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Questions to Ask if Building Wealth is the Task 05.28.2021

As we sit on the eve of 2021’s Memorial Day Weekend, 73% of those in a Quinnipiac poll said their plans are similar to the ones they had pre-pandemic. The light at the end of the pandemic tunnel is getting brighter and brighter by the day!

building Wealth Questions to Ask

We’re looking at plunging COVID-19 case and death rates and widening vaccination uptake rates here in the United States, in addition to an uptake in exuberance and economic optimism by investors that has driven the stock market to all time highs. And, as is typically true during periods of market extremes, the talking heads, market strategists, investment gurus, and even your brother-in-law Frank seem to have all the answers as to why this is happening, and what lies around the corner. Our advice to you: Ignore this nonsense, and ignore them all.

Rather than become enamored by these predictions and/or fall prey to a well-articulated story spun by a seemingly well-credentialed “expert,” we encourage you to tune out this noise, and not worry nor think too much or too hard about interest rates, cryptocurrencies, inflation, China, large caps and small caps, mask mandates, or the U.S. deficit. Don’t worry about what the “new normal” means, and don’t get too worked up about “getting your share” of the possible American Jobs Plan or the American Families Plan stimulus packages (we’re purposefully not even linking to any of these themes). Instead, let’s channel our energy and attention into things that we have control over.


While we do believe you should always be ready for the unexpected, we also feel it is way more important to understand and internalize a number of foundational investing and wealth building principles. Ask yourself if you can succinctly and confidently answer the following questions:

  • Can I remain objective and rational, and recognize when you are being fearful, greedy, and emotional about your money? Your worst investment enemy is usually found by looking in the mirror. The limbic system is a wonderfully complex set of brain structures that deal with emotions, but activating your fight or flight response in reaction to fear, greed, and anger is not conducive to successful investing or successful longer-term wealth building. 
  • Do I understand that my neighbors, friends, and co-workers are perhaps confused and delusional? Not only do they probably spend too much and boast too much about their portfolio, but the chances their financial decisions are rooted in any of the principles listed here are quite low.
  • Am I trying to simply make money, or am I working to build and protect my wealth? We equate the former to gambling, and the latter to investing. While anything can happen on a daily, weekly, monthly, and even annual basis, we believe your odds of success increase significantly if you establish and follow a disciplined longer-term wealth building plan.
  • What am I doing to proactively insulate my downside from a major catastrophe during a market correction? We believe this is way more important than hitting a home run during a period of market strength. While his two rules are a bit binary, the spirit of Warren Buffett’s quote should resonate:
  • Why am I investing, and do I have a plan? For obvious reasons, it is invaluable to not only think through, articulate, and quantify the goals and vision you have for your and your family’s future, but also to have a methodology for how you attend to your personal financial decision-making. And this methodology will be different than your friend’s, neighbor’s, or co-worker’s, as we all obviously have different things that motivate us and that we ultimately want out of life. This is assuming that your friend, neighbor, or co-worker even has a plan at all.
  • Do I recognize that costs, fees, expenses, and taxes matter? At Towerpoint Wealth, we call them “necessary evils” to helping clients grow and protect their net worth. And while we can never eliminate the drag that costs, fees, expenses, and taxes creates, we certainly can work to identify, and reduce, these friction points.
  • Am I aware that saving money is the single most effective way to build my wealth and to retire? While you need to have balance between saving for tomorrow and living your life today, the capital you spend today is capital no longer available to fund your retirement. Saving money equals peace of mind.

Towerpoint Wealth Turns Four!

On May 26, 2017, with zero clients and $0 in assets under management, we officially launched Towerpoint Wealth. Classified as a “bold,” “risky,” “fearless,” and “courageous” decision by our clients and colleagues, it fortunately turned out to be a prescient and extremely positive one based on the feedback we continue to receive and strategic growth we continue to experience.

Today, we are approaching $350 million in assets under management, and continue to be thrilled to serve YOU, always striving to expand your peace of mind by helping you remove the hassle of properly coordinating your financial affairs.

What’s Happening at TPW?

The Towerpoint Wealth crew recently spent some time in a professional photo shoot with Tim Engle, of Tim Engle Photography – below is one of our favorite shots from the session.

We hold our collective noses to the grindstone at Towerpoint Wealth ~ 97% of the time. However, the culture we have built at the firm is also predicated on spending time outside the office and having fun together as a work family, which is why we regularly schedule fun teambuilding events.

We had an enjoyable “hooky afternoon” earlier this month, pedaling through midtown Sacramento on the Sacramento Brew Bike, with pit stops at Public House DowntownKupros, and The Golden Bear. A well-behaved and fun afternoon!

TPW Service Highlight – RETIREMENT – Building wealth

We only semi-jokingly say that you can retire any time you want, but will you be able to with the lifestyle and income stream you desire?

