Raffa Blog
Raffa Blog
Raffa Blog

News & Resources the do more blog​​

  • 2/20/2017 Retail Sales Rose 0.4% in January from December

    Financial News and Portfolio Management Discussion through February 18th US stocks continued their run of new record highs ending the week at an all time high on strong economic growth and corporate earnings. The S&P 500 rose 1.5% and the Dow gained 1.7% for the week.  Internationally, Japan dropped 0.7%, while Europe was up 0.8% […]

    Financial News and Portfolio Management Discussion through February 18th

    US stocks continued their run of new record highs ending the week at an all time high on strong economic growth and corporate earnings. The S&P 500 rose 1.5% and the Dow gained 1.7% for the week.  Internationally, Japan dropped 0.7%, while Europe was up 0.8% for the week.  The yield on the 10 year Treasury was relatively flat for the week finishing at 2.43%.

    In testimony on Capitol Hill Fed Chief Yellen stated an interest rate increase could come as soon as the Fed’s March meeting if economic news remains solid.

    Retail sales rose a better than expected 0.4% in January from December and are up 5.6% over the past year.

    US factory output increased 0.2% in January.

    Inflation reached its highest annual pace in almost five years with the consumer price index rising 0.6% from December and up 2.5% over the past twelve months.

    newconstructionUS new housing stats dropped 2.6% on a decline in multifamily construction.

    UK retail sales fell for a third straight month, falling 0.3% in January as inflation has started to deter shoppers.

    Verizon appears back on track to purchase Yahoo agreeing to reduce its purchase price by $300M after hacking revelations at Yahoo.

    Reposted from the Raffa Wealth Management Blog.

    All the news you need to stay informed about what’s currently driving the market – courtesy of Raffa Wealth Management, LLC

    photo courtesy of statestreethousing.com

  • 2/7/2017 Unemployment Rate Rose to 4.8%

    Financial News and Portfolio Management Discussion through February 4th US Stocks were relatively flat for the week after seeing significant volatility driven by policy changes from the Whitehouse. The S&P 500 edged up 0.1%, while the Dow ticked down 0.1% for the week.  Abroad, Europe fell 0.6% and Japan sank 2.8% for the week.  The […]

    Financial News and Portfolio Management Discussion through February 4th

    US Stocks were relatively flat for the week after seeing significant volatility driven by policy changes from the Whitehouse. The S&P 500 edged up 0.1%, while the Dow ticked down 0.1% for the week.  Abroad, Europe fell 0.6% and Japan sank 2.8% for the week.  The yield on the 10 year Treasury was roughly flat ending the week at 2.49%.

    The Fed elected to keep rates unchanged after their most recent meeting and said it remained on track to raise them over the course of the year, but did not provide any additional clues about timing.

    unemployment

    In January employers added 227,000 jobs, the best month since September, but the unemployment rate rose to 4.8% as more people joined the workforce as past months were revised down. Wage growth disappointed as they grew 2.5% over the past year compared to 2.9% in December.

    The Fed’s preferred measure of inflation ticked up 0.2% in December and rose 1.6% for the full year, its largest increase in over 2 years.

    After a strong fourth quarter Eurozone GDP rose 1.7% in 2016 slightly topping US growth of 1.6%. The jobless rate also fell to a seven year low.

    Inflation is on the rise across the globe. The Eurozone saw prices rise 1.8% in January from a year earlier, Japan’s inflation expectations have risen from 0.45% to 0.61% and the US is at the fastest inflation pace in over two years.

    The Case Shiller home price index rose 5.6% for the year ending in November.

    President Trump signed an executive order that could undo much of the Dodd Frank financial law and sought to rollback the DOL fiduciary rule.

    Apple, Facebook blew past estimates, while Exxon, Deutsche Bank and Amazon disappointed investors with their earnings releases.

    Reposted from the Raffa Wealth Management Blog.

    All the news you need to stay informed about what’s currently driving the market – courtesy of Raffa Wealth Management, LLC

    Photo courtesy of businessinsider.com

  • 1/30/2017 Microsoft Posted Solid Results for 2nd Quarter

    Financial News and Portfolio Management Discussion through January 28th US Stocks reached new record highs over the week with the Dow topping the 20,000 mark on moves by the new administration and strong corporate earnings.  The S&P 500 rose 1.0% and the Dow gained 1.3% for the week.  Internationally, Europe increased 1.0% and Japan jumped […]

    Financial News and Portfolio Management Discussion through January 28th

    US Stocks reached new record highs over the week with the Dow topping the 20,000 mark on moves by the new administration and strong corporate earnings.  The S&P 500 rose 1.0% and the Dow gained 1.3% for the week.  Internationally, Europe increased 1.0% and Japan jumped 1.7% for the week.  The yield on the 10 year Treasury was flat over the week ending at 2.48%.

