COMMENTARY 2014 November 28, 2014 Alzheimer’s disease – What’s Your Story? As you prepare to give thanks this week, think about those around you who suffer from this catastrophic, debilitating disease. Now decide whether you are ready to experience such a disease as a patient, caregiver or loved one. There is both an emotional and financial cost—are you ready to pay the price? Moreover, in looking at health plans and talking with clients about their healthcare coverage, I think most of us have it all wrong. Most people tend to focus on the little stuff like sniffles, cuts and bruises; when in fact they need to think about the chronic and catastrophic, because these two medical events will cost them the most. My advice—use short term money to cover acute medical expenses and leverage those chronic and catastrophic costs with insurance. If you need some ideas, give me a call October 15, 2014 Today’s stock market decline should come as no big surprise as I have been talking and writing about market softness for the past few months. As I said last week on LinkedIN, higher or lower, two directions that offer different outcomes for different individuals. So when markets and expectations collide like today, it is always good to think about your investments: what are they, why do you have them and when will you use them? If you don’t have good, solid answers then you need to re-visit your investment strategy, purpose of said investment(s) and the time frame from which the investment will be used. Can these markets go lower, perhaps, but I don’t believe to the levels as witnessed during 2001-2003 or 2008-2009. The market has rebounded tremendously since the bottom in March 2009, so it makes sense that a little gas needs to be removed from the engine. And, speaking of gas, it is the price of oil and the impact on the global economy which is causing such market strife. Good for your pocketbook but not necessarily for corporate or sovereign revenue. The market giveth and the market taketh away. The goal is to stay centered on your goal and strategy. August 19, 2014 Why Your Health is So Important (Part II)? – The results are in and on “the average health insurance premiums will increase by 7.5% next year.” The actual increase varies by state but plan on spending more next year and every year thereafter. So staying in shape and taking care of your health is a great way to fight this inflation creep. Granted, you can’t get away from the rising premiums but it is all of those other services that you won’t need to use that will save you money. Just think of the time and frustration you will avoid by not having to make an appointment, waiting in the clinic or waiting for the doctor. And, let’s not forget the impact on you by those over-worked health care professionals; not to mention the looming reduction in nurses and physicians. Yikes! Doesn't it just make sense to eat right, exercise a little and keep your stress down. And, while you are at it, sock a little money away for the future. You're gonna need it! August 5, 2014 Why is Health So Important? I have been talking about the relationship between health and wealth since 1994 when I wrote an article for the Carmel Mountain Ranch Gazette in San Diego. Not a huge readership which is why not many people embraced the concept. But, some 20 years later, it is increasingly apparent that they are intertwined. A recent study by the Association of Credit and Collections Professionals reported that health-care related bills account for 38% of all debt collections followed by student loans (25%) and credit care (10%). So besides the prospect for lower current medical expenses, it appears that better health leads to better outcomes down the road. Therefore, better health is paramount for those with low retirement savings and serves as a buffer for those with modest to high savings. Shape Up America! July 28, 2014 WHY IS HOUSING SO IMPORTANT? – For those trying to buy a home or sell a home, it would seem to be a perfect time given low mortgage rates. However, low cash for down payments and even weaker job prospects has curtailed the normal rebound in home ownership. But does owning a home really matter that much today? For most people the dream of home ownership has come and gone; and, for the most part, that may be a good thing. There are plenty of homes in the U.S. inventory to meet the changing demographics and trends. I submit that we should put greater emphasis on economic indicators that offer growth in the 21st Century and not rely upon an indicator that rewards those in Congress! The future of America depends upon innovation not renovation. July 8, 2014 Too Big to Serve You – The term “Too Big to Fail” has become a common term after the near death experience of financial markets in 2008/2009. My recent personal experience with Kaiser Health Plans and more recently, ATT, prompted me to come up with “Too Big to Serve You.” It is all so good when things are going well but when you need a little help that “Too Big” thing gets in the way. It took me three phone calls to cancel my ATT Internet and I’ve yet to hear from a real live person about my family Kaiser medical plan. I think they owe us some money but for some reason they just can’t seem to pick up the phone to discuss it. Now, there are many positive aspects of “Big” such as pricing, selection and pricing; but when you need resolution that FAQ or chat algorithm just don’t get the job done. So when it comes to your financial future, don’t settle for “Big,” settle for "Personal" because it is your life and family we are talking about. May 23, 2014 Russia, Ukraine, Obamacare, and the Sequestration – Remember all of those media headlines that got the markets spooked; and perhaps you as well. The markets have remained strong and the economy continues to chug along. Maybe it is time to worry about the headlines that really impact your life—such as college planning, family protection, vacations and retirement. Oh, and don’t forget the braces, the wedding or the new water heater. These will impact your bottom line more than anything you read or see on the news. So, let’s get started! May 19, 2014 Not If, But When – It is not will the markets correct but when? It is impossible to predict, but after five years of growth, it just seems reasonable that the