Last week I attended the life celebration for one of my favorite clients who passed away recently at the impressive age of 100. Interestingly enough that individual's life celebration event was held on the date that client would have been 101.
As you might expect, the celebration began with family telling how much she meant to them. Many tears were shed!
It then transitioned to both local and national charities providing testimonials about this client’s big heart and focused charitable mission. Interspersed between live speakers and video pieces were more video clips of this incredible person’s goals to support childhood education as a way to hopefully keep some of those kids from becoming crime statistics.
This person’s belief was that early childhood education and education in general could reduce the worlds’ overcrowded prisons.
Whether you concur or not two things struck me:
First, how focused this client was in giving and second, what a difference this client made as result of being focused in giving.
The whole event made me re-examine how I/we were giving and wonder aloud with my wife if we were as focused as this client.
As a result, we came up with five ways to realign our charitable giving with our passion. Here they are:
1. Find Your Passion
This is one is almost self explanatory. I have been on enough charitable boards to tell you that unless you are passionate about something, it will just get old in a hurry!
I distinctly remember one such education related board position I took just for the perceived networking value. Not only was I not passionate about the organization’s mission, but my lack enthusiasm for its mission actually showed to those I met and worked against me in my networking.
Of course the complete opposite has been the case with my involvement with many other organizations where my excitement level led me to great satisfaction, better relationships and better results.
2. Align Your Mission With Your Passion
Here the simple action step is find your passion and then align where you spend your time, give your treasures (funds) and use your talents with that passion.
After this client’s celebration, my wife and I sat down and determined that our passion was still for international missions. International missions that either make or train disciples, support the oppressed or care for orphans.
This newly aligned mission and passion is the sweet spot for our giving.
3. Cull The Dead Wood
Hopefully by this point you have a pretty good idea of what you are passionate about and how to align your mission with that passion.
The next step is to see where you are giving of your time, treasures and talents and eliminate those charitable activities that no longer fit with your mission.
This quite frankly can be the though part as I have never met a charity that did not need additional resources and here you are pulling back those valued inputs. However, like my failed foray into the world of educational charities, the world will be a better place in the long-term if you are truly passionate about your giving.
My suggestion is you set a date in the future, give them proper notice of at least 90 days and then soften the blow a bit with the reason you are pulling back your giving. They will respect you for your candor, even though they may not be excited about its impact on them.
4. Determine How Best to Use Your Time, Treasures or Talents
Hand and hand with culling the dead wood is the process of determining the best uses of your resources. As a result of your cull of certain charitable activities, you may have extra time, funds or talents to lend to the right charity.
You may decide that you already have the right charities and now its just a matter of realigning your available resources with that slimmed down list.
The point here is to develop a plan to maximize the impact of your giving on existing or possibly new organizations where your mission can best be met.
5. Measure Your Impact
The final step is to measure your results and fine tune your giving. This is the measurable part of goal setting.
What do you hope to accomplish, over what time period and what does an acceptable result look like?
Remember this is a process, you may need to periodically reassess your commitments to keep them in line with your goals.
Let me know what you think in the comments below.
Written By: Jeff Diercks
According to many market watchers, August notched a new milestone for the current bull market. It marked the longest bull market in terms of days in history as it eclipsed 3,453 days on August 22nd.
Of course, many would argue that this depends on your starting point. Some would argue that we had a bear market (defined as a correction of greater than 20%) in 2011 and so the end of that correction is the starting point of the current bull run which then greatly shortens this calculation.
From our perspective, who cares!
Let’s ride the bull market as long as it wants to keep moving up. The longer the better!
When the bull market does finally signal the end, our process will help us move aside or hedge our remaining positions to minimize those losses.
In the early days of my career, I tried to predict market tops and was wrong almost 100% of the time, but not anymore.
I have no idea!
Oh, I can tell you that we are probably much closer to the end statistically than the beginning! I would probably even warn you that you need to know where the exit sign is because the average bear market is no picnic!
Technically, I can probably warn you at the correct time that it appears the market is ready to move lower. However, I cannot guarantee you that that correction will turn into a bear market and that we have seen a top, except in retrospect. The last few words here are key here!
As trend followers, our models are not predictive. They are reactive. We will only know a turning point in retrospect and then we react.
So how much of a shine would the average bear market take off the average American’s portfolio? Is this even worth worrying about?