    US new home sales sank in December due to higher costs, but still rose over 2016.

    The US grew at a 1.9% rate in the fourth quarter, a slowdown from the 3.5% third quarter pace.

    The Aetna Humana merger was blocked by a judge on antitrust grounds potentially ending the $34 billion deal.

    Boeing posted 4th quarter earnings that topped expectations and raised future estimates.

    Microsoft posted solid results for its second quarter.

    Google’s fourth quarter revenue grew at 3 times the pace of profit as it looked for new sources of growth.  Revenue topped expectations while profit missed.

    jandj

    Johnson and Johnson agreed to purchase a Swiss biotech’s drug discovery operations for $30 billion.

    Reposted from the Raffa Wealth Management Blog.

    All the news you need to stay informed about what’s currently driving the market – courtesy of Raffa Wealth Management, LLC

    Photo courtesy of fortune.com

  • 1/26/2017 Ep 12. – Preparing for Executive Transition: The Executive’s Perspective

    Underestimating the complexity of an executive transition is easy. To some Board and staff members, it looks simple and straight forward. Executive A decides to leave and informs Board; Board recruits and hires Executive B. Executive A hands leadership to Executive B. What’s the fuss? Unfortunately, as experienced leaders know, executive transitions stretch and challenge […]

    Underestimating the complexity of an executive transition is easy. To some Board and staff members, it looks simple and straight forward. Executive A decides to leave and informs Board; Board recruits and hires Executive B. Executive A hands leadership to Executive B. What’s the fuss? Unfortunately, as experienced leaders know, executive transitions stretch and challenge everyone involved – Executive, Board, and staff.

    In this Lead. Learn. Thrive. podcast episode, Keith Peterson who retired as CEO of PennMar Human Services in 2013 and Louvenia Williams who is retiring this year as founding executive of Edgewood/Brookland Family Support Collaborative, share their perspective on their transitions with Tom Adams, Director at Raffa.

    Tom Adams, Louvenia Williams, and Keith Peterson

    Tom Adams, Louvenia Williams, and Keith Peterson

     

     

     

     

     

    Here are some key points Williams and Peterson made about executive transition.

    The discussion focuses on three dimensions – personal, professional and organizational. As in real life, these and most executives are much more comfortable attending to organizational issues than their personal and professional planning.

    Both executives emphasized how being concerned about the future of the organization is personal. Williams observed: “I am the founding executive of this organization. It has been my baby for over 20 years. This is bigger for me than the Board finding a new executive. There is a lot of care and feeding needed to plan this hand-off well and to ensure that what we built together lasts and continues to do good work.”

    Peterson described the pressure he felt of being responsible for services to over 500 individuals with intellectual disabilities and their families and the staff who relied on PennMar for their livelihood. “I knew that a poor transition put the people served and the staff in a precarious situation. So I was deeply committed to a positive transition so that services were not interrupted and quality sustained.”

    The two executives offered several examples of what makes executive transition personally and professionally challenging and complex:

    • As an executive, accepting the anxiety of letting go of control and influence as the Board and management team step up and make decisions more often independent of the executive.
    • Finding time to plan for what life after being an executive looks and feels like. One day you have an important mission and are in charge and the next day you are not. That is a big change and benefits from attention to what will give purpose and sustain meaningful relationships after leaving the executive position.
    • Deciding how much to encourage potential internal candidates for the executive position and how to determine what is and is not your role in working with the Board as they consider how to respond to internal candidate(s).

    Peterson emphasized the importance of ensuring the Board gets appropriate help during the transition process. “As I began thinking I would retire in two to three years, I searched for books and resources on succession planning and executive transition and looked for resources for the Board and myself. I considered it part of my responsibility to make sure the Board had the resources needed to lead a successful transition.”

    Denial is a normal reaction to uncomfortable times and feelings. Letting go of a position of authority and respect is a big decision for an executive. For many, it feels overwhelming and somewhat risky and becomes easy to put off. Williams and Peterson suggested the following to executives thinking about a transition:

    • Begin planning early. Two to four years before your departure is not too soon, particularly if you have a long tenure and are retiring or moving out of executive leadership.
    • Look for safe places to network with peers and get educated about what to expect during transition and what is and is not your role. (Both executives commented that Raffa’s two day Next Steps workshops for executives are great for learning and networking. Click here for more information on Next Steps)
    • Strengthen your partnership with the Board. Review and clarify roles in preparing and completing the transition.
    • Have some idea what will give you meaning and the personal connections you need after you leave. (Peterson chose to join several boards after retirement as a way to continue to contribute from his experience; Williams looks forward to continuing her role as a community leader and advocate.)
    • Let go gracefully and try not to take too much personally.

    For the executive, there are three dimensions to a successful transition: personal, professional and organizational. While hard to do, odds for a successful transition increase when all three dimensions are addressed.

