Resources

Just too good to keep to ourselves

Welcome to our library. We strive to provide resources so that our clients know as much as they wish when it comes to being financially savvy. And it doesn’t stop there! We are part of a larger community – including you, wherever you may be. This is where we share content and tools that are important, fun and even inspiring, with everyone. Our resource vault will help you get smart about money, find your own motivation to move forward, and laugh and breathe a bit easier along the way.

The Humphreys Group: Week in Review

Published in: Resources |

US stocks were on a roller coaster ride last week. The S&P 500 Index fell sharply Monday morning, recovered some of its losses by close on Tuesday, dropped even further Wednesday, then climbed back up Thursday, before finishing down by 4.3% on Friday and 15% lower for its worst one-week decline since 2008. The S&P 500 has lost roughly 30% from its February 19 peak. No getting around it, it was brutal.

Things are moving quickly this morning, as the Fed announced a series of new monetary stimulus measures and markets reacted to a failed Senate vote on the $1.8 trillion package. More on both items below.

It’s clear, at least for the time being, that this type of substantial volatility is part of the new normal for investors: A new normal filled with uncertainty about the scope of the COVID-19 crisis and our response to it, with unemployment filings skyrocketing to possibly the highest levels on record, and a social restructuring of how we work, shop, go to school, and take care of our families.

As the financial media focuses on the shrinking American economy and the daily and weekly fluctuations of the S&P, Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA), and NASDAQ indexes, we step away from the frenzy and continue to take the long view and remember that while markets are designed to handle uncertainty, to reassess expectations for the future in real time, and to price-in risk, they tend to have a habit of behaving unpredictably in the short run.

Let’s take a look at a recent period of the market’s performance.

Stock Market Performance

We see that the past few years have not been devoid of market pullbacks or volatility. If you removed the Y-axis and zoomed in, the ups-and-downs of short-term volatility would look even flatter. But as long-term investors, “zooming in” on a particular date or time period in the market’s history is the wrong approach. Here is the eagle-eye view of the market’s performance over the past 60 years.

Stock Market Cycle

Most recently, in 2008, the stock market was nearly halved in value. At the height of the Great Recession, it was likely pretty difficult to foresee a full recovery that would transform into an 11-year bull market. That doesn’t mean it was a smooth ride — after all, volatility is a completely normal part of investing.

Annual Stock Market Returns and Pullbacks

 

Since 1980, the average year’s market performance experienced large intra-year declines while growing overall:

    • The average year saw a stock market drop of -13.5%.
    • Despite that, most years still ended in positive territory, averaging 9% gains.

When pundits and talking heads discuss market pullbacks, corrections, and recessions, they rarely give context for the inverse. “When’s the last time this happened?” is the wrong question to ask; rather, we should ask, “How have the markets typically responded to these events throughout history?” That’s not to speculate that we know or can guess how the current COVID-19 crisis will unfold, but as we mentioned in our last letter, we’ve gone through unprecedented crises in the modern era — the dot-com crash, 9/11, and the 2008 financial crisis among them.

We will not know the true economic and market impact of the COVID-19 crisis for some time. Historically, though, we’ve experienced two dozen stock market corrections since World War II, with the average correction taking the market down -14.3% from peak to trough and the average recovery taking only four months.

Market Corrections and Recovery

Meanwhile, if performance does remain in pullback territory (drops of 20% or worse), we can see that the average bear market experiences a drop of -35.8% from peak to trough, with the average recovery taking a little more than two years.

Bear Markets and Recoveries

There are investors out there who hear the financial media or the political spin and want to react immediately. They will feel the urge to “wait for the bottom” or the start of a recovery. But timing the market doesn’t work. Here’s what it looks like to hypothetically miss the best market days over the past 25 years, using the S&P 500 Index as a baseline.

 

So, What Can We Control?

We know that timing the market doesn’t work, and that we can’t possibly predict what the future holds. Looking down a “double barrel” of a physical threat combined with a financial threat is a tremendous challenge. We don’t know for certain how long the COVID-19 crisis will last, and we don’t know how the market will react to negative — or positive — news that arises from it, as it unfolds over the coming weeks.

