Eagle Capital Advisors Update
Let’s start this month’s Eagle’s Eye and talk about what’s going on at Eagle Capital. Today, February 22, 2022, marks our 3-year anniversary as an independent organization. Can you believe it’s been 3 years? That’s 1,096 days (we had a Leap Year in 2020), and yes – I’m counting. When we decided to leave Morgan Stanley 3 years ago and join Raymond James so we could start our own practice and put you, our clients, first in every decision we made, we knew we were fulfilling our destiny. What we didn’t know was what we would go through together.
Think about it: we’ve been through a pandemic that crippled our nation and its economy. Schools, churches, and businesses were closed. We had a major drawdown in the markets in March 2020 that lasted about 2 months. The following February we observed the most severe winter weather (Snowpocalypse) in generations! The most recent presidential election along with several state elections are still under scrutiny, some say we’re in a technology war with China and they say the Russians are going to invade Ukraine. How many times will the Fed raise interest rates? I’ve heard anywhere between 3 and 7 times. And all along the way, the markets have been hitting new highs. The last 3 years have been extraordinary to say the least.
As we move forward together, we are excited about what lies ahead. We are in the process of expanding our facilities in the Glover Crim building. We are adding new offices and we will be recruiting new advisors and staff whose core values and beliefs align with those of Eagle Capital. Many of you are aware of the financial commitment we make regarding outside research to improve our portfolio management process. I am pleased to announce that we have invested in a new analytics platform that has primarily been available to institutions and hedge funds. We are the second advisory organization in the state of Texas to have this capability. We do all these things so we can put you first and provide our clients with the ultimate wealth management experience and expertise.
How to identify and deal with scammers
It wasn’t that long ago when our money and assets were safe, at least there was a high degree of perceived safety.
Investment accounts were secured by SIPC insurance. The same could be said about FDIC-insured bank accounts. And, if you spotted a fraudulent charge on your credit card, all that was required was a quick phone call to the number on the back of your card, and it was removed.
Sure, there were fraudsters and scammers, but potential access to your personal finances was much more limited.
Those same SIPC, FDIC, and credit card protections remain in place today. Unfortunately, the advent of the Internet, social media, and a global reach have led to a proliferation of scams that can quickly deliver a knockout blow to your savings.
While you need not be in a perpetual state of readiness, a healthy level of vigilance and skepticism can go a long way. It will protect your savings and prevent you from becoming a victim of fraud.
How can you avoid becoming a victim? FTC highlights four elements that can help you spot a scam.
Never give someone your password, bank information, PIN number, social security number, or personal identifying information. Never settle a debt or problem over the phone from an unexpected call that came your way.
Many solicitors are scammers looking for money. If you pay these criminals, they will come back in a short period of time, claiming another discrepancy was found and another payment is needed.
That check will bounce after you’ve delivered the cash to the scammer.
Major scams targeting older Americans
Older adults lost $600 million to fraud in 2020, when the pandemic fueled spikes in almost all top categories of fraud according to the AARP.
Whether it is Zoom phishing emails, Covid-19 vax card scams, phony online websites, or romance scams, please be leery when you venture online or on social media sites. Recently, the AARP highlighted some the avenues fraudsters use to take your money.
For example, “You receive an email, text or social media message with the Zoom logo, telling you to click on a link because your account is suspended or you missed a meeting,” says Katherine Hutt, national spokesperson for the Better Business Bureau. “Clicking can allow criminals to download malicious software onto your computer.”
Others will exploit what might be called the flavor of the month or topic of the day. Recently, the government said it will offer free Covid test kits. You can obtain yours at covidtests.gov/. The site takes you directly to special.usps.com/testkits to order.
But criminals attempt to impersonate these sites by adding a few letters or a word like “free” within the link. The link appears legit, but it’s not. The fraudulent site will encourage you to divulge personal information.
While we won’t touch on every scam, we wanted to highlight romance scams, which led the way in 2020.
According to AARP, the scam works like this. You place your profile on an online dating site, and a potential partner entices you with his or her charm, intelligence, and good looks. But you don’t live in the same city or state.
Though you become attached, you never seem to be able to meet this person. Eventually, an emergency, business crisis, or some type of problem “unexpectedly” surfaces, and you are asked to send money.
Give them cash and they will continue to prey on you until you figure it out.
It seems obvious, but never underestimate how easily you can be tricked when love and your emotions are in play.
Avoid being defrauded by following several commonsense tips offered by the FTC.
Finally, avoid the temptation of telling a scammer what you think of him or her. In researching this article, I came across those who regretted such action. Yes, they may have been an ocean away from the scammer, but that didn’t prevent a vindictive fraudster from placing the victim’s phone number on numerous fake ads or overwhelming them with robocalls.
Remember, they are sophisticated criminals that have access to the latest technology.
If unfortunately, you find you have become a victim, you can report the incident to the FTC at https://reportfraud.ftc.gov/#/
Just remember: Delete suspicious emails, ignore suspicious texts, hang up, and don’t argue with scammers.
A bumpy January
There are plenty of reasons why inflation is at a 40-year high: Easy money and low interest rates, huge amounts of fiscal stimulus that have fueled demand at a time supply chains can’t meet that demand, rising wages, rising oil prices, and rising food costs.
Last year, the Fed insisted the jump in inflation would be temporary—“transitory” was its word of choice. But inflation proved to be more troublesome than they expected, transitory was retired, and the Fed quickly pivoted.
