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Mid-Quarter Newsletter – May 2020

The Birth of the Federal Reserve

Global central banks and their unconventional monetary policies have been in the limelight since the financial crisis in 2008. Given the unprecedented actions of the Federal Reserve (aka the Fed) recently, we wanted to give you a closer look into why the U.S. central bank was created and how its mandate came about.

Early attempts to establish a central government bank started as far back as the birth of our country in 1789, but none of those attempts made much headway. By 1860, the need for reliable central financing was clear, as there were nearly 8,000 state banks, each issuing their own paper notes. Thus, the National Banking Act was passed a few years later, which created a uniform national currency and only allowed nationally chartered banks to issue bank notes. The act didn’t, however, create a strong central banking structure. As the industrial economy expanded, the weaknesses of the nation’s decentralized banking system became more pronounced, leading to serious consequences. The 1907 Bankers’ Panic—a three-week financial panic that occurred during an economic recession, where liquidity dried up at local and state banks, causing many of those companies to go bankrupt—fueled a much-needed reform movement.

After six years of debate and negotiations, the Federal Reserve Act was signed into law on December 23, 1913, establishing the Federal Reserve System. Sixty years later, in the early 1970s, unemployment and inflation levels began to rise, reigniting fears of an economic recession. In 1977, Congress enacted the Federal Reserve Reform Act, which explicitly set price stability as a national policy goal for the first time. The very next year, Congress passed the Full Employment and Balanced Growth Act, which established the second policy goal as full employment. Today, price stability and full employment are referred to as the dual mandates of the Fed.

The Fed, along with other global central banks, has responded rapidly and forcefully to the current pandemic crisis. Central bankers clearly want to prevent the pause in economic activity from turning into a permanent solvency crisis and wave of defaults. Many will argue that the Fed’s response goes beyond its mandates—a stance that will be debated for many years to come.


How Business Owners Can Find Opportunities in Chaos
By: Wade Calvert, Wealth Advisor and Partner

While 2020 may seem like a difficult time to be a business owner, there are hidden opportunities to grow in the chaos, especially if you think of opportunity as the ability to make positive changes in your business regardless of what’s going on around you.

Click here to read the article below to learn about five things that every business owner should consider in this environment to capitalize on potential opportunities for growth.


Leadership in a New Workplace
By: Dan Charoenrath, Director of Private Investment Operations

As businesses prepare for a return to work in the coming months, one of the most important questions that every leader must be ready to address is: How do we operate differently to ensure that our people are still engaged and motivated? Beyond questions surrounding how to resume regular operations, we must first consider how we’ll successfully lead our teams through the drastic changes in their work environment. Every person in your organization has been profoundly impacted on an emotional, mental and financial level over the past few months—therefore, it’s unreasonable to expect that we can continue to communicate, direct and inspire them in the same way that we always have. Leading an individual through change can be challenging in and of itself because, by nature, change is uncomfortable for everyone.


Read the full article by clicking here!


New Partners

We are pleased to announce that Wealth Advisor Chris Galeski and Compliance Manager Menachem Striks have become partners at Morton Capital.

 

 

 

 

 

 


Follow Us On Social Media

This year we have focused on updating our social media pages to stay connected as well as provide you with timely tips, videos and advice to help you get the most life out of your wealth. Please click the social icons below to keep up with us on LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram and Vimeo!

We welcome you to visit our new COVID-19 resources page on our website as well, where you can find trusted and helpful information related to financial planning and replay our entire Staying Connected During COVID-19 webinar series.


Welcome New Team Members: Amber and Benjamin

Amber McBride
Paraplanner

Amber graduated from California State University, Channel Islands, where she studied psychology. She always knew that wherever her career took her, she wanted to help people and solve problems. Before coming to Morton Capital and joining the Financial Planning Team as a paraplanner, Amber worked as a senior paralegal at a law firm specializing in estate planning, trust administration, and tax planning, where she gained nine years of experience. During her downtime, she enjoys traveling, hiking, live orchestral music, and spending time with her family.

