News & Commentary
Welcome to Wetherby Asset Management’s Online Newsletter Library. Our newsletters and commentary offer insight into timely news and events that shape our financial world. Please read important disclosures by clicking here.
2017 Shareholder Resolution Report
Shareholders of publicly traded companies have a powerful opportunity to represent material interests to corporate management. Our firm is proud to work with As You Sow to allow clients with eligible individual stock positions to file resolutions that encourage environmental, social and corporate governance solutions. This report offers an overview of our involvement in the 2017 season; Wetherby clients authorized As You Sow to file and co-file 20 shareholder resolutions with 16 companies focused on issues related to coal, genetically modified organisms, pharmaceutical waste, consumer packaging and nanomaterials in food.
Markets: We continue to live in what is referred to as a “Goldilocks” investment environment; global growth appears healthy, the Fed remains consistent in its well-communicated plans, inflation is subdued, and strong corporate earnings growth continues. However, we believe significant risks remain, and we continue to position portfolios to mitigate potential drawdown risk.
Impact Investing Update: In May, we hosted “Impact Focus: A Holistic Approach to Driving Change,” a salon-style conversation focused on the current state of philanthropy and impact investing in today’s world. We also launched our newest Wetherby Industry Brief which details opportunities for individual investors and financial advisors to participate in shareholder engagement activities.
Financial Planning: Our financial planning section is on using your wealth to support your parents. As wealth managers, we typically see parents gifting cash and assets to their children for income and estate tax purposes, as well as to support the younger generation. Even when the parent-as-benefactor and child-as-beneficiary roles are reversed, the same financial principles behind these strategies may apply.
Q2/17 Impact Investing Digest
Wetherby is pleased to share our Impact Investing Digest for the second quarter of 2017. Several articles this quarter address both the challenges and opportunities facing environmental, social and governance (ESG) ratings systems. This quarter’s reports also highlight the growth in interest and activity within the impact investing industry and identify renewable energy trends which will affect investors in the future. Please feel free to reach out to your Wetherby team if you have any questions or are interested in learning more.
Wetherby Industry Brief – Shareholder Engagement
This brief offers a short overview of shareholder engagement, describes how we have enhanced our firm’s offering to include various social and environmental initiatives, and highlights various initiatives supported by our clients in 2016.
Q1/17 Impact Investing Digest
Wetherby is pleased to share our Impact Investing Digest for the first quarter of 2017. This quarter’s digest highlights the potential for shareholder engagement and proxy voting to create constructive dialogue and promote positive changes in corporate practices. Several articles detail new proxy voting guidelines and engagement priorities of large public and private investors related to issues that reduce risk and strengthen long-term value, such as board diversity and climate change. Please feel free to reach out to your Wetherby team if you have any questions or are interested in learning more.
Markets: The world suddenly seems a little crazy with so much change in the last few months. We review some “instruments” that we use to get our bearings in situations where the noise level is high. These are objective sources of information we can trust to help us stay focused and find our way through unfamiliar terrain. The four tools we cover are fundamentals, valuations, liquidity and interest rates, and sentiment.
Impact Investing Update: In March, we hosted a roundtable event focused on impact investing for two industry-leading law and accounting firms as part of our ongoing field-building efforts. As part of our efforts to push the field of impact investing forward, we have been working with a number of our investment managers to develop impact investment frameworks and introduce impact investment strategies.
Financial Planning: Our financial planning section topic is planning for incapacity. What if tomorrow you had to make financial or medical decisions for a friend or relative? Or, what if tomorrow someone had to make such decisions for you because you had become mentally or physically incapacitated and could no longer manage your own affairs?
Bong Choi Joins Wetherby Asset Management as Director of Research
It is our pleasure to announce the arrival of Bong Choi as Director of Research at Wetherby Asset Management. Bong brings extensive experience and expert perspective as our firm’s research capacity grows.
Q4/16 Impact Investing Digest
Wetherby is pleased to share our Impact Investing Digest for the fourth quarter of 2016. This quarter’s digest addresses impact investors’ concerns and offers strategies for navigating the new administration under President Trump. In addition, several reports focus on impact investing as a competitive approach for hedge funds as well as bond portfolios. This quarter’s articles and reports also highlight the growth in interest and activity within the impact investing industry and identify trends which will affect investors in the future. Finally, we include articles that illustrate both the opportunities and the challenges – such as scalability (highlighted by the Calvert Investments acquisition) and definitional nuances (fossil fuel free versus low carbon) – presented by impact investing strategies. Please feel free to reach out to your Wetherby team if you have any questions or are interested in learning more.
