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Chart A Strong Employment Market May be Showing Signs of Softening 1 30 20

Employment gains have been a staple of this economic expansion. With few exceptions, the employment market has steadily improved throughout the last decade. As such, employment data is very strong with the unemployment rate at all-time lows, wage growth near cyclical highs, and job openings near all-time highs. With signs of some weakness arriving, investors are wondering how much further the employment picture can improve. One example of weakness is surfacing in the ratio of new hires to job openings. The ratio bottomed in early 2019 and has ticked higher since. This means employers are hiring new workers at a faster rate than they are creating new job openings. While this is not necessarily a bad thing for today – it means more hires – it could spell weakness ahead. Of particular concern: are employers becoming increasingly satisfied with staffing levels? If so, the level of new hires in the future may weaken. 

By Michelle Cross, CFP®, CPA, CDFA®, AIF®

APA Cross 8x10 smallParents of high school-aged kids, listen up!  Your “baby” will soon be off to college, something you’ve likely been anticipating for years.  As most of us know, the cost of a college education has increased exponentially in recent years.  According to a Federal Reserve study, between 1985 and 2011, the average tuition rate nationwide increased 498%, more than four times the rate of general inflation as measured by the Consumer Price Index.[1]  Even if you’ve been saving since little Johnny was in diapers (way to go!), you may still have concerns about the affordability of college.  So many times, we hear about students picking a high-cost private university that they couldn’t afford, only to graduate with a mountain of student debt so high that they need to live at home for years just to make ends meet.  

I believe it’s important to educate our children about making smart financial decisions, not how to keep up with the Joneses.

APA Jones 3x4HI RGBU.S. stock markets are hitting new all-time highs, the unemployment rate is at record lows, GDP is growing, wages are increasing, interest rates are low. Described this way this idyllic state sounds too good to be true. On the surface, things appear good. Underneath, there is a lot more to it. Stocks may be at all-time highs, but they are also trading at above average valuations. Unemployment may be low, but there are still plenty without jobs -or good paying jobs to be more specific. GDP is growing, but the growth rate is slowing. Wages are increasing, but not much more than prices are increasing. Interest rates are low, but they are low for a reason! This idyllic state may last, but under the surface cracks are forming - and have been for a while. 

The story can be written any way you want. Our job is not to put a spin on the facts, but to let the facts speak for themselves. Ten years into this economic expansion, the numbers are still good. What has us concerned is not where they are today, but where they go from here, as the recent trajectory has been lower. 

There has never been a time without anything to worry about. Today is no different. In the always-on news cycle of today we are constantly bombarded with things we should be worrying about. Some are worthy of worry, others maybe not. More important than if we should worry about something, is when we should worry about it. After all, most of the things we worry about in life never actually come to fruition. And, sometimes when they do happen, circumstances have changed so much along the way that what we thought we should worry about is actually not such a big deal.

Kristina KJ Vorndran MS CFP CRPCPlease join us in congratulating Allegiant Paraplanner Kristina “KJ” Vorndran, MS, CFP®, CRPC®, on graduating summa cum laude (4.00 GPA) from the College for Financial Planning with a Master of Science Degree in Personal Financial Planning.

“We value KJ’s enthusiasm and drive to obtain specialized industry credentials and knowledge as she works tirelessly in the best interests of each client’s financial future,“ explained Allegiant Private Advisors President Benjamin W. Jones, CFP®, AIF®. “Very few professionals in our industry have earned this specific advanced degree. We’re lucky to have KJ working alongside our team of advisors and analysts who continue to guide client families through all stages of their financial lives.”

According to Kaplan Financial, the Master of Science Degree in Personal Financial Planning provides the most comprehensive education for personal financial planning possible. The program is fully accredited and tailored to individuals who are interested in expanding their knowledge beyond typical financial licensing and credentials. The program begins with the six core disciplines of financial planning before exploring advanced topic areas that are more research-based and hands-on than traditional education programs. Upon graduation, graduates reach the highest level of financial education possible.

Congratulations, KJ, on your most recent achievement!

Operations Specialist Karyn Nantes joined Allegiant in the summer of 2019, but her team feels like shes been part of the family for ages. We invite our clients and colleagues to get to know Karyn better through her own words:

APA Nantes 8x10 smallBorn and raised in Michigan, I have a love for the outdoors.  We would take trips up north” to the lake every summer to go boating, ride jet skis and just enjoy the beautiful scenery.  Our winters were spent skiing and snowmobiling.  Our favorite tradition was to head up to the lake every 4th of July to have bonfires and watch the fireworks.  

