Total Return = Income + Growth
When investing for Income, "Total Return" stems from two components: Income PLUS Growth (Total Return = Income + Growth). It's important to understand that the "Income" portion of Total Return comes in the form of both interest and dividends, while growth is simply measured in terms of capital appreciation. Many investors believe that increasing income requires taking on more risk, and here’s why that's wrong. When you invest for Income (I) instead of Growth (G), you’re typically investing your money in investment vehicles designed to significantly reduce volatility. Let's face it, the G (Growth) can quickly turn into an L (Loss) when the stock market suffers a major downturn like the ones that began in 2000 and again in 2007. This isn't to say you must sacrifice growth when you shift your focus to income, you can continue to grow your portfolio organically, by strategically reinvesting the income you don’t need into other more conservative vehicles.
Many people are also under the wrong impression that they can only get a 3% return from their fixed-income portfolios and are often quite shocked when they find out that they can earn much more than that.
Actually, from 2000 through the end of 2017, the S&P 500 provided investors an average annualized return of 5.26%. Meanwhile, investors holding investment-grade corporate bonds during that period could have yielded 5% or more just from the income component alone1. Any growth on top of that was simply icing on the cake. All this with much less stress and volatility than the stock market alternative.
With many economists fearing that the stock market is currently overvalued and that another major correction could be around the corner, income-based investors, whose portfolios have been properly managed, can take comfort in knowing that they can earn much more than 3% income from their retirement savings on an annual basis. More importantly, they can do it without enduring the stress and uncertainty that a pending stock market correction could bring.
Visit the Retirement Income Store to find a local Income Specialist, registered with Sound Income Strategies, who can help lower your exposure to stock market risk and help you establish renewable streams income you can count on well into retirement.
Sources: 1. Bloomberg data
5 Things That Set Our Income Specialists Apart from Typical Stock Market Based Financial AdvisorsHave you ever met anyone who’s both an orthopedic surgeon and a chiropractor? Probably not, they’re either one or the other. It’s the same in the financial services industry, advisors typically specialize in either the stock market or the bond market, but seldom both.
The reason, most financial advisors today got into the business during the 1980’s and 90’s, during what was the best stock market in U.S. history. So, their so-called area of “expertise” became the stock market, not the bond market. And frankly, if they do fixed income, it’s usually an afterthought and most will simply use Bond Mutual Funds.
The problem with bond mutual funds is that they have risks and tax implications that can be reduced by simply investing in a diversified portfolio of individual bonds, or other fixed income securities.
1. True Income Specialists Invest Their Clients’ Money in Individual Bonds and Bond Like Instruments, Rather Than Bond Mutual FundsAt Sound Income Strategies, we don’t take shortcuts. Our team possess the specialized training required to avoid costly mistakes, and effectively create customized portfolios of actively managed individual fixed-income securities on behalf of our clients.
When you buy an individual bond, you have a contract with a borrower. Naturally, that contract is only as good as the credit worthiness of the borrower. It states you’ll get a fixed rate of interest for the life of the bond, and when the bond matures, you have a guarantee from the borrower to repay your principal at maturity. But when you buy a bond mutual fund, neither such guarantee exists.
2. True Income Specialists Look Beyond the Moody’s and Standard & Poor’s Ratings and Actually Conduct Their Own ResearchIf advisors are smart enough to invest in individual bonds instead of bond funds, the next question is do they look beyond the Moody's and Standard & Poor's rating of the bond?
We learned during the Financial Crisis of 2007-2009, that all those AAA rated Mortgage bonds that were about to default had ratings attached to them from these ratings agencies that were far too generous. Advisors who specialize in individual fixed income securities know they need to look beyond those ratings and research the actual financials and management of the issuers themselves.
3. True Income Specialists Use Limit Orders to Purchase Income Generating SecuritiesLet's say an advisor passes the first two tests: they don’t use bond funds and they look beyond the ratings. The next question becomes, is the advisor following a stock broker mentality and simply buying these securities at current market prices without the use of Limit Orders? Most advisors don’t use Limit Orders, they purchase at current market prices, which means if the prices of the income generating securities in question are up that day, their clients could be overpaying.
