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You can find reports from our Investment and Research team, timely and informative financial planning topics from our Wealth Management team, and deeper dives on various important topics in our white papers from any team member. Read online, share with friends, or download for your convenience.

You may remember the noise surrounding the settlement for $125 per victim promised by Equifax following the massive 2017 data breach. 

Since that news, the filing process has changed. In the beginning of September 2019, Equifax sent an email to those who have already filed the $125 claim based on the grounds that they already are subscribed to a credit monitoring service. Equifax now requires that anyone who has filed a claim will have to prove they actually have credit monitoring in order to receive the promised $125. 

A side note: the email sent by Equifax looks like spam and may be captured in your junk folder, so you may need to search for their correspondence. The legitimate correspondence comes from This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. with the title, “Your Equifax Claim: You Must Act by October 15, 2019 or Your Claim for Alternative Compensation Will Be Denied.” 

APA Vorndran 3x4HI RGBAs the growing need for financial education continues to be recognized, Allegiant Private Advisors has pioneered multiple programs designed to increase awareness and knowledge about finance and money management within the Sarasota region. Allegiant Paraplanner KJ Vorndran, CFP®, CRPC® and a Master of Science, Personal Financial Planning candidate, has been one of our key leaders involved in presenting a financial literacy program for the Sarasota Young Professional Group (YPG), part of the Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce, and launching Allegiant’s Young Professional Mentorship Program. Now, she’s lending her professional knowledge and talents to the YPG membership in an additional way. 

On October 1, 2019, KJ will begin her volunteer service as Finance Chair on the Young Professionals Group Board of Directors. 

APA Dees 3x4HI RGBThe Allegiant Private Advisors team is pleased to announce the promotion of Cameron Dees to the position of Research Analyst.

“Cameron has proven to be a key member of our Investment Research team,” explained Allegiant Private Advisors President Benjamin W. Jones, CFP®, AIF®. “His ability to examine and analyze in-depth financial data and trends helps inform our customized, independent strategies prepared for each client. Plus, thanks to our team approach to customized wealth management, our colleagues and clients benefit from both Cameron’s insights and good nature.”

Cameron originally joined Allegiant in early 2018 as a research assistant. (Click here to get to know him better on a personal level.)

APA Jones 3x4HI RGBAllegiant Private Advisors President and Chief Investment Officer Benjamin W. Jones, CFP®, AIF®, has been named to Forbes’ 2019 Next-Gen Best-In-State Wealth Advisors list published on Forbes.com. This year’s Next-Gen Best-In-State Wealth Advisors list spotlights advisors from Alaska to Florida with team assets amounting to more than $1 trillion.

Wayne Bloom, CEO of Commonwealth Financial Network®, Allegiant Private Advisors’ Registered Investment Adviser–broker/dealer, said, “Congratulations to Benjamin Jones on being recognized by Forbes. The future of the financial advice industry is bright, and Ben—and Allegiant—will undoubtedly continue to make a positive impact. We remain committed to providing the solutions the next generation of financial advisors need to power their journey and add time back into their day so they can focus on their clients.” 

Ben has been managing assets for private individuals, families, and charitable organizations for nearly 15 years at Allegiant Private Advisors. He is a Principal and President of the firm, managing Allegiant’s 14-member team and serving as Chief Investment Officer. Jones leads the investment committee, is responsible for establishing the firm’s overall investment strategy, security selection, portfolio management, and oversees research activities. 

He considers this recognition a credit to Allegiant’s philosophy of independent thinking and customized solutions that are researched, designed, analyzed and implemented by an entire team of professionals—as opposed to the common industry practice of a single advisor working in a silo.

Chart Differing Business and Consumer Confidence

Historically, consumer and business confidence have moved in similar directions albeit not always by the same magnitude, as indicated by the chart above. Recently, however, business and consumer confidence levels have diverged sharply. This occurrence can partially be explained by the current U.S.-China trade dispute, which has been felt first by businesses due to the fact that many of the goods that have been targeted thus far have been inputs to manufacturing or other production processes as opposed to end market consumer goods. This may change if recently announced tariffs by the U.S. go into effect in September and December which more directly target consumer goods. Regardless of the driver, businesses are often upstream of consumers when it comes to feeling economic pressure, which would mean now is a good time to be cautious. Although business confidence has been moving lower and should be taken note of, confidence levels are still at strong absolute levels along with numerous other economic data points that still support a growing U.S. economy, albeit at a slower rate.

APA Jones 3x4HI RGBAnother important section of the yield curve inverted this month. News of such sent stock markets into a frizzy. Market volatility, both to the downside and upside, signifies investors are trying to determine what this inverted yield curve really means. So, what does it really mean? 

