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Wes Moss Named to the Atlanta Business Chronicle’s 40 Under 40

Wes Moss Named to the Atlanta Business Chronicle’s 40 Under 40

ATLANTA November 6, 2015 Wes Moss – radio host and best-selling author – has been named a recipient of this year’s Atlanta Business Chronicle’s “40 Under 40” award. 

Moss was awarded for his work in both business and dedication to the community, focusing on financial education for all Atlanta citizens.

“I am so honored to be included among the professionals on this list by the Atlanta Business Chronicle,” says Moss. “Atlanta is blessed with so many talented individuals in so many different industries, and I am pleased to be able to count myself among those working to make Atlanta a better place.” 

“This honor is very befitting of Wes,” says Mitch Reiner, COO of Capital Investment Advisors. “The outstanding work Wes does through the radio and the AJC is a tremendous resource for Atlanta. In addition, Wes’ dedication to community efforts like improving public schools and working with Clark’s Christmas Kids makes him truly deserving of this honor.”

Moss is a CFP® and the Chief Investment Strategist at Capital Investment Advisors (CIA).  CIA currently manages more than a billion dollars in client assets, with offices in Atlanta, Sarasota, and Tulsa. Wes is also a partner in Wela, a digital advisory service based in Atlanta that offers free financial management tools and the ability for clients to work online with a financial planner.

In 2014 and 2015, Barron’s Magazine named Moss as one of America’s top 1,200 Financial Advisors. Wes is also the editor and writer for’s Financial Planning Blog and contributes regularly to the Atlanta Journal Constitution.

Wes has written several books including Starting from Scratch (Kaplan) and Make More, Worry Less (FT Press) and has served as a financial expert for both local and national media. His latest book, You Can Retire Sooner Than You Think – The 5 Money Secrets of the Happiest Retirees (McGraw Hill 2014), has been a best seller in the retirement planning category since its release. 

To reach Mr. Moss or his team, please visit or call 404-531-0018.


A Retirement Chart Sure To Give You Anxiety

I love how easily two-step charts are able to relay information to us. You look left, look right and then find your corresponding data point that reveals your answer. If only we could answer all of life’s tricky questions through a quick two-step chart.

The other day I shared JP Morgan’s 2015 Guide to Retirement chart on my Facebook page, and judging by the traffic, it clearly struck a chord. This particular chart tells you how to calculate how much money you should have saved for retirement based on your age and income level.

Taking a quick look at the chart, you might say, “Okay, I’m 35 years old and making $100,000, so I need to multiply $100,000 by 1.4. That’s a total of $140,000 that I should have saved (already). Good thing I started saving early and often”

An alternative ending to this might be, “Wait, WHAT!?! How am I already so far behind!?!”

According to Vanguard’s study released in 2014, How America Saves, their median participant retirement account balance was $31,396. The median participant age was 46 with an income of $75,000. According to JP Morgan’s chart, those participants should be clocking in with over $165,000 in savings already. That’s a difference of over $100,000!

Clearly there’s a disconnect between where the financial planning community says people should be, versus where people actually are.

Back in the real world, we’re seeing that most people are still struggling to save for retirement. According to a study released by the National Institute on Retirement Security in March 2015, 62 percent of working households between the ages of 55 – 64 have retirement savings worth less than their annual income. According to JP Morgan’s calculations anyone making above $50,000 a year should have at least three times their annual income saved for retirement by the age of 55!

In fact, this same study says that the median retirement account balance for households nearing retirement is $14,500. That’s truly terrifying!

Now after looking at both sides of this spectrum of savings, I have good news. There is hope!

There are plenty of surveys and financial planning articles that say that you’re supposed to have $1 million or even $2.5 million put away for retirement. While having either of these amounts would likely set you up for a comfortable retirement, the reality is that there’s no set number that everyone needs to reach for retirement. Just hearing numbers like this can be disheartening.

The real issue with retirement savings in America is that people are constantly bombarded with large savings goals that they “have” to reach to retire comfortably, so instead they just don’t save anything.

When doing the research for my book, You Can Retire Sooner Than You Think, I found that it was important for “happy retirees” to reach a minimum threshold of $500,000 in retirement savings. With that said, though, ultimately the real deciding factor in how much you need to retire depends on how much you need for spending each year once you stop working.

