The Advisor, August 2023

What’s New at GPW

As we traverse the second half of the year, we find ourselves amidst an ever-evolving economic landscape, where adaptability and informed decision-making play crucial roles in securing and growing your wealth. In this edition of The Advisor, we look at some insightful market analyses, offer our perspective on navigating the current investment landscape, and provide guidelines on how to better protect yourself from cybersecurity threats. Let us work together, leveraging the power of knowledge and sound judgment, to make August a month of rewarding opportunities.

As always, if you have any questions or would like to discuss anything further, please reach out to our office at (316) 613-7570.

Jeff Wetta, RPS and Dustin Jackson, CFP® RICP®
Managing Partners



GoalVest Portfolio Update

As we head into August, there are multiple things to be optimistic about. The consumer is strong as they continue to work through excess savings built up over the pandemic. Additionally, wages have been consistently rising and unemployment rates are approaching all-time lows at 3.6%. Since the consumer makes up approximately 70% of GDP, these factors continue to drive positive economic growth. This is evidenced in corporate profits – most companies are beating their earnings estimates so far this year. This week, Google rallied on the back of better-than-expected earnings while Microsoft pulled back due to earnings guidance that came in slightly weaker than expected. Although, guidance was still for revenue growth of +8% at Microsoft. We expect that large cap technology company results, such as these companies, will set the tone for the remainder of Q2 earnings season.

The Fed raised interest rates by 25 basis points in July, bringing the Federal Funds Rate to 5.25%-5.50% as they seek to bring inflation closer to their 2% target. Headline CPI did decrease for consecutive months with the June reading coming in at 3.0%. However, CPI ex-food and energy (a better indicator of core inflation) came in at 4.8% – still more than double the Fed’s 2% target. Thus, there is more work to do to bring inflation down.

The equity rally broadened over the last two months, and the equally-weighted S&P 500 index is now up 10.5% year-to-date. This can be seen in our quality high dividend holdings that, generally, have started to recover from earlier lows. We remain confident in the strength of the companies we own, their ability to generate good earnings throughout the economic cycle and their ability to pay dividends. We also believe that a number of these companies are trading at compelling valuations and have the potential to deliver good returns over the next one-, three- and five years.

Our equity growth holdings have, largely, continued to rally. We retain allocations to large cap growth stocks that have generated good returns year-to-date through our S&P 500 allocation, our allocation to the Vanguard US large cap growth ETF, and our exposure to some of these companies directly. We have direct exposure to Microsoft, Google, and Amazon in our core equity portfolio.

As rates increase and inflation slows, we draw closer to a Fed pause. The S&P 500 has generated a positive return (average of +15%) in the 12 months following a Fed pause in each scenario but one since 1980, so we remain cautiously optimistic. We continue to focus on driving risk-adjusted returns for investors through our long-term investments in quality American businesses, structured notes with compelling return prospects, and higher allocations to alternative investments.

Sevasti Balafas, CFA, CPWA®
CEO & Founder
GoalVest Advisory

Sources: FS investments, JP Morgan Asset Management, Invesco, Goldman Sachs, Reuters


Safeguarding Your Digital Realm: A Guide to Cybersecurity Protection

In today’s interconnected world, where digital technology permeates every aspect of our lives, the need for robust cybersecurity measures has never been greater. As the frequency and sophistication of cyber threats continue to escalate, we must proactively safeguard our digital presence from potential attacks. Whether you’re a seasoned tech-savvy user or just beginning to explore the digital realm, understanding how to protect yourself from cybersecurity threats is paramount. This article aims to equip you with essential tips and best practices to fortify your online defenses and enjoy a safer digital experience.

Strengthen Your Passwords:
Creating strong, unique passwords is the first line of defense against cyber intrusions. Avoid using easily guessable passwords, such as “password” or “123456,” and instead opt for a combination of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters. For added security, employ a passphrase that’s both memorable and complex. Additionally, utilize a different password for each online account, reducing the risk of multiple accounts being compromised in case of a breach.

Enable Two-Factor Authentication (2FA):
Two-Factor Authentication adds an extra layer of security to your accounts by requiring a second form of verification beyond your password. This could be a temporary code sent to your mobile device or an authentication app. By enabling 2FA, even if your password is compromised, hackers will find it significantly harder to gain unauthorized access to your accounts.

Keep Software and Devices Up-to-Date:
Frequently update your operating systems, applications, and antivirus software to ensure that you are protected against the latest known vulnerabilities. Cybercriminals often exploit outdated software to gain access to your system, making regular updates crucial in mitigating potential threats.

Be Cautious of Phishing Attempts:
Phishing attacks remain a prevalent method for hackers to trick individuals into divulging sensitive information. Be wary of unsolicited emails, messages, or calls requesting personal data or login credentials. Always verify the sender’s identity before clicking on any links or attachments, especially if the message seems urgent or suspicious.

Utilize Secure Wi-Fi Connections:
When accessing the internet in public places, such as coffee shops or airports, use Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) to encrypt your data and protect it from potential eavesdroppers. Avoid connecting to unsecured or open Wi-Fi networks, as they can be vulnerable to attacks, and hackers may intercept your communications.

Back Up Your Data Regularly:
Frequently back up your important files and data to an external hard drive or cloud storage service. In the event of a cyberattack or system failure, having a recent backup ensures that your valuable information remains safe and recoverable.

Limit Personal Information Sharing:
Be cautious about the personal information you share online, especially on social media platforms. Cybercriminals can use this information to conduct targeted attacks or identity theft. Adjust your privacy settings to restrict access to your personal data only to trusted individuals.

Educate Yourself and Stay Informed:
Stay informed about the latest cybersecurity threats and best practices. Follow reputable cybersecurity blogs, news outlets, and official sources for the most recent updates and insights. Being aware of potential risks empowers you to recognize and respond effectively to potential threats.

By implementing these cybersecurity measures, you can significantly reduce your risk of falling victim to cyberattacks and enjoy a safer online experience.