Benjamin Markman
Private Investments Administrator

Benjamin Markman joined Morton Capital in July 2019. As a Private Investments Administrator, Benjamin plays a critical role in managing the coordination and administration of a variety of alternative investments. He graduated from the University of Oregon with a Bachelor of Science degree in business administration with a concentration in finance and a minor in economics. Benjamin holds a Series 65 license and is currently studying for the CFA® Level I exam. In his downtime, Benjamin enjoys exercise, playing piano, and chess. 


Oh Babies!

Our MC Family just grew by three! Wealth Advisor and Partner Chris Galeski and his wife, Briana, welcomed a baby girl, Aila Grace, on March 16. Client Service Administrator Carly Powell and her husband, Andrew, welcomed a baby boy, Anderson Eric, on March 27 and most recently, Private Investments Administrator Patrick Garcia and his wife, Pauline, welcomed a baby boy, Presley Grayson, on April 29. We congratulate all three couples on their growing family. Fun fact: this is the first child for each family.

MC Stories – A New Way of Working

Many of us experienced feelings of uncertainty and excitement when the stay-at-home order was first announced. Uncertainty from not knowing how long it would last or if we would be able to work in the same way. Excitement for the conveniences of working from home. No commute, more time with family, and comfortable apparel have been a few silver linings in the midst of a pandemic. But as time passes, we are all starting to realize that our new normal may be vastly different than the life we knew a few months ago. While working remotely has its benefits, it can also be isolating, result in longer work hours, be less intellectually satisfying, cause mediocre collaboration, and result in fatigue that could hinder innovation. To combat these negatives, we must find a way to proactively discover what it means for us to thrive in this new normal. Below are a few tips I have learned along the way to help you re-energize your workday:

Pick a few locations

Remember those days at the office where you had meetings in conference rooms, sat at your desk, visited someone in the breakroom, or went out to lunch? Mobility is just as important at home. Pick at least three locations (ideally one can be outside) and rotate between them throughout the day. If you don’t have a mobile laptop, then answer emails on your phone for 30 minutes while you sit outside.

Get the right equipment

Remote work probably won’t ever go away – it may be wise to budget a laptop purchase in the near future, start planning for an at-home office or get yourself a laptop stand so that you are not bent over in an uncomfortable position all day. If your eyes hurt from too much zooming, invest in computer glasses to decrease fatigue and strain. Do what you need to do to set yourself up for success.

Overmanage your calendar

Don’t let email or your calendar control you – control it. Spend 15 minutes every morning reviewing your calendar for the next three days and plug-in time for emails (3x/day for 30 minutes…otherwise close outlook/turn email off), schedule projects (this includes emails that take longer than 5 minutes to respond to) and block creativity/innovation time. Re-evaluate every day whether the goals you set are achievable and if something needs to be rescheduled or delayed, just ask (in advance, not at the deadline).

Invest in yourself

We can’t give our best to others if we don’t give to ourselves. What makes you feel recovered – exercise? Netflix binge? cooking? chatting with your kids? Whatever your ‘thing’ is that makes you happy, do it daily. Just because you get the conveniences of working from home does not mean you should spend all of your time working. Plug time into your calendar to invest in yourself.

Find time to connect with others

The time will come when we will reenter the workplace, and as long as it is safe for you to do so, embrace the ability to be around people again. As humans, we energize one another through non-verbal communication, something that has been lacking over the past few months. Take advantage of any opportunity to connect with someone, even if you need to stay 6 feet apart. Laugh a little and prioritize conversations that are personal and authentic.

Remember that as humans, we are naturally inclined to be together. While technology has given us the benefit of digital communication, it is also important that we do not lose sight of the benefits of human connection.

