Financial Model Blog

Attack on Freedom & More

Attack on Freedom & More

Near-Term response may be just the beginning


Just a couple days ago the Russian armed forces moved in and attacked numerous targets throughout Ukraine and Putin made a vow to make massive changes to their government. Change that could go as far as replacing it all together. We have been keeping our ears to the ground for the past several months and sharing our opinions via our blogs and Podcasts so the actual event itself although unpleasant, is not as shocking to the markets, our clients and followers. Believe it or not the past couple of days have ended on a high note despite what you may think when the announcement of a major conflict fills the media. The market and the public have been well informed of the looming turmoil and the animosity leading up to these events. It would seem after two trading sessions from the initial attack, that the market is beginning to shrug off some of the building volatility as the build up to the event itself has caused quite a bit of challenges in the market.


Something to remember about how the stock market tends to react to geopolitical shocks. On average the drawdown is about 5% and the rebound itself is a short couple of months. Is this considered an "average" shock, or is this more? Could this be considered a much larger conflict which leads to a deeper and longer lasting impact? We feel that although possible, it won't come to this. That does not mean that we think market volatility is over and losses will be kept to a minimum moving forward. The tweaks we've made over the past 4 months have positioned portfolios to improve given the current landscape, but containment will be important if we want to avoid a long-lasting shakeup to broader markets. The stats below can give us a glimpse of what happened in other times of major events. Although every event is very different and we don't know how the Ukraine invasion might develop, it does give some perspective and hope that things can recover if contained.



The areas of the market where we continue to see risk is the high multiple, high price to earnings type of stocks. Those can include companies that have strong potential to become some of the largest companies with disruptive technologies. The problem continues to be rising rates and inflation and that means those earnings down the road are worth less today than they were a year ago. Sectors that fall into this category are expensive technology, biotech, and large, small and mid-cap growth. We have mentioned this time and time again on the Podcast as well as Blog posts over the past several months. These are areas of the market we feel are out of favor for the time being and will have their time to shine again, but for the near-term we have been trimming, reducing or eliminating exposure to these areas. That's not to say there aren't exceptions to the rule, but broad exposure to these has proven to be a bad place to hang out. The chart below gives some examples of ETF's that represent our rationale and reasoning to reduce positions. Performance is a year to date snapshot of how things have played out.



Market opportunities will present themselves throughout the year and we lean towards more of an active than passive management style. We continue to be focused on more of the longer term performance of portfolios and year end returns versus the weekly or monthly. Areas of the market where we have seen and continue to see promise is in financials, commodities, value, industrials, real-estate and energy. Equities that live in those spaces include banks, insurance companies, staples, precious metals, and other lower multiple stocks that have been left for dead in the past decade. Boring? Yes, but sometimes boring is okay if it's making money in a challenging environment which is attacking broad markets and portfolios around the world.


With growing panic, apprehension and fear, does that mean we're headed for a bear market? We don't believe so and we look to the VIX index to get a better understanding of how volatility plays out in comparison to returns. The VIX or Volatility Index basically measures the amount and extent of pricing fluctuation on the stock market. The higher the VIX levels, the more rapid and violent prices change. Typically when levels are extremely high, it means stocks lose value in the short term. There are some recent levels in change of the VIX that suggest the market will shift before year end. Time will tell and the market impact remains to be seen. If the Ukrainian invasion grows to last longer and become more involved with other countries; our outlook could change quite rapidly. For the time being we remain positive on the outlook of the markets over an extended time frame and believe the best place to be is stocks as a way to hedge against rising costs and inflation.


And that's only the beginning...Reach out and schedule a consultation to discuss your situation. We'll walk you through your options and help you make the right choice for your goals. Click below to take a listen to the latest PennyWise Financial Podcast and hear more commentary on Ukraine, Tax items you need to know and much more.