4. True Income Specialists Spend The Time and Resources to Go Directly to Buyers And Sellers to Negotiate The Best Prices for Their ClientsFurthermore, to buy individual fixed income securities, every broker or investment advisor must have a clearing house such as Charles Schwab, TD Ameritrade, or Fidelity. When you’re buying stocks and stock mutual funds, the commissions and/or trading fees are required to be 100% transparent. The underlying issue with bonds, is that the clearing houses don’t have to disclose to the client, broker, or investment advisor how much extra they’re tacking on to the price of the bonds their retail clients are buying.
Advisors that specialize in individual fixed income securities know this and invest heavily in technology and research to find out who is buying and selling various fixed income securities at any given time. This knowledge then gives the advisor the ability to go directly to the buyer or seller, and negotiate a better price, almost on a wholesale basis, for their clients.
5. True Income Specialists Actively Managing Their Clients’ Portfolios of Fixed Income SecuritiesIn the rare case an advisor passes the first four tests, It’s almost inevitable they’ll fail the final test, which is whether they are actively managing their clients’ fixed income securities. The few advisors who buy individual bonds and bond like instruments, typically make the mistake of taking a “buy and hold approach”.
Between the years of 1981 through 2014, interest rates were generally decreasing, which meant bonds had a tailwind that pushed their prices up, so “buy and hold” worked fine. But, in 2015, this downward trend reversed for the first time in 33 years1. Those tailwinds officially turned into headwinds, and the best way to manage fixed income securities in a rising interest rate environment, is to constantly strive to be in the highest yielding fixed income security in any given class.
True fixed income specialists know this, and they proactively swap their clients’ bonds to get higher yields. Now, they might be swapping these bonds to get a higher current yield today, or they might be swapping these bonds to get a higher yield in the future by getting a better purchase price today. Or, they could be swapping these bonds defensively to get a more secure bond with a higher rating, or a shorter-term bond.
While most Registered Investment Advisory firms take shortcuts to simplify their efforts, our management team is diligent in their research, and we seek to build customized portfolios that fit the needs of our clients through the use of actively managed fixed income securities. We concentrate our efforts on helping Baby Boomers look forward to retirement with excitement, feeling a sense of stability, and most importantly, reliable income.
Sources: 1. Bloomberg data
Dividend Stock Portfolio
In addition to our fixed-income investment strategies that rely on bonds and other bond-like instruments to offer our clients steady streams of income, our investment team offers common stock strategies for those with the willingness and ability to endure some level of stock market volatility.
We can create a portfolio of equities consisting of high-yield, dividend-paying value stocks. The equities that make the cut will tend to have low price to earnings (PE) ratios and high dividend yields.
Dividend stocks offer the benefit of current income as well as the potential for growth. In theory, if the market experiences a bad year or two, you should have less downside since you’re buying undervalued stocks. Plus, the higher-yielding dividends you receive on a regular basis can help take the sting out of potential market drops.
Enhanced Equity Research
Value companies typically pay higher dividends and tend to be mature organizations that are highly profitable, but might have fewer internal growth opportunities than their counterparts. Therefore, they generally prefer to pay a higher percentage of their profits out in the form of dividends. They also generally have lower P/E ratios, thus the name “value stocks.”
The challenge is that these mature companies often ride the knife’s edge between the mature and declining business/industry stages.
However, keep in mind that no company can stay mature forever. Eventually a competitor will come along and knock it off its perch. For example, companies like Woolworths, Bradlees, and Caldor were all once market leaders, until they were replaced by Sears, Kmart, and J.C. Penney. Then those companies were replaced by Target, Marshall’s, and Walmart, who now run the risk of being replaced by Amazon.
So, when a value investor goes through their criteria of trying to decide which stock represents a good value, they must ride that knife’s edge between dividend-paying companies that are at the beginning of the mature stage versus those on the tail end and on their way out. This is one of the most challenging dichotomies for a value-based stock analyst.