At Towerpoint Wealth, we believe that everyone deserves a secure retirement, and we stand ready to help you with a myriad of retirement-specific tools and planning considerations. The cornerstone of this process is the development of a customized retirement and financial plan using our modeling software from RightCapital(R).

Click HERE to review a sample customized RightCapital financial plan.

Additional retirement-specific services include sustainable and tax-efficient retirement income planning, “black swan” event planning and modeling, customized Social Security benefit election optimization analysis, corporate pension modeling and optimization, fixed/variable/immediate annuity analysis, and optimal-retirement-age projections.

Chart of the Week

Real estate values continue to be on fire! Click HERE to watch an excellent video in which our President, Joseph Eschleman discusses the white hot Sacramento real estate market with long-time Sacramento realtor, Brian Kassis.

And while there is no question about the tremendous price increases homeowners have experienced over the past year and a half, the chart below makes an interesting comparison between the value of the stock market (using the S&P 500 as a proxy) and the value of residential real estate (using the Case Shiller U.S. National Home Price Index as a proxy) over the past 30 years.

Understanding the importance of owning both real estate AND equities when working to build net worth, and recognizing that people seem to be more relational to the increases in the value of their home, the chart below from Visual Capitalist is an eye-opener!

In addition to home prices going up and U.S. COVID numbers going down, a number of trending and notable events have occurred over the past few weeks:

As always, we sincerely value our relationships and partnerships with each of you, as well as your trust and confidence in us here at Towerpoint Wealth. We encourage you to reach out to us at any time (916-405-9140, info@towerpointwealth.com) with any questions, concerns, or needs you may have. The world continues to be an extremely unsettled and complicated place, and we are here to help you properly plan for and make sense of it.

– Joseph, Jonathan, Steve, Lori, Nathan, and Michelle

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Hope for Immunity in Our Community? 03.12.2021

A year ago yesterday, on March 11, 2020, the WHO officially declared COVID-19 to be a global pandemic. Later that night, the NBA pulled the plug on two scheduled games (including the Pelicans/Kings game here in Sacramento), and then immediately suspended its season after Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell both tested positive for the disease:

NBA Immunity

The battle against coronavirus has unquestionably been a difficult, painful, arduous, and seemingly constant one over the past 12 months, with the underlying question constantly on everyone’s mind: “When will we reopen and get back to normal?” And while we are by no means at the finish line yet, at Towerpoint Wealth we believe we are much closer to the end of the pandemic than we are to the beginning of it.

Why the hope? We will let the visuals support a number of key reasons for our optimism:

Huge declines in COVID-19 cases, deaths, and hospitalizations

Widespread vaccine distribution

Extreme fiscal stimulus

Measured re-opening of the economy

Pending herd immunity

At Towerpoint Wealth, we believe it is also time to look forward, without letting our guard down, with expanding optimism and appreciation for what the future holds. Understanding we will always remain pragmatic, and avoid cockeyed optimism, we do believe that the marathon is almost at its conclusion.

What’s Happening at TPW?

Our lovely Director of Operations, Lori Heppner, along with her Bella. 🙂

Our Partner, Wealth Advisor, Jonathan LaTurner, spent a few days last month in Tulum, Mexico, doing some wedding venue due diligence with his bride-to-be, Katie McDonald. Yes, we’re all very jealous of you two, walking Tulum Beach and both looking great!

TPW Service Highlight – Charitable Giving

It used to be (and still can be) as simple as writing a check and mailing it off to your favorite charity. However, simply giving cash may not be the best, nor the most beneficial or impactful, way to be philanthropic. Fortunately, today’s donors have a myriad of gifting strategies that can increase the economic benefits of their gifts, both for the charity, as well as for you.

From charitable remainder trusts, charitable lead trusts, and private foundations, to donor advised and pooled income funds, and from IRA qualified charitable distributions (QCDs) to charitable gift annuities, there are many options for those who are inclined towards philanthropy. Determining which charitable strategy is best for your personal circumstances can be challenging, and as experts in this field, we stand ready to help you better understand the advantages and disadvantages of each as we develop the most appropriate gifting strategy for you. Click HERE to talk more with us about your philanthropic intent and charitable gifting plan.

Issuance of Amended 2020 Form 1099s – Don’t File Too Early!

Have you received your 2020 Form 1099s in the mail or via email? Have you already received amendments to your original 1099s? Scroll down to read a newly-published report authored by our Director of Tax and Financial Planning, Steve Pitchford, to find out why we recommend NOT actually filing your tax return until early April!

The Frustrations of Form 1099 | It's Tax Time

Chart of the Week

It’s not unusual to see -2%, -5%, and even -10% pullbacks in the stock market. Frankly, we should *expect* them to happen, remain objective and not worry about them when they do, and have a plan and the flexibility to make tactical portfolio adjustments to take advantage of them when they occur.