Emotions are high, anxiety is prevalent, fear is palpable — these are all normal feelings. But there is a solution to ease the mental toll of the unknown, especially when it comes to your financial picture. Remember that the following factors are within your control:

  • Fees and Trading Costs: Excessive trading and turnover can result in hefty fees that could have a major impact on your ability to sustain long-term investment growth — growth that is necessary to achieving your goals, whether that’s living comfortably in retirement or funding a college education for your children. So, when you are tempted to move in and out of positions to try and capture the elusive “alpha,” just don’t do it; the costs outweigh the potential short-term reward.

 

  • Expense Ratios: You likely already know that mutual funds and exchange-traded funds (ETFs) come with a wide variety of costs, which affect the net return on your investment. The expense ratio is one of those costs, and it can give you a very clear idea of what you can expect to pay for an investment strategy. It’s crucial that you pay attention to these costs regularly, as even the smallest increase can actually have a significant impact on your investment growth over time.

 

  • Tax-Loss Harvesting and Rebalancing: Tax-loss harvesting is the silver lining of market volatility. Later this year, we will shift our focus, where appropriate, to how we can “harvest” investments to sell at a loss, and then use that loss to lower your tax bill for the gains you accrued over the course of the year. This is also the perfect time to rebalance your portfolio back to your target allocation or desired level of risk. Both of these strategies are proactive and will help you work toward the goals that are outlined in your financial plan, regardless of what’s happening in the markets.

 

  • Your Spending: Even in the best of times, we focus on your expenses because over time they have a tremendous impact on your long-term financial sustainability. Now is the time to consider deferring or trimming non-essential spending. If you can defer a big ticket item, consider doing so.

 

Remember that you are investing for goals that are 10, 20, and 30 years into the future. Remember that your asset allocation ensures diversification and is based on your time horizon, your income needs, your risk tolerance and capacity, your tax profile and other aspects of your financial picture. Adhering to this and other investment principles will help you achieve your investment goals, even if it feels like the world around you is uncertain.

 

Moving on From the Markets: What’s Happening on the Policy Front?

The federal government is working around the clock to help stem the tide of financial panic caused by the COVID-19 crisis. Here is a brief overview of the political and policy responses we saw last week:

The Stimulus Bill

Last Wednesday, President Trump signed into law “phase two” of the COVID-19 stimulus package, which provides free testing for everyone (including the uninsured), expands unemployment benefits, and provides two weeks of emergency paid sick leave for many workers who are being tested or treated for the virus.

On Friday, “phase three” of the stimulus package was introduced to the Senate by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. The package, which is estimated to top $1 trillion, would give $1,200 to most individuals who made less than $75,000 in adjusted gross income (AGI) on their 2018 tax returns, or $2,400 for any married couple who made less than a combined $150,000 in AGI. An additional $500 would be included for every child within a family. These payments gradually would scale down for individuals with an AGI between $75,000 and $99,000. Individuals who earn more than $99,000 and married couples who earn more than $198,000 would not be eligible for any direct assistance.

McConnell says that these direct payments “would provide some extra certainty in this uniquely uncertain time.” The package would also provide industry-specific bailouts — $50 billion in loans for airlines, $8 billion for cargo air carriers, and $150 billion for hotels, casinos, and other large businesses. It would also provide $300 billion in loans for small businesses.

On Sunday evening, the initial procedural vote fell short of the 60 votes needed to move forward, as it faced opposition from both Congressional Republicans and Democrats, with negotiations continuing through the evening. As of Monday morning, Senate leaders aimed for a new vote at 1 p.m. Eastern.

 

IRS Tax Deadline Extended

After previously announcing that the tax-filing deadline for 2019 returns would not be extended, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin reversed course last Friday and announced that the filing date would be pushed back 90 days — from April 15 to July 15.

The move, which applies to all individuals and corporations, is good news for those who traditionally owe money, allowing them to retain additional liquidity for the next several months.

Secretary Mnuchin is encouraging “all taxpayers who may have tax refunds to file now to get your money.”

 

Federal Reserve Rate Cut

Last week, the Federal Reserve slashed interest rates by a full percentage point — the largest in Fed history. This reduction, which is intended to entice borrowers and jump-start spending, puts the rate somewhere between 0% and 0.25%.

