Brown In the News

The U.S. stock market has reached a new all-time high, with the S&P 500 Index eclipsing 2,930. The index, which tracks the broad U.S. large cap stock market, is now up nearly 11% for the year. The Dow Jones Industrial Average trades above 26,600. While September and October can often bring more volatility to the stock market, so far we have experienced calm conditions in 2018.

The big-picture question is whether the U.S. stock market gains of this year, and the prior nine years, are sustainable. Looking at the fundamentals, the U.S. stock market advance this year actually appears quite healthy. While the market is up 11% year-to-date, earnings growth of U.S. companies has been even better. Through Q1, JP Morgan estimates that U.S. earnings are up 27% compared to the same period in 2017. So on a price to earnings basis, the U.S. market is actually cheaper today than it was at the beginning of the year, in spite of its 11% gain.

The investor community continues to worry about the possibility of a recession, or at least a slow-down, over the coming years. And this is on our minds too, in spite of the good economic news that we continue to receive. We continue to work with our clients in preparing for more volatile markets in the upcoming years. Indeed, we have even named the process—The Recession Prep Checklist. In a letter that we sent out to clients and associates in recent weeks, we highlighted the potential steps that you should consider taking with the stock market at all-time highs. We welcome your phone call in discussing the steps that you may wish to take as part of your retirement plan.

The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual. All performance referenced is historical and is no guarantee of future results. All indices are unmanaged and may not be invested into directly. Stock investing involves risk including loss of principal.

— MARK

The Brown and Company research team sat down with MFS on September 10th for an update on the financial markets and the MFS investment lineup most relevant to our clients. The Massachusetts-based investment firm is one of the oldest U.S. based investment firms to offer mutual funds to retail investors. MFS has a history of active management, preferring to actively manage portfolios instead of indexing their portfolios.

The house view from MFS is that the U.S. and global economies are strong and should remain reasonably healthy in the near future.
• Corporate earnings are healthy, and even robust, in the U.S.
• Valuations have actually come down in the U.S. stock market this year, as profit growth has outpaced stock market performance
• Consumer confidence remains at elevated levels in the U.S.
• Stocks remain reasonably priced, given the earnings growth
• They expect the U.S. economy to outperform the global economy for the remainder of 2018. Slowing growth in Europe and challenges for the emerging markets will be a headwind to foreign stocks over the medium term.

We were most interested in their U.S. value manager and their international managers. There was mostly positive news to report regarding their strategies.
• Their focus on high quality names in the international space has driven outperformance, along with an underweighting to European banks
• U.S. value is traditionally focused and targets defensive names.
• They are specifically underweight energy and tech in this environment

The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual. The economic forecasts set forth in this material may not develop as predicted and there can be no guarantee that strategies promoted will be successful.

MFS and LPL Financial are separate entities.

— MARK

Brown and Company was very happy to be a sponsor of the Rocky Mountain Multiple Sclerosis Center’s annual Gala on September 8th. The event marked the 40th anniversary of the Rocky Mountain MS Center here in Colorado. Justin Cassida, Sarah Cassida, Martin Walsh and Jessica Walsh attended on behalf of our firm.

Founded in 1978, the Rocky Mountain MS Center was created for several purposes. First, it was built to advance medical research into a potential cure for MS. Second, it was created to provide direct care and education to those Coloradans afflicted with MS. Today, roughly 1 in 550 people in our state are living with MS.

We are most excited about our philanthropic efforts when they combine two elements: 1) financial support for a worthy non-profit and 2) our clients are passionate about the cause. In the case of the Rocky Mountain MS Center, we checked both boxes. The Rocky Mountain MS Center is a wonderful organization, providing care and research in the fight against Multiple Sclerosis. It also happens to be a non-profit that our clients care about deeply. We are proud to be a sponsor of the Rocky Mountain MS Center!

— MARK

Brown and Company put on a memorable event on the evening of Thursday, September 6th, hosting Molly Bloom as the featured speaker. Held at the Four Seasons in downtown Denver, the event marked the official launch of Brown and Company’s new brand and platform. More than 300 clients and friends of the firm were attendance to celebrate with Mark Brown and team.