Trending Today

In addition to shots and stocks, a number of trending and notable events have occurred over the past few weeks:

As always, we sincerely value our relationships and partnerships with you, as well as your trust and confidence in us here at Towerpoint Wealth. We encourage you to reach out to us at any time (916-405-9140, info@towerpointwealth.com) with any questions, concerns, or needs you may have. The world continues to be an extremely complicated place, and we are here to help you properly plan for and make sense of it.

– Joseph, Jonathan, Steve, Lori, Nathan, Matt, and Michelle

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Will Who We Elect Make the Market Correct

It’s right around the corner, and it isn’t going to be pretty, so let’s discuss the election’s impact on the stock market now and get it out of the way.

For a good part of this calendar year, we have counseled you that it is prudent to give advance thought to the range of potential economic, regulatory, taxation, spending, budget deficit, societal, and financial market implications of the national election results, depending on whether Republicans or Democrats win one or more of the White House, the House of Representatives, and the Senate

After Labor Day, the campaign is likely to reflect increased amounts of political vociferousness, perhaps some degree of vehemence, and even apportionments of vitriol (we hope and pray not too much), with the potential to cause meaningful shorter-term shifts in financial asset prices. That is precisely why we recommend forming beforehand, and sticking to, a well-reasoned and disciplined asset allocation plan and investment strategy tailored to your personal and financial circumstances, time horizon, objectives, and temperament.

November 2020: The 59th Quadrennial Presidential Election

September, October, and then, the Election: With the VIX volatility index (see the Graph of the Week below) having risen an average of four points ahead of each of the last seven presidential elections since this measure was created, important issues to consider in the upcoming weeks ahead include:

  • How clearly (and energetically) each political party’s convention message was received, perceived by, and responded to by their respective loyal voter bases;
  • The nation’s reactions to the anticipated three presidential debates and one vice presidential debate;
  • Assessments of the strength of party identification among various segments of the voting population, as well as in the composition of the overall electorate; at the same time, taking into account the ability of each ticket to generate serious backing from less-supportive voter populations; 
  • Which candidate voters (considering demographic attributes, where they live, how they classify themselves on the political spectrum, and other characteristics) think can better confront America’s broad challenges, including the coronavirus pandemic, the economy, social issues, and pressing global concerns;  
  • The effectiveness of voting procedures, trust in mail-in balloting, the degree of putative social media and foreign-based election interference, actual voter participation, and the perceived veracity and legitimacy of the results; and 
  • The potential consequences of prolonged uncertainty associated with a contested election (should it occur) for social order and the financial markets.

Some Implications of Potential Scenarios

Roughly one in five workers are currently receiving jobless benefits, and early expectations of a V-shaped recovery have been hindered by renewed coronavirus outbreaks. Regardless of who wins the 2020 election and in what manner, financial asset valuations appear to be reflecting expectations that whenever the coronavirus pandemic ends, some degree of economic acceleration is likely to take place in the U.S.

As we have counseled for some time, it is important to devote thought and attention to the taxation, regulatory, economic, asset allocation, and investment strategy implications of the three leading potential electoral outcomes outlined below (while noting that both political parties have expressed interest in promoting the development of generic drugs, lowering drug prices, and containing healthcare costs; and the two parties have also been focusing on antitrust, platform liability, and privacy issues relating to many of America’s biggest technology enterprises):

  1. If President Trump is re-elected and wins the White House, Democrats keep control of the House of Representatives, and Republicans keep control of the Senate, such an outcome would likely favor securities in the following sectors: technology, defense, finance, healthcare, and energy, while potentially putting pressure on sectors and companies that could be harmed by further deterioration in  U.S-China relations;
  2. If Vice President Biden wins the White House, Democrats keep control of the House of Representatives, and Republicans keep control of the Senate, such an outcome would likely favor companies and sectors that would be deemed to have thereby avoided increased taxes and a heavier regulatory burden;
  3. If Vice President Biden wins the White House, Democrats keep control of the House of Representatives, and Democrats take control of the Senate(sometimes referred to in the media as a “blue wave”), such results would substantially raise the odds of higher taxes. Offsets to the latter outcome could come in the form of substantial additional spending on infrastructure, education, and healthcare. Securities in the following sectors, among others, are perceived to be disadvantaged by a “blue wave” Democratic sweep: defense, healthcare, financials (via increased regulation) and energy (with expectations of restricting fracking and limiting drilling on federal lands in Texas/New Mexico’s Delaware Basin and Southeast Montana/Northeast Wyoming’s Powder River Basin), while giving a lift to sectors and companies that could be helped by improving U.S-China relations.

The Pre- and Post-Election Tax and Spending Outlook

As shown in the panel below, the current taxation and spending policy positions of Vice President Biden contain numerous base-broadening elements that increase taxes by approximately $4 trillion, while increasing spending to the tune of approximately $6 trillion in areas including healthcare, infrastructure, education, energy research, and other initiatives.