MC Stories – What Brain Behavior Teaches us About Investing

What brain behavior teaches us about investing

In the early 2000s, I was walking into a Wells Fargo Bank on San Vicente in Brentwood, CA, when 2 young men briskly walked past us with heavy sweatshirts, dark sunglasses and hats on – it was the middle of summer. I immediately remember thinking that’s odd and got a sinking feeling in my stomach as I entered the branch. I didn’t see anyone until my eyes looked down at the floor and everyone was face down. The bank had just been robbed! I had missed it by only 30 seconds. Thoughts circled my mind and I began to wonder how each person reacted; did they panic? Or play it cool, assuming it would all be over in a matter of minutes? What would I have done in that situation?

I believe the biology of our brain can help explain how we react when we are shocked, worried, scared or panicking. Our brain has three separate parts: the Brain Stem, the Limbic Brain and the Neo-Cortex. The Brain Stem is largely responsible for automatic functions like body temperature, breathing, heartrate, etc. We will call this the lizard brain. The Limbic brain (animal brain) is the seat of our emotions and contains the Amygdala which is responsible for our Fight or Flight response. The Neo-cortex is our “logical” brain and allows us to solve complicated math problems, put a man on the moon and use language.

Over the course of thousands of years, our brain biology has not changed much. In times of heightened emotional angst (i.e. during the COVID-19 pandemic), it’s easy for our fight or flight survival mechanisms to kick in. Our brains are not able to distinguish between a perceived social threat and a physical threat. When the animal and lizard brain are activated, they literally hi-jack the logical brain (neo-cortex) of its ability to think by robbing or redirecting blood flow away from the neo-cortex so that the body can leverage its survival mechanisms.
This can also explain why some intelligent people make emotional mistakes with their money. Of course, no one does this intentionally. I would contend that they get robbed or hijacked. Not by a stranger but by their own brain. The idea of lack of resources (i.e. less money) strikes at the notion of survival on some primitive level and can easily trigger a strong emotional response – almost involuntarily. Would you trust your neighbor’s pet dog or lizard to make financial decisions for you? Probably not. But, invariably that is what we do when we making financial decisions in a heightened emotional state.

What is the prescription to avoid making this critical error:
1. Awareness – recognize your animal/retile brain has taken control (internal dialogue you are having is 1 clue).
2. Acceptance – its ok to feel strong emotions. Don’t try to control them immediately, just accept that you are irritated about the current set of circumstances.
3. Find a Release Valve for the emotion. Remember that Emotion is Energy in Motion. Don’t trap it. Release it by practicing deep breathing, exercise, or take a walk.
4. Talk about what you are feeling and see if you can put words to it – you are moving back into the higher brain by articulating what you feel by engaging the Neo-cortex. Talk to your spouse, friends or your Morton Capital Advisor.
5. Time – Give yourself the gift of time (a minimum of 24 hours or perhaps several days) before making a decision.

So, the next time your amygdala shows up to rob you, you’ll know just how to handle the situation.

Staying Connected During COVID-19 – Webinar #2

In the second webinar of the Staying Connected series, our Wealth Advisor, Executive Vice President and CCO, Eric Selter, and Wealth Advisor, Celia Meagher addressed the following client questions surrounding the latest developments of COVID-19 and its impact on the market:

  • What does the stimulus package mean for my portfolio?
  • What are some tips on handling my financial emotions during this unsettling time?
  • What is Morton Capital doing behind the scenes?

To register for access to these online events and/or submit any questions you would like our Wealth Advisors to answer for you please email us at questions@mortoncapital.com

https://vimeo.com/403014629

We look forward to you joining us on future webinars!

Staying Connected During COVID-19 – Introduction to a new weekly webinar

Given the current global uncertainty, our advisory team will be hosting weekly webinars to share our take on the news, policy changes, the economy and potential opportunities. Our goal is to stay connected, ease some of your fears and ensure you feel informed and empowered with regards to your financial plan. To learn more about the webinar series, please see the below brief video from our CEO, Jeff Sarti by clicking the image below or the following link: https://vimeo.com/399004159

We look forward to seeing you on the webinar and addressing any concerns you have about the market and your investments.