On Monday morning, the Fed announced more rescue measures:

  • An unlimited bond-buying program that removed the $700B limit set last week
  • Three new credit facilities
  • Expanding the money market mutual fund liquidity and commercial paper credit facility, moves meant to stem off a credit crisis
  • The launch of a “Main Street Business Lending Program” for small and midsized businesses

 

Key Personal Takeaways

During this time period, it’s important to practice caution and due diligence when seeking help or support networks, as these types of conditions unfortunately bring out people who may not be acting with the best intentions. We have received a dramatic surge in spam calls. Watch out for so-called “advisors” who are selling or pushing products that guarantee protection against market volatility or have a history of high fees (think structured notes or hedge funds), as these claims are often too good to be true. If you are looking for a financial advisor for the first time during this climate, rely on trusted resources such as the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors (NAPFA) or Financial Planning Association (FPA) databases, which can help you find reputable advisors who are also fiduciaries, as we are.

Coronavirus-related scams are also on the rise right now, with many identity thieves, phishers, and other fraudsters looking to capitalize on the panic and fear surrounding the pandemic. Last week, the Better Business Bureau® notified consumers of a text message scam that has recently cropped up, in which the texter sends a malicious link offering money for groceries. The link draws users to a website that can steal their email address, password and credit card number, among other sensitive data.

Other states like Nevada have received reports of thieves visiting people’s homes to offer fake at-home test kits and even cleaning products claiming to expunge COVID-19.

Be extra vigilant and wary of any recommendation that has not been verified by the CDC or the WHO. A healthy dose of skepticism can go a long way toward protecting you and your loved ones.

 

What We Can Do to Flatten the Curve

Beyond the market impact and policy decisions, it’s important to recognize the real, human cost that this pandemic is causing to our neighbors domestic and abroad. We must continue to prioritize the health and safety of our families, friends, loved ones, and community members by practicing social distancing and following the guidelines laid out by the CDC and WHO.

Some of us may feel helpless when we see news headlines focusing on business closures, potential layoffs, and economic disparity caused by statewide shutdowns in response to the pandemic. If you want to give back to your local community, The San Francisco Department of Health, local news sites, and more have created resource guides on how you can stay safe, protect others, and keep your business safe financially:

We can assume that there will be periods of volatility moving forward and that more changes are in store on the economic and policy fronts. Moving forward, we are committed to updating you on the factors that impact your day-to-day life and financial situations. If you have any questions or simply would like to discuss some of your concerns about our current environment, please contact us at 415-928-0401. While we are working remotely, it may take a short time for us to return your call but we will do so before the end of the day.

 

Disclosures
The S&P 500 is a market capitalization-weighted index that tracks the 500 largest companies listed on the New York Stock Exchange or NASDAQ Composite. It is used as a benchmark of the overall stock market’s performance.
Return data represent past performance and are not indicative of future results. Historical performance does not reflect applicable transaction, management or other applicable fees as noted, the incurrence of which would decrease hypothetical, historical returns.
Source for all charts and text contained within graphics: © 2020 Clearnomics, Inc. All Rights Reserved. The information contained herein is proprietary to Clearnomics and/or its content providers and may not be copied or distributed. The information contained herein has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable, but is not necessarily complete and its accuracy cannot be guaranteed. No representation or warranty, express or implied, is made as to the fairness, accuracy, completeness or correctness of the information and opinions contained herein. All reports, charts and graphics compiled by Clearnomics or any of its affiliated websites, applications or services are issued without regard to the specific investment objectives, financial situation, or particular needs of any specific recipient and any commentary for any and all markets should not be construed as a recommendation to buy, sell or hold any security – including mutual funds, exchange traded funds or company stock.

How We Can Help Women — Who Are at the Frontlines of the COVID-19 Crisis

Published in: Resources |

Health care workers, almost 70 percent being women, are on the front lines of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

Restaurant employees, gig economy workers, and freelancers are struggling to cope as they’re out of jobs due to social distancing and statewide shutdowns. Many of these individuals are without health insurance, and many are without paid leave.

Schools and daycare centers are closing, and working moms are shouldering the responsibilities of childcare (mothers already do 2.6 times as much unpaid caregiving and domestic work as their heterosexual partners, according to a United Nations report).

These are just a few of the examples that illustrate just how detrimental the outbreak has been to women, in particular, especially when it comes to their physical, economic, and mental health.