Released on Wednesday, July 9, the 110-page report of the Unity Task Forces (created and staffed by individuals designated by Vice President Joe Biden and Senator Bernie Sanders) contains a detailed set of policy recommendations in six domestic policy areas: 

  1. Health care (while not supporting Medicare for All, the report proposes a public option, a government-administered plan “like Medicare” that would be available to all Americans; on drug pricing, the report recommends appointing a government board to set prices that Medicare would pay for new drugs);
  2. The economy (with $400 billion pledged for procurement of domestically made goods and $300 billion to support high-tech research);
  3. Climate change (here, a total of $2.0 trillion over four years is earmarked to shift millions of jobs into clean energy, with the goal of cutting emissions from power generation to zero by 2030, having net zero emissions by 2050, and introducing new fuel-economy standards);
  4. Criminal justice (proposing reforms to law enforcement and policing practices);
  5. Education (including universal preschool for three- and four-year-olds, at a cost of $775 billion over a decade), and 
  6. Immigration (proposing to end travel restrictions against 13 countries, and to maintain protections from deportation for approximately 700,000 young immigrants known as “Dreamers”).

Should Vice President Biden win the White House, financial asset prices in general, as well as specific industries and companies, are likely to be affected by the speed and degree to which the new Administration and Congress (whose degree of support depends on which party controls the House of Representatives and which party controls the Senate) might be able to implement priorities in these and other areas.

For further granularity, the following panel sets forth eight elements of personal taxes and four elements of corporate taxes: (i) under the current U.S. tax regime, which would not currently be expected to change much under President Trump (although the President has endorsed the idea of payroll tax reductions; tweeted about a potential capital gains cut; and vowed to extend the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, which capped the so-called SALT (State and Local Tax) deduction at $10,000); and (ii) as currently outlined as taxation policy under a Biden administration.

Given that the process of turning taxation proposals into law takes time, it is likely to be at least June 2021 for new tax legislation to be enacted. On several aspects of tax planning (including the timing and forms of income and expenditures; tax gain-loss harvesting; and retirement, estate, and gifting strategies), it may be sensible to postpone any major moves until a judicious assessment can be made of the makeup of the post-election government and its specifically-expressed legislative agenda.

Regardless of the fireworks, and ultimate outcome, of the election, we will always believe that good, well-run, profitable companies will remain good, well-run, profitable companies, independent of a Trump or Biden win.

What’s Happening at TPW?

Happy to have him aboard, contributing, and part of the Towerpoint Wealth family, the TPW team has been indoctrinating Matt Regan, a.k.a. “the new guy,” over the past two weeks:

Our new Wealth Advisor, Matt Regan, connected with our President, Joseph Eschleman, and our Partner, Wealth Advisor, Jonathan LaTurner, for an enjoyable business lunch at the historic Sutter Club in downtown Sacramento earlier this week.

Our President, Joseph Eschleman, and his wife, Megan Eschleman, hosted Matt and his lovely wife Alyssa for an enjoyable evening of tri-tip, corn on the cob, chicken skewers, and Frank Familycabernet.

TPW Service Highlight – Social Security Optimization

Many investors are not prepared for retirement, and have not properly planned for how to structure their post-retirement income. With the popularity and availability of pension plans quickly waning, and rock bottom interest rates making it difficult to derive enough interest income from bonds, the importance of Social Security has never been greater.

Through careful planning and the development and utilization of a custom Social Security optimization analysis, our aim at Towerpoint Wealth is to help our clients structure a plan to ensure that they are not leaving any money on table when it comes to their Social Security benefits. According to the Annual Statistical Supplement to the Social Security Bulletin, 70% (!) of all retired workers started taking benefits before their normal retirement age. For some this may make sense, but for many, this will result in the forfeiture of tens, if not hundreds of thousands of dollars over their lifetime.

Let us help you scientifically analyze the myriad of Social Security claiming strategies available to you, and develop a customized plan to ensure you have properly maximized this hugely important retirement income benefit.

Graph of the Week

The market anticipates some pretty incredible fireworks (as we probably all do) leading up to November’s elections. With Joe Biden’s lead over President Trump drifting lower since the late summer, there is now even more expected volatility around Election Day, and things almost assuredly will only heat up further as we get closer to November.

The graph below reflects the historical activity and pricing of the VIX, a popular index that measures future stock market volatility, used by investors to hedge against it. Currently, November’s election is the most expensive event risk on record. With many more absentee and mail-in ballots expected to be cast in this election, the possibility certainly exists that we do not know who the winner is on Wednesday, November 4.

Quoting Cameron Crise, Bloomberg macro strategist, “In the history of VIX futures contracts, we’ve never had an event risk command this sort of premium… That obviously suggests that markets anticipate some pretty incredible fireworks.”

