Tag Archives: money

Why Use An Active Manager?

Posted January 28, 2015 by paragon. tags:Tags: , , ,
Senior investment officers

Because certain indexes have performed well over the past few years, those who promote passive investing are recommending that you follow the current fad and just buy index funds. Passive investing can be useful if it is done right. However, it can be dangerous done blindly. Passive strategies are fully exposed to the whims of the market and can expose investors to significant declines and risks. With this approach you must be aware that you will likely go through a 50% decline at some point.

Making money is difficult. Keeping your money is even harder. There seems to be ten ways to lose money for every one way there is to make it. To complicate things further, managing investments is counterintuitive. Research repeatedly shows that most people invest when they shouldn’t and don’t invest when they should. According to studies by Dalbar, for the 30 year period ending December 2013 the average stock market investor earned only 3.69% compounded versus 11.11% compounded for the broad stock market. Underperformance of 7.42% annually for 30 years is a huge penalty for the “average” investor to pay.

The bottom line is that if you do not have the time, resources, and expertise to manage your money then you are walking into a minefield. Over the years I have seen countless people lose their entire savings to bad investment decisions. Whether it be through leveraged real estate, misguided business ventures, poorly structured annuities, bad stock choices, expensive life insurance, loans to relatives, or even offshore investments, the end result is always the same. They lose their savings and what was once a good situation turns into a bad one.

Your success has brought you money. That money can be a blessing or a curse. If you manage it properly then it can help you simplify and enjoy your life by allowing you to do whatever is most important to you. If you don’t make good money decisions then it can bring you more grief than good.

Everywhere you turn there are different voices telling you how to invest. Financial news channels, magazines, insurance companies, infomercials, self-proclaimed experts, etc. There is no shortage of free advice. The problem is that most free advice is worth about what it costs.

Paragon has been guiding investors for 28 years. We have experienced, survived and thrived in some of the most difficult markets in U.S. history. Those very difficult markets include the Crash of 1987, the Asian Crisis of 1998, the Tech Collapse of 2000 and the Financial Crisis of 2008. We have steadily grown in the face of adversity.

Our clients are our friends. We are their guide. Our money is invested right alongside theirs. Most clients initially choose Paragon because of our stellar investment performance. However, as time goes on they realize that our highest value is actually protecting them from their inexperience and stopping them from making bad investments. It is our mission to help you make the right decisions and find financial peace.

Written by Dave Young, President & Founder of Paragon Wealth Management

Disclaimer
Paragon Wealth Management is a provider of managed portfolios for individuals and institutions. Although the information included in this report has been obtained from sources Paragon believes to be reliable, we do not guarantee its accuracy. All opinions and estimates included in this report constitute the judgment as of the dates indicated and are subject to change without notice. This report is for informational purposes only and is not intended as an offer or solicitation with respect to the purchase or sale of any security. Past performance is not a guarantee of future results.

Money And Happiness

Posted July 5, 2012 by admin. tags:Tags: , ,
Happy Family

Written by Dave Young, President of Paragon Wealth Management

A friend of mine, Steve Moeller, did research on the science of happiness. He gathered information to write a book about what really makes people happy. He gave me permission to share some excerpts with you from an article he wrote for Investment Advisor magazine. I found his thoughts very interesting, and hope you will too.

The assumption that more money will make us happier is etched into our consciousness. Happiness is something we all want; it’s the holy grail of Western civilization. Biologists have recently proven that all higher species from lizards up to humans are biologically programmed to pursue pleasure and positive emotions. It’s a basic subconscious drive that all creatures have. Everything we do, we do because we consciously or unconsciously believe that it will make us happy.

That more money will lead directly to more happiness is such a basic assumption that most people never stop to question it. When researchers at the University of Michigan asked research subjects what would improve the quality of their lives, the majority of the respondents said “more money.”

The assumption that more money will bring us more happiness is etched into our consciousness, championed by our culture, promoted with billions of dollars of advertising each year, and institutionalized in our public policy. And it is still the primary promise of benefits that many investment advisors focus on. But is it true?

