SCHWAB: Introduces Personalized Indexing

By Staff Reporters

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‘Customized portfolio and tax management for a broader spectrum of investors’

The Charles Schwab Corporation (SCHW) announced, on March 31, 2022, the upcoming launch of a new service, Schwab Personalized Indexing. Schwab touts this as a new solution that brings the power of customized portfolio and tax management to a broader spectrum of investors.

Rick Wurster, president of The Charles Schwab Corporation, stated in a press release: “Direct indexing has long been available to ultra-high net worth investors and institutions able to meet very high investment minimums. But now, thanks to technology innovations and industry developments like Schwab’s introduction of online commission-free trading, we’re able to lower the barriers to direct indexing for more investors and the advisors who serve them.” Schwab expects the new service, which is trademarked, to be available by the end of April 2022.

Key Takeaways

  • Charles Schwab (SCHW) is introducing Schwab Personalized Indexing, a direct indexing service for accounts as small as $100,000.
  • Direct indexing involves holding the individual securities in an index, allowing for greater tax management.
  • The service is expected to be available by the end of April 2022, and Schwab expects to add options and features over the next 12-18 months.

Key Features

Unlike an index fund, direct indexing involves direct ownership of the underlying securities in an index. Thus, it may offer a greater level of tax management for the investor. Within separately managed accounts, Schwab Personalized Indexing is based on a proprietary optimization process that includes daily monitoring of client portfolios and tax-loss harvesting technology. Each client account is to be optimized based on its current holdings and the potential capital gains taxes due on unrealized gains.

Available Strategies

Investors initially can choose among three index-based strategies that can be customized. These are a U.S. large cap strategy based on the Schwab 1000 Index, a U.S. small cap strategy based on the S&P SmallCap 600 Index, and an environmental, social, and governance (ESG) strategy based on the MSCI KLD 400 Social Index. Each strategy seeks index-like returns with enhanced after-tax benefits. Schwab expects to add more strategies and features during the next 12-18 months.

Account Minimums and Fees

Schwab Personalized Indexing initially will require an account minimum of $100,000. Schwab notes that most direct indexing offerings currently on the market start at $250,000 or higher.1

Fees start at 0.40% of assets. Schwab indicates that this is less expensive than many direct indexing programs currently available to advisors and investors.

CITE: https://pressroom.aboutschwab.com/press-releases/press-release/2022/Schwab-Introduces-Schwab-Personalized-Indexing/default.aspx

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NFTs 101: Taxes, Risks, and More

Randy Frederick

Nonfungible tokens have become the latest investment craze. Here’s what you need to know.

Until recently, nonfungible tokens (NFTs) were written off by many as a virtual fad and a waste of money. After all, why would someone pay $2.9 million to own the very first tweet when anyone with internet access can view it for free?

But when auction house Christie’s sold the NFT of Everydays: The First 5000 Days, a collage by the artist Beeple, for $69.3 million in March 2021, it suddenly put this emerging asset class on par with collecting a Picasso (whose heirs have jumped on the digital bandwagon by selling NFTs of the artist’s ceramics).

So, what’s all the fuss about?

The basics

Like cryptocurrencies, NFTs are stored on a blockchain, which is a digital, publicly available transaction ledger. However, while a single bitcoin can be exchanged for any other bitcoin—just as a $1 bill can be exchanged for any other $1 bill—each NFT is unique (i.e., nonfungible). In that sense, NFTs are more like the Hope Diamond or Picasso’s Guernica—a one-of-a-kind work for which there is no substitute.

Indeed, an NFT’s inherent scarcity, whether because it’s a unique piece of art or a limited-issue collectible, makes it potentially lucrative—but also substantially less liquid than, say, your average stock or bond. As a result, you may need to drop the price or hold on to your NFT if the demand isn’t there when you want or need to sell it. Other risks include:

  • Security: Like bitcoin, NFTs require a private key that functions as a password. If your key is lost or stolen, you may never again be able to access your NFT. Other security risks involve replicas that purport to be the original—as with any collectibles marketplace—and fraudulent sites designed to steal private keys and their attendant assets.
  • Taxation: Although the IRS has yet to issue specific guidance, NFTs are generally treated as collectibles. As such, if you sell an NFT you’ve held on to for less than a year, any short-term gains will be taxed as ordinary income. Any gains on an NFT held for a year or longer will be taxed at a top collectibles rate of 28%—plus a 3.8% net investment income tax if your modified adjusted gross income exceeds $200,000 ($250,000 for married couples).

Where to start

If, after careful consideration, you’re still interested in dipping your toe in NFT waters, you’ll first need to do three things:

  1. Pick a marketplace: To buy or sell NFTs, you’ll need to choose a reputable marketplace. Both Nifty Gateway and OpenSea are popular, although specialty marketplaces also exist, including ArtOfficial if you’re a fine-art collector and NBA Top Shot for basketball enthusiasts.
  2. Get a wallet: Shopping through most NFT marketplaces requires a Web3 wallet, such as MetaMask, that can store both cryptocurrencies and NFTs. Some marketplaces, like Nifty Gateway, will store your NFT, but you’ll have to pay a fee to transfer it to another wallet should you wish to do so later.
  3. Buy cryptocurrency: Some marketplaces accept payment in so-called fiat currencies, such as the U.S. dollar. However, many marketplaces are built on the Ethereum blockchain and prefer to transact in its native cryptocurrency, ether.

Tread with caution

Although the popularity of NFTs has exploded in the past year, with first-quarter sales topping $11 billion by mid-March 2022—up from $53 million for the fourth quarter of 2020—only time will tell if NFTs will realize their long-term potential or fall tragically short of it. 

