Mark joined WHAM in January of 1998 when his weekly call in financial show "Money and More" first aired. The show ran for eleven years and became one of the stations highest rated programs. Recently Mark has returned to provide daily commentary and analysis on the WHAM afternoon news. His segment can be heard at 4:26pm Monday through Friday, with an extended appearance with Randy Gorbman on Thursdays.
Mark started his financial services career in 1986 with IDS/American Express. He is a Certified Fund Specialist and Certified Long Term Care Specialist with a Bachelor's Degree in Economics and Management from SUNY Geneseo. He has designed, authored, and presented retirement and long term care workshops for clients, corporations, and non-profit organizations such as Xerox, Kodak, Agway, and the United Way.
In 2007, Registered Rep magazine listed Mark among the Top 100 Independent Advisors in the country. He lives in Geneseo with his wife Susan and has four children. Mark is an avid fisherman and enjoys spending time at his family cottage in the Thousand Islands. Mark also collects Civil War and Underground Railroad memorabilia for a museum he keeps in the basement of the historic Henrietta office.
As professionals skilled in retirement planning, the partners of The Horizon Group have helped hundreds of people in the Rochester area since our founding in 1993. We specialize in helping clients invest and protect their retirement assets with a straightforward and down-to-earth approach through open and honest communication.
We are proud of being able to help clients make difficult decisions necessary for a successful retirement. We are dedicated to the highest level of professionalism and ethical standards in our practice, and we honor the individual circumstances facing each client.
When faced with providing income and security for a lifetime, retirees are comforted by our "Bucket Approach" and half-century of combined experience. Our formalized review process and frequent communication through newsletters, e-mail, and seminars provide our clients with peace of mind and keeps them focused on what is truly important.
Working with The Horizon Group affords our clients a level of service and unbiased advice that can be delivered only by a small independent practice. At the same time, our client accounts are offered the same FINRA and SIPC protections through our broker-dealer, Cadaret, Grant & Co., Inc., as they would be at a large brokerage house.
We take the time to understand all the questions and concerns our clients have about the future. Aiding them in dealing with these concerns often means going above and beyond the duties of the average financial planner, something we are always willing to do. Helping a child, buying a second home, or dealing with long term care are all issues we assist clients with regularly. At The Horizon Group, we know it's about the quality of your life, not just your portfolio.
The views expressed in Mark's commentaries are to be considered for informational and entertainment purposes only. Before making decisions based on any content in Mark's commentaries you should always consult your financial or tax professional.
The views expressed herein do not necessarily reflect those of this station or of Clear Channel Communications, Inc.
Mark Congdon is a registered representative of Cadaret, Grant & Co., Inc., Member FINRA/SIPC.
Here’s something that will get your undies in a bunch. It turns out the world’s greatest fabric, cotton, is in the middle of some rather heated lawsuits. And it won’t take you long to figure out who’s behind a lot of the nonsense.
For those of you who aren’t familiar with how it works, cotton is a commodity that is traded just like oil and gold. There is a party who agrees to buy the cotton at a certain price and there is a counter-party who agrees to sell the cotton at a certain price. In between is a middle-man who is trying to coordinate everything and satisfy both parties. Sounds as easy as walking into Macy’s and buying some flannel pajamas.
But wait just a cotton-picking minute, (sorry, I couldn’t resist) it turns out there’s a large list of participants who’ve been stiffing each other on both sides of the trade. Worse yet, nobody has any recourse to satisfy the broken promises. Last year, there was more than a 300% increase in the amount of complaints filed to the International Cotton Association, or ICA.
Typically, a farmer will break the contract because cotton prices have shot up from the time he agreed to sell at a price, or a textile mill will renege because prices have dropped since the agreed upon price. And folks, if you think we’re talking about cotton being grown in the South and shipped to mills in the North, those days are long past. Today, most textile factories are in countries like China and Vietnam. While this means they can produce the goods very inexpensively, it also means there is very little enforcement of arbitration rulings. So companies can back out of agreed upon contracts and then not pay the penalties imposed to them for such foul behavior.
So where does this leave you? Well, first of all, when a middle-man gets stuck with a broken contract, he’s forced to fulfill the promise he made to the counter-party. That may sound good, but it if you think he’s just going to eat that cost, think again. He’s going to pass that cost along to the next buyer as quickly as he can, and of course, that will eventually trickle down to you and me when we buy our socks and tee shirts. Also, I sometimes get people in my office who want to dabble in futures or commodity markets. Folks, this is dangerous territory. The description I just laid out is for one commodity, but don’t think cotton is alone in dealing with this type of behavior. How is a typical retail investor supposed to navigate these situations? Not only that, but what effect does one big, blown up contract have on a thinly traded ETF? Many people are curious how an ETF can run counter to the market it represents. It’s because many people don’t understand the instruments that underwrite an ETF. This is just one of the many ways over-zealous, under-informed investors can find themselves in a lot of trouble.
