Do NCAA Tournament Winners Predict Market Returns?

If you’re a college basketball fan, this is your favorite time of year. March Madness is in full swing. That means a full schedule of games every weekend, buzzer-beating finishes and unbelievable upsets. If you’re like many fans, your bracket is already a mess.

It’s nearly impossible to predict the outcome of the NCAA Tournament. According to a Duke University professor, the odds of predicting a perfect bracket are 1 in 2.4 trillion.1 Even getting the Final Four correct can be difficult: In last year’s Capital One Bracket Challenge, only 54 entries had the Final Four teams correct.2

It may also feel like it’s impossible to predict the movement of the financial markets. The major indexes can swing in any direction on any given day, influenced by an infinite number of events and updates from around the world. In the short term, it’s virtually impossible to predict where the markets are headed.

But can you use the winner of the NCAA Tournament to make a market prediction? Researchers from Schaeffer’s Investment Research recently studied S&P 500 index returns from April to December along with past NCAA Tournament champions to see if there’s any correlation between the two.

The research found that the market has consistently had positive annual returns when the NCAA Tournament champion has come from the Southeastern Conference (SEC). That’s happened 11 times. The S&P 500 has gone on to have a positive return the rest of the year in each of those instances. The median return from April to December when the champion is an SEC team is 9.56 percent.3

The market has also had positive returns at least 75 percent of the time when the champion has come from the ACC, Pac-12 or Big East. The ACC and Pac-12 have produced the most champions, with each conference winning 16 times. During years in which the ACC has won, the market had a positive return 75 percent of the time, with a median return of 9.59 percent. When the Pac-12 wins, the market has been positive 88 percent of the time, with a median return of 8.91 percent.3

When does the S&P 500 have a negative return from April to December? When the NCAA Tournament winner comes from the Big Ten Conference. In those years, the market has been positive only 36 percent of the time, with a median return of -4.76 percent.3

Coincidence Isn’t the Same Thing as Correlation

Of course, just because these patterns exist doesn’t mean there’s an actual correlation between the tournament winner and the returns of the market. There’s no factor tying the championship outcome to the S&P 500, so these patterns are entirely coincidental. They shouldn’t be used to try to make any kind of market predictions.

If you want to stabilize your investment performance and reduce volatility, there are other steps you can take besides relying on the outcome of a basketball tournament. Below are a few steps to consider:

Review your allocation. As you get older and approach retirement, it’s natural to become less tolerant of risk. You may not be able to stomach the ups and downs of the market like you used to. That’s understandable. After all, you’ll need to rely on those savings for income in the near future.

Now could be a good time to review your allocation with your financial professional. It’s possible that your current allocation isn’t right for your goals, needs and risk tolerance.

Rebalance. The market moves up and down, but not all asset classes move in the same direction at the same time. As some asset classes increase in value, others decline. That means your actual allocation is always in a state of flux. Over time, it may become far different than your desired allocation.

It’s helpful to regularly rebalance your portfolio so it always adjusts back to your target allocation. When you rebalance, you sell some of the assets that have increased in value and buy those that have declined. That can help you lock in gains and stay aligned with your desired strategy.

Use an annuity. An annuity can be an effective tool to potentially increase your assets but also limit downside risk. For example, a fixed indexed annuity pays an interest rate based on the performance of an index, like the S&P 500. The better the index performs over a defined period, the higher your rate. If it performs poorly, you may get little or no interest. However…

In a fixed indexed annuity, your principal is guaranteed*. There’s no risk of loss due to market performance. That means you get upside potential without the volatility.

Want to take steps to make your portfolio less volatile? Don’t look toward coincidental trends. Instead, implement a thoughtful strategy. Contact us today at Sage Financial Partners. We can help you review your portfolio and find areas for improvement. Let’s connect soon and start the conversation.

1https://ftw.usatoday.com/2015/03/duke-math-professor-says-odds-of-a-perfect-bracket-are-one-in-2-4-trillion

2https://www.ncaa.com/news/basketball-men/bracketiq/2018-03-26/54-ncaa-brackets-correctly-predicted-final-four

3https://www.schaeffersresearch.com/content/analysis/2017/03/23/march-madness-indicator-why-the-stock-market-should-root-for-kentucky

*Guarantees, including optional benefits, are backed by the claims-paying ability of the issuer, and may contain limitations, including surrender charges, which may affect policy values.

