Global markets have recently been rocked by fears of the Coronavirus outbreak.  Many economists and health organizations are relating the virus to the SARS outbreak from 2003, another highly contagious respiratory infection.  Just for comparison, the chart below shows the beginning of 2003 for the MSCI All Cap World Index and displays the way the infection affected markets at the beginning of the outbreak versus what happened after investors had enough of the selling.  Per the MSCI ALL Cap World Index, markets fell more than 12% at the beginning of the epidemic, and later returned 64% through the end of the year.

MSCI ACWI 01/01/2003 – 12/31/2003 provided by Bloomberg

We are not able to put an exact number on how we expect markets to react in the coming months to the newly spreading virus.  Nor are we able to say for how long similar fears will affect the global economy.  What we do know is history tells us these are both very difficult results to predict.  We also believe there are reasons for investors to remain optimistic.  For one, China has reacted to the outbreak more quickly than it has in the past.  Also, advancements in medicine should relieve a little of the stress brought about by the virus.  Risk velocity is also much higher today than it ever has been, which can cause greater market reaction to events such as the Coronavirus outbreak.  This is especially true when assets are priced as high as they are currently.  We believe a disciplined approach to long-term investing remains and will always remain the proven way to achieve positive investment performance.

To learn more about how Acumen can help you Invest Intentionally®, please contact us.

Grant Allen, Portfolio Analyst

About the Author: Grant Allen is a Portfolio Analyst for Acumen Wealth Advisors in Chattanooga, TN.  Grant holds a Bachelor of Science in Finance-Investments from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga’s Gary Rollin’s College of Business and has successfully passed Level One for the Chartered Financial Analyst® (CFA®) designation.  The CFA® consists of three levels of exams, each requiring a recommended 300+ hours of study, minimum of four years of work experience, and multiple letters of recommendation.  Exams cover Quantitative Methods, Economics, Financial Reporting and Analysis, Portfolio Management, Wealth Planning, and Ethics.


Information used in this commentary was obtained via Bloomberg L.P.

MSCI ACWI (All Country World Index) is a free float-adjusted market capitalization weighted index that is designed to measure the equity market performance of developed and emerging markets.

The opinions expressed in this commentary should not be considered as fact. Information contained herein is not and should not be construed as an offer, solicitation, or recommendation to buy or sell securities. The information has been obtained from sources we believe to be reliable; however, no guarantee is made or implied with respect to its accuracy, timeliness, or completeness.   It is suggested that you consult your financial professional, attorney, or tax advisor with regard to your individual situation. Comments concerning the past performance are not intended to be forward looking and should not be viewed as an indication of future results. Any charts, graphs, and descriptions of investment and market history and performance contained herein are not a representation that such history or performance will continue in the future or that any investment scenario or performance will even be similar to such chart, graph, or description. All indexes are unmanaged, and an individual cannot invest directly in an index. Index returns do not include fees or expenses.

Acumen Wealth Advisors, LLC® is a Registered Investment Adviser. Advisory services are only offered to clients or prospective clients where Acumen Wealth Advisors, LLC® and its representatives are properly licensed or exempt from licensure. Past performance is no guarantee of future returns. Investing involves risk and possible loss of principal capital. No advice may be rendered by Acumen Wealth Advisors, LLC® unless a client service agreement is in place.

One of the most significant pieces of retirement legislation in recent history, the SECURE Act, draws from a wide-array of bipartisan bills and seeks to make it easier for businesses to offer retirement plans, and for individuals to save for retirement.

The legislation was incorporated into Division O of the Further Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2020, which was approved by the House and Senate, is expected to be signed into law by the President.

The legislation includes:

For more information about the SECURE ACT, please visit:

Acumen Wealth Advisors, LLC® is affiliated with RPAG and utilizes their robust retirement plan consulting tools and resources to deliver enhanced value to plan sponsor clients. RPAG™, a wholly owned subsidiary of NFP (NFP Corp.), provides retirement advisors premier technology, systems, training, and resources through its practice management platforms.

This Veterans Day, Acumen Wealth Advisors, is deeply grateful to all the veterans and active duty military for their service.

Charles Schwab said the discount broker’s latest move to zero commissions was a longtime goal to deliver to investors.


“It was sort of the final solution for investors,” the chairman and founder of Charles Schwab told CNBC’s Bob Pisani on the “Halftime Report” on Monday. “We have a great deal for investors. You can buy and sell stocks for no commission.”