JP Morgan’s chart says that if you are currently making $400,000 a year while working, by the time you retire at age 65 you should have $6,640,000 in your retirement accounts. That’s assuming that during retirement you’ll still need 80 – 90 percent of that $400,000 forever.

What the chart seems to miss, is that by the time you retire you’ll hopefully own most of your larger assets outright; like your home, car, boat, and whatever else that you’re planning to enjoy in retirement. If that’s the case, then it’s pretty unlikely that you would need such a high percentage of your peak income year after year to be comfortable in retirement. It also means you don’t need to have that $6.6 million saved before retiring.

While I wish planning for retirement was as simple as following a chart, it’s better to actually know how much you plan on spending on a yearly basis in retirement. From there you can create your own retirement salary. A quick and easy way to do this is to head over to, and use one of my favorite retirement calculators.

Don’t panic when people throw out crazy numbers in regards to what your nest egg should look like. Your own personal situation will have its own uniqueness with its own twists and turns. That’s why they call this personal finance, and why it will never be as simple as looking at a chart.

Read the original article here.


One Secret To Retiring Sooner

As people have really dug into my new book over the last few months, You Can Retire Sooner Than You Think: The Five Money Secrets of the Happiest Retirees, I’ve had a common question come back to me:

“Given the fact that people are already living longer, requiring a longer draw-down period from their nest egg, how do you reconcile people retiring even earlier?”

It reminds me of the quote, “No man on their deathbed says, I wish I had worked more.”

My answer to this may sound a little grim but it’s realistic. While as a whole people in the US are living longer, it doesn’t guarantee that we’ll all live to age 100.

I have known too many wonderful people who spent years planning their retirement, but when they finally reached their “golden years” they sadly passed away unexpectedly just a few short years into their perfectly planned retirement.

Of course none of us knows exactly how long we will be on this earth. If we did know, retirement planning would be much easier. This leaves people with the difficult decision of retiring with the fear of possibly running out of money, or potentially missing out on the ability to enjoy retirement altogether. That’s why I suggest that if you’re looking to retire early, you might want to consider phasing into retirement.

Rather than diving straight into the retirement pool, you can wade in by first moving to part-time work. By continuing to work you may be able to stop saving for the future while also not spending from your savings. Just working part-time will give you more of the free time you’re looking for in retirement, but delays when you have to start using your savings.

Traditional retirement planning is often seen as black and white. Meaning you go from full speed building your nest egg to full speed spending your nest egg. By instead moving to part-time work you’re able to have more freedom with your time while also extending the life of your nest egg.

Think of this phase as your retirement happy hour before the party really starts.

It’s helpful to start planning that move to part-time work a few years out, before actually enacting it. While for many careers it may simply be a matter of reallocating priorities and cutting back, there are careers that do not easily offer part-time work. If that is your position, use the few years beforehand to start thinking through and planning your part-time career move.

Ideally, your part-time work just needs to cover your monthly expenses, so you may be able to switch to a new field. You could even take up a hobby as a part-time gig. If you’re crafty, enjoy woodcarving or have other skills like this, consider opening an online Etsy store. If you love shopping you should consider applying to work at your favorite store. On top of a job you’ll likely get an employee discount. You should be realistic, though. It’s probably pretty tough to get paid to go fishing or to watch college football.

An important happiness pillar from my book’s research stems from retirees participating in many different “core pursuits” also known as hobbies on steroids. If you can find a way to get paid while enjoying your core pursuits, then all the better.

Everyone seems to know someone who died too young to enjoy the money they had diligently socked away for retirement. I’ve personally seen it too many times to ever recommend that anyone stay somewhere they don’t love when they could potentially move to the next phase. Rather than focusing on continuing to build your nest egg, just be sure you’ve reached some of the benchmarks I’ve outlined before, and then get creative with how you ease into retirement.

Remember, it’s five-o’clock somewhere.

Read the original article here.


How To Double Your Money

Everyone says you should invest because it’ll help to grow your money, but let’s back this up a second and look at how it really works. Investing in the stock market yields various returns, and any investor, professional or not, will tell you that the future is never guaranteed. That’s why it’s best to invest money that you most likely will not need for several years.