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Car Insurance Day

Get help or do it alone

Pay me now or pay me later


These days just about anything can be done online. Ordering products can be done with a few clicks and it's delivered to your doorstep in a couple of days and sometimes even a couple of hours. Seems easy enough for most purchases, but sometimes the ease and comfort comes at a cost. I can't tell you how many times we've ordered things on Amazon, Ebay or another shopping site, only to find it at our local BJ's or Home Depot a few days later and much cheaper. It was super easier to search for the product we were looking for, pay and have it sent. Nowadays no one wants to leave the house, head to the store, hunt for their item and I can't blame them. A lot of times you can get decent prices and sometimes even cheaper than the item in the store. There's no rhyme or reason to the way things are priced. We've learn to accept that sometimes things are cheaper and sometimes they're more.


So how do people shop for things that are less tangible; like insurance.? There are all types of insurance coverage from healthcare to home owners. Those get a little trickier to price and compare. For starters, any insurance program is going to have a number of caveat's that needs an attorney review to decipher and truly understand. When shopping online, you're at the mercy of doing your own research and hoping things work they way you've come to understand them.



Auto insurance is one of those things that were traditionally bought and sold with a local agent who reviews your needs, affordability and delivers a proposal. That's the old school way of going about it, but this younger generation and even the tech savvy pre-retirees are doing some homework and shopping online. Many have hesitation about doing that and I would agree that a bit of caution is necessary. Comparing price as your only way to determine which coverage is the "best" option, could cost you; a lot! While things are working as planned and no claims are needed, things are great. You're putting some cash in your back pocket and saving for other things. What happens when you do have an incident - does your policy actually cover that event and what is their claims process like? That can be a very big deal and I've had my fair share of dealings with insurance companies for clients, family and for myself and I can tell you it makes the world of difference when you're going through a tough time.


What other options are available for the consumer to get help when shopping for home, auto or any other insurance? Working with a captive agent is one way to go about it. That means working with a licensed agent who is bound by the product set available by their company. It's not always going to be the best coverage or the cheapest, but they bank on the overall client experience as a value add. There's nothing like getting help with a quit phone call or even dropping by a local office to someone face to face. Just think about anytime you've had an issue with Spectrum, Time Warner or any other big outfit that could care less about wait times or actually helping their customers with a problem. It can be brutal.


There's another option that many may not have considered in the past; an insurance broker. How is that any different than an agent? They're not confined to a singular product set or insurer. Some companies provide better coverage, special riders or more competitive rates depending on a persons specific situation. Everyone's needs and wants are different. Things like credit score and other risk factors play a role in the products available as well as the premium they're going to pay.


In my experience the best option is working with a broker you can trust. Not any old broker who's claim to fame is that they're not captive. That only means they have access to a variety of products, but it doesn't necessarily mean you'll get the best response or best policy available. People are motivated by money and they have the ability to steer or direct you to coverage as they deem fit. You hope they are seeing the bigger picture by keeping you as a loyal client who's going to share your experience with friends and family. The longer you remain a client, the more money they make.



How often should you shop for coverage? Typically every two to three years is a good amount of time to go shopping again. That could be a simple call to your broker to make sure you have a competitive premium and the best policies based on your current needs. It's an ongoing process that needs to be reevaluated every so often because you could find gaps in coverage or life changes that need to be addressed. At the end of the day, weighing your options and comfort level will play a role in how and where you shop for coverage. We're all required to carry auto insurance and it's viewed as a necessary evil. The truth is, if you have a major accident, you'll be thanking your lucky stars you have the right coverage and the right team handling your claim. Saving a couple hundred bucks on a bare bones policy you found online might come back to bite you badly when it costs you thousands or more.


And that's only the beginning...Reach out and schedule a consultation to discuss your situation. We'll walk you through your options and help you make the right choice for your goals.

Want to learn more? Follow our latest market commentary, firm updates, or anything financial via our blog or Podcast.





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Know who holds the crown - Mobile App or Website

Know who takes the crown - the app or website

A battle to the finish



We all carry a smart phone by now - or at least most of us. There are a growing number of retired clients of ours who are new to the smart phone space. For years they fought it and went with a pre-paid, but now they're indulging in the luxuries of having access to a multitude of things at their fingertips.


