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1st Quarter 2021 AM Newsletter.

April 16, 2021   ·   By   ·   Comments Off on 1st Quarter 2021 AM Newsletter.   ·   Posted in Asset Management Letter Archive


“Scattered, Smothered, Covered, Chunked, Capped, Diced, Topped and Peppered”

One of our portfolio managers recently stopped at a Waffle House with his family after a weekend getaway and couldn’t help but think we need a Waffle House Economic Index. The Yogi Berra quote “Nobody goes there anymore. It’s too crowded” came to mind as he saddled his way to the counter with one of his kids and dispatched the rest of the family to an open booth. If Waffle Houses in Georgia are any indicator, then we are returning to normalcy. Of course, the true indicator of normalcy will be when they remove the lone seat by the register that is reserved to preserve social distancing. Oh, how far we have come since this time last year.

Why do we drift to Waffle House as a backdrop for our letter this quarter, you might ask? Are we trying to distract you with sweet memories of buttered waffles and sizzling bacon? All temptations aside, we simply felt the need to emphasize normalcy and what it means. As the economy starts to thaw from its “dark winter” to borrow a phrase, what are we seeing? To our credit, a lot of what we hoped for is coming to fruition. The early cycle winners such as financials, energy, value, and small cap are doing very well. Through the first quarter, energy was up 30.83%, financials +16.02%, small cap value +16.84% and large cap value +10.99% whereas large cap, middle cap and small cap growth were up at best 2.56% and at worst 1.25%. To say we knew for certain the reopening trade would play out this positively would be a hubristic statement, one not welcomed at the Waffle House counter since hubris is not something you can scatter, smother, or dice on your hash browns. However, we did feel the upside optionality was so significant in the “value” and smaller capitalization sector versus mega cap and growth stocks, that if we just trended towards normal levels then we should see a significant spike in value as the price differential dissipated. The natural question from here, is if this “value” trade can last and, if history is any indicator, then it certainly can. Of course, growth has outperformed for the ten years before the recent cycle, so it could continue but there have also been significant time periods in the past when value has outperformed (2000-2010 for a short cycle, and 1926 to present for a longer cycle).   

Another area we drifted into last quarter was the inflation discussion. If you remember correctly last quarter, we alluded to the market and Federal Reserve almost inviting inflation at all costs. Well, as the saying goes, be careful what you wish for, as inflation reared its head in the first quarter. Thus, our call to keep duration short on our fixed income was prescient. Staying humble, though, it is not too hard to predict rising inflation when monetary stimulus is at levels not seen since WWII and debt levels reside over 100% of GDP before an infrastructure bill even gets passed. That being said, there are probably many investors who, unlike our clients, are unhappy with their -3.37% performance in their Bloomberg’s Barclays Aggregate Bond Index or worse than that if they held a long term bond fund like Vanguard Long Term Bond Index fund that was down 9.30% for the quarter. Our actively managed bond funds didn’t sniff levels like that with only one being down for the quarter and that one, Pimco Total Return, more than made up for it by being up 8.88% the previous year. Conversely, though, our gold investment didn’t work for the first quarter with gold being down 8.25% for the quarter. As we mentioned when we put this trade on last year, gold is more volatile than fixed income, but given the level of global monetary stimulus we felt this was a long term hedge against government malfeasance with a fiat currency and the resultant consequences. Gold has a far longer history as a currency than fiat currency and cryptocurrency. In addition, the majority of gold is not mined in China, like cryptocurrencies are. Thus, we continue to feel comfortable holding gold as a small percentage in client accounts.

Truly, the level of debt creation and government intervention makes one want to run back to Waffle House for a side of normalcy. Hopefully, once we work through vaccines, viruses and votes, the order of the day will not be so scrambled we can’t find our way forward. Of course, it’s our belief that we can always find a way to improve our lot in life and it usually starts with a good foundation whether it be eggs, bacon, or waffles. To that end, we will keep scrambling to find opportunities for you while keeping an eye on the tab (Trust us, if inflation starts creeping into the price of eggs and bacon, we will notice it). 

P.S. – There actually is a Waffle House Index but it is used by FEMA. It is an informal metric used to determine the effect of a storm and the likely scale of assistance required for disaster recovery. The index is based on the reputation of Waffle House for having good disaster preparedness and staying open during extreme weather, or reopening quickly afterwards. As Craig Fugate, former head of FEMA, said about a disaster area “If you get there and the Waffle House is closed. That’s really bad…”

P.P.S – For those intrigued by the type of hash brown toppings listed at the beginning of the letter we have included them below. Admittedly, we were not aware of them all either and are considering stepping up our “hash brown” game next time we visit Waffle House. Scattered is the standard, smothered is sauteed with onions, covered is with melted cheese, chunked is with ham, diced is with tomatoes, peppered is with jalapeno peppers, capped is with mushrooms, and topped is with chili.

1st Quarter 2021 AM Newsletter.

April 16, 2021   ·   By   ·   Comments Off on 1st Quarter 2021 AM Newsletter.   ·   Posted in Asset Management Letter

“Scattered, Smothered, Covered, Chunked, Capped, Diced, Topped and Peppered”

One of our portfolio managers recently stopped at a Waffle House with his family after a weekend getaway and couldn’t help but think we need a Waffle House Economic Index. The Yogi Berra quote “Nobody goes there anymore. It’s too crowded” came to mind as he saddled his way to the counter with one of his kids and dispatched the rest of the family to an open booth. If Waffle Houses in Georgia are any indicator, then we are returning to normalcy. Of course, the true indicator of normalcy will be when they remove the lone seat by the register that is reserved to preserve social distancing. Oh, how far we have come since this time last year.

Why do we drift to Waffle House as a backdrop for our letter this quarter, you might ask? Are we trying to distract you with sweet memories of buttered waffles and sizzling bacon? All temptations aside, we simply felt the need to emphasize normalcy and what it means. As the economy starts to thaw from its “dark winter” to borrow a phrase, what are we seeing? To our credit, a lot of what we hoped for is coming to fruition. The early cycle winners such as financials, energy, value, and small cap are doing very well. Through the first quarter, energy was up 30.83%, financials +16.02%, small cap value +16.84% and large cap value +10.99% whereas large cap, middle cap and small cap growth were up at best 2.56% and at worst 1.25%. To say we knew for certain the reopening trade would play out this positively would be a hubristic statement, one not welcomed at the Waffle House counter since hubris is not something you can scatter, smother, or dice on your hash browns. However, we did feel the upside optionality was so significant in the “value” and smaller capitalization sector versus mega cap and growth stocks, that if we just trended towards normal levels then we should see a significant spike in value as the price differential dissipated. The natural question from here, is if this “value” trade can last and, if history is any indicator, then it certainly can. Of course, growth has outperformed for the ten years before the recent cycle, so it could continue but there have also been significant time periods in the past when value has outperformed (2000-2010 for a short cycle, and 1926 to present for a longer cycle).   

Another area we drifted into last quarter was the inflation discussion. If you remember correctly last quarter, we alluded to the market and Federal Reserve almost inviting inflation at all costs. Well, as the saying goes, be careful what you wish for, as inflation reared its head in the first quarter. Thus, our call to keep duration short on our fixed income was prescient. Staying humble, though, it is not too hard to predict rising inflation when monetary stimulus is at levels not seen since WWII and debt levels reside over 100% of GDP before an infrastructure bill even gets passed. That being said, there are probably many investors who, unlike our clients, are unhappy with their -3.37% performance in their Bloomberg’s Barclays Aggregate Bond Index or worse than that if they held a long term bond fund like Vanguard Long Term Bond Index fund that was down 9.30% for the quarter. Our actively managed bond funds didn’t sniff levels like that with only one being down for the quarter and that one, Pimco Total Return, more than made up for it by being up 8.88% the previous year. Conversely, though, our gold investment didn’t work for the first quarter with gold being down 8.25% for the quarter. As we mentioned when we put this trade on last year, gold is more volatile than fixed income, but given the level of global monetary stimulus we felt this was a long term hedge against government malfeasance with a fiat currency and the resultant consequences. Gold has a far longer history as a currency than fiat currency and cryptocurrency. In addition, the majority of gold is not mined in China, like cryptocurrencies are. Thus, we continue to feel comfortable holding gold as a small percentage in client accounts.

