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How Is Automation Impacting Job Creation?

The November 16, 2017 issue of the Wall Street Journal contains an article which addresses this topic.  I found it to be of interest and hope you do, too.

Well-known entrepreneur Elon Musk predicts that the advance of artificial intelligence and automation will dramatically reduce the number of available jobs.

The Wall Street Journal shares a new report from IT-services and consulting firm Cognizant Technology Solutions which offers a much more positive prediction.

The study sites that there will be at least 21 new job categories created within the next 10 years.  Titles such as “genetic diversity officer,” “virtual store sherpa” and “personal memory curator” represent three of these new job categories.

Other opportunities called “walker-talkers,” represent workers to answer calls to assist and provide companionship for a growing elderly population.  Another new position is called “data detectives”.  This represents work to dig into their employer’s data stockpiles and generate new business recommendations.

In summary, the report projects that 19 million positions in the United States will be automated out of existence in the next 15 years.  However, the same report also predicts that about 21 million new roles will be created.

(Source: “A Future without Jobs?  Think Again” by Kelsey Gee.)

Welcome to the growing world of artificial intelligence and automation!

Barbara A. Culver
Resonate, Inc.
(513) 605-2500

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What Do Auto Loans Have to Do with Me?
According to Manning and Napier’s September 28 Market Commentary the answer is “a lot”.

First the facts:

U.S. auto debt swelled to a record high $1.2 trillion at the end of the second quarter.  This is the 25th consecutive quarter of auto loan growth, with the total outstanding balance now up 70% from a post-crisis low of $700 million in 2010. The surge in auto loans is a growing burden that we are monitoring both in terms of the challenges it may pose to the consumer, as well as to our outlook for the U.S. economy more broadly.

Since the beginning of the decade, the growth in auto loans has been strong enough to outpace the growth in overall household debt.

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Thoughts on Preparing for a Stock Market Correction

No, I am not suggesting I have a crystal ball which allows me to predict the next stock market correction.  However, we all know that a correction will come.

(As a reminder, a correction is defined as a decline of 10% of current market value.)

What we know is that, as the stock market begins to drop in value, it can be very tempting to “go to cash”.  A recent study by Betterment who analyzed 58,000 IRA account holders from 2008 to 2012 found that those who went into cash had an average return of about 1 percent per year less than investors who stayed the course.

Here are our recommendations to prepare for a coming correction:

  1. Determine how much of a contingency fund you want to have on hand.  In this way, when “you have a need to cover unexpected expenses”, you already have the cash in place.  This helps prevent you from having to sell an asset while it is down in value.
  2. In addition to a contingency fund, for those of you who receive monthly income from your investment portfolio, it’s important to decide how many months or years of your income you want to have readily available.  For example, you might decide to keep one year’s worth of income needs in cash at all times.
  3. Be sure your “revolving replacement fund” is also adequately funded.  This is a fund that is used for predictable expenses such as the need to replace appliances and automobiles from time to.  Again, it is important to determine how much money you want to have in this revolving replacement fund.Having adequate cash set aside or each of these possibilities helps allow you to stay invested during the correction.
  4. Now let’s talk about the money that is invested in the U.S. and/or international stock markets.  First, we want to be sure that you are taking the amount of risk that is appropriate based on your age, health, time horizon and risk tolerance.  It is very important that you understand the potential “drawdown” on your portfolio.  The potential drawdown shows you how much your account could lose on paper during a correction.  Again, you need to be sure that you are comfortable with the amount of drawdown exposure in your portfolio.  This helps allow you to stay invested if/when the portfolio declines in value on paper.

As always, we would welcome the opportunity to answer any questions or discuss any concerns about your portfolio before the next correction.

Barbara A. Culver
Resonate, Inc.
(513) 605-2500

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Vital Information for Hurricane Victims

I am hopeful that the information in this blog will be helpful to anyone who sustained damage from Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and/or Maria.  We want you to know that Resonate stands ready to serve as a resource for you.While we are not tax advisers, the information below is a matter of public record.  We are simply committed to offering timely information for you.

Hurricane victims are entitled to take casualty losses even if they do not itemize.

Uninsured personal losses in excess of $500 may be deducted without regard to the “10%-of-AGI ” offset.

If anyone lost tax records, they can use the free “Get Transcript” online tool, which prints a summary of key tax information.  Of course, any Resonate clients using the offered online services of the RESLink Vault and/or Everplans would already have these records stored electronically for easy access.