So, what's the big difference between a website or a fancy new app? They typically offer the same stuff and it can be hard to see the advantages on the surface. Many times the mobile apps don't actually give you as much access or range of functionality. At first, the app sounds like a clunky, water downed version of a fully immersive website with all the bells and whistles you'd expect from that fancy Cadillac. There's more to the debate than meets the eye and those of us who have embraced apps as a way to stay connected and efficient, understand their purpose.


For starters, mobile apps offer much better personalization. This can be done based on interests, location, behavior and even more. The apps allow users to establish preferences when you set things up. A website is static and NOT typically customized for each individual client or consumer.


Then there's notifications and how they're being sent to its users. In the past email was a great way to communicate with users of a site, but some have overused or abused it and its lost some of its effectiveness. Notifications from a mobile app can be tweaked by users to allow for push, in-app or even emails. This gives the user control over how and what they want to get notices for.


Using a mobile web browsers to access a companies website can be a bit challenging even with the largest smart phones. It's a funny thing how trends change over time. In the past phones were on mission to build the smallest phones that could easily fit inside a pocket or jacket. They folded in half, were mainly used for calls then graduated to texting and web browsing. The apps of today provide its users one main thing - access with convenience.



Why blog about an app versus a website and who cares? Although most of our younger clientele have downloaded our app and use it often; many don't even know one exists. It's a fast and easy way to access your accounts with various ways to securely log into your account. Additional features are being added all the time, but the app exists today. We have it available and ready for download now!


Remote deposit, statements, tax forms, biometric log in, performance, announcements and letters are on their way. If you want to know more about our app and begin using it - reach out to your Monarch advisor or schedule a meeting with me to become a new client and explore all the benefits we have to offer.


In terms of a champ - it's not a winner take all but more of a preference. Each has its place in keeping tabs on your investments, performance, statements, communication or anything else financial. More robust options exist on a website, but you always have your phone on you with the ability to quickly take a look at things on the fly. We think both are essential to maintain efficiency and remain active in pursuing your financial goals.

Want to learn more? Follow our latest market commentary, firm updates, or anything financial via our blog or Podcast.





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Double-Digit Returns

Photo by Sammy Williams on Unsplash

Double-digit returns are great unless they're being paid out to someone other than your own account.  What do we mean here?  Had a look at your health insurance premiums lately?  Although we're mid-way through the year you can expect to receive the annual notice of the proposed premium rate change.  I've voiced concerns about the rising costs of healthcare for some time now and it doesn't appear to be slowing much at all.  When you're premiums for insurance are more than your mortgage, you know there's a problem.  

Supposedly inflation is non-existent right now even though the costs of goods and services are on the move.  Gas prices are one of the things we often keep an eye on and I've seen them go up around 30% in the past 4 months.  Yikes!  What about other areas in the economy where prices are going up - many in the double digits!  Energy, healthcare, college tuition, food, lumber, raw materials, and services are things we want to keep an eye on. 

How about these eye-popping health insurance premium increases:

  • 2016 - 7.1% 
  • 2017 - 16.6% 
  • 2018 - 13.9% 
  • 2019 - 8.6% 
  • 2020 - 6.8% 
  • 2021 - 1.8% 

*Source | More detail and article found --> Here

What can you do about your own health insurance and what are your options?  You'll definitely want to reach out to your HR department if your employer offers different types of coverage or an insurance broker to help guide you and give you all the insight that's specific to your situation.  If you don't have an insurance broker or don't know where to find one, consider Optima Benefits & Payroll.  

There are so many different types of insurance or alternatives that you might not know.  Things like HDHPs (High-deductible Health Plans) paired with a Health Savings Account or even cost-sharing plans.  I personally couple my HDHP plan with an HSA and it works extremely well for our needs.  Using this strategy, we're a healthy family with limited visits to the doctors other than routine visits and wellness checkups.  None of my family is on expensive medication or has pre-existing conditions that require regular screening or preventative measures so this is a very efficient way to get the coverage we need with flexibility.   