Truly, the level of debt creation and government intervention makes one want to run back to Waffle House for a side of normalcy. Hopefully, once we work through vaccines, viruses and votes, the order of the day will not be so scrambled we can’t find our way forward. Of course, it’s our belief that we can always find a way to improve our lot in life and it usually starts with a good foundation whether it be eggs, bacon, or waffles. To that end, we will keep scrambling to find opportunities for you while keeping an eye on the tab (Trust us, if inflation starts creeping into the price of eggs and bacon, we will notice it). 

P.S. – There actually is a Waffle House Index but it is used by FEMA. It is an informal metric used to determine the effect of a storm and the likely scale of assistance required for disaster recovery. The index is based on the reputation of Waffle House for having good disaster preparedness and staying open during extreme weather, or reopening quickly afterwards. As Craig Fugate, former head of FEMA, said about a disaster area “If you get there and the Waffle House is closed. That’s really bad…”

P.P.S – For those intrigued by the type of hash brown toppings listed at the beginning of the letter we have included them below. Admittedly, we were not aware of them all either and are considering stepping up our “hash brown” game next time we visit Waffle House. Scattered is the standard, smothered is sauteed with onions, covered is with melted cheese, chunked is with ham, diced is with tomatoes, peppered is with jalapeno peppers, capped is with mushrooms, and topped is with chili.

Q4 2020 Creative Newsletter

January 20, 2021   ·   By   ·   Comments Off on Q4 2020 Creative Newsletter   ·   Posted in Asset Management Letter Archive

E Pluribus Unum

E Pluribus Unum, or “Out of many, one” has such strong meaning to residents of the United States that it is printed on our coins (among other things). Being students of history, we find it a little interesting that coins with our national motto (until 1956) on them are being rationed and pennies are scheduled to be phased out of production by 2022. Meanwhile, Bitcoin is hitting new highs and the Federal Reserve has begun working on a digital dollar. At the same time, modern monetary proponents keep grabbing more and more headlines as if they are the smartest guys in the room. For instance, there is a popular book called “The Deficit Myth” that argues, since the dollar is the reserve currency, deficit spending is a self-propagated myth created and maintained by politicians. If we just spent more money on all of our problem’s, things will likely turn out fine. Why are we going down this road? Certainly not because we want to talk about political issues any more this year. We mention this because we fear the ramifications of losing our heritage and credibility on the global stage. We bring this up because political instability and greater government spending lead to something we hope to have a handle on in retirement, inflation. (Political instability may also lead to devaluation of our currency but for now, we are going to put that under the heading of inflation as both destroy the wealth of their citizenry.)

Of course, what are some of the tools under our care that we can use to fight the threat of inflation? Stocks, commodities, and to a lesser degree, short duration fixed income. As an aside, fixed income is a better diversifier against stock volatility, but it is far safer after inflation risk is reflected in its price and not before. Thus, we continue to recommend an appropriate weighting in equities, fixed income and gold. Many have entertained adding cash to portfolios this year and while we certainly have it in accounts as dry powder for buying opportunities, we do not recommend a cash overweighting. Especially if there is a concerted effort by our Federal Reserve to “allow inflation to run hotter than normal”. On that note, forgive us for being the guy in the car asking if we should be worried about the temperature gauge blinking on the dash and the smoke coming from the engine. It truly feels as if we are so desensitized to the threat of rising prices now that we are inviting it at all costs. 

Not to be incendiary in any way, but what could also add fuel to the flame and burn out of control? An incoming government with a penchant for spending? A pent-up populace cooped up and ready for travel once a vaccine works? Maybe aggressive centrists calling out polarization on both sides and leading a great political moderation? All of these are big ifs (some positive and some negative) that could lead to greater inflation from current levels. Thus, we must stay vigilant and flexible in our investing. To that end, how else can we prepare for rising prices? Do we get inflation protection from equities that are up significantly over the past ten years or do we get that from equities that were pummeled due to pandemic concerns? We would argue that we certainly need representation in these beaten up areas. Many, of which, remind one of the setup for value stocks circa 2000 to 2008. Do we know that sectors like small cap, international, value and emerging markets will outperform? To say so would be arrogant, but to humbly admit that throughout history assets revert to their mean seems a very prudent tactic to protect your wealth, in our opinion. Additionally, we think you can get “One, out of many” to play on our earlier quote by having diversification across many asset classes such as gold and short duration multi-sector income funds. Just like our country has produced many great returns from the melting pot of many, stellar returns do not solely reside in the headline mega cap stocks. They also live in visions of entrepreneurs forging into new areas of growth. Sometimes they even come together in a program like “Operation Warp Speed” and create a vaccine in less than 12 months that normally takes 10 to 15 years. Truly, the teams of people and companies working together today are what give us confidence we can surmount whatever comes our way.

Yes, we know it sounds kind of hokey to talk about what we can accomplish with a unified approach against a backdrop of cynicism present in most modern day societies, along with an admittedly challenging year. However, in our opinion, the greatness of the United States, and for that matter, the human spirit, is when we work together. One of our recently deceased hometown heroes, Phil Niekro, comes to mind when we think of the type of “greatness” needed right now. As Phil said in his Hall of Fame speech “I have never met a player or an owner who can honestly stand up and say ‘I own this game. It belongs to me.’ This is America. America is baseball. This game is home and it belongs to you, the fan. Cherish it and take care of it.” As long as we cherish our gifts and work together, we can defeat most anything that comes our way.

P.S. – For those of you that don’t know Phil Niekro, we recommend spending some free time learning about him. The quote “Heroes get remembered. Legends never die” comes to mind. He may have been a better person than he was a baseball player and that is saying a lot. Also, his signature pitch, the knuckleball, may be the most appropriate metaphor we can imagine for 2020. If you have ever had a knuckleball make you look silly at home plate, then you know what we mean.

General Compliance Disclosures

Statements made via this letter are the opinions of Creative Financial Group (“CFG”) and its advisors, and are not to be construed as guarantees, warranties or predictions of future events, portfolio allocations, portfolio results, investment returns, or other outcomes. None of the information contained is intended as a solicitation or offer to purchase or sell a specific security, mutual fund, bond, or any other investment. Readers should not assume that the considerations, suggestions, or recommendations will be profitable, suitable to their circumstances or that future investment and/or portfolio performance will be profitable or favorable. Past performance of indices, mutual funds, or actual portfolios does not guarantee future results. Future results may differ significantly from the past due to materially different economic and market conditions; investments in securities or other financial products involve risk and the possibility of loss, including a permanent loss of principal. Investments are not FDIC insured and have no bank guarantee.

Creative Financial Group (“CFG”) is a division of Synovus Securities, Inc (“SSI”), member FINRA/SIPC. Prior to

January 1, 2011, CFG was a separate registered investment adviser affiliate of SSI. Investment products and services are not FDIC insured, are not deposits of or other obligations of Synovus Bank, are not guaranteed by Synovus Bank and involve investment risk, including possible loss of principal amount invested. Synovus Securities, Inc. is a subsidiary of Synovus Financial Corp and an affiliate of Synovus Bank.

Investment products and services provided by Synovus are offered through Synovus Securities, Inc. (“SSI”), Synovus Trust Company, N.A. (“STC”), GLOBALT, a separately identifiable division of STC and Creative Financial Group, a division of SSI. Trust services for Synovus are provided by Synovus Trust Company, N.A. The registered broker-dealer offering brokerage products for Synovus is Synovus Securities, Inc., member FINRA/SIPC. Investment products and services are not FDIC insured, are not deposits of or other obligations of Synovus Bank, are not guaranteed by Synovus Bank and involve investment risk, including possible loss of principal amount invested.