As you can see in First Trust/Morningstar chart above, the average bear market lasts 1.4 years and brings a cumulative loss of -41%.
Let that sink in a bit!
If your current portfolio value is now $425,000 at the end of the average bear market it will be worth just $250,750 at the bottom. That is quite a hit!
According to First Trust/Morningstar, the average bull market rises 9.1 years and 476%.
So how long then does it take to recover this 41% hit ? The answer is? It depends!
If we use an average of the annualized bull market returns from the First Trust/Morningstar chart, that would be approximately a 20% annual return, so roughly 2.8 to 3.0 years.
Quite honestly not as long as I had expected and certainly the bull market returns at almost 20% per annum are more than I would have guessed.
However, what if instead of losing 41%, your portfolio value, you only lost 10% (or maybe even made money as we believe we can do with a couple of our portfolio solutions)?
Well happy days! The recovery period at an annual return of 20% in a bull market assuming a 10% bear market loss is just .6 years.
In our case, I would be shocked if our clients lost 10%. We believe 5-6% is probably the maximum and that further shortens this recovery period to just .3 years or 3.6 months.
What this means is that our clients are in theory enjoying market profits much faster than the person who just buys and holds through entire market cycles.
The buy and hold investor must wait almost 3 years to get back to break even before they can start earning new returns.
If fact, this period to break even is usually even longer because the average investor does not usually do as well as the market averages.
According to the Investment Company Institute and Real Investment Advice.com, the average investor underperforms the S&P 500 index by almost 38%. Assuming that is correct, the recovery period for the average investor now grows to 4.5 years.
Let’s assume we investment just as badly (not likely) and our recovery period on a 10% loss grows from .6 to .96 years (almost 1 full year).
Which scenario would you rather have? A one-year recovery or a 4.5-year recovery?
The choice is yours, but if you are like most Americans, it may be time you focus more on that exit door and give us a call!
Written by: Jeff Diercks
It's back! Well maybe...I think. Is that decisive enough for you?
Of course, I am not talking about Jack Nicholson, Jaws or a new Star Wars sequel but Bitcoin.
Bitcoin you say?
Yes, Bitcoin! The darling of 2017 portfolios and cocktail party banter!
Maybe you remember Bob, the guy with the crowd gathered around him at the party who had the crowd memorized with his story of how he turned a $3,000 investment in Bitcoin into a new life as a millionaire. Maybe you hated Bob as much as I did! Darn Bob!
How did Bob do it?
He rode the trend upward to riches. Now Bob was fortunate to investment in Bitcoin before it took off on a parabolic upward move, but Bitcoin may still have a big move left in her. Just maybe!
Here is the deal, nothing moves straight up and Bitcoin took a pretty hard spill, but we are now seeing new life that could once again lift it to its former highs.
The decline was what we call in the business a Pennant Pattern. You can vaguely make out the Pennant between the two dotted lines in the top panel of the chart window.
As luck would have it, price this week moved above the top pennant pattern dotted line, which could be signaling a new price move in Bitcoin.
This move is also confirmed by the earlier trend line break of the RSI (bottom chart panel) and is close to confirming in the middle chart window with the MACD moving averages ready to cross and the blue histogram close to moving above the middle zero line.
Why Do I Tell You This?
This may be a great opportunity to make a pretty good return!
Hopefully, you then say to yourself, "self...what else can Jeff and InTrust Advisors do for me?"
That is why! Simple self interest!
Here is why I believe the opportunity bears watching!
If you measure the left side spread between the flag pattern lines (blue dashed) in the top chart window and then measure up that same distance from the point price broke above that top flag pattern line, it points to at least a retest of the highs.
A retest of the highs in bitcoin would be a 115%+ move from today's close. That would be nice wouldn't it?
How Do I Invest?
Don't call me on this opportunity, I cannot help you with it.
The best thing to do is open an account at one of the many bitcoin exchanges, such as San Francisco based Coinbase, and then make the trade yourself.
Just don't forget us when you have the talk with your future self on the information we provided you and the return you hopefully made on your investment.
Want to know more, download our free report entitled Currency Markets, Bitcoins and Perspective.
Now the disclaimers:
As always, investing does entail risk and this is a speculative trade. There is risk to your principal and our analysis could be wrong or market conditions could change.
Past performance may not be indicative of future performance. We would advise you to seek the advise of your own dedicated financial professional.
Written by: Jeff Diercks