“Happiness” researchers have conducted more than 150 surveys all over the world with more than a 1 million participants. Let’s take a look at what they have learned.

Since the end of WWII the purchasing power of American households has tripled. New homes are now twice as big as they were after the war, we have twice as many cars per person, and we eat out more often. The average American now lives much better than most of the kings and queens throughout history.

So are we happier? No!!

This spectacular increase in wealth has had almost no positive effective on our society’s happiness. In fact, from 1957 to 1996 the proportion of people telling the University of Chicago’s National Opinion Research Center that they are “very happy” declined slightly (from 35% to 30%.) Over the same time period; divorce doubled, the prison population quintupled and major depression rose tenfold, turning it into the fourth most common debilitating disease. America’s not alone; Europe and Japan have experienced the same basic trends.

One of the happiness researchers’ more noteworthy findings came from a survey of Forbe’s 400 wealthiest Americans. These cent millionaires and billionaires were asked to rate their life satisfaction from “extremely dissatisfied” (1) to “extremely satisfied” (7). Surprisingly, the respondents’ average rating was 5.7, only slightly above the average rating.

But here’s the really interesting part. Masai tribesmen from Kenya in East Africa also participated in the life satisfaction survey. Although they live in huts made out of dirt and cow dung, herd cattle for a living, have no electricity or running water, and don’t have any money, they also rated themselves a 5.7 in the life satisfaction scale.

Quite a few studies now show that believing that money is more important than other values—like relationships with loved ones, spirituality, a feeling that your life is contributing to the greater good—is actually detrimental to happiness. Clearly there’s more to happiness than wealth, luxury and material comforts.

So, how much is the right amount of money to maximize our happiness? Here’s the bottom line from the scientific research on happiness—once we have enough money to pay for life’s basics like food, clothing and housing, more money has very little impact on our happiness.

More money does buy more happiness and well-being if you are poor, and increases fairly quickly until you achieve a solid middle class income. But research shows once your household income reaches the middle class range, increased income has a diminishing positive impact on your happiness and well-being.

The point is, above a certain income level, which isn’t by any means “wealthy”, additional income alone has almost no impact on our happiness. And depending on the price you pay to earn it, more income could even reduce your quality of life.

In fact, a large and growing number of studies support happiness researcher Ed Diener’s comment that, “Materialism is toxic for happiness.” But most Americans don’t seem to believe this.

Why, if we tell researchers that more money doesn’t make us happier, do we chase it so hard? We could blame it on advertisers and the media, two giant institutions that have a vested interest in having us consume more and more stuff each year. But there is another, more subtle villain; the subconscious workings of our brain.

Psychologists have developed a term “hedonic treadmill” to describe humans adaptation to more wealth and material goods. So if you get a new car, you will be happier for a while, but then you will adapt, and so think it’s normal. In order to maintain the same level of happiness through consumption, you must continually buy new things. This is what the concept of “retail therapy” is all about. Adaptation is great for the economy, but bad for you and your financial security.

As an investment advisor, I often work with people who believe that more money will buy them more happiness. As evidenced by this article, in reality, I should help clients determine what will really make them happy and then determine how much income their ideal life will require. It may be a lot less than they originally thought.

Disclaimer
Paragon Wealth Management is a provider of managed portfolios for individuals and institutions. Although the information included in this report has been obtained from sources Paragon believes to be reliable, we do not guarantee its accuracy. All opinions and estimates included in this report constitute the judgment as of the dates indicated and are subject to change without notice. This report is for informational purposes only and is not intended as an offer or solicitation with respect to the purchase or sale of any security. Past performance is not a guarantee of future results.

Can Your Happiness be Bought with Money?

Posted September 3, 2008 by admin. tags:Tags: ,
Kids dancing on the beach

 

 


photo by tony

This is a topic many have talked, written and argued about over the years.

Does money really make you happy?  If it does, can it buy you TRUE happiness?

Some people think that when they are rich, they will be happy. These same people think they will be happy when they buy a house, buy a nice car, finish school, get a better job, etc.