Markets: The outcome of the U.S. election resulted in notable effects on capital markets around the world. Domestic equities staged a robust rally in anticipation of a pro-growth agenda. Domestic fixed income markets experienced a sharp sell-off based on expectations of increased inflation from higher spending and interest rates. International equities declined in U.S. dollar terms, in light of the prospect for a more protectionist stance in the U.S., as well as weakness in the local currencies in relation to the U.S. dollar. Lastly, energy commodity prices rallied based on the aforementioned factors. We discuss our forecasts for 2017 and the risks and opportunities we see in the markets in light of these changes.
Impact Investing Update: Wetherby employees participated in a series of community service events. We share photos of the events and highlights from the annual survey of our employees’ individual sustainability practices, volunteerism and philanthropic activities.
Financial Planning: We provide an update on long-term care Insurance, including ideas on how you can reduce the cost of premiums for a long-term care insurance policy if you feel that your premiums have increased too much over time.
November 9, 2016 Post-Election Market Commentary
Donald Trump is now president-elect of the United States of America. We wanted to communicate in an entirely non-partisan way our thoughts on the implications of this for your portfolio.
Q3/16 Impact Investing Digest
Wetherby is pleased to share our Impact Investing Digest for the third quarter of 2016. This quarter’s digest highlights several product innovations in the impact investing space including the issuance of the first US environment impact bond to control storm water runoff in DC and the increased issuance of green bonds earmarked for conservation and sustainable land use. Additionally, the fossil fuel divest-invest movement continues to gain momentum with this issue’s headlines focused on the re-investment in clean energy with the release of the Carbon Clean 200, a list of the top public companies based on clean energy revenues, and the announcement of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund’s investment in Mainstream Renewable Power. We also highlight a new tool that provides transparency on mutual funds’ exposure to palm-oil-related holdings and share reports that examine the link between gender diversity and better performance as well as impact measurement and business value. Please feel free to reach out to your Wetherby team if you are interested in learning more.
Markets: The markets were strong during the summer months, potentially in anticipation of better earnings in 2017, limited rate increases by the Federal Reserve, and a Hillary Clinton victory in November. Interest rates are low, global central banks are still extremely accommodative, and inflation is low; all of which are a positive for risk assets like equities. However, we do believe that, with all the crosscurrents at work, it would be imprudent to assume wholly positive outcomes.
Financial Planning: We provide 15 year-end tax considerations to help you navigate complexities and optimize your personal tax situation.
Q2/16 Impact Investing Digest
Wetherby is pleased to share our Impact Investing Digest for the second quarter of 2016. This quarter’s digest highlights the ongoing mainstreaming of impact investing with its integration into business school curricula and its increasing prominence as a focal point for shareholder resolutions. Additionally, climate change and fossil fuel divestment continue to dominate headlines with intensifying investor pressure on Exxon Mobil to develop plans for addressing climate change risks and the Gates Foundation’s divestment of its entire holding in BP. We also wanted to share several reports on impact investing trends, including the Global Impact Investing Network’s sixth annual Impact Investor Survey and the Toniic Institute’s report on Millennials & Impact Investing, both of which underscore the growing momentum behind impact investing as well as the key challenges still facing the industry. Please feel free to reach out to your Wetherby team if you are interested in learning more.
Markets: Compared to the fear-induced selloff and snap back in the first quarter, the second quarter was mostly quiet for global equities – that is until volatility spiked when the U.K. voted to exit the European Union (EU). In this quarter’s newsletter we review the 2nd quarter’s performance and share our observations on the growing anti-establishment sentiment in the West and the likely implications of the U.K. vote for the global economy and financial markets.
Financial Planning: We review the relative merits of buying versus leasing a car.
Wetherby Asset Management Enhances Investment Research Capabilities
We are pleased to announce two enhancements to our research and investment resources: the hiring of Equity Senior Research Analyst Jonathan Brody, CFA, who will focus on equity manager selection, and our engagement with Colonial Consulting as a resource for external research.
June 24, 2016 Brexit Market Commentary
Global stock markets, currencies and commodities are down meaningfully on British vote to exit the EU. But this is not a “Lehman Brothers” moment.
Wetherby Asset Management Awarded B Corporation Certification
We are pleased to announce that Wetherby was awarded our B Corporation certification in May 2016 based upon a rigorous and independent evaluation of our social, environmental and governance performance. B Corp certification highlights our efforts to build and maintain a values-aligned organization. In tandem with our growing impact investing practice, we believe that B Corp certification demonstrates our commitment to upholding and promoting higher social, environmental and governance standards.