With that said, one of the best investors of our time, Warren Buffett, several years ago in the aftermath of the financial crisis was quoted saying that investors should expect a return of 6 – 7 percent a year. That’s despite the S&P 500’s long term average of about 10 percent per year over its history (1928 through 2014).

The likelihood of achieving high single digit (to double digit) annual percentage returns is why people invest in the stock market for their retirement. Beyond your emergency fund, why would you put money that you aren’t planning on touching for 10, 20 or 30 years into savings account that can’t even keep up with inflation? According to today’s average money market rate in America is 0.09 percent. With inflation rising at approximately 2 percent year over year, socking away your retirement money into a savings account means you’re actually losing money!

What’s even crazier, there is a new app coming out called Digit that will help people with saving automatically, which is great except that users don’t earn any interest on their savings at all!

As new technology like this continue to pop up, it’s important to think through exactly what you’ll be using your savings for, and to make sure it’s in an account that allows your money to reach its full potential.

By investing money into the stock market your savings should be able to handily beat inflation over time. It seems like a no brainer, right?

Clearly it’s important to invest rather than just letting your money sit in your savings account when possible. If hearing 7 percent doesn’t get you excited, though, you can instead calculate how long it will take for your money to double at this rate.

The ‘Rule of 72′ is a simplified way to determine how long an investment will take to double, given a fixed annual rate of interest. By dividing 72 by the annual rate of return, investors can get a rough estimate of how many years it will take for the initial investment to increase 100 percent.

For example, the rule of 72 states that $1 invested at 10 percent would take 7.2 years ((72/10) = 7.2) to turn into $2.

Now thinking about this in terms of Warren Buffett’s belief that you’ll receive 7.2 percent a year, that would mean if you invested $10,000 at 7.2 percent it would take about 10 years to turn into $20,000 ((72/7.2) = 10).

Okay, now what if you have your $10,000 in a savings account that (let’s be generous) is yielding 1 percent a year? It would take you 72 years to double! ((72/1) = 72). That’s a 60 year difference from investing!

The ‘Rule of 72’ is just math. However, it’s an extremely helpful rule of thumb to put the marathon of investing into perspective. Okay, if I make 6 percent per year how long will it take your $50,000 to reach $100,000? 72 divided by 6 equals 12, so at that rate your money doubles in 12 years.

What about 9 percent per year? 72 divided by 9 equals 8, so at 9 percent per year your money doubles every 8 years. Get it?

If you’re looking to talk with someone, I would suggest heading over to, set up a financial “game plan”, or have a chat with one of the team. Wela offers free financial guidance for your big picture financial goals i.e. Saving for college, paying off your mortgage, allocating your 401k, and hitting certain investment asset goals.

No one gets rich overnight (expect lottery winners), but using the ‘Rule of 72’ will help you wrap your arms around just how long a double might take.

Read the original article here. 


How To Make The Forbes 400

On another fateful car ride to my son’s elementary school, we were listening to Bloomberg Radio, and they started discussing the Forbes list of The Richest Americans. My son asked me, “How did Bill Gates get so rich?”

I told him that Gates had started a company in his garage that grew and grew until it was so large that they decided to “take it public,” meaning that they allowed anyone to buy a “piece” of the company. When they did this, Gates still owned a large portion of the company, and everyone buying their small portions of the company caused his larger portion to increase in value. It increased so much, in fact, that he became the richest man in America (and remains at the top of the list with an estimated net worth of $80 billion).

“Oh, okay. Well who is the second richest person in America?”

“That’s Warren Buffet.”

“How did he get rich?”

Then we got to break down Buffett’s journey to wealth. I told my son how Buffett made his fortune by buying up large portions of companies like the one Bill Gates started.

“Who is the third richest person in America?” 

Finally, I just pulled up the Forbes list of the richest Americans on my iPhone, and I had my son read it to me.

I noticed while we looked over this list that many of the people in America who made this list had built their wealth by participating in the stock market. Most had either started companies, bought companies or were the children of people that had started a business that went public, like Wal-Mart or Campbell’s Soup.

When I told my son this, he asked, “Why don’t you put your company in the stock market?”

I smiled and said, “That’s called an IPO. You have to reach a certain size to be able to do that.”

Using Siri, I then pulled up the stock prices of some well-known Atlanta companies. I explained that these prices reflect the cost to buy one share of each business, Coke, Home Depot, Delta, etc.  I explained that they’re called public shares because anyone can buy them and own a piece of that business.