Synovus Securities, Inc. is a subsidiary of Synovus Financial Corp and an affiliate of Synovus Bank and Synovus Trust.  Synovus Trust Company, N.A. is a subsidiary of Synovus Bank.

Pursuant to rules adopted by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission governing federally registered investment advisors, we request that you take time to compare your account balances and statements issued by National Financial Services, who acts as the custodian for your account(s).  We request you contact us immediately if you do not receive these statements or if the values reflected are materially different.

Cost basis reporting

If you buy and sell a security in a taxable account on or after the effective date, NFS will report cost basis for the sold security to you and the IRS on Form 1099-B. If you have a mix of covered and uncovered positions in the same security, NFS will report cost basis to you and the IRS for any covered position that is sold. NFS will apply the FIFO (First In, First Out) default method unless you inform us of a different method. Your cost basis method for all transactions must be final by settlement date. If you choose to change the default method, you can do so by notifying your Financial Consultant.

Use of Indexes

iThe investment return and style information and comparisons employ a variety of popular indices, and the index contents and strategies are the property of their respective companies (e.g., Dow Jones, Standard & Poor’s, Morningstar, Barclay Capital, Russell). Although the data is believed to be reliable, CFG makes no warranty with respect to the contents, accuracy, completeness, timeliness, suitability, or reliability of the information, which is represented here for informational use only and should not be considered investment advice or recommendation. None of the indices can be invested directly, and the return figures for these various securities indices are reported without management fees, trading costs, or other expenses subtracted from the returns, and are shown on a total return basis that assumes reinvestment of applicable capital gains and dividends. Components of indices may change over time. Small capitalization stocks are represented by the Russell 2000 Index. Mid Capitalization stocks are represented by the S&P Mid Cap 400 Index. Foreign stocks are represented by the MSCI EAFE Index and emerging markets are represented by the MSCI Emerging Markets Index.

Q4 2020 Creative Newsletter

January 20, 2021   ·   By   ·   Comments Off on Q4 2020 Creative Newsletter   ·   Posted in Q3 2020 Creative Newsletter

E Pluribus Unum

E Pluribus Unum, or “Out of many, one” has such strong meaning to residents of the United States that it is printed on our coins (among other things). Being students of history, we find it a little interesting that coins with our national motto (until 1956) on them are being rationed and pennies are scheduled to be phased out of production by 2022. Meanwhile, Bitcoin is hitting new highs and the Federal Reserve has begun working on a digital dollar. At the same time, modern monetary proponents keep grabbing more and more headlines as if they are the smartest guys in the room. For instance, there is a popular book called “The Deficit Myth” that argues, since the dollar is the reserve currency, deficit spending is a self-propagated myth created and maintained by politicians. If we just spent more money on all of our problem’s, things will likely turn out fine. Why are we going down this road? Certainly not because we want to talk about political issues any more this year. We mention this because we fear the ramifications of losing our heritage and credibility on the global stage. We bring this up because political instability and greater government spending lead to something we hope to have a handle on in retirement, inflation. (Political instability may also lead to devaluation of our currency but for now, we are going to put that under the heading of inflation as both destroy the wealth of their citizenry.)

Of course, what are some of the tools under our care that we can use to fight the threat of inflation? Stocks, commodities, and to a lesser degree, short duration fixed income. As an aside, fixed income is a better diversifier against stock volatility, but it is far safer after inflation risk is reflected in its price and not before. Thus, we continue to recommend an appropriate weighting in equities, fixed income and gold. Many have entertained adding cash to portfolios this year and while we certainly have it in accounts as dry powder for buying opportunities, we do not recommend a cash overweighting. Especially if there is a concerted effort by our Federal Reserve to “allow inflation to run hotter than normal”. On that note, forgive us for being the guy in the car asking if we should be worried about the temperature gauge blinking on the dash and the smoke coming from the engine. It truly feels as if we are so desensitized to the threat of rising prices now that we are inviting it at all costs. 

Not to be incendiary in any way, but what could also add fuel to the flame and burn out of control? An incoming government with a penchant for spending? A pent-up populace cooped up and ready for travel once a vaccine works? Maybe aggressive centrists calling out polarization on both sides and leading a great political moderation? All of these are big ifs (some positive and some negative) that could lead to greater inflation from current levels. Thus, we must stay vigilant and flexible in our investing. To that end, how else can we prepare for rising prices? Do we get inflation protection from equities that are up significantly over the past ten years or do we get that from equities that were pummeled due to pandemic concerns? We would argue that we certainly need representation in these beaten up areas. Many, of which, remind one of the setup for value stocks circa 2000 to 2008. Do we know that sectors like small cap, international, value and emerging markets will outperform? To say so would be arrogant, but to humbly admit that throughout history assets revert to their mean seems a very prudent tactic to protect your wealth, in our opinion. Additionally, we think you can get “One, out of many” to play on our earlier quote by having diversification across many asset classes such as gold and short duration multi-sector income funds. Just like our country has produced many great returns from the melting pot of many, stellar returns do not solely reside in the headline mega cap stocks. They also live in visions of entrepreneurs forging into new areas of growth. Sometimes they even come together in a program like “Operation Warp Speed” and create a vaccine in less than 12 months that normally takes 10 to 15 years. Truly, the teams of people and companies working together today are what give us confidence we can surmount whatever comes our way.

Yes, we know it sounds kind of hokey to talk about what we can accomplish with a unified approach against a backdrop of cynicism present in most modern day societies, along with an admittedly challenging year. However, in our opinion, the greatness of the United States, and for that matter, the human spirit, is when we work together. One of our recently deceased hometown heroes, Phil Niekro, comes to mind when we think of the type of “greatness” needed right now. As Phil said in his Hall of Fame speech “I have never met a player or an owner who can honestly stand up and say ‘I own this game. It belongs to me.’ This is America. America is baseball. This game is home and it belongs to you, the fan. Cherish it and take care of it.” As long as we cherish our gifts and work together, we can defeat most anything that comes our way.

P.S. – For those of you that don’t know Phil Niekro, we recommend spending some free time learning about him. The quote “Heroes get remembered. Legends never die” comes to mind. He may have been a better person than he was a baseball player and that is saying a lot. Also, his signature pitch, the knuckleball, may be the most appropriate metaphor we can imagine for 2020. If you have ever had a knuckleball make you look silly at home plate, then you know what we mean.

General Compliance Disclosures

Statements made via this letter are the opinions of Creative Financial Group (“CFG”) and its advisors, and are not to be construed as guarantees, warranties or predictions of future events, portfolio allocations, portfolio results, investment returns, or other outcomes. None of the information contained is intended as a solicitation or offer to purchase or sell a specific security, mutual fund, bond, or any other investment. Readers should not assume that the considerations, suggestions, or recommendations will be profitable, suitable to their circumstances or that future investment and/or portfolio performance will be profitable or favorable. Past performance of indices, mutual funds, or actual portfolios does not guarantee future results. Future results may differ significantly from the past due to materially different economic and market conditions; investments in securities or other financial products involve risk and the possibility of loss, including a permanent loss of principal. Investments are not FDIC insured and have no bank guarantee.

Creative Financial Group (“CFG”) is a division of Synovus Securities, Inc (“SSI”), member FINRA/SIPC. Prior to

January 1, 2011, CFG was a separate registered investment adviser affiliate of SSI. Investment products and services are not FDIC insured, are not deposits of or other obligations of Synovus Bank, are not guaranteed by Synovus Bank and involve investment risk, including possible loss of principal amount invested. Synovus Securities, Inc. is a subsidiary of Synovus Financial Corp and an affiliate of Synovus Bank.

