Written by Dave Young, President & Founder of Paragon Wealth Management
While the stock market made significant advances in 2013 and 2014, last year felt more like a repeat of 2011 when the market went nowhere. In 2015, the S&P 500 experienced its first 10% decline in four years.
There were some winning sectors with technology, health care and consumer stocks posting modest gains. On the other hand, commodity, mining and energy stocks were a train wreck. Large stocks beat smaller companies and U.S. stocks beat out international ones. This year’s gains were focused in a minority of stocks.
No asset class posted double digit gains. In the past 28 years, that has only happened one other time (in 2001).
China and Greece continued to create financial drama. Emerging markets had a terrible year. Generally speaking, most stocks and sectors were in decline. In 2015, if you broke even as an investor, it would be considered a success.
Managed Income portfolio spent its time avoiding trouble. Many of the conservative asset classes it invests in ran into difficulty. Managed Income declined -2.8% for the year. This is its first negative year since 2008.
While we are never happy with a negative year, we were pleased it was able to avoid much of the downside experienced by the underlying asset classes it invests in. It was playing defense all year long.
Managed Income’s return from October 2001 to December 2015 is 5.14% compounded, which equates to a total return of 101.7% net of fees. (Please click here for disclosures.)
Top Flight portfolio had a good year considering positive returns were hard to come by — and those returns were in a relatively narrow group of stocks. Top Flight gained 3.71% for the year versus 1.41% for the S&P 500. Top Flight’s compound annual return from January 1998 through December 2015 is 11.7% versus 6.26% for the S&P 500. Top Flight’s total return for that period is 613.4% versus 194.0% for the S&P 500.
Paragon Private Strategies Fund’s recent audit showed an internal rate of return of 14.3% for the period from March 20, 2013 through Dec. 31, 2014. Our relatively conservative private equity fund has performed well in this difficult environment. We are planning to open a second fund in 2016. Please contact us if you are interested in exploring this investment option and for required investor qualifications.
How Wealth is Created
Making money is difficult. After a difficult year like 2015, it is important to go back to basics, evaluate your situation and make sure you are on the right path.
As financial advisors, we provide a variety of financial services like retirement, estate and business planning. However, our focus has always been on managing investments. Why? At the end of the day, if you aren’t effectively building wealth over time, most aspects of your financial plan won’t matter.
So it begs the question. What is the best way to invest? How can you invest to meet your retirement goals?
Step one. Invest in things that increase in value. Currently, money markets, CDs, bonds and fixed annuities are not likely to gain much value. Interest rates are at historic lows, and those investments are tied directly to those low interest rates. After inflation and taxes, most of these investments are actually taking you backward.
In order to build wealth, you have to invest in things that appreciate over time. With interest rates this low, only stocks, real estate and direct business investments meet the criteria.
Step two. Enhance your return by buying when prices are low and things are cheap. Conversely, you should be reducing exposure when prices are high. Is this easy? Absolutely not. It is completely counterintuitive and requires you to ignore your natural “fight or flight” inclination.
This is why we have been holding so much cash for the past eight months. Our models showed that the upside was limited — there was too much risk for the potential reward.
Let me explain by highlighting a study published last year by DALBAR, one of the nation’s leading financial research firms.
The study found that over a 20-year period ending Dec. 31, 2014, the average equity-stock-fund investor posted an average annual return of 5.19%, which compares unfavorably to the average annual return for the S&P 500 Index of 9.85%.
Going back 30 years, DALBAR paints an even gloomier picture, with the average equity-stock-fund investor earning 3.79% annually versus the S&P 500’s average annual gain of 11.06%.
The reason most investors significantly underperform over time is because they constantly follow their emotions, which consistently puts them in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Rather than buying low and selling high, they do the opposite.
Step three. Reduce investment costs where possible. There is so much “junk” — i.e. prepackaged financial products sold to the retail investor. These products are sold by banks, brokerages and independent financial planners. They’re pitched at really nice dinner seminars. The excessive internal costs of these products make it difficult for the investor to gain the benefit of their underlying investment. With many of these products, it can take years, if ever, to overcome the internal costs.
Step four. Be patient — and this is the most important step. Stocks, real estate and direct business investments take time to play out. If you buy a quality stock or a property today, for a decent price, odds are that 10 years from now it will be worth significantly more than it is today. It will likely be worth much more than if you had invested that same money in a conservative investment.
The downside — and the part that trips up most investors — is that the investments that go up the most typically fluctuate the most. And that instability causes investors to bail out at the worst possible time and lose money.
This is why we recommend diversifying your portfolio with some conservative, albeit relatively unexciting investments. Each of our clients has an investment portfolio built to their specific goals and individual risk comfort level. While this is not necessarily the way to maximize returns, it is the way to maximize your return. We know if we can keep you invested for the long term, we can significantly increase your odds of meeting your goals and building wealth.