The point in buying into these companies, becoming an investor, is a way to participate in the company’s future growth. So if you can accumulate enough shares in the right companies or the market in general, and hold those shares for long enough, someday the value can be powerful enough to allow you to “retire early” or maybe even hit the Forbes 400 list.

“You know you don’t have to take a company public or own thousands of shares in a company to make money in the stock market, though,” I said. “You can start with a small amount of money, and that’s what my company Wela tries to people do every day.”

This conversation stuck with me for the rest of the day as I thought about how much of an impact the stock market has had in many people’s lives. I love the fact that the same system that made Bill Gates and Warren Buffett billions of dollars can also help anyone in the world grow their net worth.

With so many options now in the financial industry, it’s easier than ever for people to take advantage of this system. If you’re looking to get started, I would suggest looking at some of my past articles here, and even visiting my company’s website if you’re looking to get started investing.

God bless kids for asking important questions.


Read the original article here.  


What Warren Buffett Knows That You Don’t

The other morning I was listening to Bloomberg as I was taking my second grader, to school. On the radio they were discussing the Japanese journalist that was recently killed by ISIS. Then they moved into the Eric Garner case, talking about how he had died being apprehended by police.

My son then piped up from the backseat and asked me, “Dad, why do so many people die every day?”

I answered, “Lots of people die every day, but even more people are born.”

He then pointed out, “But dad, they never talk about that part on the news.”

This conversation got me thinking about one of my favorite Warren Buffett investment themes, the ever-growing Economic Pie.

I wrote about the Economic Pie in December, but I didn’t go into exactly why the Economic Pie continues to grow over time. One of the primary reasons the pie gets bigger is because of our expanding population.

Knowing that we have growing number of people on the planet and a growing Economic Pie is one thing, but my conversation with my son piqued my curiosity. Later that morning, I went into a bit of a research binge to nail down some of the most important overarching demographic themes that impact our planet and the economy that we live, work and invest in every day.

I learned that according to the Ecology Global Network there are about 131 million births per year on Earth. That’s approximately 360,000 babies born every day.

The same study shows that there are 55 million deaths each year, or approximately 151,000 per day.

My son was worried that with so many people dying that the Earth might run out of people… but clearly that’s not a problem.

Let’s put these numbers into context:

• About three football stadiums* full of people die every day

• About seven football stadiums full of people are born every day

*assuming a stadium holds 50,000 people

This explains why we’ve seen our global population balloon from the year 1900, when there were about 1.6 Billion people, to today’s approximately 7 billion people. By the year 2030 there are expected to be over 8 billion people on earth, according to the Ecology Global Network’s population estimates.

While all this information answers my second grader’s original question, it happens to be an integral component of why the “Economic Pie” in the world continues to grow. More people demanding more goods (i.e. houses, cars, food, technology, medicine, fuel, etc.) creates and ever increasing demand to supply those goods. That means companies will continue to meet that ever increasing demand, hence their earnings have the opportunity to grow over time. Hence, the “pie gets bigger”.

With that said, you might be asking yourself, “Does a growing population equal a growing economy?” There are clearly more variables to a growing economic pie than just population growth, such as innovation, the education system, increasing worker productivity, more intelligent use of data, and the list goes on. However, a tailwind to this growth is the growth of a population.

These stats are based on the years 2010 to 2014, and were pulled from for the GDP growth and Trading Economics for the population growth.

• United States of America

o Average Annual GDP Growth Over 5 Years: + 2 ¼ %

o Average Annual Population Growth Over 5 Years: + ¾ %

• China

o Average Annual GDP Growth Over 5 Years: + 8 ½ %

o Average Annual Population Growth Over 5 Years: + 0.4%

• Italy**

o Average Annual GDP Growth Over 5 Years: – ½ %

o Average Annual Population Growth Over 5 Years: – 0.1%

• India

o Average Annual GDP Growth Over 5 Years: + 6 ½ %

o Average Annual Population Growth Over 5 Years: + 1 ¼ %

**Notice, the only country with negative GDP growth over the past 5 years has been Italy, which is also the country that has negative population growth over that same period of time. Coincidence?

