Investing & Economy

Withstanding Market Volatility

Sleep on it

The Chicago Board of Trade revolutionized investing in 1993 with the introduction of its Volatility Index® (VIX® Index). It was the first benchmark index to measure the market’s expectation of future volatility and is now widely recognized as the world’s primary gauge of U.S. stock market volatility. Markets are subject to so many gyrations it’s no wonder the VIX became commonly known as the fear index.

Indeed, wild swings in the VIX has caused many an investor to have a sleepless night.

cici teamBut for clients of Newtown, PA-based GWH Wealth Advisors LLP, there’s help for any bouts of investment insomnia. In fact, Michael Cice, CRPC®, MRFC® and senior partner at GWH Wealth Advisors, LLP, refers to his clients’ ability to withstand market volatility as their sleep factor.

“That may be oversimplifying it, but what we do is help them find a way to sleep at night,” he told Advisors Magazine in a recent interview. “Because what I think might be a good investment for me, if they can’t sleep at night worrying about what their money is doing, then it’s not the right investment for them.”

To provide clients with peace of mind, Cice and his team first determine point A — or where a client is right now. Point B is where that client wants to be in three, five, or 10 years from point A. The advisors then set a course, or the right road for that client to get there.

“We operate a client-centric service, and we place a significant emphasis on the client or his or her family and legacy interests,” Cice said. “We maintain a long-term view toward retirement planning and take on a basically holistic approach to the markets.”

Teamwork is vital at GWH Wealth Advisors, and Cice stressed that the firm’s core philosophy is built upon honesty, integrity and a commitment to serving the best interests of clients and handling every facet of the planning process.

“Being part of a CPA firm — an accounting firm — we don’t set investment minimums because basically we’ll reach out and do whatever is necessary for the clients of the CPA firm as well,” Cice said. “That could be as small as helping them set up an IRA during tax season, or setting up a SEP for individual business owners, or whatever.”

Cice started working in the financial services industry part time as a junior and senior in college. Almost 40 years later, he rebranded his company as GWH Wealth Advisors on January 1, 2020.

cici quoteHe knows well many of the financial literacy statistics from the National Endowment for Financial Education (NEFE.org), such as Americans holding a total of $1 trillion in credit card debt and that only 32 percent of U.S. families maintain a household budget.

“We use financial literacy and education as tools for empowerment, even understanding simple concepts such as cost averaging or compound interest, and taxes which can a make a big difference to financial outcomes,” Cice explained. “This can be at home, with the children, and having a meaningful discussion at the family dinner table. We believe starting early and fostering a key sense of how money works and how to avoid costly mistakes later in life.”

The majority of GWH Wealth Advisors’ business is focused on tax-efficient retirement planning and distribution. The firm works to ensure not only that the dollars are accumulating in the most tax-efficient manner, but that distribution scenarios are defined to get the most out of current tax laws – and then transfer those assets to the next generation in the most tax-efficient manner.

Different generations also have different levels of financial understanding. According to NEFE.org, millennial Americans have a median emergency savings of just $2,000, and only 24 percent of millennials demonstrate basic financial literacy.

Which is why Cice sees room for internet-based investment platforms, mobile apps and other tech-driven robo-advisors.

“I think that anything that increases financial literacy and education is certainly a tool,” he said, with a nod to the allure of robo-advisors. “As for the gaming nature of some of the platforms, I understand the intent behind the strategy is to attract younger investors and make investing more accessible,” Cice explained. “For some it may even seem far more enjoyable than to sit down in an office and discuss serious long-term investment planning. But my hope is that investors, younger folks in particular, will not allow graphics and special effects on these websites to keep them away from the serious nature of what they’re doing.”

He and the GWH Wealth Advisors team maintain that’s why it’s vital to establish a meaningful relationship with a trusted and capable financial services professional.

Client workRobo-advisors can have initial appeal, Cice agreed, but that doesn’t approach the benefit of having a financial professional — someone with a deep understanding of a person’s specific needs, goals and objectives in their corner to advise them through life’s many peaks and valleys, and the markets’ many peaks and valleys, which is all critical to long- term success.

Whether young investors or more experienced, all should be highly fee conscious, according to Cice who’s a big proponent of industry change in the transparency arena.

“I think people need to better understand what investments they have, how they work, what it’s costing them and what it’s going to do for them,” he said. “Also, at what point are they going to change that investment?”

Cice is quick to acknowledge that no single investment is going to last a lifetime. He said mixing things up is good and there needs to be change. Clients should consider: once a goal or objective is achieved, what’s next? GWH Wealth Advisors helps every client to answer what’s next, Cice summarized — and selecting the proper investments at the right times allows them to better sleep at night.

For more information on GWH Wealth Advisors, LLP, visit: gwhwealth.com

 

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