Sometimes, one of the best things we can do for clients is stay out of the office.
That’s when we have the opportunity to explore new ideas, meet with ground-breaking investment thinkers, compare notes with colleagues and peers from all across the country, and discuss how to apply the latest in investment research and techniques to client portfolios.
For example, tonight I’m in Washington D.C. at the Schwab 2013 Impact conference, a four-day gathering of almost 2,000 investment advisors, the country’s most prominent investment strategists and opinion-leaders, and over 300 exhibitors representing the nation’s premier investment, software and research institutions.
As described by sponsor Charles Schwab & Company, “IMPACT is an invitation-only conference where registered investment advisors come together with influential presenters, exhibitors, and subject-matter experts to learn about and collaborate on key industry issues and best practices.”
Over the past few days, we’ve been briefed by Olympia Snowe, Former Republican senator from Maine; Leon Panetta, Former U.S. Secretary of Defense, Director of the CIA, and White House Chief of Staff; innovative business writer Daniel Pink; Schwab Chief Investment strategist Liz Ann Sonders; and Michael Lewis, author and journalist (“Moneyball” and “The Blind Side”).
We’ve shared ideas about why there are still so few women in financial services, how to improve the way we design the international stock portion of portfolios, what we think about market valuations (Sonders calls the market “cheap”, while asset allocation guru Rob Arnott says the best opportunities are outside U.S. borders), and what can be done to solve the gridlock in Washington. By the way, Washington veterans Snowe and Panetta both had harsh words for Congress. As Panetta (in photo above) said tonight:
“I’ve been in public service for over 50 years and I’ve never seen Washington as dysfunctional and partisan as it is today.”
So what’s the takeaway?
The outlook on Washington is definitely bearish. Snowe and Panetta say Congress’ focus is on getting reelected, not working together to solve problems. The outlook on the market? Cautiously bullish, as world economies continue to recover, tax revenues are up, the Fed remains dovish (“don’t fight the Fed”), and America’s manufacturing sector picks up steam.