With all of the detailed minutia that we are hit with every day, it’s always important to remember that it’s very often the simplest concepts that are critical to understand first. I think this straightforward concept of births vs. deaths is an interesting one to make sure you are aware of as an investor. Ultimately, our children have nothing to worry about when it comes to the world running out of people, and the economic pie will continue to grow.


Read the original article here.


Restaurants, Gas Prices Help Ease Unemployment

Have you ever worked in a restaurant? You’re in good company – almost 50 percent of Americans have worked in the restaurant industry at some point in their lives. In 2014, there were around 13.1 million Americans working in the restaurant industry according to, and that number is expected to increase 9.8 percent to 14.4 million by 2023.

To put those numbers in perspective, restaurants employ about 10 percent of the entire U.S. workforce, and it’s no surprise considering that this industry has a low barrier to entry and can be found just about everywhere. Even during the Great Recession, the restaurant industry weathered the downturn better than other sectors and reached pre-recession job levels by 2010.

With restaurant employment steadily on the rise, it’s impossible to not give some credit to the industry for helping the US finally reach weekly jobless claims of just 265,000 for the week ending January 24. That’s the lowest claims level since April 15, 2000 when it was 259,000.

In my view, lower gas prices may continue driving some of this employment expansion in the restaurant industry. CNBC recently released a story with research showing exactly where people are spending their gas savings. The number one area is restaurants. “Our data shows overall spending is up, consistent with our improving economy,” said Kasey Byrne, chief marketing officer for Cardlytics.

Spending at restaurants is growing pretty much across the board, but the restaurants with the most growth weren’t the fancy ones. Instead it was the quick service restaurants, otherwise known as fast food.

While CNBC has labeled fast food the winner, I have to wonder if it’s really fast casual that’s taking the lead. Over the last few years, as the economy has continued to strengthen, we’ve seen people moving away from fast food (McDonald’s) in favor of fast casual (Chipotle). The trend is making waves – McDonald’s recently reported another bad quarter for sales and promptly announced that they were changing CEOs.

There is a lot of speculation right now as to how McDonalds and fast food in general will handle the move from “yummy” to “yoga” (milkshakes to kale smoothies, hearty to healthy, fast to fresh) that Americans seem to be embracing. It seems clear to me, though, that while Americans are saving money at the gas pump, they’re also pumping those savings into higher quality restaurants in their community, and in turn supporting employment.

After all this food talk, I’m now hungry.

Tweet me your favorite restaurant or a place you think I should try @WesMoss365!


Read the original article here.


The Truth About Diamond Rings

These days with social media pictures everywhere, there’s more pressure than ever to buy the perfect diamond ring for your future fiancée. Did you know, though, that diamond rings have only been an engagement staple since the 1930’s?

While engagement and wedding rings have been around for much longer, it was only when De Beers launched a major advertising campaign in 1938 when they began to rise to popularity. De Beers later came up with the famous slogan, “A Diamond Is Forever,” in 1947 which helped diamond rings quickly become commonplace. Before the ad campaign you were more likely to see a bride wearing a sapphire or a different gemstone rather than a diamond because diamonds were considered relatively low-brow and even old-fashioned.

The marketing campaign behind diamonds also created the now common thought that to-be grooms must spend at least two months’ salary on an engagement ring. For many people, that’s a ridiculous amount of money to spend on anything, let alone jewelry!

It’s amazing to me to look back and realize exactly how effective a marketing campaign was at reshaping people’s image and budget for a stone. While a diamond might be forever, I would argue that so is granite, and it’s considerably cheaper.

What’s really important with purchasing an engagement ring is finding a ring that match’s your fiancée’s personal style. Whether it’s getting her a diamond, sapphire or a granite ring, the trick is to first do your homework, and know exactly what you’re looking to buy.

Once you know the direction you’re headed, then it’s time to put a budget to it. While De Beers and Madison Ave. execs will push you to spend two month’s salary, remember that that’s coming from a marketer, and not someone trying to help you get to retirement sooner. Instead, talk with your fiancée or at least think independently about what you think is a realistic and comfortable amount to spend.

If you’re paying for the wedding, thinking about buying a home, or have other looming financial obligations, you don’t want to spend all your savings on one piece of jewelry. Remember you can always upgrade your lady’s ring as an anniversary or holiday gift at a later time. The ring itself won’t be what causes your fiancée to say “yes or no” when you pop the question.