 

A Personal Video Message to Our Clients from CEO, Jeff Sarti

As many of you know, we have an incredible team at Morton Capital, where we treat each other as family within our four walls and truly look out for one another. Please know that all of you are an extension of that. You are all an extended part of our family and are in our thoughts. Please know that we are here for you if you need anything.

Click the image below to watch this personal. video message from CEO, Jeff Sartiby or visit this link https://vimeo.com/398091805 

You can also read Jeff’s accompanying letter here.

 

Financial Bites – Estate Planning Video

The sixth session in our Financial Bites series, Estate Planning, went swimmingly. Planning for the future is vital and our advisors know hard you have worked for your wealth – in this session we tackle how to pass on your wealth in the most thoughtful way. Thank you to all our attendees as well as our outstanding wealth advisors, Chris Galeski and Brian H. Standing, who presented.

Click on the above image or visit this link to watch our Estate Planning session: https://vimeo.com/mortoncapital/fbestateplanning 

We hope you find this video valuable. Please feel free to share this link with family and friends and on your social media channels. Any feedback you have would be extremely valuable to our team, including any recommendations of topics you would like us to present on in the future. Financial Bites is a complimentary series and our final upcoming session is filling up fast, so we encourage you to RSVP soon. Click on the link below to view all sessions and RSVP today!

https://mortoncapital.com/financialbites

We hope to see you soon and thank you for your continued support of Morton Capital.

The MC Team

Mid-Quarter Newsletter & Reporting Update – March 2020

Morton Capital Reporting Update

As part of our efforts to provide you with up-to-date information in a secure and efficient manner, beginning in March 2020 Morton Capital will no longer automatically send out quarterly reports.  Clients will still be able to receive reports upon request.

We are making this change because our clients now have on-demand access to current account information, including performance and portfolio balances, via our online portal. We have had widespread adoption of the portal and received positive feedback as to its ease of use and timeliness of information.  In addition to being environmentally friendly, the portal also has important security features such as dual-factor authentication that make it more secure than email or mailed reports.

Please contact your advisory team if you need assistance in setting up or accessing your client portal.


VIDEO: Top Considerations When Selling Your Business

Business owners are often faced with numerous questions: What will become of my business after I retire? Am I financially prepared to retire? Will I be able to protect the financial future of my family during retirement? With roughly 4 million businesses owned by the baby boomer generation and nearly $10 trillion of wealth tied up in those businesses, it’s important to consider an exit planning strategy to help lead to your retirement goals.

Watch our Wealth Advisor and Senior Vice President, Joe Seetoo, as he touches on the first steps business owners should take in order to develop an exit planning strategy. Please click the image below or the following link: https://vimeo.com/395538551


Does the Secure Act Impact Your Financial Plan?

While the Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement (SECURE) Act, passed in December 2019, includes many updates to retirement account rules starting in 2020, we’ve highlighted a few below that could impact your financial plan:

  • Delayed Required Minimum Distributions (RMDs) – Mandatory distributions from your pre-tax retirement accounts are now required at age 72, increased from age 70½. (This only applies to individuals turning 70½ after January 1, 2020.)
  • No Age Limit on IRA Contributions – You can now contribute to your IRA after age 70½ (as long as you’re earning income).
  • Elimination of “Stretch” Provisions for Non-Spouse Beneficiaries – Previously, non-spouse beneficiaries could take distributions from inherited IRAs over their lifetimes; the SECURE Act now requires non-spouse beneficiaries (with some exceptions) to fully empty the inherited IRA within 10 years of inheritance. Since this change will impact your kids’ inheritance, you may have to consider other ways to maximize tax efficiency, such as using your IRA assets to give to charity.
  • Exceptions to this rule include minor children (until they reach adulthood), the disabled or chronically ill, or individuals no more than 10 years younger than the decedent. If you have beneficiaries with special needs, it’s important to revisit your estate plan to make sure these beneficiaries qualify for this exception.

