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  • Writer's pictureJulie Skye

The ESG Update, Vol. 3

Updated: Mar 16, 2018

It’s Tax Season!

Tuesday April 18 is the 2017 Tax Filing deadline for those who don’t file an extension. Because of the possibility of Schwab updating your 1099, please don’t file before the middle of March. And, unless there are extenuating circumstances, don’t let your tax professional talk you into filing an extension: just power through – and meet with me before you drop off your documents so we can make sure you have everything you need!

Let Julie know if you need your 1099s sent to your CPA!

ESG Headlines

Barron’s 100 most sustainable companies.


Barron’s offers our first ranking of the most sustainable companies in the U.S. We have always aimed to provide information about what keenly interests investors—and what affects investment risk and performance. The term “sustainability” doesn’t have a single definition, but for years now, European investors have looked at environmental, social, and governance factors—qualitative measures that people believe promote a company’s long-term health and growth prospects. Thus, what began as an expression of values is finding wider currency as good corporate practices.

To create our ranking, we turned to a sustainable-investing stalwart: Calvert Research and Management, an arm of Eaton Vance (EV). Calvert ran one of the first U.S. socially responsible mutual funds and has been applying ESG factors to company research for decades. “What’s essential for investors, the planet, and communities is that sustainability work be done in a way that works within our capitalist system,” says Calvert CEO John Streur.

Cisco Systems (CSCO) tops the list, followed by (CRM), Best Buy (BBY), Intuit(INTU), HP Inc. (HPQ), Texas Instruments (TXN), Microsoft (MSFT), Oshkosh (OSK), and, after Clorox, Xylem (XYL).

TO ASCERTAIN SUSTAINABILITY, Calvert began by taking the 1,000 largest publicly held companies by market value, with headquarters in the U.S., as of Dec. 31. Then, Calvert looked at 300 performance indicators for each company from data providers including Institutional Shareholder Services, Sustainalytics, and Thomson Reuters Asset4 in five categories: shareholders, employees, customers, planet, and community. The shareholders category included items like accounting policies and board structure; employees, workplace diversity and labor relations; customers, business ethics and product safety; planet, greenhouse-gas emissions; and community, human rights along the supply chain.

Then came the secret sauce: for every category, Calvert’s analysts ranked the companies from zero to 100, adjusting the weighting of each category for how material it was for each industry. For example, the planet category is more material for chip makers, which use a lot of water in manufacturing, than it is for banks. Each company then got a weighted average score.

Why this matters to YOU: Performance has, and will always be, my focus.

Pulling Back the Curtain: Transparency Matters

Ahhh Bitcoin, I didn’t even get to know you...

The Bitcoin (COIN), (OTCQX:GBTC) crash appears to be resuming as the world’s favorite digital asset dips under $9,000 for the first time in months, and is threatening to go a lot lower. However, the price action is understandable considering the continuous wave of negative news flow. We’ve seen numerous reports about how governments, such as South Korea’s (one of Bitcoins best markets), have been cracking down on Bitcoin exchanges, miners, and other crucial pieces of infrastructure. And of course, then there are the hacks, the internet heists, in which cyber thieves have made off with hundreds of millions in someone else’s Bitcoins.

Naturally, with such a barrage of negative press coverage, some people are beginning to lose confidence, are starting to question the future of Bitcoin, and the price has suffered accordingly. Bitcoin is now down by more than 50% from its all-time highs reached last year, a staggering $175 billion in market cap has been erased in a little over one month. So, is this it, has the “Bitcoin Bubble” finally burst? Is Bitcoin doomed to deflate into nothingness, like the worthless trading instrument so many of its skeptics claim it to be?

Why this matters to YOU: Not sure you’ll ever see an allocation to Bitcoin in your portfolio.

The SEC is increasing their oversight of elder abuse and now gives clients an option to add a Trusted Contact Person.

A Trusted Contact Person is a resource Schwab — and your advisor, if you have one — may contact on your behalf, if necessary, to attempt to address concerns regarding potential fraud or financial exploitation or in communicating with you regarding issues related to your account(s).

  • Your Trusted Contact Person(s) will not be able to view your account information, execute transactions in your account, or inquire about account activity.

  • Schwab suggests that your Trusted Contact Person(s) not be someone who is already authorized to transact business on your account(s) or receive information about your Schwab account(s).

  • The person(s) you name as Trusted Contact Person will be the Trusted Contact Person on all of your Schwab accounts on which you are the account holder or joint account holder, trustee, or agent. A change, now or in the future, will apply to all of your accounts.

  • In multiple party accounts, or accounts with multiple trustees or agents, each party can name a separate Trusted Contact Person(s).

  • Only you, as the account holder, have the ability to add, update, or remove a Trusted Contact Person(s) for your account(s).

  • Providing Schwab with Trusted Contact Person information is voluntary.

Why this matters to YOU: Let’s talk about whether this is something we should do for you.

Financial Moguls and Markets

Siegel sees correction ahead, no yield curve inversion.

The Wizard of Wharton outlines his 12-month predictions before a large crowd at TD Ameritrade's LINC 2018 event.

Wharton Finance Professor Jeremy Siegel shared his long-term bullish outlook for equities with a crowd of about 3,000 RIAs and other guests Thursday during TD Ameritrade’s LINC 2018 conference in Orlando. But he also explained his near-term expectations.

“I do not see an inversion of the yield curve,” the so-called Wizard of Wharton explained. What he does see for the year ahead is the Federal Reserve making three or four hikes in interest rates to about 2-2.25%.

“The Fed follows the data,” Siegel explained. “It will pause if there is a global crisis.”

He also sees the long bond rising to 3.25% by year-end. “That could be a bit of a challenge for the stock market,” the financial guru added.

“Corporate tax cuts have excited the markets,” he said. “This is front-loaded, meaning that companies with expenses like capital equipment will not get depreciation later on.” “The [stock] surge many not last through 2019 and 2020,” the professor added.

Rising rates are anticipated, he says, along with political uncertainty as the Democrats look to control more seats in Congress, which could impact legislation and President Donald Trump’s agenda.

“I see returns of 0 to 10% in stocks this year,” he explained, “so we could go up 15% and then down 10% at some point.”

Why this matters to YOU: Nothing gets my attention more than an inverted yield curve…when long term rates do not adjust and move higher. This is the most important determinant of a tough market.

Planning Strategies

Postponing Social Security may be even more lucrative.

For every year you delay taking Social Security, your monthly check increases by 7%. By waiting until age 70, workers can get a guaranteed, inflation-adjusted income stream that’s 76 percent higher for the rest of their lives.

That figure–76%–is often quoted by Social Security experts. But according to a new study, it “sells short how much delayed claiming can increase Social Security income, especially among women.”

It’s more like 85% for older Americans who stay in the workforce as the extra 9% comes from how Social Security calculates the amount of money each retiree should get. Since the program bases benefits on a worker’s best 35 years of employment income, it penalizes those whose careers had periods of low earnings, or years when they earned nothing. Almost half of women–who often interrupt their careers to raise children– have at least one year with zero earnings among their top 35, for example.

By working longer, these workers can replace some of those low-earning years with higher-earning ones. An extra year of work would boost the average woman’s monthly benefit by 8.6%per year, rather than 7%. Because men tend to have longer careers than women, they get a smaller boost, of 7.8 % for each extra year they work. Those are just averages, however, and the benefit of working longer could be much higher for workers who have had shorter or less lucrative careers.

Why this matters to YOU: This is a big decision – let’s meet before you make it!

Please contact Julie Skye with questions or to set up an appointment at or (918) 408-7981.

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