Sherri’s Sidebar

2nd Quarter June 2014

Happy Independence Day!

The fourth of July is a wonderful celebration for our country. Despite all of the challenges we face, in my view, we still live in one of the best places in the world. As evidenced by my youngest son's University of Michigan 2013 graduating class, many international students want to be educated here. There are many other positives happening. The market is at an all-time high. Despite many pundits who said we were in for a long, slow dismal market since 2009, quite the opposite has happened. Housing prices have gotten better and in some places even overheating. We are developing new technologies and research in the health care area, and we have been moving forward on new sources of oil and gas from our vast shale deposits in the U.S. Also, mergers and acquisitions have picked up dramatically.

There are downsides to all of these, of course. We have learned over the years that pendulums can swing quite far one way or another. Be assured that the current market calm has not made us complacent. I simply do not believe that there is enough positive balance to our 24/7 news cycle. If we were not concerned about missing the next disaster, we would likely turn off the continuing stream of negative information. What a thought! The recent GDP numbers were abysmal and we are not overconfident; the markets are too unpredictable. We are concerned about geopolitical risks in the Middle East, and we worry about the cost of health care as 10,000 people per day turn 65 for the next 17 years. Congress is unlikely to address the difficult decisions required to reduce our budget deficit in the near term. As we learned in Detroit, you can only postpone those hard decisions so long. The "Grand Bargain" there happened only after there were no other viable options. It did happen, but not without an extreme amount of pain. It will take many years to recover.

Financial Market Update* Year-to-date change as of June 30, 2014
S&P 500 Index 7.14%
Dow Jones Industrial Average 2.68%
NASDAQ Composite 6.18%
MSCI EAFE US$ (International) 4.78%
Barclay US Aggregate Bond 3.93%
*Indexes are for illustrative purposes only. One cannot invest directly in any index. Assumes dividends are reinvested.
Source: Morningstar

Security

Cyber security and identity theft are topics that we are continuously addressing. I want to make mention of some current trends. Raymond James, like most financial institutions, has ramped up its security measures dramatically over the last several years and have a dedicated department for information security. You may be frustrated with the extra steps we now must take to protect your identity, whether you are logging on or seeking information from us. We must encrypt emails and documents and call you to verify any wiring instructions or cash movements. These are necessary to be sure that your emails have not been compromised, so please, bear with us. Also, disaster planning is part of our normal protocol. Raymond James has two separate back-up locations, Detroit and Denver.

As a reminder, I have mentioned in earlier newsletters that I have a contingency plan with an affiliated firm in Southfield, who have been colleagues of mine for over 20 years, in the case of something unforeseen happening to me. I love this work and otherwise have no plans to slow down. I have a great team of ten people that cover many different areas of expertise, which makes our future growth possible and less dependent on me.

Client Event

Our client event will be in October on a Saturday. This is a change from our dinner and speaker. We thought after 20 years we would try something a little different. We have some great topics and interesting presentations and hope you will join us for part of your day. More details to follow.

I hope your summer will include some vacation and family time. Call us if we can be of assistance.

Best Regards,

Sherri

Please note that international investing involves special risks, including currency fluctuations, differing financial accounting standards, and possible political and economic volatility. Investing in emerging markets can be riskier than investing in wellestablished foreign markets. Past performance may not be indicative of future results. Expressions of opinions are as of this date and are subject to change without notice. Any opinions are those of Sherri Stephens and not necessarily those of RJFS or Raymond James. Stephens Wealth Management Group is independent of RJFS. 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 information is not a complete summary or statement of all available data necessary for making an investment decision and does not constitute a recommendation. Diversification does not ensure a profit or guarantee against a loss. Investing involves risk and investors may incur a profit or a loss.

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