Licensed Insurance Professional. This information is designed to provide a general overview with regard to the subject matter covered and is not state specific. The statements and opinions expressed are those of the author and are subject to change at any time. All information is believed to be from reliable sources; however, no representation is made as to its completeness or accuracy. This material has been prepared for informational and educational purposes only. It is not intended to provide, and should not be relied upon for, accounting, legal, tax or investment advice, or specific advice for your situation. This information has been provided by a Licensed Insurance Professional and is not sponsored or endorsed by the Social Security Administration or any government agency.

18583 – 2019/2/27

4 Tax Tips to Consider for 2019

The deadline for filing your 2018 tax return is right around the corner. Have you filed your return yet? If so, were you satisfied with the outcome? Or were you surprised by how much you paid in taxes last year?

The recent tax law dramatically changed the tax code. For many Americans, the law means reduced taxes. If you don’t plan properly, however, it’s possible that you could owe money to the IRS after your filing. It’s also possible that you could pay more in taxes than necessary.

Now is a great time to review your strategy and identify action steps that could reduce your tax exposure. If you haven’t reviewed your financial plan recently, you may be missing out on a number of tax-efficient tools and strategies. Below are a few tips to consider as you prepare your taxes:

Review your deductions.

One of the biggest changes of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act is the elimination and reduction of a wide range of deductions. Most itemized deductions were eliminated, including those for alimony payments and interest on many types of home equity loans. Caps were also implemented for state, local and property tax deductions. The law also eliminated personal exemptions.1

To make up for these changes, the law more than doubled the standard deduction.1 For many people, that means it will be more advantageous to take the standard deduction than to itemize deductions. If you’ve planned your spending based on the ability to itemize and deduct certain expenses, you may want to reconsider your strategy. Those deductions may no longer be allowed under the new law.

Check your withholding amount.

The law also reduced tax rates across the board and changed the income brackets for each rate level. As a result, many employers adjusted their withholding amounts. Not all did, however. And some may have adjusted their withholdings incorrectly.

In fact, according to a study from the Government Accountability Office, 30 million people, or just over 20 percent of taxpayers, are not withholding enough money from their paychecks to cover taxes.2 Are you part of that group? If you’re not sure, talk to your tax professional about whether you should increase your withholdings.

Maximize your tax-deferred savings.

Tax deferral is a great way to reduce current taxes and save for the future. In a tax-deferred account, you don’t pay taxes on growth in the current year as long as your money stays in the account. You may face taxes in the future when you take a distribution.

Many qualified retirement accounts, such as 401(k) plans and IRAs, offer tax-deferred growth. In 2019 you can contribute up to $19,000 to your 401(k), plus an additional $6,000 if you are age 50 or older. You can put as much as $6,000 into an IRA, or up to $7,000 if you’re 50 or older.3

Want more tax deferral beyond your 401(k) and IRA? Consider a deferred annuity. Annuities offer tax-deferred growth. They also offer a variety of ways to increase your assets. Some pay a fixed interest rate and have no downside risk. Others let you participate in the financial markets according to your risk tolerance and goals. A financial professional can help you find the right annuity for your strategy.

Develop sources of tax-efficient retirement income.

Taxes don’t stop when you quit working. If you’re approaching retirement, now may be the time to plan ahead and minimize your future tax exposure. You can take steps today to create tax-efficient income for your retirement.

For example, distributions from a Roth IRA are tax-free assuming you’re over age 59½. You may want to start contributing to a Roth or even consider converting your traditional IRA into a Roth.

You can also use a permanent life insurance policy as a source of tax-efficient income. You can withdraw your premiums from your life insurance cash value tax-free. Also, loans from life insurance policies are tax-free distributions. You may want to discuss with your financial professional how life insurance could reduce your future taxes in retirement.

Ready to take control of your tax strategy in 2019? Let’s talk about it. Contact us today at Sage Financial Partners. We can help you analyze your needs and implement a plan. Let’s connect soon and start the conversation.

1https://www.thebalance.com/trump-s-tax-plan-how-it-affects-you-4113968

2https://www.cnbc.com/2018/08/01/30-million-americans-are-not-withholding-enough-pay-for-taxes.html

3https://www.cnbc.com/2018/11/01/heres-how-much-you-can-sock-away-toward-retirement-in-2019.html

Licensed Insurance Professional. This information is designed to provide a general overview with regard to the subject matter covered and is not state specific. The statements and opinions expressed are those of the author and are subject to change at any time. All information is believed to be from reliable sources; however, no representation is made as to its completeness or accuracy. This material has been prepared for informational and educational purposes only. It is not intended to provide, and should not be relied upon for, accounting, legal, tax or investment advice, or specific advice for your situation. This information has been provided by a Licensed Insurance Professional and is not sponsored or endorsed by the Social Security Administration or any government agency.