You may remember Molly Bloom from last year’s Academy Award-nominated film, Molly’s Game. The film tells the story of Ms. Bloom’s life as the creator of some of the largest private poker games in U.S. history. Her story is one of creativity, hardship and, ultimately, redemption.

We were enthralled by Molly’s background and her story. Her background as a Colorado native, a former competitive skier and sister to Olympian Jeremy Bloom made for an interesting and compelling narrative. Her talk did not disappoint—we were left with new details and anecdotes from her time running one of the largest poker games on record.

We were delighted by the attendance at the event. After 30 years as Brown & Tedstrom, our launch party as Brown and Company was well received by our clients and friends alike. We thank you for your continued belief in our firm and look forward to the next 30 years serving our clients and the community at large.

— MARK

We are pleased to announce that our very own Danielle Berz, Senior Client Relationship Manager and Divorce Planning Coordinator, has received a very high honor, having been selected as a “Rising Star” at LPL Financial to attend the Women Advisors Leaders Forum in October. Danielle will attend the forum in October in Scottsdale, Arizona, along with other “Rising Star” female from across the United States.

Danielle is, indeed, a rising star in our firm. Her talent and capabilities are apparent and have been proven time and again through her successful background and track record. Graduating from the University of Washington in 2008, Danielle began her career in wealth management in the UBS training program. She stayed at UBS for 5 years in Tacoma, Washington, where she eventually grew to be a successful advisor in her own right.

Danielle has been with us at Brown and Company for more than 5 years now. She is one of our senior people (even at the young age of 31), working day-to-day assisting the advisor on all aspects of financial planning and wealth management. She is one of our best associates and is an integral part of business. Danielle holds the CFP (Certified Financial Planner) designation, along with the Certified Divorce Financial Analyst (CDFA) designation.

Danielle is committed to growth. Through her excellent client service, she was won the loyalty and trust of several families. But she has also demonstrated her commitment to growth through education and professional licensing. Not only does Danielle hold the CFP designation, but she recently acquired the Certified Divorce Financial Analyst (CDFA) designation as well. Danielle has made a point to focus on helping women, and in this case divorced women.

Danielle’s commitment to growth goes beyond just professional time in the office. She is working hard at building her reputation, and network, by giving back through volunteer work in our community. She is a volunteer for CWEE here in Colorado, also known as the Center for Work Education and Employment. It is a non-profit designed to deliver financial and life skills to people in poverty. We applaud her volunteer work as another way she is dedicated to her craft.
Congratulations to Danielle on this very significant recognition!

— MARK

Brown and Company is a proud supporter of the Center for Work Education and Employment, also known by the initials CWEE. The organization has an important mission, delivering financial and life skills to people in poverty. It is a natural non-profit for us to support, because at the organization’s core is a commitment to helping people make better decisions in their personal financial life. In fact, our team member Danielle Berz is an active volunteer at CWEE here in Colorado. We salute CWEE and the work that they do. We also salute our very own Danielle Berz, who has dedicated her time to helping such a great cause.

— MARK

Mark R. Brown attended the LPL Financial Advisory Leaders Forum 2018 in June. The Forum was held at The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. Mark spent several days with Wharton faculty and other leading financial advisors from across the country, taking in lessons on portfolio management, investing and business strategy.

There is often a great benefit to networking with other leaders, both practitioners, and academics, in the investment community. The conference at Wharton was an opportunity to share best practices, in addition to adding new investment insights from one of the best business schools in the world. Mark, and the entire Brown and Company team, remain committed to ongoing education and training in the pursuit of improving client service.

— MARK

We are continually evaluating the investing landscape and seeking the best, and most cutting edge, investment solutions for our clients. To this end, we often conduct site visits to investment management companies that we are considering using for our clients. In July, Justin Cassida, Director of Client Service, and Martin Walsh, Director of Business Development, visited the headquarters of Dimensional Fund Advisors, also known as “DFA.”

The visit to DFA was a constructive one. The company and its investment strategies are based on the academic research of Dr. Eugene Fama and Dr. Kenneth French. Fama, of the University of Chicago, and French, of Dartmouth College, won a Nobel Prize in Economics for their work on the theory of efficient markets.