As Dr. Julia Smith, a health policy researcher at Simon Fraser University, said in the New York Times, “Across the board, gender issues were ignored.”

Of course, there is no question that the pandemic has drastically affected both men and women alike, and our hearts go out to those who have fallen victim to the virus. But it has underscored and deepened the troubling gender, social, and economic inequalities and disparities that we have long known exist in our global society. Women are especially bearing the brunt of this social and economic disruption:

They’re saving lives at the front lines as nurses, grocery store workers, and primary caregivers.

They’re carrying the mental load when it comes to COVID-19, and the mental load of being a “single parent in a one-income household after terrifying market drops and business grinding to a standstill,” as entrepreneur, single mother, and gender advocate Rachel Sklar describes.

There’s also the upsetting finding of domestic violence cases increasing because of quarantine and the lack of escape routes for women and a weakening of support networks and services.

How People Are Helping Each Other During This Time

In this time of struggle and uncertainty and pain, it can be so hard to stay strong and resilient. But we can still help and support each other —from supporting local businesses (buying gift cards, shopping local business online), to donating to nonprofits and your local foodbank, to staying at home and social distancing to protect others.

There have been some wonderful stories of cooperation and acts of kindness, big and small, that have emerged during this difficult time, too: people filling resource gaps by creating Google Docs highlighting people and businesses who need help; people showing their solidarity though social media; people supporting the homeless; parents, educators, and authors providing online resources for parents homeschooling their children; and neighbors checking in on each other and buying groceries for those can’t leave their homes.

As Tony Morain, spokesman for humanitarian aid group Direct Relief, said, “In the worst of times, we see the best of people.”

We Need to Continue Supporting Women

Ultimately, as BBC notes, it’s essential to ensure that women’s voices are heard and recognized — now, and beyond this crisis. Women who are daily wage earners, small business owners, and those working in informal sectors are suffering the biggest impact.

“The differential needs of women and men in long-and-medium-term recovery efforts also need to be considered,” says Mohammad Naciri, regional director of UN Women Asia and the Pacific. “Women are playing an indispensable role in the fight against the outbreak — as health care workers, as scientists and researchers, as social mobilisers, as community peace builders and connectors, and as caregivers.”

At The Humphreys Group, we care deeply about the community we serve and the individuals and families we are proud to call our clients. If you have questions about your financial situation or need support during this trying time, please do not hesitate to reach out to our team.

We send you our best wishes and positive thoughts for your health and safety.

Being Resilient During Turbulent Times in Your Life — and in the Markets

Published in: Resources |

Between the coronavirus, the stories emerging from the #MeToo movement, and the extreme market volatility we’ve seen in recent weeks, it’s hard to stay afloat. It takes resilience, and fortunately women are good at it. 

What Do We Mean When We Talk About Resilience? 

We’re talking about how we respond to or manage change. We can think of our response to change in phases:

  • Realization: We see the change coming (or we don’t). We may have a long time, or a very short time to prepare. In this phase, we might be resisting or reacting — or be in complete denial.
  • Change happens: It can be abrupt, or there can be continuous change over a length of time.
  • Recovery: The worst may be over, but we find ourselves in a new place (physically or metaphorically). At this point, we are taking stock and figuring out what to do next.
  • Adapting and embracing change: We learn from the experience and adapt to new circumstances.

The good news is that women are good at resilience — some say we learn it from an early age.

Why Women Are Good at Being Resilient

Women learn how to be resilient at a young age because they have to deal with unique stressors — and this continues throughout women’s lives as they carry different burdens and expectations from men. “They carry more of the emotional load in families. The gender biases that exist either beat you down, or you develop a sense of yourself and others as being OK,” says UC Berkeley professor Andy Scharlach

Here are some ways that women are resilient:

1. Preparation

  • They’re good at setting goals and able to see advancement toward a goal in small steps.
  • They’re good at anticipating roadblocks and finding workarounds or recalibrating goals to accommodate new circumstances.
  • They gather information before they take a risk — in investing and other areas in life.
  • In high-intensity athletic events such as marathons, it’s been noted that men have higher drop-out rates than women. One theory regarding why women have better completion rates is that they are more likely to show up prepared in the first place.