    For more information on Raffa’s succession and executive transition services, click here. For more on these and related topics, read The Nonprofit Leadership Transition and Development Guide by Tom Adams available on Amazon.com.


    The Lead. Learn. Thrive podcast series grew out of our Raffa Learning Community effort and features interviews with interesting nonprofit and private sector leaders and those who help them Do More. If you would like to suggest a topic or a guest for an upcoming episode, please email jimena@raffa.com and include “podcast” in the email subject line.

    ituneslogo

    Listen Now

  • 1/24/2017 China Posted GDP Growth for 2016

    Financial News and Portfolio Management Discussion through January 21st US stocks eased over the week as investors await changes by the new administration. The S&P 500 ticked down 0.1% and the Dow dropped 0.3% for the week.  Internationally, Europe fell 0.9% and Japan 0.8% for the week.  The yield on the 10 Year Treasury rose […]

    Financial News and Portfolio Management Discussion through January 21st

    US stocks eased over the week as investors await changes by the new administration. The S&P 500 ticked down 0.1% and the Dow dropped 0.3% for the week.  Internationally, Europe fell 0.9% and Japan 0.8% for the week.  The yield on the 10 Year Treasury rose to 2.48% over the week, the highest level in 2017, as inflation expectations increased.

    The CPI rose 2.1% in December over the trailing year, rising above the 2% level for the first time in 2.5 years.

    ECB chief Draghi stated they would continue with their stated plans of buying bonds through the end of the year.

    China posted a 6.7% GDP growth rate for 2016 as the easy credit and state spending initiatives aided the economy.

    In a speech Fed Chief Janet Yellen stated they would continue to look to raise the fed funds rate cautiously and gradually.

    Morgan Stanley, Goldman and Citigroup all posted earnings that topped estimates as big banks gained on a surge in trading to end the year.

    reynolds

    BAT agreed to take full control of Reynolds in a $49.4 billion deal.

    Reposted from the Raffa Wealth Management Blog.

    All the news you need to stay informed about what’s currently driving the market – courtesy of Raffa Wealth Management, LLC

    Photo courtesy of journalnow.com

  • 1/18/2017 US Stocks Eased Over the Week

    Financial News and Portfolio Management Discussion through January 14th US Stocks eased over the week as the post election rally has cooled. The S&P 500 edged down 0.1% and the Dow fell 0.4% for the week.  Internationally, Japan dropped 0.9% and Europe ticked up 0.1% for the week.  The yield on the 10 year Treasury […]

    Financial News and Portfolio Management Discussion through January 14th

    US Stocks eased over the week as the post election rally has cooled. The S&P 500 edged down 0.1% and the Dow fell 0.4% for the week.  Internationally, Japan dropped 0.9% and Europe ticked up 0.1% for the week.  The yield on the 10 year Treasury bond fell to 2.38%.

    The German economy picked up steam at the end of 2016 with GDP rising 1.9% for the full year. It’s the fastest pace since 2011.

    Eurozone industrial output rose 1.5% in November from October well outpacing the 0.5% expected.

    us-retailerSales at US retailers rose 0.6% in December from November.

    GM expects to post record earnings in 2016 and believes 2017 will be even better.

    VW is expected to pay $4.3 billion and admit to criminal wrong doing to resolve its emissions cheating scandal with the Justice Dept.

    Fourth quarter earnings from JP Morgan Chase, Bank of America and Wells Fargo all were strong.

    Reposted from the Raffa Wealth Management Blog.

    All the news you need to stay informed about what’s currently driving the market – courtesy of Raffa Wealth Management, LLC

    Photo courtesy of marketwatch.com

  • 1/4/2017 US Stocks Worst Week Since Election

    Financial News and Portfolio Management Discussion through December 31st US Stocks had their worst week since the election as investors moved away from risky assets to end the year. The S&P 500 declined 1.0% and the Dow fell 0.8% for the week.  Internationally, Japan fell 1.4% and Europe rose 0.4% for the week.  The yield […]

    Financial News and Portfolio Management Discussion through December 31st

    US Stocks had their worst week since the election as investors moved away from risky assets to end the year. The S&P 500 declined 1.0% and the Dow fell 0.8% for the week.  Internationally, Japan fell 1.4% and Europe rose 0.4% for the week.  The yield on the 10 year Treasury bond fell 0.15% over the week to end the year at 2.45%.  However, it rose 0.18% from the end of 2015.

    Home prices rose 5.6% over the trailing twelve months through October according to the Case Shiller Home price index.

    Unemployment claims fell 10,000 to 265,000 last week, a healthy measure.

    toshiba

    Toshiba announced that it may need to report billions in losses due to cost overruns and missed deadlines for nuclear reactor projects.

    Reposted from the Raffa Wealth Management Blog.