Health Savings Accounts (HSA's) offer a ton of benefits for the right families and individuals.  They offer a robust system to allow for tax-deductible contributions, tax-deferred growth, and tax-free distribution when used for covered items or services.  I've been able to help tons of people invest and grow their HSA's after they've made the decision that an HDHP is the right choice.  You can learn more about various insurance alternatives --> HERE

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Want to learn more? Follow our latest market commentary, firm updates, or anything financial via our blog or Podcast.





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Giving back the American Way

Photo by Foodguide App on Unsplash

The pandemic has created challenges for a ton of business owners across the globe, but none quite like restaurant owners.  Monarch Wealth Management began initiatives early into the crisis in 2020 and made efforts to spend local and raise awareness to encourage local spending.  This caught fire and a ton of folks ordered food delivered to their home, take our and whatever they could to support these local business owners and help them fight for survival.  When I opened my email from American express and learned of this new program I couldn't help hold back!  What a great way to help give back and keep these places alive!  

We don't promote credit cards or offer them to our clients, but we do get questions about benefits, cashback, and point promotions all the time - and it's hard to deny that these offers are pretty sweet.  We're not just a cookie-cutter money manager or large investment firm flying on auto-pilot.  Our clients want advice and guidance on anything financial that can help.  Take advantage of these, put some money back in your wallet and help out a local business owner fight the good fight.    

??????? In an effort to keep the good vibes flowing this Good Friday I want to start a campaign that will run through the rest of 2021. Restaurant owners have been hit hard and I want to do what I can to help. Below are the details:

1. Read my #FinancialModelBlog post to learn more about the promotions going on right now through various corporations and how you can use those to support local places in your area right now.

2. Vote for your favorite restaurant by using Facebook, LinkedIn, or Twitter and tag Monarch Wealth Management, LLC and the #ROCHESTER #RESTAURANT of your choosing. All votes must be cast by the 15th monthly and I will announce each month's winner by the end of the month.

3. I will commit to visiting the winning restaurant once a week for an entire month. Each month a new restaurant will be chosen based on the votes and I will do this through the rest of the year.

4. I'll also tag a friend to match my efforts each month, post pictures, and tag the restaurant to promote our experience.

??????? This starts now - ready, set, go......

???? I also want to recognize the following organizations for helping with the additional cashback, rebates, and promotions they're running to get things moving.

Americanexpress | Delta Air Lines | Marriott Hotels | Hilton

Take a look at the details from the American Express Website or visit their site for more details. 

CLICK HERE to check out more details or look below for a brief summary of what they're doing!

New Consumer Dining Amex Offers Through 2021

Eligible U.S. Consumer Cobrand Card Memberscan enroll to earn up to $220 in statement credits at U.S. restaurants, whether they dine in or take out through December 31, 2021. Offers include:

  • Delta SkyMiles Amex Offers:
    • Up to $110 in dining statement credits: Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card Members can receive $10 back per month (up to 11 times).
    • Up to $165 in dining statement credits: Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card Members can receive $15 back per month (up to 11 times).
    • Up to $220 in dining statement credits: Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card Members can receive $20 back per month (up to 11 times).
  • Hilton Honors “Score More on Dining” Amex Offers:
    • Up to $55 in dining statement credits: Hilton Honors American Express Card Members can receive $5 back per month (up to 11 times).
    • Up to $110 in dining statement credits: Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card Members can receive $10 back per month (up to 11 times).
    • Up to $220 in dining statement credits: Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card Members can receive $20 back per month (up to 11 times).
  • Marriott Bonvoy Amex Offers:
    • Up to $110 in dining statement credits: Marriott Bonvoy American Express Card Members can receive $10 back per month (up to 11 times).
    • Up to $220 in dining statement credits: Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express Card Members can receive $20 back per month (up to 11 times).

Taxes on the move

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

Things have been a little less than concrete since the pandemic and the IRS isn't much different when it comes to tax returns and reform.  What changes should you know about and discuss with your tax professional?  Below are a few things to consider...

