You (and Your Community)

 Article Jeff Runyan  At the end of the day, humans are generally selfish and our existence, for better or worse, is often an effort in “preservation of self.” That means what’s best for you, what’s best for your family, and it extends further into what’s best for your community.  However, before one can focus on helping their community, they must first make sure their…

Lifelong Students

 Article Jeff Runyan  “Back-to-school” is an exciting time of year when children prepare for the productive and growth-oriented period ahead. The goal of growth in intellect and experience are the ideals of parents for their child, all to increase the likelihood of success in their future.   And, while we prep the kids with these refreshed, start the school year right…

What Is Money?

 Article Jeff Runyan  We all think about it. We all want it. And, we all need it. Whether you work for it, inherit it or you somehow have access to it from a spouse or another, money is an exciting resource that people handle very differently.   Money can be a source of pride for some who are pleased with their…

Yellow Post-It: Retirement

 Article Jeff Runyan    To-do lists scribbled on Post-it Notes can be the backbone of a constructive and productive workday. Many successful retirees and those still in the workforce may recall or relate to building business one day at a time by tackling their list to accomplish goals ranging from work and family to retirement and everything in between.

Females & Finances

 Article Jeff Runyan  In the recent nine years, the stock, bond and real estate markets have charged ahead, benefiting the portfolio of most investors. However, when it comes to identifying investment goals, selecting investments to achieve them and handling the portfolio along the way, there is an observable difference between the behaviors of women and men. In 1992, the book…

Eco(nomic) Awareness

April is an eco-awareness month. Eco-awareness is an “awareness of environmental issues.” Naturally, in communities where this article runs, from Pacific Palisades to Malibu, from Lake Sherwood to Agoura Hills, residents and business owners alike exhibit great care in how they treat and care for our environment. They do so because the ramifications have a meaningful impact on our beaches…

Happy Anniversary! How Should We Celebrate?

Anniversaries are special occasions often celebrated with champagne and regarded as a time to reflect on the past and as an opportunity to plan for the future. This anniversary makes for a delightful reflection on the recent past, and if I can be persuasive, presents a golden opportunity to motivate a constructive view of the future. 

Bonds: Should I Stay or Do I Go?

With the Federal Reserve Board executing on their promise to raise interest rates, the old axiom “when rates rise, bond prices fall” puts investors in a precarious situation. The question, “Should I retain bonds in the portfolio or sell them because they’ll lose value?” has merit and highlights a reasonable concern that follows the right train of thought. However, while…

The Power of Habit:

The New Year is a point of reset, often serving as a catalyst to encourage new, more favorable actions and behaviors for both individuals and businesses. It’s an opportunity to start anew and replace the “old with new” and the “bad with good,” at least when it comes to habits. And, this year may be no different, but we all…

Unwrap Significant Savings with Year-End Tax Planning

The end of the year is busy for virtually every household. With families preparing for Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah and the New Year, finding time to complete everything before 2018’s new goals and resolutions are underway can be challenging.

How Much Stock Should Be in Your Portfolio?

Everyone talks about “asset allocation”—spreading around your assets into different buckets in order to reduce risk. At the highest level, it comes down to how much you put in stocks and how much you put in non-stocks (such as bonds, real estate and cash). But how much stock should be in your portfolio? In other words, given that stocks generally…

Are You TREND WISE?

In real estate, it’s: “Location, location, location!” In stock investing, it’s: “The market, the market, the market!” We know that even the best of stock portfolios will likely perform poorly when the stock market performs poorly. We all remember the devastation on portfolios from the crashes of 2000-2002 and 2007-2009.

Navigating Divorce: CDFAs Chart a Course to Divorce Financial Planning

As with any major life change, going through a divorce is often difficult and filled with uncertainty. Creating a divorce financial plan helps each party determine what they want and need from a settlement and how to best divide resources.

Can You Dig It? A Little Fun with Numbers

Do you remember this recurring Johnny Carson role where he’d “divine” an answer and then open an envelope to reveal the question? You can do the same with numbers! Ask your friends to pick a number from 1 to 31. Then double it, add 10, cut that result in half, subtract the number they started with, and—to their astonishment—reveal their…

That Settles It:

Trade date is pretty simple. That’s the date your trade took place. But what is settlement date? It’s similar in concept to “the close of escrow” in a real estate transaction. Let’s say that on June 15, you signed documents to buy a home. You then have until the close of escrow, say, 30 days later on July 15, to…

4 Steps to Investment Success (Part 4 of 4)

In the first three articles in this series, we explained investable benchmarks, leverage and risk control. In this final installment, we focus on leading growth stocks.