Don’t say you haven’t been warned, keep your seatbelt firmly buckled, and most importantly, don’t be surprised nor overreact to the upcoming craziness!

As always, we sincerely value our relationships and partnerships with each of you, as well as your trust and confidence in us here at Towerpoint Wealth. We encourage you to reach out to us at any time (916-405-9140, info@towerpointwealth.com) with any questions, concerns, or needs you may have. The world continues to be an extremely complicated place, and we are here to help you properly plan for and make sense of it.

– Nathan, Raquel, Steve, Joseph, Lori, Jonathan, and Matt

Towerpoint Wealth Team : Sacramento Financial Advisor
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24 Karat Shine or Pyrite for Your Portfolio?

By: Nathan Billigmeier, Director of Research and Analytics 

From ancient civilizations to modern society, humans have always had a fascination with gold. The yellow metal has been used as currency, as jewelry, and incorporated within various other industrial applications. Gold also helped shape United States history when it was discovered in the Sacramento Valley in 1848 sparking the California Gold Rush. But does it belong in your investment portfolio? We will discuss some of the benefits and drawbacks below. 

1) Store of Value

Famed financier J.P. Morgan once stated, “Gold is money, everything else is just credit.” This quote strikes at the core of the “gold as a store of value” argument. But what exactly is a store of value and what qualifies gold to be viewed as such? 

By definition, a store of value is an asset that maintains its value without depreciating. Gold’s ability to maintain wealth by preserving purchasing power has been well documented. Civilizations throughout history have turned to gold as a means of exchange as well as a hedge against currency devaluation. 

Gold’s finite supply also helps boost its appeal as a store of value. To date, all the gold mined throughout history would fit into two and a half Olympic-sized swimming pools. According to the US Geological Survey (USGS), approximately 187,000 metric tons of gold has been mined in total, with 57,000 metric tons remaining underground. 

Critics of gold state that it is an antiquated means of exchange with little utility or industrial application, outside of jewelry, and should therefore not be considered a store of value. Specific to utility, their argument could be viewed as valid. But what gold lacks in utility, it makes up for in investor psychology. Humans have long placed value in gold. While this value may very well be due to its historical reputation, until this connection is broken, gold will remain one of the primary assets used to preserve wealth 

2) Low Correlation to Other Investments

One key aspect of a properly diversified portfolio is owning investments that have a low correlation to each other. What does this mean, and why is it important? Correlation is a numeric value from -1 to +1. The closer that two different investments are to having a +1 correlation, the higher the likelihood their respective market values will move in tandem with each another. Vice versa is true for investments with a -1 correlation. Investments with a correlation of 0 are completely unrelated, meaning the price movement of one has no relation to the price movement of the other.For longer-term investors, it is important to have the correlation between the various asset classes (read: stocks, bonds, alternatives, cash, etc.) held in their portfolio be as close to zero as possible. This allows investors to better manage the risk of their portfolio and increases the likelihood that the share price of investments held in different asset classes will not move in the same direction in response to current economic and market trends. 

Gold is a unique asset in that it has a low, or sometimes even negative correlation to the other primary asset classes typically included in a properly diversified portfolio. In fact, as you can see from the above graph, it tends to have a negative correlation to US equities, hence sometimes being described as a “flight to quality” asset. 

3)Portfolio Insurance

Just as you purchase home or auto insurance to protect your assets against unforeseen events, you should consider doing the same with your investment portfolio. As recent events have shown us, market and economic crises can and do happen. 

Given its negative correlation to US equities, gold can provide needed insulation to your portfolio, helping it to better absorb these inevitable pullbacks. While it will not completely offset equity losses, gold can help reduce volatility and provide “downside insulation” to a portfolio. 

As the chart below shows, with the exception of two instances, the 1997 Asian financial crisis and 2013’s “Taper Tantrum,” gold has achieved positive returns during times of equity unrest. It also has a tendency to outperform US Treasuries during these downturns, which many view as another safe haven asset. 

4) But What About Income? 

Gold is not without its faults. One of the main arguments against gold ownership is the lack of a dividend or interest payment and the fact it has little to no industrial production value. 

One of the most famous investors in the world, Warren Buffet, is an outspoken critic of gold ownership for these very reasons. He has been quoted as saying, 

“Gold gets dug out of the ground in Africa, or someplace. Then we melt it down, dig another hole, bury it and pay people to stand around guarding it. It has no utility. Anyone watching from Mars would be scratching their head.” 

…and Mr. Buffett would be correct. Gold has little to no real economic utility, does not generate sustainable cash flow, and does not pay a dividend. 

What it does offer is relative stability and the potential for price appreciation. During turbulent economic times when company cash flows decline and dividends are cut or reduced, gold tends to shine, as investors try to preserve capital and fear the inevitable stimulus measures taken by central banks and/or government could stoke inflation and decrease the purchasing power of their currency.