1. Relax and enjoy Some Extra Time to File...well - Maybe

We have mentioned in previous blog posts that the deadline to file your return and make those payments has shifted to May 17th.  This was done to help us all as some Americans struggle more than others through the pandemic.  More than likely the IRS is behind schedule as well.  Great news for those of us who like to drag our feet and get things done.  Don't forget to check your state deadline versus the federal extension as they don't necessarily match.

2. More time for...

Let's not forget the people who like to delay filing or request an extension typically wait till the last minute to fund their IRA's and other tax-advantaged accounts.  More time to file means more time to save and that includes your contributions to IRA's, HSA's, and college savings plans.  

3. What about estimated tax payments?

The news about the extension is more time to file, get your tax documents in order, and carefully file for an accurate return.  The delayed filing deadline applies to those who pay estimated tax, but it does NOT delay the due date for estimated payments to be made.  

4. Understand the power of paying now versus later

You might be like a ton of us who hear tax savings today, reduce your tax bill now, and other ways of using tax deferral and tax deductions to help your situation.  Talk to your tax advisor and if your younger, have a long time horizon, the benefits of prepaying taxes now eliminate 100% of the tax down the road.  Of course, we're talking about Roth IRA or Roth 401(k) contributions. 

5. Knowledge is power

Talk to your tax person about any legislation changes, deadlines, or strategies.  If you don't have a trusted CPA or tax professional - get one!  Find someone you trust and can relate to.  Fee schedules vary quite a bit and the advice they give can be quite different as well.  There are a ton of variables to consider so like most consulting it is more of an art than a science.  If things were as simple as using a formula, everyone would use the same calculator and do what's best for their situation.


Time to Go Green!

Photo by Magdalena Smolnicka on Unsplash

It's St. Patrick's day so that means we'll see a lot of "GREEN" - do you expect the same in your wallet from the stimulus, tax refund, or the stock market?  Only time will tell, but one thing we do know is this day typically brings about gatherings, drinking, and some laughs.  Covid has changed that a little and we can expect things to be dialed down a bit, but regardless of restrictions, people will continue to celebrate St. Patrick in their own way.  Parades and streets filled with people will not happen again this year as we continue to watch the virus rates drop through knowledge, vaccinations, and overall awareness.

You may have thought this was going to be a "GO-GREEN", pro EV (Electronic Vehicle) infomercial, but it's far from that.  So what about the EV sector should you know as an investor?  For starters, there are a ton of newbies to the marketplace, and they're popping up as IPO's, direct listings, and SPACS as a way to raise capital and go public with these ambitious ideas.  In reality, I think we're several years away from being solely reliant on electric everything vehicles, Freightliner, ships, air, etc.  In order for all this to work, you have to get a ton of industries on board and working together in unison.  As battery life improves and efficiencies get better, adoption will follow.  One thing to consider about the new players is they have a ton of catching up to do.  The existing auto makers have the infrastructure, factories, distributions, a client base, and revenue that leaves them in good position to flip the switch when ready.  Time will tell, but the selection in this category will be imperative and crucial to the overall performance of your holdings.  Watch closely! 

Another way to get your fill of the color GREEN is to put back some cash into your wallet by reviewing your tax return or start yours to see how things shake out.  You may qualify for deductions, credits or some other form of income tax offset if you dig deep enough.  Prod your accountant or CPA for some guidance on what you can do to improve things.  One thing you should be looking for from your tax person is to be sure they're doing more than taking your W-2's, 1099's, and K-1's and just plugging that information into a program and sending you a bill.  Tax laws change every year and it's a lot to tackle on your own.  Some firms attempt to do both investments and prepare tax returns and that just isn't our cup of tea.  We'd rather give you the very best of what we know well.  

If you're looking for some tax guidance and don't already work with a tax professional, glance over some of the firms our clients have worked with in the past or research some options on your own.  