    All the news you need to stay informed about what’s currently driving the market – courtesy of Raffa Wealth Management, LLC

    Photo courtesy of marketwatch.com

  • 12/20/2016 Fed to Increase Funds Rate for 2nd Time in a Decade

    Financial News and Portfolio Management Discussion through December 17th US stocks were relatively flat over the week as the Fed’s projections on future interest rate increases weighed on markets. The S&P 500 edged down 0.1% and the Dow rose 0.4% for the week.  Abroad, Europe gained 0.3% and Japan jumped 2.1% for the week.  With […]

    Financial News and Portfolio Management Discussion through December 17th

    US stocks were relatively flat over the week as the Fed’s projections on future interest rate increases weighed on markets. The S&P 500 edged down 0.1% and the Dow rose 0.4% for the week.  Abroad, Europe gained 0.3% and Japan jumped 2.1% for the week.  With the Fed announcement the 10 year Treasury yield ended at 2.60% its highest yield in more than two years.  The US dollar hit a 14 year high on the news from the Fed meeting.

    fed-raises-rateThe Fed elected to increase the Fed Funds rate for the second time in a decade raising it a quarter point to between 0.50% to 0.75%. They also showed more optimism about the economy increasing the expected interest rate increases in 2017 from two to three.

    China’s economy steadied in November posting solid numbers in retail sales and industrial production. With growth expected to be in line with its target.

    China’s central bank extended hundreds of billions of Yuan to financial firms Friday in hopes of easing a liquidity crunch.

    US housing starts fell 18.7% in November and remain at recessionary levels.

    Reposted from the Raffa Wealth Management Blog.

    All the news you need to stay informed about what’s currently driving the market – courtesy of Raffa Wealth Management, LLC

    Photo courtesy of cnbc.com

  • 12/13/2016 Italy’s Prime Minister Announced He Would Resign

    Financial News and Portfolio Management Discussion through December 10th US Stocks had their best week since the election posting fresh all time highs as the post election rally continued. The S&P 500 gained 3.1% while the Dow rose % for the week.  Internationally, Europe rose 4.7% and Japan was up 1.2% for the week.  The […]

    Financial News and Portfolio Management Discussion through December 10th

    US Stocks had their best week since the election posting fresh all time highs as the post election rally continued. The S&P 500 gained 3.1% while the Dow rose % for the week.  Internationally, Europe rose 4.7% and Japan was up 1.2% for the week.  The yield on the 10 year Treasury edged up 0.07% ending the week yielding 2.47%; the highest level since September 2014.

    At the conclusion of its meeting the ECB announced it would extend its bond buying program from March until the end of next year but surprised markets by cutting back the monthly purchases from $80 billion Euros to $60 billion Euros.

    Italy’s Prime Minister announced he would resign as the vote to overhaul the country’s government was rejected by voters. The resignation opens up Italy to possibly be led by a populist political party which could impact Italy’s membership in the EU.

    Reposted from the Raffa Wealth Management Blog.

    All the news you need to stay informed about what’s currently driving the market – courtesy of Raffa Wealth Management, LLC

  • 12/5/2016 Auto Sales Rose in November Driven by Black Friday Deals

    Financial News and Portfolio Management Discussion through December 3rd US Stocks posted their first weekly decline since the election. The S&P 500 fell 1.0% and the Dow edged up 0.1% for the week.  Internationally, Japan ticked up 0.3% and Europe declined 0.9% for the week.  The yield on the 10 year Treasury ended the week […]

    Financial News and Portfolio Management Discussion through December 3rd

    US Stocks posted their first weekly decline since the election. The S&P 500 fell 1.0% and the Dow edged up 0.1% for the week.  Internationally, Japan ticked up 0.3% and Europe declined 0.9% for the week.  The yield on the 10 year Treasury ended the week at 2.39%, up slightly from last week.  The yield hit a 17 month high during the week.  On the news that OPEC agreed to a production cut oil rose 12% over the week.

    The pace of hiring remained steady in November with 178,000 jobs added, in line with expectations. The unemployment rate fell to its lowest level in nine years at 4.6%.  However, the labor force participation rate declined. Earnings fell 0.1% from October, but are up 2.5% over the past year.

    Auto sales rose 3.5% in November driven by black Friday deals.

    US home prices in September have finally surpassed their previous record high set in July 2006 according to the S&P Case-Shiller home price index.

    Third quarter GDP growth was revised to 3.2% from the previously projected 2.9%, above economist expectations.

    China’s factory output continued to expand in November as fiscal stimulus has aided economic growth.

    opec

    OPEC reached an agreement to cut oil production by 1.2 million barrels a day sending crude prices soaring over 8%. The cuts were greater than analysts expected.

    With nearly all S&P 500 firms reporting, profits rose 4.2% from last year and sales picked up 2.6%.

