Blog   Tagged ‘private wealth management’

Reality TV vs. reality — America is watching

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Reality TV has become popular, to say the least. Apparently we enjoy watching people be voted off islands, on the hunt for love and get fired on national television. Included in this group is our new president, who was the host of The Apprentice for a number of years.

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However, since the January inauguration, President Donald Trump is now faced with reality, which does not include retakes, professional editing and an audience who enjoys both failure and success.

But, his new job does include balancing an active audience’s perceptions and actual reality, particularly as it relates to the economy and some of his key initiatives.

Paradigm Shift

Trump has suggested a paradigm shift by stimulating economic growth through fiscal policy and government spending, rather than relying on monetary policy and lower interest rates. While economic fundamentals have been improving for several quarters, contributing to positive public perception, Trump’s proposed fiscal policy stimulus will have a relatively minor impact on long-term economic growth.

The empirical evidence suggests that when the economy is at full employment, any fiscal policy stimulus will have a temporary impact on growth, four to six quarters at best. In reality, fiscal policy stimulus does one thing on a long-term basis – it increases the national debt.

Tax Cuts

The president, along with others such as Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, has suggested tax cuts will pay for themselves by boosting economic growth. Yet, there is no evidence to support this idea. Rather, historical reality suggests cutting taxes will increase the federal debt burden.

Former President Ronald Reagan in the early 1980s and former President George W. Bush in the early 2000s both cut taxes, yet there is little evidence that economic activity improved.  However, we do know the national debt mushroomed in both cases.

Repatriation of Foreign Profits

Believe it or not we have been here before. In 2004, the American Jobs Creation Act was passed. Part of the plan covered the repatriation of overseas profits at a reduced rate of 5.25 percent. In 2004, five companies, primarily pharmaceutical, dominated the almost $1 trillion foreign profit stockpile.

Only one-third of the total cash came back to the U.S. Most of the money went to repairing corporate balance sheets and rewarding shareholders with share repurchases. $18 billion did go into the U.S. Treasury’s coffer. The Congressional Research Service, a nonpartisan think tank, said the program was an ineffective means of increasing economic growth.

Today, the reality is that a small number of technology companies dominate the $2.5 trillion cash balances overseas. If offered a tax reprieve on repatriating foreign profits, history tells us the same behaviors will result—higher dividends and more share repurchases, which, I believe, will not materially impact the economy.

Multiplier Effect

The multiplier effect is a phenomenon where given a change in a particular input, such as government spending, a larger change in an output occurs, such as gross domestic product (GDP).

We are about to see a paradigm shift in the U.S.—moving from monetary policy stimulus (interest rates) to fiscal policy stimulus (government spending).

The million dollar question is, “Will it promote economic growth?” The Congressional Budget Office provides historical analysis on the efficacy of fiscal spending. The multipliers show that any form of increased government spending would have a higher multiplier effect than any form of tax cuts.

Economic Reality

There are two primary drivers of long-term economic growth, labor force growth rate and productive gains. Labor force growth rate in the U.S. is approximately 1.2 percent. Non-farm productivity year-over-year growth is 1.1 percent. Add them together, and you have a 2.3 percent trend GDP over the next few years. We could realize one or two quarters of 3.0 percent or greater GDP, but it’s not sustainable.

However, this is not a doomsday conclusion. If we do experience trend GDP between 2.0 and 2.5 percent, it will allow companies to grow revenues and earnings. This in turn will support higher stock prices.

Political Process Reality

Trump’s term has really just begun. And what many reality television enthusiasts, and the president himself, may be finding out is that reality TV can be fun to watch, but the reality of the political process may not be.

Follow UMB‡ and KC Mathews‡ on LinkedIn to stay informed of the latest economic trends. Read other recent commentary on

K.C. Mathews joined UMB in 2002. As executive vice president and chief investment officer, Mr. Mathews is responsible for the development, execution and oversight of UMB’s investment strategy. He is chairman of the Trust Investment, Asset Allocation and Trust Policy Committees. Mr. Mathews has more than 20 years of diverse experience in the investment industry. Prior to joining UMB, he served as vice president and manager of the portfolio management group at Bank of Oklahoma for nine years. Mr. Mathews earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Minnesota and a master’s degree in business administration from the University of Notre Dame. Mr. Mathews attended the ABA National Trust School at Northwestern University and is a Chartered Financial Analyst and member of the CFA Institute. He is past president of the Kansas City CFA Society and a past president of the Oklahoma Society of Financial Analysts.