The concept is simple; the execution is difficult. But that’s why we’re here. We are committed to helping you reach your goals. Please call if you need help or have any concerns.
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.
Photo By Shutterstock
Article taken from Paragon Wealth Management 2nd Quarter Newsletter
Written By: Nathan White, Chief Investment Officer
Media & Current Affairs
In the short-term emotions rule and volatility reigns as investors are pushed around by headline news. A study of bear markets by Ed Clissold of NDR showed that bear markets that occur on rallies after recessions tend to be relatively short and not associated with a new recession- a sort of “echo bear”.
Worries of the European debt crisis and its ramifications are coinciding with the slowdown in economic data compounding the market nervousness. Many are worried that the austerity policies being promoted by the European Countries will stifle the economic recovery even though those actions would reduce their large deficits, which are what the markets were worried about in the first place. The U.S. administration is arguing the opposite of the Europeans with the belief that it is too soon to withdraw stimulus and reduce deficits.
I find it strange that people are fleeing Euro zone currency and debt due to fear over deficits into U.S. government debt, even though the U.S. is preaching more deficit spending? Somehow I don’t think that will end well. We are therefore avoiding long-term U.S. treasuries, as they could be a time bomb waiting to happen. It might not happen soon, but the low return (below three percent for 10-year Treasuries at the time I am writing this) is not worth the risk in our opinion.
Above all, the market hates uncertainty and with the bear market still very fresh in investor minds we are in a condition where people are very fast to sell and ask questions later. A report in the Wall Street Journal on June 14 by E.S. Browning (Rapid Declines Rattle Even Optimists) showed that the 12.4 percent drop in the Dow Jones Industrial Average from the peak on April 26 to June 7 occurred in only 42 days. The article indicated that the only other time that the Dow has fallen that fast in the past 80 years was at the start of the Korean War.
As I write this article, the S&P 500 is down about 14.5 percent from its peak. That’s only 5.5 percent away from the negative 20 percent that most consider as the condition for a bear market. It seems the market is pricing in a double-dip recession whether it actually unfolds or not! We have been slowly raising cash over the past month or so and as the market continues to show uncertainty. If our indicators weaken, we will raise more, but for now we still want to have exposure to the market as it could strengthen as fear subsides and investors realize that the market has already priced in any bad news. After all, we are still in recovery mode. Although it is weak, a recovery is still a recovery.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
Clients don’t need to go to Wall Street to receive excellent returns on their investments
Written by: Shannon Golladay, Public Relations
PROVO, UT– Utah money manager, David Young, has outperformed the S&P 500 with his Top Flight Portfolio for almost 10 years and been kept a secret for over 20.
Young, President of Paragon Wealth Management, manages the Top Flight Portfolio. It has generated a total return of 457% verses 86% for the S&P 500 from its inception on January 1, 1998 through October 31, 2007. Its compound annual return is 19.3%, versus 6.6% for the S&P 500. (Click here to see Paragon Top Flight Portfolio for complete track record and full disclosure.)
“My goal is to make my clients’ lives easier by helping them make good investment decisions,” said Young. “Ultimately, I would like to help them make work optional.”
Young started investing his own money in 1986 after he sold his 12 franchise businesses. He went to several investment groups to invest the funds from the sale, but he couldn’t find anyone he wanted to use.
“I tried several brokerage firms in the mid-80s, the traditional option at the time, and they did not meet my needs,” said Young. “I knew there had to be a better option.”
In 1986 Young formed “The Center for Financial Excellence” where he built basic quantitative models to determine when to be in or out of the equity and bond markets, and he used no-load mutual funds as his investment vehicle. He began to handle his own accounts and soon began managing his friends’ and family’s money. When he avoided the 1987 stock market crash, his methods sparked a lot of interest.
In 1992, Young formed Paragon Capital Management, which is now called Paragon Wealth Management, and registered with the SEC. He added staff and began attracting clients with larger amounts of money. He built more sophisticated and complex quantitative models to determine investment strategies regarding styles, sectors, and markets. Portfolio allocations were based around short-term, intermediate, and long-term models.
Young established the Paragon Top Flight Portfolio in 1998, incorporating Paragon’s most effective models and systems to date. In 2001 he established the Managed Income Portfolio, designed as a very conservative alternative for clients who want limited volatility. Both portfolios primarily invest in Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs).
Today, Young is optimistic about the future, and his Paragon Top Flight Portfolio continues to consistently out perform the S&P 500.
About Paragon Wealth Management
Paragon Wealth Management is a money management firm located in Provo, Utah. With over 20 years of experience, they are dedicated to creating success for their clients. It is estimated that only 10% of investments advisors have fiduciary responsibility, and Paragon falls in this elite group. Paragon receives no commissions and does not sell any financial products. They simply charge a management fee. Unlike traditional advisory relationships, Paragon clients are free to withdraw their money at any time without paying any surrender charges. For more information contact Shannon Golladay at 801-375-2500.