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Tuesday, 28 November 2023 03:00

Rising Odds of a Soft Landing

Something has shifted in the market following the softer than expected October CPI report. At one point this year, a recession in 2024 seemed like the consensus trade, especially following the failure of Silicon Valley Bank, stresses in the banking system, and fears that high rates would choke off growth. 


Now, the odds of a soft landing are rising. According to Robert Tipp, PGIM Fixed Income’s chief investment strategist, many seem to be aware of the historical context of previous soft landings. He cites 2018 and the mid-1990s as examples of rate hike cycles that didn’t result in a recession.


He believes that rising rates and tighter financial conditions are only recessionary, if economic growth is dependent on borrowing. He adds that “The excesses that would typically create a recession are simply not in existence. A lot of the expansions in the past were dependent on borrowing, but this time, it is a job growth driven organic expansion.” 


In contrast to previous borrowing-driven expansions, there is much less leverage. Financial institutions remain well-capitalized, household balance sheets are in solid standing, lending standards remain high, and there are no asset bubbles in sight. Adding to this is that the economy continues to add jobs while consumer spending remains firm on a real basis. 

Finsum: PGIM’s Robert Tipp believes that a soft landing outcome is likely. He points to the lack of leverage, historical instances, and firmness of the labor market and consumer spending as primary factors.


Tuesday, 28 November 2023 02:59

Branding Tips for Financial Advisors

Building a powerful brand is necessary for financial advisors who want to differentiate themselves and boost their chance of attracting and retaining clients. Think of branding as the feeling that people get when they think of or see your name. 


Creating an effective online presence is an important element of branding. According to Maritza Lizama, the cofounder and chief marketing officer at Captiva Branding, “93% of buying decisions are influenced by what people see online. How can you improve your online presence? Start with your LinkedIn profile. Get rid of your old profile photo. Your photo needs to look like you. And it’s OK to show a little personality.”


It’s also necessary to figure out your ‘brand purpose’. This encapsulates your reasons for becoming a financial advisor that go beyond just monetary reasons. In addition to this, advisors need to develop a solid understanding of their target audience in terms of their demographics, career, pain points, motivations, constraints, and where they can be reached. 


Then, you can further refine your brand by creating complementary online content that showcases your personality. This can also mean talking about topics that are outside of the realm of finance in order to build a more authentic connection with your audience. 

Finsum: Building an effective brand is important for every financial advisor and can be invaluable in recruiting and retaining clients. Here are some tips to get started.  


Tuesday, 28 November 2023 02:58

Generating Yield With Model Portfolios

Kevin Flanagan, WisdomTree’s Head of Fixed Income Strategy, and Scott Welch, the firm’s CIO of Model Portfolios, recently shared some insights on how model portfolios can be used to generate yield in the current environment. They see this as an opportune time to invest in fixed income especially given the differential between the S&P 500’s dividend yield and short and long-term rates. 


Currently, they see the Fed as wanting to remain hawkish, however the rise in long-term yields has also contributed to a tightening of monetary policy. In terms of inflation, they believe it has peaked but that the Fed is unlikely to begin cutting rates until the middle of 2024 due to ongoing tightness in the labor market. Additionally, they note that credit spreads have recently widened but nowhere near extreme levels.


Amid this environment, they recommend that investors stick to the short-end of the curve given the inverted yield curve and favor US Treasury floating rate notes which are the highest-yielding Treasuries. Within WisdomTree’s model portfolios, the firm has reduced its weight of high-yield debt while modestly boosting allocation to mortgage-backed securities.


Overall, they see fixed income as resuming its natural role - providing low-risk income and serving as a hedge against equities. 

Finsum: WisdomTree shared some insights on the current macro landscape, and how it’s positioning its model portfolio allocation to flourish in this environment. 


UBS conducted a poll of wealthy clients, working with a specialized portfolio advisory group. In response, it has increased its recommendation for exposure to alternative asset classes such as private equity, private debt, real estate, structured products, and hedge funds from 16% to 22%. Endowments and large single-family offices have already increased allocation to private markets, but wealthy investors are making up ground. 


This is due to an increase in the number of options which allow clients to immediately invest in private markets with lower amounts and less restrictions on withdrawals. According to Daniel Scansaroli, the head of portfolio strategy in UBS’ CIO Americas office, “The concept of investing in private markets is not new to our clients, but the accessibility of the market has changed in the last couple of years with what many of the private sponsors are calling a democratization.”


Currently, the firm recommends an allocation of 30% to private markets, 30% to bonds, and 40% to stocks and believes this is the new benchmark. It favors this over the traditional 60/40 portfolio as it would have generated an incremental 1.4% in incremental returns even after accounting for fees. 


It believes that private markets offer more opportunity than public markets due to the ‘illiquidity premium’, assuming that investors can remain patient. Over multiple timeframes, private equity, venture capital, private credit, and real estate have shown to outperform the S&P 500. 

Finsum: UBS conducted a survey of its wealthy clients and found that they are looking to increase their allocation to private investments. 


A major consideration for many firms is the aging of financial advisors. It’s estimated that over the next 5 years, 25% of advisors will be approaching retirement age. This demographic reality means that recruiting will be a greater challenge and of even more importance. 


Similar to financial planning, effective recruiting means setting clear goals and identifying what your firm needs. This will ensure that your decisions and actions are in alignment with the long-term vision. 


When looking at which groups to target, some common pools to consider are interns and recent college graduates, emerging advisors, and paraplanners. In terms of finding the best candidates, it can be helpful to do some research on competitors to see what they are offering recruits in addition to understanding what prospective hires value. 


Many may not be familiar with the various opportunities and career paths of an advisor. Nor will they be familiar with how an advisor can have a meaningful impact on their clients’ lives so having some personal examples of helping clients and building relationships will be particularly useful. Many candidates also will want some visibility around how the business works, and how the progression will work in terms of professional development, compensation, responsibilities, and partnership opportunities.

Finsum: A major challenge for the financial advisor industry is that 25% of advisors are approaching retirement age. This means that effective recruiting is of greater importance and value.


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