As of Monday, the brokerage firm is no longer charging commission fees for U.S. stocks, ETFs and options trades. Last week, Schwab announced it would be slashing its trading commission costs from the previous $4.95 to zero. Brokerage rivals E-Trade, Interactive Brokers and TD Ameritrade all dropped their commission fees in the last two weeks in the latest move in the brokerage fee wars.

“We joined the New York [Stock] Exchange in 1981, many years ago, and so prices then, when we first came on board, we were about half price. We kept coming down every year to now,” Schwab added.

The company, with a market value of about $54.7 billion, is hoping the lost fee revenue will be made up for in other parts of the business, such as fixed income. The stock took a hit after the announcement, though, on fears the change will hit margins.

“We make our money on other relationships — you might want advice, you might want fixed income or things like that — we’ll make a little bit of money there. But commissions on stocks are now free,” said Schwab.

The firm, which holds about $3.72 trillion in client assets, relies on the efficiency of technology for its low fee structure.

“What we try to do is offer things that customers really want, and they definitely want lower prices. So we’ve been a company that’s been involved with that by using technology for many, many years,” Schwab added.

The firm’s founder said consolidation in the retail brokerage industry is a “logical conclusion that will occur.”

Schwab retired as CEO in 2008 but remains chairman and is the largest shareholder.




Read full article by CNBC HERE.

 Acumen’s Weekly Briefing

Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday proved to be important days within the market to economists and analysts.

On Wednesday, the Federal Reserve announced they were lowering the Federal Funds Target rate by 25 basis points.  Chairman Powell said this was a Mid-Cycle policy adjustment and cited low inflation and trade fears as possible threats to the current economic expansion.

One day later, the U.S.  announced it was imposing a 10% tariff on an additional $300 billion of Chinese goods.  Although negotiations were planned to resume next month, along with another tariff increase, President Trump attributed the announced tariff to China failing to adhere to previously made agreements between the two countries.  The primary two failures were the increase of Chinese purchase of U.S. agricultural products and the halting of fentanyl sales by China to the U.S.

Finally, Friday saw new employment seeming to be unimpressive for the second month in a row.  From headline numbers, the U.S. economy’s employment situation seems to support the idea of a longer expansion ahead with continuously increasing nonfarm payrolls and incredibly low unemployment.  However, a deeper analysis beyond headline numbers show stagnant wage growth and low quality of actual jobs being created, as the number of employees working multiple jobs and part-time jobs continues to increase.

The past three days of data is important, and we will be watchful of a greater chain reaction of weaker economic data and news that could point to a bigger market pullback.   The Fed’s announcement on Wednesday seems to be fully supported by the announcements and data which followed on Thursday and Friday.  Friday’s employment data could be viewed as a result of the trade announcement on Thursday.  The Fed clearly pointed to trade worries as a result of their pivot in monetary policy.  They also alluded to slowing business investment and wage pressures.  The current trade spat has made it very difficult for businesses to forecast demand or make equipment-purchasing decisions with a longer-term horizon.  This spat causes many companies to be more cautious with business investment and wage increases.  We also received data on Friday from the Census Bureau showing Mexico and Canada both edging China out for the largest total goods trading partner to the United States for the first half of 2019.

There seems to be a looming question right now over whether the Fed’s policy change will stunt the impact of the current trade environment, in hopes that progress is soon made before recession worries really seem to sink into headline economic data.  There is hope the policy change by the Fed will mirror what we saw in 1995 and continue the expansion for another four to five years.  This is possible with trade progress, as our economy has not showed heavy signs of weakness other than aspects having been affected by trade.  Either way, it has been proven trade worries will bring an increase of volatility back into the market, as the Dow and the S&P both posted weekly losses.  If global growth continues to slow because of unresolved trade issues, volatility will continue to increase.


Grant Allen and the Acumen Portfolio Management Committee



The opinions expressed in this commentary should not be considered as fact.  Information contained herein is not and should not be construed as an offer, solicitation, or recommendation to buy or sell securities.  The information has been obtained from sources we believe to be reliable; however no guarantee is made or implied with respect to its accuracy, timeliness, or completeness.   It is suggested that you consult your financial professional, attorney, or tax advisor with regard to your individual situation.  Comments concerning the past performance are not intended to be forward looking and should not be viewed as an indication of future results.  Diversification does not protect against loss of principal.