The point is you will never be truely happy if you wait for things in your life to happen before you can become happy. You can be happy at any point in life if you choose to be.

It is true that it is nice to have money and it makes life a lot easier when you have it, but money itself doesn’t really make you truely happy.

Below is a personal story from Tina, one of the most successful bloggers I know. She recently quit her job and started blogging full time. These are her thoughts on money and happiness.

“I had a wonderful job at a phenomenal company. I had flexibility, an understanding boss, and a high paying salary. I loved my job. But after 6 years of expending myself on the job, trying out various professional roles, I felt that I’d grown beyond the fixed positions available at the company.

I’m not going lie, having a lot of money is nice. Money can buy you things, nice things.

However, the cliché is true – money cannot buy you happiness, and having it doesn’t mean that you are a successful person. After several years, I realized that the more money I made, the less satisfied I became. Days started to blend into one another, time flew by, and I deeply longed for something with more meaning.

Upon realizing that I was trading my time for money, I started experimenting with various passive income sources. I’ve started and ended businesses, I’ve turned hobbies into professional pursuits, and I’ve tested out investment avenues.

In the end, I’ve learned that it doesn’t matter what you’re doing. As long as you are doing something that expresses your passion, you will excel and you will gain satisfaction. I’ve also learned that starting something from nothing and watching it grow is deeply rewarding.

Through my quest to finding my passion, I discovered blogging as a platform where I can share ideas and lessons learned that are closest to my heart, as a way to serve others. For the first time in my life, I feel that I am living my life purpose.

Words cannot express the joy I feel while writing for Think Simple Now, and the numerous times when feedback from readers has brought me to tears. This just feels right.”

I agree with Tina. It is important to find your passion in life whatever it may be, and not rely on money to make you happy.

Feel free to leave comments about this article.

Money and Happiness

Posted February 19, 2008 by admin. tags:Tags: , , , , , ,
Happy couple with money

Written by Dave Young, President

A friend of mine, Steve Moeller, did research on the science of happiness. He gathered information to write a book about what really makes people happy. He gave me permission to share some excerpts with you from an article he wrote for Investment Advisor magazine. I found his thoughts very interesting, and hope you will too.

The assumption that more money will make us happier is etched into our consciousness. Happiness is something we all want; it’s the holy grail of Western civilization. Biologists have recently proven that all higher species from lizards up to humans are biologically programmed to pursue pleasure and positive emotions. It’s a basic subconscious drive that all creatures have. Everything we do, we do because we consciously or unconsciously believe that it will make us happy.

That more money will lead directly to more happiness is such a basic assumption that most people never stop to question it. When researchers at the University of Michigan asked research subjects what would improve the quality of their lives, the majority of the respondents said “more money.”

The assumption that more money will bring us more happiness is etched into our consciousness, championed by our culture, promoted with billions of dollars of advertising each year, and institutionalized in our public policy. And it is still the primary promise of benefits that many investment advisors focus on. But is it true?

“Happiness” researchers have conducted more than 150 surveys all over the world with more than a 1 million participants. Let’s take a look at what they have learned.

Since the end of WWII the purchasing power of American households has tripled. New homes are now twice as big as they were after the war, we have twice as many cars per person, and we eat out more often. The average American now lives much better than most of the kings and queens throughout history.

So are we happier? No!!

This spectacular increase in wealth has had almost no positive effective on our society’s happiness. In fact, from 1957 to 1996 the proportion of people telling the University of Chicago’s National Opinion Research Center that they are “very happy” declined slightly (from 35% to 30%.) Over the same time period; divorce doubled, the prison population quintupled and major depression rose tenfold, turning it into the fourth most common debilitating disease. America’s not alone; Europe and Japan have experienced the same basic trends.

One of the happiness researchers’ more noteworthy findings came from a survey of Forbe’s 400 wealthiest Americans. These cent millionaires and billionaires were asked to rate their life satisfaction from “extremely dissatisfied” (1) to “extremely satisfied” (7). Surprisingly, the respondents’ average rating was 5.7, only slightly above the average rating.