If actual returns are desired, send a written request to the IRS by using Form 4506.

To expedite a reply, in red ink at the top of the form write the name of the hurricane that impacted you.

For our philanthropically motivated clients, the 50% of AGI limitation is suspended for cash donations to qualified charities serving hurricane victims.

Please contact a tax professional for additional information prior to pursuing any idea contemplated herein.

We hope this information is of value.  Please contact us with any questions.  We are here to serve.

Barbara A. Culver
Resonate, Inc.
(513) 605-2500

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The “Greenspan Put” Is Now In China’s Hands

Recently, one of the lead stories on Bloomberg proclaimed: “The Greenspan put is now the Zhou Xiaochuan put.”  Alan Greenspan, of course, was the long-serving Fed chairman, whose tenure started in August 1987.  Zhou will soon be retiring after 15 years as head of China’s central bank, the People’s Bank of China.

The point of the Bloomberg article was that today it’s China’s central bankers who, by raising or lowering rates, can exert the greatest control over the global economy, taking over a role that used to be held by the U.S.  It’s an observation that echoes what I’ve been arguing for the last two years, i.e., that today the most important economy when it comes to our financial markets isn’t ours, it’s China’s.  Events have backed up that view: as I’ve pointed out before, our stock market throughout this year and even in 2016 has clearly been swayed in significant part by the economic data generated in China.  And there’s good reason to believe that will continue to be the case.

Recent news reports confirming that China plans to start trading an Eastern oil benchmark denominated in yuan backed by gold – something we have been predicting China is almost certain to do – sounds right on target to us.  And it casts a dark shadow over Western hegemony, in that such a benchmark, which you could label “petro-yuan” as opposed to “petrodollars”, easily could threaten the dollar’s role as the world’s primary reserve currency.  Such a shift would almost surely mean that sharp gains in oil would be much more felt by those holding dollars than those holding yuan, inflicting pain on the U.S. economy and on Americans.

Our message: the U.S. can rely on China only up to a point.  After that, if we don’t rely on ourselves and focus on building our infrastructure and ensuring ongoing access to critical natural resources, our next crisis may end up with a world in which we find ourselves clearly playing second fiddle to China.

(Source: The Complete Investor, 10/10/17, Stephen Leeb)

Barbara A. Culver
Resonate, Inc.
(513) 605-2500

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What May Happen to Prices in 2018

I read some predictions in the August 25 Kiplinger Letter which I thought might interest you.

  • Energy prices are on the rise. Crude oil is expected to increase “a few dollars a barrel”.  Natural gas could increase as much as 10% and electricity about 2%.
  • Employers can expect to pay an additional 4% for health insurance while prescription drugs could increase by 10.3%.  This is actually down from the 11.6% increase in 2017!
  • Airfares and freight costs will increase by about 2%. Hotels up about 2.2% and car rentals by 3%.
  • UPS and Fed Ex are expected to increase their rates by 3-5%.

So is anything expected to decrease in cost?  YES! Technology and telecom costs will continue to slide; smartphone, tablets, PC’s and printers may decrease by as much as 10%!

As Wall Street reaches new highs, hopefully it will provide a means for you to handle the higher prices.

Barbara A. Culver
Resonate, Inc.
(513) 605-2500

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What the Future May Hold for U.S. Large Caps

Of course, no one knows for sure, but I thought you might be interested in the latest opinions I have received recently.

Tailey Leger, equity strategist for the Oppenheimer Funds states that she expects the large cap rally to continue for at least two more years.

Here is the thinking that supports this position:

  1. A weakening U.S. dollar and strengthening international economies are key reasons.  The foreign exposure of U.S. large cap companies results in 30% of the S&P 500 revenues coming from outside the U.S.
  2. If the president comes through with tax cuts for businesses, it may create more opportunity for growth.
  3. The Federal Reserve is committed to normalizing monetary policy and flattening the yield curve.  Historically large caps have outperformed small caps by an average of 1.8% in flattening yield curve regimes.

Please contact me to discuss your personal objectives and portfolio strategy.

Barbara A. Culver
Resonate, Inc.
(513) 605-2500

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Your Children and Athletic Scholarships
College Planning

The new school year has begun!  Besides a new school year, fall also rings in another sports season for many families.  I have an 8-year old son, and for the first time, he will be playing tackle football.  I still don’t know how I feel about that!