    Reposted from the Raffa Wealth Management Blog.

    All the news you need to stay informed about what’s currently driving the market – courtesy of Raffa Wealth Management, LLC

    Photo courtesy of wsj.com

  • 11/30/2016 Ep. 11 – Connecting Accounting, Financial Management and Mission Results – Where to Start in Considering an Accounting Review

    In this Lead. Learn. Thrive. podcast episode, Raffa’s Tom Adams spoke with Julie Jones, Partner and Jean Gilbert, Director in Raffa’s Managed Accounting Services Practice as they offer listeners a framework for considering how accounting and financial systems are supporting mission results and questions to consider in developing an action plan for change.         For […]

    PodcastCoverArtIn this Lead. Learn. Thrive. podcast episode, Raffa’s Tom Adams spoke with Julie Jones, Partner and Jean Gilbert, Director in Raffa’s Managed Accounting Services Practice as they offer listeners a framework for considering how accounting and financial systems are supporting mission results and questions to consider in developing an action plan for change.

    Tom Adams, Julie Jones, Jean Gilbert

    Tom Adams, Julie Jones, Jean Gilbert

     

     

     

     

    For more on this topic read the article, Are Your Accounting Operations Aligned with Your Impact Mission, by Julie Jones.


    The Lead. Learn. Thrive podcast series grew out of our Raffa Learning Community effort and features interviews with interesting nonprofit and private sector leaders and those who help them Do More. If you would like to suggest a topic or a guest for an upcoming episode, please email jimena@raffa.com and include “podcast” in the email subject line.

    ituneslogoSubscribe now via iTunes!

    Listen Now

  • 11/29/2016 Stocks Posted 3rd Straight Week of Gains

    Financial News and Portfolio Management Discussion through November 26th Stocks posted their third straight week of gains and ended the holiday shortened week at new all time highs on optimism over possible tax cuts, reduced regulations and fiscal stimulus. The S&P 500 gained 1.4% and the Dow rose1.5 % for the week.  The Russell 2000 […]

    Financial News and Portfolio Management Discussion through November 26th

    Stocks posted their third straight week of gains and ended the holiday shortened week at new all time highs on optimism over possible tax cuts, reduced regulations and fiscal stimulus. The S&P 500 gained 1.4% and the Dow rose1.5 % for the week.  The Russell 2000 small cap index has posted 15 straight days of gains and posted a record high as well.  Internationally, Japan jumped 2.2 % and Europe was up 0.9% for the week.  The yield on the 10 year Treasury reached its highest level since July 2015 finishing the week at 2.36% as investors’ expectations for inflation have accelerated.

    Reposted from the Raffa Wealth Management Blog.

    All the news you need to stay informed about what’s currently driving the market – courtesy of Raffa Wealth Management, LLC

  • 11/21/2016 Unemployment Claims Falls to Lowest Since 1973

    Financial News and Portfolio Management Discussion through November 19th US stocks continued to gain in the week following the election on positive expectations for the new administration, particularly the financial sector. The S&P 500 gained 0.8%, while the Dow ticked up 0.1% for the week.  Internationally, Europe rose 0.6% and Japan jumped 3.5% for the […]

    Financial News and Portfolio Management Discussion through November 19th

    US stocks continued to gain in the week following the election on positive expectations for the new administration, particularly the financial sector. The S&P 500 gained 0.8%, while the Dow ticked up 0.1% for the week.  Internationally, Europe rose 0.6% and Japan jumped 3.5% for the week.  The yield on the 10 year Treasury bond closed at 2.34%, a 12 month high, on expectations of a Fed rate hike and higher inflation.  The past two weeks have seen the biggest gain in 15 years.

    China appears on track to grow at 6.5% this year.

    Retail sales gained 0.8% in October and 1% in September marking the best two month stretch in over two years.

    In testimony before congress Fed Chair Janet Yellen said the Fed could move “relatively soon” to raise the Federal funds rate. The comments continue to support the market’s expectation of a Fed rate increase in December.

    unemployment_benefits_form-620x412

    New claims for unemployment fell to their lowest level since 1973 last week.

    New housing permits rose in October and housing start reached their strongest pace since 2007.

    Volkswagen plans to cut 30,000 jobs over the coming years at VW.

    With 95% of companies in the S&P 500 reporting, earnings rose 5% in the third quarter to break the 5 quarter streak of declining earnings.

    Reposted from the Raffa Wealth Management Blog.