stock market needs a breather. Breathing is good for people and markets—it allows time to get more energy and perspective. I don’t believe in the “go to cash” mantra and I don’t believe we will see declines like we did twice this century. However, it is always advisable to get a “gut check” on how one might feel when the market declines by 10% or even 20%. If you won’t be able to sleep at night then you might want to re-balance and take some profits. Otherwise, hang on and ride that next wave. April 16, 2014 Be Smart, Not Afraid—In the Game of Life, You must be Confident in Your Decisions and Actions in Order to Succeed. Don’t Be Afraid of the Unknowns, Be Aware of the Unknowns and Use Them to Your Advantage. The Future is Bright for Those that Win on the Margin; and that Requires Knowledge and Guidance from Those who Know the Game. Let Me Help Show You the Way. March 28, 2014 As we close out the first quarter of 2014, there are many signs of conflicting strength and weakness around the globe. The recent move by Russia into Crimea is a stern warning that “history can repeat itself” as the old Soviet bear begins to awaken from its slumber. What this means to Eastern Europe, and the world in general, is unknown, but I suspect that intrigue and suspicion will remain for quite some time. The unrest in Eastern Europe has not been positive for emerging markets. However, I remain steadfast in my belief that the future and your portfolio will be driven by emerging market economies. Energy and healthcare are two investment themes that I believe are important when thinking about the future. The U.S. is experiencing a “renaissance” in oil production through the use of new fracking technology. While this is good for our energy independence in the short-term it remains to be seen how long this “renaissance” will last given the drive for newer renewable technology. However, some energy is better than none, and I believe that is true for investment portfolios as well. The question to ask is “how much energy is in your portfolio?” Healthcare is a topic that brings out the good and bad in people. I believe that the intent of the Affordable Care Act is good, but the execution has been poorly handled. Who can deny the importance of healthcare for an individual or family that in prior years were denied coverage due to prior medical conditions or due to high cost? No one, which is why healthcare should probably be in your portfolio. Is it? I think it is a given that changes in healthcare management and patient care are needed. This is especially true when the challenges of our aging population are considered. It is a fact that older people require more medical attention, treatment and consideration than younger adults and children which places a burden on medical facilities and healthcare personnel. How this plays out is uncertain, but do expect to wait longer to get appointments and to wait longer in the waiting room. The replacement rate for nurses and physicians cannot keep up with the burnout rate and “aging out” dynamics of these valuable professionals. How will these dynamics impact your portfolio and your retirement? As you sit in the hospital or doctor’s office, look around and see the investment potential that abounds. There are significant changes afoot in medicine that offer opportunities for those willing and capable of tolerating the risk associated with these risky and, sometimes speculative, investments. However, there is a need for such investing if we want to cure cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, obesity and diabetes; just like there is a need to find an energy source that is “always on” and does not harm the environment. But, this calls for innovation, and innovation costs money which comes from individual investors willing to take the risk to help society and help themselves financially. What is your risk tolerance for such a journey? Give me a call to discuss the answers to these questions and how it impacts the strength of your investment portfolio. March 21, 2014 The Hesslink Family has been helping clients since 1973 when my father, Bob Hesslink, started our firm. While there have been many changes in our area and the economy over that time, our commitment to the success of every client has never wavered. I took over the firm in 2002 after the passing of my father. Since that time I have striven to provide excellent customer service, professional guidance and investment insights to my clients here in Southern California and throughout the United States. I have incorporated many new technology and investment platforms designed to better serve my clients. I believe that I have the best mix of investment and insurance strategies to manage the challenges of today. In addition, given my life sciences background I have made it a priority to educate myself and my clients on the nuances of the Affordable Care Act and Medicare. The challenges of healthcare management and disease prevention are often ignored leading so many people to poor health. Many times people discredit the value and freedom that “being healthy” provides. The ability to enjoy life requires good health—so don’t waste it! In closing, there is no magic formula for gaining client trust and confidence. It really is a contact sport requiring personal attention and connection. Let me connect with you to help provide better financial and healthcare outcomes! March 3, 2014 From Russia, Not with Love: Sinead O’Connor sang “England's not the mythical land of Madame George and roses, it’s the home of police who kill black boys on mopeds.” While these lyrics have many interpretations, I like to think it means “what we see isn’t what we get.” There is a sinister side to this world and the shenanigans exhibited by Russia in the Ukraine are a perfect example. And, there is more instability unfolding in places such as Thailand, Venezuela, Brazil, China and Africa. I believe that the calm experienced over the past 25 years may be coming to an end and that these recent actions by Russia should be viewed as a blessing and a warning. The high correlation between economic indices may soon come to an end leading to non-correlated markets. Diversification is important but money can be made and lost on the fringes. Can you make the right choices under such circumstances