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Improving Investor Behavior: Keep Politics Out of Your Portfolio

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This article originally appeared in the Denver Post, September 20th, 2020.

With the election a short 45 days away, the news stream is unrelenting. Political TV ads, postcards, and of course those phone calls during the dinner hour – it’s an all-out media assault designed to convince you that if the “other guy” gets elected, the world is sure to end. It’s enough to elicit one of three emotional responses: either anger and outrage toward the opposition and confirmation bias toward your selection, utter fear and terror at what may or may not happen, or complete apathy toward the whole process. Regardless of where you stand, it’s important to recognize the effect that this election might have on your portfolio… or lack thereof.

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Steve Booren

Steve Booren

Steve Booren is the Owner and Founder of Prosperion Financial Advisors, located in Greenwood Village, Colo. He is the author of Intelligent Investing: Your Guide to a Growing Retirement Income and a regular columnist in The Denver Post. He was recently named a Forbes Top Wealth Advisor in Colorado.

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Getting Back to Better

Note

This article originally appeared in the Denver Post, June 21st, 2020.

As a dad, I’ve always embraced my inner Tim “The Tool Man” Taylor when it comes to Father’s Day. Whether it’s a new drill, pressure washer, or some other home improvement gadget, I’ve always enjoyed gifts that keep me building. In a way, I enjoy the metaphorical message behind it too: tools give me the ability to enhance the environment that keeps my family safe, warm, and protected. It’s what I’ve always strived to do as a father.  

My goal as a parent has always been to build a better future for my kids, and to give them opportunities that I didn’t have. Whether that’s financial, educational, personal, or whatever it may be. It’s an essential part of my “why.” I think deep down there’s a part of us that wants our kids to be better than we ever were. To me, that’s progress and hope. It’s an innate and immeasurable desire – to want our tomorrow to be better than our today.  

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Steve Booren

Steve Booren

Steve Booren is the Owner and Founder of Prosperion Financial Advisors, located in Greenwood Village, Colo. He is the author of Intelligent Investing: Your Guide to a Growing Retirement Income and a regular columnist in The Denver Post. He was recently named a Forbes Top Wealth Advisor in Colorado.

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Highlights of the CARES Act

Late last week the senate passed and the President signed the CARES stimulus package designed to, among many things, curb the financial turmoil created in the wake of the Coronavirus. This $2.2 trillion, 800+ page legislation offers meaningful help to investors, business owners, and those directly impacted by layoffs or the virus.

Using several sources we’ve compiled a list of some of these benefits that our clients might find most helpful. If one stands out to you, please reach out to us and we’ll be happy to walk through how it might apply to your situation. We’d also recommend connecting with your CPA regarding tax-related items.

Here are some of the highlights:

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Timeless Truths & The Cycle of Market Emotions

Just 30 days ago, on Feb. 18th, markets were at all-time highs. Today, fear grips the market and recession is at the top of every financial pundits’ mind.  Benjamin Graham, said to be one of the best investors of all time, and a mentor to Warren Buffett reminds us:

Control what you can control: yourself, your emotions and your response (or behavior) to those emotions.

Through many of the articles I’ve read this week, one stood out to me. Here’s an excerpt, written by the Collaborative Fund:

The majority of your lifetime investment returns will be determined by decisions that take place during a small minority of the time.

Most of those periods come when everything you thought you knew about investing is thrown out the window.

How you invested from 1990 to 1998 wasn’t all that important. The choices you made from 1999 to 2001 shaped the rest of your investing career.

What you did from September 2008 to March 2009 likely had more impact on your lifetime investment returns than what happened cumulatively from 2002 to 2007, or from 2009 to 2017.

The pilot’s famous answer when asked about his job — “Hours of boredom punctuated by brief moments of terror” — applies perfectly to investing. The brief moments of terror are the rise and fall of markets like this.

Ask yourself: Am I a speculator or an investor? What is the difference?

