A lot of advisors have been going independent lately. Whether you are moving to start your own RIA or want to join a large independent broker-dealer network, there are a lot of intricacies involved with running your own shop. Before you even think about the logistics of moving, it is important to assess whether you have the skills to succeed. There are essentially three skills that one needs to become a successful independent advisor: operational experience, in-depth relationship management skills, and sales/business development acumen. Operationally, you will likely have a tight budget when first breaking away, so understanding the nuts and bolts of the business, like migrating client accounts, is critical. Secondly, you will need to be able to concisely define the nature and scope of your relationship with clients in order to keep them happy for the long-term. Finally, you will need to be able to convince people why they should manage your money (without the weight of a wirehouse brand behind you!).
FINSUM: As a companion to the above, Michael Kitces notes that most successful independent advisors had seven years experience before going it alone.
If there was ever a stock market indicator that makes us worry, it is when the general public gets very bullish. Nothing seems to yell “stock market peak” like a record setting sentiment number. A new sentiment tracker from Qontigo called ROOF (risk-on/risk-off) just registered a score of 4.8, which is in the 95th percentile historically. The ROOF score hit a low on October 2nd and has been rising since then.
FINSUM: Whenever we see readings like this it just always feels as though a correction is near. The reason why is that since people’s expectations are high, they are easily let down and get fearful/redemptive.
This time of year it would be easy for investors to start feeling rosier about retail stocks. After all, holiday sales are the best time of year for the stocks and it would be dangerously easy to think these shares might have turned the corner because of better holiday sales. However, the key to choosing these names is to understand “bifurcation”, according to Cowen research. That bifurcation is that broadline retailers like Target and Walmart are doing well, while apparel-driven retailers like Kohl’s, Gap, and Macy’s are not. For example, Target and Walmart are up 88% and 27% respectively this year while Macy’s and Gap are down 49% and 33% respectively.
FINSUM: Momentum seems like a friend in the the retail space. We expect this bifurcation to keep going, especially as consumer purse strings are likely to be tighter this holiday season.
Goldman put out a warning on Friday and advisors should pay attention. The bank is warning of what it calls a “baby” bear market. The focus this time is not on equities but on bonds, which have mostly been very hot this year. Goldman thinks that Treasury yields are going to take a hit in 2020, falling back to around 2.25% on the ten-year. That is a pretty large move from the 1.7% level seen today. The catch on Goldman’s call is that it doesn’t really see the move beginning until the second half of 2020, so it is a bit of a delayed bet.
FINSUM: This is quite a long-term view and in Goldman’s own words is contingent upon investors thinking the Fed might hike rates. That seems a LONG way off; at least post-2020 election we would think.
The Charles Schwab-TDA acquisition will likely have a host of implications for advisors. While it will take time to figure out and explore all of those, one of the immediately negative effects will likely be less funds available on the platform. As advisors will know, TDA did not have its own suite of ETFs, while Schwab does. This meant that TDA did not favor its own funds on its platforms and there was plenty of room for everyone. Schwab openly favors its funds. With the platforms now combining, smaller funds of all varieties are going to be more challenged to find buyers and survive. Even large fund houses like BlackRock might be at a disadvantage because of how the deal will help Schwab grow its ETF offerings.
FINSUM: this is going to lead to further consolidation in the fund business and will likely allow Schwab’s ETFs to grab even more market share. They are currently in 5th place.