and are you prepared for the outcomes? The decisions made now will lay the foundation for later success. Give me a call and let’s get started on your foundation today. February 27, 2014 So this is What I do: I plan when you don’t have the time; I learn so that I may help you succeed; I decide when you are frozen with fear; I get it done when others say it can’t; I care even when you’ve lost all hope. Let me do what I do for You! February 20, 2014 WEATHER OR WHETHER, WHICH WAS IT? A month of rain, snow and cold WEATHER appears to be the current media assessment for the past month’s stock market decline. Whether or not you believe this story line says a lot about your confidence at work and at home. For those of you seeking employment, it didn’t really matter whether the decline was a GOOD buying opportunity. But, for those of you confident about your job and the future the question remains, “Did you panic and sell or did you take the time to consider the opportunity to buy?” Like I said at the time it wasn’t the next 10 days to worry about but next 10 years. Did your investment adviser call you to talk about the market or did they suddenly escape to warmer weather? To survive the future you need an individual that isn’t afraid to make that call. I am that person. Trust me and we will navigate the future together. February 14, 2014 Happy Valentine's Day! While you can never go wrong with flowers or chocolates I suggest you consider something a little out of the ordinary. How about assuring that special someone that you truly care for them by purchasing life insurance or developing a long term financial plan. This will let them know that your really do want to spend the rest of your life with them. Note to self: Pick up flowers! I already have the life insurance and financial plan covered. February 3, 2014 MARKET MAYHEM – If you remember March 2009, stock market indices hit what would later become the start of a very nice bull market. Yes, there were some moments along the way that gave reason for caution but overall it has been a very nice ride up. So, it is not surprising then that we are seeing profit taking along with a dose of media frenzy. How else do you compete with the Super Bowl? There really needs to be a reset in equities, foreign exchange currencies and government intervention before we can find a floor to this mess. Until that time make sure you have an investment plan that covers both short and long term goals. When that floor is reached get ready for the next leg up! January 27, 2014 Sure, blame it on emerging markets and the FED. As we start the week, after a bad Friday market decline, many news agencies will be reporting on the weak emerging market and Chinese economies. Some will blame the FED for reducing Quantitative Easing. But, really, wasn't that all known several months ago! Did investors just wake up from some sleepy stupor and realize the impact of these global events? I think not, and respectfully suggest, you do the same. The market has climbed steadily since March 2009 with a little bit of turbulence during the summer of 2012. The past year was above trend in historical terms so one might suspect that 2014 will be below trend. Don't let the hysteria of the present impact the reality of the future. The key to your investment success will be how you manage the next 10 years not the next 10 days. January 24, 2014 The Shoe Has Dropped - The global markets are experiencing the "drop" that has been on hold for quite some time. It has been a caution that most financial analysts and economists have been predicting but until now has been elusive. How quick and how far down the correction is hard to guess. What remains constant is your commitment to a longer term investment strategy. If you are worried about your investment portfolio then perhaps it is time to review your strategy and the reasons for your current investment holdings. If you don't have an investment strategy, then perhaps it is time to sit down and put pen to paper. If you need help in the development of such a plan give me a call. Planning is one of my key strengths. January 2, 2014 The year 2013 was full of many surprises. Domestic housing rebounded, and the stock market kept climbing higher even in the face of many global events and domestic governance bickering. The early fears of sequestration did not materialize, although the rollout of Obamacare reminded many of us that government programs don't run smooth when done on the cheap and without testing. In 2014, I expect to see a stronger economy and a more muted stock market. Jobs will become less scarce, although wage growth will remain low in most fields except for healthcare, gaming and social media. Those who seek fortune or at least growth in emerging markets may continue to see lackluster performance during what I will call a "foundation-building" year. In the U.S. and abroad, we will continue to hear concerns about aging demographics, entitlement reform, excess capacity, unfunded pension plans, under-skilled labor and currency exchange imbalances. The next decade will determine how we as a global nation deal with these issues. In essence, we are all serving and feeding at the same table. Can we work together harmoniously or like in decades past, will one nation seek dominance at the expense of others? I remain committed to client success and the attainment of dreams. It really is a daily battle to ascertain clarity in an ever-changing landscape. I hope my professional diligence spares you from such burden so that you can stay focused on your family and your business. I plan for your future--a future that is both bright and cloudy but nevertheless moving toward us at light speed. Stay tuned for more insights and guidance throughout the year. And, for even more insights and personal attention contact me at 951-533-1563. Material discussed herewith is meant for general illustration and/or informational purposes only, please note that individual situations can vary. Therefore, the information should be relied upon when coordinated with individual professional advice. Investing involves risk including the potential loss of principal. No investment strategy can guarantee a profit or protect against loss in periods of declining values. Past performance is no guarantee of future results.