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Steve Booren

Steve Booren

Steve Booren is the Owner and Founder of Prosperion Financial Advisors, located in Greenwood Village, Colo. He is the author of Intelligent Investing: Your Guide to a Growing Retirement Income and a regular columnist in The Denver Post. He was recently named a Forbes Top Wealth Advisor in Colorado.

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Improving Investor Behavior – Investing in Panic

A lot can change in 30 days. One short month ago, markets were knocking on the door of all-time highs, businesses were doing well, and Joe Biden was behind several candidates in the Democratic primaries.

Oh, how things change quickly. Very quickly.

Even when compared to historic drops, the decline of about 18 percent that we’ve seen in the broad market indices took only 13 days. The start of the Great Depression took 28 days to reach that level. In 1998, it took 31 days. The Great Recession didn’t even make it in the top five fastest drops.

I want to focus on two questions in this column: First, to what can this speed of this market drop be attributed; and second, is it warranted?

All dramas need a villain. This time it’s the Coronavirus. The rapid spread of the virus led to ghost towns (Wuhan), which in turn led to locking down an entire country (Italy). This is a serious virus, and any amount of death or damage caused by it is too much. I don’t intend to trivialize it, nor the efforts of healthcare workers around the world fighting on the front lines.

But as investors, we have a mandate to try and understand where to draw the line between reasonable concern and emotion-driven panic. Too much emotion leads to panic selling, which in turn creates opportunities for those willing to buy when others are fearful.

I’d argue that we are well over the line of reasonable concern and deep into an emotional panic. During the 2008-2009 recession, corporate profits declined 46 percent, according to Brian Wesbury, Chief Economist at First Trust. Comparably, the current declines point to an estimated profit decline of 50-80 percent. Effectively, the market is saying that Coronavirus will have a greater effect on American businesses than the Great Recession, a time in which the entire monetary system seemed to be teetering on edge.

Consider these five critical elements of an economy: The Federal Reserve, taxes, regulatory policy, trade policy, and spending. What’s the status of these? The Federal Reserve just announced yet another cut to rates last week, making them even more accommodative than they already were. We just passed significant tax reform two years ago. Burdensome regulatory policies have been reduced. Trade policies (while challenging) have shown progress. All that to say that our economy is a pretty good place for business right now, and far better than it was during 2008-2009.

If the economy is strong and unemployment continues to be at an all-time low of 3.5 percent, why is there such a panic? I think part of it is the unknown. We’ve seen movies and TV shows designed to scare us with viruses. A disease that demolishes populations, creates zombies and generally wreaks havoc. We’re seeing something we don’t fully understand, and governments around the globe are reacting. Social media posts are encouraging everyone to start wearing gas masks and stockpiling toilet paper. Media, both traditional and social, perpetuates panic with continuous updates from a variety of “experts.” Couple that with the financial industries’ recent trend of eliminating trading costs and arming investors with phone apps, and you start to understand how easy it is for investors to panic sell with virtually no barriers.

On February 3, some 12,000 Robin Hood (a “free trading” app) investors bought Tesla shares for the first time. It reminds me of Bitcoin in 2017 and the dot.com bubble of 1999. Greed is a powerful emotion. When prices decline, human nature extrapolates that values will go to zero. Fear overtakes common sense, rising to panic.

Going one level deeper, consider a popular investment these days called exchange-traded funds (ETFs). These derivatives are designed to mirror the performance of a basket of underlying assets, usually stocks. For example, this allows an investor to buy a share of an ETF that reflects the performance of the entire S&P 500. Investors like them as they provide a low-cost method of diversification.

But behind the scenes, there’s a lot of trading going on to keep the derivative in line with the underlying asset. This gets complicated quickly, but suffice it to say that I think ETFs may be contributing to the dramatic swings we’ve seen lately. Liquidity, options, and other derivatives drive big moves, and these funds utilize tons of them. Computer-driven buying and selling mean it can all happen in a moment’s notice. I think the very financial instrument that was designed to give investors an edge has increased volatility and speculation.