    All the news you need to stay informed about what’s currently driving the market – courtesy of Raffa Wealth Management, LLC

    Photo courtesy of salon.com

  • 11/15/2016 Retail Stores Optimistic for Holiday Shopping Season

    Financial News and Portfolio Management Discussion through November 14th The surprise outcome of the US Presidential election sent shockwaves through markets as investors tried to decipher what the result will mean for various asset classes. The Dow reached a record high and had its best week since 2011 rising 5.4%.  The S&P 500 rose 3.8% […]

    Financial News and Portfolio Management Discussion through November 14th

    usa-stocks_originalThe surprise outcome of the US Presidential election sent shockwaves through markets as investors tried to decipher what the result will mean for various asset classes. The Dow reached a record high and had its best week since 2011 rising 5.4%.  The S&P 500 rose 3.8% for the week.  Internationally, developed markets reacted positively with Japan rising 2.80% and Europe gaining 2.6% for the week. Emerging markets struggled falling 3.84%.  The yield on the 10 year Treasury shot up to 2.12%, a level last seen in January as investors’ inflation expectations increased.

    Retail stores offered optimistic forecasts for the holiday shopping season.

    Reposted from the Raffa Wealth Management Blog.

    All the news you need to stay informed about what’s currently driving the market – courtesy of Raffa Wealth Management, LLC

    Photo courtesy of finance.yahoo.com

  • 11/7/2016 Unemployment Rate Ticked Down to 4.9%

    Financial News and Portfolio Management Discussion through November 5th The US market’s losing streak reached 9 days, the longest since 1980, as the election weighed. The S&P 500 sank 1.9% and Dow fell 1.5% for the week.  Internationally, Japan slide 3.1% and Europe sank 3.5% for the week.  The yield on the 10 year Treasury […]

    Financial News and Portfolio Management Discussion through November 5th

    The US market’s losing streak reached 9 days, the longest since 1980, as the election weighed. The S&P 500 sank 1.9% and Dow fell 1.5% for the week.  Internationally, Japan slide 3.1% and Europe sank 3.5% for the week.  The yield on the 10 year Treasury ended at 1.78% falling as investors moved to safe havens.

    The October jobs report showed steady job gains with 161,000 new hires and upward revisions of August and September. The unemployment rate ticked down to 4.9%.  Year over year pay rose 2.8%, the largest increase since 2009.

    The Fed elected to not make any changes at its most recent meeting, but stated that inflation had “increased somewhat” increasing the likelihood that they would increase the Fed Funds rate at their December meeting.

    Consumer spending rose 0.5% in September slightly above expectations.

    Consumer sentiment hit a 2 year low.

    The Bank of Japan cut its inflation forecasts, but elected to not make any changes at its most recent meeting.

    Auto sales were positive for the month as SUV and light truck sales increased.

    A UK court ruled that parliament needs to approve an exit from the EU throwing a wrench in the country’s plans.

    CenturyLink agreed to buy Level 3 for $25 billion in a merger of telecom companies.

    Reposted from the Raffa Wealth Management Blog.

    All the news you need to stay informed about what’s currently driving the market – courtesy of Raffa Wealth Management, LLC

  • 11/7/2016 How RWM will Trade Decision 2016

    By Mark Murphy, Raffa Wealth Management The marathon presidential election campaign finally (hopefully) will come to an end tomorrow after countless polls, surprises and shifts in sentiment. Markets have become more volatile in recent weeks as it has approached Election Day.  With ballots about to be cast there are three possible stock market outcomes on […]

    By Mark Murphy, Raffa Wealth Management

    The marathon presidential election campaign finally (hopefully) will come to an end tomorrow after countless polls, surprises and shifts in sentiment. Markets have become more volatile in recent weeks as it has approached Election Day.  With ballots about to be cast there are three possible stock market outcomes on Wednesday: the markets surge, tread water, or plunge.

    It is in emotional and turbulent times like these where being disciplined and sticking to an investment plan is most difficult, but often most rewarding. The investment plan spells out what to do when certain investments rise or fall and can take the emotion out of the equation, which can otherwise drive counterproductive decisions.

    If stock markets’ surge we will look to potentially sell gains from stocks and add to the fixed income holdings. We will, our course, be mindful of tax issues.  While the past month has seen stocks decline, a large jump in stocks may see equity allocations push past their targeted thresholds.

    If stock markets’ tread water than the election played out largely as the markets had expected and no moves will likely need to be made.

    However, if stock markets’ plunge we will look to add to US and/or foreign stock holdings if they have fallen past certain thresholds. In this instance we would look to sell from the fixed income allocation as it will likely be up.  The shorter term and higher credit quality nature of the fixed income allocation is designed to provide stability in times of high volatility; specifically for situations like this.

    These are the action plans we will be looking to implement following the election and we will be monitoring markets closely. Regardless of the outcome, if you stay disciplined to your investment plan the election will be at worst a small bump in the road on the way toward your financial destination.