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Is the Bond Market Wrong?

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After the surprise election results in 2016, domestic markets experienced the “Trump Bump,” which entailed a traditional risk-on shift—investors bought stocks and sold bonds to prepare for the presumed good times ahead. Stock values and interest rates both shot higher in anticipation of a boost to both economic activity and inflation.

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Trump Bump to Trump Slump

However, after a few months of treading water early in the New Year, interest rates began a steady decline. The 10-year Treasury note dropped from 2.60 percent to 2.25 percent in just a few weeks.

This occurred despite an early increase in overnight rates by the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) and clear messaging that they are prepared to continue the upward march in rates as part of a gradual “normalization.” All the while, stock prices remained resilient and repeatedly bumped up against all-time highs.

Debates and Head-Scratching

The drop in long-term rates created a flattening of the treasury yield curve, something that typically occurs near the end of a Fed tightening cycle, as the economy begins to slow down.

This rate drop and curve flattening has triggered a healthy debate throughout the

investment industry. It appears the bond market is signaling that the economy isn’t going to be nearly as strong as the equity market is discounting.

Historically, a flattening yield curve has been a strong, early indicator of economic deceleration—so the divergence between stock prices and interest rates has unleashed some serious head-scratching.

Disagreement Abounds

As a further complication, the Fed Funds futures market—the bond market’s estimate of where overnight rates are headed—is substantially below the FOMC’s estimates for where they’re planning to move rates. The FOMC expects overnight rates (and money market rates) to head to 1.50 percent in 2017 and rise to 2.20 percent in 2018, which is good news for savers. However, the futures market is placing overnight rates at only 1.25 percent and 1.50 percent in 2017 and 2018.

It appears that the bond market currently disagrees with both the FOMC and the stock market on the strength of the economy and the path of rates, raising the question, “Is the bond market wrong?”

Countering the Contrarian View

At this point, our answer is “yes, we believe the bond market is wrong.”  While it’s usually not fruitful to bet against the bond market, we believe several factors are causing it to paint a contrarian (versus the stock market) picture at this time:

  1. Assumption that the new administration will not get any stimulus plans enacted
    The bond market appears to be responding to the president’s early challenges with enacting campaign promises.
  2. Global interest rates
    Global interest rates are still well below the U.S. The glut of excess savings from around the world is still chasing U.S. rates whenever they rise, making it difficult for our rates to rise as much as they might otherwise.
  3. Normalization cycle
    Bond investors around the world are assuming the current Fed normalization cycle will play out in a similar manner to how the entire global financial crisis cycle has unwound—much slower than anyone anticipated. They are betting against any “upside surprises” for the economy or inflation, and it’s been a very long time since we’ve had either.
  4. Extreme caution in rising rates
    The bond market believes the FOMC will exhibit extreme caution in edging rates higher because it fears rising rates will tip the economy back toward a slowdown.The bond markets are not signaling that an economic slowdown is eminent, but rather that rate normalization will not be possible at the pace indicated by the Fed and most forecasters.

Why we believe the bond markets are wrong:

  1. We believe the new administration will succeed in enacting tax cuts and infrastructure programs—both will involve compromise and delays, but they will ultimately be accomplished, and both should point toward higher rates.
  2. We believe the global savings glut is in the very early stages of abating, so the artificial “lid” on interest rates may be slowly dissipating.
  3. While the last decade has been one of extremely slow movements from the Fed, it appears wage pressure is building throughout our economy—a precursor to inflation. Economic momentum is turning upward in Europe as well. These trends will allow the Fed to push forward with rate normalization at the pace reflected in most forecasts.
  4. Interest rates are exceptionally and unsustainably low, particularly given that we are experiencing a modest global upturn. Even after the Fed’s projected upward adjustments, interest rates will still be exceptionally low—modestly higher rates are not a threat to the economy or a barrier to normalization. For these reasons, we believe the bond markets are not properly reflecting the most likely path for interest rates over the next two years. There are risks to this outlook, but the most likely outcome is an upward shift of roughly 1.00-1.50 percent over the next two years.