Many rings cost just as much as a car, and you wouldn’t go car shopping without having done your research. If you’re feeling like bucking the De Beer’s standard, and buying something other than a diamond engagement ring, then you need to do some research online for ideas on the price ranges associated with your options.

If you do decide to go in the newly traditional direction of a diamond engagement ring, be sure to learn about the four C’s; cut, carat, color and clarity. You can prioritize the four C’s to actually give you more flexibility when choosing your diamond. For example, if you’re looking to get the biggest carat possible, you might give a lower priority to the clarity to free up some of your budget for a larger rock.

Bottom Line

You should not feel obligated to purchase a diamond or to spend two months’ salary on an engagement ring. These “traditions” were made up by an advertising agency in the 1940s. However, when you’re going to make a large purchase on any kind of engagement ring, you should first do your research and also set a budget. There are several online articles and tools (such as Price Scope) that you can use when researching engagement rings. I would suggest going to and reading some of the articles that we’ve put together on engagement rings, and setting up a savings goal to track when you’re ready to make that big purchase.

Congratulations on taking this big life step!

Read the original article here.


Should College Be Free?

During a recent visit to Tennessee, President Obama announced that he wants to start a (mostly) federal program which will allow anyone, regardless of socioeconomic status, the ability to attend community college for two years for “free”.

Unsurprisingly, this has created some controversy, and when I mentioned it on my Facebook page many people felt moved to comment on it both positively and negatively.

While I strongly believe that everyone in the US should have an education and the ability to further it as they see fit, the questions here are:

• Is affordability really the barrier to closing the education gap in America?

• If so, should the rest of the population pay for it?

According to this article from The Wall Street Journal, the President said his goal with this bill is to once again see the US have the highest proportion of college graduates in the world. The reasoning behind this goal is to create more skilled workers and ultimately give them enhanced upward mobility.

Unfortunately, according to federal data, only one in five students attending a community college goes on to earn their bachelor’s degree within six years. On top of this, only 21% of first-time, full-time students earn an associate’s degree within three years.

Megan McArdle for Bloomberg points out that community college is already greatly reduced or free for many people who fall into the lower and middle class, so who is this bill really helping?

It seems like instead of addressing the real issues of creating a thriving middle class, this administration believes they can fix this problem by throwing taxpayers’ money at it.

So if cost is already not a barrier (thanks to programs such as the Pell Grant, the Academic Competitiveness Grant, FSEOG, and the SMART Grant), then why would lowering the cost even further using taxpayer money increase these graduation rates?

Is it really taxpayers’ responsibility to pay for an additional two years of public education? Should the federal taxes Georgians pay be used for someone’s schooling in North Dakota or Texas?

In the proposal it states that the federal government will cover 75% of the cost and states will cover the remaining 25%. In all it will cost taxpayers roughly $60 Billion over 10 years. With the US government already holding $17 trillion in debt, shouldn’t we look long and hard before committing to that type of spending?

Furthermore, I believe that most people who received a higher education will tell you that what they really learned during their time in college were the life skills of being an adult. They learned how to hold themselves accountable, manage a schedule (both work and school), balance their personal budget, and then tackle tuition payments and student debt using the very skills they paid to learn. By making the first two years of college “free” for everyone, we may be dangerously minimizing or even eliminating the thought that spending time and money for school is an investment.

For most people, a college education has to be an investment. Part of the growing up process is actually having skin in the game. If college becomes an entitlement that every student receives, while taxpayers deal with the financial consequences, we are adding yet another layer to an already enriched entitlement based system.

Bottom Line

I agree that educating young Americans is a keystone to the continued economic vitality of the United States. The reality, though, is that I just don’t see how a $60 billion spending program targeting a problem that doesn’t exist (affordable higher education) is going to help solve the real problem of a growing education gap here in America.


Read the original article here.


10 Key Themes That Will Impact Your Investments in 2015

If we look into our economic history books ten or twenty years from now, how might 2014 be remembered?  Maybe as, “the year that oil prices crashed, despite a strong US economy,” or perhaps, “the year when nearly every economist on Wall Street predicted a rise in interest rates that never came.” It could even be (my personal favorite), “the 2014 bull market that nobody loved.”