Even when armed with logic and facts, our emotions can still get the better of us. There’s no doubt that headlines are scary, and the market drops are meaningful. But logic has to win over emotion. Think about this: during the Apollo 13 mission of 1970, the moon landing turned bad when two oxygen tanks and two fuel tanks failed. According to Jack Swigert, the chief pilot on the mission, had those variables been thrown at them during the simulator drills, they would have responded, “Come on, you are not realistic.” No one could have seen this coming, but it happened. One month ago this whole scenario seemed impossible, but here we are.

It’s during times like these we are reminded of the importance of good investor, and indeed financial, behavior. Get back to basics: Do you have a financial plan? Do you have savings? Do you have a project account set aside for emergencies? Are you spending less than you make? Are your investments diversified?

If all these boxes are checked, good investors will look at moments like these as opportunities. Asset prices have declined, allowing us to purchase some of the best companies in the world at discounts unimaginable only 30 days ago.

Steve Booren

Steve Booren

Steve Booren is the Owner and Founder of Prosperion Financial Advisors, located in Greenwood Village, Colo. He is the author of Intelligent Investing: Your Guide to a Growing Retirement Income and a regular columnist in The Denver Post. He was recently named a Forbes Top Wealth Advisor in Colorado.

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A Note to Clients on Virus Volatility

As I’m sure many of you are aware, this past week has been a difficult one for investors. The broad market indices have seen swift and dramatic drops, leaving many scared, confused, and upset.

Make no mistake; it is moments like these that define all of us as investors. Fear is an emotion, and one that can quickly snowball into an all-out panic. We’ve often said your behavior as an investor will ultimately have a far greater effect on your outcome than when or how you are invested. This is one such moment.

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PRESS RELEASE: Steve Booren Recognized in Forbes as a 2020 Top Wealth Advisor in Colorado

DENVER, Colo. — January 30, 2020 – Steve Booren of Prosperion Financial Advisors was recently ranked No. 26 in Colorado in the 2020 Best-In-State Wealth Advisors list published by Forbes.

According to Forbes, the annual list spotlights the nation’s top-performing advisors, evaluated based on a methodology developed by SHOOK Research. Advisors are also evaluated based on personal interviews, industry experience and revenue trends, among other criteria.

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The Decade in Review

As financial advisors we’re constantly advocating for investors to maintain a long-term view. We consider it to be fundamental, not only as an example of good investor behavior, but as a way of minimizing the emotional toll of “riding the rollercoaster”.

But what does it mean to have a long-term perspective? How long is long enough?

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Improving Investor Behavior: Retire to What?

Note

This article originally appeared in the Denver Post, June 16, 2019.

If I asked you to define retirement, how would you describe it? Take some time and think about it. You’re probably envisioning white sandy beaches, trips to the golf course, and visits with family, free from the constraints of work and email. Sounds nice, right?

That’s how a lot of people see retirement. The belief is that upon reaching a certain age (usually around 65), retirement should be an expectation – a foregone conclusion. And once retired, people will get to enjoy “the good life” of unlimited freedom, time, and fun.

But when I’m asked to define retirement, I do it a little differently. I think back to 1996.  Read more

Steve Booren

Steve Booren

Steve Booren is the Owner and Founder of Prosperion Financial Advisors, located in Greenwood Village, Colo. He is the author of Intelligent Investing: Your Guide to a Growing Retirement Income and a regular columnist in The Denver Post. He was recently named a Forbes Top Wealth Advisor in Colorado.

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Improving Investor Behavior – Managing Your Time Like Money

Note

This article originally appeared in the Denver Post, April 21, 2019.

As a financial advisor, I am typically hired by clients to help them manage their resources. Most often, these are financial resources including cash, investments, etc. Sometimes I help people to manage their business resources such as connecting professionals, encouraging action, and providing advice to help make sound decisions. But there is one resource that I help investors to consider, one that we all have, but tend to be terrible at managing.

That resource is time.

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Steve Booren

Steve Booren

Steve Booren is the Owner and Founder of Prosperion Financial Advisors, located in Greenwood Village, Colo. He is the author of Intelligent Investing: Your Guide to a Growing Retirement Income and a regular columnist in The Denver Post. He was recently named a Forbes Top Wealth Advisor in Colorado.

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