He also plays fall soccer for a club team, winter basketball for his school, spring baseball with his school, and another round of club soccer in the spring.  He plays these sports out of passion for the game and being a “Energizer” bunny full of athleticism.

While he may play a lot of sports, I always instill that school comes first and if he starts to struggle in school, the sports schedule will be fiercely re-evaluated.

I tell you all of this because at 8 years old, I am already hearing other parents and coaches tell me that he could be a candidate for athletic scholarships for college.  First, I am by no means taking any of that to heart.  He is 8 years old and has many moons before college.  Second, it triggered this blog post, because I had an article from magazine titled “How to Get an Athletic Scholarship”, written by Lynn O’Shaughnessy.

I found the article very interesting because as financial planners, we do a lot of education projections and creating strategies for families to afford not only college, but in some cases, elementary and high school educations.  Through our experience with the education planning, we run across parents who are “counting on” athletic scholarships to pave the financial way for their children to attend college.

The reality may be different from what many parents anticipate.

The article pointed out that the odds of receiving an athletic scholarship are very small; “2% of high school athletes receive a sports scholarship at a National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) school”.  The article further points out that the scholarships tend to be less generous than the financial aid or merit scholarships that students can receive.

It was an interesting read and pointed out a couple of other college funding options for athletes – focus on merit scholarships and financial aid.  If you have a student who wants to get noticed by college coaches, have them utilize an online recruiting service (Next College Student Athlete (NCSA) or BeRecruited).  The students can also reach out to college coaches to introduce themselves and follow up with the coaches.  Another resource for students and parents would be the website.  This site is a source for athletic scholarship statistics to research specific sports and individual schools.

When it comes to financial planning for your children’s education, putting too many hopes onto an athletic scholarship is not advisable.  Let’s talk through all the options that your children will have for college and beyond.

Erin Savage-Weaver
Resonate, Inc.
(513) 605-2500

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How Resonate Provides Value
Richness of LifeIn case you have not read the first blog in this short series, I invite you to do so.

Since completing it, I have given thought to which of the many client stories I wanted to share with you.

The first story is that of a recent widow who was referred to us.  When I met with Alice, (not her real name, of course), I found her to be very clear and communicative in spite of the recent and sudden passing of her husband.

The stories she told me about her experiences in the financial services world both angered and saddened me.  Assumptions were made that, of course, she would not be able to “handle her own affairs nor make thoughtful decisions” primarily because she was a woman.  On several occasions, male advisors from different companies assured her that “they knew what was best” and even provided “solutions” without bothering to understand the client and her life.

In contrast, I discovered, that when given the opportunity, this woman was quite amazing in how quickly she was adjusting to new life and found her thought process to be remarkably clear.

This included her clarity of thought that the “solutions” provided probably benefited the advisor more than they would benefit her.  Upon discussion and review of the various recommendations, I supported her thinking.

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Client Fees & Value
It seems that everywhere we turn today, the media is emphasizing advisory and product fees.

Common questions are:

“Are you paying too much?”

“Do you know what you are paying for?”

I consider this type question to be one-dimensional and shortsighted.  For example, if one wants to “stay on the numbers’ side”, then where is the question:

 “Are you receiving value for your fees?”

The interesting thing that happens when we insert the word “value” is that we add the possibility for an intangible answer in addition to the one-dimensional tangible answer.

Here are two recent examples of how we have added both tangible and intangible value for our clients:

Example One:

Clients recently came in for their conversation with us, which includes portfolio review. They brought a folder with them and asked: “Will you please look over these estimates for us to pre-pay our funerals?”

This led to a conference call with the clients and the director of the funeral home.  At the end of the conversation in which I asked many questions, the clients said, “Thank you so much.  We understand this now, and are very pleased with the decisions we have made.  Mostly, we feel wonderful that we have taken this burden off of our family.”

Tangible Results: the clients ended up saving $1100 from the original quote.

Resonate Time: 90 minutes

Resonate Fee for this work: $0 


Intangible Value Received by the Client: Relief; peace of mind.

Intangible Value Received by Resonate: Knowing we did the “right thing” for aging clients.


Another Example…

A client called recently and said: “I’m not sure if these new legal documents prepared by an attorney match our objectives discussed with you.”

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