2. Endurance

  • Research also shows that women are better at enduring adverse circumstances such as marathons, long-distance swimming, and of course childbirth.
  • The more terrible, cold, wet, and windy the weather, the more women persevere relative to men. In the Boston Marathon, when compared to the sunny marathon the year before, the drop-out rate for men increased by 80 percent, while the drop-out rate for women increased by only 12 percent.

3. Recovery

  • There are a lot of contributors to our higher success rate. One you may not have thought about is that women have a tendency to be collaborative (even in competitive events). Supporting each other and sharing our struggles gives us strength to keep going, and to get back up.

4. Adapting and Embracing Change

  • Women seem to do better at reinventing and retraining themselves. Following the Great Recession, it was found that although women made inroads into traditionally “male” roles, men were much less likely to take on “women’s work.”

All this is to say, we are good at this. In difficult times, it can feel like you’re barely hanging on, but remember that you have the tools to succeed.

Resiliency in Your Financial Life

At The Humphreys Group, we talk a lot about the importance of resilience with our clients — financial resilience, emotional resilience, physical and health resilience, spiritual resilience, community and social resilience, and vocational resilience.

Financial resilience refers to your ability to withstand life events that impact your income and assets. While it’s often not pleasant to think about, developing this resilience before a financial emergency happens can be a huge help to your future self.

If you’d like to talk more about resiliency and how you can further apply it to your financial life, reach out to us today.

IWD 2020’s Theme Is #EachforEqual — It’s Time We Aimed for Gender Equality in Finance

Published in: Resources |

The theme for this year’s International Women’s Day (IWD) on March 8th is #EachforEqual, promoting that “an equal world is an enabled world” and that “collectively, each one of us can help create a gender equal world.”

This theme especially applies to the financial services industry. As InvestmentNews notes, only 14 percent of advisors are female. With 32 percent of all wealth (about $72 trillion) expected to be controlled by women in 2020, it’s time we built a financial services industry that actually reflects the world we live in.

How We Can Achieve Gender Equality in Finance

So, what are some concrete steps we can take to reach gender equality in the finance industry? New research from LeanIn.Org and McKinsey & Co found that helping women move beyond entry-level positions in their financial services careers could be the solution.

Even though women and men enter the financial services workforce in roughly equal numbers, men outnumber women by nearly two to one when it comes to that first step up into manager roles. And that first step is the bridge to more senior leadership roles.

That early drop in the number of women earning promotions creates a gender gap that continues to grow with every step up the career ladder.

Support Women in Finance

How can we fix this? Firms need to recruit more women financial advisors; mentor women and prepare them for that first level of management; boost the diversity of their leadership development programs; and review their current policies and take steps like conducting a pay equity audit.

If you’d like to continue the conversation about gender equality in finance, consider joining us at one of our Conversation Circles.

4 Ways Millennials Are Getting Money Right

Published in: Resources |

Millennials experienced the financial crisis first-hand. And many of us were unlucky enough to graduate college during the worst job market since the Great Depression.

But through these challenging experiences, we were taught a unique set of money lessons that have helped us thrive. Here are some ways millennials are getting money right:

1. We learned the importance of budgeting and saving for a rainy day.

According to a 2017 survey from Earnest, Amino and Ipsos, 71% of millennials use a budgeting tool or keep a budget (compared to 41% of Americans overall), and 68% of us can cover a $500 emergency without going into debt (compared to 43% of Americans overall).

2. We’ve taken advantage of online financial resources and education, which makes us more confident about making decisions about money.

Women ages 25-34 are more likely than their elders to report they learned about finances from one or both parents (62%, compared to 45% of older women), and over half (51%) say they are very confident in their investing skills. This final statistic is in stark contrast to their elders: Only 36% of women ages 35–49, 14% of women ages 50-69, and 11% of women ages 70-84 said they feel confident in their investing skills.

3. For the better part of our adult lives, we’ve been told not to expect all the Social Security we’re entitled to — so we’re saving more aggressively for retirement.

Although many often-cited statistics lament that we’ve accumulated less wealth than Gen Xers did at our age, this is primarily because Gen Xers were able to gain access to the housing market sooner. When you look at our liquid financial assets, in 2018, millennials held 40% of their money in retirement accounts. This is pretty impressive compared to Gen Xers, who held just 28% of their liquid assets in retirement accounts in 2002, when they were the same age (22-37).