But here’s the really interesting part. Masai tribesmen from Kenya in East Africa also participated in the life satisfaction survey. Although they live in huts made out of dirt and cow dung, herd cattle for a living, have no electricity or running water, and don’t have any money, they also rated themselves a 5.7 in the life satisfaction scale.

Quite a few studies now show that believing that money is more important than other values—like relationships with loved ones, spirituality, a feeling that your life is contributing to the greater good—is actually detrimental to happiness. Clearly there’s more to happiness than wealth, luxury and material comforts.

So, how much is the right amount of money to maximize our happiness? Here’s the bottom line from the scientific research on happiness—once we have enough money to pay for life’s basics like food, clothing and housing, more money has very little impact on our happiness.

More money does buy more happiness and well-being if you are poor, and increases fairly quickly until you achieve a solid middle class income. But research shows once your household income reaches the middle class range, increased income has a diminishing positive impact on your happiness and well-being.

The point is, above a certain income level, which isn’t by any means “wealthy”, additional income alone has almost no impact on our happiness. And depending on the price you pay to earn it, more income could even reduce your quality of life.

In fact, a large and growing number of studies support happiness researcher Ed Diener’s comment that, “Materialism is toxic for happiness.” But most Americans don’t seem to believe this.

Why, if we tell researchers that more money doesn’t make us happier, do we chase it so hard? We could blame it on advertisers and the media, two giant institutions that have a vested interest in having us consume more and more stuff each year. But there is another, more subtle villain; the subconscious workings of our brain.

Psychologists have developed a term “hedonic treadmill” to describe humans adaptation to more wealth and material goods. So if you get a new car, you will be happier for a while, but then you will adapt, and so think it’s normal. In order to maintain the same level of happiness through consumption, you must continually buy new things. This is what the concept of “retail therapy” is all about. Adaptation is great for the economy, but bad for you and your financial security.

As an investment advisor, I often work with people who believe that more money will buy them more happiness. As evidenced by this article, in reality, I should help clients determine what will really make them happy and then determine how much income their ideal life will require. It may be a lot less than they originally thought.

Financial Life Planning

Posted February 12, 2008 by admin. tags:Tags: , , , , , , , ,
Happy young family

Posted by Dave Young, President

Adapted from articles:  Financial Life Planning:  What do you want to be? By Diliberto and Anthony and 20 Tough Questions for an Easier Future by Liz Pulliam Weston

A new school of thought among investment advisors and financial planners is “financial life planning.” Financial life planning takes an in-depth look at the bigger picture– not only considering a client’s investment goals, but a client’s investment goals in conjunction with their life dreams, values and happiness. Instead of isolating only the monetary side of things, the life planning approach is more holistic and considers a client’s most deeply-held values.

The objective is to assist clients in visualizing their goals, then home in on what’s really most important in their lives. With the core values identified, an investment plan can be built to help make the dream an eventual reality, while helping the client incorporate those ideals into day-to-day living.

While writing the book, “The New Retirementality” by Mitch Anthony, Anthony would gather groups of professionals and half-kidding ask, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” He was always amazed at how many of these individuals, many in their fifties, dreamed of doing other things–of being something other than what they currently were.

An accountant talked about being a consultant. A consultant talked about being an investment advisor. A marketing executive talked about being a creative director, and a creative director talked about being a speaker and trainer. A speaker and trainer talked about going into television. A television personality talked about going into sales. A sales professional talked about being an executive coach.

When these people, who said they weren’t fully engaged, were asked why they didn’t just do what they dreamed of doing, without fail, they cited money issues as the reason. How many people have mortgaged who they are in favor of what they could get, and later wished they had made a more informed decision? Some estimate that it may be as much as 70 percent of our society. If it is indeed a money issue holding an individual back from his or her ultimate dream, then it may be permission from a financial professional that helps them move forward.

George Kinder, in the goals-setting portion of his “Seven Stages of Money Maturity” distinguishes between having, doing and being. What do you want to have? What do you want to do? What do you want to be? Americans have put who they want to be on hold for what they can have. The fact that so many people wish they were doing something else cannot be good for individuals, the family, the workplace or society as a whole. Change can be brought through a meaningful dialog around client goals.