    Index Performance Oct. YTD Trl 1 Yr
    US Stock (Russell 3000) -2.16% 6.18% 3.68%
    Foreign Stock (FTSE AW ex US) -1.34% 4.75% 0.96%
    Total US Bond Mkt. (BarCap Aggregate) -0.76% 4.99% 4.37%
    Short US Gov. Bonds (BarCap Gov 1-5 Yr) -0.21% 1.97% 1.52%
    Municipal Bonds (BarCap 1-10yr Muni) -0.58% 1.98% 2.40%
    Cash (ML 3Month T-Bill)  0.03% 0.27% 0.31%

    Reposted from the Raffa Wealth Management Blog.

    All the news you need to stay informed about what’s currently driving the market – courtesy of Raffa Wealth Management, LLC

  • 11/1/2016 Consumer Inflation at its Fastest Pace Since 2014

    Financial News and Portfolio Management Discussion through October 29th Stocks sank over the week on weaker earnings reports. The S&P 500 fell 0.7%, but the Dow ticked up 0.1% for the week.  Internationally, markets were mixed with Japan surging 1.5%, while Europe sunk 1.0% for the week.  The yield on the 10 year Treasury bond […]

    Financial News and Portfolio Management Discussion through October 29th

    Stocks sank over the week on weaker earnings reports. The S&P 500 fell 0.7%, but the Dow ticked up 0.1% for the week.  Internationally, markets were mixed with Japan surging 1.5%, while Europe sunk 1.0% for the week.  The yield on the 10 year Treasury bond surged to 1.85%, its highest yield since the end of May, as inflation expectations around the world have picked up.

    US GDP Growth rose at a 2.9% rate in the third quarter, the strongest reading in 2 years.

    Consumer inflation in the US and Europe is at its fastest pace since 2014 and Chinese factory prices rose for the first time in 4 and half years.

    TD Ameritrade agreed to buy Scott Trade for $4 billion in a tie up of two discount brokers.

    Qualcomm agreed to buy automotive chip maker NXP for $39 billion.

    handshakebusiness

    October set a record for most merger and acquisition activity with $248.9 billion worth of deals.

    GM, Samsung, Ford, Amazon and AB InBev all disappointed investors with their results while Apple, Tesla, Deutsche Bank, Alphabet and Volkswagen topped investor views.

    Reposted from the Raffa Wealth Management Blog.

    All the news you need to stay informed about what’s currently driving the market – courtesy of Raffa Wealth Management, LLC

    Photo courtesy of thinkadvisor.com

  • 10/26/2016 Stewarding Investments Well: What Boards and Executives Need to Know

    By Dennis Gogarty, President, Raffa Wealth Management and Tom Adams, Director, Succession and Sustainability Nonprofits plan every fiscal move with great caution, backed up with thorough analysis. However, when it comes time to plan their investment policies and gauge their investment performance, they operate in a silo, without access to any information about how their […]

    By Dennis Gogarty, President, Raffa Wealth Management and Tom Adams, Director, Succession and Sustainability

    Nonprofits plan every fiscal move with great caution, backed up with thorough analysis. However, when it comes time to plan their investment policies and gauge their investment performance, they operate in a silo, without access to any information about how their peers — other nonprofit finance executives — manage their reserves and perform on their investments.

    The Study on Nonprofit Investing (SONI) is changing this, providing senior nonprofit finance executives with peer benchmarking data on investment policies and ROI. Commissioned by Raffa Wealth Management, LLC (RWM) and Raffa, PC, SONI is a survey of finance executives from associations, public charities, and private foundations.

    Investments and reserves, no matter the amount, are critical to the ongoing success and survival of organizations. It is easy to not pay much attention or delegate to board members or an advisor and think you are doing OK. The reality is delegation without clear Board policies and agreed upon reporting, often results in poor decision making including sudden and perhaps knee-jerk reactions to market changes.

    Five years ago, to answer client requests for peer benchmarking, Raffa Wealth Management began the annual SONI survey. In 2016, SONI (Study of Nonprofit Investing) gathered data from over 700 nonprofit organizations and sought to identify what works and what does not when it comes to investing nonprofit reserves.

    The annual SONI report supports board leaders and executives by:

    • Providing peer benchmarking – nonprofits deserve to know how they are doing compared to other similar organizations;
    • Providing guidance and education about Board oversight, particularly the importance of benchmarking and clear expectations on accountability and reporting; and
    • Empowering Boards to make more informed decisions and bring discipline to decision making.

    The biggest lesson from this study of investing habits is: “Keep it simple.” Simplicity means taking the time to develop clear investment policies and reporting agreements and then sticking to them. Unnecessary complexity occurs when well-intentioned board leaders or advisors try too hard to “beat the market” and make hasty or risky decisions with money intended for the good of the organization.

    A related aspect of keeping it simple is to agree on success benchmarks and stick to them. Another area to pay attention to simplicity is fees and reporting. Some Boards are paying a lot in fees; others don’t know or understand what fees they are paying. A simple transparent fee structure understood by executive and board is a critical part of prudent stewardship.