4. Student loans have made it more difficult for us to save for a house, of course, but even that is looking more promising these days.

In the first three quarters of 2019, the largest increases in the homeownership rate came from people under the age of 35.

Continue the Discussion at one of our Conversation Circles

Millennials are being careful and responsible when it comes to money, and it’s time we challenged that popular belief that they make poor money decisions (i.e. spending it on avocado toast). If you’d like to talk more about personal finances, money messages, and generational differences when it comes to finances, consider joining us at one of our Conversation Circles.

Rewriting the Rules: Emotions Should Play a Role in Money Matters

Published in: Resources |

Most financial advisors say that you should keep emotions and investing separate:

“Emotions cloud your judgment.”

“Emotions have no place among the pie charts and annualized returns reflected in your financial plan.”

“It’s best to compartmentalize your feelings and save them for your therapy appointments.”

But we’re here to say that this is a myth, and that emotions SHOULD play a role in money matters.

Where the Myth Comes From

This myth is partially derived from the conventional wisdom that thinking and feeling are two separate processes guided by different regions of the brain.

But modern neuroscience research has shown that those areas of our brains are actually highly interconnected by neurons that translate both cognitive and emotional messages.

For this reason, it’s nearly impossible to completely disentangle our thoughts and feelings. One pair of researchers highlighted a common experience that emphasizes this point: You may justify a car purchase by claiming you got a good deal, but the true determining factor may have been that you liked how the car made you feel.

Does That Mean We Endorse Making Panicked Decisions Every Time The Market Swings? Of Course Not.

Even when the market has our stomachs in knots, we provide much-needed objective reasoning to our clients. In fact, regardless of the market environment, nearly every big choice in our clients’ lives involves plenty of dialogue, analysis and projections to estimate how it would affect their future.

But both intuition and emotion play important roles in this process. A person’s history, their current situation, and their future ambitions influence every money decision they make; disregarding this is doing a disservice to their lived experience.

Rewrite the Rules with The Humphreys Group

Investments are so much more than just figures and statistics. They represent our security, independence, values and legacy. Some clients may view their investments as validation that they worked hard in life; others use them to support causes they believe in and give back to their communities. Some investors see their investments purely as assurance that their loved ones will remember them and live well after they’re gone.

While most advisors would prefer to focus on the analytics of the investments, it takes a special advisor to acknowledge the values behind the numbers.

We must talk more about our feelings in the context of money. We have seen that embracing our emotional side and having those pivotal conversations can lead to better financial outcomes. If you want read more about common money myths and how we can break them, download our free eBook, “Rewriting the Rules: Telling Truths About Women and Money.”

Financial Tips for Planning a Wedding

Published in: Resources |

At The Humphreys Group, we know that money and emotions go hand in hand. And this is especially true when it comes to weddings: you want it to be the perfect wedding for you and your partner, you want all your loved ones there on this special day, and you want everyone to be happy.

But costs can run away from you, and suddenly you find yourselves overwhelmed and over budget. According to WeddingWire, on average couples underestimate their wedding spend by nearly 45 percent. The all-in average wedding costs is $38,700, which includes the engagement ring ($5,000), ceremony/reception ($29,200), and honeymoon ($4,500).

WeddingWire’s study found that the top five reasons couples tend to overspend on weddings are:

  • Initial budget was set lower than reality
  • Fell in love with things “we needed to have” during planning
  • Added custom/personalized elements
  • Guest count changed
  • Opted for upgrades

With all the guests (the average is 126), wedding party members (average is 10), and vendors (on average, 14 vendors are hired for photography, venue, hair and makeup, the wedding dress, cake, flowers, and the DJ) involved… it can get expensive.

So, here, we’ve included a few financial strategies you can implement for your wedding that will make a world of a difference.

List Three Priorities Beforehand

Before you start the wedding planning process, sit down with your partner and write down three priorities or must-haves. For example:

We want to:

  • book an outdoor venue,
  • have a live band, and
  • provide a photobooth for our guests to enjoy.

You and your partner may opt to do this separately first, then come together and whittle down your priorities into a joint list. Writing down your priorities is key. Later on, when you’re inevitably tempted to splurge on décor, or a videographer, or a wedding dress that caught your eye, you can look back at your priorities and become more grounded about what really matters to you. At The Humphreys Group, we often talk to our clients about aligning their spending with their values, and this is a version of that exercise.