Mr. Kelley is managing director of fixed income at UMB and is responsible for overseeing the product development and management of the fixed income holdings for the Wealth Management division. Mr. Kelley earned a Master’s of Business Administration from Baker University in Kansas City.

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Dust off Your Finances: Spring Clean Your Financial House

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Spring is just around the corner, and with that comes the proverbial spring
cleaning. While most people recognize the value of scrubbing their homes, we recommend dusting off your finances as well.

Consider these tips to help ensure your financial house is cobweb-free.

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Settle In for a Review

  • Review the titling and ownership of all financial accounts. Make certain any accounts owned and titled in a trust, or have a Payable upon Death designation, will meet desired intentions if a transfer were to take place.
  • Review your credit report to make sure
    you’re in positive standing. You can request a free copy once every 12 months from
  • Review insurance policy and retirement account beneficiaries. This is particularly important if there has been a recent change in marital status. A spousal waiver will be needed if the beneficiary is not the spouse.

 Prepare for the Future

  • Execute a will and a living will. If these documents already exist, they should be reviewed on a regular basis. Circumstances and viewpoints change, which can heavily impact desired allocations and intentions.

Check Up on Your Cards

  • Check the interest rates that are being charged on all credit cards. For individuals who carry balances, consider consolidating to the card with the lowest interest rate or even contemplate a Home Equity Line of Credit as the interest may be tax-deductible.
  • Utilize a credit card that offers rewards. Many of these now carry no annual fee and offer cash back in addition to the travel and merchandise rebates.

Evaluate Your Employer Benefits

  • If financially possible, make the most of your 401(k) by contributing to the level that takes advantage of the full employer match.
  • Review your health insurance coverage options to ensure you are making the best selections for yourself and your family. If you are currently enrolled in a High Deductible Health Plan coupled with a Health Savings Account, review your contributions to make sure you are maximizing your saving options.

Examine Your Life Insurance

  • Make certain existing coverage will meet the financial needs of your family if any member were to pass away, not just the primary income source for the family. Also, if the only secured life insurance is provided by an employer, consider pricing other term policies. Remember employer-provided insurance may not transfer if there is a change in jobs.
  • Research long-term care insurance. Ask your insurance provider about this coverage to ensure it offers home health care in addition to nursing home care. Life expectancy is much greater than it used to be, and in-home and community care continue to rise in price.

Freshen Up on Your Investments

  • Review or create an investment policy statement (IPS). This is an agreement with a financial advisor that states your investment purpose, time frame and risk tolerance. An IPS clearly states the investor’s goals and helps provide clear expectations, consistent communications and true accountability for both the advisor and the investor.
  • Conduct homework for obtaining professional services from investment consultants, estate planning attorneys and certified public accountants. Seek references from trusted friends and colleagues and stick with specialists. Professionals will be able to offer insights and guidance that will help individuals succeed in reaching their financial planning goals.

When you click links marked with the “‡” symbol, you will leave UMB’s website and go to websites that are not controlled by or affiliated with UMB. We have provided these links for your convenience. However, we do not endorse or guarantee any products or services you may view on other sites. Other websites may not follow the same privacy policies and security procedures that UMB does, so please review their policies and procedures carefully.pulation Survey/Housing Vacancy Survey, Series H-111, U.S. Census Bureau, Washington, DC 20233.

As a Private Wealth Management regional manager, Brent is responsible for the growth and support of new customer relationships as well as supervision of regional sales associates. He is also responsible for oversight and delivery of the financial planning discipline within the region. With nearly 30 years of experience private wealth client relationship management, Brent is a seasoned banking professional with deep Texas roots. He attended the University of Texas at Arlington, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in finance, and is a Candidate for CFP® certification. He serves as a board member of the Dallas Parks Foundation.

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UMB: Insights – Financial Advice for Millennials

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Do young people really need a financial advisor? Phil shares why you DO need one as you move into adulthood. His advice is to:

  • Work with a financial advisor.
  • Establish a plan and put it in place.
  • Work toward achieving it!

