The Role of Volatility

by Mary Suplee on Oct 12, 2018

This interesting slide that I just received from J.P. Morgan was a good reminder of the role that market volatility plays in achieving long term investment goals. The red dot shows the largest decline in any year and the gray bar where the year ended. The average inter year decline since 1980 was 13.8%. The most amazing one to me is 1987 where it was down 34% and ended up 2% for the year.

Don't Use a Margin Account

by Mary Suplee on Oct 4, 2018

Margin balances, the money that investors borrow to buy securities, had reached $652 billion by the end of August. That's roughly one year after the first time they exceeded $600 billion. Except in very rare circumstances, I can't see any reason for investors to use borrowed money to buy stocks. This not only applies to stocks but to all sorts of financial instruments, particularly variable insurance products and illiquid holdings such as limited partnerships.

Health Care Costs in Retirement

by Mary Suplee on Oct 1, 2018

Health care costs in retirement have so many moving parts it can be difficult to figure out how to get a plan that will provide the coverage you need. The new Vanguard/Mercer healthcare cost model shows that a 65 year old woman has an annual median cost of $5200 per year for healthcare expenses. However, this can vary from $3000-$26,200 per year, depending on a variety of factors.

Protect Yourself from Scams

by Mary Suplee on Apr 26, 2018

The Pennsylvania Department of Banking and Securities recently sent me a publication with information about some of today’s most common scams and tips to protect yourself and your money. There is also information on how to contact government agencies, nonprofit organizations and credit bureaus that can help you protect yourself or help you if you’ve fallen victim to a scam.

The following are some of the more common recent scams to be aware of:

The Uncommon Average

by Mary Suplee on Mar 2, 2018

The U.S. stock market has delivered an average annual return of around 10% since 1926. But short-term results may vary, and in any given period stock returns can be positive, negative or flat. When setting expectations, it's helpful to understand the range of outcomes experienced by investors historically. For example, how often have the stock market's annual returns actually aligned with its long-term average?

Is Your Classic/Collector Car Underinsured?

by Mary Suplee on Nov 27, 2017

In the wake of hurricanes Harvey and Irma, two of the worst storms to make landfall in the U.S., the fate of thousands of homeowners is still up in the air. So, it may seem a bit trivial to point out that the storms also destroyed thousands of luxury and classic cars. While the dollar amount of damages pales in comparison to the loss of homes, estimates put the total at somewhere between $100 million and $300 million for luxury and classic car damages alone, which is not a trivial amount.

Protect Yourself from Identity Theft

by Mary Suplee on Sep 15, 2017

Equifax recently announced a massive data security breach, exposing personal identification information on as many as 143 million Americans. They have set up a website ( where you can check to see if you've been affected and enroll in one free year of credit monitoring and identity theft protection.

Enhance Lifetime Income with These Essential Steps Before Retirement

by Mary Suplee on Sep 8, 2017

Regardless of your planning method or process, it would be a mistake to succumb to standard formulas or a generalized approach to retirement planning.  Right now, your retirement vision is based on your specific needs, wants, attitudes and beliefs, and it will undoubtedly change as your outlook and priorities change, but you should always base your income needs on realistic assumptions.
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