Have a Conversation about Wedding Planning Duties

It’s also important to have a real conversation with your partner about their role in wedding planning and decision-making.

  • Some brides prefer to take care of all the planning. If you’re a bride who owns the “planner role,” how does your partner feel about that? Do they want to play a role, too?
  • Conversely, does one partner want the other to handle all of the planning, but is the thought of that overwhelming?
  • Does one person want to take the lead, but delegate various tasks to their partner?
  • Or do you want to divide the responsibilities 50/50 as you go along?

You also need to agree on a decision-making process:

  • Will you make decisions together?
  • Or will the person who does the research make the ultimate decision? For example, if it’s one partner’s job to research photographers, will they unilaterally decide who to hire, or will they circle back to the other person and ask for their input after showing photography options?

Being on the same page about how you’ll handle key decisions — decisions that often involve your budgeting style and money matters — will make you feel less stressed and more confident that you’re planning the wedding you both want to have.

Utilize Free Resources

And finally, don’t forget to use your resources! There’s no shortage of wedding advice websites, but one of the best is A Practical Wedding. The site offers a wide variety of tools that help with the nuts-and-bolts aspects of wedding planning, including budgeting spreadsheets, timelines regarding when to do what and when, and more.

But most importantly, the website also interviews real women about their wedding experiences: what they thought they’d spend, what they actually spent, what they loved most about their wedding and what they’d do differently. Getting advice from real, married couples helps manage your expectations and also prompts you to really think about your priorities and what matters most to you.

Contact Humphreys Group Today for More Financial Tips

If you’d like to talk more about financially planning for weddings or other big moments in your life, reach out to us today.

Women, Men and Investing: We Debunk the Myths

Published in: Resources |

There’s a myth that has permeated the financial services industry for decades: that men are better investors than women. But it turns out that assumption is simply not the case.

According to a 2016 Fidelity study, female investors tend to outperform male investors by an annual average of 0.4%. This doesn’t seem like much, but it accumulates to a significant financial difference over time.

For example, let’s say a man and a woman each invest $100,000. Assuming a 4.6% average annual return for the man and a 5.0% average annual return for the woman, her investment will have grown to $432,200 after 30 years, while his will be valued at only $385,400. That’s nearly a $50,000 difference and is half of the original investment!

Why Are Women More Natural Long-Term Investors?

First, men tend to buy and sell their investments more often. The same Fidelity study found that men made an average of 55% more trades in 2016 than their female counterparts. This can be financially injurious because the more an investor trades, the more he risks making an investment right before it decreases in value or selling the investment right before it gains momentum. Because women are more likely to hold on to their investments throughout market fluctuations, they capture more growth over time.

Digging deeper, why do women hold on to their investments longer? There are a lot of reasons. As women, we usually conduct more research before investing and maintain a long-term perspective more often. We tend to view investing less as a game to be won and more as a means to accomplish our goals. Regardless of the psychology, women’s success in the investment world is good news.

Rewrite the Rules with The Humphreys Group

The media portrays investors as men in suits walking down Wall Street. But the data tells a different story. Let’s keep breaking the money stereotypes that have held women back for way too long. Read more about common money myths in our free eBook, “Rewriting the Rules: Telling Truths About Women and Money.”

Socially Responsible Investing: Aligning Your Money with Your Values

Published in: Resources |

Previously on the blog, we’ve talked about the importance of investing with intention.

We’ve also talked about how women tend to do more investment research and maintain longer-term perspectives on their financial plans than most men do.

Today, we’re going to take this a step further and talk about socially responsible investing (SRI), a topic that’s important to many of our clients.

What is Socially Responsible Investing?

US SIF: The Forum for Sustainable and Responsible Investment (US SIF Foundation) defines SRI as “an investment discipline that considers environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) criteria to generate long-term competitive financial returns and positive societal impact.”

Examples of ESG criteria used by sustainable investors include green building/smart growth, climate change/carbon, water use and conservation, community development, human rights, board diversity, avoidance of tobacco or other harmful products, and anti-corruption policies. SRI investors can be anyone from individuals and family offices to universities, foundations, pension funds, nonprofit organizations and religious institutions.