Q1/16 Impact Investing Digest
Wetherby is pleased to share our Impact Investing Digest for the first quarter of 2016. We saw some exciting trends addressing climate change in our articles for this quarter. California’s carbon cap-and-trade system doled out emissions ‘tabs’ to Chevron and Tesoro, the state’s biggest oil producers, which could total close to $1.3 billion. Additionally, the Rockefeller family chose to divest from Exxon and dump other investments in the fossil fuel industry which is responsible for their family’s original wealth. We also wanted to share the results of new modeling which shows that unchecked climate change could wipe as much as $2.5 trillion off global financial assets due to overvalued assets. Please feel free to reach out to your wealth management team if you are interested in discussing how these trends translate to actionable investment options within your portfolio.
Markets: Equity markets rallied in the last several weeks of the quarter, after a sharp sell-off early on. The U.S. economy still appears reasonably resilient, outside of the energy sector. Forecasts for a rebound in global growth are highly dependent on renewed strength in certain struggling emerging market countries and improved energy fundamentals. In this quarter’s newsletter we review the 1st quarter’s performance and discuss our observations on the economy and the outlook across various asset classes.
Financial Planning: Medicare; Tax-Related Identity Theft and Fraud
Q4/15 Impact Investing Digest
Wetherby is pleased to unveil our inaugural quarterly Impact Investing Digest. Our impact team will publish a diverse array of articles and reports to continue to inform our clients about ongoing developments in the impact investing field. If you wish to dig deeper into any of this content, please feel free to reach out to your Wetherby team. We are happy to discuss how these emerging themes and trends can translate into the introduction or deeper integration of impact into your portfolio. An exciting theme we saw this month was a renewed push for more sustainable investing options – similar to Al Gore’s Generation Investment Management – coming out of COP21. Additionally, several articles outline financial advisors’ growing focus on impact investing and found that much of this interest is coming from millennial clients. We are excited to support clients in their efforts to join this growing movement!
Markets: As the 4th quarter of 2015 draws to a close and 2016 begins, equity markets essentially stalled and performance has turned negative. Global fundamentals are being negatively influenced by the continued slowdown in China as well as the fall in basic materials. The Fed decided the time was right to begin raising short-term interest rates in December of 2015 and expectations are that they will continue to raise rates slowly during 2016 while other global central banks are expected to remain accommodative. In this quarter’s newsletter we review the 4th quarter’s performance and discuss our outlook for 2016.
Financial Planning: Irrevocable Life Insurance Trusts (ILIT)
Markets: As the 3rd quarter of 2015 draws to a close, market volatility is high, the global economy appears to be in flux, and equity returns year-to-date have turned negative. A slowdown in China, weakness in other emerging markets, a continued slump in commodity prices, and continued uncertainty over the timing of the Fed’s first interest rate hike all combined to cause severe turbulence in the global financial markets for the quarter. As long-term investors, we remain focused on what is truly meaningful for the longer-term. In this quarter’s newsletter we attempt to paint a clear picture of our thinking on the current environment and how it informs the way we continue to position portfolios to weather a number of scenarios that might unfold.
Financial Planning: Tax Planning
Welcome Justina Lai as Director of Impact Investing
We’re pleased to announce Justina Lai as the newest addition to Wetherby Asset Management
August 24, 2015 Market Commentary
Special Market Commentary (August 24, 2015)
July 10, 2015 Market Commentary
Greece: Updated Market Commentary (July 10, 2015)
July 8, 2015 Market Commentary
Greece: Special Market Commentary (July 8, 2015)
Markets: The second quarter of 2015 was filled with market-moving headlines that kept investors on their toes. We review the major issues that are top-of-mind for investors by reflecting on the longevity of the U.S. economic expansion, Greece’s debt issues, the Federal Reserve’s potential tightening of monetary policy, and the meltdown in energy prices. We spend a great deal of time identifying and projecting the likelihood of various scenarios unfolding, and we detail a number of those.
Financial Planning: The Need to Review Your Life Insurance Policy
Markets: Since Q4 2014, the free fall in oil prices has ended, the U.S. jobs market has continued to improve, the dollar has rallied strongly against the euro, and while cold and snowy weather blanketed the eastern half of the country, the U.S. economy appears to be far from chilly. Also during the first quarter of 2015, a very significant U.S. equity market milestone was revisited, and some important new territory is being explored in monetary policy in Europe.
Financial Planning: After Tax Contributions to 401k Plans
Financial Times: 300 Top Registered Investment Advisers, 2017
San Francisco Business Times: Top Wealth Management Firms in the Bay Area, 2017
Bloomberg Markets: Top 50 Registered Independent Advisors, 2015
Bloomberg Markets: Top 50 Registered Independent Advisors, 2014