In addition to their work on efficient markets, Fama and French also published research on what is known as “factor investing.” Without getting too technical, their research suggests that over the long-term, stocks that are 1) small and 2) value-oriented tend to outperform all other stocks.
While some adjustments can be made that take into account that smaller stocks are typically more volatile than bigger stocks, there still exists an anomaly in the stock market. In order to take advantage of this market inefficiency, DFA has created funds that focus on small and value stocks.
Martin Walsh and Justin Cassida were able to sit down with Professor Eugene Fama and learn more about his academic research. The professor was lively, opinionated and highly engaging. He still teaches at the University of Chicago, while also spending time as a special advisor to DFA.
Fama delivered several takeaways that can be readily applied to our investment approach. He emphasized “factor” investing as a very real, and implementable, way as we seek to improve long-term client outcomes. He described the current market conditions in the U.S., and how growth stocks have outperformed over the past decade.

There was also a deep dive into DFA’s fixed income approach. What was interesting to hear is that Fama and team prefer short and intermediate maturity bonds. They don’t believe that investors are compensated enough to hold long maturity bonds. Additionally, the DFA philosophy is to take their risks on the stock side of an investor portfolio, not the bond side.

The Brown Team learned a lot on their visit to DFA and plan to use these takeaways in the pursuit of better client investment outcomes.

All investing involves risk including loss of principal. No strategy assures success or protects against loss. Past performance does not guarantee future results. The prices of small cap stocks are generally more volatile than large cap stocks. Bonds are subject to market and interest rate risk if sold prior to maturity. Bond values will decline as interest rates rise and bonds are subject to availability and change in price. Dimensional Fund Advisors and LPL Financial are separate entities.

— MARK

The Brown and Company team attended the LPL Financial annual FOCUS conference in Boston for three days at the end of July. Justin Cassida, Danielle Berz, Ryan Csrnko, Sara Manderscheid and Martin Walsh were all in attendance in Boston.

The LPL conference is a chance for our team to hear updates and learn from our Broker Dealer on a whole host of topics: improvements in technology, updates to client service, the streamlining of business processes and understanding the latest economic research. It is a valuable opportunity for our team to learn new “best practices” from experts and speakers across the country.

There were a number of highlights to conference. David Cameron, the former Prime Minister of the UK, gave a keynote speech to the crowd of LPL advisors. Mr. Cameron spoke about politics and his thoughts on the latest world events. David Kelly, the Chief Global Strategist at J.P. Morgan, weighed in on the direction of the economy and the financial markets. Among other notable meetings were a few that highlighted the increasing role of technology in improving the client experience.

The conference is a productive annual tradition that delivers high-quality learning for our team, with the chance to build camaraderie in constructive atmosphere. Our 2018 conference was a success for all team members involved.

— MARK

On August 3rd, Brown and Company was proud to partner with the Vail Breast Cancer Awareness Group (VBCAG) for their 24th annual “Celebration of Life” luncheon. Martin Walsh and Erin Buis attended from Brown and Company. We are excited to be one of the corporate sponsors for this event. The Vail Breast Cancer Awareness Group has a long history of positive impact in Eagle County, Colorado.

Olympic gold medalist figure skater Dorothy Hamill was the keynote speaker at the luncheon. A part-time Colorado resident and a breast cancer survivor herself, Dorothy’s story was inspirational and heartwarming.

Recent statistics tell us that 1 in 8 women will develop breast cancer in their lifetime¹. The fundraising efforts of the Vail Breast Cancer Awareness Group are to help residents in Eagle County who are in need of financial assistance while going through breast cancer treatment. The VBCAG finds that costs for breast cancer treatment often exceed insurance coverage, while many local women have no insurance at all.
Over the past 24 years, the Vail Breast Cancer Awareness Group—all volunteers—has raised more than $1 million in funds that go directly to those in need. We salute this wonderful organization and are very happy to help in their fundraising efforts.

¹ – Noone AM, Howlader N, Krapcho M, et al. (editors). SEER Cancer Statistics Review, 1975-2015. Table 4.17. National Cancer Institute. Bethesda, MD. Accessed on April 19, 2018. http://seer.cancer.gov/csr/1975_2015/, 2018.

— MARK