Of Presidential Elections

Of Presidential Elections

We hope you are well and getting back into some sort of normalcy. Some of you have kids or grandkids back in school. Others have begun virtual learning. Regardless of your circumstances, we hope you are remaining connected to friends and family as we all need each other during this time.

We are approximately two months away now from casting our Presidential ballots. And like all election years, fear can reign regardless of which candidate you support. Emotions run high. Feelings can be hurt. And you are forced as an investor to make decisions in regards to your portfolio.

We thought it would be helpful to bring in some facts and data in regards to investing to help counterbalance the emotions. You might be surprised as to what you see.

We Have Been Here Before

I know, I know: “This time it’s different.” Well true – It’s always a little different. But I’d like to share what is not different:






Yes, I could go on. But I think you’d agree that these actions typically are represented in election years. So how do you block out the noise and see the truth as investors? You find the true data.


Please click on this link from Capital Group, one of our investment partners. Check out the first graph which shows the rate of return of the S&P 500 Index going back to March 4, 1933. The colors represent a Democratic or Republican Presidency.

Do you see the trend? “Markets have tended to power through presidential elections – with some volatility along the way – regardless of whether a Democrat or Republican won the White House.”

Please hear me clearly: Your vote matters. What I’m pointing out though is that for long-term investors, they have generally fared well regardless of the political party in charge.

Have a Plan. Revisit the Plan. Update the Plan.

Those who have a plan do far better than those who don’t. Even more, those who revisit their plan and make any necessary changes do even better! This has certainly been our experience as financial planners working alongside our clients. This process helps us see the big picture and reminds us of why we invest for the long-term.

“By design, elections have winners and losers, but the real winners have been investors who stayed the course and avoided the temptation to time the market.” – Capital Group article

We are here to listen and help should you like to discuss your specific situation. We understand these times can produce uncertainty and fear. We are ready to engage in these conversations with you.

*For financial planning clients of Rivertree Financial Planning: Please contact us as soon as possible if you have had any changes in circumstances, objectives, goals or risk tolerance.

Reasons to Stay Invested and Reasons to Adjust

Reasons to Stay Invested and Reasons to Adjust

We are quickly wrapping up summer 2020. And wow…we won’t forget it! What is normally a time of recharging and checking out from the norm has been a time for many of checking in to the daily number of COVID-19 cases and deaths. The toll this can take on us is brutal. I don’t think we were designed as humans to digest constant news and data from around the globe. Of course, the bulk of this news is negative and life-taking, not giving.

But there is some good news that hasn’t been reported as much as COVID-19 – the stock market. Would you believe that on July 21st this year the S&P 500 index closed at the same value where it started the year (3,257)? Also, on July 22nd it even exceeded the starting value (3,276)? So what are investors to do? We have some suggestions.

Stock Market vs. The Economy

You might be asking: “How can the stock market be back up given the horrible news of COVID-19 and discouraging (to say the least) economic reports such as unemployment numbers?” Answer: The stock market and economy are not the same. Yes, there is some correlation between the two. However, as often said in our client email communications and previous blog posts, the stock market is a leading economic indicator. The stock market is forward-looking and prices in what it believes lies ahead.

No question the actions of Congress and the Fed has provided stability to the markets. Now, it comes at a cost to the government and eventually taxpayers. But in the short-term, the stock market is pricing in stability.

Reasons to Stay Invested

You might feel the temptation to bail-out now given you are back (or almost back) to your January 1st starting values. However, what is your motivation? Most likely it’s fear which is seldom a good reason to make adjustments. So why stay invested?