Our Strategic Partners Page 

Most of all - find your own way of seeing more GREEN this year and have a great St. Patrick's Day!

Are you staying safe?

Published June 10th, 2020 by Constantine J Kitrinos, CPFA

Photo by Jason Yuen on Unsplash

Cybercrime, always a new angle

It's no wonder this is the most common blog post I write about.  Criminals are ruthless, cutthroat, and outright brutal.  Any type of crime is painful if you're a victim, but cybercrimes are difficult to trace and enforce.  The best way to protect yourself is to prevent them from happening in the first place.

How are thieves so good at getting you to cough up your information?  Easy.  They want you to act on emotion, not common sense or logic.  Demanding a quick response with a deadline to act is effective.  It doesn't allow you to have time to think.  Before you know it, the information is passed on and the thieves have access to a lot of information.

Keep in mind there are thousands and thousands of fake websites posing as the IRS.  That is an example of just one site and the list goes on and on.  It's fast and easy to set up a website, email, and fake e-commerce account these days.  Once the scam runs its course, they simply shut down the site and move on to the next. Keep in mind the official website is WWW.IRS.GOV. 

Some simple tips to help safeguard your important information:

1.  Credit Freeze - set up a credit freeze on all 4 of the credit reporting agencies.  It's quick, easy, and free to protect your credit profile.  When you're ready to apply for lending you can request a temporary lift of the freeze. The request won't impact your score or any existing lines of credit or loans you have.  Be sure to keep your PIN in a safe, discrete place because you'll need it when you're ready to lift the freeze. 

2.  The IRS does NOT text, call, or email you!  If they want to reach out to you it will be by mail.  Never click an attachment that appears to be from the IRS or federal government.  Clicking links or attachments pose the risk of downloading malware, spyware, or gaining control of your files and holding them ransom.   

3.  Beware of links or attachments even sent from one of your friends and family.  Their email could have been hacked.  Getting access to someone's email account could allow them to send out mass emails to contacts for spyware or malware to be spread.  Remember you can always hover over the sender to reveal the actual email or click and hold if using your cell phone.  

4.  Always log in to your accounts by typing in the address directly or using your bookmarks.  Don't use any links in email or text.  They may look legitimate, but it's fairly easy to duplicate a login page for users to deliver their information to hackers.  

5.  Setup financial alerts via text or email to get up to date information about money transfers or ACH's etc.  You'll get instant updates on any changes going on with your accounts. 

6.  Establish multifactor or two-form authentication via phone or app generator for all sites and apps that allow the option.  This will add an additional step to protect unauthorized access.

7.  Be sure your phone has a pin to unlock it.  It seems simple enough, but you may notice half the people have and half don't.  

8.  Download apps for your phone from the official Google Play Store or Apple iTunes.  Do not in any case trust a third-party site to download apps to your phone.  The apps have been proven to be even safer than traditional web browsing because of their dedicated, secure, and limited functionality.

9.  Keep your phone and PC with the latest software update.  It will keep your system safe and running at optimal performance.  

10.  Use a crosscut shredder to destroy anything that may contain sensitive information in it.  Any other cutter will not be a safe option for you to trust.

Disclaimer: The content is developed from sources believed to be providing accurate information. The information in this material is not intended as tax or legal advice. Please consult legal or tax professionals for specific information regarding your individual situation. Some of this material was developed and produced by Basch Solutions to provide information on a topic that may be of interest. Basch Solutions is not affiliated with the named representative, broker-dealer, state- or SEC-registered investment advisory firm. The opinions expressed and material provided are for general information, and should not be considered a solicitation for the purchase or sale of any security.

Securities offered through LPL Financial, Member FINRA & SIPC. Investment advice offered through Private Advisor Group, a Registered Investment Advisor.

Private Advisor Group and Monarch Wealth Management are separate entities from LPL Financial. Access to BrokerCheck. The LPL Financial Registered Representatives associated with this site may only discuss and/or transact securities business with residents of the following states: NY, FL, OH, TX, NC, SC, IL, AZ.