    Complex voluminous reporting may be entertaining for some. However, it does not always help the board know how we are doing. Reporting on investment returns should be short, simple and clear.

    Looking at the five years of SONI data and our work with nonprofits, four important principles stand out:

      1. Align investment policies with the time frames related to various organizational goals. For instance, if you are buying a building or important piece of equipment, be clear on the time frame and how part of your investment dollars are allocated for this purpose. The organization may have spending goals with short, intermediate, or long-term timelines. The policy should be clear about these distinctions.
      2. Document procedures that lead to policy guidelines related to risk tolerance. Board members rotate so it is important for future board leaders to know what risks were on the board’s mind when it set its investment policy and the process by which that policy was made. This helps inform future discussions of the policy.
      3. Document reviews as frequently as necessary.
      4. Require reporting that makes oversight simple. There are two goals for reporting: ensure our investments are compliant with our policy and our performance is in line with expectations.

    Developing investment policies is the key. This begins with a review of goals and time frames during which investments may need to be used. Next, assets are segmented and policies and return expectations established. Once there is a written record of the policies, expectations, process and reasons for setting them, the next step is implementation and reporting as agreed.

    Participation in the annual SONI survey starts January 2017 and results in a detailed report on the findings at no cost to all participants. This data, segmented for Public Charities, Associations and Foundations, will provide important benchmarking data to assist your organization in reviewing or setting its policies. To sign up to be part of the 2017 SONI, email soni@raffawealth.com.

    For more information on investing, listen to our podcast on this topic, visit our website at www.Raffawealth.com or call 202-955-6734. Other helpful resources can be found at the CFA Institute’s primer for trustees and FI360’s handbook for investment stewards.

    You may also find this SONI Investment Policy checklist helpful when reviewing your policy or developing an investment policy for the first time.

  • 10/26/2016 Ep 10. – Stewarding Investments and Reserves: Lessons for Nonprofit Boards and Financial Managers

    In this Lead. Learn. Thrive. podcast episode, Raffa’s Tom Adams spoke with Dennis Gogarty, President of Raffa Wealth Management, as he shares lessons from the 2016 SONI report, observations on trends since the report began and practical steps board leaders and executives can take to ensure good stewardship of investments.   Read Tom Adams and […]

    PodcastCoverArt

    In this Lead. Learn. Thrive. podcast episode, Raffa’s Tom Adams spoke with Dennis Gogarty, President of Raffa Wealth Management, as he shares lessons from the 2016 SONI report, observations on trends since the report began and practical steps board leaders and executives can take to ensure good stewardship of investments.

    dennis-gogarty

    Dennis Gogarty

     

    Read Tom Adams and Dennis Gogarty’s blog post, Stewarding Investments Well: What Boards and Executives Need to Know, for more on this topic.


    The Lead. Learn. Thrive podcast series grew out of our Raffa Learning Community effort and features interviews with interesting nonprofit and private sector leaders and those who help them Do More. If you would like to suggest a topic or a guest for an upcoming episode, please email jimena@raffa.com and include “podcast” in the email subject line.

    ituneslogoSubscribe now via iTunes!

    Listen Now

  • 10/25/2016 Stocks Rose Over Week on Earnings and Merger News

    Financial News and Portfolio Management Discussion through October 22nd Stocks rose over the week on earnings and merger news. The S&P 500 gained 0.4% and the Dow ticked up less than 0.1% for the week.  Abroad, Japan surged 1.9% and Europe jumped 1.3% for the week.  The yield on the 10 year Treasury ticked down […]

    Financial News and Portfolio Management Discussion through October 22nd

    Stocks rose over the week on earnings and merger news. The S&P 500 gained 0.4% and the Dow ticked up less than 0.1% for the week.  Abroad, Japan surged 1.9% and Europe jumped 1.3% for the week.  The yield on the 10 year Treasury ticked down to finish at 1.74%.

    China GDP rose 6.7% in the third quarter in line with 2Q and expectations. The growth is being aided by easy credit and other stimulus measures.

    At the ECB’s most recent meeting they elected to not make any changes to its bond buying stimulus program, but made statements alluding to a possible extension of its bond buying program at its December meeting. It is currently set to end in five months.

    BAT made a $47 billion bid to buy the rest of Reynolds American to create the world’s largest tobacco firm.

    time-warner-m-a-at-t-1

    AT&T agreed to purchase Time Warner for $85 Billion combing media and telecommunications giants and will be closely reviewed by regulators.

    B of A, United, Netflix, Microsoft, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, Intel, McDonald’s, Yahoo and IBM beat forecasts, while Verizon and GE fell short of expectations.

    Reposted from the Raffa Wealth Management Blog.

    All the news you need to stay informed about what’s currently driving the market – courtesy of Raffa Wealth Management, LLC

    Photo courtesy of cbsnews.com