  • Remember why you invested in the first place. Investing was never a short-term plan (at least not for Rivertree clients). It’s not a sprint; it’s a marathon. Don’t lose focus of this long-term goal.
  • Recognize the Opportunity. For those still in the accumulation phase of retirement planning (i.e. still contributing regularly to retirement accounts), have you celebrated the investment purchases that occurred in February through May? You bought more shares of companies whose values were beaten-down. With this short-term recovery, you now own more shares than you would have previously! This valuable investment strategy is called dollar-cost averaging. And it works well with time.
  • Recognize the Alternatives. Should you choose to abandon your long-term investment plan, what are your investment alternatives? Cash? If you’re like me, you have received multiple emails from savings account companies stating that your interest rate was being lowered. You’re doing really good to get 1% now for online FDIC insured savings accounts. Is a 1% rate of return going to accomplish your long-term goals? Most likely not unless you have significant wealth and can afford for inflation to erode the purchasing power of your dollars. Savings accounts are great for emergency funds and short-term savings needs. They are lousy for long-term investing.

Reasons to Adjust

No question there are times to make adjustments to your investment allocations. These adjustments could better suit your long-term goals and needs. When is a time to adjust?

  • Your goals have changed. Perhaps your retirement age moved from 62 to 70 or vice versa. This eight-year difference could affect the amount of stock and fixed-income holdings you have. If your retirement is delayed until age 70, you could afford to have a larger allocation towards stocks. If your retirement age is expedited to age 62, consider allocating more to fixed-income investments.
  • Your risk tolerance has changed. It’s common that a once aggressive investor shifts to a more moderate investment risk tolerance, especially as one approaches retirement age and considers that little will be added to investment accounts. And, you wonder if you’ll live long enough to see your investments recover in the event of a downturn. Maybe the year 2020 has exposed this change in risk tolerance and it’s time to make adjustments.
  • Your financial circumstances have changed. Maybe you’ve had a change in income or lost a loved one. These life events would certainly be cause to revisit your investment allocations. 


In summary, there are wise reasons to revisit your investment strategies and goals. There are also unwise reasons to make adjustments. Presidential elections come and go. The pandemic will eventually pass. Volatility in the stock market will rear its head during times of uncertainty. But don’t let these fears be the driver of your investment decisions. Research continues to show that investment decisions based on fear do not produce long-term results.

Our job is to walk alongside our clients during these times of uncertainty and help them make wise long-term decisions. Should you feel the need to have a conversation, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

*For financial planning clients of Rivertree Financial Planning: Please contact us as soon as possible if you have had any changes in circumstances, objectives, goals or risk tolerance.

We Are Listening, and We Care

We Are Listening, and We Care

I am writing this morning with some fear and trepidation. That’s me being honest. “Will I say the wrong thing? Will I offend or hurt someone I care about? Will I not say enough? Will I say too much? Will I lose a client by speaking to things non-financial or even taboo?” Those are the questions in my head. Those are my fears. Would you read and extend grace to me? I am no expert on these matters. But I do care. We care.

A Discussion about Race

Around two years ago, I was invited by an African American friend to a broad discussion about race. One topic we discussed was police brutality. I listened as several African American fathers detailed talks they had with their sons about what do to if pulled over by a police officer:  All windows down; interior lights on; pop the trunk; hands 10 and 2 on the steering wheel.

I just didn’t understand. Why was this necessary? My father never had this talk with me. With time and further discussion, it started to make sense to me. I am part of the majority culture. This isn’t a “white guilt” thing…it’s simply a reality.

As I listened to dear friends and brothers share about their experience in today’s culture, my heart weighed heavily. I was brought to tears, apologized and asked forgiveness for not being more loving and kind to them as they grieved current events. I also made a personal commitment to not be silent the next time those close to me were grieving and lamenting.

A Phone Call

I did not want to watch the Ahmaud Arbery shooting video. But I also did not want to avoid engaging in something extremely hard to watch, especially when I knew my African American friends and brothers were watching it. So I did. And I was disturbed.

Then came the George Floyd video. Same feeling – don’t watch it. It’s too hard. But I did. And I was broken by it.

Remembering my commitment from 2 years ago, I picked up the phone and started calling those closest to me. Yes, I was nervous but refused to let fear reign.