For example, someone who thought he wanted an early retirement may find instead that the most important thing to him is spending time with his young children. He may decide to throttle back on his career and retire later so that he doesn’t miss out on his kid’s formative years.

Or a physician who focused on working harder and creating a more aggressive portfolio in order to retire earlier, when what he really wanted was to get out of medicine because he felt the stress was killing him. The doctor’s fear of stress was creating much more stress. Ultimately, he decided to work half-time and reallocate his portfolio to be slightly more conservative, which reduced stress in his life.

The real work comes in trying to figure out how to change your life to reflect your values. Here are some questions to help accomplish this task:

* What’s standing in between me and what I want?

* What’s my plan for overcoming each of these obstacles?

* What do I have, in terms of personal strengths and outside resources, that will help me deal with these obstacles?

* What skills and knowledge do I need to add to accomplish this change?

* Are there other people I can call on for help in overcoming these obstacles?

* How can I make these changes happen sooner?

* Do I need my family’s support for making this change?

* If so, how can I rally that support?

* How can I evaluate and monitor my progress toward my goals?

One of our goals at Paragon is to implement financial life planning with our clientele. Not only discovering your goals in regards to retirement, funding college educations, estate planning and family protection, etc., but also discovering what your desires are. Instead of the obvious “I want to retire in five years”, “I want to double my money in 10 years”, etc., the goal discovery process will include questions about a client’s core values and what is most important in your lives. This begins a dialog between us and our client that results in a process that will help merge your money with your life.

Leave a Legacy by Planning for Retirement

Posted February 7, 2008 by admin. tags:Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,
Picture of a retired couple

Written by Dave Young, President

On a recent trip, I recognized the value of leaving a legacy. My trip reminded me of the sacrifice, hard work, vision and commitment made by others that have benefited me immensely. The gift of my ancestors has enriched my life and provided amenities for which I am grateful.

As I reflected on the greatness of leaving a legacy, it brought to mind the importance of leaving a financial legacy and the benefit of creating a nest egg for progeny and future generations.

It is prudent to not only prepare for retirement, but to keep in mind the beneficiaries of residual retirement and other savings and the enriched lifestyle it affords to them. I have one client in particular who communicated how important it is to him that his spouse and his children and their children are financially taken care of upon his death. His top priority for investing prudently and wisely is for the benefit of his family. In choosing Paragon as his financial advisor, it was important to him that his priorities were equally important to us.

The value of leaving a financial legacy is priceless for both you and your family. First, your financial preparation allows you to be self-sufficient during retirement. Your preparation contributes to your peace of mind knowing your family will have increased financial ease. And in some cases, a monetary gift now to family members translates into tax benefits to you now. Most importantly, the simple act of giving is empowering and fulfilling for you.

Your progeny, of course, also benefits from you gift and preparation in countless ways. First, your monetary gift continues its growth possibly for years after death. Your gift enriches the lives and lifestyle of its beneficiaries– college education paid for, down payment for your newly married son or daughter, unforeseen financial strains eased etc. etc. Your preparation also sets a precedent and begins the pattern and habit of financial intelligence and education for years to come. Your gift opens doors and opportunities to financial success that otherwise may not have been available. Most importantly, your forethought, sacrifice and commitment will be remembered, appreciated and emulated by the next generation.

I am a big proponent of retirement planning, and planning now. One way to give to our families is by naming spouses and/or children as beneficiaries of IRA’s, 401(k)s, etc. Not only designating beneficiaries, but apprising family members that they are the recipients of such a gift. And then follow up with education on prudent investing when the funds transfer to their possession. Several different retirement options allow significant contributions, tax deductions, and ample time for growth and compounding. Of course, it is always important to consider risk, inflation, tax bracket, and investment time horizon, etc. when considering how to invest retirement monies.

Another option to ensure future generations benefit from your financial success is to establish trust. Trusts specify to whom assets are to be allocated and of course, are legally binding. Trusts also aid in estate planning and reconciling this aspect of financial planning. Most importantly, as my client did, make it a priority to leave a financial legacy.

