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What is an inverted yield curve and why does it matter?

If you have been tuned-in to the financial press recently, you will have noticed a great deal of attention surrounding the concept of an inverted yield curve.  Why all the excitement and alarm?  While the topic can be quite complex, here is a quick primer. The Yield Curve:  This is an important metric to economists.  It is a simple graph that plots the yields of U.S. Treasury obligations of all different maturities.  Remember, Treasuries (bills, notes and bonds) are debt instruments issued by the US Government; it’s how they borrow money.  The Treasury’s “maturity” describes how long before the bond is repaid and ranges from 1 month to 30 years.  The vertical axis of the graph measures the % yield paid by the bond.  The horizontal axis measures the length of all the maturities. Normal Yield Curve:  Under normal conditions, the curve created by plotting the points on the graph is upward sloping.  It indicates that interest rates increase with each longer maturity.  At the most basic...

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New Southtowns Office Open

PRESS RELEASE Hamburg, NY: Level Financial Advisors, an Amherst-based, fee-only financial planning and investment management firm, announced today the opening of a satellite office in Hamburg, NY.  The new office, located at 4535 Southwestern Boulevard, Suite 710A, officially opened on Monday. The office is designed to offer meeting space for existing clients and potential new clients, which are typically people on the cusp of retirement. The firm’s existing advisors will use the office for these meetings as new appointments are scheduled. A senior advisor will also use the space as a permanent base for ongoing activity. “We think there is tremendous untapped opportunity to help individuals and businesses located in Hamburg, Orchard Park, East Aurora and beyond from this new location,” stated Level’s Chief Operating Officer and partner, Mike Heburn.  “We are very excited to join the Hamburg community.” The company hopes to grow the new location into a fully-staffed office of multiple advisors, while maintaining its operations and executive offices in Amherst.  As part of its strategic growth plan,...

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Investing Is Like Poker, Not Chess

Investing is like Chess, not Poker.

The former World Series of Poker champion, and now corporate consultant, Annie Duke, has written a wonderful book on decision making titled “Thinking in Bets, Making Smarter Decisions When You Don’t Have All The Facts.” The book opens with a story that many football fans have said is the worst play call in Super Bowl history. For those that may not remember, the Seattle Seahawks were down by 4 points with 26 seconds left in the game with the ball on the one-yard line. The head coach of the Seattle Seahawks, Pete Carroll, called a pass play instead of handing off the ball to one of the best running backs in the NFL. The pass was intercepted and the New England Patriots won the Super Bowl. When the details of the situation are clearly discussed in the book -- the number of downs and time outs left, along with the fact that not one of the sixty-six passes attempted from the one-yard line...

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Secure Act: What You Need to Know

It appears that concern over the retirement readiness of American workers has reached a point where both Houses of Congress are poised to pass new legislation with broad bipartisan support.  The House version of the legislation is called the SECURE Act and has twenty-six individual components impacting either an employer’s ability to offer retirement benefits to its employees or an employee’s ability to save more easily and effectively for retirement.  Here is a quick summary of the more impactful provisions: Employer related: Multiple-Employer Plans (MEP’s)- Small employers are often discouraged from offering retirement plans due to the corresponding cost and administrative burden.  The SECURE Act expands on previous efforts to allow small employers to band together to form Multiple-Employer Plans thereby sharing costs and admin duties.  The act broadens and liberalizes the rules allowing small firms that do not share a common geographic area, trade, industry, or profession to join the...

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Trade War Worries Strike Again

The trade war with China reared its ugly head again this month as the President announced a tariff increase from 10% to 25% on $200 billion of goods while also threatening 25% tariffs on an additional $325 billion of Chinese imports.  Beijing retaliated with a threat to raise tariffs from 10% to 25% on $60 billion of U.S. goods on June 1st. Unsurprisingly, the stock market did not like this new development. The global stock market has dropped approximately 4.5% since the announcement of increased tariffs. Throughout the first quarter, the stock market rallied on news of progress towards an agreement, with an estimate at one point of a trade deal structure that was 90% done.  The U.S. claims China is trying to renegotiate aspects of the deal they previously agreed to. The bond market has subsequently rallied as the U.S. 10-year treasury yield dropped from 2.54% down to 2.32% (bond values...

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Level Employees Once Again Give Back to United Way

Once again we are proud to donate to the United Way Community Baby Shower!  Our conference room was full of diapers, baby toys, and other essentials for the annual campaign!  The  event is a community-wide effort to collect essential baby items that will help at-risk mothers to give their newborns a stronger start, giving them supplies and support needed for a healthy beginning.  Level is a proud sponsor of the United Way of Buffalo & Erie County...

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Level Reaches Another Assets Milestone

PRESS RELEASE Amherst, NY: Level Financial Advisors, an Amherst-based fee-only financial planning and investment management firm, announced today that its assets under management have surpassed $400 million. The firm, with six CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ practitioners, was recently ranked as one of the top 500 RIA firms in the nation by Financial Advisor Magazine, surpassing $300 million in assets in late 2016. "This is a real testament to the faith and trust the Western New York community has put in us. We appreciate that trust and look forward to continuing to help people navigate the financial maze that is retirement," said Steven Elwell, CFP®, the firm’s Chief Investment Officer and partner. Along with the addition of new clients and deposits from existing clients, Level recently acquired Williamsville-based Angelucci Wealth Management, aiding in its growth. The company intends to continue its growth by expanding its WNY foot-print this year. The firm has scheduled a July opening of a satellite...

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