The New BLBB Advisors Portal
Please join us! If you have not already received an email from us to join our new portal, you should receive your invitation shortly. The portal invitation email will come from BLB&B Advisors and it asks you to click a link in the email to set up a password. After you set up your own password you can then log into and access the various features of the portal. Once in the portal, you will be able to view your holdings, transactions, asset allocation, and basic performance information. You will also be able to link all of your financial accounts (bank accounts, outside investment accounts, work retirement accounts, mortgages, home value, etc.) and get an overall view of your net worth. If you choose, you can export your data from the portal into Excel where you can further review and analyze it. Your portal also includes a document vault. This is a secure place for you to store electronic versions of your important documents such as your estate plan, trust documents, wills, powers of attorney, etc.
– Is more secure than printing and mailing client statements and other confidential information;
– Means you will receive your reports sooner;
– Makes digital storage much easier as you will have far less physical paperwork; and
– Is environmentally friendly!
If you think you may have deleted or misplaced your portal invitation, please contact the portfolio administrator for your account(s) here at BLBB and we will send you another invitation. Please note, however, that we can only send portal invites to those clients for whom we have a valid email address. If you have not yet provided us with your email address, or if you would like us to use a different email address than the one we are currently using, please provide us this information as soon as possible.
Customize Your Portal Experience…with Yodlee!
Yodlee is a personal financial management tool that allows users to consolidate all of their financial accounts in one place so they can get a comprehensive look at their financial picture at a glance. In other words, Yodlee allows you to take full advantage of the Net Worth report available in your client portal. With Yodlee, you can link all of your asset accounts – including bank accounts, retirement accounts, and investment accounts held at other institutions. You can also link your liability accounts such as your mortgage, car loans, and credit cards. You will even have the option to link your home value based on your address. Below is a sample screenshot of what your portal will look like with Yodlee.
In addition to having everything consolidated in one location, your use of Yodlee will also help us to provide you with more thorough financial planning.
Once your accounts are linked in Yodlee there is no need for you to update the value of these accounts manually. The only update that may be needed is if you change your password at one of your financial institutions. Then, you will need to update that link in Yodlee.
It is also possible for you to manually add assets or liabilities that will not be automatically updated such as art, automobiles, private loans, etc. The ability to add assets and liabilities manually is available right now for all portal users. To access this ability just hover over your name in the upper right corner and select “Assets & Liabilities.”
Please note there is no cost to you for Yodlee. But, you will need to sign an agreement before we can enable this feature in your portal. Your financial advisor will offer you the opportunity to sign up for Yodlee at your next client meeting, but, you may also request Yodlee access at any time simply by contacting your financial advisor.
At the midway point through 2018, most of the major U.S. equity indices continue to hover in slightly positive territory for the year while bond prices are generally lower than they were at the beginning of the year due to the rising interest rate environment. Despite some negativity in U.S. financial markets towards the end of the second quarter, most of the major U.S. equity indices closed out the quarter in positive territory. The tech-heavy Nasdaq led the way with a +6.3% return for the second quarter and a +8.79% year-to-date. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA), on the other hand, was up just 0.7% for the second quarter and is in negative territory for the year at -1.81%. Many of the companies in the DJIA have major presences overseas and thus are susceptible to the ongoing trade tensions.
The primary culprit injecting much of this volatility into financial markets is the ongoing rhetoric regarding tariffs, global trade, and the looming hint that a trade war could be in the offing. June was a particularly active month in terms of the brewing tariff situation. The Trump administration imposed tariffs on aluminum and steel coming into the U.S. and proposed tariffs on a number of other goods. Not surprisingly, Canada, the EU, and Mexico swiftly responded with tariffs of their own on a variety of U.S. products including yogurt, coffee, pork, apples, and whiskey.
For the moment, anyway, the retaliatory tariff situation appears to be just bluster and a tactic designed to force the issue of renegotiating more favorable trade terms rather than a significantly meaningful attempt to disrupt global trade. According to World Trade Organization (WTO) data, the U.S. imposes an average tariff of 3.5% on goods imported into the U.S. This tariff rate pales in comparison to the average comparable tariffs imposed by some of our country’s key trading partners. The EU, for example, imposes an average tariff of 5% on imported goods while Mexico’s average tariff on imported goods is 7% and China’s is 9.9%. (https://www.wto.org/english/res_e/statis_e/statis_maps_e.htm) The issue, of course, is whether all the bluster and “tit-for-tat” tariff changes of late will escalate into a full-blown trade war. For the moment, this seems unlikely as all the countries involved stand to lose far more from a trade war than from adjusting tariffs a bit to create a more level playing field for all global trade participants. For now, we watch and wait to see how this situation plays out over time and expect there will be additional volatility along the way as there is probably no quick fix for this situation which has developed over many years.