Investment products and services provided by Synovus are offered through Synovus Securities, Inc. (“SSI”), Synovus Trust Company, N.A. (“STC”), GLOBALT, a separately identifiable division of STC and Creative Financial Group, a division of SSI. Trust services for Synovus are provided by Synovus Trust Company, N.A. The registered broker-dealer offering brokerage products for Synovus is Synovus Securities, Inc., member FINRA/SIPC. Investment products and services are not FDIC insured, are not deposits of or other obligations of Synovus Bank, are not guaranteed by Synovus Bank and involve investment risk, including possible loss of principal amount invested.

Synovus Securities, Inc. is a subsidiary of Synovus Financial Corp and an affiliate of Synovus Bank and Synovus Trust.  Synovus Trust Company, N.A. is a subsidiary of Synovus Bank.

Pursuant to rules adopted by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission governing federally registered investment advisors, we request that you take time to compare your account balances and statements issued by National Financial Services, who acts as the custodian for your account(s).  We request you contact us immediately if you do not receive these statements or if the values reflected are materially different.

Cost basis reporting

If you buy and sell a security in a taxable account on or after the effective date, NFS will report cost basis for the sold security to you and the IRS on Form 1099-B. If you have a mix of covered and uncovered positions in the same security, NFS will report cost basis to you and the IRS for any covered position that is sold. NFS will apply the FIFO (First In, First Out) default method unless you inform us of a different method. Your cost basis method for all transactions must be final by settlement date. If you choose to change the default method, you can do so by notifying your Financial Consultant.

Use of Indexes

iThe investment return and style information and comparisons employ a variety of popular indices, and the index contents and strategies are the property of their respective companies (e.g., Dow Jones, Standard & Poor’s, Morningstar, Barclay Capital, Russell). Although the data is believed to be reliable, CFG makes no warranty with respect to the contents, accuracy, completeness, timeliness, suitability, or reliability of the information, which is represented here for informational use only and should not be considered investment advice or recommendation. None of the indices can be invested directly, and the return figures for these various securities indices are reported without management fees, trading costs, or other expenses subtracted from the returns, and are shown on a total return basis that assumes reinvestment of applicable capital gains and dividends. Components of indices may change over time. Small capitalization stocks are represented by the Russell 2000 Index. Mid Capitalization stocks are represented by the S&P Mid Cap 400 Index. Foreign stocks are represented by the MSCI EAFE Index and emerging markets are represented by the MSCI Emerging Markets Index.

Congratulations Chris Womack

November 9, 2020   ·   By   ·   Comments Off on Congratulations Chris Womack   ·   Posted in Q3 2020 Creative Newsletter

We congratulate longtime client Chris Womack for being named CEO of GA Power.

African Americans have founded and led sizeable businesses in Georgia. But nationwide, Black CEOs are rare among the largest companies. Only four — less than 1% — were serving as CEOs of Fortune 500 companies, according to a report last year by consulting firm Korn Ferry. Georgia Power is a subsidiary of a Fortune 500 company.

To see more information on Chris and his accomplishments Please visit the follow links

https://www.ajc.com/neighborhoods/gwinnett/southern-exec-to-become-new-georgia-power-ceo/SEM3T3UGDBHB5KI5JUFCLD5MSI/

http://athensceo.com/features/2020/10/georgia-powers-paul-bowers-retire-succession-plan-announced/

Q3 2020 Creative Newsletter

October 14, 2020   ·   By   ·   Comments Off on Q3 2020 Creative Newsletter   ·   Posted in Asset Management Letter Archive

Dad Jokes
One of our portfolio managers was talking to his daughter recently when she remarked about how much anxiety she had given everything going on in the world. Being a master of homespun wisdom and humor, he quipped “I deal with my anxiety by not worrying about it.” Like most dad jokes, this fell flat until his wife responded with “Maybe because you lost your dad at 19 years old, had to work your way through college, and then came out on the other side in a pretty good position, you have a perspective that things will work out?” He quickly admitted she had made a very good point in hopes the vestige of his bad joke had dissipated into his wife’s searing epiphany. We share this vignette to drive home how important perspective is when it comes to dealing with the news of the day. The 24-hour news cycle seems to constantly shade the events of the day with a negative hue. Certainly, with items like Covid-19, wildfires, unemployment, and violent protests continuing we definitely understand anxiety and worry. However, as history buffs we realize there is always something to fear as one tries to move in a positive direction.
On that note, please forgive our bias, but we are strong believers in the power of humankind to improve its collective destiny. Sure, societies will make mistakes, but as we work together over the long term we can achieve a lot. For instance, 100 years ago the death rate in children under 5 was 32% and now it is under 4%. Air quality in major cities has improved by 30% since 1977. Some may say this isn’t enough, and we get that, but others may argue modern society also suffers from “prevalence induced concept change” which boils down to “The more progress we observe, the greater the remaining injustices appear.” We certainly understand these individual points of view, but there is a collective trend we must also weigh. Improvements like life expectancy increasing by 30 years since the 1900’s or the fatality rate at work dropping by 30% are significant in our opinion. In other words, life is still pretty decent even against a backdrop of Covid-19 and through adversity we oftentimes come out with vast improvements.
To the end, we have noticed some very significant and positive trends recently in healthcare and technology. For instance, teleworking and telemedicine has accelerated to the point we think there is no turning back. Further, the push to use digital technology for monitoring, diagnosis, and alerts has increased and should continue with additional support via artificial intelligence and personal care management. All of this should also increase proactive well-care and ease of access to healthcare versus the model of reactive sick-care with less access. Of course, gene and cell therapy and Crispr technology had already started the movement towards precision medicine years earlier, speaking of proactive well-care. Finally, the easing of regulations and the sharing of technology between private and public entities seems to be creating a new normal within the medical industry. All of this cooperation and change may create stress in the short run, but over the long haul we are encouraged by the progress.
All of the positive trends aside, we realize words on a piece of paper do not remove worry and fears about current events. Know that we are here to chat about anything on your mind whether it is a fear or a hope. Given where the stock market was earlier this year, we are encouraged with returns. They could always be better, but given the level of risk we encountered in March we haven’t felt the need to ratchet risk higher. It is also part of the reason you have seen us take gains, raise cash, and introduce gold to portfolios. The areas of the market that are cheap carry secular risks such as energy and finance, typical “value” areas of the market, so not many want to add that “value” risk to their portfolios. Of course, as Warren Buffett always said “You can’t buy what is popular and do well”. We are here to help discern what is a positive long
term trend versus a passing fancy and to do well for you. Please call with any questions and to let
us know what we can do better to continue doing “well” by you.
P.S – We know that many have asked questions about the election and we get those every
four years. Oftentimes, every four years we encounter the most important election of all time and
while we encourage all to vote as it is vitally important to our country, it typically doesn’t impact
the markets as dramatically as one would think. We have shared stats in our “Wisdom
Wednesday” calls that show the differential in returns between a Democrat and a Republican are
historically minimal. To that end we found a new statistic the other day we felt was worth
sharing, from 1933 to 2019 the average annual return of the S&P 500 during Democratic
presidents was 10.2% and during Republican presidents was 6.9%. Nearly all of the Democratic
average outperformance advantage can be explained by the boom years under Clinton and the
subsequent dotcom bust and Global financial crisis under Bush. If you exclude those two
presidencies the difference in returns is practically zero. We share this to try and help keep
perspective on this year’s election.
P.S.S – Hopefully, we don’t have to explain the concept of “Dad Jokes” (hint, it rhymes
with bad). However, if you need us to explain, we have several experts on site that can help.

