Our Insights on

  • Behavioral Finance & Cognitive Biases

    First Quarter 2018

    We've been publishing some pieces on behavioral finance and cognitive biases in recent weeks. This is a look at a laundry list of known biases and priors that affect the financial decisions that individuals make. This is an area of inquiry that has become more prominent in recent years. A recent book, The Undoing Project by Michael Lewis tells the story of two of the pioneers in this research. Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky, two Israeli psychologists, who started some 40-odd years ago to identify, evaluate, and document behavioral biases that show up in decision-making. Their work was the inception of Behavioral Finance.

    Another source in this area is Kahneman’s own book Thinking Fast and Slow. In his book, Kahneman describes much of research that forms the basis of his life’s work. Most interesting, I think, is the tour of the two decision-making systems we all operate with as a part of our original equipment.   


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  • Tax Reform

    Fourth Quarter 2017

    Tax reform is now real and as we expected in early November, the changes are fairly consequential.

    Personal Income Tax Changes
    Generally lower tax brackets – There are still 7 brackets, albeit with slightly lower rates.

    An increase in the child tax credit to $2,000 (refundable up to $1,400), beginning to phase out after income levels of $400,000 for marrieds filing joint and $200,000 for all other taxpayers.

    Alimony – Treatment is reversed from prior law treatment and now the payor may not deduct alimony paid and the income is not reportable to the recipient.

    Gain Exclusion on Disposition of the Primary Residence – These changes were not included in the final legislation.

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  • Equifax - Oh Dear

    Third Quarter 2017

    The breach of the Equifax credit reporting database that occurred several months ago exposed the personal information of almost half of the US population. This event has raised the risk level on personal privacy; exposure of personally identifiable information and identity theft. While it may seem that much personal information is already exposed in a number of ways, and that efforts to minimize exposure may be futile, we believe strongly that it is prudent to take all reasonable measures to maintain information security.

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  • Fiduciary - Once Again

    Second Quarter 2017

    The Department Of Labor (DOL) Fiduciary rule, which has been addressed here previously has gone into effect, but the ultimate future of the rule remains mired in the political crosswinds. Whether the rule is retained or not is only of minor consequence at this point. The rule is deeply flawed in that it only addresses certain "accounts" and doesn't address other "accounts". Most consumers have no clue as to the subtleties of how the rule may or may not apply. The rule does not really clarify the underlying relationship between client and advisor.

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  • The Futility of Active Management

    First Quarter 2017

    Throughout the life of this firm, we have as a part of our investment policy discussions, cautioned our clients about the futility of attempting to time the market. There are a number of compelling arguments against the idea of market timing including: the lack of evidence that anyone can do it consistently and regularly, the need to make two decisions in a row correctly (when to buy/sell and when to sell/buy), increased tax drag and trading costs, and the fact that being out of the market on the good days will be devastating to long term returns. There are many more, but we tend to emphasize this last one since it is objective and verifiable and gets to the heart of the matter.

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