Despite the concerns associated with the ongoing global trade dispute, the U.S. economy still looks to be on track for a decent year. In fact, on June 13th, the Conference Board published its updated “Economic Forecast for the U.S. Economy” in which it predicted that U.S. economic growth will exceed 3% for the latter half of this year. (https://www.conference-board.org/data/usforecast.cfm) Extremely low unemployment – just 3.75% – a strong housing market, rising wages, and a manageable inflation level are all combining to stimulate U.S. economic growth. Outside the U.S., the global economy looks equally strong. According to the International Monetary Fund, global growth should increase by 3.9% in 2018 and 2019. Emerging Asia, led in part by China and India, should experience 6.5% growth for this year and next while the developed European economy should grow by 2.3%. (http://www.imf.org/en/news/articles/2018/06/27/sp062818-furusawa-sustaining-momentum-in-uncertain-times)
In addition to global trade issues, U.S. monetary policy also remains a key focus for investors and economists. In mid-June, the Federal Reserve increased the fed funds rate by 25 basis points to 2%. This was the second rate increase in 2018 and it is quite possible that one or two more rate increases will occur during the latter half of 2018, barring any major unforeseen events. In its press release announcing the June rate increase, the Fed noted: “Information received since the Federal Open Market Committee met in May indicates that the labor market has continued to strengthen and that economic activity has been rising at a solid rate. Job gains have been strong, on average, in recent months, and the unemployment rate has declined. Recent data suggest that growth of household spending has picked up, while business fixed investment has continued to grow strongly.” (https://www.federalreserve.gov/monetarypolicy/files/monetary20180613a1.pdf)
While it is encouraging to read the Fed’s positive comments about the U.S. economy, we must also remember that the Fed always navigates between two key data points – unemployment and inflation – in order to keep the U.S. on a path of steady and sustainable economic growth. The perils along the way include the negative ramifications of encouraging too much growth (inflation) and the negative ramifications of stifling growth (recession). For now, inflation remains at a manageable level and is actually hovering near the Fed’s longstanding 2% target. Although inflation has been on the rise for much of 2018, it has mostly just been returning to a more “normal” level. Unemployment is now below average and has the potential to inject some additional inflationary pressures into the economy over time, should wages begin to rise precipitously.
While there is some concern the U.S. economy may be setting itself up to overheat in the coming months, we think there are some important checks and balances coming that will prevent a problematic level of inflation from taking hold. First, quantitative easing efforts overseas are beginning to wind down just as they have already done so in the U.S. Quantitative easing in the EU and Japan over the last couple of years indirectly helped the U.S. economy and financial markets transition from heavy support and assistance from the Federal Reserve to much less support (there is no more quantitative easing here now and the fed funds rate has been moved from 0% to 2% – although from a historical perspective that rate is still fairly low). Second, interest rates are on the rise globally as economies recover and the monetary stimulus overseas unwinds. Third, global debt levels are quite high. As interest rates rise and countries face rising costs to service their debt, they may face financial difficulties. While we do not predict dire doom and gloom coming in a year or two, we continue to monitor global debt levels and the efforts countries are taking to reduce their deficits and debt levels.
We continue to maintain that a well-diversified portfolio should help investors benefit from and participate in positive trends in financial markets and should offer them some protection in downwardly trending markets. As always, if you would like to discuss U.S. or world financial markets or have any concerns or questions about your portfolios, please to not hesitate to reach out to your BLB&B financial advisor.
BLBB Again Named to FT300
BLB&B Advisors, LLC, is pleased to announce it has been named to the 2018 edition of the Financial Times 300 Top Registered Investment Advisers. The list recognizes top independent RIA firms from across the U.S. It is the second year in a row that BLB&B has made the list. This is the fifth annual FT 300 list, produced independently by the Financial Times in collaboration with Ignites Research, a subsidiary of the FT that provides business intelligence on the asset management industry.
The Financial Times 300 Top Registered Investment Advisers is an independent listing produced annually by the Financial Times (June 2018). The FT 300 is based on data gathered from RIA firms, regulatory disclosures, and the FT’s research. The listing reflected each practice’s performance in six primary areas: assets under management, asset growth, compliance record, years in existence, credentials and online accessibility. Firms must apply for consideration; this award does not evaluate the quality of services provided to clients and is not indicative of the practice’s future performance. Neither the RIA firms nor their employees pay a fee to The Financial Times in exchange for inclusion in the FT 300.