18582 – 2019/2/27

Volatility on Valentine’s Day: How Couples Can Overcome Disagreements About Investment Risk

Valentine’s Day is supposed to be a day for romance and reconnection. For many couples, however, this time of year could be marked by disagreements about money. Nearly half of all married couples argue about financial issues.1

With the new year just starting and tax season right around the corner, many people use this time to evaluate their spending, earnings and financial performance over the previous year. That analysis could reopen sore spots about money management.

The performance of the financial markets over the past few months could also be a source for disagreement among couples, especially those who have differing investment styles. After starting strong for the first three quarters of the year, the S&P 500 finished with an epic meltdown in the fourth quarter. The index ended the year down 7 percent, the first time in history it’s finished the year negative after being positive for the first three quarters.2

Do you and your spouse disagree about investing styles? Does one of you take a more aggressive stance while the other prefers to play it safe? Below are a few helpful tips on how you and your spouse can meet in the middle and get past your investment-related disagreements:

Draft an investment policy statement.

Many couples disagree about their investment approach because they’ve never developed a formal investment strategy. They generally know they want to save for retirement, but they’ve never discussed their specific objectives or tactics. An investment policy statement does just that.

Your investment policy statement is a written document that states your goals, acceptable risks and the steps you will take to reach your objectives. It outlines which types of investments are appropriate for your strategy and which are not. You can use your investment policy statement as a guide for making future decisions.

The process of developing the investment policy statement could be beneficial for many couples. You’re forced to share your differing opinions and compromise to reach a strategy. Those conversations could help you work out differences and find areas where you agree, which could diffuse future arguments.

Develop a retirement income plan.

Often, arguments are fueled by uncertainty about the future. You’re unsure of when you’ll be able to retire or how much more you need to save, so that heightens your anxiety and sharpens disagreements. You may be able to avoid arguments by eliminating the uncertainty.

Work with your financial professional to develop a retirement income plan. You can project your future retirement income from sources such as Social Security, an employer pension and even your own savings. You can also build a retirement budget to estimate your spending. These two projections should give you an idea of how close you are to reaching your goals, how much more you need to save and how much risk you should take to achieve growth.

Don’t avoid the conversation.

Have you and your spouse agreed to disagree about your differing investment styles? Do you avoid the conversation? Or do you go it alone with your individual accounts so you don’t have to discuss issues that may lead to disagreement?

While you may not want to disagree or argue, it’s also not helpful to avoid the conversation. If you each have differing styles and don’t have a cohesive plan, you could be missing out on opportunity.

For example, assume your spouse is aggressive with his or her investment style and takes on a substantial amount of risk. Perhaps you’re conservative and choose assets that offer little return potential but also have little chance of loss. You may feel that the “go it alone” approach works because you each invest according to your comfort level and you avoid arguments.

By avoiding the conversation, however, you may be missing out on opportunities to meet in the middle and achieve better performance. For example, you could find an allocation that has growth potential and reduced risk. You could use tools such as equity index annuities that offer growth without downside exposure. The only way to find these opportunities is to discuss your differing approaches and look for middle ground.

Work with a professional.

Finally, you may find it helpful to bring in a third party, like a financial professional, who can give objective, impartial feedback and also provide information and analysis that may make it easier to reach agreement. An experienced advisor can also help you develop a retirement strategy and an investment policy statement to guide your decision-making.

Ready to overcome your investment differences with your spouse? Let’s talk about it. Contact Sage Financial Partners. We can help you analyze your needs and implement a plan. Let’s connect soon and start the conversation.

1https://nypost.com/2017/08/03/the-reasons-most-couples-argue-about-money/

2https://www.cnbc.com/2018/12/31/the-sp-500-will-make-history-when-it-ends-the-year-with-a-loss.html

Licensed Insurance Professional. This information is designed to provide a general overview with regard to the subject matter covered and is not state specific. The statements and opinions expressed are those of the author and are subject to change at any time. All information is believed to be from reliable sources; however, no representation is made as to its completeness or accuracy. This material has been prepared for informational and educational purposes only. It is not intended to provide, and should not be relied upon for, accounting, legal, tax or investment advice, or specific advice for your situation. This information has been provided by a Licensed Insurance Professional and is not sponsored or endorsed by the Social Security Administration or any government agency.

18408 – 2019/1/14