All around the world governments are faced with budget deficits in shortages of cash. As citizens debate the role of government and what should be provided for the needy and less fortunate, the focus always turns to the rich. Since they have so much, why shouldn't they pay more? Britain has taken the assault on the rich to a new level by proposing a one- time emergency wealth tax. This is not a tax on income, but instead a tax on accumulated wealth. A leader of the Liberal Democratic Party said the rich need to be taxed more to avoid social unrest, and that the country had to hardwire fairness into its budget. Keep in mind that Britain is already hiked the top tax rate for the rich to 45%. It seems that class warfare is worldwide – not just confined to our US election rhetoric.
Well, one billionaire has had enough of bashing the rich. Gina Rinehart, one of the richest women in the world, has touched off a firestorm with her recent comments. Responding to attacks on the rich in the Australian newspapers, she responded, “there is no monopoly on becoming a millionaire.” She went on to say, "if you're jealous of those with more money, don't just sit there and complain, do something to make more money yourself- spend less time drinking and smoking, and more time working".
Although her remarks certainly didn't make her any friends among advocates for the poor, she certainly was within her rights to share opinions. Not only has she turned the mining company she inherited from her father into a global powerhouse, but she has seen both her grandfathers and three other friends go from poverty to extreme wealth. She says the lessons are all the same, “you can't get rich without working hard, taking risks, investing, and reinvesting your profits.” At least she walks the talk, she recently made headlines by publicly disinheriting some family, calling them lazy.
She has advice for governments as well. If you want to help the poor and our next generation, make investment, reinvestment, and businesses welcome. She continues to be skewered in the media for her brash comments. Personally, I agree with much of what she says. And I’m fine with her delivery as well – sometimes people need to be slapped with the truth, and she’s certainly got the personality to do it!
It's hard to believe another summer is in the books. Yesterday I was on a boat, and today I'm following a school bus. Everything changes after Labor Day, it's time to get serious and back to work. Nowhere is that more true than on Wall Street.
Not that it wasn’t a great summer. Besides the glorious weather, the market posted solid gain without the typical summer swoon. But before we get too excited, we have to remember not many people were participating in the rally. Trading volumes this summer were meager at best.
But now all the professional traders are back from the Hamptons and ready to get back to work. Mutual Funds, Pensions Plans, Hedge Funds, and even average investors are staring straight at a final third of the year that will prove to be interesting. There are plenty of risks, and that will generate plenty of opportunities.
The drama in Europe continues to play out. Will the Greeks get their spending in line or will they leave the Euro. Will the European Central Bank buy bonds from Spain and Portugal? Will the German people say enough and refuse to help anymore?
Here at home we face more questions than answers. Is our economy slowing, or slipping back into recession? Will our politicians address our fiscal cliff and extend our debt ceiling in time? And who will win what is sure to be a nasty and contentious election between two parties with two very different visions for America.
The biggest risk for the average person is to react to emotional news stories – making changes to long term investments based on a 24 hour news cycle. That’s exactly why they call it headline risk - and it’s a given that we’re going to get plenty of it in the coming months. Now’s the time to have an investment plan, understand it, and work hard to tune out the noise and stick to it when the going gets rough! Unfortunately, July 4th is 10 months away – and that’s the next time we’ll get to forget about it all for a few glorious weeks again. But today, it's back to work!
This month’s issue of Wealth Management magazine brings up an interesting question…Can Financial Advisor training programs redeem themselves? It’s a dirty little secret that’s been well-known for years- big brokerage firms are more interested in hiring salesmen than financial experts.
It costs these wirehouses a great deal of money to get an advisor up and running. According to Wealth Management magazine, some firms spend up to $300,000 to fully train a recruit. That’s a lot of dough. And frankly, they want their money back. The problem is, less than 20% survive the training program after two years.
Why is the success rate so low, you might ask? Because in a nutshell here is how the program has worked for decades: we spend a lot of money on you to get licensed, provide sales training on cold calling and overcoming objections, give you an impressive title, and expect you to sell something! Depending on the firm you joined (Morgan Stanley, Merrill Lynch, UBS etc.) they put sales quotas on you that mandated certain assets or you were fired. For instance, they might say, you need to bring in $10 million in assets and $80,000 in revenue by your one year anniversary or you’re fired. No exceptions. That’s a heck of a lot of pressure to put on someone and it certainly shows what was important to the firm. There’s no customer satisfaction survey or credit for doing the right thing. It’s X dollars in assets and Y dollars in revenue, or you can hit the bricks.
The new trend in the industry is to team new advisors with old ones to try and teach them the ropes. Honestly, this should have been the trend decades ago. Handling other people’s money is an awesome responsibility that has been taken for granted by large institutions for far too long. You can’t just give a trainee a briefcase and tell him to go knock on doors and make revenue for the firm. People work hard for their money and the advice financial advisors give to their clients should be honest and competent; not some canned sales pitch that puts the company’s needs ahead of a clients.
When it’s time for you to look for a Financial Advisor, trust your gut. Ask the person sitting across from you how long he’s been in the business. Why is he qualified to manage your hard-earned money? If she can explain her answers in an honestly and sincerely, that’s a great sign. If you’re being given a scripted pitch, or feel pressured or manipulated in any way, head for the door!