Estate planning 101
We’ve had several developments since our last letter I want to tell you about. Last week, we were informed that Concurrent Advisors, our partner firm, has reached an agreement with Charles Schwab. This means that we will have access to the Schwab platform shortly. This is a huge advantage to our clients and gives us capabilities with two of the largest custodians on the street. If you have had a direct account with Fidelity or Charles Schwab, we need to talk.
We continue to be amazed with our new technology applications and platforms. As we move into the end of the year, we will be discussing options with you that will be beneficial to your financial well-being going forward. There are several new opportunities we are excited about, one of which has to do with faith-based investing with biblically screened companies in a tax advantaged ETF. If this interests you, give us a call or schedule an appointment to come see us.
If you haven’t gotten connected to Fidelity or Black Diamond to look at your accounts online, reach out to us and we can help you get that set up as well
We are also working on a couple of client events before 2024 arrives, so stay tuned!
Is the stock market up 7% or 37% this year?
Well, it depends. According to one major index, the market is up a respectable 7%. That’s not bad following last year’s dismal performance, but contrast that with another well-known index, and we might conclude that the stock market is up nearly 20%.
Sounds great, right? Well, it is, unless we compare it to a third index, which has soared 37% since the start of the year.
That said, let’s name some names. The Dow Jones Industrial Average is up 7%, the S&P 500 is up almost 20%, and the tech-heavy NASDAQ Composite is up 37%.
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 Total Return
Source: Wall Street Journal, MSCI.com, MarketWatch, Bloomberg MTD returns: May 31, 2023 –July 31, 2023 YTD returns: December 30, 2022–July 31, 2023 *U.S.D.
That’s a huge disparity. Which one is correct? They all are, but performance is based on how the indexes are constructed.
Let’s start with the Dow. The Dow Jones Industrial Average is the oldest and best-known index. It debuted in 1896. Today, it is made up of 30 large companies.
In order to get today’s value, you simply total the 30 stock prices and divide by what’s called the Dow Divisor.
Why not divide by 30? The purpose of the index divisor is to maintain the continuity of the index amid stock splits, mergers, spinoffs, and more, which have complicated arithmetic.
As of a month ago, the divisor was 0.15172752595384.
From a practical standpoint, you can quickly see how a high-priced stock, which might rise or fall by 10%, will have a larger impact on the Dow than a lower-priced stock, which rises or falls by 10%.
Additionally, the index includes blue-chip companies that tend to be slower growing but more established. The Dow typically doesn’t decline as much in a down market as we saw last year. It may not rise as much in a bull market.
But 2023’s discrepancy between the major indexes is unusually large.
That leads us to the S&P 500 Index, which is comprised of about 500 firms and covers about 80% of the market. Market professionals commonly use the S&P 500, rather than the Dow, as a benchmark and when discussing overall stock market performance.
Unlike the Dow, the S&P 500 is a market-capitalization-weighted index, which means that the larger companies, determined by their respective market capitalization (the number of shares outstanding x share price), have a greater impact on the index.
For example, the top seven stocks account for about one-quarter of the index.
This year’s impressive performance can be attributed to the significant contribution of super-sized tech giants, including Apple (AAPL), Microsoft (MSFT), and Nvidia (NVDA), which have performed particularly well.
This dovetails into the NASDAQ Composite, which is heavily skewed toward technology stocks. Like the S&P 500, it is also a market-capitalization-weighted index, and the big tech names have driven this year’s stellar performance.
There are about 3,500 securities on the NASDAQ, but just two, Apple and Microsoft, account for a whopping 25% of the NASDAQ Composite. Technology accounts for 55% of the index.
The importance to you the investor
Simply put, the Dow isn’t as exposed to technology as the S&P 500 and NASDAQ. While we’ve experienced quite a run-up in tech this year, since June, the rally has broadened, which is healthy.
As we move forward, much will depend on interest rates and economic growth, though let’s not discount that unexpected events could influence shares, too.
The recent moderation in the rate of inflation has taken some pressure off the Federal Reserve.
Economic activity is also an important component, as most large companies are dependent on consumer or business spending for profit growth.
Longer term, we advise a diversified approach. Loading up on one sector may bring impressive short-term gains. But as we saw last year, it can also exacerbate losses. In 2022, the NASDAQ shed 33%, while the Dow lost just under 10% (MarketWatch data).
I trust you have found this review to be informative. If you have any inquiries or wish to discuss any concerns, please don’t hesitate to contact me or any member of our team.
As always, it’s a privilege and a humbling experience to know that you have chosen us as your financial advisors. Thank you for the loyalty and trust you have placed in us.
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