Whichever way it’s written, the point is that it’s now history. What I’m more interested in is what we can expect from 2015.

The Investment Committee at my company, Capital Investment Advisors, worked together to hone in on what we believe will be the 10 most impactful themes for investors over the next 12 months:

1. The US Economy – The US will slow from the torrid pace that closed out 2014, but not completely fall apart.  Most likely it will be sufficient to keep corporate earnings and profits growing and the unemployment rate headed to below 5.5 percent. However, with Japan in recession and the European Union on the verge of recession, the US can’t completely “decouple” forever.  Look for a solid 2015, but not a runaway train.

2. Stocks over Bonds (again) – The bull market in stocks is now more than five years old, but bull markets don’t end without a major economic event, i.e. a US recession.  Remember that a recession is negative growth for two full quarters. With the 5% surge we ended on in 2014 combined with low energy prices for consumers and companies alike, it’s likely we’ll see stocks continue to rise. On the other side of this coin, as interest rates make a push higher in 2015, bonds (in general) will be presented with a headwind – making a “flat” year for bonds likely.  As rates move higher throughout the year, bonds may look attractive again in late 2015 (with higher interest rates).

3. Interest rates finally climb – This is something that we have been expecting for more than a year now.  With the Federal Reserve’s “taper” over, and Janet Yellen and co. already forecasting a rate rise in mid-2015, it is likely that we will see interest rates in more “normal” territory.  This means rising to the 3.5 percent range for 10 year Treasury bonds.

4. Less Smooth Sailing – Yes, we almost saw a full 10 percent correction during the fall of 2014, but we spent much of the year with relatively low volatility.  As the economy adjusts to higher interest rates in 2015, stock market volatility will likely pick up.

5. Ultra-Low Inflation – With the precipitous drop in US oil prices towards the end of 2014, lower energy input prices will filter through the entire economy.  Manufacturing costs will decline, what consumers pay for gas at the pump will stay low, transportation, shipping, construction, and petroleum based products will all moderate driving the consumer price index closer to a very low historical rate of 1 percent.

6. Sectors to watch – Lower oil prices and a solid US economy should bode well for the consumer discretionary, financial, healthcare, and technology sectors.  These sectors have historically performed well (relative to other sectors) in the year following a large decline in oil/energy prices.

7. Housing stays steady – The Millennial generation is expected to spend $1.6 trillion over the next five years on home purchases. This will continue to support housing prices as Millennials move out of their parent’s basements and start owning homes of their own.

8. Drama in the Middle East and Russia – Dramatically lower oil prices will continue to take a toll on oil reliant economies. Saudi Arabia will continue to produce oil regardless of how low prices go but can only fully fund its suite of rich social programs with oil at $87/barrel.  Likewise the Russian economy needs oil above $100/barrel for a balanced budget.  This means, most likely, both regions will see unrest as their citizens adjust to more economic strife and their government’s increasingly limited ability to “contribute” to keeping the peace.

9. European Recession – With aging demographics and restrictive labor laws continuing to plague many EU nations, a full blown recession overseas is not unlikely in the coming year.

10. Tech like it’s 1999 – Unlike the late 90s, startup tech companies are now actually expected to generate revenue and have the true potential for profit before garnering a sky high valuation. However, with the (still private) ride sharing service Uber boasting a $41 billion valuation, the price tag for other companies like Instacart are beginning to seem astronomical.  Instacart is a wonderful idea and service (which I’ve written about before), but it’s still relatively small footprint seems hardly supportive of a now $2 billion valuation. This tells us that startup-chasing VC firms are beginning to create an environment reminiscent of the late 1990s.  Look for the tech “startup bubble” to continue to inflate in 2015.


Bottom Line 

As always, I’ll continue to keep an eye on the markets for you as we go into 2015, and update you here on any trends we see that spring up. I hope you have a wonderful and profitable 2015!


Disclosure:  This information is provided to you as a resource for informational purposes only.  It is being presented without consideration of the investment objectives, risk tolerance or financial circumstances of any specific investor and might not be suitable for all investors.  Past performance is not indicative of future results.  Investing involves risk including the possible loss of principal.  This information is not intended to, and should not, form a primary basis for any investment decision that you may make. Always consult your own legal, tax or investment advisor before making any investment/tax/estate/financial planning considerations or decisions.


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