Here are the words from one African American friend: “Scott, I didn’t just see George Floyd in that video. I saw myself. I saw my uncle. I saw my sons.” He then went on to tell me that he lost his appetite for 48 hours after this video surfaced. I thought to myself: “My gracious. My dear brother. I am so sorry. I have no words. But I am here with you. Thanks for trusting me enough to share.”

Our discussion was not, “Well all police officers aren’t bad.” In fact, this dear brother has many friends in law enforcement. He respects them highly.

I am thankful for every phone call I made. Each dear brother shared how they were processing these events personally. I strived to listen and not judge. And they each shared that they were thankful I called.

The Reality

The reality is this: We will never completely “fix” our problems with humanity on this side of eternity. Sin will always exist until the end of time. Humanity will wage war against one another. I am broken and saddened by this. But I also do not grieve without hope.

Something that has changed for me is seeing the difference between when my son leaves for a run or bike ride, and when one of my African American friends’ son does the same. It’s different. I am no longer seeing strangers in these brutal videos. I am seeing my brothers and friends. It has become way more personal for me. Yes, it’s harder. But it is necessary.


Maybe you could think of an African American friend or co-worker that you could call? Ask them how they are processing our country’s current events. And then listen. Remember the ministry of presence. Be present with him or her. You don’t have to have the right words. What’s the opposite of judgement? Perhaps it is Curiosity. Be curious rather than defensive. Be open-minded that perhaps your worldview has been flawed. Be humble enough to repent and ask forgiveness from those you have hurt. Yes, it’s hard. But it’s worth it.

For Believers – Pray. Search the Scriptures to see what the Lord says about justice…about creation and life. Be open-minded and ask the Spirit to reveal any offensive way in you and lead you in the way everlasting.

Thank you for reading. And thanks for listening. We are praying for our country and world. We are praying for our people as image-bearers of God. We are trusting that God’s sovereign hand continues to rule and reign. We are committed to being the hands and feet of Christ with humble reliance upon Him as He leads us.

*For financial planning clients of Rivertree Financial Planning: Please contact us as soon as possible if you have had any changes in circumstances, objectives, goals or risk tolerance.

Beware of Predictions

Beware of Predictions

If you are like me, the fatigue of social distancing and sheltering-at-home has come. Although we have had sweet times as a family during these times, I am ready for some (but not all) of the normal to come back. And speaking of normal, what is normal during times of uncertainty are predictions – predictions about the stock market, economy, politics, etc. I know you have seen them, and I have too. What are we to do with so many “expert” opinions? I have some thoughts.

Eventually, They Get It Right

Just this morning I saw this headline: “Expert who predicted the 2008 Great Recession has another prediction.” I bet he or she does! And I bet this person had many more unfilled predictions. Soon after I saw, “Americas         #1 Futurist 2020 Prediction Will Stun You!”

My favorite quote about predictions is this: “If you are going to make predictions, you better make a lot of them!” Eventually, you will get it right. This has been my experience during my time as a financial advisor. You will ALWAYS have someone predicting the sky to fall and never return again. You will ALWAYS have someone predicting the next recession. You will ALWAYS have someone predicting now is the best time to buy gold!

Most likely, these forecasters will eventually get it right. When they do, they can then write a book on just how they knew this bad time was coming. And they can be interviewed on the major networks to share their expertise. When I see this, I often want to ask them: “So what about the 99 predictions you got wrong?” Hold them accountable when they are wrong. But that doesn’t sell advertising as well…

How to Respond

Blocking out the noise is difficult. The voices and headlines surround us. They beg for our attention. So what’s a person to do? Go back to the tried and true financial principles that have guided the wise through turbulent times: Remain calm. Have a plan. Remain diversified (i.e. Don’t put all of your eggs in one basket). Focus on what you can control. Voice the things you can’t control. 

This pandemic will certainly go down as a historic event. The loss of lives is tragic. The uncertainty can be paralyzing. But I’m also amazed and encouraged at the resilience of our people. In the midst of a presidential election year, we are seeing Americans come together for a cause greater than themselves. It’s refreshing. 