4 Steps to Investment Success

In the first two parts of this series, we explained how InvestableBenchmarks.com uses leading exchange-traded funds (ETFs) to deliver extraordinary performance. In fact, these efficient investment portfolios may enable you to grow a “free retirement nest egg!”

Four Steps to Investment Success (Part 2 of 4)

How would you like a free retirement nest egg or two? Since 2004, some of the world’s largest portfolio managers, including BlackRock, Bridgewater and AQR, have increasingly been employing a new investment strategy that may boost your total portfolio return by well over 2x or 3x, while reducing your risk.

4 Steps to Investment Success

Exchange-traded fund (ETF) indexing is widely considered to be the best way to invest. Asset class ETFs are often preferred for their strong relative performance, broad diversification, tax efficiency, ultra-low expenses and intraday liquidity.

Excel with EXCEL

Most people dream in color. Some dream in black and white. I dream in spreadsheets… I use spreadsheets all the time. Why do something by hand that a computer can do quicker, more accurately and allow you to vary the inputs to see the effect on the results?

The 5-Minute Year-End Checklist

It’s the holidays. Between egg nogs, mall visits and a jam-packed party calendar, you have very little time for financial stuff. But there are a few things you should not put off until the new year.

Social Security Income Crossover

Your choice determines your benefit, as illustrated in the chart below. Obviously, if you take it early, you’ll get a lower benefit amount for the rest of your life, but you’ll start to draw the funds sooner. On the other hand, if you take a delayed payment, you’ll get paid at a higher rate but will have missed out on…

Social Security Income Crossover

When should you start taking your Social Security income? Those of you facing this question (i.e., you were born between 1946 and 1954) have choices. You can take it:


Some Initial Thoughts…

The financial landscape is littered with acronyms. FYI, here are a few of the more important ones.

Moving Average: A Simple but Powerful Tool

The light is green… you go. It turns red… you stop. Pretty simple. Wouldn’t it be nice if you had a “red light, green light” indicator for your stocks? While no indicator is perfect, I have found moving averages to be pretty good. Moving averages are not predictive. Instead, they help you determine—after the fact—a stock’s trend.

Measuring Stock Market Risk:

You may recall reading an article about “Dealing with Stock Market Risk” last December. To recap, we concluded:

Do You Still Need an “A-B” Trust?

First, what is an “A-B” Trust? Up until a few years ago, it was a very popular way to take advantage of both spouses’ estate tax exemption and pass along a larger share of assets to their beneficiaries. Let’s take the case of John and Mary Smith. They’re married, have a net worth of $20 million, and a decade or…

It Was the Best of Times, It Was the Worst of Times

Robert A. “Rocky” Mills is a Financial Advisor with the Global Wealth Management Division of Morgan Stanley in Westlake Village. The information contained in this article is not a solicitation to purchase or sell investments. Any information presented is general in nature and not intended to provide individually tailored investment advice; tax impacts have not been considered. The views expressed…

Montecito Bank & Trust: Full Service in Every Way

Montecito Bank & Trust (MB&T) opened its doors March 17, 1975, with the mission of making the communities it serves better places to live and work. For over four decades, the talented men and women of the institution have dedicated themselves to both helping their customers with their financial needs and investing in their communities in a variety of ways.…

Can I Name a Beneficiary for My Investment Account?

Who’s going to get your investment accounts when you leave the planet? If your investments are held in a retirement account, like a 401K or an IRA, you simply indicate your beneficiaries when opening the account. You can change these at any time. By the way, just changing your will or your trust will not affect how your retirement plan…

How Long Will It Take For Your Money To Double?

Robert A. “Rocky” Mills is a Financial Advisor with the Global Wealth Management Division of Morgan Stanley in Westlake Village. The information contained in this article is not a solicitation to purchase or sell investments. Any information presented is general in nature and not intended to provide individually tailored investment advice. The views expressed herein are those of the author…

At the Corner of Wall Street and Memory Lane

Robert A. “Rocky” Mills is a Financial Advisor with the Global Wealth Management Division of Morgan Stanley in Westlake Village. The information contained in this article is not a solicitation to purchase or sell investments. Any information presented is general in nature and not intended to provide individually tailored investment advice. The views expressed herein are those of the author…

Inflation: 
What Does It Mean For You?

What is inflation? How is it measured? And, most importantly, what does it mean for you and your family? In its simplest form, inflation is the rise in prices of the things we buy. If a 16-ounce steak at your favorite restaurant cost $40 last year and it’s now going for $41, the cost of that steak has inflated by…