November 15, 2023

3 Easy Trades

By Michael McKeown, CFA, CPA, Chief Investment Officer, Marcum Wealth

3 Easy Trades Year-End Tax Guide

I grew up playing soccer. Even to this day, I can still hear my coach shouting, “Easy ball! Easy ball!” I will never forget that, especially since it sounded even better coming from a former Zambian National player with an awesome accent.

Translated from coach-speak to English, this meant to look for the obvious and easy pass. Keep possession and move the ball upfield. Do not go for the hero play, which has a low probability of success and high risk.

People always ask me, “Where’s the market going in the next few months?” What’s the hottest theme or the best stock pick?” These are all questions looking for the hero play. Nice if you can get it right, but far more risk. More often than not, this results in losing the ball (money) to the other team.

It is far simpler to look for the easy pass. Do this often enough, and small wins compound into something much bigger. Here are three easy trades to make today.

1. Cash Management

The rapid rise in interest rates has brought yields to levels we have not seen in over 15 years. Money markets and treasuries yield over 5% today. Treasury bills have the advantage of not being taxed at a state and local level. If you have excess cash in a checking or traditional savings account, you are leaving money on the table.

2. Locating Assets

Put interest-earning bonds in IRAs and 401k accounts. Hold equities in taxable accounts. Historically, equities will outperform bonds over the long term. When you need the money in the future, it is better to pay a lower capital gains rate in your taxable account by selling equities. This beats the alternative of having your growth assets taxed at the ordinary income rate to pull money out of your IRA account.

3. Unwanted Capital Gains

Mutual funds in taxable accounts can be a problem. While great funds are available, a majority are making people’s portfolios more complex and less tax efficient. Investors do not control the capital gains distributions from funds, which occur at each year’s end. These are based on the gains generated inside the fund, not whether the investor sold any shares. The result is a tax bill that could likely be avoided with more efficient structures like ETFs. Look at swapping out mutual funds that are performing in the middle of the pack or worse, even if there is a capital gain to take initially. This could save money in the long run.

We investors often make this more complicated than it needs to be. Diving into data, economic projections, and stock ideas make it so we can’t see the forest through the trees. The low-hanging fruit is often all we need.

At Marcum Wealth, these three simple ideas are baked into our investment and trading process. We execute on these ideas for our clients every day. Any individual or advisor unable or unwilling to do the simple things is leaving money on the table.

Remember, it is often the easy pass that we need to move the ball up the field.

2023 Marcum Year-End Tax Guide

Important Disclosure Information

Marcum Wealth, LLC (“Marcum”) is an investment adviser registered with the United States Securities and Exchange Commission. Registration as an investment adviser does not imply a specific level of skill or training. A copy of Marcum’s current written Disclosure Brochure discussing its advisory services, fees, and material conflicts of interest is available upon request.

Past performance does not guarantee future results. Different types of investments involve varying degrees of risk, and there can be no assurance that the future performance of any specific investment, investment strategy, or product (including the investments and/or investment strategies recommended or undertaken by Marcum), or any non-investment related content, made reference to directly or indirectly in this communication, will be profitable, equal any corresponding historical performance level(s), be suitable for your portfolio or individual situation, or prove successful. Certain strategies and vehicles referenced in this communication, such as private investments, Opportunity Zones, and ESG investing, may present increased or novel risks, including potentially higher management fees, reduced liquidity, shorter performance histories, or increased legal or regulatory exposure, compared to more traditional publicly traded securities and investment strategies. All investors should consider these potential risks in light of their individual circumstances, objectives, and risk tolerance. Due to various factors, including changing market conditions and/or applicable laws, the content may no longer be reflective of current opinions or positions. Moreover, you should not assume that any discussion or information contained in this commentary serves as the receipt of, or as a substitute for, personalized investment advice from Marcum. The asset allocations reflected in this communication are targets only. Actual allocations can and often will deviate from these targets, including in instances of volatile markets, large deposits or withdrawals, or during account rebalancing.

Historical performance results for investment indices, benchmarks, and/or categories have been provided for general informational/comparison purposes only, and generally do not reflect the deduction of transaction and/or custodial charges, the deduction of an investment management fee, nor the impact of taxes, the incurrence of which would have the effect of decreasing historical performance results.  It should not be assumed that your Marcum account holdings correspond directly to any comparative indices or categories. Please Also Note: (1) performance results do not reflect the impact of taxes; (2) comparative benchmarks/indices may be more or less volatile than your Marcum accounts; and (3) a description of each comparative benchmark/index is available upon request.

Not all services described herein will be necessary or appropriate for all clients. The scope of the services to be provided depends upon the needs of the client and the terms of the engagement. The potential value and benefit of the adviser’s services will vary based upon a variety of factors, such as the client’s investment, tax, and financial circumstances, and overall objectives. Neither personalized services nor financial or professional resources or processes should be construed as a guarantee of a particular outcome. All investing comes with risk, including risk of loss.

If you are a Marcum client, please remember that it remains your responsibility to advise Marcum, in writing, if there are any changes in your personal/financial situation or investment objectives for the purpose of reviewing/evaluating/revising our previous recommendations and/or services, or if you would like to impose, add, or to modify any reasonable restrictions to our investment advisory services. Unless, and until, you notify/advise us, in writing, to the contrary, we shall continue to provide services as we do currently. Marcum is neither a law firm, nor a certified public accounting firm, and no portion of the commentary content should be construed as legal or accounting advice. Tax and accounting services provided by Marcum, LLP. Insurance services provided by Marcum Insurance Services, LLC.