Q2 2020 Creative Newsletter

October 14, 2020   ·   By   ·   Comments Off on Q2 2020 Creative Newsletter   ·   Posted in Asset Management Letter Archive

Risky Business

We alluded to risk in the last quarterly letter and how “This too shall pass”. The good news is that the bleak uncertainty in March seems to have passed, but the bad news is that risk still remains. The point that we didn’t emphasize last quarter is that risk is always present. Of course, with risk also comes opportunity, but it is critical that we all distinguish between fear and danger when it comes to risk. Fear is an emotion; it’s the risk we perceive. As an emotion, it’s often blind to the facts. For example, you are more likely to die from a vending machine falling on you than a shark attack in the United States. However, you never hear anyone yell “Vending Machine” on the way to get a snack in the office. Danger, on the other hand, is measurable and is therefore the part of risk we focus on. For instance, there were 273 Covid-19 deaths on June 28th, 2020 which was down 84% from the peak of 1,733 on April 19th, 2020. On average 2,353 people die of heart disease every day. We are in no way diminishing the fear present in a virus with no herd immunity or vaccine. We are instead trying to drive home the point that life presents us with risk every day and how we handle it defines us.

                For instance, in the 1918 flu pandemic that killed between 17 and 50 million people, the use of the telephone rose significantly as people adapted to a world full of new risks but still needed to communicate. Keeping perspective, imagine the dangers experienced during a time period including a pandemic and the First World War. Prior to 1918 phones were considered a convenience of the well-to-do. Similarly, many businesses such as Creative Financial Group, are using video conferencing more to keep in close contact with clients and to telecommute. Telemedicine has finally taken off, as well, so you can see a doctor without sitting in a lobby surrounded by a bunch of sick people. Curbside pickup has also grown to the delight of some and the detriment of others. It seems that some companies with the ability to adapt will exit this pandemic stronger, while others may weaken and even disappear. Unfortunately, life is filled with stories like that. We learned this the first time we heard an adult say “Life isn’t fair all the time”. As adults, we know this and must act accordingly. It is why we save and invest instead of hiding underneath our beds and living from paycheck-to-paycheck. It is also why we can swim at the beach without high levels of anxiety. Certainly macro concerns enter the economic picture as we are all intelligent people who pay attention to the world around us. However, in today’s 24-hour news cycle, we realize it can be difficult to not get caught up in our emotions. Facts can help with this.   

                On that note here are some important facts not highlighted in the 24 hour news cycle. The Federal Reserve has increased their balance more in two months than it did in five years of quantitative easing from 2010-15. You can see the correlation between the Fed Balance sheet and the S&P 500i at the following link: https://fred.stlouisfed.org/graph/?g=HfT. Inflation is not a problem now but M2, one of the broadest measures of money supply, has increased 351.9% from a year ago. Inflation impacts assets in different ways, but we know it is negative for fixed income. As a side note, in order for returns in fixed income to be as good as they were the past ten years, rates would have to fall to -3%. Another fact is that the average return in an election year is positive. Time will tell whether or not 2020 ends up being positive, but when the Federal Reserve pumps liquidity into the market, the chances improve. This, by no means, omits the challenges presented with high unemployment, business shutdowns, pandemics and civil unrest. However, once we make it through this period of increased volatility it sure seems as if investors will want assets like, commodities and stocks that historically do well in the face of inflation.    

                On a topical note, we continue to make use of funds that will hold cash and other assets that allow flexibility to be in and out of the market when volatility spikes. Additionally, we have begun adding a commodity, gold, to portfolios as a hedge against inflation and volatility. This is not something we have done in the past, besides choosing a fund that would hold gold as a hedge, but we felt the upside/downside potential was attractive given the level of money printing. If this is an investment you are against, then please let us know as we are working our way through accounts. Additionally, if you see us selling to raise money for the gold purchase, you may notice we are harvesting some gains in large capitalization growth funds as they have significantly outperformed other sectors of the market. We like to say that growth stocks have performed as if Covid-19 never occurred, and value stocks have performed as if we are near the “end times”. Growth has now outperformed value for 13 years and by many metrics has not been this expensive since 1999, and we know how that ended ten years later.

                Of course, we started this quarterly on the topic of risk so it only makes sense for us to end on it. Investing is a business that tries to quantify risk and return and provide an investment with a comfort level commensurate with your desired risk and return. If you feel your risk profile has changed, then please give us a call. On that note, we like to say that we serve our clients best by being consistently good, not just occasionally great. However, this is harder to accomplish if we don’t know how you are thinking. So, again, please call with any questions.

General Compliance Disclosures

Statements made via this letter are the opinions of Creative Financial Group (“CFG”) and its advisors, and are not to be construed as guarantees, warranties or predictions of future events, portfolio allocations, portfolio results, investment returns, or other outcomes. None of the information contained is intended as a solicitation or offer to purchase or sell a specific security, mutual fund, bond, or any other investment. Readers should not assume that the considerations, suggestions, or recommendations will be profitable, suitable to their circumstances or that future investment and/or portfolio performance will be profitable or favorable. Past performance of indices, mutual funds, or actual portfolios does not guarantee future results. Future results may differ significantly from the past due to materially different economic and market conditions; investments in securities or other financial products involve risk and the possibility of loss, including a permanent loss of principal. Investments are not FDIC insured and have no bank guarantee.

Creative Financial Group (“CFG”) is a division of Synovus Securities, Inc (“SSI”), member FINRA/SIPC. Prior to

January 1, 2011, CFG was a separate registered investment adviser affiliate of SSI. Investment products and services are not FDIC insured, are not deposits of or other obligations of Synovus Bank, are not guaranteed by Synovus Bank and involve investment risk, including possible loss of principal amount invested. Synovus Securities, Inc. is a subsidiary of Synovus Financial Corp and an affiliate of Synovus Bank.

Investment products and services provided by Synovus are offered through Synovus Securities, Inc. (“SSI”), Synovus Trust Company, N.A. (“STC”), GLOBALT, a separately identifiable division of STC and Creative Financial Group, a division of SSI. Trust services for Synovus are provided by Synovus Trust Company, N.A. The registered broker-dealer offering brokerage products for Synovus is Synovus Securities, Inc., member FINRA/SIPC. Investment products and services are not FDIC insured, are not deposits of or other obligations of Synovus Bank, are not guaranteed by Synovus Bank and involve investment risk, including possible loss of principal amount invested.

Synovus Securities, Inc. is a subsidiary of Synovus Financial Corp and an affiliate of Synovus Bank and Synovus Trust.  Synovus Trust Company, N.A. is a subsidiary of Synovus Bank.

Pursuant to rules adopted by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission governing federally registered investment advisors, we request that you take time to compare your account balances and statements issued by National Financial Services, who acts as the custodian for your account(s).  We request you contact us immediately if you do not receive these statements or if the values reflected are materially different.

Cost basis reporting

If you buy and sell a security in a taxable account on or after the effective date, NFS will report cost basis for the sold security to you and the IRS on Form 1099-B. If you have a mix of covered and uncovered positions in the same security, NFS will report cost basis to you and the IRS for any covered position that is sold. NFS will apply the FIFO (First In, First Out) default method unless you inform us of a different method. Your cost basis method for all transactions must be final by settlement date. If you choose to change the default method, you can do so by notifying your Financial Consultant.

Use of Indexes

iThe investment return and style information and comparisons employ a variety of popular indices, and the index contents and strategies are the property of their respective companies (e.g., Dow Jones, Standard & Poor’s, Morningstar, Barclay Capital, Russell). Although the data is believed to be reliable, CFG makes no warranty with respect to the contents, accuracy, completeness, timeliness, suitability, or reliability of the information, which is represented here for informational use only and should not be considered investment advice or recommendation. None of the indices can be invested directly, and the return figures for these various securities indices are reported without management fees, trading costs, or other expenses subtracted from the returns, and are shown on a total return basis that assumes reinvestment of applicable capital gains and dividends. Components of indices may change over time. Small capitalization stocks are represented by the Russell 2000 Index. Mid Capitalization stocks are represented by the S&P Mid Cap 400 Index. Foreign stocks are represented by the MSCI EAFE Index and emerging markets are represented by the MSCI Emerging Markets Index.