Acumen Wealth Advisors, LLC® is a Registered Investment Adviser.  Advisory services are only offered to clients or prospective clients where Acumen Wealth Advisors, LLC® and its representatives are properly licensed or exempt from licensure.  Past performance is no guarantee of future returns.  Investing involves risk and possible loss of principal capital.  No advice may be rendered by Acumen Wealth Advisors, LLC® unless a client service agreement is in place.

You can now submit a claim for the $700 million Equifax data breach settlement—here’s how

If your information was compromised during the massive 2017 Equifax data breach, you could be entitled to up to $20,000.

On Monday, Equifax agreed to pay nearly $700 million to settle federal and state investigations into how it handled a massive data breach that affected nearly 150 million people.

The settlement includes $425 million to directly help consumers affected by the breach. The restitution fund will start with $300 million dedicated to consumer compensation, with an additional $125 million at the ready if the initial funds run out.

The Federal Trade Commission opened up the online claims process on Wednesday, where affected consumers can file a digital form (or print one out and send it in) to claim some of that settlement. The deadline to submit a claim is January 22, 2020.

The settlement provides a cash payment of up to $20,000. “Go into this with your eyes open,” Charity Lacey, VP of communications at Identity Theft Resource Center, tells CNBC Make It. “Part of this claims process really puts the onus on the consumer to justify that they deserve that.”

Here’s what you need to know before you file.

Are you eligible?

The Equifax data breach was one of the largest in history, with about 56% of Americans affected. Hackers were able to get access to a multitude of consumers’ private information, including names, Social Security numbers, dates of birth, credit card numbers and driver’s license numbers.

You can use this online tool to submit your last name and the last six digits of your Social Security number to see if your information has been compromised.

What does the claim cover?

There are four types of relief you can claim from Equifax under the terms of the settlement:

Credit monitoring: Affected consumers will have the opportunity to receive at least four years of credit-monitoring services through Experian and up to an additional six years of monitoring with Equifax. If you already have credit monitoring in place, you can request a $125 cash payment.

Time loss: Consumers can submit claims for any time they had to spend dealing with data breach — $25 per hour, up to 20 hours, according to the FTC. The claims form notes that if you claim 10 hours or less of compensation, you’ll need to write out the actions you took and an estimate of the time you spent on each task. If you claim over 10 hours, you need to submit supporting documents “showing fraud, identity theft, or other misuse of your personal information.”

Monetary loss: Consumers will be able to claim up to $20,000 for any losses or fraud that were the results of the breach or any out-of-pocket expenses they may have incurred, such as paying to freeze and unfreeze their credit reports. You’ll need to attach supporting documents, such as receipts, to show how much money you spent.

Partial reimbursement for Equifax credit monitoring: If you paid for Equifax credit monitoring or identity theft protection subscription from September 7, 2016 to September 7, 2017, you can be reimbursed for up to 25% of your subscription payment.

What should you claim?

Submitting a claim can be “overwhelming,” so take it slow, Lacey says. At the very least, you should claim the free credit monitoring for up to 10 years. “There should be no reason whatsoever not to file, especially the basic claim — the credit monitoring — or if you have credit monitoring, the claim for $125,” says Jack Gillis, executive director of the Consumer Federation of America. This is probably what most consumers will file for, Gillis adds.

If you plan to file a claim for time or monetary loss, you’ll want to gather your documentation before you even start filling out the online claims form. Documenting any time or money you spent because of this breach will be crucial to receiving compensation. “If you don’t have good records, you may not be able to see the full benefit of what the settlement is providing,” Lacey says.

When thinking through your potential compensation, cast a wide net, says Allen St. John, a technology and privacy expert with Consumer Reports. “They’re never going to give you more than you ask for,” he tells CNBC Make It. Make sure you include not only the time you spent at the bank, but also your travel time getting to your local branch. “Your time and your money are valuable,” St. John says, so make sure you are properly reimbursed.

Be as clear as possible when submitting information, and keep copies of everything including any documents you submit and also the completed claim form. St. John recommends taking screenshots.

Keep in mind that you can only really claim reimbursement for the time and money you lost — not any future harm or emotional turmoil you may have suffered. “It’s unlikely that many consumers will get the full $20,000 — not only because they won’t be able to find the documentation, but because it didn’t actually cost them $20,000.” Now it may have cost them $100,000 in angst, anxiety, pain and mental stress, but that’s not at issue, Gillis says.