My trip was enlightening as it reminded me that it isn’t all about me or us, but about what we give to others and the principle this instills in ourselves and in our families. Leaving a financial legacy to our families and future generations is empowering to both the giver and the recipient, and it is a gift that can grow for years to come.

Some Thoughts on One of Life

Posted January 31, 2008 by admin. tags:Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,
Taxes

Written by Dave Young, President

For people who invest (and even people who don’t), taxes have always been a hot topic. Unfair taxation caused many of our forefathers to abandon England and start their own country—and eventually hold a certain famous tea party in Boston Harbor.

Fortunately, we don’t have to resort to such drastic measures today, but taxes are still an emotional issue. Just look at what you’re up against: You work hard to earn a paycheck. But before you ever see the check, you give a portion of it to pay state and federal income taxes. Then you pay social security and Medicare. After you deposit the rest in your bank account, you still have to pay sales tax on anything you buy. Then, you’ve got property taxes, taxes on your cars, taxes on gasoline, and the list goes on and on. Finally, when you die, you get taxed on whatever is still left of your estate. In other words, you get taxed when you earn it, spend it, and ultimately die with it.

We’ve all participated in more than a few heated debates about who should pay more taxes and who should pay less. The only agreement I’ve ever heard regarding taxes is that someone else should pay them. With all of the rhetoric and emotions surrounding taxes, I decided to find out who really pays the most taxes. Here’s what I found out:

The Top 1% of income earners pay 34 % of all taxes
The top 10% of income earners pay 66 % of all taxes
The bottom 50% of income earners pay 3 % of all taxes

Studies by the Tax Foundation show that about 136 million income tax returns were filed in April. Of these, about 43 million families will show no tax payable. Since another 15 million families file no returns at all, about 58 million Americans will pay zero tax.

This means that 40 percent of all Americans pay zero taxes.

I found this interesting, because many popular media outlets love to preach about how the rich are not paying their fair share of the taxes in this country. There has also been a great deal of discussion about how recent tax cuts are unfair, because they benefit the rich. The reality is that they do benefit the rich, but that is only because the so-called rich (anyone with a middle-class income or better) already pay the bulk of all of the taxes.

This write-up from Growth Stock Outlook reprinted in The Chartist service was an interesting presentation. I hope you find it entertaining.

Let’s put tax cuts in terms everyone can understand. Suppose that every day, ten men go out for dinner. The bill for all ten comes to $100. If they paid their bill the way we pay our taxes, it would go something like this. The first four men — the poorest — would pay nothing: the fifth would pay $1; the sixth would pay $3; the seventh $7; the eighth $12; the ninth $18. The tenth man — the richest — would pay $59. That’s what they decided to do.

The 10 men ate dinner in the restaurant every day and seemed quite happy with the arrangement — until one day, the owner threw them a curve. “Since you are all such good customers,“ he said, “I’m going to reduce the cost of your daily meal by $20.” So now dinner for the 10 only cost $80. The group still wanted to pay their bill the way we pay our taxes. So the first four men were unaffected. They would still eat for free. But what about the other six — the paying customers?

How could they divvy up the $20 windfall so that everyone would get his ‘fair share’? The six men realized that $20 divided by six is $3.33. But if they subtracted that from everybody’s share, then the fifth man and the sixth man would end up being “paid” to eat their meal. So the restaurant owner suggested that it would be fair to reduce each man’s bill by roughly the same amount, and he proceeded to work out the amounts each should pay. And so the fifth man paid nothing, the sixth pitched in $2, the seventh paid $5, the eighth paid $9, the ninth paid $12, leaving the tenth man with a bill of $52 instead of his earlier $59.

