Wealth Management

(New York)

Vanguard appears to be taking action on one it its biggest weaknesses. Others in the industry, notably Fidelity, have been making moves to try to make their funds ever more accessible and cheaper. Vanguard has been the low cost leader for years, but some of their features now make them look slightly outdated. Perhaps no longer. For its Admiral Shares class, its cheaper option, Vanguard has lowered the minimum investment from $10,000 to $3,000, a significantly lower threshold for younger and less wealthy investors. The changes will apply to 38 of their index mutual funds.


FINSUM: This is a good move but we are surprised they didn’t just change it to no minimums.

(New York)

Merrill Lynch’s new compensation plan is not being received well by brokers. Many are angry about certain aspects of the plan and are pushing back. In particular, brokers don’t like that the plan incentivizes them to tell clients to take on more debt during a period when interest rates are rising. Around 15,000 advisors have complained to Merrill Lynch management. Management responded by saying it was a good incentive and was designed so that it didn’t heighten conflicts of interest.


FINSUM: This seems like it will just create misaligned incentives, especially given that it is being put in place when it is very unfavorable to be adding debt.

(Washington)

Few would argue that the tax cut passed in late 2017 was one of the main drivers of the strong economy we saw this year. Corporate earnings have been stellar, the economy is expanding at a good clip, and the labor market is tight. However, the IRS looks about to undermine the benefit of the tax cuts. The agency just announced a new policy for 2019 regarding how it accounts for inflation. The move will undermine much of the value of the tax cuts by raising tax bills for almost all Americans. The new policy will increase tax revenue for the government by $133.5 bn over the next decade.


FINSUM: This is the kind of policy that is going to hurt more over time. That said, the current deficit is huge, so from a fiscal responsibility view it is hard to argue this is unnecessary.

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