More recently, financial markets have also been grappling with historically low interest rates, with some countries even experimenting with negative interest rates (i.e. investors paying the government interest, instead of receiving it, when owning government-issued bonds). This has significantly lowered the opportunity cost of owning gold (which pays no interest) versus owning government-issued bonds (which pay interest) as investors look for safety during times of market unease. Gold has been a direct beneficiary as the declining interest rate trend has gained steam, particularly in countries issuing bonds with negative interest rates. Why would an investor choose to pay interest to own a government bond when they could own gold instead, achieving the similar end goal of capital preservation? 

4) What happened to gold with the COVID-19

COVID-19 market pullback in March of 2020, gold suffered sizable declines along with equities. In fact, it suffered its largest weekly decline since 1983 while equities dipped into bear market territory in a record-shattering 20 days. Doesn’t this fly in the face of all the previous arguments for owning gold?

It depends on what you believe. Some have argued that the declines in the price of gold, at the exact same time equities were dropping precipitously, debunks the theory that gold should be viewed as a safe haven asset during times of market turmoil. Especially coupled with the fact that US Treasury bonds and the US dollar remained strong throughout the collapse in equity prices.

Proponents of gold have argued that the price decline the metal suffered in March, 2020 was due to the rapid shock the US economy experienced as virtually all of us entered lockdown. This forced many investors to raise cash as rapidly as possible, and gold, being a very liquid asset, provided easy access to needed cash. These proponents would challenge that the price of gold acted similarly during the 2008/2009 financial crisis before ultimately touching all-time highs, not too different to what has happened over the last three months. 

By analyzing the above chart, we are able to see that initially gold did maintain its strength as equities began to move lower. As the equity losses accelerated, gold prices declined before beginning a steady march higher prior to the March 23 low in equity prices. This does lend credence to the claim by gold “bulls” that the metal was used as a source of cash by investors during the selloff, and in doing so, helped them limit their losses.

In Summary

While critics may remain unconvinced, it is hard to deny that gold has maintained its luster throughout history as a go-to asset during times of uncertainty. Its ability to provide ballast to a portfolio allows your longer-term financial goals to remain upright and on course. We are by no means advocating that investors transition 100% of their assets into gold. However, we feel that a modest allocation of 3-7% in gold does have a place in a properly diversified investment portfolio. 

How Can We Help? 

At Towerpoint Wealth, we are a legal fiduciary to you, and embrace the professional obligation we have to work in your best interests 100% of the time. If you would like to discuss your circumstances further, we encourage you to call (916-405-9170) or email (nbilligmeier@towerpointwealth.com) to open an objective dialogue. 

Sacramento Wealth Management Nathan Billigmeier Director of Research and Analytics

Nathan Billigmeier Director of Research and Analytics 

Towerpoint Wealth, LLC is a Registered Investment Adviser. This material is solely for informational purposes. Advisory services are only offered to clients or prospective clients where Towerpoint Wealth, LLC and its representatives are properly licensed or exempt from licensure. Past performance is no guarantee of future returns. Investing involves risk and possible loss of principal capital. No advice may be rendered by Towerpoint Wealth, LLC unless a client service agreement is in place

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Singing in the Rain? The Economic and Market Disconnect

The pain caused by the COVID-19 lockdowns persists on Main Street, as evictions, foreclosuresbankruptcies, and unemployment have all soared to unprecedented levels, creating an economic storm not seen since the Great Depression. However, over on Wall Street, the sun hasn’t stopped shining since early March, with the stock market staging an amazing rally based partly on hope about the future and partly on government stimulus.

The S&P 500 has roared back from its late March depths, and amazingly, is just a rally or two away from its late February highs. The technology-heavy Nasdaq recently closed above 10,000 for the first time ever, and seems poised for additional growth as the pandemic has driven major changes to consumer decision-making and demand. For confirmation, see our previous edition of Trending Today, as well as our President’s video message about the “Big Five” technology stocks found below.

What may be most bewildering is the huge disconnect between the rapid bounce-back and advance we have seen in the stock market over the past three months and the horrific 2Q, 2020 economic numbers that, in some cases, will be worse than what we endured during the Great Depression. As we have mentioned, investors are viewing this economic pain and weakness as temporary, and banking on the fledgling economic recovery growing into a more robust bounce back in 2021. The market certainly appears to be seeing the skies as mostly sunny, as investors continue to sing in the economic rain. As the market seemingly defies the pandemic and this immense economic weakness, many investors are asking “what gives?”