It may also be worth waiting, Lacey says. If you’re in a rush you may forget to include some of the steps you took. Plus, consumers have until November to file objections to the settlement and that may have an impact, she says. “You don’t have to hit ‘submit’ today,” Lacey says.

What happens if you don’t file a claim?

Under the terms of the settlement, there are services that you are entitled to — even if you don’t file an official claim, the FTC says.

The biggest benefit: increased access to free credit reports. Starting next year, you can request up to six additional free credit reports per year from Equifax through 2027. This is in addition to the one free credit report all Americans can request annually from each credit bureau — Equifax, Experian and Transunion.

The settlement also allows anyone whose information was accessed to get free assisted identity restoration service for at least the next seven years. This service will help you fix any fraud or identity theft issues caused by the breach. If you believe you’ve been a victim of fraud caused by the breach, call the settlement administrator at 1-833-759-2982.

Going forward, Lacey says it’s important for consumers to take breach notifications seriously and document what you do in response. The Identity Theft Center’s ID Theft Help app has a case log manager tool that can help you track any actions you take in response to a breach.

“This may be the new norm when it comes to these things,” Lacey says.


Published Thu, Jul 25 2019  8:30 AM EDTUpdated Thu, Jul 25 2019  1:48 PM EDT


Presidential Ideas Festival

The University of Virginia’s Miller Center recognizes understanding the governing challenges of the past can help solve policy solutions for the future.  They have realized each challenge is an opportunity for further exploration and learning.

On May 21–23, 2019, the Miller Center is assembling political insiders, top scholars, and students—future leaders and influencers—for the Presidential Ideas Festival: Democracy in Dialogue.  The three-day event includes working sessions about specific aspects of the presidency.  These sessions will serve as presidential workshops through which participants with different points of view will investigate the issues and emerge with solutions.  It is a unique process encouraging a real-world approach to problem-solving.

We invite you to live stream these sessions online.  Here is a list of the presentations and times for the three days.

The Miller Center

The Miller Center is a nonpartisan affiliate of the University of Virginia specializing in presidential scholarship, public policy, and political history.  It strives to apply the lessons of history and civil discourse to the nation’s most pressing and current governance challenges.  To have a more informed democracy, leaders understand in order to comprehend the present, they must understand the past first.

Every year, the Miller Center brings together Republicans and Democrats, liberals and conservatives, by hosting events with intelligent dialogue among scholars, politicians, journalists and citizens.  These gatherings bring valuable outlooks to discussions on issues and serve as models of respectful conversation.  In the end, our democracy depends on how we talk to each other, and what we do when we disagree.  They “believe that opposing positions can both have merit; that we can investigate questions of fact and discuss questions of opinion; that we can be open to changing our minds; and that our political system benefits from compromise.”

Chattanooga’s Connection to the Miller Center

White Burkett Miller was a lawyer from Tennessee living from 1866 to 1929.  Miller co-founded Burkett, Miller, and Moore in 1906 in Chattanooga, TN with his uncle, T. M. Burkett, and C. C. Moore.  In 1919, he co-founded another law firm with his sons, Burkett and Vaughn.  Upon Linton Martin becoming a partner, the law firm became Miller, Miller and Martin.  Miller and Martin has been a leading law firm in the Southeast with four offices for more than 150 years.

Burkett Miller founded The Miller Center in 1975.  He graduated from the University of Virginia School of Law in 1914 and was a well-known Tennessean.  Burkett Miller established the Miller Center of Public Affairs in memory of his father, White Burkett Miller.


Photo Source: Karen Blaha Flickr

6 Fun Ways to Save As a Family

By Janet Alvarez, 

Meeting financial goals as a family can be challenging. But inspiring your family to help and contribute to a financial goal doesn’t have to be a painful process, especially when the result is an exciting family vacation, a new family car, or college savings. In the spirit of America Saves Week, I’ll share some ideas on how to save as a family for all those items and bucket-list experiences.

1. Gamify It!

In my family, we often make a game of who contributes to a joint family pot for that month’s fun activity. A game of monopoly can turn into a real contest, as anyone who loses is asked to contribute a small amount to that month or week’s activity of choice (such as a meal out, or family movie). Of course, contributions should be proportional to earnings – teens might contribute $5 from their part-time job or allowance, while adults would be expected to contribute much more. Still, the spirit of the game is focused on sharing and enjoying together – and because everyone has a stake, we enjoy it all so much more.