Welcome Edward and Chris

Edward Garcia

Paraplanner

Edward Garcia joined Morton Capital in July 2019 after a career as an educator in both public and private education. In his role as a Paraplanner on the Financial Planning Team, he now collaborates with the advisory team to analyze and help prepare financial plans. He earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in English with an option in writing from California State University, Northridge, and a master’s in education with a specialization in cross-cultural education from National University in San Diego. Currently, Edward is in the process of earning his CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNERTM certification from the University of California, Los Angeles. He resides in Oak Park with his wife and their two daughters, and enjoys traveling, adventures in the great outdoors, and a good book.

Chris Wahl

Client Service Administrator

Chris Wahl joined Morton Capital as a Client Service Administrator in August 2019. With more than six years of experience helping high-net-worth and institutional clients in the financial services industry, he has held various roles in operations, regulatory compliance, and consulting and has extensive trading experience. He uses the skills he has gained to provide excellent service and ensure client needs are met in a timely and efficient manner. Chris earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in marketing communication from California Lutheran University. He has passed the Series 7 and 63 securities exams, and is currently studying for the CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNERTM designation. Outside of work, he enjoys cycling, yoga, and being outdoors with family.


The Great Race of Agoura Hills

We’re very excited to participate as a team in the 35th annual Great Race of Agoura Hills on Saturday, March 28. The Great Race has continuously been a popular family-friendly event in the local community since 1986. Interested in joining our team on race day? To learn more and reserve your spot, visit their website at greatrace.run. Choose from one of their featured race options: Old Agoura 10K, Deena Kastor 5K, Kids 1 Mile (ages 6-12) or Family Fun Run (all ages and strollers too) and don’t forget to select us, Morton Capital, as your team. Once you sign up, we’ll coordinate the race details with you directly and include an MC team shirt for you to wear on race day. We hope that you join us for this fun event!


Financial Bites Lunch Series

Our seventh and final event of our popular Financial Bites lunch series will take place on Friday, March 20, from 12 pm to 1 pm. This session will cover personal lines insurance, where we’ll be breaking down policies that deal with accidents and liabilities to help you understand how you’re covered.
You can RSVP to our last session by visiting mortoncapital.com/financialbites.

Last month, Kevin Rex and Patrice Bening, members of our advisory team, presented on life insurance and long-term care.

Watch the video below by clicking the image or following the link and learn the “when and when not to” rules on buying life and long-term care insurance policies.

Videos to all of our previous sessions are now available to watch on our website. Check out our Insights page to view the presentations or click the following link: https://mortoncapital.com/insights/

Mid Quarter Newsletter – December 2019

No Profits? No Problem!

In the venture capital industry, a “unicorn” refers to a technology startup company that has reached a private valuation of $1 billion. While few and far between in the past, these types of companies are commonplace in today’s market, and, more surprisingly still, most are actually losing money.  Uber, Lyft and Peloton are a few high-profile examples of recent initial public offerings (IPOs) that are not profitable. Of late, the public markets have not been kind to these investments, as they are all trading well below their peak prices (see table below).

The most outrageous example has been the debacle associated with the collapse of the IPO plans for WeWork. A few short months ago, the office rental company was expected to offer shares to the public at a total business valuation of $47 billion. However, in the third quarter, WeWork reported a net loss of $1.25 billion despite having revenue for that same quarter of $934 million! When investors balked at these sky-high valuations, the company was forced to withdraw its IPO, which also led to the downfall of its charismatic founder, Adam Neumann.

Given the run-up in technology stocks in the past several years, it’s obvious that many startups are positioning themselves as tech companies to command these excessive valuations. Most of these companies, however, are not true technology companies. They all use technology to run their businesses, but WeWork is basically a real estate leasing company. Founders, early investors and investment banks have bought into these “story stocks,” resulting in excessively high pricing for these IPOs. Perhaps rationality is coming back to the market as evidenced by the recent poor stock performance of some of these name brands, along with the withdrawal or deferral of other planned IPOs such as with Airbnb. When markets eventually calm down, we’ll inevitably return to a time when profits actually matter more than stories.