AM 1st Qtr 2020 letter

October 14, 2020   ·   By   ·   Comments Off on AM 1st Qtr 2020 letter   ·   Posted in Asset Management Letter Archive

This, too, shall pass …

Less than a month and a half ago the U.S. economy signaled continued growth in the midst of an election year and another virus like SARS, MERS, Avian Bird Flu or the Swine Flu had cropped up across the pond. Fast forward a month later and Covid-19 stalled the global economy, a price war in oil broke out and the market experienced a historic drop. With all due respect to the people that say they saw this coming, there is no way you saw all of these events lining up together. As reference, the Swine Flu killed 150 to 500,000 people in 2009-10 (estimates vary) and the S&P 500i was up 23.54% in 2009 and 12.78% in 2010. OPEC tried price wars from November 2014 through 2015 and the S&P 500i was flat from November to the end of 2015, but at the end of 2019 oil and the S&P 500i were up 64.66% and 57.88% respectively from 2015. Historical revisionists sometimes gloss over risk through the lens of remembrance. Risk is an innate part of life that was not missing over the past ten years during the longest bull market in history. However, mitigating risk in order to still receive rewards is what we all must do every day.

               We lead with the historical recap to provide perspective, Abraham Lincoln was a leader with a unique insight into dealing with crises.  Oftentimes, he would tell a story about an Eastern Monarch who charged wise men to craft a sentence which should be true and appropriate in all times and situations. Their answer was “And this, too, shall pass away. How much it expresses! How chastening in the hour of pride! How consoling in the depths of affliction!” To us, the sentences about chastening in the hour of pride and consoling in the depths of affliction are the most important part of the quote. When the markets are at their highest is when we fail the greatest need for humility because risk can come quickly. However, when maximum pessimism resides in the market is oftentimes the best time to buy. For example, in 2009 when the very structure of our financial system was in question due to excess leverage our managers were able to find values that provided fantastic returns 1, 3, 5 and 10 years later. As another example, last year was when we took gains from our winners for withdrawal needs and this year we are taking withdrawal needs from fixed income. With global financial stimulus being injected into the economy against a backdrop of low interest rates, stocks are arguably more attractive than they have been in years. Quantitative easing and low interest rates make stocks cheaper no matter your perspective on what they do to debt levels. Thus, we think this historical drop in the stock market is a time for our clients to be using our conservative positioning from the past to allow them to put money to work.

               That being said, we also realize there is an emotional side to investing. As human beings emotions appear to have primacy over cognitive function. It is why we jump when a snake strikes at us behind protective glass at a zoo and it is what kept us alive when we were cave dwellers. Thus, when stocks get cheap it is hard to buy as they may get cheaper. Even if someone showed us that in the twelve bear markets previous to this one the average return is 52.2% a year later or 88.6% three years later, some are still hesitant because we know past performance doesn’t predict future results. The typical bear market is down 30% from peak to trough in a recession and the market hit that level on March 23rd, but we understand the fear that it could go lower. However, the reasoned contrarian in us would argue that it could be we have already hit the bottom. Of course, to forecast is folly, but one could certainly contend that after a 30% drop, one is historically closer to the bottom than the top. 

               On that note, we also want you to know that many of our managers who hold cash/fixed income or hedges have been putting money into the market recently. They didn’t know we would have a triumvirate of virus, valuations, and oil hit the market at the same time, but they knew valuations were stretched, so they were holding cash for a correction to scoop up attractive assets. They can’t disclose full details of their moves yet, but when they move from 57% in the market to 73% in the market (as one manager did), you can surmise they are finding what they feel are attractive long-term purchases. Our fixed income managers have also been adding to investments that have widened out to yields not seen since 2008-09. These are all moves that we applaud as it should reward our clients significantly in the future.    

We regaled you with historical numbers in this quarterly because to quote Churchill “The farther backward you can look, the farther forward you are likely to see.” Viewing three significant setbacks in the market over the past twenty years strangely gives us hope as we peer forward to the future. A future we hope to continue to navigate with you and your family for years to come. Please stay safe, wash your hands, and practice social distancing as your health is more important than any words we can put on paper. Call with any questions or any navigational tips.

P.S. Our favorite navigational tip is “You can’t steer a boat by looking at the wake”. We find more emotional support in it versus the quote we keep hearing about our current situation of “It will get worse before it gets better”.

General Compliance Disclosures

Statements made via this letter are the opinions of Creative Financial Group (“CFG”) and its advisors, and are not to be construed as guarantees, warranties or predictions of future events, portfolio allocations, portfolio results, investment returns, or other outcomes. None of the information contained is intended as a solicitation or offer to purchase or sell a specific security, mutual fund, bond, or any other investment. Readers should not assume that the considerations, suggestions, or recommendations will be profitable, suitable to their circumstances or that future investment and/or portfolio performance will be profitable or favorable. Past performance of indices, mutual funds, or actual portfolios does not guarantee future results. Future results may differ significantly from the past due to materially different economic and market conditions; investments in securities or other financial products involve risk and the possibility of loss, including a permanent loss of principal. Investments are not FDIC insured and have no bank guarantee.

Creative Financial Group (“CFG”) is a division of Synovus Securities, Inc (“SSI”), member FINRA/SIPC. Prior to

January 1, 2011, CFG was a separate registered investment adviser affiliate of SSI. Investment products and services are not FDIC insured, are not deposits of or other obligations of Synovus Bank, are not guaranteed by Synovus Bank and involve investment risk, including possible loss of principal amount invested. Synovus Securities, Inc. is a subsidiary of Synovus Financial Corp and an affiliate of Synovus Bank.

Investment products and services provided by Synovus are offered through Synovus Securities, Inc. (“SSI”), Synovus Trust Company, N.A. (“STC”), GLOBALT, a separately identifiable division of STC and Creative Financial Group, a division of SSI. Trust services for Synovus are provided by Synovus Trust Company, N.A. The registered broker-dealer offering brokerage products for Synovus is Synovus Securities, Inc., member FINRA/SIPC. Investment products and services are not FDIC insured, are not deposits of or other obligations of Synovus Bank, are not guaranteed by Synovus Bank and involve investment risk, including possible loss of principal amount invested.

Synovus Securities, Inc. is a subsidiary of Synovus Financial Corp and an affiliate of Synovus Bank and Synovus Trust.  Synovus Trust Company, N.A. is a subsidiary of Synovus Bank.

Pursuant to rules adopted by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission governing federally registered investment advisors, we request that you take time to compare your account balances and statements issued by National Financial Services, who acts as the custodian for your account(s).  We request you contact us immediately if you do not receive these statements or if the values reflected are materially different.

Cost basis reporting

If you buy and sell a security in a taxable account on or after the effective date, NFS will report cost basis for the sold security to you and the IRS on Form 1099-B. If you have a mix of covered and uncovered positions in the same security, NFS will report cost basis to you and the IRS for any covered position that is sold. NFS will apply the FIFO (First In, First Out) default method unless you inform us of a different method. Your cost basis method for all transactions must be final by settlement date. If you choose to change the default method, you can do so by notifying your Financial Consultant.

Use of Indexes

iThe investment return and style information and comparisons employ a variety of popular indices, and the index contents and strategies are the property of their respective companies (e.g., Dow Jones, Standard & Poor’s, Morningstar, Barclay Capital, Russell). Although the data is believed to be reliable, CFG makes no warranty with respect to the contents, accuracy, completeness, timeliness, suitability, or reliability of the information, which is represented here for informational use only and should not be considered investment advice or recommendation. None of the indices can be invested directly, and the return figures for these various securities indices are reported without management fees, trading costs, or other expenses subtracted from the returns, and are shown on a total return basis that assumes reinvestment of applicable capital gains and dividends. Components of indices may change over time. Small capitalization stocks are represented by the Russell 2000 Index. Mid Capitalization stocks are represented by the S&P Mid Cap 400 Index. Foreign stocks are represented by the MSCI EAFE Index and emerging markets are represented by the MSCI Emerging Markets Index.