Growing up, I was an avid athlete and long-distance runner, participating in cross country and track.  I was team captain and enjoyed mentoring and encouraging the younger runners.  My passion for running continues into adulthood, as I have been involved in numerous races, including the Tampa Gasparilla Half Marathon. 

For those unable to join us for Allegiant’s Market Update at Selby Gardens on January 13th, we had the pleasure of hearing a presentation from Commonwealth’s Chief Investment Officer, Brad McMillan CFA®, CAIA, MAI. Brad is a frequent commentator on financial markets, U.S. economic policy, and the global economy for a range of media outlets, including the Wall Street Journal, CNBC, CNN International, Barron’s, and Bloomberg News. 

Before Brad took the stage, Allegiant’s Senior Wealth Advisor, Melissa Walsh, CFA, CFP®, AIF®, gave a quick update on the recently passed “Secure Act.” The primary impacts from the new legislation are: 

Chart Potential Business Spending Turn Around

The U.S. economy is a consumer-driven economy. While consumer spending accounts for the largest part of GDP, business investment can drive changes in GDP growth. Weak business investment over the past two quarters has created a headwind for GDP growth. Some of this weakness stems from uncertainly surrounding the U.S.-China trade war. Case in point: durable goods orders (proxy for capital spending) leveled off through 2018 and then moved lower throughout 2019. In advance of this decline, business survey data signaled a decline in capital spending plans. Here’s the good news: survey data may have bottomed. If this is true, increases in actual business spending may follow.

We’re pleased to announce that Kristina Eastmond and Melissa Walsh, CFP®, CFA, AIF®, have been named principals at Allegiant Private Advisors. Both finance professionals have also earned promotions within their respective divisions of our independent firm offering fiduciary-level financial planning and investment advisory services. Kristina has been promoted to Director of Client Service and Melissa to Senior Wealth Advisor.

“Our team approach to customized wealth management focuses on assembling and retaining an exceptional family of colleagues who share a dedication to client success,” said Allegiant Private Advisors President Benjamin W. Jones, CFP®, AIF®. “Allegiant is a boutique firm, built to be our clients’ advocate, thanks to professionals who always work in each client’s best interests. We’re incredibly fortunate to have Kristina and Melissa as key leaders in the firm’s—and our clients’—future success.”

KBFS Bio EastmondKristina Eastmond joined APA in 2014 and oversees the concierge-level client services at Allegiant Private Advisors. Through daily collaborations with the firm’s Wealth Advisor, Investment Research and Client Service teams, Kristina is able to proactively monitor and address clients’ needs and provide personalized solutions in a timely manner. Areas of oversight include client onboarding, asset transfers, account maintenance, cash management, account succession and establishing best practices to increase operational efficiencies. Prior to joining the firm, she worked at Suntrust Investment Services as an Investment Associate, and Donaldson Lufkin & Jenrette (DLJ) in New York as a Vice President for the Investment Banking IT division. Kristina received her B.S. in Business Management from Rider University in Lawrenceville, New Jersey.

APA Walsh 3x4HI RGBHaving joined Allegiant Private Advisors in 2018, Melissa Walsh’s focus is helping clients define and achieve their financial goals through a comprehensive financial planning process which constantly evolves. Her experience in the financial services industry began in 2008, and has included relationship management, investment analysis, and financial advising. Melissa graduated with high honors from the University of Michigan in 2007 with a B.A. in Organizational Studies. She holds her Chartered Financial Analyst® designation, CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ certification and Accredited Investment Fiduciary® designation.

Chart Will Phase One Provide the Catalyst

With the announcement of a phase one U.S.-China trade deal, the manufacturing and industrial sectors gained some clarity. As the deal is implemented over time, U.S. manufacturing may experience a revitalization. However, the deal was not enough to stop the slide of ISM Manufacturing PMI in its first reading since the announcement. While it is too early to judge the impact of the deal, it is somewhat surprising there was not even a marginal improvement in ISM Manufacturing. As the news sets in over the coming months, we will be watching to see if confidence in the manufacturing sector rebounds.