Sometimes a stock will appear to be “cheap” and boast a high dividend percentage, but it’s only because the price of its shares has dropped. It could be at the tail end of its mature stage, where it may eventually have to cut dividends as the price per share drops. Analysts refer to this as a “value trap”.
There’s a lot that goes into determining if a dividend-paying stock represents a true value, but typically one is looking for a company in the early part of its mature stage, with hidden drivers for potential business growth that other analysts aren’t factoring into the price. One of the most common drivers is takeover potential.
There’s extensive research and discussion that must take place in order to become a good dividend-oriented value investor. It starts with spending the time to analyze all the quantitative information that’s publicly available about that company, as you’d expect. However, that’s where most analysts stop. For our analysts and portfolio managers, though, that’s where the real research begins.
Next, they will speak with different analysts to get different opinions about that company and its industry. Then, they create a list of questions about the way that company does business, including its competition and competitive advantages so they can contact investor relations and get answers to those questions. Only after they’ve taken all these steps does our investment team decide whether we should make a high dividend-paying stock part of our portfolio.
Most Advisors Don’t Have The Time or Resources To Get It Right
Many of today’s advisors will just take the easy way out and invest client money in mutual funds. That is where Sound Income Strategies can help you invest for income the right way. Our active management of individual income-generating investments can help better preserve your savings so you can use it as a renewable source of income in retirement.
After the Stock Market plunged by nearly 50% in 2000-2003, and then again by nearly 60% from 2007-2009, many investors, particularly Baby Boomers, realized they needed a new approach to saving and investing for retirement. Unfortunately, despite these dramatic drops, many financial advisors and stock brokers were still advocating old stock market-based investment strategies, or they would just take the easy way out and invest their clients’ hard-earned money in bond funds.
Investing in individual fixed-income securities was merely an afterthought for most advisors because they lacked the specialized training required to effectively implement and manage individual fixed-income strategies.
Sound Income Strategies, founded by David Scranton, is a Fort Lauderdale based Registered Investment Advisory (RIA) firm that differs from most other RIAs due to our fundamental experience in the “universe” of income-generating savings and investment strategies. Sought out to share his insights on CNBC, Bloomberg, Fox Business and other financial outlets, David recognized the need to “stop following the crowd” and changed his business model to one he felt would better serve his clients and help protect their portfolios in the decades ahead.
David Scranton, and his team of Income Specialists, registered with Sound Income Strategies, who specialize in income-generating strategies, help our clients build more secure and dependable retirement plans through the active management of individual bonds, preferred stocks, and other bond like investments.
With the potential for another major stock market correction in the coming years being a concern for many economists and investors, Baby Boomers need to understand that the onus is on them, more than ever before, to better protect their assets and prepare financially for retirement.
For most, traditional, employer-based pensions no longer exist, and in the wake of two major stock market drops since the year 2000, many have learned that the responsibility falls on them to help protect their assets and prepare financially for retirement.
With that in mind, we work with all clients to make sure they have the best possible investment strategies that are tailored to meet their goals—placing a priority on financial self-defense and generating ongoing income for retirement.
We understand that no investment option is without some degree of risk. But, the amount of risk you can afford to take with your investments differs drastically depending on numerous factors, including your age, cumulative assets, income needs, and retirement goals.
And, as you know, too much risk can be especially costly in the 10 years immediately before and after retirement, as many unfortunate investors learned when the stock market plunged by nearly 50% from January of 2000 to March of 2003 and by more than 50% from October of 2007 to March of 2009. In each instance, it took six or seven years for the stock market to rebound to its previous peak, forcing many retirees and near-retirees who got caught in the downdraft to either postpone retirement or return to work.
Sound Income Strategies works with each client to conduct a thorough portfolio risk analysis. We help our clients avoid unnecessary risk and incorporate “defensive” financial strategies that help protect their retirement savings against damaging losses. At the same time, our active-management approach can help you maximize income and growth opportunities to better ensure the achievement of your long-term financial goals.