In closing, we say “Thank you!” for those on the front lines serving others. We greatly appreciate your sacrifice and service! May we all look for ways to be of encouragement to others. And when we need encouragement, let’s reach out to those who love us. Hearing a voice or seeing a familiar face is good for our souls!

This too shall pass. We hope and pray for your safety and health during this time. Please do not hesitate to contact us.

*For financial planning clients of Rivertree Financial Planning: Please contact us as soon as possible if you have had any changes in circumstances, objectives, goals or risk tolerance.

Reasons to be Hopeful

Reasons to be Hopeful

These are certainly days we will remember – for our generation, and generations to come. The COVID-19 pandemic has rocked our world…literally. We are being tested – our beliefs, our resolve, our plans. “Does it feel different this time?” Yes. It always does. But can we still be hopeful? We can. Here are some thoughts on how. 

Remember Our Past

Black Monday: To say I remember the day October 19, 1987 would not be truthful. I was 7 years old. But I assure you early in my career this day was referenced many times. The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost over 22% value in just one day. This day is referred to as “Black Monday”. And what did most every investor fear? The next Great Depression. Did this occur? No.

Tech Bubble Burst: Now, I do remember where I was on September 11, 2001. I was a college student returning from my morning class. My friends were all gathered around the TV as the Twin Towers were on fire, soon to fall. This occurred right in the middle of the tech bubble bursting. How could we as a nation survive this? We did.

Great Recession: This time period from 2007 to 2009 was…let’s say it…unprecedented. Our country and world had never experienced anything like it. The stock market dropped approximately 57% from top to bottom (we are not there as of this writing). I vividly remember this time as an investor and financial advisor. To be honest fear did reign at times. Could we survive this? We did.

Remain in the Present

We are prone to become emotionally paralyzed in times as these. We digest news and information at a rate our minds and bodies just were not designed to do. How are we to respond? Well, we’d offer this: What can you control? Certainly not the stock or bond market. But how about these:

  • Reduce the amount of news and information taken in each day. Start and/or end each day with silence and solitude. Relax. Meditate. “Be Still, and Know that I am God.” (Psalm 46:10)
  • Revisit your overall financial plan. Are you still on track? If not, what adjustments can you make? Reduce withdrawals; eliminate certain expenses; and rebuild your emergency fund to name a few.
  • Remember what you are invested in – stocks and bonds of companies. Although it can feel like your monthly or quarterly statements are just paper, they actually represent the ownership you have in companies or debt and interest owed to you (bonds). Question: Do you believe that the overall values of these assets will be higher in 1-5 years? If so, then remaining invested with goals in mind is prudent. 

Reassure Your Future

“Cash is king,” my old boss Dave Ramsey still says. No doubt – in this economy, cash is king, whether as an emergency fund or an investment opportunity. Maintaining a healthy cash position is critical to weather these storms. 

But here is the sobering reality: We all know our time on earth is limited. “Death and taxes”, right? They’re unavoidable. But what is your ultimate treasure? Hopefully, it’s not cash in the bank, under the mattress or buried in the ground. That paper is only as valuable as the country backing it. 

Now do we believe that our USA currency is heading that direction? No. But is this a “gut check” time on what we ultimately value? Yes.

Is your future secure? Ponder this as we weather this storm.

As a Christian, it’s a great time to meditate on the truths of Scripture.

Psalm 78 says, “Give ear, O my people, to my teaching; incline your ears to the words of my mouth! I will open my mouth in a parable; I will utter dark sayings from of old, things that we have heard and know, that our fathers have told us. We will not hide them from their children, but tell to the coming generation the glorious deeds of the Lord, and his might, and the wonders that he has done.” (v. 1-4)

We are here for our clients and will remain in close contact. Reach out to us anytime.

*For financial planning clients of Rivertree Financial Planning: Please contact us as soon as possible if you have had any changes in circumstances, objectives, goals or risk tolerance.