those periods was not terribly profitable for investors.