Learn more in this continuation of our UMB: Insights series.


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Mr. Phillip Klevorn is a Regional Manager for UMB Private Wealth Management. He is responsible for Private Wealth Management in the St. Louis Region. He joined UMB in 2015 and has 22 years of experience in the financial services industry.

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Meet the Leadership Series: Phil Klevorn (Private Wealth Management)

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Q&A with Phil Klevorn, Senior Vice President, Private Wealth Regional Manager

Get to know UMB’s leadership a little better.
Phil Klevorn marathon

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Tell us about yourself.
I am from St. Louis and feel rooted in this community. I am very much involved in the rebirth and rebuilding of the urban landscape of St. Louis. I went away for school to Benedictine College in Atchison, Kan. Few people know that in a previous life I was a Minor League Baseball umpire in the Appalachian League and the Florida State League. I even had spring training with the New York Mets and the Philadelphia Phillies. When it became apparent I was not Major League material, I had to move on.

I am the youngest of six boys (no girls) and so my growing up was a unique experience to who I am. Currently I have three kids ranging in age from 11 to 16-years-old and all are progressing in a manner that I expect will lead to mature and productive adults. My wife is a godsend who keeps me grounded and is the best partnership I could ever be part of. 

What about your past shaped who you are today?
I would like to think that the times I have failed to achieve a goal or been unsuccessful in a pursuit has shaped me today. I am a firm believer that we learn from our failures and mistakes and those difficult times make us stronger.

Why did you choose UMB?
From day one I was impressed with UMB as I saw early on the value system here matches up with mine. Essentially, I am attracted to the way we value clients and treat them in a manner that focuses on their success and them as the core of what we do each day. 

What have you found successful in your role within UMB Private Wealth Management?
I think a great Private Wealth manager recognizes the strength of the team around them and works to that strength. The success we have had here in St. Louis is because we have come together as a team and have employed a disciplined strategy that challenges our clients and enters into a process that is focused on our clients rather than on us.

What are your favorite ways spend your free time?
I serve on the board of the International Institute which is an organization that deals with refugee resettlement and immigrant assimilation. Seeing individuals come into our country with nothing but the clothes they are wearing and in a matter of time sharing in the American dream is something to behold.

I run marathons (I’m not very fast) and enjoy the intensity and push to go beyond what I am capable of. And, I serve on the City of St. Louis Tax Increment Finance Commission as a way to promote the growth of our urban core.

On the weekends, I like to go on a long run in training for a marathon and then spend time with my wife and kids. Good food and good drink can make a special weekend very special.

Where is your favorite place to travel?
Phil Klevorn family at Liberty Bell
I really like historical places of interest. This past summer, my family and I went to Pennsylvania. To stand in the spot where the Declaration of Independence was debated and signed is a moving experience. Likewise, standing on the Battlefield of Gettysburg and reliving that watershed moment in U.S. history helps put my life in 2015 in perspective.

Tell us about your team.
The St. Louis Private Wealth team is really a great group who has diverse backgrounds and levels of experience. This team does not need to be told what to do. I fill out the lineup card, and they do the hitting.

I am happy to report that we have brought in as much in assets under management for the first 6 months of 2015 as we did in all of 2014. This is a testament to the focus we have applied around our process. The talent and abilities are there, we are just doing a better job of bringing it together.

What is the greatest challenge facing the industry right now?
How we engage clients going forward will be the key to our success. For our industry, if we focus on clients goals and objectives and understand their priorities, we will be successful—and I think we are ahead of the curve on this. I am not sure the industry understands this, but it is repeatedly what our clients tell us. Our clients are not interested in how great at wealth management a firm is. They want to know we are listening and providing solutions that meet the client’s needs and not what is in our own self interest. To me, this is the defining issue of the day and that separates the good firms from the not so good firms. I am happy that we are going down the path of being a good firm.


When you click links marked with the “‡” symbol, you will leave UMB’s website and go to websites that are not controlled by or affiliated with UMB. We have provided these links for your convenience. However, we do not endorse or guarantee any products or services you may view on other sites. Other websites may not follow the same privacy policies and security procedures that UMB does, so please review their policies and procedures carefully.