We see two main reasons: Hope about the future and health of our economy, and the Fed’s massive stimulus. Investors are currently attaching more weight to the prospects of the economy (and corporate earnings) recovering than to the possibility of a long-lasting pandemic and economic slowdown. The Fed has continued to provide massive amounts of stimulus, and just this week kickstarted a Main Street lending program designed to encourage banks to lend to small and medium-sized businesses hurt by the pandemic. It also announced that it will begin buying corporate bonds to support market liquidity and help make credit available to companies across the country. Additionally, the Trump administration is preparing a new proposal for $1 trillion in infrastructure spending to help revive the U.S. economy, including funding for roads and bridges, as well as 5G wireless infrastructure and broadband for rural areas.

Is this optimism fragile, neurotic, and excessive? Or is it justified, warranted, and a signal of continued (albeit gradual) improvement and economic recovery? At Towerpoint Wealth, we agree with Liz Ann Sonders’ outlook about the market (see below), and feel that while the nascent economic recovery will continue on a long, slow, yet positive path, the market’s growth will be much more frenetic and unpredictable. However, things are beginning to point in the right direction, and it is important to drive not by looking at the rear-view mirror, but instead by looking through the front windshield. Put differently (and as Warren Buffett said), “always better to buy an umbrella when it is sunny outside rather than when it is raining.”

What’s Happening at TPW

Towerpoint Wealth continues to flourish and strategically grow as a firm during these uncertain times, due in part to the strength and depth of our client partnerships, as well as the intra-firm family-first culture we cultivate on a regular basis. As the lockdown slowly unlocks, we feel fortunate to be able to enjoy more and more opportunities to spend time with each other outside of the office as well as in.

Raquel and Jonathan “lunching” at Camden Spit and Larder this week.

Jonathan and Joseph (pre-haircut) (and John Sutter in the middle) at The Sutter Club last week.

TPW Office Update

Pursuant to the story found below, and as mandated by Governor Newsom and the CA Department of Public Health yesterday, please wear a mask when visiting us at our office. We will be!

The pandemic will be a part of our lives for the foreseeable future, but fortunately, so will getting out, spending time together (albeit with masks on and standing 6′ apart), and fostering and nurturing the relationships we have with each other. And as always, whether in person or via a Zoom teleconference, we sincerely value our relationships and partnerships with each of you, as well as your trust and confidence in us here at Towerpoint Wealth. We encourage you to reach out to us at any time (916-405-9140, info@towerpointwealth.com) with any questions, concerns, or needs you may have. The world continues to be an extremely complicated place, and we are here to help you properly plan for and make sense of it.

– Nathan, Raquel, Steve, Joseph, Lori, and Jonathan

Towerpoint Wealth Team : Sacramento Financial Advisor
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Reaching First Base AFTER Shelter-In-Place

As we trend towards gaining back the freedoms we surrendered in the name of saving lives and flattening the curve, the slow unwind of sheltering-in-place is beginning:

We are continuing to witness the COVID-19 pandemic re-order virtually every industry in the world, and concurrently, many aspects of our formerly “normal” lifestyles. And as we have adapted to today’s slower lifestyle and “new normal,” we have been reminded of just how important our homes have become – as a safe haven, a de facto schoolhouse, an impromptu remote office, and a warm family nest. However, as much as we have learned (a bit forcibly) to love being at home, and as integral as home has been in this new normal, most of us would agree that being at home this much has gotten a little long-in-the-tooth.

There are many more chapters yet to be written about the COVID-19 crisis, and as much as we love our “warm family nests,” this next chapter in the story is one that we all have been anxiously awaiting – the safe and sturdy return to shared communal life, outside of our homes.

As the dawn of the decline of the shutdown approaches, we are all eager to regain the ability to step outside our homes and see friends and family again, to shop at our favorite stores, to eat at our favorite restaurants, and yes, to trade in our trusty sweat pants for our favorite work attire as we begin to head back to work. But make no mistake about it, what our lives will look like as summer approaches will be markedly different that the way we lived our life in February. A “new normal” is upon us, and being adaptable, and socially, economically, and physically aware, is paramount.

A summary of our views:

  • We are all working more hours now than before the COVID-19 outbreak – expect it to continue
  • Companies will begin bringing employees back to work over the next two to six weeks, with strategies for doing so being differentiated and customized based on geography and industry
  • People are starving for connection, and content, and while we yearn for and need physical connection with each other, the transformation of digital communications and social media has been monumental
  • We are optimistic that, as a country, we can and will find the right balance between a compassionate and pragmatic democracy
  • Debt, both personal and governmental, will finally become a central economic and political theme
  • Public confidence levels are quite low, but the condition will be temporary as we continue to learn about the virus and make irregular progress in defeating it
  • Serious concerns surrounding public transportation will lead to a longer timeline for people getting back to work in larger cities
  • We are not planning to see even the possibility for a COVID-19 vaccineuntil mid-2021, at the absolute earliest
  • If there is a significant resurgence in COVID-19 cases this fall, the fatigue of the situation will be extremely painful and we could retest market lows
  • The crisis has been devastating to lower income families, and could cause further longer-term disparity and danger to their well-being
  • Expect taxes to increase, regardless of who wins the 2020 presidential election, as our massive stimulus programs need to be paid for
  • Crises accelerate trends, and there will be larger moves in businesstowards technology, consolidation, and outsourcing, with less need for real estate
  • A New Deal-like infrastructure program will be a central component in additional Federal stimulus borrowing and spending

On a much lighter note, and for anyone who is a fan of Billy Joel (who isn’t?), click HERE (or below) to spend four minutes listening to/watching a VERY entertaining “social distance-sing project” where the Phoenix Chamber Choir performs The Longest Time – the adapted lyrics and instruments are great!