Each of the six was better off than before. And the first four continued to eat for free. But once outside the restaurant, the men began to compare their savings. “I only got a dollar out of the $20, “ declared the sixth man. He pointed to the tenth. “But he got $7!” “Yeah, that’s right, “ exclaimed the fifth man. “I only saved a dollar, too. It’s unfair that he got seven times more than me! “ “That ‘s true!” shouted the seventh man. “Why should he get $7 back when I got only $2?” The wealthy get all of the breaks! “

“Wait a minute,” yelled the first four men in unison. “We didn’t get anything at all. The system exploits the poor!” The nine men surrounded the tenth and beat him up. The next night he didn’t show up for dinner, so the nine sat down and ate without him. But when it came time to pay the bill, they discovered something important. They were $52 short!

It’s an interesting story that provides food for thought. The one positive takeaway from this article is that if you are paying too much in taxes, then you must be doing something right.

The Year 2007 in Review

Posted January 17, 2008 by admin. tags:Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,
Happy New Year

Written by:  Dave Young, President

Once again, we are at the beginning of a new year. Each year seems to pass by quicker than the previous. In 2007, the markets started strong with a lot of optimism. The optimism disappeared when the market dropped in March, because the Dow lost about 700 points and found itself just above Dow 12,000.

Just as everyone was beginning to question their optimism, the market rallied off of the March lows, and by April reached Dow 13,000 for the first time. By mid-January the Dow was knocking on Dow 14,000. Everyone was euphoric, and according to our sentiment models, most investors thought the market would continue its upward climb.

As usual, once everyone is in agreement about where the market is going, it goes in the opposite direction. The sub prime debt problems became a serious issue in July and August, and the market sold off once again. This time the Dow fell again, but hit higher lows than the March sell off. The Dow sunk to 12,7000.

This is when things became interesting. The media was in full swing with their pitch that the market is “always” horrible in September and October. Clients called us and wanted to be taken out of the market because of the recent sell off and all of the doom and gloom in the press.

Not surprisingly, the market performed the way it usually does in order to make the majority of investors wrong. In what are traditionally the worst two months of the year, September and October, the market instead rallied. During the historically worst months to invest, the market put together its strongest rally of the year peaking back at just under Dow 14,200.

The credit fears and worries about the strength of the economy pushing the market down came back again, and the Dow finished the year at 13,264.

The broadly watched, large cap DJIA gained 8.7% for the year. The S&P 500, which is also more representative of the large cap U.S. market, gained 5.5%. The Russell 2000 which represents 2000 small cap stocks lost – 1.6%. Finally, the Value Line Geometric Index, which is the broadest based index and represents 1,626 stocks, declined -3.8%. Overall, depending on where you were invested, it was a marginal year for many investors.

Paragon Top Flight Portfolio

Our Top Flight Portfolio had an exceptional 2007 returning 16.98% versus 5.5% for its benchmark, the S&P 500 (See track record for full disclosures).

How did Top Flight generate such good returns in a year when the major market indexes were just slightly positive or and even negative?

There were three reasons why we were able to triple the return of the S&P 500 benchmark this year.

1- The change from mutual funds to Exchange Traded Funds (ETF’s) boosted our returns. Because mutual funds are generally broader based, in the past they made it more difficult to “dial in” exactly where our models are pointing, and there is no slippage. Also, the ETF’s allow us to follow our allocation models with exactness because unlike mutual funds, we don’t face early withdrawal fees or penalties.

2- Our Allocation Models signaled opportune times for us to reduce and increase exposure  during  2007. Twice, at opportune times, we reduced exposure from 100% invested to 56% invested. These allocation changes benefited our returns.

3- Our Focus Models pointed us towards the areas of the market that showed the most strength. We experienced additional gains by following our Focus Models recommendations and investing in natural resources, emerging markets, Brazil, Canada, Australia, and Europe. Our limited exposure to the U.S. market was positive for Top Flight.

Top Flight portfolio recently completed 10 years of performance from December 31, 1997 through December 31, 2007. During this period, Top Flight generated a total return, net of all fees, of 417% versus 77.4% for the S&P 500. Its compound annual return is 18.03% versus 5.95% for the S&P 500 (see track record for full disclosures).

In the investment industry, 10 years is significant. Almost anyone can get lucky and have an exceptional year. If you see three years of good performance, investment advisors will start to notice. A five-year track record is even better. To generate 10 years of exceptional performance is even more meaningful.

