Economic Highlights

Greece is in the headlines again as it struggles to make payments on loans due to the International Money Fund (IMF) and European Central Bank. Basically, this has become a continual game of chicken between Greece and its creditors to see who blinks first. In all prior contests, the players involved reached an agreement at the 11th hour and after days or weeks of market volatility and talks of economic Armageddon. In my opinion, both sides are afraid to call the other's bluff so they continue to reach temporary and meaningless agreements that only kick the "economic" can down the road.

Honestly, I have no idea how this will play out, but I am not that concerned. That being said, I believe the sooner that the IMF and European Union make Greece financially accountable the better. Even if it entails some short-term economic and market pain.

Domestically, all eyes and ears are focused on the Federal Reserve and when it may raise interest rates. The Fed seems intent on telling us that it's going to raise interest, but not yet. It seems as though the Fed is petrified of spooking the stock and bond markets or dinging the economy with a rate hike. As a result, maybe their goal is to keep threatening a rate hike, so that at some point we may actually ask for one to see if they'll follow through with their threat.

Bottom line, it is summer time and the stock market is pretty nonchalant about any of the items I listed above or economic issues. As such, lower interest rates for much longer seem to be the main headline, and until there is any major change, then I don't expect any economic/market icebergs ahead. So for the near term, it appears to be relatively smooth sailing, and most expect higher stock market advances later in the year. As such, go outside and try and enjoy the nice weather, without becoming an honorary donor for the overly abundant mosquito population this year.

Failing Grades

A December of 2014 Global Financial Literacy Excellence Center report noted that only 22% of U.S. women and 38% of men they surveyed could answer the following questions correctly. This is why we need to take extra time to discuss these items with our children so they don't fall into this category of failing to make the grade.

1) Suppose you had $100 in a savings account and the interest rate was 2% per year. After 5 years, how much do you think you would have in the account if you left the money to grow?

A. More than $102; B. Exactly $102; C. Less than $102; D. Do not know

2) Imagine that the interest rate on your savings account was 1% per year and inflation was 2% per year. After 1 year, how much would you be able to buy with the money in this account?

A. More than today; B. Exactly the same; C. Less than today; D. Do not know;

3) Please tell me whether this statement is true or false. “Buying a single company’s stock usually provides a safer return than a stock mutual fund.”

A. True; B. False; C. Do not know;

Answers

1) A. The future value of your savings account would be $110.41.

2) C. An initial investment of $100 would be worth $101 after one year, but inflation would devalue it to the equivalent of $99.02 in today's dollars.  

3) B. False. A mutual fund provides portfolio diversification which reduces risk.

New Additions to the Firm

We are very pleased to welcome two new professionals to IAG.

Matt AhrensMatt Ahrens is our new associate advisor. Matt will be working closely with me on portfolio management, financial planning, and retirement analysis. He recently moved from Chicago with his wife and son to the Greater KC Metro area. To learn more about Matt, please see the following bio:

Matt Ahrens graduated from Washburn University in 2006 with a BBA in Accounting.  Upon graduation, Matt went to work for Security Benefit in Topeka, KS. During his tenure of eight years with Security Benefit, he oversaw the implementation of the Sales Department's customer relationship software system.  He was awarded the leadership sales award for his role in increasing the department's growth and client experience.  In his role as Associate Financial Advisor with Integrity Advisory, Matt will be involved in providing financial planning and investment management work for clients.

In 2013, Security Benefit moved Matt and his family to Chicago, IL, where Matt managed a sales territory as a Regional Vice President. In this role, Matt met with investment advisors and their clients, as well as third party money managers to provide low-cost tax efficient investment portfolios.

In January of 2015, Matt and his wife Laura welcomed their first child, Simon, into the world. When Matt is not busy playing with his son, he is staying active in his church, playing golf, or watching one of his favorite Kansas City sports teams.

Since 2007 Matt has seen firsthand the importance of both having a financial plan and having the right advisor to oversee the execution of that plan.  Because of this Matt was excited to return home to Kansas to join the team at Integrity Advisory.

Michael OdenwaldMichael Odenwald is our summer intern. Michael will be working with Jill Green, Director of Operations, on researching a variety of technology programs for IAG. Matt is a recent graduate of Rockhurst University and will be attending Creighton University for his graduate degree. To learn more about Michael, please see the following bio:

Michael hails from the St. Louis area and is an alumni of Desmet Jesuit High School. He graduated from Rockhurst University in 2015 with a BSBA, and a major in accounting/finance. While at Rockhurst, Michael had two financial advisory internships; the Hamilton Retirement Group at Morgan Stanley in Kansas City and Keen Wealth advisors in Overland Park. In these roles, Michael was involved in client outreach activities.

During his internship with Integrity Advisory, Michael will be working on:

  • Investment review and analysis projects
  • Researching various technologies and software programs to select those that are the best fit for the firm
  • Industry research on specific items of importance to Integrity Advisory and our clients
  • Participating in client meetings 

 

In the fall of 2015, Michael will attend Creighton University in Omaha to receive his Masters of Business Administration/Masters of Securities Analysis.  

Michael was a member of the Rockhurst University Golf team. He is an avid golf fan and player and stays active working out and playing sports.

Quotes    

"A little thought and a little kindness are often worth more than a great deal of money."

                   John Ruskin

"Culture is about performance, and making people feel good about how they contribute to the whole."

                   Tracy Streckenbach

"Careers are like rockets, they don't always take off on schedule. The key is to keep working on the engines."

                   Gary Sinise

Quotes selected by the IAG staff

"Unity is strength...when there is teamwork and collaboration, wonderful things can be achieved."

                   Mattie Stepanek

"I like summer. I like warmer weather and long days. I'm one of those silly people who still enjoy lying in the sun - my children are horrified!"

                   Danielle Steel

 

Tony Moeller, CPA

The information listed in this commentary is a compilation of various publicly available sources and is for informational purposes only. It is not a recommendation or solicitation of any particular investment or strategy. A risk of loss is involved with investments in the stock and bond markets.

If you enjoy the commentary and believe others may benefit or find it of interest, please feel free to forward it on. Also, interested individuals can contact us, and we will be happy to add them to our mailing list. 

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