Tragically, some have lost loved ones during this time, and we acknowledge that will change life for them even on the upside of this pandemic. But for most of us, these times of separation will pass and we will be back together, in person, with those we have been missing. And as always, we sincerely value our relationships and partnerships with each of you, as well as your trust and confidence in us here at Towerpoint Wealth. We encourage you to reach out to us at any time (916-405-9140, info@towerpointwealth.com) with any questions, concerns, or needs you may have – the world continues to be an extremely complicated place, and we are here for you.

Nathan, Raquel, Steve, Joseph, Lori, and Jonathan

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How Do We Unlock the Lockdown

At least 316 million people (or more than 96% of the U.S. population) in 42 states are currently under a stay-at-home or shelter-in-place order as the coronavirus pandemic continues to upend life as we know it. However, as California’s Governor Gavin Newsom stated just last month, “This is not a permanent state, this is a moment of time,” and the good news is that we are seeing hopeful time-frames for reopening:

In the meantime, our economy is in an absolute tailspin due to the national lockdown, and Great Depression-esque numbers are expected for the second quarter:

  1. A total of 26 million Americans have filed for unemployment benefits in the past five weeks. That translates to a national unemployment rate expected to be as high as 15 or even 20% as a result of the pandemic that has forced millions of businesses to shutter and lay off employees, significantly higher than the 10% peak seen during the 2008 financial crisis.
  2. The U.S. economy is facing its biggest contraction ever, as GDP for the second quarter is expected to show an annual rate decline of 40%! As a comparison, the biggest drop in growth in U.S. history occurred in 1932, when the economy contracted by 12.9% during the worst year of the Great Depression.

And while it might sound crazy to say, understanding these are nothing short of horrific numbers, there is a clear light at the end of the tunnel.

Why is the stock market (as measured by the S&P 500) up 29% over the past month? One simple answer: The stock market is not a reflection of the current economy. Investors are forward-looking and future-oriented, and they are buying in advance of, and belief in, better days ahead. It can be confounding to grasp when the current state of affairs seems so grim, but it is an essential point for longer-term investors to note and internalize. Since 1953 (with one exception), the S&P 500 stock index has bottomed anywhere from three to 11 months prior to the official end of a recession. In other words, as Warren Buffett said : If you wait for the robins, spring will be over.

We encourage you to read Policy and Portfolio Impact of COVID-19 – A Talk With Dr. Ben Bernanke, as forceful actions by the Fed and bi-partisan Congressional stimulus packages have both led to a backstopping of the financial markets and a temporary de facto safety net for our economy.

The fact that the upcoming ugly U.S. economic figures and data are EXPECTED is especially important to note. While horrific, these numbers will come as no surprise to savvy investors, who understand that stocks almost always rebound before the economy does, and who understand that the market expects the pain experienced by the U.S. economy to be temporary. Questions remain about the shape of the economic recovery and the shape of our new lifestyles, but fortunately the correlation between the temporary nature of our economic pain and the temporary nature of our current shelter-in-place lifestyles cannot be denied.

In addition to anticipating the end of conscientious sequestering and the slow birth of economic recovery, there have been a number of non-COVID-19 newsworthy events over the past few weeks that you may have missed:

As we have mentioned previously, it is important to take comfort that better days are set to return. We will be with our full families again. We will be with our friends and colleagues again. Together. And as always, we sincerely value our relationships and partnerships with each of you, as well as your trust and confidence in us here at Towerpoint Wealth. We encourage you to reach out to us at any time (916-405-9140, info@towerpointwealth.com) with any questions, concerns, or needs you may have. The world continues to be an extremely complicated place, and we are here for you.

– Nathan, Raquel, Steve, Joseph, Lori, and Jonathan

Towerpoint Wealth Team : Sacramento Financial Advisor
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Management of the Coronavirus and market meltdown crises

Towerpoint Wealth’s President, Joseph Eschleman, was featured in AdvisorHub on Tuesday in an article penned by AdvisorHub’s publisher and CEO, Tony Sirianni.

Tony has been asking top advisors from leading wealth management firms their opinions on the dual management of the coronavirus and market meltdown crises, as AdvisorHub has been documenting how leading wealth advisors are managing one of the most unique challenges we have faced as a financial community.

Click HERE to read the full article.