The yield curve is a good indicator of potential growth over different periods of time. With a normal upward sloping yield curve, expectations are for spending and borrowing activity to start increasing, which requires lenders to charge a higher interest rate to borrow for ten years than for two years. This makes sense. The longer someone borrows money, the higher the risk to the lender and the more inflation can eat into the principal. 

However, an inverted yield curve tells a different story. With an inverted yield curve, lenders are willing to lend money fora longer period of time because they do not expect spending and borrowing to increase, or inflation to rise, and therefore they would prefer to lock in an interest rate for a longer period of time. Essentially, the current inverted yield curve is telling us expectations for growth in the near-term are higher than expectations going out a little further. 

Here lies the key. An inverted yield curve does not in itself cause a recession. However, it signifies a weak economic environment that is at higher risk of a recession. In other words, the economy is on the edge, and all it would take is some shock to the system for the economy to go over the edge into recession. What could that shock look like this time? 

With slowing business investment and a soft housing market, investors have hoped for a strong consumer to continue to drive growth despite numerous headline risks that could impact consumer confidence and ultimately negatively affect consumer spending. 

Chart Consumers Carry the Load

Thus far in 2019, the consumer has delivered, driving Q2 GDP growth and posting an extremely strong July retail sales number. The chart above displays the breakdown of the different retail sales categories that roll up into the aggregate retail sales growth figure. Although many of the retail sales components contributed to growth, non-store retailers (e-commerce) sales growth was particularly strong. The strength in non-store retail was partially due to Amazon Prime Day (July 15th) and back to school shopping. Regardless of where retail sales growth is derived from, with trade tensions currently weighing on business confidence and investment, the strength and resilience of the U.S. consumer should remain a key focus for the duration of 2019.  

Warning Signs from the Freight Industry

For several months now, key economic data such as ISM Manufacturing PMI and Durable Goods Orders, which speak to the health of the industrial sector of the economy, have been deteriorating. The Allegiant team also likes to gauge how this portion of the economy is faring by looking at how the freight industry is doing, and particularly the growth trajectory of the volume of shipments the industry is responsible for.

As you can see in the chart above, freight volume growth peaked in the early part of 2018 which coincided with the beginning of the trade dispute that is still ongoing. The data set has been on a sharp descent ever since, which has been supported by numerous other economic data sets, showing that business investment, housing, and industrial production are all on loose economic footing. If the dollar holds its strength and trade concerns continue to weigh on business activity and confidence, freight volume growth may continue its current trend lower. On the other hand, however unlikely it may seem in the near term, if the U.S. and China can come to a trade agreement and the Fed continues to be supportive, we could see the manufacturing economy return to a stronger growth trajectory. Regardless of where the data set moves, the Allegiant team will be watching and prepared to respond accordingly. 

The Allegiant Private Advisors team was thrilled to welcome Michelle Cross, CFP®, CPA, CDFA®, as a Wealth Advisor in the summer of 2019. Having worked in the financial services industry since 2002, Michelle’s role at Allegiant focuses on a holistic advisory approach, guiding client families through all areas of financial planning to help define and achieve their financial goals. Michelle looks forward to getting to know each of our clients and community colleagues, but first, we wanted to give her the opportunity to introduce herself to each of you, in her own words: 

APA Cross 8x10 smallEver since I was a small child, I’ve always been a planner. I was accepted to seven out of the eight colleges I applied for including NYU and Boston College.  But when it came down to it, I realized that I didn’t want to be far away from home so I enrolled at the University of Delaware, which was only 45 minutes from my hometown.  There, I majored in Accounting with a minor in Management Information Systems.  During my downtime, I practiced my leadership skills as president of my sorority.  After graduating, I began my career at Deloitte, one of the “Big Four” public accounting firms and quickly sat for the CPA exam. (I am proud to say I passed all four parts on my first attempt and in one sitting.)  Life was - and still is -  busy!

Chart A Tough Trade Off

Recently, the 10-year U.S. treasury yield fell below the S&P 500 dividend yield for the first time since 2016. A positive spread between the two data sets has typically provided an incentive for investors to favor equities relative to bonds. However, in previous positive spread environments equities were trading at lower relative valuation multiples than today. At almost 16x forward earnings and 18x trailing earnings, the S&P 500 is not at bargain prices. This environment puts income seekers in a tough position. They must either accept lower expected returns by investing in fixed income securities or take on the risk associated with equity markets. Unfortunately, this time around equity markets are not quite as attractive, making the decision that much more difficult.