2. Making Money Can Be Fun

Every year around the holidays, my entire extended family likes to take a vacation somewhere warm, so we start planning and saving a year in advance. By each contributing to the holiday vacation fund, our money goes much farther, and we’re often able to visit really cool places we might’ve not otherwise afforded. Of course, if we can easily afford to contribute our share, we do so, but when money is tight, we find fun ways to raise cash for our share of the contributions. Last year, for example, some of my cousins hosted a bake sale. Others sold items they’d knitted, art they’d produced, and so forth. All of the proceeds went straight into the family vacation fund.

3. Sell, Sell, Sell!

A family garage sale can be an enjoyable and rewarding way to raise extra cash for shared activities or purchases. If your family wants a new flat-screen TV, game console, or other piece of technology or furniture, why not start by selling what you already have and don’t need? A traditional garage sale is one good way to raise cash, as is selling unused items online (this tends to be the better option for selling electronics and gadgets).

4. Match It!

Often, children’s only way to save is to use their holiday or birthday gift money. It can be challenging for kids to save money they so badly want to spend and enjoy immediately, so it’s important to offer incentives for doing so. One idea is to match dollar for dollar every bit of money they save from their gifts. That ensures kids get the immediate gratification of knowing their saved gift money is being doubled, but also enables them to feel empowered by having chosen to save and contribute to family goals.

5. The Envelope Method

When saving for multiple goals, the envelope method is an excellent way of keeping all the monies separate for their intended uses. Simply mark each envelope with a stated goal and contribute regularly to each until the goal amount is met. For small children, it can be rewarding to contribute to smaller family goals, such as ice cream or a movie rental. A $10 or $15 goal can mean a $1 or $2 monthly contribution from their allowance. This helps children learn the value of saving and builds confidence in their ability to do so.

6. Your Credit Union Can Help

Your local credit union can be an excellent resource for helping your family save together. From traditional savings accounts or CDs to holiday savings accounts, your credit union can help you select a financial product that can help your family in reaching its shared goals faster. For larger goals, in particular, a shared family account can be an excellent resource for keeping your family on track to realizing your financial wishes.

Happy saving!

Janet Alvarez is the news anchor for WHYY/NPR and the Executive Editor of Wise Bread, an award-winning publication focused on promoting financial literacy.

Did you know that the easiest and most effective way to save is automatically? Saving automatically is at the heart of America Saves Week. And, it’s how millions of employees save through 401(k) and other retirement programs at work. It’s also how millions of Americans save at their bank or credit union.  It’s a great way to build wealth and financial security, and it’s easy to set up!

How to Save Automatically

How to Reduce Debt Automatically

3 Ways to Give Your Savings Account a Little Boost

By Tammy Bruzon, America Saves Digital Engagement Strategist

What does “saving the extra” mean to you? Whether it is putting change in a piggy bank or moving everything not in the budget into savings, those three little words can mean big money down the road. This America Saves Week, try one (or all) of these three ways to save the extra:  Add a savings line to your budget.  Rent, utilities, internet.

Every important piece of your financial picture gets a designated spot in your budget each month, so why not your savings? We don’t always consider our savings goals a priority in our short-term savings and spending plan, but it ought to be. Prioritize your goals by adding a “savings” line with an affordable amount to your budget; pay yourself with each paycheck.

1. Add a savings line to your budget. Rent, utilities, internet. Every important piece of your financial picture gets a designated spot in your budget each month, so why not your savings? We don’t always consider our savings goals a priority in our short-term savings and spending plan, but it ought to be. Prioritize your goals by adding a “savings” line with an affordable amount to your budget; pay yourself with each paycheck.

2. Stow away the windfall. Did you receive notice of a raise for 2018? Maybe you have a bonus coming your way for a job well done. Whatever the bounty may be, allocate any unexpected funds to your savings goals. You won’t miss the percentage raise you receive when you divert it into your savings account. You weren’t expecting that bonus; tuck it away for a rainy day.

3. Split and save your refund. It’s a universal truth: saving at tax time can be a big step toward meeting your savings goals. This tax season opt to split a portion of your tax refund into your savings account. For many of us, the tax refund is the largest check we will receive all year, which provides the perfect opportunity to start or grow your savings goal.