Either way, it will be fascinating to see how this new form of digital authentication changes how we invest. (Ernst & Young, for example, is working on NFT-inspired technology that can help collectors track the provenance of fine wines.)

Quantum leap

NFTs experienced exponential growth in 2021.Beginning in Q3 2017, quarterly NFT trading volume remained under $20 million until jumping to $28.01 million in Q3 2020, then $52.98 million in Q4 2020. It went above $1 billion in Q1 2021 and, as of Q1 2022, has remained above $10 billion since Q3 2021.

DappRadar.com

Sales figures include only on-chain transactions conducted on the 49 NFT marketplaces that DappRadar tracks, excluding LooksRare.

*Q1 2022 data as of 03/25/2022.

ASSESSMENT

For the time being, however, there’s a lot to be said for taking a go-slow approach to this new asset class and all the risks it entails. 

In general, those interested in crypto assets like NFTs are wise to limit their exposure to no more than 1% of investable assets.

RELATED: https://www.schwab.com/learn/story/etfs-and-taxes-what-you-need-to-know?cmp=em-XCU

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Discount Brokerages versus On-Line Brokerages

Physicians Must Appreciate the Differences

By Daniel B. Moisand; CFP® and the ME-P StaffME-P Blogger

Here are a few questions for all physician-investors to consider in 2009:

1. True or False? 

The key to investment success is to pay as little for a trade as possible.

2. True or False? 

The higher the number of trades in an investment account, the better the investment results.

3. True or False? 

The majority of revenue of a discount or on-line brokerage comes from trades. 

A: The answers should be crystal clear! False, False and True. It is almost entirely that simple.

Cost Control

Much like a medical practice, keeping costs down is an important objective of personal finance but, it is certainly not the key to success.  There are many studies that show that active trading garners inferior results compared to a longer term buy and hold type of strategy. One of the most publicized recently was conducted by a UC-Davis team led by Dr. Terrance Odean. The study examined the actual tracing activity of thousands of self-directed accounts at a major discount brokerage over a six-year period. The results were clear. Regardless of trading level, most of the accounts underperformed the market and showed that the higher the number of trades, the worse the result.

Of Bulls and Bears

While the U.S. markets were on a dramatic upswing a decade ago, the general interest level in them increased as well.  More households owned financial assets than ever before. Demographics drive much of this surge. The older edge of the baby boom generation is finding that as the children leave home, they have more income than ever before and saving for retirement becomes a higher priority. The proliferation of defined contribution [401-k, 403-b] retirement plans has also forced more people to take responsibility for their long-term security. When, the US stock market was on a tear; one would have be wise to remember an old Wall Street saying – “Don’t confuse brains with a bull market.” Unfortunately today, far too many self-directed investors did not heed the warnings. The media is full of stories about investors whose portfolios were decimated by the recent bear market. While this loss of wealth is somewhat tragic, in almost all cases the losses were made possible by poor planning and/or poor execution that a mediocre advisor would have avoided.

The Business of Advice

One also cannot conclude that everyone is acting as his or her own investment advisor. The advice business continues to thrive. Sales of load mutual funds have continued to grow, as has commission revenue at full-service firms. No-load funds have continued to grow as well and gain market share from the load funds. However, it would be inaccurate to tie that growth to do-it-yourselfers. Much of the growth of no-load funds can be attributed to the advice of various types of advisors who are recommending the funds. In addition, several traditionally no-load fund families have begun to offer funds through brokers for a load.

The Discounters

For physicians and all clients, the primary attraction to a discounter is cost. Everyone loves a bargain. Once it is determined that it is a good idea to buy say 100 shares of IBM, the trade needs to get executed. When the trade settles one owns 100 shares of IBM, regardless of what was paid for the trade. There is no harm in saving a few bucks. However, the decision to buy the IBM shares and when to sell those shares will have a far greater impact on the investment results than the cost of the trade as long as the level of trading is kept at a prudent level. The fact is that most good advisors use discount firms for custodial and transaction services. The leading providers to advisors are Schwab, Fidelity, and Waterhouse.fp-book1

Ego Driven

In addition to cost savings, discounters appeal to one’s ego for business. Everyone wants to feel like a smart investor; especially doctors. Often, marketing materials will cite the IBM example and portray the cost difference as an example of how the investor is either stupid or being ripped off. There is also a strong appeal to one’s sense of control. An investor is made to feel like they are the masters of their own destiny.  All of this is a worthy goal. One should feel confident, in control, and smart about financial issues. Hiring a professional should not result in losing any of these feelings, rather solidify them. Getting one’s affairs in order is smart. The advisor works for the client so a client should maintain control by only delegating tasks to the extent one is comfortable. Knowing that the particular circumstances are being addressed effectively should yield enhanced confidence.

Sales Pressure Release

The final reason people turn to discount and on-line brokerages is to avoid sales pressure. Unlike the stereotypical stockbroker, no one calls to push a particular stock. Instead, sales pressure is created within the mind of the investor. By maintaining a steady flow of information about stocks and the markets to the account holders, brokerages keep these issues in the forefront of the investor’s minds. This increases the probability that the investor will act on the information and execute a trade. Add some impressive graphics and interfaces and the brokerage can keep an investor glued to the screen. The Internet has made this flow easier and cheaper for the brokerages, lowering costs and increasing the focus on trade volume to achieve profitability.

Assessment

The pressurized information flow however, does little to protect investors during a bear market. Ironically, this focus on trading is one of the very conflicts investors are trying to avoid by fleeing a traditional full service broker.

Conclusion

And so, your thoughts and comments on this Medical Executive-Post are appreciated. What are your feelings on discount and internet brokers? Tell us what you think. Feel free to review our top-left column, and top-right sidebar materials, links, URLs and related websites, too. Then, be sure to subscribe to the ME-P. It is fast, free and secure.

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