Artificial intelligence has not only been influencing some of the daily news cycle lately, it also has played a key role in driving investors toward tech stocks. Some analysts estimate AI technology could boost the global economy by $15.7 trillion by 2030, and investors want to take advantage of that trend. AI stocks like Microsoft, which owns part of OpenAI, developer of the chat bot, ChatGPT, is up more than 36% YTD and has helped boost both the tech sector and an otherwise flat overall market in these past several weeks. While our investment team is not chasing these AI-related returns, they do note that their decision to remain invested in tech stocks despite some earlier headwinds, is paying off. In particular, the team has been pleased by the performance of the American Growth Fund of America (GFAFX), which is weighted toward stocks that are participating in the AI investment wave, and Invesco QQQ Trust, which is also heavily weighted toward AI-related stocks. As with any trending investment, it’s important to analyze an individual company’s ability to sustain its growth. This is especially true of investors who want to take advantage of AI technology but may not understand the full breadth of its function and impact on both the markets and the world at large. The key now and always is to build diversified portfolios with an eye on consistent performance and reasonable valuations based on fundamental metrics. It has been fascinating to watch the impact of AI technology on the global economy and we’re only in its infant stages. As we all make our way into this new frontier, we will continue to work hard to sort through both the opportunities and threats it generates and to proceed with analytical resolve.
Summer is an important season to pay attention to your health. You need to watch your sun exposure, make sure all that extra sunlight isn’t disrupting your sleep and keep the weight you might gain from those ice cream sundaes under control. It’s also the perfect time to take a look at your financial health. Here are five areas you can analyze to make sure you’re in good financial shape moving forward: Do you have a budget and are you sticking to it? Are you adjusting your budget for inflation? It isn’t enough to spend less than you make, you also need to account for rising costs of essentials like food, fuel, clothing and housing. Are you saving enough for an emergency? Ideally, you should have saved three to six months of living expenses to tide you over in case of an unforeseen emergency like job loss, illness, natural disaster, fire, major appliance replacement or vehicle repair. Are you paying off your debt in the most effective way? The first step is to analyze your debt situation and review the applicable interest rates. Then, set up a payment plan and stick to it. Do you have an income gap and, if so, how will you address it? A retirement income gap occurs when your income stream from Social Security, pensions, and/or rental property is not enough to cover your retirement budget. Before you retire, you need to know how you will cover this gap. Will you withdraw from an IRA? If so, how much can you afford to withdraw without losing principle? Do you have an annuity? If so, what will your start date be to turn on your payment stream? How will taxes impact your retirement budget? It is important to know the difference between qualified accounts, like traditional IRAs and 401(k)s, and non-qualified accounts, like your checking or savings accounts. You will need to pay taxes on withdrawals… | Read More »
Pat Schabo lived with a twinkle in her eye and the kind of work ethic that went beyond time sheets and job descriptions. During her 25-year career at Winch Financial, she helped build the company from an intriguing idea in a developing industry, to an award-winning establishment with a wide-ranging, loyal client base and more than 18 employees. When she retired in 2008, Pat left a legacy of cheerful chatter and keen attention to the task at hand. “We had so many laughs over the years,” said client services specialist Kris Kersten. “She made the day go by so fast and she was always there with a smile.” Pat passed away on Monday, May 22. She was 84-years old. “I will miss Pat and I thank her for supporting me every day at work for more than a decade; standing me up straight; giving me gentle, firm encouraging nudges to carry on,” said Winch Financial President Sam Winch. “Her love, care and understanding never escaped me. I will never forget her kindness and grace….and the occasional risqué story. There are not enough thank you’s to say to begin to show my forever appreciation and gratefulness for every minute I got to share with Pat.” Pat had a lasting impact not just on Winch Financial employees, but on their families as well. “She was always there for my mom and dad,” said Tanya Winch, now a financial advisor and member of the company’s board of directors. “She was solid as a rock, loyal, very efficient and extremely kind to us. I remember her hands always being busy. I adored her and (her husband) Donnie. What gems!” The stories of Pat’s exploits and her cheerful approach to problem solving lingered long after her retirement. There was the time she and her coworkers spent a cold March afternoon tramping through icy mud in their work shoes to find Christina’s lost dog, Maxie. “When… | Read More »
I can count the number of times I have golfed on my fingers. Before taking a swing, I look over the various clubs at my disposal. I think to myself, each club has an extremely important purpose and I must choose very carefully. No matter which club I choose a triple bogey lies in my future. You can in a sense think of ETFs and Mutual funds as different golf clubs. They are almost the same tool but can have times when one makes more sense than the other. Both ETFs and mutual funds are pooled investments that can hold a variety of investments inside of them. Most ETFs are passively managed, with fewer moves occurring inside relative to Mutual Funds. One difference is that ETFs trade like a stock, so you can buy and sell during the trading day. Mutual Funds calculate their NAV or Net Asset Value after the close of the market each day. In golf terms, if a round of nine holes was a trading day and I was a mutual fund, I would only know my score after the round was done. My friend ETF would keep track as we played. Another differentiator is the cost. ETFs are cheaper on average than mutual funds. As you may suspect there is more than just cost to consider here. Mutual fund’s higher expenses come with the benefit of teams of industry professionals and researchers looking to enhance their fund’s return and protect it from any holdings that become undesirable. In essence, the ETFs take more of a set it and forget it approach. ETF managers pick a target like a large stock index and try to replicate it as closely as possible. Mutual Funds can be a little more flexible in their strategy as they are not strictly trying to keep the same weighting as an index. So which fund should I put with which type of… | Read More »
There’s a lot of inspiration in a slice of pie. Much like retirement planning, it all starts with a seed. If you plant the seed early enough and water it just right, it grows into a tree with apples plump enough to sustain you when you need to harvest them. You have to time the apple harvest carefully to maximize the flavor of the apples and their ability to sustain their nutritional value. And then there’s the dough, a perfect blend of two very common ingredients – butter and flour. But, you need to cut that butter into the sifted flour exactly right for the flakiest dough, and only the best bakers can manage that. Most people need a little help. Just like life, you’ll want to add sugar and spice to your pie, and everyone’s preference is different. You have to figure out what proportions best suit you before you seal the crust. Sometimes you need to tweak the recipe to suit your own needs. We can help with that. We’ve been helping people bake their perfect slice of retirement pie for more than 40 years. Happy Pi Day from all of us at Winch Financial. We hope your pie is extra delicious today.