Click here to find a local Income Specialist, registered with Sound Income Strategies, who can help lower your exposure to stock market risk and help you establish renewable streams income you can count on well into retirement.
David J. Scranton
One of the nation’s most successful independent financial advisors, with more than 30 years of experience, David has specialized in income generating investments for the past 20 years. Prior to that, he followed a typical business model focused on stock market-based investments. However, in 1999, while many on Wall Street believed the sky was the limit for stock market investors, David’s knowledge of history led him to believe something different.
It was at this time that David made the change to a business model focused on income generating investment options. As a result, David was able to help many of his clients avoid damaging losses during the two major market corrections we’ve experienced since the turn of the century.
Frequently invited to appear on CNBC, Bloomberg, and Fox Business, David Scranton is also the host of his own national TV show, The Income Generation, with new videos every Sunday on YouTube at 10am EST.
Chief Operating Officer
In 2014, Dave and Steve worked together to create Sound Income Strategies (SIS), an SEC-registered Investment Advisory Firm specializing in Fixed Income investing. Within 5 short years (2019), SIS has grown from zero to over $1 billion in Assets Under Management.
In 2018, Advisors’ Academy officially moved its HQ to Ft. Lauderdale, FL, where SIS was already headquartered. Steve decided that, in order to ensure that both companies kept up their standards of excellence as they grew, he needed to be “hands on”, so he moved from his home state of Connecticut to Florida and took on the role of Chief Operating Officer for Sound Income Strategies.
Steve is constantly striving to streamline operations and improve the experience their customers have at both companies. Steve brings his 30 years of business experience, combined with his familiarity of the Income Model that both AA and SIS subscribe to, in his efforts to achieve these goals.
In his free time, Steve enjoys golfing, scuba diving, kayaking, fishing at his cabin in Maine, and spending time with his wife, Sandy.
Chief Investment Officer
He was later offered the role of Portfolio Manager/Analyst for Gibraltar Private Bank & Trust. During this time, Eric obtained a Chartered Financial Analyst designation from the CFA Institute. After many years on the “buy side” of the financial industry, Eric had the opportunity to work on the “sell side” at JVB Financial covering institutional and RIA clients for fixed-income securities.
Eric helps lead the investment strategy at Sound Income Strategies and works closely with David to ensure that our clients are meeting their investment goals while minimizing market turmoil and gyrations. His many years of experience in portfolio management and analysis help the Sound Income Strategies team determine what securities best meet the client’s risk tolerance and return expectations.
Chief Compliance Officer
Co-Chief Investment Officer, CFA, CFP
Eric holds a BA in Economics from Rutgers College, an MBA in Finance and International Business from NYU, and a Graduate Diploma in Financial Strategy from Oxford. He also holds the CFA and CFP designations.
Barry C. Wheeles
Director of Market Development
Barry possesses a strong background in financial analysis and growing national branch office footprints, with an emphasis in leadership, driving sales, recruiting, developing and launching top tier talent, as well as creating and exceeding daily/weekly/annual branch revenue goals.
Barry holds a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration with an emphasis in Finance and Banking from the University of Missouri in Columbia, and a Master’s of Business Administration from Baker University. Barry has also completed the Certified Financial Planner curriculum through the College of Financial Planning.
Barry has historically been a guest speaker on radio, television, podcasts, retail client seminars, and industry conferences. When he is not at work, Barry enjoys spending time with his family, sailing, and touring new locations on his sport bike.
Sound Income Strategies is a Registered Investment Advisory firm specializing in the active management of income-generating portfolios. With our years of industry experience, we focus on maximizing the value of your income portfolio and help you build a retirement plan that delivers dependable income, growth potential, and, most importantly, defense against damaging losses. As a Registered Investment Advisory firm, we honor our fiduciary responsibility. As spelled out in the U.S. Investment Advisers Act of 1940, our goal is to always act and serve in the best interest of our clients.