Source: US SIF Foundation

“Socially responsible investing” is also referred to in a variety of terms, according to the US SIF Foundation. These terms include “sustainable, responsible and impact investing,” “community investing,” “ethical investing,” “green investing,” “impact investing,” “mission-related investing,” “responsible investing,” “ethical and green investing,” “sustainable investing” and “values-based investing.” No matter the terminology, they all aim to accomplish the same thing: to grow money while doing good.

A New Wave of Socially Responsible Investors: Millennials

Sustainable investing has been around since the 1970s, but a new wave of millennial investors have entered the scene who want to make sure their investments are making a positive impact on society. They want to align their money with their values. According to US Trust, 76 percent of high-net-worth millennial and Generation Z investors have reviewed their assets for ESG impact. And according to Morgan Stanley, millennial investors are twice as likely as others to invest in companies that incorporate ESG practices.

Socially responsible investing has continued to grow astronomically over the years. At the beginning of 2018, $12 trillion in assets were invested in sustainable, responsible and impact investing strategies across the United States, according to the US SIF Foundation.

Investing Responsibly Today

At The Humphreys Group, many of our clients are invested in ESG funds, such as the Pax Ellevate Global Women’s Leadership Fund (PXWEX). The Pax Ellevate Global Women’s Leadership Fund is “the first broadly diversified mutual fund that invests in the highest-rated companies in the world for advancing women through gender-diverse boards, senior leadership teams and other policies and practices,” as described on their website.

Socially responsible investing can be a great way to align your investment portfolios with your values. If you’re interested in learning more about SRI, reach out to us today.

Negotiating for What You’re Worth

Published in: Resources |

It’s often assumed that women don’t ask for raises, that they act less assertively in negotiations for fear of upsetting the relationship with their boss or colleagues. Books like Linda Babcock and Sara Laschever’s Women Don’t Ask and Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In have tried to back this claim.

But new research from Harvard Business Review refutes this belief.

Women Are Asking for Raises — They Just Aren’t Getting them

Harvard Business Review found that women do ask for raises as often as men do — they just don’t get them:

“Women ask for a raise just as often as men, but men are more likely to be successful. Women who asked obtained a raise 15% of the time, while men obtained a pay increase 20% of the time. While that may sound like a modest difference, over a lifetime it really adds up.”

This is frustrating to hear. We already know that women earn less than men do (when comparing equally qualified people doing the same job, most estimates by labor economists put the gender pay-gap at 10% – 20%). Now, we hear that when we try to negotiate for a raise, we don’t get it. Our “shortcoming”? Being female.

“The bottom line is that the patterns we have found are consistent with the idea that women’s requests for advancement are treated differently from men’s requests. Asking does not mean getting — at least if you are a female,” Harvard Business Review writes.

Tips on How to Negotiate for that Raise

After hearing this research, you’re probably feeling discouraged. “What’s the point of asking for a raise if research shows I won’t get it?”

Yes, this news is gloomy, but knowledge is power, and now that we know what we’re up against, we can better prepare for asking for that raise. So, now we’d like to provide some research-backed strategies you can use to negotiate for that salary increase, also echoed in Ellevest’s recent article, “The Trick to Negotiating That Raise? Science.” Here are tips they recommend:

1. Get data (internal and external data)

Learn about the internal pay structure of your company. Ask your manager how pay ranges are determined or find out where your position falls relative to others in the company.

For external data, ask your friends and people in your network to find out what other companies tend to pay for the role. Ellevest recommends using resources like Salary.com and PayScale, while other reputable compensation reports can also be helpful. We also love the site, Ladies Get Paid.

2. Group your priorities

Negotiate bonus, benefits, equity, flexibility and, of course, salary as one group. That way, you’re not compromising on every individual ask, and it also won’t seem like you’re asking for too much.

3. Make it a win-win situation

What value — risk avoidance, brand value — do you bring to the company? Bring up these points.

4. Remember why you’re there

You’re there to get paid what you deserve. And research shows we negotiate more effectively when it’s for something bigger than ourselves. When negotiating, think about how a raise would help you, your family and loved ones, and causes you care about.

If you want a chance to talk to other like-minded women about these issues and other challenges that arise around money, please join us at one of our Conversation Circles.