Q3 2019 Asset Management Letter

October 14, 2020   ·   By   ·   Comments Off on Q3 2019 Asset Management Letter   ·   Posted in Asset Management Letter Archive

Keeping Perspective

One of our portfolio managers recently had his wife fall and break her leg. We bring this up because there is nothing like a health scare and the subsequent adjustments to give one perspective. Similarly, the market has provided some perspective this year. While the news cycle has been overly dramatic and dire, the market has chugged higher providing double digit returns. It is almost hard to believe with all the negative sentiment in the marketplace that we are ten years into one of the longest economic recoveries with historically low unemployment, low interest rates, and cheap natural resources. If you juxtapose today with the 1970’s or 2008/09, you can’t help but question the vitriol on the daily news.
Certainly, keeping perspective is always easier when you are armed with knowledge. For instance, in the fourth quarter of 2018 when the media started talking about yield curve inversion, it helped to know they were referencing the five year Treasury note and the three year Treasury note, and not the most reliable and predictable relationship between the three month Treasury and the 30 year. Furthermore, when an inversion occurs it takes between 12 and 18 months for a recession to occur, and in the meantime, the market also goes up on average 15%. In addition, yield curve inversion doesn’t cause a recession; it is just symptomatic. Typically, the yield curve inverts because the Federal Reserve drives short-term rates too high and overtightens monetary policy. It’s tight monetary policy that causes recessions, not inversions, and what has the Fed started doing? Loosening monetary policy by cutting rates this summer.
Of course, we acknowledge that all of the yield curve, trade war, and ISM Manufacturing Index talk has increased the recession anxiety to a higher level. However, we also realize that during the last “normal” recession there were some sectors of the market that did quite well. We are putting 2008 aside as we hope that type of market remains an anomaly for the foreseeable future. However, if we look at 2000 to 2003, we note value stocks, real estate, small cap and emerging markets outperformed the market significantly, even earning positive rates of return whereas the S&P 500 was negative. On that note, in the month of September, value stocks outperformed growth stocks by 9%. Furthermore, from a valuation perspective, growth stocks are more expensive than they have been since 2001. Therefore, it seems logical to us that whether the economy slips into a recession or not, value stocks seem like a reasonable place to be invested. At the same time, if we don’t slip into a recession our equity positions will still provide upside and the bucket of fixed income/cash that we hold will weather downticks in the market if a recession does occur.
On the subject of fixed income, you will continue to see us keeping duration and risk low in our portfolios. We understand that some fixed income managers have argued that you should increase duration in your portfolio because when yields go down valuation goes up on bonds, and to their credit, long dated bonds have performed well this year. We equate this with picking up pennies in front of a steamroller. We have trillions of dollars in negative yielding fixed income across the world and we are at 5,000 year lows in interest rates. Maybe central banks can control rates for the foreseeable future, but we are not willing to make that bet for our clients. It may turn out to be a fine trade, but it is not an investment in our mind. Another trade the fixed income pundits have been heavily recommending, and we have minimized, is high yield and investment grade bonds. High yield is okay when yields are in the double digits because with the default rate and the recovery rate, you can still earn an attractive return, but we are nowhere near that safety margin right now so the risk isn’t worth the paltry return. Investment grade bonds in general are a fine place to be but there is risk in investment grade bonds not being recognized, in our opinion. The lowest level of investment grade bonds, BBB, was 32.6% of the investment grade universe in 2008 and today it is nearly 50% of the investment grade sector, having quadrupled in size. Consider that half of the investment grade sector is one rung above junk bond status and yielding 3.4%. To us, this feels like prancing in front of the steamroller with a broken leg and picking up pennies.
The theme we have always focused on for our clients is minimizing downside, capturing most of the upside, and still sticking to a long-term plan to maximize the power of compounding rates of return. By keeping perspective in good times and bad, we are oftentimes able to achieve these goals. Hopefully, the information we have included in this month’s quarterly will help provide the sure-footing we all need because we certainly know the value of a stable foundation for long-term success. On that note, please call out if you need a stabilizing hand or comforting words. We have first-hand experience with the significant worth of a supportive network given recent events.

General Compliance Disclosures

Statements made via this letter are the opinions of Creative Financial Group (“CFG”) and its advisors, and are not to be construed as guarantees, warranties or predictions of future events, portfolio allocations, portfolio results, investment returns, or other outcomes. None of the information contained is intended as a solicitation or offer to purchase or sell a specific security, mutual fund, bond, or any other investment. Readers should not assume that the considerations, suggestions, or recommendations will be profitable, suitable to their circumstances or that future investment and/or portfolio performance will be profitable or favorable. Past performance of indices, mutual funds, or actual portfolios does not guarantee future results. Future results may differ significantly from the past due to materially different economic and market conditions; investments in securities or other financial products involve risk and the possibility of loss, including a permanent loss of principal. Investments are not FDIC insured and have no bank guarantee.

Creative Financial Group (“CFG”) is a division of Synovus Securities, Inc (“SSI”), member FINRA/SIPC. Prior to
January 1, 2011, CFG was a separate registered investment adviser affiliate of SSI. Investment products and services are not FDIC insured, are not deposits of or other obligations of Synovus Bank, are not guaranteed by Synovus Bank and involve investment risk, including possible loss of principal amount invested. Synovus Securities, Inc. is a subsidiary of Synovus Financial Corp and an affiliate of Synovus Bank.

Investment products and services provided by Synovus are offered through Synovus Securities, Inc. (“SSI”), Synovus Trust Company, N.A. (“STC”), GLOBALT, a separately identifiable division of STC and Creative Financial Group, a division of SSI. Trust services for Synovus are provided by Synovus Trust Company, N.A. The registered broker-dealer offering brokerage products for Synovus is Synovus Securities, Inc., member FINRA/SIPC. Investment products and services are not FDIC insured, are not deposits of or other obligations of Synovus Bank, are not guaranteed by Synovus Bank and involve investment risk, including possible loss of principal amount invested.
Synovus Securities, Inc. is a subsidiary of Synovus Financial Corp and an affiliate of Synovus Bank and Synovus Trust. Synovus Trust Company, N.A. is a subsidiary of Synovus Bank.
Pursuant to rules adopted by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission governing federally registered investment advisors, we request that you take time to compare your account balances and statements issued by National Financial Services, who acts as the custodian for your account(s). We request you contact us immediately if you do not receive these statements or if the values reflected are materially different.

Cost basis reporting

If you buy and sell a security in a taxable account on or after the effective date, NFS will report cost basis for the sold security to you and the IRS on Form 1099-B. If you have a mix of covered and uncovered positions in the same security, NFS will report cost basis to you and the IRS for any covered position that is sold. NFS will apply the FIFO (First In, First Out) default method unless you inform us of a different method. Your cost basis method for all transactions must be final by settlement date. If you choose to change the default method, you can do so by notifying your Financial Consultant.

Use of Indexes

iThe investment return and style information and comparisons employ a variety of popular indices, and the index contents and strategies are the property of their respective companies (e.g., Dow Jones, Standard & Poor’s, Morningstar, Barclay Capital, Russell). Although the data is believed to be reliable, CFG makes no warranty with respect to the contents, accuracy, completeness, timeliness, suitability, or reliability of the information, which is represented here for informational use only and should not be considered investment advice or recommendation. None of the indices can be invested directly, and the return figures for these various securities indices are reported without management fees, trading costs, or other expenses subtracted from the returns, and are shown on a total return basis that assumes reinvestment of applicable capital gains and dividends. Components of indices may change over time. Small capitalization stocks are represented by the Russell 2000 Index. Mid Capitalization stocks are represented by the S&P Mid Cap 400 Index. Foreign stocks are represented by the MSCI EAFE Index and emerging markets are represented by the MSCI Emerging Markets Index.