Gone are pledges to keep the fed funds rate at near zero through at least 2023.
Instead, Fed Chief Powell seems determined to bring inflation back under control, and that means the Fed is contemplating a series of rate hikes in 2022.
His more aggressive approach created volatility in January, as investors attempted to price in several rate hikes this year.
Table 1: Key Index Returns
Dow Jones Industrial Average
S&P 500 Index
Russell 2000 Index
MSCI World ex-USA*
MSCI Emerging Markets*
Bloomberg US Agg Bond TR USD
Source: Wall Street Journal, MSCI.com, MarketWatch, Morningstar
MTD returns: Dec 31, 2021—Jan 31, 2022
YTD returns: Dec 31, 2021—Jan 31, 2022
*In US dollars
Let’s look at recent history and briefly dive into the numbers so we may paint a picture. During the 2004 to 2006 rate-hike cycle, then-Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan said rate increases were likely to be “measured,” as he embarked on a series of quarter-point rate hikes.
His goal: reassure investors and avoid rocking financial markets.
Fed Chief Janet Yellen and later Powell also soothed anxieties by signaling rate hikes would be “gradual” when rates slowly began to increase in late 2015. “Gradual” wasn’t as opaque as “measured,” but the goal was the same: reassure investors.
Greenspan and his successor Ben Bernanke raised the fed funds rate from 1% to 5.25% in a predictable series of quarter-percent increases.
Yellen and Powell hiked the benchmark rate from 0%-0.25% to 2.25%-2.50% through an uneven series of quarter-point increases, or 25 basis points (bp). One bp = 0.01%.
Party like its 1994
At Powell’s late-January news conference, he wasn’t making any promises on how quickly rates might rise. He wouldn’t rule out a rate hike at every meeting, beginning in March (there are eight scheduled meetings each year, including January). He didn’t dismiss the possibility of a 50-basis point increase. And there was no mention of ‘gradual’ or ‘measured.’
The last time the Fed was truly aggressive was back in 1994, when the Fed implemented several 50 basis point increases and one 75 basis point hike. Interest rates doubled from 3% to 6% in one year.
During each of those tightening cycles, including 1994, inflation was under control. The Fed acted pre-emptively. Today, it is reacting to high inflation.
We are not saying we’re going to see a repeat of 1994. One key measure from the CME Group suggests five 25bp rate hikes this year. But it’s simply a projection. And projections can change based on how the economy progresses.
Powell warned that inflation could remain stubbornly high this year. Or, it’s possible supply chains will settle down and lessen the need for a strong central bank response. (Federal Reserve, St. Louis Federal Reserve)
The Fed’s challenge: engineer a soft economic landing, which brings down inflation without throwing the economy into a recession.
Barring a significant health crisis or a major geopolitical event, the Fed’s new posture will probably be the focus this year.
I know this month’s Eagle’s Eye has been lengthy. You will be hearing more about our expansion in the months ahead. In the meantime, should you have any questions or concerns, please give us a call. We are here to serve you and your family.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA), commonly known as “The Dow” is an index representing 30 stock of companies maintained and reviewed by the editors of the Wall Street Journal. The NASDAQ composite is an unmanaged index of securities traded on the NASDAQ system. The S&P 500 is an unmanaged index of 500 widely held stocks that is generally considered representative of the U.S. stock market. The Russell 2000 Index measures the performance of the 2,000 smallest companies in the Russell 3000 Index, which represent approximately 8% of the total market capitalization of the Russell 3000 Index. The MSCI ACWI ex USA Investable Market Index (IMI) captures large, mid and small cap representation across 22 of 23 Developed Markets (DM) countries (excluding the United States) and 24 Emerging Markets (EM) countries*. With 6,211 constituents, the index covers approximately 99% of the global equity opportunity set outside the US. The MSCI Emerging Markets is designed to measure equity market performance in 25 emerging market indices. The index’s three largest industries are materials, energy, and banks. The Bloomberg Barclays US Aggregate Bond Index is a broad-based flagship benchmark that measures the investment grade, US dollar-denominated, fixed-rate taxable bond market. The information contained in this report does not purport to be a complete description of the securities, markets, or developments referred to in this material. The information has been obtained from sources considered to be reliable, but we do not guarantee that the foregoing material is accurate or complete. Any opinions are those of William Y. Rice III and not necessarily those of Raymond James. Expressions of opinion are as of this date and are subject to change without notice. There is no guarantee
that these statements, opinions or forecasts provided herein will prove to be correct. Investing involves risk and you may incur a profit or loss regardless of strategy selected. Keep in mind that individuals cannot invest directly in any index, and index performance does not include transaction costs or other fees, which will affect actual investment performance. Individual investor’s results will vary. Past performance does
not guarantee future results. Future investment performance cannot be guaranteed, investment yields will fluctuate with market conditions. Unless certain criteria are met, Roth IRA owners must be 59½ or older and have held the IRA for five years before tax-free withdrawals are permitted. Additionally, each converted amount may be subject to its own five-year holding period. Converting a traditional IRA into a Roth IRA has tax implications. Investors should consult a tax advisor before deciding to do a conversion. Matching contributions from your employer may be subject to a vesting schedule. Please consult with your financial advisor for more information.
As you embark on your wealth management journey, you may wonder whether financial advisors truly add value to your investments. By answering these five essential