Mr. Phillip Klevorn is a Regional Manager for UMB Private Wealth Management. He is responsible for Private Wealth Management in the St. Louis Region. He joined UMB in 2015 and has 22 years of experience in the financial services industry.

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UMB: Inspiration – Private Wealth Management

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UMB prides itself on being a financial institution with a heartbeat. We are passionate about what we do and want to share what inspires us.

Dana’s father inspired her to be a leader, her small business owner mother influenced her commercial banking roots and several mentors helped to shape her career. Hear more about what inspires the leader of our Private Wealth Management department.

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Dana Abraham is president of the Private Wealth Management Division and is responsible for the delivery of comprehensive financial services to high-net-worth clients. Her areas of focus include Wealth Planning, Private Banking, Personal Trust, Investment Management and Insurance. She joined UMB in 2005 and has more than 20 years of experience in the financial services industry. Abraham earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration with a concentration in both accounting and economics from the University of Louisiana. She is a graduate of Leadership Overland Park and Kansas City Tomorrow Leadership programs.

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UMB Insights: Funding a Trust

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We’ve already walked you through the process of estate planning. Today, we’ll explain how to fund that trust and give you an important reminder to update it as your life changes.

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Ms. Gattis joined UMB in 2009. As a Senior Financial Planner, she is responsible for working with clients to insure that they are finding a solution to reaching their unique financial goals. Ms. Gattis has 20 years of experience in the financial industry. Prior to joining UMB, she served as a Private Client Manager for US Trust. Ms. Gattis earned Bachelors in Human Resource Management and Masters in Business Administration degrees from Wichita State University.

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A smooth road to retirement

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Are you ready to begin the next stage of your life? Retirement is still an option despite the current slow-growth economy. If you’re considering or approaching retirement, there are several items to keep in mind when nearing this important milestone. If you are planning to leave the working world in the next 18 to 24 months, here are a few considerations in the current economy:

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  • Understand your actual timeline.

    Your “time horizon” may be longer than you realize. Life expectancy is also a big factor. A retirement date is an initial benchmark, but you need to keep in mind that your money can still “work for you” while you are enjoying your newly discovered free time.

  • Make sure to have a cash reserve.

    You should build up a reserve large enough to carry you through six to 12 months of retirement expenses. This can provide a cushion in case of an unexpected downturn or a major unplanned expense.

As markets can vary year to year, those with more than two years until retirement can plan for either situation in the following ways:

  • Increase contributions.

    Invest extra cash. Consistent dollar-cost averaging can help reduce the worry of when and how much to invest. You may also want to direct some of those extra contributions into a cash reserve, just in case of unexpected declines.

  • Diversify, diversify, diversify.

    Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Throughout market cycles, different classes, styles and assets with diverse market capitalizations perform differently. Actively managing your portfolio diversification can have a greater impact on performance than individual investments.

Most of all, flexibility and patience are virtues in the world of portfolio management.  Don’t fall in love with a retirement date, and don’t be frustrated with market activity. If you have questions or concerns, it may be advantageous to seek the advice of an experienced professional.

Professional advisors can offer objective, educated and customized guidance. They are also an objective and knowledgeable resource that can provide a valuable perspective. While an advisor may not be able to provide every person with the news they want to hear, a good financial advisor can help maximize and leverage the assets individuals have against their personal timelines, risk tolerance and goals.


When you click links marked with the “‡” symbol, you will leave UMB’s website and go to websites that are not controlled by or affiliated with UMB. We have provided these links for your convenience. However, we do not endorse or guarantee any products or services you may view on other sites. Other websites may not follow the same privacy policies and security procedures that UMB does, so please review their policies and procedures carefully.

Mr. Diederich serves as managing director of portfolio management. He is responsible for managing the portfolios of high net worth clients and select institutional relationships. He joined UMB in 2003. Mr. Diederich earned a Bachelor of Science in Finance from Missouri State University in Springfield, Mo., and a Master of Business Administration from the University of Missouri – Kansas City. He is a Certified Financial Planner®, a member of the Financial Planning Association and has more than 15 years of experience in the financial services industry.

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