Monthly Newsletter
December 2020
At ML&R Wealth Management, we want to ensure our clients are In The Know.

In this month's newsletter, we have a great article about taking comfort in having a great financial plan in a year like 2020. We are continuing our employee spotlight and introducing you to retirement support associate, Kim Matus. As usual, we are sharing helpful COVID-19 resources from our parent company, Maxwell, Locke & Ritter, and relevant investment articles and videos from Dimensional.

We are a firm that understands that managing your assets is about more than money. It is about empowering your future. At ML&R Wealth Management, we focus on you.

As this challenging year comes to a close, it is a good time to look back on an extraordinary and wild ride in the stock market and reflect on one of the main investment principles that we adhere to at ML&R Wealth Management—having an investment plan and sticking to it. At a minimum, a good, long-term investment plan involves having a target portfolio allocation (ex: 60% stocks and 40% bonds) based on your goals, age, and risk tolerance, and letting those targets drive your trading decisions.

One thing we can be happy about as investors this year is that, despite all the economic challenges, the stock market is in pretty good shape. The S&P 500 Index opened the year at 3,231 and closed almost a full year later on Friday, December 16th at 3,701. If you had just woken up from an 11-month hibernation you might think, that’s great! The market is up over 14% year to date! We know of course there was more to this story, with some rather harrowing moments between these two points in time. Students of stock market history would be hard-pressed to find a more pure, textbook example than 2020 of the importance of sticking to your investment plan and not panicking or making rash trading decisions. We were provided with not one, but two major events in an incredibly short timespan that challenged our ability to remain resolute and not abandon our investment plans. The first was an unknown, unplanned event (the coronavirus pandemic); the second was a known, planned event (the election in November). In both cases, despite everything we know about the long-term positive trend of the stock market, even the savviest investors can be excused for having a moment or two of doubts.  

Employee Spotlight

We are excited to spotlight Kim Matus this month! Below are some fun facts to help you get to know her better!
Retirement Support Associate

Birthday: June 16

Tell us about your family:  My husband, Benny, is a 4th-grade teacher in Pflugerville, which fits him since he is like a big kid. He is the best person I know. We have been married for 30 years next June. We have a son, Joe, and his wife who live in Cedar Park. Joe is an IT wiz. We also have a son, Levi, his wife, and our precious and only grandchild, Edith, who is 4 years old, and they live in Nova Scotia Canada. We miss them terribly. Levi is a computer programmer. Our third child is a daughter, Katie, who is graduating from college with the highest honors this May. She'll be a high school teacher. My wonderful mother, Pat, lives with us. We also have two 13-year old Pugs and that is the extent of our family.

Favorite Hobbies? My favorite hobbies are restoring old furniture and fixtures and also watching any horse-related sport, except for horse racing.

If you could visit anywhere in the world you've never been, where would you go? I want to go to Tirana, Albania because we sponsor a teenager there through World Vision. We write letters back and forth monthly and I would really like to meet him and his family. His name is Albin and we chose him to sponsor because Benny's late father's and late brother's names were Albin.

What was your dream job as a kid? I wanted to be a jockey. I grew to be 5'9" so that dream was never realized!

What is your favorite part of working at ML&R? My favorite part of working at ML&R is the amazing partners and co-workers I get to work with. I've never had a job where I feel so valued and so loved.

Financial Wellness Q&A
In this section, we will address common personal finance questions. Email if you have a question you would like answered.

Question: How have international markets performed in 2020, and do you recommend owning international stocks?

Answer: While international stocks have lagged behind US Large stocks this year (MSCI EAFE Index: 4% vs. S&P 500 Index: 14%, year-to-date), we definitely recommend including low-cost, diversified international stock mutual funds as part of your overall, long-term portfolio. Just like with domestic equities, international stocks will have good and bad years, but the long-term trend has been positive, returning on average almost 9% annually for the last 50 years. If you have specific questions about your portfolio allocations, please reach out. We are here to help.

As part of its commitment to supporting wealth management professionals, Dimensional recently surveyed financial advisors to determine the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on their business. Dimensional’s practice management services include annual benchmarking and client feedback surveys.

Many investors view dividend payouts as a reliable source of income. However, those expecting to receive consistent dividend income may have been surprised to see lower-than-expected dividend payouts following the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, when both market volatility and market declines were extraordinary. In reality, recent and historical data show that changes in dividend policy are common, especially during times of higher uncertainty.

As the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to spread in the U.S. and across the world, our priority at Maxwell Locke & Ritter is the safety and well-being of our people, clients, families, and community. We are monitoring daily updates and recommendations from the CDC. Additionally, we are minimizing the impact that COVID-19 could have on our services and are staying abreast of all filing deadline adjustments. We understand that in this time of uncertainty you may have growing concerns for the financial health of yourselves and your businesses, employees and families. We have curated some helpful resources for you and will continue to update this page as new information and updates occur.

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At ML&R Wealth Management, we take investing personally. Your ML&R Wealth Management advisor will work to develop a lasting relationship with you, keeping in touch to understand your changing goals and to provide an asset management strategy to help achieve them. Whenever you need sound financial advice, you have a direct line to a trusted advisor.

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