2017 was another banner year for investors. The total return (inclusive of dividends) for the S&P 500 was a gain of 22%. There were not any meaningful hiccups along the way; as shown in the chart below, the index posted positive returns in every single month of 2017. International stocks fared even better, with a total return for the MSCI All Country World Ex-U.S. index of 27%.
Estate planning is really "transfer planning." It is an ongoing exercise of planning how you accumulate, conserve, and distribute your assets during life, at death, and beyond. There are both financial and non-financial reasons to plan.
The S&P 500 continued its march higher in the third quarter and has now increased by 14% (including dividends) in 2017. International markets have reported even better results, with the MSCI World index (ex-U.S.) climbing 21% over the same period.
It seems that there has been an increase in severe weather these days including floods, fire, and wind. In Savannah, we suffered a direct hit from Hurricane Matthew last year and endured a mandatory evacuation this year due to Hurricane Irma.
I attended an investment conference recently and one of the speakers was Stephen Friedman, former Chairman of Goldman Sachs. During his fireside chat, he mentioned that when it comes to investing, he follows some basic rules of risk management. He said that these rules were universal truths that grandparents have shared with their grandchildren over multiple generations.
Over the past few decades, student debt has transformed from a tool for accessing higher education to a significant obstacle preventing young people from accumulating wealth and saving towards retirement. According to a February 2017 report published by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, outstanding student loan balances increased by $31 billion in 2016.