How Will Impeachment Affect the Markets?

As we send out this article, it seems highly probable that President Trump will become the third president in U.S. history to be impeached. However, it’s important to note that impeachment does not necessarily mean removal from office. Our seventeenth president, Andrew Johnson, and our forty-second, Bill Clinton, the two previous presidents to be impeached, were not removed from office (Johnson narrowly avoided conviction in the Senate by 1 vote!). As an aside, Richard Nixon actually resigned from office before being formally impeached.

So how is impeachment different from removing a U.S. president from office? Impeachment in the U.S. is the process by which the House of Representatives files charges against a government official, and in any ensuing trial, the Senate would determine whether to convict and remove that official from office. While only a simple majority vote is required by the House of Representatives to initiate impeachment, a two-thirds vote is required in the Senate to convict the president. Based on party lines, the House is likely to vote for impeachment. However, assuming all Democrats in the Senate voted in favor of conviction, 20 Republicans would still have to cross party lines and vote for a conviction for the president to be removed from office.

How this relates to the market

Given the relatively limited information, it’s hard to draw a strong conclusion about how impeachment will impact the markets. The market was up decently during Clinton’s impeachment and down a fair amount around Nixon’s impeachment hearings. However, the economic forces at the time may have had a much larger impact than the impeachment proceedings themselves. More specifically, the Clinton impeachment happened during the tech boom of the late ’90s while Nixon’s hearings paralleled the OPEC oil embargo and runaway inflation of the early ’70s.

Assuming everything follows party lines, it’s likely that President Trump will be impeached but not convicted and removed from office. Since the probability of this outcome is really high, the market has essentially already priced it in at this stage, meaning this outcome will likely be a nonevent for stocks. On the other hand, if there were to be a surprise conviction in the Senate, then we would expect heightened volatility.

Welcome Austin and Milan

Austin Overholt
Private Investments Administrator

Austin Overholt joined the Private Investments Team at Morton Capital in May 2019, and is integral to the team’s alternative investment coordination and information management. He is a Marine Corps Veteran and, prior to transitioning into the financial services industry, was the Associate Director of the OC Learning Center in Westlake Village. Austin earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in communications with an emphasis in business from California State University, Channel Islands, and his master’s from Pepperdine University. Austin lives in Camarillo with his wife, Megan, and their two children and enjoys being outdoors, off-roading, and barbecuing.

Milan Pfeisinger
Research Analyst

Milan Pfeisinger joined Morton Capital in June 2019. He is a research analyst and works closely with the investment team. Milan previously worked as a cost analyst at Warner Bros. Entertainment. He is originally from Austria and moved to the United States to attend college. He graduated from California State University, Northridge, with a Bachelor of Arts degree in economics and a minor in finance. Milan recently passed the Level II exam of the CFA® program. Besides work, he enjoys taking long strolls with his pug, Zorro.

Financial Bites Lunch Series

Our Financial Bites lunch series has been a great success! If you haven’t joined us for any of the previous sessions, we encourage you to attend any of the remaining lunches in the new year.

Our next session, on life insurance and long-term care, on Friday, January 24, touches on the “when and when not to” rules on buying life and long-term care insurance policies.

You can RSVP to any of these events by visiting mortoncapital.com/financialbites.

This past September, Wealth Advisors Joseph Seetoo and Celia Meagher presented on budgeting.

Watch the video below and learn everything from what savings/spending strategies you should use to the importance of maintaining a good credit score.

The Six Way Investors Differ

Carl Richards, a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™, author and New York Times columnist, wrote an article comparing the good and the bad behavioral differences of investors. To read the article in full, please click on the below link.

Read Article >

Welcome to the World, Baby Harlowe!

We’re thrilled to announce the newest baby to join the MC family. Associate Wealth Advisor Sarah Ellis and her husband, Justin, welcomed their third baby girl, Harlowe Liv, on November 7. Congratulations to their beautiful family!