Q2 2019 Asset Management Letter

October 14, 2020   ·   By   ·   Comments Off on Q2 2019 Asset Management Letter   ·   Posted in Asset Management Letter Archive

Upside Down

Conveniently, but not by design, Netflix is releasing “Stranger Things” season three on July 4th to coincide with our quarterly missive. Stay with us here as we know this is a little stranger storyline than normal, pun intended. For the uninitiated, “Stranger Things” is a David and Goliath story, where the neighborhood kids discover an alternate universe full of monsters they name the “Upside Down”. Of course, the show is well produced and has a Speilberg-esque feel to it but, it is the parallel world which we find quite apropos to the current stock market.
For instance, doesn’t the world feel somewhat upside down when the stock market is up double digits, but the ten-year Treasury note yields less than the three-month Treasury? The fixed income market thinks the future is so bleak that it would rather lock in a ten-year investment yielding less than the three-month piece of paper, while at the same time, inflation is negligible and unemployment is at a 50 year low. This same market has the chairman of the Federal Reserve talking about lowering rates he just raised September of last year. Conversely retail sales are up 10.9% annualized over the past three months and nominal GDP is up 4.8% annualized, over the past two years. Of course, at the same time the most recent Empire State Manufacturing Survey declined the most in its history. “Strange things indeed” to quote John Lennon.
Of course, some point to the political environment as the reason for the “otherworldly” feel of the current environment. This is where historical perspective is important. Today’s bombastic headlines blasted out every 24 hours seem to lend themselves to anxiety and uncertainty, which are the arch-enemies of long-term financial planning. As a reference point, we were listening to a NY Times podcast recently describing Iran and U.S. tensions being at an all-time high and couldn’t help but think that Jimmy Carter might disagree with that sentiment. Not getting political, by any means, we are instead trying to diminish the media and political influence in your day-to-day activities. In our opinion, the spirit of capitalism grinds higher no matter the political backdrop, and again, history provides a good frame of reference here. In other words, “Keep calm and carry on” to borrow from the British government in WWII.
Tying up all these loose threads is where we come into the picture. How does one make sense of it all? Let’s just say that ten years into a bull market rally, one needs to be careful, but how is one careful? Putting all of your investments into a broad based index when valuations aren’t cheap and economic signals are mixed doesn’t seem to be a prudent move to us. Making use of a flexible manager who can invest in an asset class like cash or fixed income that doesn’t move in lockstep with the market, is something we think makes sense. Of course, if markets power higher, getting some of the upside with less of the risk still seems like a logical move to make as well. Additionally, investing in areas with less price risk makes sense to us also. For instance, small cap and healthcare have trailed the market this year for reasons we think may be fleeting, and, therefore, may provide greater upside with less downside risk at current levels. These are the types of moves we are making in today’s environment. It is our feeling that no matter how strange things get, we can weather the changes for our clients if we stick with our flexible approach and our long-term plan.
On that note, we are truly grateful to work in our current situation with so many great people. This feeling emboldens us to do whatever we must to try to keep anxiety and uncertainty (the nemesis of a good plan) at bay. Most of the time logic and planning can keep things from turning upside down, but we also know how fragile the human psyche can be at times, so if this market has been a little stranger than normal to you recently, please give us a call.

General Compliance Disclosures

Statements made via this letter are the opinions of Creative Financial Group (“CFG”) and its advisors, and are not to be construed as guarantees, warranties or predictions of future events, portfolio allocations, portfolio results, investment returns, or other outcomes. None of the information contained is intended as a solicitation or offer to purchase or sell a specific security, mutual fund, bond, or any other investment. Readers should not assume that the considerations, suggestions, or recommendations will be profitable, suitable to their circumstances or that future investment and/or portfolio performance will be profitable or favorable. Past performance of indices, mutual funds, or actual portfolios does not guarantee future results. Future results may differ significantly from the past due to materially different economic and market conditions; investments in securities or other financial products involve risk and the possibility of loss, including a permanent loss of principal. Investments are not FDIC insured and have no bank guarantee.

Creative Financial Group (“CFG”) is a division of Synovus Securities, Inc (“SSI”), member FINRA/SIPC. Prior to
January 1, 2011, CFG was a separate registered investment adviser affiliate of SSI. Investment products and services are not FDIC insured, are not deposits of or other obligations of Synovus Bank, are not guaranteed by Synovus Bank and involve investment risk, including possible loss of principal amount invested. Synovus Securities, Inc. is a subsidiary of Synovus Financial Corp and an affiliate of Synovus Bank.

Investment products and services provided by Synovus are offered through Synovus Securities, Inc. (“SSI”), Synovus Trust Company, N.A. (“STC”), GLOBALT, a separately identifiable division of STC and Creative Financial Group, a division of SSI. Trust services for Synovus are provided by Synovus Trust Company, N.A. The registered broker-dealer offering brokerage products for Synovus is Synovus Securities, Inc., member FINRA/SIPC. Investment products and services are not FDIC insured, are not deposits of or other obligations of Synovus Bank, are not guaranteed by Synovus Bank and involve investment risk, including possible loss of principal amount invested.
Synovus Securities, Inc. is a subsidiary of Synovus Financial Corp and an affiliate of Synovus Bank and Synovus Trust. Synovus Trust Company, N.A. is a subsidiary of Synovus Bank.
Pursuant to rules adopted by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission governing federally registered investment advisors, we request that you take time to compare your account balances and statements issued by National Financial Services, who acts as the custodian for your account(s). We request you contact us immediately if you do not receive these statements or if the values reflected are materially different.

Cost basis reporting

If you buy and sell a security in a taxable account on or after the effective date, NFS will report cost basis for the sold security to you and the IRS on Form 1099-B. If you have a mix of covered and uncovered positions in the same security, NFS will report cost basis to you and the IRS for any covered position that is sold. NFS will apply the FIFO (First In, First Out) default method unless you inform us of a different method. Your cost basis method for all transactions must be final by settlement date. If you choose to change the default method, you can do so by notifying your Financial Consultant.

Use of Indexes

iThe investment return and style information and comparisons employ a variety of popular indices, and the index contents and strategies are the property of their respective companies (e.g., Dow Jones, Standard & Poor’s, Morningstar, Barclay Capital, Russell). Although the data is believed to be reliable, CFG makes no warranty with respect to the contents, accuracy, completeness, timeliness, suitability, or reliability of the information, which is represented here for informational use only and should not be considered investment advice or recommendation. None of the indices can be invested directly, and the return figures for these various securities indices are reported without management fees, trading costs, or other expenses subtracted from the returns, and are shown on a total return basis that assumes reinvestment of applicable capital gains and dividends. Components of indices may change over time. Small capitalization stocks are represented by the Russell 2000 Index. Mid Capitalization stocks are represented by the S&P Mid Cap 400 Index. Foreign stocks are represented by the MSCI EAFE Index and emerging markets are represented by the MSCI Emerging Markets Index.


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Creative Financial Group (“CFG”) is a division of Synovus Securities, Inc (“SSI”), member FINRA/SIPC. Prior to January 1, 2011, CFG was a separate registered investment adviser affiliate of SSI. Investment products and services are not FDIC insured, are not deposits of or other obligations of Synovus Bank, are not guaranteed by Synovus Bank and involve investment risk, including possible loss of principal amount invested. Synovus Securities, Inc. is a subsidiary of Synovus Financial Corp and an affiliate of Synovus Bank. You can obtain more information about Synovus Securities, Inc. and its Registered Representatives by accessing BrokerCheck