I have sat on several industry panels where other “experts” have argued that active management doesn’t work. I believe that Top Flight’s 10-year track record indicates otherwise.

Managed Income Portfolio

Managed Income returned 2.24% for the year (see track record for full disclosures). It performed well from a relative standpoint, but not so well from an absolute standpoint. So what does that mean… it sounds like investment mumbo jumbo?

From an absolute standpoint, 2.24% is nothing to get excited about. We could have put our money in a bank CD and done much better if we had known the return in advance. Unfortunately, no one announced last January how the year would unfold.

From a relative standpoint, Managed Income performed exceptionally well. The underlying asset classes that make up Managed Income were a minefield last year. Managed Income invests in real estate, convertibles, preferred stock, high yield bonds, treasury bonds, bank loan funds, dividend income funds, etc. It invests in all of the more conservative asset classes that generate income. Most of those asset classes struggled last year and anything associated with real estate ended the year down about 15 percent.

Relative to previously mentioned investment groups that Managed Income is forced to stay within; we will take 2.24% for last year and be pleased with it. The fact that Managed Income was able to even generate positive returns last year was noteworthy.

Also, keep in mind that Managed Income’s primary objective is to avoid losses. Its secondary objective is to generate the highest returns possible within the investment constraints of avoiding losses. In 2007 it met both of these objectives.

Longer term, since Managed Income’s inception on October 1, 2001, the portfolio has generated a total return of 76.33% doubling the 36.95% earned by its benchmark, the Lehman Bond Index. Its compound annual return is 9.63% versus 5.23% for the Lehman Bond Index.

Copyright 2008 Paragon Wealth Management

Market Forecasting: Investors Beware continued

Posted December 26, 2007 by admin. tags:Tags: , , , , , , , ,
Grumpy old man

Written by:  Dave Young, President

Market professionals are not alone in their inability to forecast market behavior. Economists do just as poorly. Every six months the Wall Street Journal prints the results of a survey of leading economists who predict the level and direction of interest rates for the coming six months. 55 high profile economists currently participate in this semiannual forecast. You’d think such prestigious economists in such a high profile newspaper would know what they’re talking about , right? Nope.

The record shows that from 1982 through the beginning of 2003 (43 periods), 71% of the time the consensus of economists could not even forecast the direction of rates, either up or down, for six months forward. If they’d just blindly guessed they’d have a 50/50 chance, but their actual educated predictions turn out to be much worse. And these are the best the industry has to offer!

So if forecasts are a waste of time then what does work? After 20 years of managing money, I am convinced that investors will only succeed when they are able to remove emotion from the investment process. Gut feelings are not a reliable investment strategy-even the gut feelings of so-called experts.

Oftentimes, successful investing requires you to act in a way that is contrary to what you “feel” is right. For example, several of our models measure the overall optimism or pessimism in the investing public. When optimism is high we know that there’s a lot of risk in the market and it’s likely that the market will decline. Likewise, when optimism is low and most investors think that things are really bad, that is usually a great time to invest. This pattern has repeated itself for years.

We take great care to ensure that all of our investment decisions are based on solid, proven models, not hunches. Our portfolio allocation models tell us how much we should be invested based on measured risk in the market. We run the models daily to determine the most effective percentages of investments and cash holdings.

Once we’re in the market, our portfolio focus models tell us where we should be invested. We constantly track all areas of the equity markets on both a macro scale (small cap, mild cap, large cap, value, growth, international and emerging markets) and a micro scale (individual industries, sectors and countries).

The bottom line for Paragon Wealth Management’s clients is that they can be confident that their portfolio isn’t being managed by some celebrity market fortuneteller. Our quantitative models enable us to impartially measure what is actually happening in the market and how much risk there is at any point in time. We constantly evaluate the models to determine how effectively they are working. In my opinion, this is one of the best ways to invest for long term success.

Click here to read the first half of the article.

To learn more about Paragon Wealth Management, visit www.paragonwealth.com or call 801-375-2500.

Copyright 2007 Paragon Wealth Management

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